Wednesday, April 11, 2007
22 rules for effective twittering
Does Twitter need rules?
Of course! Why? Because I'm bored, and feel like making up some rules for Twitter, that's why!
Though you may think of several exceptional cases where a rule or two listed below would not apply, for most Twitterers, most of the time, these rules, most of them anyway, will probably seem to be somewhat valid, in a restrictive and dubious sense, in the opinion of some.
If, like stubborn web designers and belligerent bloggers, you refuse to listen to anybody, and are set to Twitter about the coffee you're drinking and the sandwich you feel entitled to, go ahead, Twitter that way.
Twitter stupidly if you must. Yeah yeah anarchy, have at it.
But a common tweet is: "just deleted Kevin Keyboard, his tweets were myopic and repetitious".
The rest of us are busy practicing sporadic silences, profound and erratic Tweets, and, as luck holds out, also gaining a growing number of Followers.
(1.) Tweets are Twitter messages, and are sent to your group of Followers, some of whom must pay cell phone charges, so use self-restraint: DO NOT issue a tweet every hour, especially when nothing's going on.
(2.) The fact that you can use Twitter as a self-centered diary is no excuse to do so.
(3.) If you're a rock star, famous geek, tech book author, or other celebrity, people may line up to Follow you, and hungrily await each announcement of what airport you're in and why it sucks...but for most Twitterers, nobody wants to hear, and pay for, such drivel.
(4.) Remember: when a person Follows you on mobile, cell, IM, or other charged service, they are in effect PAYING for a SUBSCRIPTION TO your ridiculously silly, boring, and pointless tweets.
(5.) Tweets (Twitter messages) can be up to 140 characters, so you must force yourself to focus, and write a pithy message, ideally including a valuable, relevant link that's worth bothering with.
(6.) Even blogger-twitterers have better things to do than read a two sentence version of your personal blog. Share an insight, provide a link, recommend a movie, promote a blog post URL, but don't keep telling us if you're awake or asleep, and that you're drinking coffee and listening to Modest Mouse, as cool as that may be.
(7.) Obtain Friends who are leading authorities on topics you care about, then study how they micro-blog in their tweets.
(8.) Learn what the leading experts are twittering: their skill at micro-content writing, their narcissism, their altruism, their thinking, their latest projects, links they share, companies they like, products they recommend, conferences they're speaking at. How can this inside information hurt you? It can't and it won't.
(9.) I don't think nudging is a good idea. It feels like pestering. I have nudged some Twitterers that enable nudging. It didn't work. Now I'm scared. What if they try to hurt me, in revenge?
Nudging as a way to "prompt" someone to issue a tweet...is this a good idea? Why don't blogs have systems in place for us to nudge the blogger to post something new? See what I mean? Have you ever nudged someone to send you an email? I don't like "nudging". What's wrong with me? Do all the other Twitter freaks nudge each other? Creepy.
(10.) When it comes to your Twitter badge, go for the Public Timeline. This is how you'll let all your blog readers in on the channel. Embed the Public Timeline of your Twitter channel, in the sidebar of your blog. Now you've got a "blog within a blog" and that blog within is a group blog, a group of thinkers and innovators.
(11.) Just as blogs that haven't been updated with a new post in months will appear to be abandoned, so a Twitterer who has issued no tweet in over a week is considered dead or moved on to Jaiku or their computer has been hijacked by illegal extraterrestials.
(12.) Twitter, sounding nervous in itself, like jitters and jittery, is making some old fashioned people nervous--they don't want to be a part of such a frivolous system, but forget that it's not what it is, but what it can be, for them, that counts. Use Twitter, therefore, in your own unique way.
(13.) The dangerously addictive Twitter command, or writing prompt: "What are you doing?" shows the supremacy of text over imagination, of prose over poetry.
Why do you slavishly obey it?
Why do you robotically assume that all you can write is What I Am Doing? Why not say, "None of your business" and type in a cool link or an insight or a book you recommend?
Type in whatever you want and simply IGNORE that tyrannical "What are you doing?" message.
Type in NOT what you're "doing", but what you're dreaming, doodling, dominating, deconstructing, or downlinking.
(14.) Obey the "What are you doing?" Twitter prompt. Type in exactly what you're doing, which is wondering how to answer the question about what you are doing. Not typing it in, as some smart alecks wrongly claim, but merely thinking about it, if truth be told.
(15.) When should you tweet a blog post you've published?
I say "always!" and "why not?" Especially if the blog post deals with Twitter, or blogging, or computers. I check out most links I see in tweets, especially links to blog posts. Just don't overdo it.
Say "My post [title] at [URL]". Provide the link, so your Followers can click right to it.
(16.) Don't mention a web site, product, blog, or book without linking directly to it, or to an Amazon page selling it, or to a Wikipedia definition of it. Try to link as much as possible.
(17.) Google the word Twitter and read up on what the media and Twitter addicts are saying about your new obsession.
(18.) Direct Message your Followers, rather than sending an "@ vaspers" type tweet. A tweet beginning with an @ sign and Twitterer name is a tweet directed at that one Twitterer, it's a personal message, generally a response to a tweet by that Twitterer. But such a message must be paid for by everybody else who is using Twitter in a paid service environment. Shame on you. Just send a Direct Message to that single recipient.
(19.) Send an "@ vaspers" tweet, even though vaspers (for example) is not a Follower of you. Why? Because that will make people think that vaspers thinks so highly of you that he's a Follower of your tweets. See what good that'll do ya.
(20.) Practice twittering every chance you get. Turn off the television and turn on Twitter. Make a steadily increasing accumulation of Friends and Followers your life's ambition. This will improve your tweeting style and enrich the content of your twittering.
(21.) Print out your tweets and stare at them. They suck, right? Unbearably boring? Okay, then stop twittering and go back to blogging or podcasting or ham radio or whatever you were doing before.
(22.) Have a goal or purpose for your Twitter. Ask yourself, "Is this tweet really necessary? Will anyone gain any value from it?" and "What would Cluetrain do?"