Recently, I saw several common Twitter mistakes made by a few solar companies, and I thought these mistakes would be good information to share here using examples from @SolarWidgets, a fictional solar company.

Twitter Mistake #1: Don’t start a Tweet with a @Somebody unless you only want a few people to see that Tweet.

For example, this is wrong. Or rather, it’s a Tweet that isn’t going to be seen by many people:

 When you start a Tweet with someone’s Twitter handle, in this case, @SEIA, Twitter thinks you’re only responding directly to @SEIA and treats it like a semi-private conversation. As a result, only people who follow both @SolarWidgets and @SEIA will see that Tweet, not everyone who’s following @SolarWidgets, and you generally want all of your followers to see all of your Tweets, right? Not just those in the @SolarWidgets/@SEIA club.

The fix is very simple. To make it so that all of your followers and the entire Twitterverse can see your Tweet, either don’t start the Tweet with “@SEIA,” or just put a period, comma, or a single quotation mark before the name, like this:

This mistake is often done when solar companies self-refer to themselves in a Tweet, like “@SolarWidgets is having  a sale,” or are responding to someone, such as “@JoeCustomer, that’s a great solar article.” If you want that conversation to be somewhat private between your mutual followers, then leave out the period. Mostly, though, people should either put the period before the @SolarWidget or start the Tweet with another word; i.e., “Hey, @JoeCustomer, that was a great solar article.”


Twitter Mistake #2: Don’t Tweet photos without a logo. 

I won’t share the photo I saw, but if you share a beautiful solar photo on Twitter, don’t be shy. Put a small logo in the corner of the picture. That way when someone RTs and shares that photo, others will know that this beautiful install photo came from your company and want to contact you. The same goes for solar product photos.


Twitter Mistake #3: Don’t ask for followers.

I’ve seen a lot of Tweets like this, especially from small solar companies that are just starting out on Twitter:

Like pretty much everything in life, you need to earn Twitter followers. Asking people to follow you is on Twitter is like asking people to love you for no reason. Pretty much, only puppy dogs do that, and even then, you have to play with them. The same goes for playing on Twitter.

Instead of asking for followers, you need to earn followers. Engage with your prospective customers by Tweeting some useful information about solar. Or ReTweet (RT) something your customers have Tweeted that also interests you, such as something environmentally related. Then you’re starting a dialogue. It’s like saying, “Hey, we have common interests,” and they’ll naturally want to follow you.


Twitter Mistake #4: Don’t Sell, Sell, Sell!

There are a lot of things wrong with this Tweet:  

 First of all, yes, you should have calls-to-action, but this is just blatant advertising, not genuinely engaging with people who are interested in going solar. This is the equivalent of a guy walking out onto the sidewalk and saying “Yo, summer’s four months away, so go solar now!”

Second, it’s riddled with typos. As much as you can, be grammatically correct. Sometimes you can abbreviate, but do your best to proof your Tweets. It’s only 140 characters.  

Third, it’s too long. “Visit us today right off the…” gets cut off. Even if this were a brilliantly composed and earned call-to-action, the company didn’t even leave room to complete the location. If you want to include external links, you have to pay attention to length.

Also, if you want people to easily RT you without cutting down your text or URL, you have to also leave room, so really you only have 120-130 characters to write your Tweet, not the full 140.


Twitter Mistake #5: Don’t Just RT Everyone and Everything

I know a solar company that only RTs everything I Tweet. EVERYTHING. The company also RTs everyone else too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an original thought or Tweet from this company.

Yes, you should use Twitter to quietly listen to customers and their needs, and yes you should RT useful information, but that’s not the only thing you should and can do. Don’t be a wallflower and don’t think that Twitter is effective if you don’t engage.

Once again, Twitter is a community. RTing everyone may get you attention from those people (prospects), but after a while it’s like being a solar Twitter parrot. It’s fun the first few times, but then you just want that parrot to shut up, already.

Engaging with customers means that you ask questions and have a conversation. Instead of an RT, try “.@SolarFred, what did you think about this solar news?” and then provide a link. Or even better, comment about the news. Better still, write an original blog post with useful, non-sales, solar information about local solar incentives or technology trends.

Are you better off making mistakes and Tweeting than not being on Twitter at all?  Yes! Don’t feel overwhelemed. Twitter is just like learning a new language, and you can learn that language with practice and time. And then you’ll see that it’s well worth it. As always…UnThink Solar.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred’s Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.