‘Tis the season for office holiday parties. But if you’re a writer without a day job, you might feel left out of this dreaded sacred tradition.

Do not worry, writers! Twitter is the holiday soiree that never ends. What’s more, the same rules of etiquette expected at a holiday party apply to Twitter.

1. Don’t Come Empty Handed

When you attend a party you would normally bring a bottle of wine, or some kind of gift for the hosts, right? Think of Twitter as your host. What kind of gift would Twitter want from its guests? Words!

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Come to Twitter with something to say. You don’t need to be clever and groundbreaking with every tweet. But do speak up on Twitter. If you need ideas, read last month’s post “How to Tweet so People Will Listen” for specific examples.

2. Don’t Do All The Talking

You know that guy at the party who never comes up for air? The one who monopolizes every conversation and brings the topic back to his own life whenever the next person takes a breath? Don’t be that guy.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Listening is the key to Twitter success. If you’re following 400 people, but you never read their tweets, then you’re being “that guy.” It can’t be all about you. Make sure you’re tweeting about and with other people.

3. Circulate Among The Guests

At an office party, it would be bad form if you spent the entire time hiding in the corner with the two people you like at work. It would also be a lost opportunity to network.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Reach out to different people on Twitter now and then. We all have our comfortable “tribes,” but sometimes Twitter can get cliquey. Combat this by retweeting someone new every so often. Respond to questions. Respond to observations. Interact with various people. (Hint: by various, I mean, they shouldn’t all be fellow writers.)

4. Don’t Keep Telling the Same Story

While you’re circulating at a party, you wouldn’t want to keep telling the same story to every single person. Sure, it was a funny the first three times, but after a while you start sounding like a robot.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Be careful about over-tweeting the same links and messages all day long. Okay, so your first chapter is available on Amazon for free. Unless that chapter is going to magically slip out of our e-readers dipped in gold, we don’t need the reminder every hour for four days.

5. Make New People Feel Comfortable

It never feels good to walk into a room and feel like everyone is talking about you. Or in the case of Twitter, that nobody is talking about you.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Give new people a chance. Interact with them. Follow them if their Twitter bios interest you. Say hello. This doesn’t mean you have to follow everyone, but it’s nice to give new faces the benefit of the doubt.

6. Be a Connector

Even better than the person who welcomes a new face at a party is the person who takes the extra step of introducing the newbie to others.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: Invite others into the conversation. Connect people who clearly have interests in common. It’s easy. Take a look at an introduction I made recently.

7. End Conversations Gracefully

There’s an art to ending a conversation at a party. Some people find it so difficult to gracefully walk away that they have to create signals with friends and spouses as the emergency cue for help. The good news for Twitter users is that the environment on the Twitter feed is even more casual than a real office party. In fact, the biggest Twitter etiquette mistakes occur when people act overly formal. Therefore ending a conversation “gracefully” on Twitter means something different than ending one in real life.

TWITTER TAKEAWAY: While at an actual party you might feel funny walking away in the middle of a discussion, on Twitter it’s expected that interactions are short and sweet. Likewise, when someone says thank you on Twitter (which I believe happens way more often than necessary for the quick and casual atmosphere of Twitter) it is completely over-the-top to then tweet “you’re welcome.” Being “graceful” on Twitter means knowing when to leave well enough alone.

In real life, at some point everyone needs to leave a party and go home for some peace and quiet. It’s no different with Twitter. Don’t forget to turn off the computer, put away the smartphones, and shut out the noise of the Internet. We will all be here when you get back. 

Also, don’t drink and tweet drive. Happy holidays!

Photo credit: via Flickr by DBarefoot



About Nina Badzin

Nina Badzin is a writer and blogger who lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, as well as the Huffington Post's books, parenting, religion, and technology pages. In a strange turn of events, Nina has become the go-to gal for Twitter advice. This confuses her parents and her husband to no end. She tweets at @NinaBadzin and blogs regularly at http://ninabadzin.com. You can find her on Facebook, too.