I’ve used Twitter for a few years now and whilst I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject I have picked up a few things over the years. I thought I’d share with you my top 5 don’ts of that contentious beast known as Twitter.
1) Really engage with people, Twitter isn’t Myspace (remember Myspace kids?) so don’t just bombard the Twitter-sphere with shameless self-promotion and product plugs. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with self-promotion and plugging your stuff but keep a balance between saying what you are up to and engaging with your fellow tweeters.
2) Promote other people. Despite all the media reports about trolls the world of Twitter is actually an amazingly intelligent place, full of talented and open-minded folk, so why not get to know some of them and promote their work. Why? Because they are talented, you like their stuff and it’s a nice thing to do. Kindness and the spirit of community is what helps the world go round, so why not spread the love.
3) Unless you are President Obama or maybe George Clooney you probably haven’t got so many followers that you can’t reply or at least acknowledge a Retweet (RT) or mention. If someone has taken the time to share your work or comment upon it, it really doesn’t take long just to say thanks or favourite the tweet. Are you so arrogant that you will take for granted people’s genuine interest in what you have to say?
I’ve had Twitter conversations with Hollywood directors and stand-up comedians with plenty of followers that you would forgive them if they didn’t take time to reply, so I’m sure you can find the time. In the long-term the more good will and interest you build up, the more your work (whatever that may be) will get out into the world.
Of course you will always get the odd veteran sci-fi actor (or the team of office juniors he employs to run his Twitter account), who will ignore his fans in favour of promoting his latest wheeze (I speak from bitter experience.) But by and large everyone on Twitter is an equal and not even the biggest stars are adverse to having a conversation or throwing out the odd RT. So ignore your followers at your peril.
4) Don’t think too hard about what you are trying to say and embrace spontaneity. Unless you are tweeting for an organisation and have strict guidelines on what you can tweet about, just go with the flow. There is no right or wrong thing to say on Twitter, so just go with the first thing that comes into your head. If you fancy quoting your favourite author for the day, go with it. If you want to have inane banter with a friend then go with it. Just don’t ponder too long, Twitter is instant and fun.
Some people write poetry on Twitter, some just share the news. Whatever works for you just do it, there is nothing worse than a Twitter account with no tweets on it. Also check the hash tag (#) drop down options, if you tag your tweets with a popular and relevant hash tag you will get RTs galore and make new friends. So be creative, don’t worry too much and go with the flow.
5) I know this may seem an obvious one but what’s illegal or horrible in real life is illegal or horrible on Twitter. So if you insist on being a racist idiot, don’t be surprised if you get a call from the police. Equally it’s really not cool to get abusive, misogynistic or homophobic. You may hold repellant views, that’s your right, but don’t pollute Twitter with it.