Twitter has its own rules, available through its Help Centre, in which it details the regulations users must adhere to or risk being permanently evicted from their site. However, these mostly have to do with impersonating others for gain or repeatedly threatening people with violence, and if you thought those were a good idea on Twitter you’re probably in the wrong place!
For most of us, our Twitter etiquette queries are a little more specific, and have to do with the best way to use Twitter, how to behave gracefully on the site and how to avoid embarrassing faux pas while Tweeting.
So here’s my guide to using Twitter with style!
1: Don’t #stuff your tweets with #hashtags.
It’s a sign of being inconsiderate and over-eager that makes you look desperate, or uncaring whether you annoy people or not. Either way it’s a rookie mistake and you’re best off avoiding it. Hashtag sparingly, never more than three times in one Tweet and choose hashtaqs wisely.
2: The people you follow are a comment on you
They’re the people you’re seen as associating with and therefore endorsing to some extent. If there’s someone you’re following on Twitter who you don’t feel that way about, try using a tool like SocialBro to strim away the dead wood.
3: Think about what you find ridiculous, silly or embarrassing on Twitter – and don’t do it
Twitter has an underserved reputation for being a place where people from LA come to say ‘OMG!!!!!!!!’ to each other, or where people talk about what they have for breakfast. That’s a false picture of Twitter but it’s true, some people do just those things. If it makes you wince, don’t do it.
4: Always add value
Everything you Tweet should add value to your followers’ day, and contribute something of value to the conversation in which you and they are (hopefully!) participating.
5: Think about what you find stylish, engaging, smart and useful on Twitter, and work to achieve the same
Obviously, that doesn’t mean copying Tweeting styles you like, but putting what you like about them together to create your own, authentic voice on Twitter.
6: Don’t Just Tweet headlines and links - but don’t feel you have to ‘stuff’ your Tweets either.
Instead, look for a happy medium where you Tweet sufficient content to get your ideas across without extraneous words, but with enough context so you’re not just dumping data on your followers.
7: Re-following people is a privilege, not a right
You don’t have to ‘refollow’ everyone who follows you.
8: Don’t strive for followers.
Lazy journos use a celebrity’s number of Twitter followers to indicate their popularity, but what you should really want on Twitter are conversations. It’s social media, not a subscription wire service. A hundred people who regularly talk to you will do your business more good than a thousand followers who ignore you.
9: Avoid automation
No-one wants to hang out with a robot, so avoid automatic DMs, try to Tweet manually rather than by prearranged schedule, and dodge all the automated services you can. The only exception is the manual re-Tweet. If you manually put ‘RT’ in your Tweet and just copy paste another person’s thoughts, you’re seen as stealing their thunder. Use the handy re-Tweet button.
10: Always be positive
Criticism is valuable, since it both demonstrates knowledge and helps your followers discriminate and make decisions. But merely negative comments reflect badly on you. Twitter’s a great place for futile bickering; steer clear, and it’s a great place to create a positive image and engage positively with others, by keeping your tone and content… positive.
Twitter can be an ideal place to reach interested customers and to establish a voice for your brand. Following a few rules of etiquette can help you avoid howlers and get the results you want. Now go Tweet!
Photo credits courtesy dontshoot.me! on flickr.com