The 5 points of TwetiquetteApril 27, 2009
This is a guest post by Dan Nash, a 27 year old entrepreneur and self-confessed social media addict. He’s a serial website owner, a programmer, McLaren fan and general geek, who’s just as at home with MacOS X as he is with Vista/XP. Find out more at www.DanNash.net.
Twitter is fast becoming the de-facto social media service for, well just about everyone really. Once the province of the super-geeks, at the last count there were more than 7 million Twitter accounts! You can now find just about anyone on Twitter – from celebrities like Oprah and Martha Stewart, to major corporations like CNN, Jet Blue and Rio Tinto.
As an entrepreneur and business owner myself, I find there are great benefits to being on Twitter. However, the more followers you get, the more you realise many people just use it for self-promotion, auto-following and constantly promoting their own projects.
That gets on my nerves, quite frankly! Twitter is a great resource, and used properly can provide tremendous value to everyone.
To that end I’d like to offer my tips for getting the most out of Twitter, without cheating or using automatic systems. Twitter Etiquette (or “twetiquette”), if you will. You’ll feel better about yourself if you follow these tips, and I guarantee you’ll get more Twitter-love as a result.
Follow & Follow Back
The key principle on Twitter is followers. You follow people, and people follow you. Simple. You’re not gonna get much value if you don’t follow anyone. So… make a habit of following people. You don’t have to follow a certain number of people a day, or follow everyone, but if they are tweeting interesting things, follow them.
Likewise, if someone follows you – it’s only courteous to follow them back. They’ve followed you for a reason (because they’re interested in what you say?), so there’s a good bet they’ll be interesting to you. Make a habit of following back.
Say Thank You
If someone does something nice for you in the “real world”, you’d thank them, right? So why should Twitter be any different?
If someone takes the time to follow or re-tweet you (more on re-tweeting shortly), as well as following back, say thank you… publicly. It’s easy to do, it costs you nothing (like most things on Twitter) and it’ll give them a warm fuzzy feeling. Doing it publicly also shows all your followers that you’re a nice person, and that’s never a bad thing.
(There is also an automated Twitter account that re-tweets your thank you tweets – again, great for your follow count and reputation. Follow @thanktank)
Value from Twitter comes from communication. Once you have followers, you need to have something to say. I often get asked “isn’t Twitter just people talking about what they had for breakfast?” – funny, but totally inaccurate. Saying that, saying good morning will get you everywhere!
So what should you tweet? Well, that depends on who you are of course, and to a certain extent what your goals are. Personally, I tweet about all sorts of subjects… from the sports teams I follow, work things to do with my websites, and a certain amount of personal “what am I doing now” stuff. If you’re a musician, I’d like to hear about new songs your working on, the writing/recording process, etc. TV presenter Phillip Schofield can often be found tweeting backstage stuff about his shows, which I find really interesting – yeah, it’s a kind of promotion, but it’s information you wouldn’t normally get.
The key thing to remember is: don’t panic. Not every tweet you write will add value to someone or be interesting to all your followers. You can’t please everyone all the time. Don’t be afraid to promote your projects. Just… don’t do it all the time!
Above all, just be yourself… and let your personality shine through.
Twitter allows us to use hash tags to tie a collection of tweets from different people together. Let’s say you’re going to a conference called GeekSpeak – everyone who’s going talking about the conference might tag their tweets with #geekspeak. That makes it easier to follow the full conversation about a certain topic, and some Twitter clients (TweetDeck for example) allow you to search for anything with a certain hash tag – very handy.
You should use hash tags, but a couple have gained massive traction within the community, and you need to be taking advantage of them.
The first of these is #followfriday. Once you are following a bunch of active tweeps (Twitter users), you’ll start to see the #followfriday tag appearing quite regularly. FollowFriday occurs on, you guessed it, Fridays (although to be fair it seems to happen almost every day these days). The idea is simple… recommend some of the people you’re following to your followers. This has multiple benefits… it shows you’re active in the community for one. There’s also a high likelihood that the people you’ve recommended will tweet the recommendation, widening your possible follower-base.
And of course, if someone recommends you, say thank you.
The other one you should be participating in (especially if you run a blog) is #blogmonday. This really is a self-promotion idea, whereby you post a link to your latest blog articles, adding the #blogmonday hash tag to your tweet. This one is just getting some traction, so get in early.
Re-Tweet & Recycle
Re-tweeting (sometimes called Recycling) is when you forward someone’s tweet to your followers. The idea is to share knowledge, or anything you find thought provoking or valuable. It’s simple to do, just copy/paste their tweet, and add “RT @username:“ to the beginning, replacing username with their Twitter username, obviously.
If you want to be re-tweeted, remember NOT to use 140 characters! Adding RT @username takes up quite a few chars, so make it easy for your followers to re-tweet you by leaving space! Having a short username also helps.
And remember, if you get re-tweeted, say thank you.
So there you go!
I hope you find my 5 rules of Twitter Etiquette useful. Remember, follow these and you’re guaranteed to get Twitter-love… more followers, more thank you’s and more re-tweets!
If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me at www.twitter.com/musosdan.