26 April 2013

Twittiquette: How not to ruin your life in 140 characters

twittiquette - etiquette guide for twitter


A couple of notorious cases in the news have hammered home one extremely important lesson for tweeters everywhere: Twitter isn’t private. Durr and some tweeters need to exercise twittiquette!

First came the case of the Swansea University student who posted several ill-advised, cruel and racist comments after the on-pitch collapse of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba in March. More recently, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was sent home from the country’s London 2012 squad in disgrace after posting a racist message on Twitter mocking African migrants and expressing support for a far-right political party.

So, before posting any tweet, the best Twitter advice we could give you is to imagine six people who might read it: your mother (or father), your best friend, your partner, your most important client, a police officer, and your boss. If you feel it would pass muster with all six without toe-curling embarrassment (or indeed prosecution) ensuing, post away. If not, it might be worth hitting that bin icon…

For anyone new to Twitter or unsure about the informal etiquette – Twittiquette – that has evolved around it, our Google Expert has 10 Twittiquette rules which should help keep you on the straight and narrow.

1. Don’t impersonate anyone

Celebrity, company, or enemy – if you’re exposed pretending to be someone else, the ramifications can be a lot worse than having your account suspended. What’s wrong with being you?

2. Be subtle

People these days are wise to blatant marketing. Scream at them to ‘buy, buy’, and they’re more than likely to just say ‘bye bye’ instead.

3. Don’t steal

If you’re ‘borrowing’ tweets, ideas or musings from other users, credit them with the original posting so they get the respect due to them. Plagiarism is just plain sad.

4. Stay within the law

Quite apart from issues of bad taste, beware of slander, libel and ‘hate crimes’.

5. Reward your followers

Engage with people who follow you or who comment on your tweets. Remember, that dreaded ‘unfollow’ button is only ever a click away.

6. Say ‘hello’

If you join a chat or a group, introduce yourself, just as you would do if sitting down at a table-full of people in real life.

7. Use your ‘bio box’

It’s not just for being pithy. Use the biographical tool for telling people a little about yourself, your business and your ethos.

8. Remember the word ‘social’

Even if you use your account mainly for business purposes, don’t bombard people with corporate codswallop all the time. Remember, Twitter is a form of social networking, so post a variety of material on the website.

9. Keep it polite

If you wouldn’t say it in the pub or the office, probably best not to say it on Twitter either. Chances are, your identity is known to your followers, so don’t humiliate yourself.

10. Finally… don’t drink and tweet

Just as it’s not an A1 idea to text or call exes after having a few sherberts, it’s maybe not a wise move to share your views when your inhibitions are lowered. A hangover’s one thing. A knock on the door from CID is quite another.

Tweeting is a privilege, not a right. Whether your intention is to nurture your existing social network or ramp-up your customer base, it can be an invaluable online marketing tool, so use it, don’t abuse it. Exercise twittiquette!