We still do not know how to use Twitter properly, we never had anything like it before and there are no solid social norms for using social media, but I think that there is a developing Twitter etiquette on how you frequently you should tweet, the content of your tweets, and the way you respond to others. Unlike Facebook, Twitter can operate as a one-way relationship between people, so you may be following people who don’t follow you, and those of your followers who decide to unfollow may do so without you easily noticing it.
The first thing to do if you want to make sure that others do not start unfollowing you, or even worse – start blocking you, is to make sure that you do not over-tweet. It is understandable that Twitter can be used among friends to update each other with the most mundane details of their lives, but making thirty updates in one go about random links and quotes is not something most people are willing to tolerate, especially when your showers of tweets bury all the tweets made by other people.
You also have to make sure that you do not use #hash #tags #for #every #single #word #you #type. The whole point of using hashtags is to be able to tag tweets with a certain topic or event to help make it easier for those interested in that topic or event to find your tweet. Tagging generic words in your tweet does not help anyone find your tweet – so hashtags should only be used for compound terms such as “#MuscatFestival” and not phrases such as “#Muscat #Festival” as the former would link only to MuscatFestival while the latter would link to any tweet that has the word Muscat or Festival. Having a hashtag for every single word makes it almost impossible to read a tweet and it doesn’t help anyone find your tweet.
DO NOT WRITE ALL YOUR TWEETS USING CAPITAL LETTERS. It might sound like common sense, but some people do not seem to be aware that using capital letters for whole sentences resembles shouting in regular speech. It is very annoying to have a conversation with a person who keeps on shouting, the same is true for people who write in all caps.
Use a photograph of yourself as your avatar or use a distinctive image which we can use to identify you. Nothing irritates me more than people who change their avatar every two days and put images similar to other people I follow making me confuse their tweets with those of other people. Nobody is going to like your tweets more just because you have a new avatar every two days, so please just pick one and stick to it.
Of course I am guilty of a number of my own twitter crimes such as using phani spelin (funny spelling) and over-tweeting on most days – which I am sure many people hate me for, but hey – nobody is perfect and just like you everyone else I am slowly learning what is acceptable and what isn’t on this new social media thing.
This post was originally published as a column on Muscat Daily.