7 Things You Need to Stop Doing on Twitter

7 Things You Need to Stop Doing on Twitter

If Twitter to you is all about retweeting celebrities, uploading photos of tasty meals to Twitpic, and devising hilariously embarrassing TBT tweets, then you might be interested in these statistics: 77% of employers use social media to find candidates, and 20% of them use these platforms to screen out employees, too.

Which is to say, Twitter is bound to affect your career prospects, whether you’re explicitly using it for your career not. As such, it’s important to consider how both current and potential employers might view the content that you post — even more so to stop doing these 7 major faux pas.

1. Tweeting about controversial issues

Would you walk into a job interview, hold out your hand to the person behind the desk, and say, “Hi, I’m [your name], and I’d like to talk to you about this nation’s gun laws.” Um, no, of course you wouldn’t. And yet if you’re posting about incredibly polarizing topics on the public sphere of Twitter, this is essentially what you’re doing.

Unless you plan to go into advocacy, do yourself a favor and save it for private discussions with family and friends — not a platform where an employer who feels differently from you can become instantly biased against your entire person.

2. Forgetting that your audience is everyone

The controversial issue thing may be obvious, but oftentimes it can be difficult to even predict when what you’re posting is going to cause offense and pretty much ruin your career or even your business brand image.

Brands run into this all the time. In trying to make a quick joke, they forget who their core audience is, as well as the fact that everyone can see what they’re posting — and everyone is a big audience to please, with many people who might not feel that joke is very funny.

A good recent example is FAFSA, which tweeted:

7 Things You Should Stop Doing on Twitter

This may have been a fun, throwaway joke for whoever was at the keyboard, but it wasn’t for the millions of Americans who struggle with poverty, and who turn to FAFSA for the aid that will hopefully help them climb higher up on the economic ladder.

Individual Tweeters make similar mistakes all the time with dire consequences for their careers, so just remember to take the time to stop before you Tweet, examine your privilege, think about who might find what you’re saying dismissive and offensive, and rewrite if necessary.

3. Not having a focus

“Hey everybody! Here’s what I ate for breakfast!”

“OMG can’t stop playing the new Beyoncé song.”

“For serial, June/July is the best time to be a law-nerd. #majorjudicialdecisions #supremecourtnerd #precedentftw.”

While it’s fine to cultivate a well-rounded Twitter personality, not having any focus can just make you seem, well, unfocused. It also means you’re squandering an opportunity to brand yourself as an expert in your field, which in turn can impress employers and help you land a job.

Lastly, an unfocused Twitter stream also makes growing a following more difficult, as you’ll turn away potential followers who might have been interested in one of your topics, but consider the 95 other topics you Tweet about to be spam.

4. Engaging in negative conversations

Again, Twitter is about as public as it can get, so complaining about your co-workers, boss, company, and potential or current clients is a major no. In fact, if you’re a medical professional, therapist, lawyer, or anyone who is bound to a non-disclosure agreement, your Tweets could not only get you fired, but they could also get your license revoked and a major lawsuit dropped in your lap. Fun times!

Just as bad can be engaging in negative exchanges with other people on Twitter. All of the risks states above remain, and there’s the added risk that employers will interpret your mudslinging as a lack of empathy and interpersonal skills — two traits that are kind of essential to thriving in the workplace. So keep it nice, no matter how much the siren songs of trolldom beckon.

5. Tweeting way too much

Not only is Tweeting all the time annoying to just about everyone who follows you, but it also makes it look like you don’t have much of a life — not exactly the best way to build your reputation as an in-demand professional. If you’re Tweeting during work hours, your current employer will feel like you’re off task, while any potential employers will doubt your ability to stay on-task.

Instead, try to limit your Tweets and conversations to certain times of the day, so you can concentrate on your to-do list.

