It feels to me that the honeymoon phase of Twitter is over - or at least it should be.
While there are still thousands of users joining Twitter every day, many of us have now been using the tool for years, which means that rules and conventions have developed. Most of them make the use of Twitter more effective and enjoyable, some of them seem to clog up space that could be utilized for more meaningful communication.
Here my personal list of “The Top Five Do’s and Don’ts for Tweeters“:
- Don’t constantly thank people who have retweeted you. I am all for Twitter etiquette, but it is getting out of hand. It’s a better idea to list a bunch of people who retweeted you in a single Tweet, but does it really have to happen at all? Are we really still so fascinated by the fact that our name appears on Twitter? Sure, it’s nice to get a notification that you have been mentioned but I think it’s time to cut down the traffic.
- Don’t chit-chat between two people about nothing. Why does that have to be public? Instead, follow each other and take it to the D Tweet area. Would you have a loud conversation in the middle of a room full of people? I’ll help you keep followers and others to cut through the information overload.
- Don’t have the same Twitter account for business and your friends/family, unless you don’t have a life outside of work. It comes back to having your own brand. Make it worthwhile for people to follow you and only throw in private milestones.
- Don’t leave the profile section in your Twitter account blank. Why would anybody follow anybody who does not state their “brand”? Let people know what to expect from you and your Tweets, especially if you are interested in developing a following.
- Don’t send automated messages thanking people for following you and asking them to click on a URL. First of all, automation is against the spirit of a personal Twitter conversation (so don’t make it so obvious) and second, it seems fishy to send a URL right away; I would never click on it.
- (Had to add this last one: Do we really need yet another “paper.li” aka the Joe Blocks Daily? Think before you create one, please.)
- (Really the last one: Don’t automate all your Tweets to show up on your FB page. Not fun for your friends who follow you on both of these channels.)
- Please do think about why you are on Twitter (= your brand) and be somewhat consistent in your messages. You owe this to your followers so that they don’t have to pick out relevant content between your notifications that you just checked into “Pizza Parlor” or “washed your cat”. I am not saying, don’t have a personality, but as Twitter is public, it’s good for you and the rest of us if there is a theme. It will help you build a consistent following and reduce the noise out there. Think “Tweet pollution”.
- Do participate in #FollowFriday or #FF. It’s a nice way to recommend somebody who sends good Tweets and to show them that their Tweets are not going unappreciated or even unnoticed. A piece of Twitter etiquette that I find endearing. Ideally, don’t just Tweet an @handle but explain WHY this person is worth following
- Do send original Tweets (not just RTs) to convey opinions on relevant topics or engage with your followers.
- Last, when you RT and add a comment, try to make it clear which part is your comment vs. the original Tweet, add a carrot and your initials (^NT) if necessary. I’ve been engaged in many confusing Twitter conversations caused by this issue.
- Do retweet relevant pieces of information and URLs to your followers. And if there are enough characters, do add your own commentary or interpretation to show that you are retweeting it for a reason or have additional insights. Lately, I’ve heard people complain about too much retweeting. I say, make sure the information is relevant for your followers and that the 140 characters you use to describe the URL are not misleading.
I am a huge fan of Twitter and I have at one time or another broken all of the above rules. Follow the rules you like and ignore the rest! And please share your own do’s and don’ts for Twitter if you have the time.