Over a year and a half of blogging, Twitter has quickly become my favorite tool for discovering and connecting with other writers, and for self-promotion. If you follow me on Twitter, you might also realize that the network is, in fact, a bit of an obsession of mine.
As much as I love all my tweeps, though, I can’t help but still be completely annoyed at some common bad practices on the network. I know if you’re committing these faux pas you probably don’t even realize how annoying they are, so I’m sharing this post to enlighten you and give you a chance to make things right as we start fresh this new year.
If you’re new to Twitter, click here for a little help deciphering the jargon below.
The sentiment behind the #FollowFriday meme is great: You follow accounts you think others should know about, so you mention them with that popular #FF hashtag. But when you do it as nothing but a list of handles, you offer no reason for anyone to take notice, and actually quite a lot of reason for followers to skim over and ignore your largely meaningless post.
Instead, include a good reason for the recommendation: “#FF my favorite authors @jodymlamb, @JulieALindsey, and @thecreativepenn!“
Make it even more compelling (and helpful) by including a link to prove your point: “#FF @brazencareerist for helpful career advice, like how to know when you’re a bad boss: http://bit.ly/Yo03ly“.
These recommendations are much more powerful, and will help highlight the Tweep you’re recommending much more than including them in a string of @mentions after the hashtag.
1b. Stop replying to a #FF to say thanks to the person who mentioned you and including everyone else who was mentioned.
Meanwhile, if you are mentioned in one of those hideous lists of handles for #FollowFriday, and you’d like to show your gratitude to the person who mentioned you, please only reply to them! When you hit “Reply”, all the handles will automatically be included, like a “Reply All”. Just highlight and delete those who don’t deserve or need to see your thank you to avoid confusing and/or annoying them. (But we won’t have to worry about this one once #1 is taken care of, will we?)
2. Stop using True Twit verification service.
Nothing says, “I don’t appreciate you following me” faster than a direct message asking for verification you’re not a spambot. If you want to be picky about who can connect with you, stay on Facebook. On Twitter, don’t make me jump through hoops to see your already-public updates. I have never verified my humanness for True Twit, and I’m not the only one. When you put up a roadblock for spammers — who don’t do you much harm if you just ignore them — you’re putting up a roadblock for any legitimate followers, as well. That, in fact, is doing yourself harm.
To be fair, I did raise this issue on Quora, to ensure I’m not being ignorant about the service. Read the answers here. Valid points, but my opinion isn’t swayed.
3. Stop auto-DMing me when I follow you.
How many bloggers have to tell everyone to stop this practice before it just stops? Do we have to take to the streets soon? People consider your auto-DMs spam most of the time, and treat them as such — offensive, annoying, best ignored, and often cause to unfollow you altogether. Yet, I know that most people who auto-DM me with a thank-you for following are not spammers. They’ve just been lead astray by some advice somewhere that suggested the service would improve their conversion.
Instead, engage your new followers organically. If you want to connect, follow back. Comment on their posts, ask engaging questions, and share content so interesting they’ll be compelled to follow your links when they see them in their feeds.
This seems to be one of the best kept secrets of Twitter-hackery. If your post begins with an @mention, only the Tweeps who follow you and the person mentioned will see that post in their general feeds. So, if you want people to check out my book, don’t write “@danasitar’s new ebook is great!” , because only your followers who already follow me will see it. Adding anything before the @mention, however, will put that tweet in the feeds of all your followers.
So, add a simple period to the front of the tweet: “.@danasitar’s new ebook is great!”, or re-write your copy: “Check out @danasitar’s new ebook – it’s great!” to get your tweet into all your followers’ feeds.
5. Stop making your profile pic anything BUT your face (a few exceptions below).
Reason 1: If you’re using Twitter for professional networking — and you’re the ones I’m speaking to, not people who use it as an extension to Facebook or texting — you need to look professional and mind your branding. Using a picture of your cat or a clever clip art may express your personality, but it doesn’t help me recognize you.
Reason 2: Twitter profile pics are really, really small, especially in contrast to the visual display that’s starting to dominate other social networks. If your picture is you doing something far away or you with a group of people, it’s going to be indecipherable in most cases.
Exception 1: If your personal image is not part of your business’s branding, or the account is shared among users at your company, use a tailored square company logo that’s easy to read when it’s small.
Exception 2: While you’re launching a book, it’s common to use your book cover image for your profile pic across networks. If you can design a square version of the cover that followers can decipher at about 50px, go for it. If not, you’re not helping yourself by using an oddly-cropped, illegible image in place of your face. (Author Jody Lamb is a good example of using a book cover image that works.)
6. Stop including “Pls RT” on any tweet ever.
Isn’t the request, “Please Re-tweet this” implied for every tweet already? Why are you wasting precious characters for this plea?
Instead, just write a really great post. People will feel compelled to share it if it’s worthy. If you’re trying to get the word out about something in particular (like an event, a cause, or a new product), maybe send a message or a quick email to an influencer(s) with whom you have some kind of relationship, and ask them to RT or share a tweet you’ve pre-written.
What are your Twitter pet peeves? Share in the comments so we can eradicate them in 2013!