I love Twitter (I think several of you would agree). We all use it in varying ways: share, broadcast, consume, crowdsource information, connect, etc. However you use it, if it’s working, good for you. There’s no one right way to do things.
However, every now and again, people behave in a manner that the collective community deems inappropriate or disingenuous. So I thought I’d cultivate a list of things (consider these suggested tips) to consider when using Twitter on a daily basis and growing your network.
I’m hoping that in building this, I’ll get contributions from you all that I can add to the list. So drop your thoughts below or send me your tweets (@ribeezie).
A Quick & Informal Twitter Guide
- Start with a full bio and avatar picture (something to consider: people like connecting a name to a face so an actual picture of yourself might work best).
- In your bio, it’s best to disclose your work relationship especially if how you use Twitter is going to have an impact on your day-job. See @tcar’s bio (he’s the Manager of Social Media for the National Association of REALTORS®).
- Be yourself. For the most part, people on Twitter are friendly and open to meeting new people. In face to face, it might be awkward to jump into someone’s conversation (not always). On Twitter, it’s generally okay and welcome to jump out and meet people via a new Tweet.
- Don’t take things personal. In face-to-face, you can catch see people’s expressions and listen to their tone so you can tell when a person is being playful or joking. On Twitter, it’s much harder to determine and it’s easy to take things out of context. That being said, people aren’t always necessarily being mean so don’t take it personal.
- It’s ok to follow random people on Twitter (especially if you’re new). Send them a Tweet if and when you do. They might not always follow you back. Again, don’t take it personal.
- It’s ok to un-follow someone on Twitter. They Tweet too much. They Tweet to little. Whatever the reason, it’s ok. It doesn’t necessarily mean “I don’t like you.”
- If you have a question, it’s ok to send as an @reply to a person or to the Twitterphere in general. This is called crowdsourcing and works great for gathering feedback from the masses.
- If you’re having a conversation with someone on Twitter and it turns sensitive or private (a business discussion), consider responding via Direct Message or taking it off-line. Not every bit of information you share should be in the public timeline.
- It’s not generally ok to Direct Message someone a link to your most recent blog post asking them for a Retweet. It’s considered impolite and can often be viewed as spam.
- Most people (maybe not all) dislike those auto-mated “Thanks for the follow!” DM’s. It’s ok that you like them but they’re generally considered spam by the rest of the Twittersphere (including myself).
- When someone follows you, instead of sending them a “Thanks for the follow” via DM, consider sending it via a public @reply.
- It’s considered polite to credit someone in a ReTweet or if you’re sharing a blog post, it’s nice to credit the author. You don’t always have to, but it’s nice.
- It’s considered spam and impolite to include someone you don’t know in a Tweet just because you want them to read your post (this is the equivalent of sending them a DM to read your post). It’s spam and often times results in getting blocked or un-followed.
- It’s great to share links to posts and articles that you find around the web and that you think your community mind find resourceful. BUT, it’s not viewed as ‘friendly’ or ‘engaging’ if all you do is broadcast links and you never @reply folks.
- Too much self-promotion can be considered spam. Focus on trying to promote other people’s good work too and make yourself a knowledge resource (this will make it easier for people to comment, retweet and promote your content).
- Take into consideration the applications that you connect to your Twitter account and how you push content. If all you do is check-in on foursquare or broadcast other types of like information, it’s considered irrelevant broadcast-type content (some people view it as spam, myself included).
- When you share links to articles/posts, it’s polite to cite the source. (For example, “New from Seth Godin…”).
- When you ReTweet someone else and they’re linking to a post, it can be wise to double-check the link.
- You don’t have to read every Tweet. (Twitter Lists are a great way to filter content. For example, I have a News & Resources List for content that I find interesting/resourceful from around the web. Note: You can choose to make your lists private if you wish.).
- You don’t have to reply to every @reply. (If it’s a question someone’s asking it’s nice to respond quickly via @reply or DM especially if it’s a potential client).
- If someone DM’s you and you can’t direct message them back because they’re not following you, a simple “I can’t DM you back because you’re not currently following me” is sufficient. No need to make a big fuss about it beyond that point.
- Remember to leave space in your Tweets for people to be able to ReTweet you (especially if that’s the goal).
- It’s ok to truncate/edit a Tweet in order to be able to ReTweet it.
- You’re not obligated to follow everyone who follows you. If you met at an event face-to-face, it’s a nice gesture. Otherwise, consider visiting the person’s Twitter stream to see what they tweet (if it’s good, then follow them. If it’s not, then don’t. This would be a good place to use Twitter lists too).
- Download a Twitter client or two; they make for a much better user experience. (I have a preference for Seesmic. I use ubertwitter and seesmic on my blackberry).
These are just some ideas and suggestions for how to use Twitter. Do you agree or disagree? What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment sharing your tip(s) in 140 characters or less and I’ll amend it to the list above (don’t forget to leave your Twitter ID).