</a> Gabi Gregg knows a thing or two about Twitter. The 24-year-old founder of plus-size fashion blog <em>Young, Fat & Fabulous</em> caught the attention of MTV and was asked to participate in <em>Follow Me: The Search for the First MTV TJ.</em> Following a month-long competition that pitted her thumb-to-thumb against 19 others in a series of Twitter-based challenges, she won. Now she has almost 25,000 followers hanging on her every word, so learn from her success and avoid these common Twitter mistakes.
<strong>Doing all the talking. </strong>Yes, Twitter is a great place to let people know what you’re doing. But if that’s all you’re doing, it’s not going to work. “You can’t just go on Twitter and type in the title of your blog post and link to it. Or you can’t just say, ‘Oh, look what’s new here.’ It has to be a conversation. And that’s what’s so amazing about <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/careers/2010/11/16/dont-let-facebook-get-you-fired/">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/blackenterprise">Twitter</a>—that you can engage with your audience. You shouldn’t just post something and go on with your day,” Gregg says.</p>
<strong>Being selfish. </strong>Social networks, like any community, require sharing. You have to show people that you’re interested in what they’re saying and doing as well. And you have to not just tweet, but retweet. “When you’re only using Twitter to promote yourself, it’s very transparent. People can see right through it and they don’t want to follow you back, they don’t want to engage with you, and they don’t really trust you either because it comes off as sales pitch-y.”
<strong>Not targeting your audience. </strong>One of the keys to having a successful message is to make sure you’re talking to the right people. Gregg says, “Initially you should search for people in your field, people you want to connect with. Follow them, see what’s up with them, introduce yourself, and that’s how you can really start conversation.” And you can also target individual tweets. “Make sure you’re targeting people who you really think would care about what you’re saying. Then literally direct your tweet so it’ll show up in their mentions. If you @ reply them, they’re more likely to see it.”
<strong>Skimping on time. </strong>“So many people do one Twitter post a day, or one a week. You can’t do that and expect your following to grow; it just doesn’t work that way,” Gregg says. Instead, you should schedule time on your calendar and make sure you’re spending it wisely. “Doing 30 minutes, even 15 minutes, a day on Twitter can be huge, if you spend that time seeing what people are talking about, researching trends, and searching your business or your name to see if people are talking about you and responding to them.”
<strong>Thinking only of the bottom line. </strong>Some people aren’t willing to put in the time because they can’t monetize the return on that investment. Gregg says that’s the wrong approach. “It’s a tool that can be utilized by anyone in growing their audience and having their audience respect them more as a business. It also provides immediate feedback. And that’s something you can’t put a price on,” she says. “Even if you’re not making direct money from it, it will pay out in the long run because it will build trust and interaction with your followers and they’ll be more likely to buy your product in the future.”