Using Twitter for good, not evil

12 Jun

I hopped on the Twitter bandwagon not too long ago now, and for the most part, I’m really enjoying it. I thought I was late to the party, so I’m surprised that a lot of people, when they find out I’m on it, ask me “what’s it for”? Usually I explain it as follows: “It’s endless status updates… it’s so fun!” which I know isn’t exactly accurate, but it’s the best I can come up with. After all, endless status updates are primarily what I, and the people I follow, seem to use Twitter for.

However, just because that’s the way I use Twitter doesn’t mean it’s the way everybody uses it. Judging by the new and random followers I seem to acquire every day, it would seem lots of people use it to promote their businesses, their bands, or their amateur porn (hi, “Britney”!). Others use it because they are championing a cause, and Twitter is their chosen means of reaching out to potential supporters. It’s a fine, fine line though, between educating people and bombarding them. So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with a few rules of common courtesy that I think people should all extend to each other when using Twitter.
1) Follow someone because you think they are interesting/inspiring/hot, not because you expect them to follow you in return.     
2) If you are trying to promote some type of service, don’t create multiple accounts with which to follow the same person. I’m okay with someone having a personal account and a business account, but if you’re posting the same information on several accounts, it’s just a little too shameless.
3) If you are campaigning for a cause, have something fresh to say with every tweet you make. Nobody likes reading the same inspirational quotes over and over and over again. 
4) Try not to monopolize your followers’ accounts! If you have a lot to say, you might want to consider starting a blog instead, and use Twitter to post a link whenever you have a new entry up. 
5) Keep it human… but not too human! What’s the only thing worse than a robotic series of quotes, links, and ads that have no hint of the personality that lurks behind them? A detailed play-by-play of not just what you ate for breakfast, but a complete timeline accounting for how long it took you to finish your meal as well as what distractions hindered your enjoyment of it along the way. 
So those are my rules. What other common courtesies do you expect from the people you follow on Twitter?

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