I have been Twittering now for quite a while – since November of 2007. In my 1583 tweets (at this time), I have learned a lot about how to use and how not to use Twitter. It has taken me a while to get accustomed to the flow of Twitter – it definitely requires a different communication style than chat, email, or IM, even though it is a combination of the three.
Here are my top 5 ways NOT to use Twitter:
5. Don’t complain/whine about personal matters – Complaining 140 characters at a time is not going to make anyone want to follow you. Instead, reframe your frustration and use it as an opportunity to poke fun of yourself/the situation, or better, tweet something inspiring/positive for people who may be in a similar place as you.
For example, Zappos CEO, Tony, recently locked himself outside of his hotel room in Mexico – on his porch, no less. Instead of tweeting about the situation in a negative way, he tweeted about it in a neutral/fun way and it ended up being an enjoyable conversation with his followers, while he waited 45 minutes for someone to rescue him.
Tony says that Twitter can make otherwise frustrating situations actually enjoyable. According to Tony:
I now almost looked forward to situations that would normally be frustrating, because I’ve learned that almost any situation can be reframed to be funny as a tweet, which then makes the situation in real life funny as well.
4. Don’t use Twitter to endlessly self-promote.. Twitter is an incredibly powerful tool for getting your “brand” out to the world, but it is equally important that you engage other people and not just promote your agenda.
For example, by asking questions and posting links to interesting articles, you are taking the “me” out of Twitter and instead using it as a conversation-generating tool, which will be far more valuable to your followers. I always try to tweet or re-tweet interesting articles or topics that I believe people will have an opinion about. As a result, people respond to my tweets, thereby creating an ongoing conversation about a wide variety of interesting topics.
3. Don’t constantly tell the world what you are doing. As funny as this sounds since it is the default question Twitter asks of us, no one is interested in constantly hearing about the mundane activities of your life. I understand how a random tweet about what you are doing is innocent and can be fun, but Twitter is much more valuable for engaging an audience/starting conversations than for telling people about the otherwise boring activities we all partake in.
Instead of just telling people what you are doing, SHOW them. You can do this by using a service such as TwitPic to post pics from your camera phone. You will notice on my blog’s sidebar that I have a widget which automatically displays my most recent TwitPics. These are pics I took from my phone and uploaded directly to Twitter. Pictures tend to receive a lot of click-throughs, as people rather look at something than read about it.
2. Don’t use Auto-DM’s and Auto-replies. This is just as bad as spam. Auto-DM’s and Auto-replies are so common now that they are simply annoying. If you want anyone to take you seriously on Twitter, turn these functions off and manually engage your followers via replies or direct messages.
1. Don’t use Twitter to massively follow and unfollow people. I understand that people run auto-follow scripts on hundreds of people at a time in order to gain new followers themselves, but if you are going to do this, don’t automatically unfollow those people the next day; that looks disingenuous. If you are going to follow someone and they mutually follow you, it is kind of sleazy to automatically unfollow them the next day. Where is the appreciation for their reciprocal follow?
So, there you have it. Those are the ways I recommend using and NOT using Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please consider re-tweeting this post by clicking here.
Do you have any tips about how NOT to use Twitter? Share them in the comments!