The World is a Twitter (Social Media Do’s and Don’ts)

(A couple rules for the proper usage of a social media giant like Twitter.)

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Let’s face it, you have the attention span of a gnat. A 20 second commercial and 140 character tweets are probably all your brain can stomach these days. Your love for baseball has waned, your think about your grocery list during sex, and you are probably already losing interest in this essay. Did I say essay? I meant laser disco ninja shark, back with me now?

It used to be that in order to have a voice in this world you had to prove yourself. You had to have a publisher, an agent, or have something to say. Now, anyone with an internet connection can comment on anything (stop pointing at me). Updating your Facebook status to things like “i’m so hungry”, “i hate mondays”, or “ugh work sucks” is not engaging, it’s self indulgent. Not every single one of your thoughts is gold and that’s ok, no one’s are, just don’t inflict it upon the rest of society. With Facebook/Twitter being everyone’s favorite free therapist “vat are ju thinking” has been twisted, skewed, and diluted in to what it is now.

I understand the counter argument “if you don’t like it, don’t follow them” and I don’t. Nothing personal (I lose “followers” all the time) but don’t tie your ego to it. You might be the super cool life of the party in person but that doesn’t mean you are a great writer. Your charisma just might not be digital.

Here are the rules I try to follow for my Twitter account:

DO
– Be engaging and useful to people. May it be through knowledge, humor, or education. People will generally follow because they want to be entertained or to learn.
– Be part of the twitter social universe. Retweet, talk to, and reply to other people and be an active member of the community.
– Limit the amount of self-promotion. You may think you are the most important and interesting person in the world but I bet everyone else that blogs/tweets/vlogs thinks the same exact thing about themselves.
– If you are going to retweet a link there’s a good chance everyone has already read it, try to add a brief summary or your own spin to it.

DON’T
– Don’t clog other people’s feeds. This includes retweeting kudos given to you or having long conversations that can be direct messaged/text messaged.
– Don’t “check in” anywhere you go. No one cares. You invite ads to specifically target you by your patterns and you are also welcoming stalkers and people to rob your house when you aren’t home. Unless you are a Lohan trying to attract TMZ “checking in” probably isn’t a good idea.
– Don’t say good morning/good night, give digital condolences, or use Twitter as Google.
– And the biggest Twitter rule I follow: Don’t complain. There’s enough negativity in the world and everyone has their own problems so don’t subject other people to yours.

Before I send out a tweet I ask myself the following:
1. Is this is informative/entertaining?
2. Will a complete stranger care about this?
3. Then I wait a minute, and if its still interesting after that minute, it will probably resonate.

[Photo: Graffiti on wall in a town in the Scottish Highlands.]

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