Twitter Rules

I have been using Twitter for a while now and I can see clearly when a Twitter person starts to do something "inappropriate" and instantly loses a lot of followers. Conversely, I can see when someone on Twitter really uses Twitter well and their followers snowball quickly. Here are the Twitter rules I have seen in action time and time again!

TWITTER IS MEANT FOR SHORT POSTS
Some people think Twitter is like a chat room where you keep typing in post after post after post to tell a long story. These people tend to be unsubscribed quickly. Here's the problem. Twitter's listing only shows X number of posts on a page to the reader. Let's say it's 20 posts. If I am following 50 different people - but the last 49 posts are all by Mrs. Smith who is doing a line by line explanation of a movie she watched - I am no longer enjoying a Twitter overview of my friends. I am now subscribing to a channel of All Mrs. Smith, All The Time. If I wanted that level of knowledge about Mrs. Smith I'd go to her personal Twitter page - or heck to her blog - and read it there. In essence she is "hijacking" my entire page for her information.

It is tempting to just keep posting - but you drive away visitors by doing that. People can no longer follow all their other friends if you are flooding their entire page with your own posts. Twitter is meant for short posts. It is meant for quick teasers with a URL to the full story. If you like to blog, then certainly set up a blog! There are thousands of blog sites out there that will let you do that for free, in under five minutes. When something exciting happens, make a long blog entry about it - and then put a SHORT post in Twitter pointing people to your blog. You will get a ton of readers that way and people will be enthused about what you have to say. If instead you hijack the Twitter network by posting 10 posts in a row, pushing all other content off of peoples' lists, you will have unsubscribers galore. Then nobody will get to hear your stories, which would be a shame!

TWITTER WORKS BEST WITH INFORMATIVE POSTS
Yes, sometimes people like hearing stream of consciousness posts like "I feel tired today". However, again, remember that every post you make pushes other peoples' posts off of the viewing screen. You are not operating in a vacuum - everything you do wipes out posts by someone else. Wipes out in the sense of "pushing to a second page" - and we all know how few people ever go to a second page, be it in Twitter, Google or any other site. Those previous page posts might as well not exist :) So any time you make a post, you are in a way "destroying" someone else's post on your readers' lists. After a while, your reader is going to make a judgement decision. Is this stream of consciousness stuff really worth missing out on a valuable URL or news post that someone else made? If the answer is recurringly NO, then your meanderings are going to be shut off.

I'm not saying every post must be a world-shattering news alert or a precious gem of information. However, there must be some wheat in with the chaff. Think about what you're posting. Is at least SOME portion of your readers going to find it interesting? People can very easily hit that "unfollow" button. You need to give them a reason to keep getting their page taken up by your content.

LINK OFF-SITE FOR MORE INFO
Twitter is about short, timely blurbs that inform people. You want to tease people, and also give them more information if they want it. That is the real key. You should always try to provide a link to more information. Are you watching a movie you love? Don't just say "I adore watching Basic." Provide a link to the movie. Don't just say "I loved creating a recipe for salmon bisque tonight!" Provide a link to the recipe. The more that you give that extra information, the more that people will love you, recommend you to others and follow your posts. A teaser is great - but if you tease them too much and never actually help them, they will go elsewhere.

STAY LIGHT ON THE EXTERNAL-PEOPLE MESSAGES
Some Twitter people love to spend a lot of time commenting on other peoples' feeds. That is great for Facebook and other community type sites. However, it can become really frustrating in the Twitter environment. Say I subscribe to Mrs. Smith's feed and most of what I get from her is random comments about "Great job there, Fran!" or "I agree so much, Steve!" Since all of those posts are completely meaningless to me, I would unsubscribe rather quickly. At least with random stream-of-consciousness posts I am hearing something about Mrs. Smith, who I (hopefully) like since I subscribed to her feed. Now I'm hearing random comments about strangers who I don't know and probably don't care about. Keep third party responses to a bare minimum. Write those people personally, or comment on their Facebook wall where the threads are in context and make sense. Having your own feed taken up by comments nobody will understand (except that one individual person) is not a way to build up a readership.

STAY CONSTRUCTIVE
There are tons of books on the market right now about making progress, scheduling your time, reducing stress, and making the most of your life. People are looking to get help with their problems, to relax more, and to achieve their goals. If your thread is always about how awful things are, how nothing is worthwhile, how the world is coming to an end, then it is not going to help people - and it is going to actively damage peoples' lives. I don't mean to be TOO extreme about this, but numerous studies show that stress and depression can have serious impacts on health, sleep, concentration, and even how well your brain works. People are making great efforts to overcome these issues. Certainly we all want to vent! If you're having a bad day, then certainly alert people to it and ask for help. If you vent in order to make progress, that is great! People will love to give you help, support, a shoulder to cry on. However, if you are venting just to spread anger and hate, that is going to have people unsubscribing rather quickly. There are enough streams of hate and anger out there in the world that most people are trying to avoid. In an active Twitter world, most people are there to share in a community. They want that community to be there for news, information, and shared growth.

I strongly encourage people to ask for help. I definitely don't want this to be interpreted as a message of "hide bad things". Definitely post if something is going wrong. You never know what random helpful reader can solve a lot of your problems. However, when you post, think of what you WANT as a result. Do you want to have everybody hate your boss? That is rarely helpful! The more you think about "what positive outcome am I hoping for?" the more you are likely to get it!

Twitter Tips
Twitter Basics
Building Traffic for your Twitter Account
Followers and Twitter's Value
Twitter Rules
What is a Twitter Hashtag?
Maintaining Multiple Twitter Accounts
Choosing a Twitter Icon
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What is a Twitter Hashtag?


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