The Abuse of Twitter

by keif on September 14, 2008

I get it. You joined Twitter because it’s the new thing.

But do you really need to add 1000+ people when your first tweet is “trying out twitter?”

Twitter: The Basics

If you’re trying it out, start out small. Add the people you know. That was like ten or so people for me. Then, add the blogs you love (notice the *LOVE* – not just casually read or have in your favorite RSS reader). They may not follow you back, but people will get that, at least, when you have 30 people you’re following and only 10 follow back.e

Now, test out twitter. Tweet a bit. It doesn’t have to be relevant or interesting. Have you read my tweets? I bitch, I whine, I moan, I question, I ask, I inform. I’m all over the map. It’s a total mind dump. Why people follow me at all is a mystery – at least to me.

Twitter: Slightly more advanced.

So you’ve tweeted for a little while. You’ve picked out your favorite clients – maybe TweetDeck or its groups, or maybe Twhirl for its integration with friendfeed. That’s why I tend to use the two. My cell phone doesn’t support twitter, so I don’t bother with mobile clients (for now).

So – you’re following people. Maybe a few people (that aren’t spammers) are following you. What now? Research, baby! I suggest using Twellow aka TwellowPages to find tweeters that are interested in similar topics as yourself. Maybe using Twitter’s Search (integrated from Summize) to find key words you like. I’ve done searches on mootools, analytics, metrics, social media, and a few others as they are all topics that interest me. I haven’t ruled out others, and I usually re-run the query.

Keep an eye on your ratio of followers to following.

This makes you look like a spammer if you’re following, say, a 1,000 plus people and only a hand-full are following you back (spammers get lucky if the users are utilizing – a tweet scheduler/auto follower. I use it to automatically thank followers. It’s one step less I need to do to thank people for being interested enough to follow my dumbass. It gets interesting when other peple use it so it becomes a two-step loop of “thanks for following!” “thanks for following!”

It’s possible that you really dig a thousand people on twitter – you really want to read those tweets! But it just makes you look bad. Please refrain. Slowly add a few dozen daily so people aren’t freaked out by your spam-like addiction (seriously, I’m almost to 2,500 tweets in a short time – imagine me times one thousand). Think before you act. Contribute. Response. Ask. Blog.

I know, this Twitter stuff is pretty basic.

But that’s kind of the point – twitter *is* pretty basic. Don’t make it harder or more complex than it needs to be!

  • drew laplante

    and i thought you were genuinely glad that i was following you :) tweetlater auto-respond fools the newbie twitterer…

    seriously though, thanks for your take and the heads up here on some of the peripheral twitter services. i’ll be checking them out as i continue to dive head first into the new social networking world.

    a few observations i’ve made regarding twitter: the more original content you generate with your tweets, the more likely you’ll be followed back. also, the shotgun style of following 1,000 people right out of the gate (in addition to making you look like a spammer) seriously lowers the likeliness of people returning the follow. i think a more scoped rifle, if you will, approach leads to better results. i tend to do a location search for people in cities i play shows in and then go through and really check out the person i’m about to follow: website, blog, myspace, read through past tweets , etc. to see if its really someone that i have at least some sort of common ground with. so far i’m at about a 25% return follow rate which i think is pretty good from some of the other stuff i’ve read. i also waited until i developed some tweet history before searching out and following people. people need to get a feel for you and your style before deciding to get updates on the minutiae of your life. :) thanks for your blog iKeif!


  • keif

    Thanks for the comment, Drew!

    You’re totally right – having a little history (more than just “setting up twitter…” “trying twitter…” really helps show that you’re, well, human and would be interesting to follow.

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