6. Focusing only on yourself

Honestly, truly, not even lying here, it’s really wonderful that you wrote a new blogpost and we all hope to read it soon — really. Twitter is a great platform for driving traffic to your expert content. It’s also a great place to share news about developments in your career, and even to let everyone know about your latest vacation.

But Twitter, used correctly, is a form of networking and goodwill building, and you can’t do either of those two things when you focus exclusively on yourself. In fact, you’ll find that many more job opportunities fall into your lap when you engage in constant conversation with people in your industry, whether in response to the things they post or as you discuss important industry topics. Combine that with sharing articles you find interesting and stimulating, and you’ll also be working to establish your taste and your expertise — all by looking outside of yourself.

7. Over-hashtagging

A strategically placed hashtag is a great way to get your Tweets and content found on Twitter, especially for a trending topic. But too many of them, and you start to, well, look like a complete idiot. It’s impossible to discern what you’re actually trying to say, and half the time, that hashtag isn’t even a term anyone is searching.

Unless that hashtag really is as funny and ironic as you think it is, neither of those things will scream “intelligent person!” to a potential employer. So choose a hashtag or two, and call it quits — for the sake of your career, and perhaps for all humanity.

The takeaway

Used the right way, Twitter can actually be a great way to grow your career. But, given the public nature of the platform, it can also ruin what you worked so hard to build in a single Tweet. So use it strategically, and please, please, think before you Tweet!

Guest author: Beverley Reinemann is a freelance writer and blogger who spent three years travelling and working in Australia and New Zealand. Now back in London she splits her time between travelling, running her blog; Pack Your Passport, and her job in online marketing at Distilled.

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  • http://www.themoonlightersguide.com/ Connie Brentford

    Really good post, Beverley. As we learned this week from Facebook, negativity breeds negativity. Most of my SMM clients are fiction authors and controversial posts on hot-topic subjects can work well for them especially, if it’s a theme in their writing. It actually draws the right folks to them but it still needs to be used sparingly to negate the soapbox effect.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    I think you hit at some major points Beverly. Especially making your strategy about yourself. That’s a surefire way to turn people off!

  • http://jonpishion.wordpress.com Jon Pishion

    This is a nice article about how to make sure your twitter account doesn’t end becoming a liability for you. From what I’ve read elsewhere these types of tips tend to also apply to other forms of social media probably most notably Facebook. I’ll admit that as social media grows and our personal and professional lives become entwined and as social media makes it nearly impossible to keep these two areas separate, especially from current and potential employers that I wonder how limiting this will be on people. I keep thinking of the manuscript from The Shining and the words “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Will we get to the point that our social media profiles and accounts have to be sterile so that we don’t offend any of current or future employers, customers, and clients.

  • barkway

    So now we’re supposed to allow potential future employers to control our free speech? Bad enough the SCOTUS thinks they should be allowed to decide female employees health decisions! What is happening to this country?

  • http://jtrader.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Publish-on-Fanficitonnet-and-Gain-a-Loyal-Following Healthy

    Those are good points. People sometimes forget that their audience really is everyone. Everything that we write online can be seen by people all over the world and will probably be accessed on and off for years to come.

  • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

    Tweeting way too much – what is a good number per hour? 4 to 5

    • semprini

      If you’re taking this article seriously zero is a good number.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshlight/ Josh Light

    Great list Beverley,

    The best rule of thumb I use is to treat it like real life. It’s easy when doing stuff in the digital world to forget that your conversations are public, or to ignore the common courtesy we generally extend to one another when engaging in face to face interactions.


  • http://www.MarkCz.com/ Mark Czerniec

    This is silly. Every tweet is a job interview? The only purpose of Twitter is to “grow your career”? What about honest communication? If anything should be stopped on Twitter, it’s “marketing yourself.” We have way too much marketing. Try being yourself instead.

