Choosing to be Human and Helpful on Twitter

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Helping on TwitterWe all make choices every day – what clothes to wear, what lane to drive in, what to have for lunch. Our decisions happen in all aspects of our lives, thousands of times per day. Sometimes one of these small, seemingly insignificant decisions can make a huge impact.

I’m fairly active on Twitter. I’ve spent enough time on the platform to know what proper Twitter etiquette is, and what is not. I’ve even outwardly voiced my reasons for not following back certain people.

I don’t give the “newbies” enough of a chance, I’m sure, but it’s probably because I have this idea that Twitter etiquette is no different than our daily etiquette. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Be conversational, not one-way. Don’t yell. Don’t spam. Add value over and over again before asking for something in return.

Recently a Twitter user by the name of @Sulibreaks tweeted at me, both on my personal @Story_Jon account and the @StoryWorldwide account which I manage. I first noticed it on @StoryWorldwide. It was a standard self-serving tweet:


Yes, I know this one is replying to @Story_Jon. The tweet at @Storyworldwide is no longer available for me to screen shot.

Choosing to Block

I was annoyed. I get these from time to time, but mostly they’re from automated accounts trying to get me to click on a malicious link. I checked his account and saw that he had sent the same message to a myriad of other people, most (if not all) of whom have no relationship with @Sulibreaks at all. So I clicked on the Report Spammer button within Hootsuite. I made sure to click it VERY HARD to emphasize my anger.

I moved over to my @Story_Jon account and low and behold, there it was again – the same self-serving tweet. I remember clicking on his name again and hovering over the Report Spammer button, but didn’t click. Something switched in my mind. Instead, I clicked into his stream and started looking at a bunch of his previous tweets. While most were the same message he sent me, there were a handful of personal replies he sent to others. Obviously this was a real person and not just an automated account.

Choosing to be Human

That’s when it hit me – reporting @Sulibreaks as spam will accomplish very little, if anything. Why not instead try to help him understand proper Twitter etiquette and maybe point him in the right direction of telling his brand story via social media? Doing so will accomplish much more in this world than just trying to keep him quiet.

Here are our next two tweets:


I made the decision to be human and lend a helping hand, and got a sincere reply from him. I decided to take it further and instead of offer a warning, I’d try to educate him a little of what I’ve learned along the way. The following was our conversation:


Instead of jumping to conclusions and trying to rid the Twitterverse of those who aren’t using it in the way that I think they should, I decided to try and make a tangible difference. I decided to actually be human (many people talk, few do) and help someone out who was missing opportunities by taking the wrong approach (in my humble opinion).

Of course, there was a chance that he could have been insulted by my comment and come back with a mean-spirited response. He could have told me to mind my own business. But instead, he was open minded and human. He welcomed my help and is a better member of the Twitterverse (that’s what people call it, says Nick Cardot).

I had a choice, but rarely ever to we have the opportunity to make both choices and see how each of them pan out. When I reported him, I got nothing. When I tried to help him, I created a real relationship, provided helpful information, and even got a blog reader out of it.

The next time you have to make a decision, try to look past your emotion and into the value you are or are not creating.

Have you come across a situation like this where you chose to help someone in the social media space? Please share your stories in the comments.

Image courtesy of billerr on Flickr

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