By: Hillel Fuld
I have been on Twitter for a year and a half now, and contrary to what people seem to think, the “phase” does not look like it is passing any time soon. Twitter still manages to amaze me with its unprecedented effectiveness as a networking tool and information source. I am constantly meeting interesting people I would never have crossed paths with had it not been for Twitter and I also spend a lot less time reading RSS feeds and news sites since all that information comes from my Twitter stream.
So, the good things about Twitter have not changed, but unfortunately, the bad things have not either. There are still things I see being done daily in the Twittersphere that just annoy me and make me unfollow some folks. Some of these things seem like common sense to me, but I guess some people still need reminding. The following are five things people have to stop doing on Twitter:
- Auto DMing: I have spoken about this already numerous times, and everyone seems to hate auto DMs, yet there are still people, and a lot of them, who send auto DMs when they are followed. It really does not matter what is in the DM, but if you have your account configured to send an auto DM every time someone follows you, you are making a mistake that is sure to cost you in followers. One example that I find 50% of all people I follow do, is this truetwit validation thing. It is meant to block out spammers and requests from anyone who follows you to validate their account. In theory, a good idea, but annoying as heck in practice. I for one, unfollow anyone who sends me this DM, as well as any other auto DM. It is not about automating the process, it is about communicating and creating online dialog, an authentic dialog, not an automatic one. OK, enough about that, just got a truetwit DM, gotta go unfollow…
- Spamming: C’mon people, it is 2010, you should know by now that spam does not work, not to mention that it is just wrong. Somehow people think it is OK to find people with a lot of followers, and ask them to vote for them or support them in some cause. Not only does that not work since the Web is filled with malicious links, and most people are hesitant to click links sent by someone they do not know, but when I get such a message, I report that person to Twitter spam. So, if you need someone to click your link or do something to help your cause, follow them, communicate with them, build a relationship, then ask them for a favor. This might take a little longer than sending one message, but it is way more effective. It’s actually very simple, act on Twitter like you would act in real life, just be real and yourself, and you will be surprised at how quickly you see results.
- Not Hitting Reply: OK, this one is a little more complicated. On Twitter, when someone replies to you, you can click “In Reply To” right under that person’s reply to see exactly what question of yours they are answering. You can use this feature to put tweets in context, it is kinda like threaded conversations. However, this only works if the person hits Reply. If they just manually type out your name, or copy and paste it, and then go ahead and answer you, you will have no way of knowing what question they are answering. Every day, at least five times, I get a tweet that says something like “yes” or “absolutely” and there is no “In Reply To” under the tweet since the person did not hit Reply. So, when you are replying to someone on Twitter, make sure to hit the Reply button, that’s what it’s there for.
- Putting it Out There: There are differing opinions as to what DMs are for as opposed to replies. Whatever the case may be, it is important to note that tweets and replies are public, they are cached by Google and will appear in search results. If you are responding to someone and sharing information you do not want to be public, DM them. I recently asked someone for feedback on a blog post I was about to publish, I DMed them the preview URL and for some odd reason, they replied to me, publicly, with all their feedback. Why? Is that not what DMs are for? The bottom line is, some people hate DMs, and others use them all the time, whatever you decide, think about it before sending it and ask yourself “is this something I, or the person I am sending it to, want to be in the public eye, or should I perhaps be sending it privately?”
- Repeating Themselves: This is also not a clear cut issue, and many huge Twitter personalities like Guy Kawasaki, repeat tweets numerous times throughout the day. This is effective to get more eyeballs on the link, and it is needed for the different time zones. However, putting repetitive tweets aside for one second, people who tweet the same exact format in every single tweet are wasting theirs and my time. Let me give you an example. Have you seen those people whose Twitter stream consists of hundreds of tweets starting with the words: “New Blog Post:” I never ever click on a link like that. In fact, when I started out on Twitter, and would get an email notifying me that someone new is following me, I would look at the person’s profile, their picture, and even their follower count. As of a few months ago, I ignore all that, and look at the person’s last five tweets. If there is a reply in there, it is an almost definite follow back, if they all start with the same words, I make use of the nice Delete button. At the end of the day, people like to follow other people, and not machines. If you a person and not a Twitter bot or software, make sure to show that in your tweets, show some personality, some variety, and make sure each tweet is somewhat unique.
These are five of many things that are strangely still very common practices in the Twittersphere. The bottom line is, with tools like Twitter and others, there is no immediate and magic solution to building an effective network. It takes times and effort, but after you spend the time, the results Twitter will produce in terms of traffic, networking, and even promoting your product are unprecedented and unparalleled.