You’ve seen my rules for blogging. With many people using the social media 360— blogging, Facebook, and Twitter simultaneously– I thought it would be helpful to share my Twitter rules. These guide my use of the site and I think would act as a good primer for those getting into it.
Rule #1: Don’t forget the question. The primary use of Twitter is to tell people what you are doing. It’s easy to get lost in conversation and treat Twitter like a chat room. With that in mind I try not to @reply the same person back and forth in conversation. I am quick to take the conversation to a phone call, email, or direct message. The power of Twitter is seeing that all of our lives are fascinatingly mundane. Focus on that and you’ll be fine.
Rule #2: It’s not about the numbers. There’s a lot of locker room-styled comparisons going on with who has the biggest following. Just like in real life, it’s not size that’s important. (See rule #1) If you are interesting to people you will attract a larger following. Joining a website that promises 10,000 followers or endlessly participating in #followfriday in hopes that you’ll add just 3 more followers is only going to make your use of Twitter less enjoyable and you more annoying to follow. I allow anyone to follow me. But for my personal account I only follow back who I want to follow back. I read every profile when someone follows me… and I follow back just those whom look interesting. For business accounts I follow everyone back who follows those accounts.
Rule #3: Don’t follow then unfollow just to build a following. Follow only who you want to follow. It is rude to follow someone so they will follow you back only to then go and unfollow them. That’s rude. I can’t tell you how many people do that to me. And they probably think I’m rude because I don’t play along.
Rule #4: Retweet, @reply, and compliment often. It’s good form to reply to every @reply. On my personal account, I do my best to @reply to everyone who @replies to me. Remember, Twitter can be a fun place for networking, idea sharing, and community. Be aware that @replies help your followers meet and get to know one another.
Rule #5: Pimp your content, but pimp it lightly. In the early days of Twitter there was backlash when you’d post links to your blog or other content. I don’t think it’s a big deal to Tweet links to your content, just do it lightly. (Mention it once, then move on.) Then again, if all you use Twitter for is posting links to your content… that won’t be interesting enough to draw a following.
Rule #6: Keep private stuff private. Avoid the social fax paux of over-sharing on Twitter. No one wants to know that you are taking a dump, getting drunk with friends, or just made out with your girlfriend. Sharing where you are eating, who you are out with, or TwitPic’s of your best friend passed out while taking a dump… perfectly fine though. That’s for the public interest.
Rule #7: It’s OK to have multiple accounts. I know people who have public accounts and private accounts. I have personal accounts, work accounts, and special interest accounts. All of this is fine. It helps people follow only the stuff that they actually want.
Rule #8: Hashtags are for tracking stuff. It’s OK to use them just for fun or sarcasm. I do it all the time. But if you aren’t at an event or a concert and you use their hashtag just because everyone else is, you look stupid. Even if you are at the event make sure you only tag tweets that are relevant to the event.
Rule #9: Don’t be a whore. I teach people how to tactfully self-promote themselves. I think that is fine. But don’t sell your account for marketing tweets and don’t use twitter to enter marketing promotions. Since Twitter won’t do anything about this and has allowed bots to create squatting accounts, this is why I think Twitter is the next Myspace.