wade-rockettI’ve been noticing a lot of talk lately in the social media space about “rules.”  Some people like to say there are specific rules that must be followed when using tools like Twitter or Facebook.  Others take a different view and say that there aren’t any hard and fast guidelines—you should always just do what feels right to you.

I personally don’t love to think of anything I do in social media being restricted by rules for the most part.  That being said, I do feel that there are ways to use a tool like Twitter that make the overall experience more beneficial to everyone.  I therefore offer the following rule—er, advice:

Do use a real picture of yourself for your avatar.
When I first joined Twitter a year ago I was guilty of using a caricature of me for mine, only because I thought it was cute and it happened to be part of the header design of my old blog.  However, a few months later when I switched to a photo of myself, more than a few people commented that they were happy to see the “real” me.

I now feel the same about others.  It is hard to find a picture of a flower or a company logo very personable.  Let us see your smile, people. 🙂

Don’t start following people without posting a couple of your updates.
It may seem a little like you are talking to yourself to do this especially if you aren’t being followed by anyone else.  But trust me, when someone comes upon your page and is making a decision whether to follow your or not, they need something to go on.  Some sign of life or personality.

Do spend a good amount of time interacting.
There is nothing wrong with letting others know what you have planned for the day or that you loved the movie you saw last night.  Just intersperse those types of tweets with some two-way conversation.  Re-tweet others, ask questions, reply to questions, comment on others updates, etc.  People appreciate this and it makes the community that much more interesting.

Don’t mass follow right out of the gate.
My ratio of followers to followees (made up word) is pretty even, mainly because I enjoy following back most of the people who follow me—as long as they don’t look like spammers or something.  But I also find it hard to follow someone who, in addition to having very few updates, is following thousands of people and only a handful of people following them.  It looks off and it feels spammy, like you don’t care much to have any sort of relationship with anyone.

Do use a Twitter client instead of doing everything from the web.
Installing a client such as Twhirl or Tweetdeck allows for more functionality than what you can do from the Twitter webpage.  For example, Tweetdeck allows you to place people in groups which makes it easier to track them, especially once you are following several hundred people.  Plus, these types of clients run on the Adobe Air platform, so you don’t have to be connected to the web to use them.  I find they make tweeting a lot more convenient and it is easier to keep track of your replies, direct messages and followers.

Have anything to add to these or your own dos and don’ts?  Definitely let me know.  I am always interested in hearing what works or doesn’t work for others.

Photo Credit: wade-rockett

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