Kicking & Screaming

I went kicking and screaming into the world of Twitter on the persistence of several great colleagues at Shift Communications. And while it took several weeks for me to understand its value, I finally got it.

In fact, I’m now somewhat addicted. I find myself checking Twitter before I go to bed at night, and its the first thing I do after looking at email in the morning. I even find myself thinking about new ways I can obliterate the English language into barely understandable abbreviations – just to get under my 140 character limit.

During my journey to master Twitter I formulated a few guidelines that if followed can make Twitter an exceptional tool for fun & professional communication.

# 1. There is such a thing as TMI (Too Much Information)
If you chose to follow porn stars, take pictures of your drunken buddies, or describe personal relations with your spouse – don’t use your professional persona. We don’t want to know that much about you!

# 2. Don’t confuse direct messaging (aka DM in twitterland) with email.
DM is designed for witty remarks, defining a spot to meet at a conference, or other quick communication regarding a post. If you can’t say it in one 140 character post, or its going to take more than 3 DMs of back in forth discussion – please, use email.

# 3. Size does matter
But not the way you think. For celebrities like Ashton or Oprah having a million followers makes sense. For the rest of us your twitter goal should not be to amass the most number of followers. Your goal should be to amass the most relevant followers. I’ll take 200 followers who influence my life & my work, over 5000 random people whom I don’t know any day.

#4. Don’t forget to listen
Twitter can be a wonderful broadcast tool. A simple vehicle to share good news, ask questions and point out interesting research. But all too many people forget to listen. Twitter is equally good at getting a pulse on your personal brand, your company’s customer service and what’s happening with your competition.

#5. Go organic
Whatever you do, don’t ask someone to RT(retweet which is akin to forwarding for you non twitter readers). Nothing is more of a turn off than someone you follow asking you to retweet, or worse yet, offering you an incentive to rebroadcast your message. The whole point is for organic conversations to take place where people share what is of interest to them. Don’t be pushy, let your content speak for itself.

#6. Don’t drink and tweet
Don’t say anything, I mean ANYTHING, you wouldn’t say in a crowded room fully sober. What you say can and will haunt you. Of cource, we appreciate a sense of humor so don’t go over board censoring your thoughts.

I hope these guidelines make Twitter an even better place to be.

Your twitter convert,

p.s. You can find me on Twitter @samanthastone