Twitter is all about broadcasting things you want the world to know. I want more people to know who I am, read my stuff, and hopefully somewhere down the line someone will pay me enough money to live. If you want to be secret, why go on Twitter? The only thing I can think is if you want to read but not write anything, but that’s still missing the point a bit.
This post is prompted by the fact that recently I have been practising what I preach in relation to increasing followers on Twitter. The tactic I advise to others is to seek out people in your target audience, then follow them with the aim that at the very least a proportion will check out your profile and maybe look at your website to decide whether to follow. And a smaller group will decide to follow back and receive ongoing messages from you. It is OK if that percentage is small as they are self selecting. The people who do follow back have generally made an active decision to do so and they are more likely to be the audience you are seeking if you have made your profile clear and you have followed the right kind of people in the first place.
As I have been working my way through this process, I am very surprised at how many people have their feeds locked I can still see their profile description but in order to follow them they have to approve and to see any messages they put out I need to be a follower. What is the point of that? Particularly if you are trying to build up a fan base (eg artists, writers, musicians, performers).
If you don’t want people to know …
- where you are,
- who you are seeing,
- what you are thinking,
- that you are doing something you are embarrassed about,
- that you you are doing something illegal…
… DON’T TWEET IT!
Way back in the relatively early days of Twitter (about 2007), I started a part-time job where I had a secretary. Yes, the place was stuck in a bygone era. No, I had no need for a secretary or any idea what one would do for me. When I asked her what she saw her role as, she said if I needed any photocopying or filing doing (???). She wasn’t just my secretary, I shared her with a couple of other people in my team and a couple of others shared another secretary. Really these two were team administrators and just had the wrong job title. Anyway, I have set the scene, there were two secretaries (administrators) who sat together in a little office. I discovered soon on that mine was into technology and as I too was getting into twitter and blogging, I chatted to her about it and we swapped twitter names and started following each other.
I quickly realised that (a) she spent almost all day tweeting and messing about not doing any work, and (b) most of her tweets documented her minute by minute irritations with her office mate. I had a few days/weeks of agony wondering what to do about this situation. I didn’t line manage her, but I did have a sense that these two activities were wrong. What should I do? Tell someone else and be a snitch? Not my style. In theend I had a chat with her in the guise of “let’s share our experience of Twitter”. I suggested that it should be a place where you only say things that you could say face to face and that wouldn’t hurt the person you were talking about if they were to read it, especially if the person was a work colleague. Also as anyone can see your massages whether they have a twitter account or not, via the profile link, really one should think about what effect that would have if say, your line manager was to see them. Her reaction? Made her Twitter account private. But I was still a follower and could still see those messages…
I learnt from this that I need to be more direct and explicit when I am actually telling people what to do or what not to do. I should have said “Stop spending all day tweeting and do some bloody work and stop slagging off your colleagues online”. If it was today that is what I would do.
In 2010, I split up with someone who I lived with for a long time. We had a shared laptop with separate usernames but knew each other’s passwords. I had Tweetdeck installed to look at my Twitter feeds. He kept the laptop and I changed my Twitter password thinking that was cutting off the stream from the laptop. Some time later it became clear that he was reading my direct messages on Twitter. How? The Tweetdeck API didn’t require the Twitter password to connect once the approval to link had been made. So even though I had changed my password, my account was open to be seen. I didn’t have anything too damaging in my direct messages but it brought home to me that private is very rarely actually private and the easiest way to be safe is the assume everything is public and only send messages that you can live with being public.
Simple rules for if you are using Twitter as a way of building up reputation and making connections
- Use an appealing clear profile image preferably your face
- Don’t make your account private
- Include your web address in your profile
- Put your country location and if a local business also put your nearest city or regions so people can find you.
- Put what you do in your profile
- Don’t put stupid “I don’t know what to put here” “I’m an airhead” type comments in your profile.
- Tweet regularly but don’t spam your every breath
- Don’t tweet about things that there is even one person in the world that you don’t want to know.
- Don’t be boring
- Follow, follow, follow
- Interact with people – read and @ message, reply and retweet – not just broadcast
- Don’t believe you are best mates with people just because you have had a few tweets back and forth
- Include links to places for more information than you can include in 140 characters
- Learn about hastags and how to use them effectively
- Remember that you don’t actually have to follow people back if you don’t want to
- Be very cautious of direct messages, particularly those that say things like “hey someone’s talking about you” even if from someone you know well – these are typical hacker messages.
- Don’t put in your twitter details if you have clicked on a link in a direct message and it says you need to log on to see the thing – these are typical hacker tactics.
Please feel free to suggest any others for the list in the comments.