The Dos and Don'ts of Twitter

Iam on a reading sabbatical right now. So instead you get me spouting venom about my social media peeves. I think most of you know how ironic this is, since I am a giant social media DON'T, especially when it comes to Twitter. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

Let's proceed. This week I'd like to look at Twitter DON'Ts and, just to keep my world from slipping into a vortex of catty negativity, some DOs, as well.

DON'T tweet the same message from multiple accounts

I know Hootsuite is super rad because you can link up your two corporate accounts, your personal account, and the account for your cat. But pretty please, don't tweet from all of them at the same time. Chances are, if I follow one of your accounts, I follow all of them because I think you're a relevant personage. And now you're spamming my feed? This is me unfollowing you. Even your adorable cat's account.

DO tweet from as few accounts as possible

Building a voice on Twitter takes time and dedication. And by voice, I mean a distinct style. Trying to build multiple voices for the multiple "facets of your personality" is madness. Keep it simple, stupid.

DON'T ask Twitter "what's up?"

What's up with you? No really? What are you doing. Thinking. Feeling. Reading about. Who cares about me! It's your account! Tweet something!! You're eating yogurt? Super! Just give me something to go on.

DO tell me about your feelings

This is sort of a huge don't, but only really in excess. And it's definitely a don't when another person is involved. YES: I am having an existential crisis and trying to deal with my co-dependency issues. NO: Anything that starts with "my ex" or "my parents" or anything like that. Don't do it. Your account, your business. Keep it at that.

Sure, twitter is about conversation, and the best conversations always take you a little outside your comfort zone. The hard part is trying to keep it real and maintaining your dignity at the same time. Tell me when you figure that one out.

DON'T send auto DMs

This is the ultimate Twitter sin; it goes against everything Twitter stands for. Twitter is a dynamic conversation based on a give and take of information, and genuine curiosity about what other people are thinking and doing in the world we live in today.

Sure, you have something to sell, don't we all, but a robot-generated response to my follow is a slap in the face. It says to me: "I don't care about creating a dialogue with you, I just want to brand you with my agenda in as quick a manner as possible." I'm glad that you care more about your product than other people. Please go away.

DO @ reply more than you tweet

Step one: find relevant followers who are genuinely interested in your product. Look up people or companies like you and follow their followers. They will follow you back. Step two: engage in conversation. Don't talk about your product or your agenda when @ replying. I know, this is scary, but run with me here. Step three: talk about your product/agenda sometimes, but make sure this is about you providing relevant, need-to-know information, not a reflection of your desperation TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT THERE. It's like dating. Always hold something back.

Try it.

DON'T link your twitter account with LinkedIn

(Unless what you tweet about is 85% relevant to what's in your LinkedIn profile.)

I am completely guilty of this. I thought my twitter account would act as an RSS feed for book and social media related opinions and links. It didn't quite work out that way. Then I forgot that I'd linked up my accounts, and then our business manager at work started commenting on how I seemed to be obsessed with J. Crew. Link your accounts with discretion, folks. Better yet, don't do it at all.

DO tweet regularly

It's like eating your vegetables–you need to do it every day. The twitter feed is ever refreshing, and I know this is what intimidates some people, but just jump on that carousel and enjoy the ride. Not everything you write will blow minds, but as long as you're genuinely interested in what you're tweeting about, it will be OK. Don't hold back, and, in a world of fakes, you'll find that your followers will appreciate your candor.

DON'T RT (re-tweet)

Or try not to. I love RT'ing but whenever I ask myself why I RT'd a particular post, the answer is always: "SO PEOPLE WILL KNOW HOW RELEVANT I AM!"

Certified dick move. Certified twitter #fail.

Unless the tweet is that juicy, go with original content. And please RT my tweets.

DO create hashtags

Great way to get your tweets picked up in searches. Just stay away from acronyms, and don't get fancy with your spellings. When it comes to hashtags, the less creative the better, really.

DON'T circle jerk

Not to be crass, but circle jerking is a big tweet peeve of mine. So you and your five friends all love each other and want to talk on twitter all the time. Well, if I'm following all of you, it's really my fault that you're spamming my feed. But, if you five are trying to feed off of each other professionally, I hope you enjoy the tiny itsy bitsy little box you've just put yourself in. Not recommended, even when it Feels. So. Good.

DO expect to be unfollowed

If people aren't unfollowing you, you're not doing it right. Having an opinion is a polarizing situation. Don't fence sit. Opine, though try not to be a dick about it.

DON'T treat your followers as your subjects

We all want the chance to rule our own corner of the world, but Twitter is not the place for that. Throwing out comments, and then retreating, expecting others to natter over your golden words of wisdom is selfish. Engage, and expect to be taken down occasionally. If you're like me and you take everything personally, this is not fun, but then again, now is always the time to work on your control issues.

Please comment below and tell me what a jerk I am. Or keep it real and tell me your own tweet peeves.


Vanessa Di Gregorio said...

I am definitely guilty of retweeting people. But I tell myself it's because I like to share things, dammit!

A HUGE pet peeve of mine though (and I find that mostly writers do it) revolves around #FFs and #WWs. Some people think it's a great idea to #FF or #WW EVERY SINGLE PERSON THEY FOLLOW. Which completely defeats the purpose of #FollowFriday. It's meant to highlight certain people, not spam my twitterfeed with non-stop lists the entire day. It's an automatic unfollow as soon as someone starts doing that.

Heather said...

I don't tweet, but found this a very interesting glimpse into that world.

