The 4 Unwritten Rules of Twitter

Sure, there are 175 million people on Twitter, but not all of them are “power users” as our enterprise software clients might say. Many folks – maybe you – are still just checking out the medium, not yet tweeting, but reading to see what’s what. And you could spend hours trying to get acclimated, because Twitter lingo in and of itself is an art form (there are plenty of posts on how to decipher that). But there are also unwritten rules for Twitter that can be helpful to know when starting out…or if you consider yourself a power user, a nice reminder about how to make the most of your Tweet time.

Say Anything
Well, maybe not anything, but you must say something. Have an opinion! If you want to build a following or spark a dialogue you have to start by putting yourself out there – even just a little bit. Please don’t just retweet someone else’s article or blog. Give us some context! You have witty thoughts (all your friends say so); let’s hear them! We say this with the caveat that delivery and tone is just as important via Twitter as it is in email. Unsure? Hold your virtual tongue.

There may be an “I” in Twitter, but it’s not all about U
This is true for all social media channels (and if we’re playing therapist for a moment… in life!). Twitter is about sharing information and opinions, engaging in conversations and developing relationships with folks you might not otherwise meet. Asking people to “retweet” your tweet/link/post is a no-no. The beauty of social media is that you’ll know almost immediately if your content (AKA your tweet) is hitting the mark or hitting a nerve based on how people proactively share and/or comment. Notice the word proactively. Unless you are “besties”, don’t ask.

The ability to track a topic and read/comment on all of the relevant content by people you follow or don’t is one of Twitter’s greatest gifts. For instance #NBALockOut or #WilltheCelticsPlayAgain allow us Ray Allen fans to commiserate together. But using multiple hash tags in one tweet (which only allows140 characters in the first place) clouds the issue and confuses people; me included. Which leads to our next unwritten rule…

Brevity. Learn it, love it.
Twitter is based on brevity. 140 characters is a small window, but if you have something to say that requires two tweets either condense it or don’t Tweet it at all. No one wants to read your stream of consciousness. Maybe it’s better for your blog or Facebook status. If you can’t write it in the space allowed, time to rethink the channel you are using. And while we’re at it, this should also hold true for text messages. Yes, it’s old school, but phones, the have-a-conversation-with-a-real-live-person type, do still work.

What other unwritten rules do you follow on Twitter? Let us know by posting a comment below.

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