Twitter Etiquette

More and more writers are joining the large community of writers on Twitter. I’ve personally found the support and encouragement there incredible. I’m better able to stay connected with friends and meet new writers. It’s a quick and easy way to promote our blogs, books, and one another.

However, after participating in Twitter for many months, I’ve come to realize there are a few basic courtesies. I'm not sure I have a full grasp on twitter etiquette, but here's what I've learned so far:

1. Promote yourself, but promote others too. It’s perfectly fine to use Twitter to post links to our blogs, to share big news about ourselves, or to showcase our books. That’s a wonderful part of social media--the ability to share news instantly with crowds of people.

But we can’t stop there. Nobody likes to listen to someone who is constantly talking about themselves. And the same is true on Twitter. We should be looking for opportunities to help shout out the good news of others, link to other encouraging blog posts, and retweet helpful information.

2. Join in conversations, but don’t overdo it. People talk back and forth on Twitter, but because of the fast-pace we can’t always easily follow along with all the chatting. My eyes tend to glaze over the tweets of someone who comments too much.

For more personal ongoing conversations, consider using direct messages. I’ve begun to make more use of DM’s for private matters, thank yous, or conversations that others may not understand.

3. If you find a helpful link, give credit where it’s due. Retweet is an excellent function on Twitter. When we see a helpful link or comment that someone else has tweeted, retweet allows us to quickly post it to our followers.

However, we need to make sure we’re giving credit to the person who first tweeted that post and not making it seem like the clever saying or link came from us. It’s just one more way to help promote others.

4. For every complaint you post, try to make an equal number of positives. We all appreciate open and honest communication. If we’re having a bad day, we should feel the freedom to express ourselves to a caring community.

But we don’t want Twitter to become the place where we’re constantly complaining about our health, work load, or life in general. So, let’s be real, but remember to balance with the positives too.

I think we’ll all be safe if we follow the Twitter Golden Rule: Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you. (Yes, I made that up, but you get my point!)

A few other basic Twitter considerations:

Make use of hashtags to communicate with others. Among the writing community here are a few that I follow: #amwriting, #writechat, #writers, #authors, #writetip

Make use of Twitter applications for ease in organizing followers. There are quite a few available to download for free. I use Tweetdeck and organize my followers into columns like: Blogging Friends, WordServe Clients, Agents, Etc.

Make use of Twitter buttons. At the very basic, we can all get one of those cute birdie widgets into our sidebars so people can sign up to follow us on Twitter. Also, a retweet button like the one at the bottom of my posts, allows readers to easily share a link to helpful posts on Twitter. (Click here for the application.)

Make professional use of the Bio. Just like our blogs, we never know who might stumble across our Twitter home page. We should make sure our real name is evident, the fact that we’re a writer, and any other credits or important links.

What about you? What things about Twitter bother you the most? Are there other “rules” or etiquette you would add to my list? And are there other Twitter gadgets or applications you’ve found helpful? Please share!

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