Kendra said...

It's really interesting that you recommend @ replies more than straight tweets. That's not my approach, but you certainly encourage me to try that out more often!

Callista said...

Great tips for the most part. I don't have a problem with RTing as long as that's not ALL they do. I RT when I really agree with what someone said or they are sharing a link I think my followers would like.

I do think it's important to have a @ replies and tweets but I'm not sure it's always best to have more of one than the other. Replies show you care about your followers and talk to them but they are rarely of interest to me since I don't know the rest of the conversation. There needs to be some original tweets in there for me to read too.

My pet peeve is people who ONLY tweet about their product or service and I mean ONLY and it's usually the same tweet or practically the same tweet over and over again.

@BookMadam said...

Great list, B. I'd add one more. Don't try to write in a voice that isn't yours. Somehow, we've developed what we think is the shorthand of how to talk to one another on Twitter. Organic voices FTW. If I meet you in person and you sound like an entirely different person, it's not just misleading, it's false advertising and we have a right to feel swindled.

August said...

I am guilty of fewer than these than I anticipated. Big sigh of relief over here, even though I bet I avoid most of these only because my Twitter use it completely unconnected from my job. :)

I'm the biggest emo tweeter ever, though. Around 2005 I went from being the guy who never talks about personal stuff, to the guy who can't shut up about personal stuff, and Twitter is totally enabling that (in the negative sense of the word).

I also RT a lot, but it has to pass the awesome test. If I find myself saying, "hey, that was awesome/funny/insightful, you guys should see that", then I will RT. Otherwise no.

You've also reminded me that I linked my Twitter and Linkedin accounts way back in the day, before I started using Twitter for more than just "working on project X" type stuff...

Amy said...

I love all of these do's and dont's! Some hilarious, some I'm guilty of, and others that are just so true! I'm glad you shared with us!

steph said...

Whoa. I totally feel self-conscious now. I am guilty of tweeting from my and the store's accounts on occasion and I must stop because it feels wrong anyway.

Also, I RT a lot. But I do it only because I want to spread whatever it is I'm RTing! Because I think it's important. HONEST!

I have one for you, personally: DO keep tweeting all the food you make. YUM! You inspire me.

Cozy in Texas said...

I love this post. I've tweeted the total of one time. There's just so much going on with blogging, facebook, e-mail, cell phones, landlines (yes I have one of those) It's a crazy world we live in.

Teddy Rose said...

I'm new to Twitter and found this very helpful. Thank you so much. I am on my way to read about hashtags. I've heard of them but not sure what they do.

Scrat said...

I don't think I am ready to enter the scary world of Twitter. I didn't understand a lot of the DO's and DON'Ts so I will take that as a sign.

Megan said...

I haven't an opinion on anything Twitter related, however, I'm terribly curious whether you got a chance to read Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life or whether it was one of those books you mentioned you couldn't get into. Happy holidays!

B.Kienapple said...

Vanessa: WHAT IS #WW?? Oh no, not another of those memes. I understand your frustration. And often people #FF the same people over and over, people they're trying to get the attention of. I get it, but ugh.
Kendra: I advocate @ replying simply because twitter is about conversation, unless you're a news source and just running a straight link feed.
Callista: RT'ing is good because often I find someone new and sharp to follow when others do it. But original content is always better than rehashed content. I prefer people to put their own spin on things.
Also, I enjoy people who only tweet about their product because THEY ARE DIGGING THEIR OWN SOCIAL MEDIA GRAVE. And I unfollow them, and never have to hear from them again. :)

B.Kienapple said...

Julie: I sort of enjoy the Twitter persona. I find people can get a lot more real on Twitter than they do in real life. People who are mildly interesting IRL sometimes display their true obnoxious selves on Twitter. Or people who are quiet get really dynamic and fun with their Twitter selves.
It's interesting to compare the real and Twitter selves.

But neither are really real.

I am fascinated by thinking about this.

B.Kienapple said...

August: UNLINK! Linking accounts is rarely good.
My emo-ness is totally enabled by Twitter, too. You give me a platform, and I find myself unloading. Twitter is the equivalent of two beers, and also it goes nicely with two (or more) beers, hence the birth of #ASKMEANYTHING.


B.Kienapple said...

Steph: I will happily tweet my #HANGRY-ness to you, and everyone else, anytime! :D

I hadn't actually noticed that you tweet from both accounts. But two days ago I noticed I WASN'T FOLLOWING YOU. I must have accidentally unfollowed you lately, because I totally was before! Not following you is a crime against nature.
Also, I shouldn't hate on RT'ing so much. It IS a great way to discover great tweeters. I just wanted to make the point that moderation is definitely key here.

B.Kienapple said...

Cozy in Texas: Twitter can require a lot of time, and I think that's why a lot of people shy away from it. But if you go in with a specific goal (to network, to build a public profile, to make new buddies, to talk about a hobby etc.) you will find you can get a lot out of it!

B.Kienapple said...

Teddy Rose: Hashtags are just a way to make a key word in your tweet searchable. For example, using the hashtag #MyResolution when tweeting about your New Year's resolution makes it easier for others to find your tweet.
Scrat: See response to Cozy above!
Megan: Did I not post a review of A Homemade Life? Oh, I guess not. I did read it and LOVED it! What a great writer. I am also enjoying her articles in Bon Appetit. Thanks for the rec, friend!

Katherine said...

Yeah, you're all boring. Please find something better to do with your time. (Clearly some of you can read, at the very least, so...)


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