With the explosion in popularity that Twitter has received, especially with the massive usage at SXSW, it has become very clear that some facets of twitter are beginning to annoy people. For the benefit of all twitter users, I have made a list of rules for Twitter usage.
- Conversations that require more more than two @ replies should be moved over to a direct message. People not involved in the conversation don’t want to be spammed with conversation that should either take place at the water cooler or in private. I don’t care if you are trying to decide on a place for lunch with your twitter friend. If it doesn’t involve a large number of your twitter followers, don’t fill our twitter feed with your discussions.
- If you are going to Twitter events, do it on an alternate account. For the sake of the sanity of those not at the event such as SXSW, we don’t need to be made jealous by your twittering of every person you run into or panel you listen to. Use a second account that your followers can follow if they want to know every detail about your event experience.
- You should not twitter more than once every 15 min unless it is in reply to another twitter user. Certainly there are situations that make for an exception to this rule, but generally speaking, especially those people that are alerted via text message, get annoyed with constant twitters from a single person. It can also be very costly to those that get message via text message. I have stopped following several people for excessive twitter usage. You should never twitter more than 30 times in a day unless you want to lose followers.
- Do not follow massive amounts of random Twitter users for no reason. I have had many random people follow me that only a handful of people follow, yet they follow thousands of people. You cannot keep up with all of those people and are generally seen as a spammer hoping people will follow them so they can promote their projects. As a personal rule, there is no way I will follow you if you follow more than a thousand people than follow you.
- Automated Twitter messages should be done on a second account. I have noticed this problem primarily with Twitter users that use their account to announce things like when they are broadcasting on sites like Justin.tv. If you are going to enable such an automated Twitter messaging feature, use a second account for it so that if you have a bad connection and are constantly coming on and off, people don’t get spammed with messages they don’t want. Much like having a second account for Twittering about events, the same goes for automated Twitter messages.
- Don’t post the same thing to multiple services. If you are going to have accounts for all the different services like Utterz and Pownce, post unique messages to each service. Don’t post the same thing to all of the services. Nobody wants to receive the same message multiple times because they follow you on multiple services. Decide what you want to post to what service and stick with it. Don’t post a single message to multiple services.
- If you have many projects that you want to plug updates on Twitter, make dedicated accounts for each project. I admit to breaking this rule, but if you have a project that you post every change you make, or have multiple projects that have regular changes, they should have their own, dedicated accounts. It is always a good idea to keep business and personal things separate. Not only will this keep from annoying your current followers, but it will also allow people interested in your projects to stay up to date without getting messages about every aspect of your life.
If you want to keep your followers happy and grow in Twitter popularity, I highly recommend following these rules. These are the rules that I have come up with that seem to address the worst problems I find on Twitter. If you have more to add to the list or have an issue with my rules, please post your opinion in the comments. While I choose twitter, many of these rules apply for the other services such as Pownce or Utterz.
There are now even more Twitter Etiquette rules! Check out Twitter Etiquette Part 2!