I do like Twitter. I use it every day to learn, to broadcast, to share and to enjoy.
But Christ it can be annoying. To an extent this is the same with any new platform – familiarity breeds contempt after all – and in these times of decreasing attention spans and tolerances it’s easy to get hacked off by simple, and essentially inoffensive, things.
I think there are a number of things that apply across the board on Twitter that are annoying or inappropriate in most cases – particularly if you blur your social life with your professional life on Twitter, which I’d guess a majority do.
I’ve personally met about ten per cent of the people who follow me, and unless you’ve met someone in person I think you need to reflect on whether your Twitter followers want to hear about your personal life, sex life or toilet habits.
The banalities of your exercise regimen, diet, daily routines, coffee preferences and fluctuating mood are hardly of interest to anyone either – do it on Facebook if you must do it, at least those people know you personally.
Different, but just as inappropriate, is ignoring netiquette – that series of fluid and informal rules that just make the web a nicer place to be. They apply to Twitter too, just in subtly different ways.
None of this is a catch-all; not all of it will apply to everyone; and I probably indulge in a few myself. Nor am I setting myself up as some kind of expert, or arbiter of how to behave on Twitter.
I’m just someone who uses Twitter a lot and gets irritated easily, so I reckon the following list of what not to do on Twitter will serve most people well.
It won’t help you get 10,000 followers, but it might stop you looking like a bit of a dick.
20 things you shouldn’t do on Twitter
• Don’t DM unless you have a good reason – or you know someone personally
• Don’t set up an automated DM to new followers – sheer, pointless irritation
• Don’t announce you’re about to unfollow a load of people before you do – it’s pretty offensive to those about to be unfollowed
• Don’t unfollow genuine friends, no matter how annoying – it’ll bite you on the arse
• Don’t furiously live blog events you’re watching – keep it to a reasonable frequency
• Don’t set up a feed to churn out more than one link at a time – modify your application to spread them out
• Don’t automate more than a handful of tweets a day – you’ll get unfollowed
• Don’t tweet about your sex life or personal life – or apply a little common sense
• Don’t tweet random banal headlines – other people know how to use the internet for themselves
• Don’t ignore your followers – you’ve got to follow at least some people
• Don’t simply tweet your inventory if you’re selling something – it’s pointless
• Don’t slag off people you know – this isn’t Bebo
• Don’t slag of organisations you may work for or with – that tweet could come back to haunt you
• Don’t post orphaned links – no-one knows where they may go. That’s annoying
• Don’t post NSFW links, unless properly highlighted – even then, don’t (probably)
• Don’t use caps – it’s ANNOYING
• Don’t ask for followers or RTs – by and large
• Don’t cross-post between social networks – it’s a wild goose chase for everyone involved
• Don’t overdo services like Ping.fm that send out the same message to a number of platforms. What’s right for Facebook may not be right for Twitter
• Don’t be a dick – what’s true for the real world is true for the virtual
Feel free to let me know if I missed any obvious ones out below