Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In The Beginning - Over Three Years with Twitter

I’ve been with Twitter for over 3 years, 7 months, 1 week, 2 days, 12 hours and 35 minutes. I’ve literally watched it grow from about 400,000 tweets every couple months, to 70 million tweets per day. I've observed businesses begin, and sometimes even end their Twitter life. I've seen Twitter go from "What the heck is that?" to "#OMGyouSeriouslyDontTweet?!". Over these years, I've discovered a lot of things about life on Twitter, and figured I'd share them. I'm not saying everything I say here is 100% true, but when someone has been with something from pretty much the beginning, usually they learn a thing or two.

Be Yourself – I’ve noticed people hate following someone that just posts nothing but articles and links. For businesses, this is okay, but for individuals, they want to see real tweets from the heart. What’s on your mind? What plans do you have with other Tweeps? What’s going on in your city? A post to an awesome article is cool every so often, but at least put what you think about it next to the link.

Watch Your Language – One thing that a lot of people frown on is cursing on Twitter. Seriously. For some, this is actually part of who they are, and people look forward to seeing what outrageous things will be said next…but it’s hard to pull off. If you can, then more power to you. It’s just something that Twitter users have decided over the years as improper "Twitter Etiquette". Most people #&%!*** censor themselves if they really feel the need to curse though.

Reply to Everyone – For businesses this can be hard, but I’ve noticed that companies who reply to everyone (or try), even if it’s something negative that was said about them, have a much bigger following. It shows that a real person is behind that account, and when some multi-billion dollar company replies to you (like T-Mobile, Rhapsody, etc) it makes you feel like a million bucks. They may have 1 million+ followers, but they replied to YOU. Yes, it's probably just some social media manager, but it's someone talking on behalf of the company, to YOU. Now, if you just don't reply to everyone on your personal twitter account...then you're missing the point of Twitter. Seriously, there's no excuse to ignore an @ reply from one of your 100 or 200 followers. Even if you have 100,000 followers on your personal Twitter, you should always reply. It's like someone saying hello to you at the store, you look them in the face, and say nothing back. #rude

Every Tweet is Permanent – Even though you can “delete” a tweet, it will always be out on the internet. Sites are constantly grabbing tweets, the Library of Congress archives EVERY tweet now, and Google will put your tweets in search results. So never say something you’ll regret (Drunk tweets are notorious for being regretted later).
On a business perspective, this could destroy a company’s reputation. Take Kenneth Cole for example: he tweeted "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." This was shortly after the Egypt Revolution had started, and was just bad taste in what he thought was humorous. It hit every major news source and even though he deleted it, it will live forever on the internet. His reputation has been destroyed online (for now), and caused a worldwide uproar. It’ll take a while for that tweet to leave Google Search results for “Kenneth Cole”.

Never Sound Weak – I’ve noticed some companies reply to people with a tone that degrades the business. Or they’ll tweet a sad story about themselves…you’re a business! Big or small, you should never sound weak! This actually goes for social media across the board, not just on Twitter. There’s also a difference between apologizing for a bad experience, and making a customer feel like they can take you down and make you cry in a corner till the pain stops. TMobile is staying pretty strong right now, and keeping positive about this merger with AT&T, even though EVERYONE seems to be against it. Instead of apologizing for merging, they thanked the customers for how much love they had for Tmobile (which is true), and reassured them everything will be carefully thought over before completed with this buy-out (psh...we'll see). Tmobile is not sounding weak on social media right now, even though they will eventually be gone forever.

Everyone is Watching – Even though you can set your Twitter to private, it’s not as secure as Facebook. Tweets can still be pulled, and someone can always copy and paste to RT something you said.

Follow Strangers – Twitter is all about following complete strangers, not just people you already know. I’ve met a lot of amazing people from all over the world on Twitter, and a lot I haven’t met face-to-face yet. Most are designers and marketing/advertising people, and have been an amazing resource when I share, have questions or want some insight on something in the industry. It's a beautiful network of knowledge, advice and encouragement for designers, and, well, ...anyone!

Report Fake Profiles – Just like every other site, there’s TONS of spam. On Twitter, it usually comes in the form of fake profiles. These are generally random “people” who start to follow you. You’ll notice they A) Don’t have any tweets, or very few, and B) Have way more “Following” than “Followers”. I always report them for spam, and Twitter is pretty good at deleting these accounts on the daily. Whatever you do, DON’T click on their links. If there’s no profile picture, that’s another way to notice a fake profile. It sounds like common sense, but so many people have fallen for it.

Click on Trusted Sources – A good way to get your Twitter hacked is by clicking on links from someone you don’t know (like those spam accounts). It’s just like on Facebook and in your email; don’t click it, unless you want to kiss it goodbye. Once hacked, you’re account is pretty much done for...not to mention your reputation if something bad is tweeted from the hacker.

The News Channels are Slow (but Accurate) – Over and over the news has not been able to keep up with Twitter. Events like Michael Jackson’s death, the Congresswoman being shot in Tucson and even the Earthquake in Japan have traveled across Twitter faster than the news has reported. Usually, it’s about 15 -30 minutes after a big event has trended on Twitter that it finally hits the news channels. On Twitter, you also get more direct information than the news. Paula Abdul was retweeting victims tweets in Japan to get first-hand news about what was happening. People were watching Paula’s Twitter more than the news it seemed, because she was getting photos and updates directly from Japans victims. You also have to remember though; what's tweeted may not always be true. Even though the news can't keep up sometimes, the news IS more accurate. They double check their stories before telling them to the public, whereas Twitterers...well, you get the point.

If there's any other Twitter veterans out there, I'd LOVE to hear some history about this new lifestyle we've adopted. Leave those comments below!

Photo courtesy of LaughingSquid.com


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