15 Ways to Avoid Being Considered Obnoxious on Twitter
Why are you on Twitter? Think a moment, before you answer this all important question. Are you really that interested in reading about what a total stranger ate for lunch? Are you so intrigued by the number of curse words some wild and crazy guy was able to fit within his allotted 140 characters? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, you can rest assured that there is plenty of this kind of stuff on Twitter to occupy your day.
How about your own Tweets? Do you get your kicks from retweeting the phrase – “Get your tweets retweeted to all of my followers every day! - over and over again? Perhaps, your gig is more in line with the following type of sales program: “Learn how to build it big in MLM from a 30 year old veteran. We will even train you and your entire team for free.” By the way…what comes after the word ‘free’, pilgrim?
Twitter “Tribes” Abound
Let’s face it. There are many different “tribes” on Twitter. Each tribe dances to its own drum beat. Some sign on to be informative and gain “Guru” status. Some simply Tweet to entertain and amaze us with obscure and interesting stuff. Some even embrace crossing the lines of respectability to be – eye-popping – lewd and crude characters. Most of us just Tweet to meet and socialize with others – actually, shouldn’t everyone be on Twitter for this reason.
There also are a great many people only on Twitter to sell and profit. If handled with dignity and respect, they are tolerated and very often embraced. Unfortunately, among the respected are some very annoying cheap suits that hunt, hustle and hound scores of peaceful and unsuspecting Tweeps. These offensive folks really don’t get Twitter at all. They may think they do, but they really do not have a clue as to what is appropriate behavior and acceptable Twitter use. Many do not acknowledge and accept the rules of Social Media etiquette.
To better illustrate this point, let’s put the online element of Twitter aside for just one moment. With the Web turned off, let’s consider each of the above reasons for being on Twitter in a completely different context. Our basic understanding is that Twitter is just another form of human engagement – “networking.” At a LIVE networking event would many of the above-described social behaviors be seen as acceptable to most of the other attendees? The answer is NO, with very few exceptions. Most of these would be deemed inappropriate, if not decidedly rude. We’re talking about persona non grata behaviors like nosiness; being lewd and crude; selfishness; and overt in-your-face pushiness. None, except for social interactions of a more desirable nature (e.g. informing, educating, entertaining, etc.) are acceptable to anyone in any forum – live or virtual.
We network to meet other people and to get to know them a little better. Certainly, when we network we try and discover some common interests and similar values in the people we converse with. Finding common ground helps us make a better connection with new acquaintances. At live business networking events, everyone knows why they are there – to discover new business opportunities. In this type of venue, there is nothing wrong with trying to identify attendees, who may be considered future business prospects. This is fine, so long as the determination is made subtly and by using the appropriate tact. Most business folks already know that people want to do business with people they like, so they are on their best behavior at live networking events. This is not the case with everyone, though.
Darting Eyes Around the Room
Don’t you just love it when you are talking to someone at a live networking event and their eyes are on everyone else in the room except you? You immediately get the impression that your words aren’t being heard by this other person. This usually means that they have already determined that you are not a sales prospect and they are already scoping out others who may be. Soon after, they abruptly excuse themselves to move on to someone else.
Let’s return to the online world. When Twitter users make all of their Tweets sales pitches, they are doing much the same thing as the rude live networker just described. They are ignoring all the Tweeps that they have already written as non-prospects. At a live event we just may walk away from a phony. On Twitter we do much the same by unfollowing them. In fact, if they are rude enough, we sometimes go as far as to block them or report them.
So why do such annoying behaviors persist on Twitter? Well, many of the offenders stubbornly ascribe to a familiar boorish excuse: “I don’t know you, so I don’t care (what you think of me).” This verbal swagger is most often reinforced by the notion that “time is money and that’s why I am here (on Twitter).” This overly aggressive attitude really has no place in Social Media. None whatsoever. That is not what this networking medium was created for. We are all playing in someone else’s ballpark, under a different set of rules than those that might suit us better.
A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
With all of this being said, business can be conducted on Twitter and throughout Social Media. It just is not done in a pushy way. No one should be misled by mistaking a “call to action” or a “conversion” with a traditional sales close. These are not all the same thing. In Social Media a call to action really means attracting an interested consumer to your own (off-line) “sales umbrella.” It is there where a close may or may not take place. More often than not, a call to action is a next step rather than the end of a sales cycle. Your sales umbrella includes: your website; your website’s landing page (with or without E-commerce); your E-mail inbox: your telephone system; and of course, your physical storefront. These all exist apart from Twitter and Social Media. When used properly, Social Media platforms will generate and increase awareness of you and your web presence.
Take the Anti-Obnoxious Quiz
So, how does one know if he is effectively and tastefully doing what it takes to attract consumers to his sales umbrella? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you Tweeting to the right audience in the first place?
2. Are you following up to 1000 Tweeps back? That’s a manageable number.
3. Are you respecting the needs of your audience? Do you even know what their needs are?
4. Are you Tweeting quality and useful information to your audience?
5. Are you Tweeting enough as opposed to too much or too little? Are you invisible or annoying?
6. Are you overusing automation tools to get your stuff out there? Is it too impersonal to do so?
7. Are you taking into account when your audience is most often available on Twitter?
8. Are you building professionalism, credibility and trust through your Tweets?
9. Are you Tweeting more about the things your audience is interested in than your own agenda?
10. Are you retweeting to show that you are paying attention to what others have to say and are you willing to share their good stuff with your own followers?
11. Are you carefully considering the value of the things you are Tweeting and retweeting? Off-color Tweets and ReTweets can come back to haunt you and your business – forever.
12. Are you taking the time to thank your followers for following you and also thank them for retweeting your tweets?
13. Are you adding rich comments to your Tweets or just recycling links to gain more impressions?
14. Are you engaging other Tweeps off-line and trying to get to know them better, rather than just trying to sell them something?
15. Can you deal with having met a new colleague today, instead of having made an extra buck?
Of all the questions asked here, the very last one may be the most important. It demonstrates what having the right attitude in Social Media really means. Establishing quality relationships in Social Media is equally – if not even more – important than making a sale there. The people we meet and impress can become powerful spokespeople for us and act on our behalf as influencers among their own followers. Imagine the value of a personal recommendation Tweet by an influencer to his 100,000 followers? What might that cost in advertising dollars and would the effect be as genuine and powerful?
To have the trust of those we network with, we must, first, earn it from them. To be considered a professional, we must act in a similar manner. To be respected, ourselves, we must, first, be respectful of others. To succeed on Twitter and with other Social Media platforms, we must, first, understand and practice the rules of acceptable Internet etiquette and treat others as we – ourselves- wish to be treated by others, online.
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