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Hospital Marketing Lessons: Social Sins of Tweets and Twitter

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
twitter and other social media sins

Social Sins of Tweets & Twitter

When we compiled a list of reasons why people won’t “follow” someone on Twitter, we nearly ran out of paper. Twitter is an immensely popular social media, and for many hospital social media efforts, it can be a highly useful tool. Ask your followers about what they like and don't like and you're bound to get responses that can help shape the ways you tweet. (And avoid the social sins of Twitter.)

If your social media objectives in healthcare, medical group or hospital marketing include establishing and maintaining a relationship, the feedback you get should reflect what the audience considers when deciding who to follow, who not to follow, and why. (And what they want and don't want to find in the Twitter stream.)

Fortunately, the Citizens of Twitter-land are outspoken about what they like and dislike about Tweets and Twitter. (Not that professional communicators would do this stuff, but it's a quick sample of social media preferences.) Published opinions on this abound; there must be a million of them. Here are some of the most common dislikes—and reasons not to follow on Twitter—included variations on these ideas:

1. Nobody likes spam, or even the hint of spam. (See also the next two items.)

2. Too often is too much. People differ about the right tweet frequency, but they don’t like it when it feels like it’s too much or too often.

3. If it feels “automated” it doesn’t feel personal.

4. The Me-Me-Me message doesn’t fly. Purely one-sided communications is not a dialog and not much of an engaging relationship.

5. Twitter’s default avatar-egg is a turnoff. People relate to people; this might not be the place for your logo (or an egg.)

6. Everyone has a need. Feed their needs and interests, not yours.

Here's a sampling of comments from Twitter users and some of the most common Twitter-follower disconnects. Some issues apply more in person-to-person situations, but can also be useful insight for medical practice marketing.

  • You are an egg.
  • You are a link building or a SEO service.
  • You have no bio.
  • You have a bio but it sucks.
  • Your bio is illiterate.
  • You tweet in a language I don’t know.
  • You never RT other people’s tweets.
  • You never thank people for RTing your tweets.
  • You tweet only links.
  • You are rude to others on Twitter.
  • You spam me or send me links in a tweet where you @ mention me.
  • You tweet about yourself too much.
  • You are an expert or a guru.
  • You follow 10 people and have 20,000 followers.
  • You are following and unfollowing me for the third time in the last 10 days.

Credit: Brankida Underwood

  • If you write what you had for lunch, what TV show you like, what the weather is like outside your office, what cute things your pet wildebeest did or (Lordy!) where you are at this very moment…I’m not interested.
  • If you wish to sell me MLM, public domain articles, can’t-miss investment opportunity, proprietary software, insurance, guaranteed $100K incomes or little blue pills that remind me of life as a teenager, I’ll pass.
  • And please, don’t fill your tweets with replies to previous tweets and expect me to read them. Since I (and the rest of humanity) never read the originals, we have no idea what you’re talking about.

Credit: Alan Graner

  • You have no user avatar
  • You list no location, no website, or no bio
  • You’re following over 1,000 users, have 20 followers, and no updates
  • Your profile features any variation of “Internet expert”
  • Your Twitter activity is always, only, about pushing your own service/product
  • Your following and my return follow results in a poorly-constructed auto-DM…
  • Your most recent updates make references to any need to achieve “more Twitter followers”
  • You do not engage your Twitter followers

Credit: Atherton Bartelby

  • If you are following hundreds of people, and have less than five posts…
  • If you auto-DM me after I follow you back…
  • If your Twitter avatar is either the default avatar…
  • If your website link takes me to a MySpace page…
  • If you never, ever reply to people…
  • If you’re not capable of forming an original thought once in a while…

Credit: Alison Gianotto

  • Over-tweeting…it’s about quality rather than quantity.
  • Starting and stopping. (Be consistent.)
  • Spam. Social media isn’t about one-side conversations.
  • Me, me, me. Honestly, I don’t care that much about you.
  • Offering nothing of value.
  • I know nothing about you.
  • Your avatar is Twitter’s default “egg.”
  • You follow a lot of people but no one is following you.
  • You tweet in all capital letters.
  • Your auto-responder comes off as spam.
  • You tweet too damn much.

Credit: Mark Evans

The lesson here is that it pays to know your social media audience, understand their needs and interests, and to use Twitter and Tweets in ways that build a two-way relationship. Ask for their feedback; everyone has an opinion on this one. And we'd like to hear from you. What do you think? We welcome your comments about social media etiquette.

Read more Twitter Tips for Social Medial and Healthcare Marketing in this additional Healthcare Success article.

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