By: Hillel Fuld
When discussing Twitter and social media in general, the conversation always ends with the same sentence “Social media is 90% common sense”. In regard to that, I compare the use of Twitter to SEO (Search Engine Optimization, just in case you don’t know what that is). I know there is a lot of material out there when it comes to optimizing a website for search engines, but common sense dictates that if you want people to come across your site on Google, you will use attractive keywords and titles in your article. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to insert links to other articles of yours and place them on relevant words as anchor text. Like I said, a lot of common sense.
Social media is the same deal. There is a lot to learn about the various Twitter tools, I am not denying that, but if you implement some basic principles that you use when you actually socialize (you know, like in real life?), think about the other side as a person and not a Twitter account, with a little time, you can master the art of social media. Unfortunately, most people, for whatever reason, do not do this. What they do on Twitter, they would never do face to face, and not only are these people wasting their time, they are also polluting the Twitter stream with their spam like tweets.
The following is a list of six principles that you should use when tweeting. All six of them are things the average person who has minimal social skills might have understood on their own:
- People Have Names: I don’t know if anyone has ever written to you on Twitter and addressed you by your real name, but it is nice. It feels good and reminds you that that person actually views you as a human being and respects you as one. Like everything else in social media and in life, this should be done with moderation. I am not saying that every time you address someone on Twitter, you need to write their name, but once in a while would be good. Give people the respect you would want them to give you both in your virtual and real life, and you are sure to see immediate results in the way people view you. If you want to learn from an expert at making people feel good on Twitter, follow Diana Adams, and watch her in action.
- People Have Short Memories: One of the big problems on Twitter is the lack of threaded conversations. It is sometimes difficult to know what a certain tweet was a response to. There is the “In Reply To” button, but that only works with tweets, not DMs, and it only works if the tweet was a real reply and not a standalone tweet. When answering a question, unless you are answering immediately, include some sort of indication what question you are answering. Some people like to RT the question and include an answer. I personally am not a big fan for a few reasons, but mainly because that does not leave much room for the answer. Take this tweet for example, I had no idea what question he was answering, nor did I have a way of finding out without asking him. Turned out, he was answering this question. However you do it, you should refrain from writing someone an answer to a question they asked a week ago, without reminding them of their question.
- People Deserve Credit: If someone said/tweeted/wrote something that you liked enough to share it via a RT, credit the person. I had a long debate with a good friend, Reg Saddler on Twitter this week who does not agree with this point. He explained that he comes across thousands of articles every day and he does not have the time to find the author on Twitter. He has a point, but to be fair, he follows over 50,000 people, so for him to credit every article might be a little more difficult than for the average person. He sent me one example of an article he read to prove his point, but a quick search for the author’s name and the word “Twitter” produced the author’s Twitter account. Took me less than 5 seconds and it made someone’s day. Now, if that is not what social media is about, then I don’t know what is.
- People Don’t Like to Be Ignored: If I had to choose one primary rule for Twitter, I would say this is it. If someone asks you something on Twitter, answer them. Yes, I know that might be difficult for you celebrities out there, but if Ashton can do it, so can you. If you are connecting with so many people that you cannot even answer everyone, what’s the point? Now before you all jump down my throat, I am not talking about answering Britney bots (if you have been on Twitter for more than 20 seconds, you know what I am talking about. If you don’t, I envy you). I am referring to normal people who might not have 3 million followers. Yes, they deserve an answer too. It might mean you have to spend a half an hour a day just answering yesterday’s questions, but this is a crucial component of “proper” social media skills. Contrary to what many heavy twitterers believe, sending out less tweets a day so you can have the time to reply to people is not such a bad idea. Want a perfect model for this? Follow Susan Cooper. It is no wonder she won Best Social Media Maven to Follow in the Mashable Open Web Awards. She just “gets it!”
- People like Kindness: I think it is safe to say that most human beings enjoy pleasant dialogue. No one is going to unfollow you for writing “Good morning” to your followers, or asking someone specific how their day was. Yes, that means you will be sending out one tweet with no link and no information about the iPhone or any other gadget, but a “How are you” tweet might be the most important tweet of your day. It is important for many reasons, but if being a nice person is not enough for you, you can be sure that someone who never interacts with their followers personally, will not benefit from a quality Twitter network. Such a person might get high numbers for sharing good content, but the quality of the network will be lacking. Your followers will not feel like you care about them, and will therefore not care about you. It’s called “Social Media” for a reason, it is intended to be used as a platform to be social. Rule number 1 in being social? Be nice! Want an example of a person who does this to perfection? Follow Shelly Kramer!
- People Are Watching: OK, this is a tricky one. I want to address a specific phenomenon I have seen on Twitter done by intelligent people, and I cannot for the life of me understand what they were thinking. Many people use Twitter to promote their product, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. However, going back to what we said before, you were given a brain, use it! Make use of your common sense. What I have seen people do repeatedly is send out 20 tweets to the biggest people on Twitter (when I say biggest, I mean their numbers) trying to get them to help them promote. So, I will all of a sudden see 20 tweets by this one person saying “Hey, check out my new Twitter tool, and share it with others”. These 20 tweets will come one after another and be addressed to people like Ashton, Ellen, Shaq, and many others. A tip? They are not seeing those tweets, I am, and your other followers are, and guess what? It is annoying and spammy, so dont do it.
In conclusion, I will just say that I hope you read all the above points and said to yourself “Duh”. I hope you already knew everything I just wrote, but if you are one of the many people who did not know these points, they are important for your success on social media, they are important for the success of the online community, and most importantly, they are crucial for your success in life. Sorry to end off with such a corny line, but it is important to always “Treat/Tweet others like you would want to be treated/tweeted”.
If you have some other Twitter tips that should be obvious but are not, or just general pieces of social media advice, please share them in the comments.