As I spend a lot of time on twitter, my thoughts often wander to proper twitter etiquette. I have questions of my own of course, grey areas where I wonder what the fine line is between attracting more followers and pushing followers away. There are of course some rules of thumb that it would be wise to follow, but for the most part everyone has their own idea of twitter etiquette. Spam on twitter is a growing issue, and I find myself daily reporting someone for spam, or simply blocking them from my stream. What’s frustrating is that many of these people I block are not bots, but real people. Individuals who just can’t seem to respect some basic twitter etiquette. For example, posting twenty (even thirty or forty [I’ve seen it]) tweets in a row, is ridiculous. As soon as I see that, not only do I completely ignore it, but you get an automatic unfollow from me. I’m done with that person. Twitter is a microblogging platform for a reason, 140 characters, keep your thoughts short. We have blogs for the long ramblings.
What are your thoughts on twitter etiquette?
Recently I’ve been asking myself. How many times is it okay to tweet about a blog post? I have heard it said that the life of the average tweet is about ten minutes. Give or take I suppose depending on how many people someone is following. At peak traffic times, my one twitter stream is more of a raging river, and unless I’m watching closely I’ll probably miss your tweet. So if I tweet about a new blog post I’ve written, and you weren’t there during that ‘ten minute window’ then it’s gone, and you’ll never know. So of course most bloggers re-tweet their blog posts, often with different wordings or excerpts of text. So the question is valid, how often can I tweet about a new post? Every ten minutes? Twice a day for a week? Once every week for a month? I guess there is no proper answer to this question. Since it is impossible to gauge who has seen my tweet, I can’t estimate if I’ve yet become an annoyance to someone.
I asked some bloggers what they thought. Justin Germino from dragonblogger.com says “When promoting one of your articles on Twitter I recommend you promote no less than 3-4 times per day about 4-6 hours apart, this is to ensure that you are reaching all of your audience in the wide variety of time zones. Remember if you have a Twitter following that only about 5% of your following ever see your tweet in real time, and most never scroll through history. So you may tweet the same promotion like 20 times before a person see’s it for the first time.” Justin has also written a post on the same topic in which he queries “Is it spamming to promote content on social media?”
Obviously you need to take these points into consideration, as dragonblogger mentioned being aware of time zones is important. I’m on the west coast in Vancouver, Canada, and I often find myself finishing posts late in the evening, if I tweet them right away it may be one, two or even three AM on the east coast where a lot of my readers and twitter friends are. If I was someone who only tweeted about a blog post once it would likely get lost in the history of twitter never to be seen by anyone.
I feel quite comfortable tweeting about my posts regularly for the first week after they are released, and then periodically after that. The nature of twitter is such that readers can quickly scan posts. I often see tweets that are repeats, if I’m happy with the person I’m following (meaning they generally engage and involve themselves in conversation besides just self-promotion) than it is no trouble for me to overlook the tweet I may have seen three or four times before.
Don’t come off like a robot!
Chris Brogan has a brief and informal twitter etiquette guide that you can read, in it he mentions watching out for ‘robot behavior’, and this I think is the key to success on twitter. Don’t come off like a robot! If you’re tweets are all automated, all self-promotion, and you don’t engage any of your followers or engage with those you follow, don’t be surprised if people pay little to no attention to you. The people I follow the closest (and end up spending time on their blogs) are the ones who engage with me. They participate in conversations apart from just promoting their own blog or product. When people show that they are not totally self absorbed, my interest in them grows. Twitter is a site for social networking, so let’s keep it social. Re-tweeting other peoples tweets is a great compliment and will help to grow their followers. Looking out for others and doing what you can to help others grow their follow list will be beneficial to you. What goes around comes around, this is certainly true of the twittersphere.