As part of Salisbury Big Business Event last week, I attended a seminar and workshop run by Thomas Power about social media and online presence. Power refers to Twitter as a giant, online pub and says if you think of it that way, it becomes clear what is and isn’t appropriate.
With that in mind, here are a couple of points on Twitter etiquette (Twitterquette?). Please note that these are really my own personal bug bears and preferences, and everyone should feel free to take this entire post with a pinch of salt. Similarly, do please feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments.
1. Auto Responders: Don’t do it!
I love it when I follow someone and they reach out to connect with me; it’s nice. I try to tweet people who follow me whenever I can. What I can’t stand is a blanket, automatic DM or tweet that usually goes along the lines of “thanks for following, here’s a link to my blog/website/book/other thing that will help me make money or build my audience” Not only is it bad form to try and sell to me on a first date, it’s just icky and impersonal. I’d rather you were silent than faux friendly (when you’re probably not even at your laptop/phone at the time any way).
To use the pub analogy, it’s like someone at the bar smiles at you, and you respond by saying “I sell life insurance, and you should buy some; here’s a leaflet.” You wouldn’t do it in real life; don’t do it on Twitter.
2. “Pls RT.”
Don’t get me wrong; when I’m advertising the Weekend Blog Hop or certain other things, I ask my followers to retweet me. I tend to only put “Pls RT” if I think my tweet (or the link in it) is something that a wider audience might genuinely be interested in – for example, anyone with a blog may well want to join in with the Weekend Blog Hop. There are also hashtags where bloggers tend to retweet each other’s links – but without any of us wasting precious characters on asking each other to do so.
Just lately though, I’ve had people tweet me personally with a link to their blog and “pls RT” at the end. They don’t even go to the trouble of writing a personalised message or “you might be interested in this post.” Nothing. I’m not egotistical enough to think they’re singling me out for this; they’re probably tweeting a dozen people at a time, all with the same, impersonal and frankly rude message.
If I’ve been chatting to someone about a particular topic, and then they say “oh, I wrote a blog post about that; here it is” then that’s perfectly legitimate, and I welcome it. It’s about relevance, and conversation. If we’re not having a conversation and you tweet me a link to your site asking me to retweet you, it’s the same as walking up to a person in the pub, tapping them on the shoulder and going “I run a great shop, tell all your friends about it!”
3. Be Friendly
The great thing about Twitter is that it’s so sociable! You can see – and join in with – any conversation. And other people can see yours – and they might try to join in. They might see that you’re talking about chickens, and they have a pet chicken too and want to compare notes. It’s easy to think “I don’t know you, get lost” – but that’s not very friendly, is it? And for all you know, this person who’s just tweeted you might be some sort of chicken guru who holds the answers to all your questions.
I’ve tweeted a lot of people in the past who didn’t respond, and my general reaction to being ignored is that this person must think they’re too grand to talk to me. I don’t want other people to think that of me, so I do my best to respond when people tweet me. At the very least, if I feel there’s nothing to add to the conversation, I’ll “favourite” their last tweet as an acknowledgement that I’ve read and understood/appreciated what they’ve said.
In the same way you wouldn’t ignore someone who spoke to you in the pub – and you hopefully wouldn’t be downright rude if they spoke to you either – you shouldn’t do it on Twitter. For one thing, you never know when you might want to ask that person for some assistance. And people remember when other people are knobs.
Another thing that goes alongside being friendly is thanking people. I don’t expect people to thank me when I retweet them. Some days, I retweet well over a hundred people and if they all thanked me I’d get lost in notifications. I also don’t often thank other people for retweeting me. What I do thank people for, is tweeting a link to my blog with a personal recommendation, for example “great post” or “this is an interesting read.” More than a retweet, this is a person going out of their way to personally recommend me to their followers – like in real life, when you tell your friends about the plumber who fixed your sink because he did a good job. I thank people for this, and I tend to expect the courtesy of a simple “thank you” when I do it for other people. It’s just polite, isn’t it? If you don’t thank me the first time I recommend your blog, there will most likely not be a second time
Do you have anything to add to this list? Is there something people do on Twitter that really gets your goat?