When it comes to social media, we’ve all had our embarrassments. For example, I once got into a pointless argument with a follower over the abbreviation of “et cetera.” Silly, right? What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was being petty — with the entire Twitterverse as my witness!

Here are 10 Twitter temptations you’d be wise to avoid:

  1. Talking trash. Making negative comments about your competition or peers puts you on the fast track to losing respect. Avoid it at all costs, and if another tweeter trashes someone, don’t engage.
  2. Intense political and religious sentiment. There is a time and place for politically or religiously charged conversations. It’s okay to share your opinions on Twitter from time to time, but don’t saturate your feed with them. You never know who you might offend.
  3. Narcissism. Recently, I had a conversation with a client who stated, “It’s so annoying when you go to someone’s Twitter page and all you see are tweets about the person or his company.” This client isn’t the only one who feels this way. Aim to spice up your tweets by promoting other companies and people, too.
  4. A lack of purpose. If your tweet falls outside a purpose or strategy, reconsider whether to post it. Like your blogs, it’s important to keep your tweets purposeful, relevant, timely and concise.
  5. Not giving props. If someone walked up to you and congratulated you on an awesome presentation, would you walk away without thanking her? I hope not! When people give you a shout out or retweet your content, thank them. Simple, but powerful.
  6. Vacancy. Haven’t tweeted in a few weeks or months? This basically screams “I don’t care” to your followers. If you don’t have time to post, then outsource your social-media efforts, create RSS feeds or delete your account until you are able to engage on a regular basis.
  7. Confusing personal with ultra-personal. People don’t mind receiving news of the birth of your new grandson, but they don’t want to see HD video of the messy delivery. Exercise decorum when sharing personal information.
  8. Getting into tweet fights. As a well-known professional, you will likely face criticism or opposing viewpoints from time to time. People tend to be “vocal” on social media. But don’t get into a tweet fight. Instead, express gratitude for their honesty and address their concerns. If their behavior gets out of control, flag their account.
  9. Complaining. There may be times when you want to convey a sincere (and negative) opinion. That’s what social media is all about. But strive to be slow to criticize and quick to praise.
  10. Becoming a billboard. Twitter wasn’t created so that companies could post ads about their businesses. It was created so that people could have real-time conversations about anything and everything. Don’t allow yourself to overtaken by ads.

Don’t fret it you have a “moment” on Twitter — we’ve all been there. But, for everyone’s sake, try to observe some basic rules of etiquette. And remember: Once out, the genie doesn’t go easily back in the bottle.

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