What is proper Twittequette?

I recently rejoined Twitter after many months away from my initial infatuation with it. As I've been in it heavily now for a month and have observed a culture unto itself but haven't found anything that talks about proper Twitter etiquette. With something this new there are always a lot of opinions but there seems to be some consensus around the following areas:

  • Ad value to the conversation. Don't just plug yourself, your blog, your product, etc. all the time. Twittequette: The occasional plug seems to be accepted but there should be a balance between other tweets and the purely promotional tweets. I credit Mitch Joel for pushing this idea.
  • It's okay to be random. Consistence on a regular topic from any one person doesn't seem to be expected. A person you follow may link to an interesting story with one tweet and then talk about a movie he just watched with the next tweet followed by a really helpful observation or question in the third tweet. Twittequette: The randomness and even the mundane can sometimes be the most interesting.
  • Don't have too many more people following you than you're following. There is a sense that it's bad form to have significantly more followers than those you are following. Twittequette: If you're not following the people who have chosen to follow you you're not part of the conversation. You're just a diva giving a lecture (albeit a lecture with 140 characters or less.) I credit Jeremiah Owyang for this idea.
  • Don't carry on lengthy conversations. If you follow two people who are also connected to each other they can send messages between them. You'll see both sides of the conversation. That's interesting to a degree but the downside is that they can also dominate you Twitter stream with a lengthy conversation. Twittequette: If you know it's going to be more than a single question and response conversation it's better to jump over to email, instant message, phone, or some other non-Twitter means of communication.
I'm sure there are more items for proper Twittequette. If you have one (or more) to add I'd love to see them in the comments.


Chris Abraham said...

Welcome to Twitter. I seem to break all of those rules. I think those rules are just for the newbies -- when you have been around long enough, people I think are willing to put up with your eccentricities. I am at http://www.twitter.com/chrisabraham -- who are you on there?

Chris Abraham said...

Sorry, I forget to have your system email me when you reply :)

Bill Seaver said...

Thanks Chris. I'm at twitter.com/billseaver (but you're already following me by the time I write this comment so this is for anyone else I guess.)

I don't know if we can even say they're rules. More like observations really since this is my second go around with Twitter. The first time I gave it a shot for a few months and bailed because I didn't see the point. I've been at it again for a month now it seems like there's actually less openness for eccentricities rather than more...which is what got me thinking about this whole Twittequette idea to begin with. Obviously there are no hard and fast rules, but I'm interested to see how the Twitter culture develops and what is considered appropriate and what isn't.

Kate O' said...

Ooh, yours is a good list. :)

Bill Seaver said...

Thanks Kate. I just reread this post and apparently didn't do a great proof reading job the first time around. I've fixed what I caught this time. Thanks for the kind words.

Arev said...

I would have to add "Don't make mroe than 5 updates per day." Otherwise, it occupies your followes' Home pages.