Twitter 101


twitter_etiquette_juuchini_A Guest Post by @akenyangirl (Naomi Mutua)

Every social network has its own set of etiquette, just like each community in real society does.

Twitter has seen a recent upsurge in Kenya, with most people shifting from Facebook to twitter, maybe from the fact that Facebook is a bit too invasive, and Twitter only projects what you put out. Twitter is also seen as the best source of fast and breaking news, and to some extent rendering traditional media irrelevant.

Whichever way you view Twitter, there are sometimes expectations on newbies. As when you join a clique of people in society, you are expected to conform or at least try to adhere to some standards.

Like I said, I’m not a guru, and I’m not an expert. This is simply what I have observed and learned over time (I joined Twitter in April 2009).

This is from a series of tweets I posted over the weekend, and hopefully  I will expound adequately:


1. Know why you’re joining Twitter: is it from peer pressure, following a fad, or you have info to pass, or to listen to others?

The first thing you should consider is why you’re joining twitter. Most times people join in on recommendation, or because they heard it’s the latest fad. Others might be keen to follow certain people, and to hear what they have to say. Whatever reason you have for joining Twitter, that’s your business, but remember that it might define who you interact with.

2. When you do join Twitter, get a creative and easy-to-remember and type handle. E.g. ‘GingerRoots’ as opposed to ‘120yes57’.

Most tweeps get turned off from typing mixed letters and numbers in handles, especially when using an application that does not predict usernames, or when on a mobile phones. The easier your handle is the better. And remember, the shorter your handle is, the more space people have to tweet you within the 140 character limit.

3. Your handle should be an extension of your personality. ‘ImAHoe’ as opposed to ‘SweetGirl’. Be creative, don’t go overboard

When creating your handle, personal branding is key. Just like ‘you are what you eat’, your twitter handle reflects who you are. Define who you are by trying to find simple words that capture the essence of your personality.

4. Build on your content and interactivity, follow and converse with those you like. Their interaction with you influences others.

Just like sitting in a room and talking to the most influential person, the rest in the room will tend to have a higher opinion of you. It might sound like high school, but it is what it is. Follow and try to have a conversation with the influential people on Twitter. If their followers like your content, then they will simply follow you.

5. Never ever ask for people to ask others to follow you blindly. Followers expect useful content from any recommendations.

Anyone who asks for a follow back, or for an RT to gain followers, is simply going to be ignored or ridiculed. The simplest way to gain a following is to interact with others. When influential people make a recommendation, their followers expect it to be a request that bears weight.

6. Please type in proper grammar. That short SMS type is not for Twitter. If u wrt lyk ths I wlprobably dlt u, xawa?

I cannot emphasize enough on this: grammar is essential. SMS type has been the bane of the younger generation, who can’t seem to understand that reading it is at most times plain annoying. Yes, SMS type might be faster, but if you want to be taken seriously, avoid it at all costs, even on SMS. And it is an extension of you – you will probably reflect the same in your application letters, your official documentation and more. And no one will like it. Please, whatever language you use, try to be as grammatically correct as possible.

7. If someone posts a picture/article, first check it out, then ask questions. Don’t presume anything from the title.

The reason most people put up a link is to share information, without having to expound on it themselves. They expect you to actually click on the link/picture for you to get what they mean. So when someone passes on a link, and you don’t bother reading it, that’s just plain laziness.

8. It helps if you’re a ‘specialist’ on one type of content. Then tweeps know that you’re the ‘go-to’ person for that content.

If you’re a journalist, people will probably follow you for breaking news, while CEOs are expected to share gems on leadership, management and business. If you can find a niche, do so, and you will always have a good following.

9. When you see a tweet you like, retweet (RT), as opposed to stealing it and posing it as your content. Always give credit.

Most people will RT and delete the original tweep’s handle, and their followers will presume it’s their tweet. That’s just plain old plagiarism, aka stealing. Even when making quotes, kindly do acknowledge the source.

10. Eavesdropping is inevitable, but think twice before you jump into what seems to be a private conversation.

I’ve had the experience of being kicked out of a conversation (in a not-so-pleasant maner), and I learned my lesson. It’s usual to indicate that you’re eavesdropping by using a simple hashtag such as #Eavesdropping. And if the conversation is too private, and doesn’t concern you, listen in, but don’t butt in. Yes, they’re on your timeline, but you chose to follow, so you must sit out and stay mum if need be.

11. Don’t take everything you read seriously, or as gospel truth. Life is too short to beef on Twitter.

Most people will believe everything they read, even on Twitter. Rumors and false information moves around very fast, and it’s always sensible to check the source, and check the authenticity of the information. And if you have to beef with people, Twitter is not always the best option, unless you don’t mind airing your dirty laundry in public.

12. RT’ing all your mentions is plain stupidity  (from @CiruWanjii).

While some might beg to differ, RT’ing your mentions without purpose is simply annoying. Most people in your followers list will probably follow the same person, so when you RT your mentions over and over again, you’re simply spamming their TL. And you look like a vain ass.

13. Remember general etiquette on the internet. Caps lock on all the time is annoying. Research before you read/comment.

Netiquette is the general term for internet etiquette. Some rules are generally known: Caps lock on all the time means you’re shouting at the reader. If you don’t read the contents of a link, then don’t comment on it. Remember it’s easier to read between non-existent lines, try and keep emotion out of it. and when interacting with a corporate account, don’t be rude. Simply outline your problem and ask for it to be handled. Trust me, you’ll get better service. After all, there’s a human being tweeting away on that account.

I hope this has been helpful. Like I said, I’m not an #ActualExpert. These are just my observations from my time on Twitter.

Happy tweeting! via @akenyangirl (Naomi Mutua)

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