How to Fail at Twitter

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Forget MySpace. Twitter is the new popular kid on the block. More and more individuals are turning to Twitter as both a marketing strategy and a way to keep up with their friends and colleagues. Twitter is quickly becoming a social standard. How many followers you have is an indicator of your popularity. Hell, you can pay $5 to gain 20,000 followers. However, these 20,000 people will never comment or interact with you. They won’t help spread your message. They’ll just exist, and usually as drones.

When someone adds you on Twitter, it’s typically because of one of a few reasons:

  1. You’re popular (someone like Arnold) and you have throngs of adoring fans.
  2. It’s a friend that wants to know what you’re doing. These are perhaps the most tolerant of Twitter followers, and they will likely put up with all of these rules without unfollowing.
  3. They find your message/topic interesting. They share the same passion and are willing to help spread your voice. You don’t want to make these people mad as they are likely the ones to help your message reach a broader audience.

Now, upon starting your new online “follow” relationship, two things can happen. The most common of those is absolutely nothing. They read your status updates, you read theirs, and nothing more comes about. On the other hand, there is the potential for interaction. Either you two can bounce ideas off of each other, share stories, or build a business relationship. This second aspect is what makes Twitter so darn appealing. You can reach out to experts in the field and connect with top authorities on whatever interests you.

Far be it from me to be an expert on the inner workings of Twitter. I’m not the world’s most sought out expert on social interaction. However, I do use it quite a bit, and I’ve come across my fair share of annoyances. There are certain guidelines that shouldn’t be broken – a code among Twitter fellows if you will. Breaking said code will get you un-followed within the blink of an eye. Here’s a guide to failing at Twitter.

Rule #1: Break an idea into multiple tweets.

Perhaps THE best thing about Twitter is that it limits tweeters to only 140 characters including spaces to present their ideas. In a world where everyone is busy, this is a lifesaver. I want to find out what you’re up to, but I don’t have time to read a diatribe about your favorite burger joint – so 140 characters is a perfect amount.

However, there are those out there that break up a thought across multiple tweets like this:

And then, I have to find and locate the second part of the idea.

Now, this is great info, and I still follow this account. However, breaking an idea across multiple tweets is like starting a conversation and running to a different room. I don’t want to have to locate your next tweet to find out what you’re talking about. If you can’t say it in 140 characters, post it elsewhere.

Rule #2: Ask for a follow-back.

There appears to be an unwritten rule on Twitter that if someone follows you, you in turn follow them back. Now, that assumes a few things. First, we only get followed by people that we feel are interesting. Second, both parties are tweeting about the same topic/central theme so it’s beneficial for everyone involved. Of course, both are rarely true.

So, whenever someone follows me (unless they are a spambot), I generally check out their profile, view their tweets, and ask myself if I want to see more of their information on my feed. If the answer is yes, then we’ll form a twitter bond so powerful that unicorns will cry. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the answer may be no. At this point, no amount of pleading is going to help. For instance, I’ve had people mention me asking for me to follow them back. Understand this reassures that I will never follow you. It’s like pleading with a girl to go out on a date with you. Don’t look that desperate.

Rule #3: Attempt to involve me in a pyramid scheme.

Seriously? I’m here to learn some cool things and share my thoughts. Please don’t tweet me about your sales business. For the record, this was the second time I was contacted about joining this pyramid scheme. The first message (which I deleted) was much more sales oriented.

Rule #4: Retweet EVERYTHING from _________ (insert funny parody account here).

Simply put, if I wanted to see all of their tweets, I’d follow them myself. Now, some are really funny in which case a retweet is warranted. But every…single…one?

Rule #5: Attempt to sell yourself or your product

This one may be a bit hard to explain, but you know it when you see it. Either it’s during a Twitter chat where everyone is tweeting about the same topic or idea, or you’re having a conversation with someone over Twitter and all of the sudden, a keyword triggers someone to hop into the mix with more information…and of course, their link.

There are appropriate ways to include a link and then there are sleazy ways. It’s up to you to decide when, but if you’re searching Twitter for conversations on weight loss and interjecting comments trying to get clicks, it’s annoying.

Rule #6: #Hash #Tag #Every #Thing

We get it. You’re trying to appear in bigger searches that relate to your topic, but when you hashtag every keyword that appears in your tweet, it just looks like you’re trying too hard. #fitness #twitter #rules #getatme #holla

Now, these rules apply mainly to Twitter. However, you can fail at Facebook too. Check out this post from Jon Goodman to find out how.

The only appropriate thing for me to ask you to do at the end of this post is to follow me on Twitter and share the hell out of this post. Alert everyone of what not to do on Twitter. Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what irks you. 


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