The lovely and talented Jody Hedlund had a great post recently that got me thinking: what is proper etiquette on Twitter, aka, Twetiquette!
First of all, a quick look at my journey into Twitterville. From the first moment I heard of Twitter, I was dead-set against it. Who needs another form of social networking? Not me, that's for sure! For [not] the first time in my life, I was dead wrong. Last June I went kicking and screaming into heaven.
As some of you know, I partially [totally] owe my finding agent representation to Twitter. Awesome Agent aka Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker's Mark Literary Agency liked the back and forth banter we were engaged in on Twitter, checked out my blog, and the rest, as they say, is history.
There are many different reasons people fly the bird [not to be confused with "give the bird"] to Twitterville, but most go to find people who share common interests. For the purpose of this post, I'll limit my discussion to the writing community, since that's the one I'm most familiar with. (I dabble in politics on Twitter, but that's a whole 'nother conversation!)
So, what's acceptable and what's not? Here's my take.
DISCLAIMER: These are MY OPINIONS only. (Spoiler Alert!) You may love spouting the "eff" word in Twitterland, and no one can/will stop you. They may unfollow you, but they can't stop you. Why? There are no hard and fast rules in Twitterville.
Let's start with what IS acceptable:
1) Be positive!
Give encouragement and acknowledge the accomplishments of yourself and others. Spread the cheer.
2) Be informative.
Tweet and retweet things that matter to the writing community. Examples include new agent announcements, Publisher's Marketplace articles, pub dates for yourself and others, and links to other writer's blog posts you find interesting (hint, hint). What you find interesting, others probably will, too.
3) Direct Message.
Direct Messages, or DM's, will be seen by your eyes and the eyes of who you are tweeting only. It's basically an email. Use DM's when you have something to say that is private, or if you're having a conversation and you don't want to "bother" all of the Twitosphere with it. Not everyone needs/wants to hear everything you have to say.
4) Tweet News, etc.
Earthquakes, election results, publishing-related news, music, TV shows, pictures of your cat, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey breaking up - things of utmost importance that no one can go another minute without knowing. These are all appropriate to tweet. People like to be informed and entertained.
5) Updates on Your Progress.
It's fine to tweet updates on your writing progress such as word counts, agent representation, if you're on submission, book sales, interviews, etc. Just don't overdo it. Twitter isn't your personal stage. It's a community.
6) Bring on the Funny.
Jokes, You Tube videos, and back and forth banter are all okay. Just keep in mind different people have different ideas of what funny is. I, for one, don't think passing gas, in any context, is funny. But that's just me. Obviously many people feel otherwise. Laughter is the best medicine. Let's keep each other healthy!
7) Be Polite.
Say please, and especially, thank you. As in life, there are many opportunities on Twitter to show your gratitude. Don't hold back. Let people know you appreciate them and their many talents. Building people up is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Public acknowledgment is a beautiful thing.
What NOT to do on Twitter:
1) No Whiners.
Do not whine, at least, not excessively. We all have our bad days, and it's okay to request support every now and then. But if you complain frequently about your life circumstances, you may find yourself losing followers. No one likes whiners!
2) Use DM's for Self-Promotion or Welcoming New Followers.
The only thing more annoying than spambots are people who DM to tell you of their new blog posts and pub dates or who "welcome" you as a new follower and "invite" you to go to their website or blog. This is TOTALLY ANNOYING! Use DM's for personal conversations you are sure other people want to have. Period!
Keep your curse words to a minimum. The "eff" word is, for the most part, inappropriate on Twitter, though clearly not everyone agrees. Curse words, in general, are not necessary. I'm not prude, I was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. However, you take a big chance of offending folks if your language is often sprinkled with profanity. You've only got 140 characters. Why be raunchy?
4) Dissing Others.
Never, ever, EVER dis someone on Twitter. If you've got a personal gripe, find some other way to deal with it. Of course, this doesn't include truly evil people like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin. They deserve all the grief they get. Be kind to others, otherwise, you're the one who ends up looking like the fool.
5) Bodily Functions.
We're not doctors and nurses, we're writers, agents, and editors. Keep the bodily functions to yourselves, whether they're you're kids or your own. (This expounds upon previous "passing gas" comment.) This definitely falls under the category of TMI. No one wants to be grossed out!
6) Just Say "No" to ALL CAPS & EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Need I say more?
7) Don't Twitter Stalk.
Don't stalk people on Twitter. It's probably illegal and just plain weird. We all have our faves, but give people space. The world doesn't need any more paparazzi!
So, folks, there you have it. Twetiquette by Debra L. Schubert. Here's the Cliff Notes version:
- There are no hard and fast rules in Twitterville.
- Spread the cheer.
- What you find interesting, others probably will, too.
- Not everyone needs/wants to hear everything you have to say.
- People like to be informed and entertained.
- Twitter isn't your personal stage. It's a community.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Let's keep each other healthy!
- Public acknowledgment is a beautiful thing
- No one likes whiners!
- Use DM's for personal conversations you are sure other people want to have. Period!
- You've only got 140 characters. Why be raunchy?
- Be kind to others, otherwise, you're the one who ends up looking like the fool.
- No one wants to be grossed out!
- Just Say "No" to ALL CAPS & EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- The world doesn't need any more paparazzi!