Thinking Back On My Approach to Twitter

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twitterOn March 21st, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent his very first tweet:

First Tweet from Jack

Five years, 200+ million users, 30+ billion tweets and countless lives changed (including mine), Twitter is still changing the way we communicate and consume information. It’s pretty amazing just to think about.

Like the platform itself has changed, I too have changed my perspective on Twitter and how we should and shouldn’t be using it. I wanted to take a look at three posts I wrote way back when about Twitter to note how my approach to Twitter, particularly Twitter etiquette, has changed. You can click on any of the title headings to read the posts.

1. Look at Me, Not at the Mirror – Adding Value on Twitter
In this post I cover how two different people use auto-DM (Direct Messages). I scold one for being self-serving, and praise another for simply thanking me for the follow. Oh, how things have changed.

Yes, I’m one of those “elitists” who have come to hate auto-DMs all together. Scott Stratten, one of my marketing mentors, has said that auto-DMs are bad, but pretending they’re personal is worse. While I commend myself for hating self-serving auto-DMs after only a few weeks of using the service, I was naive about why people felt the need to auto-DM.

Auto-DMs have fallen into the category of spam for me. They’re uninvited messages, often from people I don’t know, and are almost entirely self-serving. While I’m not at the point yet where an auto-DM will immediately get you an unfollow, I’m almost there. If you are really about conversation, adding value, and being an overall nice person in the Twitterverse, then I’d strongly suggest you stop sending auto-DMs right now.

2. 10 Reasons I Won’t Follow You Back on Twitter
Nearly a year ago I was compelled to write another post about those who were following me and why I wouldn’t follow them back. First, I absolutely do not believe that there is some unwritten rule that just because you follow me, it’s a common courtesy to follow you back. It’s not. I follow people who I believe I’ll receive some sort of value from following. They don’t owe me anything. They may very well hate hearing about marketing, presenting, PowerPoint and the like, and that’s fine.

As far as this post goes, I think it’s more relevant now than ever. With the exponential increase of noise on Twitter, it’s so important to make sure you’re connecting with the right people and allowing the right people to connect with you. Doing things like having an avatar with your face, creating a unique but appropriate bio, not protecting your tweets, retweeting others, conversing with others and avoiding automation are still great tips to follow.

3. Choosing to be Human and Helpful on Twitter
Even though it was only written in February, I’m sad to say that I’ve faltered on this. It’s not that I’ve become a robot (instead of human) or have scaled back my helpfulness – I try to be human and helpful every day. Instead, it’s simply become too difficult and overwhelming to try and help all those who I think are “doing it wrong” on Twitter.

I had an encounter with a Twitter user recently that, as opposed to my conversation with @Sulibreaks that I outline in the post, didn’t go very well. Basically, he followed what I consider to be a “black-hat” method of tweeting. He uses SocialOomph (notorious for automated accounts) to send out automatically generated obscure quotes, random ReTweets (including ReTweeting himself), threats (IN ALL CAPS) to unfollow, and invitations to his (get this…) “Marketing” webinars. Though the webinars don’t even feature him. The landing page features two random guys. Of course, his bio links to an “At-Home Business” landing page to become a millionaire in your pajamas. Bleh.

He seemed genuinely interested in talking, at first, but it quickly spiraled out of control and I bailed. He didn’t want help and claimed that “people liked the way he uses Twitter.” So I’ve stopped trying to help those I come across who are doing it wrong. I guess some people just don’t want to be helped, and maybe in trying to help people (who aren’t asking for help) I’m overstepping my boundaries. I have no problem with taking a bit of the blame here.

It’s obvious that as the tool changes and my experiences grow, so too does my perspective on things. I’m not apologetic for these posts, but I’m also not too proud to look back and point out where I may have been wrong. It’s all part of the learning process.

How has social media changed for you in the past 5 years?

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