So, which viewpoint is accurate? If you’ve been following my posts for a while you’ll probably know that my answer will be…
Both and Neither…
But, it’s not as clear cut as all that. You see, Twitter is a very simple concept. Anyone can grasp the basics of Twitter in a single sentence… Twitter is a place to microblog, where each post can only be a maximum of 140 characters.
Okay, that’s the basic concept, but Twitter has grown into a world (known as the Twitterverse) all it’s own. I had planned to talk about rules of the road, etiquette, and time savers for Twitter, but realized that that is way too much for one blog post. Therefore, I’ll be breaking this subject into several posts. For this post, let’s just talk about Twitters rules and dip our toe into the etiquette pond.
Next post, I’ll talk about time saving tips and tricks, so you can literally rule your Twitterverse in 15 to 30 minutes per day. No, it shouldn’t really take you longer than this, once you get the hang of it.
The third post will look at useful tools and services to make your Twitter experience even better.
First, before you get too far into using Twitter read the official Twitter rules found here. It is important that you follow these rules, or your account may get shut down without notice.
Next, let’s turn to some basic etiquette…
There is a debate that continually rages regarding following those who follow you on Twitter. Some say you should follow everyone, out of courtesy. Some say follow only those you are interested in following.
I tend to land on the selective following side of the fence. I do not follow someone who is promoting a pornographic site (yes, there are quite a few on Twitter) or someone who states that their tweets (posts) all revolve around a subject I am totally uninterested in.
Remember, in a previous post “It’s 2010…Do You Know Where Your Clients Are?“, I talked about identifying your ideal client. If someone only tweets about things I do not enjoy, they are likely not my ideal client.
Now, as I said, this is a heavily debated subject and you can certainly choose to follow others using your own criteria. This is just my criteria. I do follow quite a number of individuals and businesses that I appear to have little in common with, but I do it with an eye toward ways that I can add value for them.
One of the most common things I see happen on Twitter is the posting of items that people pull off a news feed and do not edit, or possibly do not even read. You’ll be able to identify them quickly by the fact that they start with a headline type sentence and generally repeat the same sentence a second time. This indicates to me that the person tried to automate the entire process of tweeting.
The biggest issue with these types of tweets is that they quite frequently get cut off in the middle of the sentence. When Twitter says you only have 140 characters, they mean you ONLY have 140 characters. And, yes, that includes spaces, punctuation, and your URL. If you get cut off in the middle of your tweet, no one will be going to your link to read the rest of what you wrote. That is a huge time waster.
One of the great things about Twitter is that it creates great backlinks to your material, blog, articles, whatever you post to your followers. And if your post is interesting, and not cut off in the middle, it can literally be re-tweeted (sent out by your followers to all their followers) to thousands and thousands of people. That’s a lot of backlinks.
Bottom line on this one is, don’t waste your time on Twitter by trying to get around the 140 character limit. It isn’t gonna work, and it makes you look like you just don’t care.
Another question many people ask is, “should I respond to everyone who follows me?” To this question, I say “Yes, but this is one place you can automate.” I don’t think you should try to completely automate your tweets (although putting them into a scheduling program is a good idea), but I do think it’s okay to send an automated tweet to someone to thank them for following you. There are many good programs and services out there for this function, and we’ll discuss many of them in an upcoming post. Personally, I use SocialOomph.
The last item I’d like to discuss is how often to tweet. This is also heavily debated, but statistics show that 18 to 25 posts per day brings the greatest response rate. This does NOT mean that you should send out 20 posts in a one hour time span. Use a scheduler and send out a tweet every hour to hour and a half.
Make them thoughtful. Don’t constantly spam your followers with “here’s a link to buy my stuff.” Try to continually add value to your followers. A good rule of thumb is, no more than one marketing tweet for every 10 value adding tweets.
Please let me know what you find to be good (or other than good) etiquette in the Twitterverse by leaving a comment in the comments section. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you have specific questions about how to use Twitter or any Social Media venue, please go to Social Bee Online’s “Contact” page and send us a message. We’re here to help.
Until next time…
Live with passion and purpose,