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10. Your updates are protected.

The instant I see someone whose updates are protected, I just close the browser.  If you’re looking for privacy, you came to the wrong place.

Sooner or later you’re going to say something interesting (I hope) and I’m going to want to retweet it.  Then I have to stop and worry – was this protected?  Did they mean for this to be public?  Should I ask permission before I retweet it?  Screw it – it’s not worth the hassle.

9. I looked at your tweets, and you’re not interacting with anybody.

None of your links are replies – they’re all just loudmouthed shouts out into the unknown. “I had a great day!  I’m in a really long line at the bank.  I love my job.  I sure like those Mets.”

Trick Question

Trick Question

Just because Twitter asks “What are you doing?” doesn’t mean every one of your tweets has to start with the letter I.  Here’s how to break out of your rut: start by retweeting some of your friends’ more interesting posts, and then – take a deep breath – actually reply to people.

Even though they’re not directly talking to you, you can still talk to them.  If someone asks for help, you should – brace yourself – actually help them.  No, not try to sell them something, but help them solve a problem.  NO, not solve a problem by using your product, just solve the problem!

8. Your tweets are all links.

I’m not even going to click on ‘em to find out if they’re to your own site or not.  I have a hunch that you’re advertising something, and all you do is yell about your product all day long.  Every now and then you throw in links to funny videos or news stories thinking that makes up for the spam.  It doesn’t.  Just because @BarackObama gets away with it doesn’t mean you can.  (And no, I don’t follow him either.)

You know That Person who constantly forwards funny jokes and videos to all their friends?  The one who instantly makes you groan when you see their name in your in-box because you know it’s a waste of time?  You’re like That Person 2.0.

7. You have “social media expert” or “marketing” on your bio.

I even WORKED in a corporate marketing department and I can’t stand most marketing people on Twitter because so many of ‘em are doing it wrong.  Their profile is chock full of meaningless keywords, claiming that they’re famous for being…famous, and not really doing anything other than pumping up follower counts.

The Whuffie Factor

The Whuffie Factor

In fact, if you’re a marketing person and you’re wondering why I’m not following you, this one book will sum up the answers for you: The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business by Tara Hunt (@MissRogue).

I reviewed The Whuffie Factor here on the blog, and gave it two strong thumbs up.

6. You’re offering me a chance to win if I follow you.

Giving stuff away costs money.  So why are you so willing to pay money to get followers?

Imagine if you were walking down the street and you saw somebody yelling, “I’ll enter you in a sweepstakes to win $50 if you come talk to me!  C’mon over!  Two entries if you tell your friends too!”  You’d cross the street just to avoid talking to them, because you know they’re a creep.  But somehow, people think it’s okay because it’s new on Twitter.

You might be new to Twitter and think it’s fun and games, but I’ve been here since 2007, and it’s a thin layer of bacon disguising a pile of spam.

5. You haven’t tweeted in weeks, or you haven’t tweeted yet.

I totally understand that some people are here to listen, not to talk.  I salute you.  I take that exact same approach with a lot of the web sites I read – I never make a comment.  They’re just fun for me to read.  Twitter might be that same thing for you, and that’s cool.  Just don’t take it personally if people don’t follow you back.  It’s not that you’re not a great person, but Twitter doesn’t have good tools yet to manage a whole lot of friends & followers.  To keep things easy, some people (like me) take the approach of keeping the numbers small and manageable.

Rest assured that if you do start tweeting and you mention my name in a tweet, I’ll get it, and I’ll respond.  Twitter does have some good search tools that help power users with that kind of thing.  It just gets overwhelming if I get notified of every single thing you say.

4. Your profile doesn’t have the Holy Trinity: a bio, a location and a link.

If I can’t tell who you are, I’m not following you.  You’re hiding something.

Locations like “Right Behind You” show me that you have a sense of humor, and that’s a good thing.  Locations like “The United States” tell me that you have no sense of humor and no sense of geography, and that’s a bad thing.

If you don’t have a blog, that’s okay, but at least link to something that will tell me more about you – a profile on a site somewhere, your company’s site, your Flickr account, your favorite bar, something that will show me you’re a real human being.

3. Your profile has a company name & photo, but no personality.

I will follow company accounts when they’ve got awesome personalities, like @ThinkGeek, but you’d better show that awesome personality in the very first page of tweets when I click on your name.

For an example of bland, boring press release tweets, see @GlobalKnowledge.  (And they serve as a bad example for several of these rules, come to think of it.)

2. You’re following over 1,000 people.

Come on, be for real.  You’re not having meaningful conversations with 1,000 people at once.  You’re just eavesdropping in a room full of strangers.  I’m following almost 500 people, and I’m already getting nervous because it’s about time to start pruning.

If you’re doing absolutely everything else perfectly, I’ll let you slide on this one.  (I’m talkin’ to you, @ThinkGeek.)

Notice that I didn’t say there’s over 1,000 people following YOU – there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people are just really interesting.

And Reason #1 Why I’m Not Following You On Twitter:
The teenage girl in your profile photo doesn’t have enough clothes on.

Want more Twitter tips?

More of My Twitter Articles

Want More Blogging & Twitter Tips? Follow me on Twitter. I tweet whenever I post a new blog entry, so you’ll always know when I’ve got new stuff. See you online!

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  1. Hahaha, you’re totally going to prune me because I don’t have a URL ;_;

  2. Good stuff, and from a more experienced Twitterer such as yourself, good tips for those of us still trying to figure out how we can contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

  3. Pingback: Okay, I joined twitter, now what? « OTO One to One Interactive

  4. How does The Whuffie Factor feel about removing naked teenage girls from your marketing itinerary? There’s only two things that sell. Sex and sex.

  5. Very cool. Brutally funny and sooo true!

  6. