Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Avoiding Tweet-arrhea

After a recent bout of ‘Tweet-arrhea’ I decided to draw up some guidelines for my use of Twitter; guidelines that will no doubt be regularly broken, but provide a point of reference nonetheless. And most of it applies to Facebook as well, really.

They reflect how I personally want to use the Twitter. If you’re famous/interesting enough to tell the world when you’re going to bed, then so be it. I still don’t think anyone cares … well they shouldn’t.

These are my Twitter guidelines:

  1. Don’t tweet emotionally
    Just because it’s easy to vent anger, frustration or sadness, doesn’t mean you should, and social media can be the easiest, most immediate outlet. But you’re better off taking a breath and being self-reflective rather than self-indulgent. Have a real conversation if you need to vent, and you’ll avoid wanting to delete dramatic, emotional posts later on.

  1. Don’t use Twitter to communicate a message to a particular person indirectly
    I’ve done it and had it done to me, generally driven by short-term emotional bursts. Yeah, sometimes you just wanna let someone know they’re pissing you off without saying it directly to them and making a big deal of it. Twitter and Facebook allow for the vaguely veiled, passive aggressive message, with the get-out of ‘don’t assume it was about you’ if it’s taken badly. Not only is it unhealthy communication and unfair on the person your talking towards, but the rest of your followers really don’t care and will just think you’re being dramatic – because you probably are. You’ll just keep brooding, and all the while they might not have even read it. Worse still is if it’s a positive message because I’d want to hear it directly rather than wonder if it’s about me, so do the same for others.

  1. Resist the urge to continually tweet to get someone’s attention, or a response
    You’ll end up posting crap and look like a loser with too much time on your hands.

  1. Don’t write a series of tweets that make up an essay
    Blog it and link to it! Then you can even measure if anyone cared ... in this case, i'll leave the link...

  1. Don’t tweet just because you’re bored and/or lonely
    Personal time and reflection is healthy, a need for constant connection is not.

  1. Don’t tweet thoughts that seems interesting in the moment
    Even if it is something you might share with someone in your company, consider its relevance. Make it meaningful, give it broader context and appeal. Or just leave it in your head; it’s ok to keep thoughts to yourself.

  1. Don’t confuse negative emotion with passion or come across as antagonistic
    People generally react better to positive comments. There’s always a positive way of saying things, even criticism.

  1. Use Hashtags as a guide
    With enough followers – which I currently don’t really have – you don’t necessarily need them, but being unable to apply a relevant hashtage for meaningful catagorisation, it might be a sign that the tweet doesn’t have won’t be topical or of interest to many people. I felt like tweeting the fact that I bought a Callipo today – just because I know I’d mention it to a particular person. It’s of no interest to anyone else and there’s no Hashtag I could use that would be of any use.

  1. No self-pity
    No one wants to read it. Deal with that stuff productively.

In essence, it’s about quality over quantity, tweet because you have something to say, not just because you want to, or worse, feel the need to. Don’t just post something because it seems good in the moment. Each crap tweet devalues the good ones. You don’t need to tweet every day. In fact, purposely having a tweet-free day each week is probably a good practice to keep out of bad tweeting habits.

In short, tweet thoughts that offer some kind of insight, and have the potential to make people think, smile, laugh or learn.

If it’s not fun, walk away!

Yes me, I'm talking to you!

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