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How To #Fail At Twitter In 4 Easy Steps

Prior to 02/2009 I never participated in any social networking sites. Then a friend introduced me to WordPress blogging and Twitter. The result was an injection of social networking into my life that I had never experienced before. I became an active Twitter persona Tweeting daily and meeting new people regularly. There was a satisfaction of connecting with people all over the world with like thoughts and sometimes argumentative thoughts. All the same I was having conversations daily with cool people all who I met on Twitter. Then something happened that one would expect would increase a social networkers presence on Twitter.

July of 2009 I was transitioned into a full-time position as “Social Media Strategist.” Initially, I found myself Tweeting as I had prior to assuming this title, but slowly over a period of 6 or 7 months I fell off the Twitter grid. My failure was not due to lack of social networking enjoyment, it was due to scalability. During this time I had created 2 more personal Twitter accounts and 4 corporate Twitter accounts. As most of you know, trying to keep conversations going on 7 different Twitter accounts is impossible, even using TweetDeck, Seesmic, HootSuite, etc.

Here is how I failed in 4 easy steps:

1) Lost my purpose – The purpose of social media/social networking is to build community and community comes first. The minute you take your eye of this purpose in the social realm you may as well close your Twitter account. I took my eye off community in exchange for a larger community. Due to scalability I #Failed at building community and I lost my purpose on Twitter.

2) Too Many Twitter Accounts – The time it takes to cultivate and nurture conversations on a Twitter profile is significant. To continue an authentic conversation requires time and when I became responsible for 7 Twitter accounts I became overwhelmed. Granted 4 were outward facing communication channels, but nonetheless this contributed to my Twitter #Fail.

3) Went On Auto Pilot – Using HootSuite or another Twitter client to schedule Tweets is great, but once I traveled down this path it led me to lessen my non-automated Twitter activity. I let my accounts become robotic and people don’t respond to this type of social networking interaction. Even if your a Twitter celebrity, people are quickly able to discern the difference between an auto tweet and a real tweet. People want authentic conversations and by going automatic I #Failed.

4) Lost Interest – I know what your thinking, you #Failed on Twitter because you just got bored with it? No, I lost interest due to the 3 reasons above. My Twitter conversations dwindled and people lost interest in me plain and simple. I took myself out of the conversations and found myself a little lost trying to get back into the conversation.

People are smart and those on Twitter want to be engaged with other’s or they would not be there. Once you lose purpose, try to manage too many Twitter accounts, go on auto pilot you will loose interest in your Twitter activities. The simple reason is we as people can only focus on so many things and doing the above causes things to go out of focus. I encourage you to avoid the 4 steps I list above and keep your Twitter interest alive and well. http://www.michaelvallez.com

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Adriel Hampton

Just in an interesting conversation on agency twitters – do they even work? I can drive traffic to just about anything, including my agency’s official work, but can the “official” accounts to the same? It would be interesting to see some research in this area. Engaging is so key, and not easy.

Michael Vallez


I know they work, but they are an investment in time. You see companies like Starbucks and Comcast effectively using social media for customer service. True this is more of a reactionary role on those businesses as a customer service function, but there still having conversations.

I feel for any Twitter profile to be robust there has to be a considerable investment in striking up a consistent conversation. The ratio I hear from the likes of Chris Brogan and others is 80% of the time talk about what others are talking about and 20% of the time talk about your stuff, product, etc.

I think as the web continues to grow web monitoring services like Radian6 that can instantly inform you when someone talks about your brand (cross platform) are going to be key to engaging customers.

thanks for the comment.


Jim Townsend

Really interesting post. Shows that even Twitter requires attention and you can spread yourself too thin. Also raises issues about official versus personal tweets.

Michael Vallez


Yes, my Twitter failure was in the sense of my personal Twitter activity. I lost touch with participating in the conversation and when I went to get back in I had to refocus my mission.

As far as purpose and mission for Twitter. There are absolutely different uses for Twitter in an official corporate or government capacity as opposed to personal.

Thank you