This slightly cranky post is geared toward people that have a Twitter account that they use chiefly for business or professional purposes. I personally think that the type of tweets enumerated below are bad form even for the most closely connected friends, but if you don't care about – or even have – an online reputation you're fostering then by all means blather all you want. But if you want to properly engage with other professionally-facing users on Twitter, you'll want to think about the types of things your tweeting, and to avoid the following common faux pas.
Blah blah blah. Please RT!
Thanks … until you asked I never would have considered retweeting your tweet. Normally I retweet stuff that I find interesting, useful, amusing or otherwise worthy of sharing. But now that you've given a little cry for help, or exposure, or whatever the hell it is you hope to accomplish by asking me to pass around your 140-character-or-less missive, I'm all over it. And you've only slightly diminished the chances that I'll actually retweet because I consider your lame-ass plea, um, lame-ass.
Real life tip: It's blindingly obvious, but make your content (as these are usually links being broadcast) compelling enough it warrants retweeting.
Blah blah blah. Please Sphinn! [Digg, Stumble, etc.]
Even better! You want to be popular and you want my help. It's like a high school girl asking to be voted prom queen because, well, she asked. I was going to vote for you because you're charming and pretty. But now I'm going to abstain from voting because you're, well, lame (see "Please RT," above).
Real life tip: See "Please RT," above.
"Blah, blah, blah" – Somebody Famous
Yup, that's why I joined Twitter. I misplaced my copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, but by following the correct people I can get all the rehashed words of wisdom I need just by logging on. You can't hear me, and I haven't bothered @ replying you, but after reading your tweet I'm saying "awwww" in front of my computer, or nodding my head and thinking, "how profound!" Oh wait, actually your inspirational quotes make me barf.
I make an exception for my buddy kernelpopper, who pushes out quotes that somehow haven't made their way into Bartlett's, like this one:
"will social media and my penis change the world? I doubt it but it only takes one twitter account and a penis to try." Kafka
Real life tip: Add "Please RT!" to the end of your tweet. If you're that lame, you may as well go all the way.
Blah blah blah. Please DM Me.
Typically "please DM me" users are followed by thousands, and follow a dozen. So the likelihood that you're following me are exactly as remote as my ability to direct message you. You could ask for an @ reply, but what about those few you follow for which a DM works – or, even better, because you were asking for some personal or proprietary piece of information that could never be publicly tweeted?
Real life tip: If you want to be contacted, provide a reliable method for doing so. While it's dangerous to tweet email addresses, most professionally-affiliated tweeple have a blog with a contact form: gimme the URL, S.V.P.
Reading: http://bit.ly/blahblahblah [< Complete tweet]
You're so great that whatever you're reading, or checking out, or asking me to check out must be worthy of a click-through. Sure, some sort of description of that target URL might be useful to the uneducated masses, but I like the thrill of the unknown. I can only hope there's malware involved.
Real life tip: Again, blindingly obvious, but provide the headline or a description of your target URL. Even better (if you have the room) indicate why this link is worth checking out.
I'm [doing something incredibly mundane]
You're tired and going to bed … or tired, and making a cup of tea. You have a lot of emails to get through. You just realized it's Wednesday. By all means, keep me in the loop. Perhaps by utilizing the powers of Twitter's API you can automatically push out alternating "I'm inhaling" and "I'm exhaling" tweets at the appropriate intervals. At the average rate of 12 breaths per minute, you'll generate more than 12 million fascinating tweets a year.
Real life tip: Shama Hyder in the "How to Get Followed" section of The Zen of Social Media Marketing has a straightforward piece of advice. "Try NOT answering the question Twitter asks, 'What are you doing now?' Instead, share key moments and ask thoughtful questions.