People of Twitter, there are douchebags among us.
Gone are the days when Twitter’s own description of the service was accurate:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
Now everybody is flocking to Twitter in hopes of answering the questions “How can I sell my product to you?”, “How can I get you to follow me?”, and “OMG Plz RT?”. Yes, we’ve gone from Twitter being a virtual unknown outside the geek circles to hearing Billy Bush, Ashton Kutcher, and (this one opened the floodgates) Oprah gush about our beloved microblogging service.
Once all these newbies flock to Twitter, they immediately have a few questions. Specifically, they want to know (a) how they are supposed to make all this money on Twitter, (b) how they, too, can have 1 million followers, and—this one probably bugs me the most—(c) hey, why can’t the up the character limit? 140 is too small! If not helped, these folks will turn into social media douchebags (or worse, social media sleestacks!).
My goal here is to provide some tips you can point these misguided folks to. Help them avoid becoming douchebags.
- It’s not all about you. If you’re going to get anything out of Twitter at all, you need to immediately check your ego at the door, listen to people, and build relationships. Talking about the things your or your company are doing will only get you anywhere once you’ve already joined the conversation.
- Don’t tweet about your number of followers. It’s technically impossible to do that without sounding like a douchebag.
- Don’t ask for x many more followers so you can reach a “milestone”. Double douchey. You’re better off saying something interesting (so people will retweet it) than asking THE PEOPLE ALREADY FOLLOWING YOU if you can get a few more followers.
- Don’t retweet Oprah*. Just don’t. She has eleven bajillion followers. We’re all aware she has a Twitter account. If we want to see her tweets, we’ll follow her. By retweeting Oprah, you’re exposing Oprah’s tweets to the millions of people who purposely have avoided them at all costs. (* This also applies for Ashton Kutcher, Mashable, TechCrunch, Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, etc.)
- Don’t ask for retweets. If something is interesting, it will be retweeted. People already retweet WAY too much anyway. Please don’t encourage them.
- Don’t break the system. I get it. You’re annoyed that Twitter changed the way @replies work. But don’t go putting extra characters in front of your replies, forcing EVERYONE to see your @replies to EVERYONE. I know some people really liked that feature. But for a lot of us, if we had that feature turned on, Twitter would have been unusable. Don’t ruin Twitter for the rest of us.
- This ain’t no RSS feed. My stance used to be that you shouldn’t tweet about every single blog post you write. My reasoning was that if people wanted to see every blog post, they’d subcribe to the feed. Well, for many Twitter is replacing the RSS reader. So, my new stance is that it’s fine to tweet about each blog post—as long as that’s not the only thing you’re using Twitter for. Mix them in with actual conversations. While you’re at it, don’t just tweet “[title] [link]“. Give us a teenie bit of context, or at least just make them sound friendlier. I know I’m more apt to click on something if the tweet gives me a little incentive as opposed to just looking like an auto-published tweet.
- Learn how to @reply. By default (and as of this writing, the only setting) is that people will only see @replies from people they follow ONLY when they’re directed to other people they also follow. I love this default setting. So, here are some ways to use it right:
@adarowski wrote this awesome post about CSS. http://tinyurl.com/6x9add
The problem with this tweet is that it would only be seen by people who follow both you and @adarowski. People who follow @adarowski likely saw him tweet it already. I’m guessing you want this to go to your whole network. @adarowski would appreciate that, too.
Check out this awesome post about CSS by @adarowski. http://tinyurl.com/6x9add
Now this would go to your entire network. Win for you. Win for @adarowski.
@mattgillooly Heading to Providence Geeks? I’ll be there in about 30 mins.
At first glance, you might think this should be a direct message. But for an event like Providence Geeks, the folks that follow both you and @mattgillooly probably would be happy to know you’re arriving soon (unless, of course, you’re a douchebag). What I like about this is that it doesn’t go to your entire network—just the folks that know both of you (and therefore actually care).
@adarowski See you soon!
Something like this is probably best as a direct message. There’s no event context and it’s clearly just for one person to see.
- Do not—under any circumstances—send an automatic direct message to new followers. Sending an automatic direct message says one of two things:
- You don’t know me yet, but I feel comfortable enough to send you some spam.
- I do know you, but I’m the type of douchebag who sends auto-DMs to EVERYONE, so you get the same generic response as everyone else. Feel special?
Don’t be a douchebag. If you want to DM them, send them a real DM, typed with your own fingers.
- Fill out your profile. A laundry list of ways to NOT get followed on Twitter:
- By not using your real name. I’m talking to you, socmed14413 and flygrrl182.
- By not using an actual photo of you (like your logo or something). Or worse, by not adding a photo at all.
- By not providing a link. We’re not convinced. We want to find out a bit more about you before following. If you don’t have another link to provide, write a blog or join LinkedIn and come back later.
- By not providing a “one line bio”. Think of this as your answer to the question “why am I interesting?”. Leaving it blank gives people no reason to follow you back.
- By calling yourself a “social media expert”. Even if you are one. Everybody on Twitter calls themselves a social media export. After all, they do have a Twitter account.
Let’s help these folks out. What else you got?