It might (or might not) come as a surprise to you that many writers hate Twitter. I confess that I’ve had my own “die, Twitter, die” moments over the years, and it’s usually due to discourtesy. The character limit, the flood of information, the time drain: those I can stomach. But people being rude or obnoxious? Well, I think we’ve all had moments where we wanted to jump ship.
Unfortunately, we can’t make everyone else use Twitter well. What we can do as denizens of the writing Twit-o-sphere is make sure that we are using Twitter well. Of course, this is subjective, but isn’t all etiquette subjective? Today I’m going to cover my top 10 etiquette guidelines in hopes of encouraging a livable, courteous place for us all to tweet. Let’s go!
1. Don’t be a numbers hog.
Remember my first Twitter column about my 5 unshakeable beliefs? One of those was “quality over quantity,” and it still is. (Can’t shake it.) What this translates to behavior-wise is treating people as people rather than tally marks. Don’t follow 500 new people at once just to see who will follow you back. Don’t unfollow everyone if they don’t follow you back immediately. Instead, try finding people who actually interest you and engaging with them. Build relationships, not a big number. You’ll feel better, your platform will be stronger, and your followers will like you more (and actually know who you are).
2. Unhook your outside accounts.
I know I’ll get some flak for this, but it drives me crazy when people hook their outside accounts to their Twitter account. I don’t want to see every single post from your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or tumblr. And if I do… I can follow you on those platforms. In fact, having these hooked to your Twitter makes me less likely to follow you at those places. Why would I sign up for double information? Not to mention that most of these “hooked” accounts require Twitter users to click out to see/read the information, which is really annoying.
Instead of hooking Twitter to your other favorite platforms, try occasionally tweeting links to how to follow you elsewhere, sometimes mixed with what type of things you offer there. For example, I sometimes lure my Twitter followers with cute cat pictures if they come “like” my Facebook page. But if I were to share those same pictures on Twitter every time, why would they bother? Offering varied content without cross-pollinating creates value in each place, rather than just one. (Occasional cross-over is fine.)
On a related note: many writers also run secondary Twitter accounts, either for organizations, groups, magazines, or whatever. It’s fine to occasionally retweet these secondary accounts so people know they’re there, but don’t retweet every tweet. It’s the same as above; if your followers wanted to see every tweet, they would simply follow that account.
3. Don’t mass-tweet a personal tweet.
I’ve noticed a growing trend: the practice of replying to everyone to reply to one person. Someone tweets something. A follower @ replies. The original tweeter replies to that publicly instead of directly. They do this by putting a period in front of their response so everyone can see it, or by tagging the person at the end instead of the beginning of the tweet. [Read more…]