Navigating the Twitterverse

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about online friendship etiquette. It sparked some discussion about Twitter and what the accepted rules of engagement (or enchantment) were. So I’ve attempted to outline some basics that I think are key to developing interactions and good karma in the Twitterverse.

Twitter is a free for all, anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone. First, be clear on why you are using Twitter. Are you trying to engage with and gain insight about customers and donors, are you learning more about a new hobby or interest, or are you bored with having no real life and just killing hours online before its time to go to sleep again? Having clear objectives, and a clear description of you and your interests on your profile will help you get the most of your Twitter time.

Thank people

If someone follows you, say hello and thanks. It’s polite. How you do it is up to you.

Personally I find over friendly automated thank you messages a bit weird, the equivalent of when the person on the checkout in Sainsburys tries to engage you in polite conversation; 9 times out of 10 the conversation lacks authenticity and sincerity. If you answer in an unexpected way that wasn’t included in the ‘how to have conversation with customers training manual’ it becomes even more strange as you are rushed through before you can say anything else that requires a ‘not on script’ response.

I like to be thanked with the other new follows, it makes me feel part of a group, and I’m interested to see who else is in the group with me. Its visible, affirming and feels somehow more genuine.

I find it unnerving if a direct message thanking me arrives within a second of following someone. I know that we are living in an age of automation, but it still feels insincere.

Often people direct message to thank you for following them and ask you to link to them on Facebook. For me Facebook is for friends, so unless you are my friend I’m really irritated by an invitation to connect on Facebook. I know more and more organisations are using Facebook as their company website, but same rules apply, you need to build some sort of relationship with me first.

If someone retweets something you wrote or mentions you, say thanks. Either as an individual reply, or say thanks to all who retweeted you that day/week as a group. Back to the point above about groups – the group thank is good.

Following back

It’s OK not to automatically follow everyone back. Equally don’t be offended if people don’t follow you back. It comes back to why it is you are on Twitter. I follow back people who look interesting, who tweet about stuff that I am interested in.

I actually find it rude when people direct message me and suggest I might like to follow them back. If I want to I will. Don’t ask me to. @CCTVBirmingham please note.

Twitter is about broadcasting and listening

If someone asks you a question related to your tweet reply to them.

Don’t just broadcast, listen to what other people are saying, retweet their good work, encourage them.

If you retweet something, always reference the source, even if you change the copy.

If someone direct messages you, reply (unless it’s a request to go to their website in which case its your choice)

Use hashtags e.g. #innovation to help direct people to your content or the content of others that may be interesting to them.

And finally  

Twitter is in real-time and you need to consider how frequently you tweet and how quickly you reply to people. If you are a business using Twitter to listen to and engage your customers you need to be online 24/7 and responding in real-time. If you are an individual I think you should aim to respond within 24 hours if you can.

Navigating the Twitterverse isn’t rocket science but it is important to give some thought as to how you interact with your fellow tweeters. I think we should treat our Twitter interactions with the same respect and standards that we would expect with face-to-face interaction. After all at the end of the day Twitter is still just about building relationships.

What do you think?

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Tribes – Seth Godin

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Social Media Examiner 

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