Pro-Social Twitter “Rulebook”

Twitter BirdLike anything that takes a while to catch on and then suddenly explodes in popularity, as if the media woke up one day and realized everyone knew something they didn’t, Twitter has an etiquette problem. There are very few true “rules” to Twitter usage, though there are a few limitations and application-based functions that users should understand.

There are two major problem types of users at this point:

  1. Pure spammers – dummy accounts with a photo or website or single update for the purpose of spreading information a manner recognized by society as spam.
  2. “Follow me” spammers – I’ve dubbed them “follow me” spammers because their methodology of spreading their agenda, product, website, or whatever is to follow as many people as Twitter will allow in hopes of reciprocating followers in a general 1:5 ratio. If they follow 2,000 users, they are betting that 400 people will follow them so they can annoy them.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a bunch of empty-headed tweets all day long about what you ate, what your dog barfed up, where you’re driving, or that you’re going to bed late followed by one that you’re tired; no one is going to follow people like that. They’re boring!

Here is how to NOT get followers:

  • follow the 1:5 model of following, regardless of update frequency, but especially low updates (like 1 or 0)
  • post the same tweet (or a set of tweets) over and over again with the same shortened URL
  • use an auto-direct message service to EITHER spam the person who just followed you or thanking them; impersonal tweets are crap and will get you unfollowed or blocked
  • be unoriginal: just re-tweet others’ content or send a steady stream of links about what you’re reading
  • cuss & swear in your tweets and badmouth well-respected members of the Twitter community
  • ignore @ replies to you

As long as you do the opposite of those faux pas, you should be a rather successful Twitterer. I’m available at @jpetersen if you’d like to respond on Twitter about this rather than using the comment form.