    • http://www.finixpost.com/ Manpreet

      Believe it or not, anything that you do does in fact make your personal brand. Every tweet might not exactly be a job interview but anyone who finds you on Twitter would definitely judge the kind of person you’re from your tweets. Imagine if your timeline is full of your pictures drinking in a bar. What do you think people will infer from this?
      While you shouldn’t always be thinking of job interviews, you should always think of the consequences of what you talk about.
      And no one can stop marketing themselves on Twitter or anywhere else. Because whatever you do markets you. It’s up to you whether you want it to be negative or positive.

  • LGIbb

    Can we add a number 8? Unlink your Twitter account from your Facebook page! It’s not just annoying trying to follow the link back to Facebook, but people are often unaware that others have joined in the conversation over on Twitter because you’re just hanging out on Facebook.

  • http://www.rockvillemotorstx.com/ RockVille Motors Inc

    I don’t think there is any limit if you can do 120 per day. Want to reach your target market? But with good advertising, use that 120 as much as you can.

  • http://www.forgetfulone.com Forgetfulone

    Twitter is social media. I get tired of people who try to use it for anything else. Businesses will look at your public social media accounts, but it’s ridiculous to see Twitter posts in the same light as job interviews. I agree with the person below who said it’s being used as another limit on our free speech.

  • http://sentientobserver.com/ Lora Leathco

    I’m a little surprised to find this article on JeffBullas.com. Some of the suggestions are contradictory to Jeff’s. He admits that he tweets every 15 minutes and that it works for him. While we should use common sense and politeness, diminishing your personal voice on hot topics is unrealistic and un-American. If a potential employer is going to judge me poorly simply because I hold a different opinion on a topic unrelated to the business, then he isn’t an employer that I want to work with anyway.

    Gun control is a complex issue that will only be resolved in this country by open conversation in which many share their experiences and perspectives. It is only through intelligent people conversating civilly that we can come to a middle ground that works well for us as a nation of people. Social media gives a voice to the average American that isn’t jaded by political agenda, advertising dollars, or lobbyist. A personal Twitter account used responsibly doesn’t have to be some deadpan voice that masquerades as a resume for some potential future employer that may not ever come. Live responsibly to make a difference in your world today, for you may not have tomorrow.

  • http://www.facethebuzz.com/blog Kary Snell | Face The Buzz

    I get the point that the writer is trying to make. While I wouldn’t equate every tweet with a job interview, you’re still publishing potentially harmful information about yourself on a forum that is accessible to anyone with a computer or smartphone. I agree with the person below who suggested that we treat social media like anything else in real life. If you wouldn’t say something in public, you don’t want to publish it online, either.

  • http://joeygedgaud.com/ Joey Gedgaud

    The balance is tough and I think a few people are exempt from a couple of these rules, but great advice never the less. Thanks!

  • http://www.clippingpathbusiness.com/ Clipping Path

    Your blog is so beautiful and natural all are like your blog everyone appreciate your blog……
    Clipping Path

  • http://www.tubblog.co.uk/ Richard Tubb

    Some really useful advice there Beverly – thanks for sharing.

    No. 6 appears to be a very common mistake of both individuals and brands on Twitter – talking about yourself too much. As you point out, you can get much greater engagement on Twitter by talking less about yourself and instead focusing on sharing content of value to your audience.

  • http://www.lizmelville.co.uk Liz Melville

    Some interesting and useful points. But I tend to disagree with #1 – although I would advise caution. Asking for opinion on a mildly controversial topic of the day can be a very useful strategy in creating engagement and starting conversations with accounts outwith your usual Twittosphere. I don’t suggest stating your own opinion on the matter, but inviting comment on something is certainly not a ‘no-go’ area for me, and is something I actually advise clients to do.

  • Nick Hines

    I think you are all missing the point. Unless you are famous, your constant tweeting on twitter will probably just make you look like a twit to a prospective employer.

  • http://www.internetlocallistingsinc.com Internet Local Listings

    Yes to the controversial topics issue. It’s difficult to see why some brand would want to jump in on a gun control conversation, other than to drum up controversy in an effort to (desperately) grab for some engagement.