After almost 5 years on Twitter (I know, I can’t believe it), I’ve set up these rules for myself that I use as a little bit of a guideline for who I follow.
1. Don’t be shy! I know, this probably seems as funny advice coming from someone with social anxiety issues. But Twitter really only works if you want to engage people on a personal scale. A big pet peeve of mine is when individuals and brands just post messages and don’t seem to reply to people. Think of Twitter in real life terms. Would you want to hang out with someone who only talked about themselves and never actually talked to you?
2. Use DMs sparingly. Direct Messages are a great way to take conversations private. They’re necessary to share more personal information like emails or phone numbers. But a lot of users overdo it.
I don’t want to get a thank you DM for following you. You might think it’s being polite, but I see it as impersonal because you likely have a plugin auto-tweeting it for you. But that isn’t as bad as the next one.
I don’t want to get DM ads. Plug your site/product in your stream, not my Inbox. A lot of Twitter users have it set up so that they get emails or texts when they’re DM’d because they think of them as being more important. Do you like getting ads in your email or text messages? I didn’t think so. I got one this week from a gentleman plugging the application he’s created… “because I’m a tech savvy mom.” There was absolutely nothing to make this something he couldn’t have just @replied to me with. I could understand if there was a coupon code. But it was an out and out ad, and I unfollowed him immediately.
3. Don’t follow everyone who follows you. This is where I probably veer from everyone else, but I follow people I want to engage. A lot of people will follow you because they want you to use their service or visit their business- but followers are just a number. To me, if I see someone that follows everyone who follows them- it seems like they’re just on Twitter to get an ego boost. I would much rather have a smaller circle that I really interact with than follow a ton of people who probably don’t care much about me.
I know, there are some great clients out there that allow you to follow a lot of people using lists… but make sure it’s something you can handle if that magic client bites the dust.
4. Don’t beg. Nothing weirds me out more than the people who tweet celebrities and beg them to follow them. Guess what, if you want a celeb to follow you, begging them repeatedly to follow your account is probably just going to get you blocked. (I also stay away from people who beg celebrities to follow them)
5. Be yourself. I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than I am. I’m a lot of things, so I’m all over the place. I’ve read a lot of people that say that isn’t the way to build your personal brand… but screw it. It’s me. I’m a geek, I only sort of game (My favorite game will always be Ocarina of Time), I have two kids, I cook, I cheat on my gluten-free diet. I’m not going to limit myself to talking about just one of them to be “more successful.” After all, I’m on Twitter to have fun.
6. Obey Wheaton’s Law. If you don’t know Wil Wheaton’s (@wilw) law, it’s simple. Don’t be a dick. It’s a good rule to have anywhere, not just the internet.
So those are my rules, Internet. I tend to try to follow people that seem to feel the same way I do. I take chances on following people I don’t know personally, and try to interact with them. I care less about the quantity of followers I have, but the quality of the ones I do.
Think I’m crazy for my rules, have a couple you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!