Twitter Etiquette to Always Remember
Just like other social media like Facebook, Myspace, and etc, Twitter has its own rules of the road. Before you jump in, or even if you already have, read this article.
Every conversation has rules to follow. We know not to interrupt someone when they’re talking. We know not to use bad language when we talk. We know not to talk too loudly. And we know too how and when to break all of the rules.
It’s just exactly the same is true for a Twitter conversation. The site hasn’t been around for long, but Twitterers have already tried to figure out something like a Twittering etiquette.
1. Don’t spam.
If you are marketing on twitter, don’t be too aggressive or else people will think you are a spammer, and spammer doesn’t last long on twitter. They don’t build followers. Any followers they do get don’t read their tweets and number of conversations they can generate will be so tiny that as a marketing method.
There are all sorts of different ways to spam on Twitter.
• One way is to follow lots of lots of people in the hope that some of them follow you in return. Well, that’s not just ineffective; it also turns up clearly in your bio.
• Whenever someone’s bio shows that they’re following several thousand people but only being followed by a handful, that’s a pretty good sign that they’re looking to spam. They’re trying to build up followers who will follow them out of politeness rather than because they have interesting content.
• Twitterers often steer clear of people like that.
• Spamming message itself is containing out tweets that say things like: “I’ve just put up a new blog post — check it out!” or “Sign up for my RSS feed!”
Occasionally, you can send out tweets like this. But you have to mix it with other tweets too. Otherwise, you’re just spamming, and that’s annoying.
And the worse is, it doesn’t work.
2. Follow style rules.
Twitter’s founders might be thinking of saving data when they design the system service, or maybe the designing team leader have had mobile phone when they think of the design of the platform and plenty of users may be typing their updates from their handheld devices, but Twitter isn’t exactly the same as SMS messaging.
That means the language needs to look more like real words than the usual SMS-style abbreviations.
For example, typing in uppercase letters looks like you’re shouting, but in addition to avoiding all uppercase, you should spell out words completely and avoid using numbers instead of letters whenever possible. (For example, “late” is not spelled “l8” and “to” is two letters, not one number.)
That might mean more typing, but the reasoning is sensible. It will be also hard for the reader to understand. It’s only good manners — and good marketing sense — for you to put in the work so that your readers don’t have to.
There are exceptions, of course. If you’re really strapped for space, this is a rule you can break, but understand that you’re forcing your followers to make an effort. What is permissible, though, is to use symbols such as @ and=and to skip some of the grammar. The question Twitter asks may be “What are you doing now?” but you don’t have to begin your answer by saying “I am…” Sentence fragments such “About to start watching the football. Can’t wait.” are fine.
3. Give credit for retweets.
One of the features that make Twitter such a powerful tool is the fact that the tweet or any information placed on the site can quickly go viral. People can pass tweets that they think well on to their own followers, and soon it’s spreading right across the Twitterverse and beyond.
For a marketer, that’s like hitting the jackpot. On Twitter, it’s done by retweeting.
In Twitter, Tweets can be simply copy by someone else’s and tweet it themselves . . . but they must give credit to the original Twitterer. The format for retweets, then, looks like this:
“Retweet @username: original tweet.”
4. Stick to 140 characters.
Twitter platform design has its own purpose and that is what makes it unique. And also they do it for a good reason. You have to stick to 140 and that’s all they give you. Being starved of space stops you waffling and sparks creativity. That’s what twitter is all about.
Even though the character limit is fairly low, it does make sense to keep to it as much as possible. The alternative is you can show half-complete message and offer links to continue reading or break the message into several tweet then send it over.
You can observe and see this happening sometimes on twitter, and it rarely looks good. Readers expect small content on twitter, something that they expect to absorb in one bite. These are content snacks, not a main course or three-course meal with coffee.
5. Follow people who follow you.
Follow people who follow you but you also have to set a limit. Following thousands of people and you are not going to be able to read all of their tweets. Inevitable, you will miss important tweets you’d really like to read. In practice, it doesn’t always work this way. I follow more than 1,700 people. That’s a lot less than 4,500 or so who follow me, and while I know I’m missing some tweets, I love the fact that when I look at my twitter page I can see different variety of conversation.
Ultimately, I think this is one place where eventually you have to skip the etiquette and do what works. As your follower list grows, you’ll have to start being a little bit choosier about whom you follow in return — and your followers will just have to understand that you’re being selective, not rude.
Spend any time on Twitter and you’re going to come across plenty of other rules too. Some purists, for example, argue that your tweets should only describe what you’re doing, not what you’re thinking or planning to do. I think that’s far too restrictive: if it sparks a conversation and entertains your followers, it’s a fair topic. If they don’t like it, they should read someone else’s tweets.
And that’s really the ultimate test of tweet etiquette: how other people react and how you would react to the same kind of thing.
If you’re building followers and they’re responding to what you’re writing, you’re following the right rules.