How Not to Market on Twitter

There’s no denying that Twitter is the most powerful yet free modern-age marketing tool. Unfortunate as it is, many online marketers tend to overdo things and cross their limits when the marketing medium itself is free. However, on Twitter, such mistakes are bound to backfire big time and can cause serious damage to your business’ reputation.

It is strictly advisable to know “how you should market” on Twitter. Equally important but an often overlooked aspect of Twitter marketing is “how not to market”. I’ve always believed that marketing is both an art as well as a science – you need to be creative as well as logical to launch a successful marketing campaign and Twitter is no exception to that rule.

So, how not to market on Twitter? As a start, follow these simple yet effective guidelines.

Avoid blatant sales pitches

Marketing professionals have a habit of getting down to business as soon as they meet a client. While the approach works wonderfully well in person, it is a perfect recipe for disaster on Twitter. Blatant sales pitches are bound to get you lots of criticism and not many followers. In fact, they are liable to encourage your current followers to unfollow you.

The best way to market on Twitter is using an informational tone. Don’t be aggressive – it doesn’t work.

Tweet in right proportions

As simple as it may seem, tweeting for businesses is a tricky business. You tweet too little – your followers lose interest in your products, you tweet too much – your followers think you are spamming them. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that you monitor the quantity as well as quality of your tweets.

Don’t criticize competitors

I’ve never been a proponent of negative marketing tactics. Be it Twitter or conventional marketing, I strongly believe that a business is better off showcasing its strengths rather than exploiting its competitor’s weaknesses. While I’ve come across several businesses which poke fun and ridicule competitors through their tweets, I consider it ‘Below the belt’ marketing and strongly unethical.

Don’t over rely on RSS Feeds

As much as I admire RSS, I find it discomforting that many businesses rely entirely on their RSS feeds for tweets. It’s not a good practice to just tweet out of an RSS feed. Your followers expect originality of some sort.

Don’t over do the re-tweets

While retweeting is a healthy practice, overdoing it isn’t useful. In fact, it’s far from useful and is liable to label you as a “tweet forwarder”. Retweets are a form of viral communication and it’s best advisable to use them within reasonable limits. Further, if you constantly retweet messages from one particular user, there’s a good chance that your followers might unfollow you and directly follow that user.

Avoid Monologue

Twitter is all about establishing dialogs and interaction. Monologues are not as effective as meaningful dialogs in Tweeterverse so make it a point to interacting more often with your customers. Listen to what customers have to say and act on it.

If you’ve any guidelines or suggestions on what marketing tactics should be strictly avoided on Twitter, please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ricklondon       Reply

    Nice writing but………..what works for Whole Foods does not work for What works for Virgin Atlantic is dismal for Starbucks, and what works for me, does not work for you. There simply is not one right or wrong way to twitter. In some businesses being aggressive is perfect. In others, it is dismal. I run scheduled Twaitter (particular low ticket products) in the background while I have dialogue when I'm on Twitter with friends. That works great for me and horrible for several friends. This might help. Vinton Cerf is a friend. (He is the actual Father Of The Internet). He once told me, “There are no Internet gurus…..especially not me”. That goes for Twitter to. Even on non-Twitter Internet, it truly depends on the product, the seller, and a thousand other facts. The dogma of the Internet or Twitter being b/w, right or wrong, is as silly as a religion thinking the same about their religion. But again, very good writing. I would say research a bit more. I am SURE my method of Twittering would never work for you, nor yours mine. And that's fine. They invented it that way. Ask them.

  2. Douglas Idugboe       Reply

    Nice comment Rick. That's true, just as we've indicated in several of our articles, there's no one size fit all methodology to social marketing; understanding marketing fundamentals would greatly boost your social marketing success.

    Just like I've ask many others, how's selling on Twitter working for? Really?

  3. Callie       Reply

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the article. I appreciate the tips. I hope I'm not asking a “Duh” question. If so, oh well I'm asking any way lol …

    If possible, could you please give me examples of the following:

    – A blatant sales pitch
    – Tweeting in right proportions
    – Monologue

    Thanks in advance :)

  4. Douglas Idugboe       Reply

    Callie, there's no such thing as a “Duh” question, the only ones that exist are the question that were never asked.

    Example of a blatant sales pitch would be something like: “We are having an x percent discount on all our products now – click here to buy!” While this is common on twitter, very few, especially established brands, ever succeed with such sales pitches. Spark the relationship on Twitter and invite them to your site to sustain the relationship and then sell on your site.

    Tweeting in right proportion means you should strike a balance with your number of tweets per hour/day. Less tweeting could mean hardly being noticed and too much of it could result to being ignore if not ultimately unfollowed.

    For many people, Twitter is believed to be a broadcast medium. These people never engage in any form of conversation but constantly bombard your stream with quotes and rants about themselves. These folks are monologists who never engage anyone but constantly amuse themselves with their meme mentality.

    Twitter is a social platform; if you take that “social” factor away by not engaging your audience/followers, you run the risk of suffering from the old media disease of 'I speak, you listen' syndrome. That era is passe, successful social media experience is etched on conversations and engagement that foster symbiotic relationships.

    Great question, Callie!

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  6. Callie       Reply


    Oh, ok. I have a better understanding now. Thanks for your reply.

    Oops! I'm guilty of at least one of the “no-nos” you've mentioned. I'll have to be more mindful of my tweets and how they are presented. Overall I like Twitter, but obviously I don't have the best handle on it yet. It's been a little over a year since I joined Twitter and I have less than 500 followers. It seems that just about everyone else has thousands of followers. I'm like, “Hmmm … what Twitter memo did I miss?” By nature I'm a very social person, but perhaps there's another type of social quality that is accepted better within the Twitterverse. lol

    Would you say follower numbers are more or less significant to how well a Twitter member has effectively grasped the social media concept? I see members with a handful of tweets but thousands of followers already. I think to myself, “Now how is that possible?”

  7. Douglas Idugboe       Reply

    I cannot say number of “followers” are not important; what I can say though, the 'following' (the number of real fans/friend that hang on your every tweet) is what's most import. Again, you develop these “followers” by reaching out to others through contributive conversation, retweets, etc., but you develop your 'following' through instructive and helpful insights – either yours or others'.

    You're on the right track, Callie. Remain yourself, be consistent and be remarkable, your following would continue to grow. You'd see! 😉

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