Twitter recently sent out an email notifying users about their updated Terms of Service. They wrote a blog entry about it, and one of the interesting links was to their Twitter Rules page. Although this document was published in January – what year, who knows – it’s the first time I’ve laid eyes on it.
The Twitter Rules has a section for Spam and Abuse. Being in the business that I’m in, I thought it would be good to know exactly what they see as spam and not spam. Their section included just about everything I expected to see. I particularly liked the Twitter spam factors list. It had a list of behaviors that they focus on to help determine whether or not something is spam. It included:
- If you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time;
- If you have followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn);
- If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;
- If you have a small number of followers compared to the amount of people you are following;
- If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates;
- If a large number of people are blocking you;
- The number of spam complaints that have been filed against you;
- If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account
- If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #
- If you post multiple unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic
- If you send large numbers of duplicate @replies
- If you send large numbers of unsolicited @replies in an attempt to spam a service or link
- If you repost other user’s content without attribution.
- If you have attempted to “sell” followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn.
The thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay to market yourself online, but it’s not okay to spam. Of course, that’s not always easy to determine, because one person’s marketing can easily be seen as spam by another. Keeping that in mind, there are several techniques mentioned in the list that, to some degree, can still work well.
It really comes down to clever marketing, which should include Participation Marketing, but can also include a mixture of automation. Automated tweeting is really the hardest part. Several things to keep in mind about automated tweets include:
- the time between automated tweets and participatory tweets
- the relevancy of tweet with a mention or hash
- the frequency of automated tweets
- the diversity of automated tweets
In research we’ve conducted, the same approach towards different markets doesn’t always work. For example, we’ve had one account that aggregated news and posted it, and also automatically retweeted and replied to targeted users. It worked incredibly well for that account, but the exact same approach for a different account produced horrible, irrelevant tweets and results.
If you’re going to take an automated approach to marketing on Twitter, consider testing several throwaway accounts and using different techniques. Then use what you learned from those tests and apply them carefully to your main Twitter account.
Ultimately though, at least in our experience, you will get the best results from Twitter by actually manually using it. Listening, engaging and contributing is the absolute best way to interact and market your services on Twitter. If you do include some degree of automation, introduce it slowly and carefully. Otherwise, your campaign may not only backfire, it may get your Twitter account banned.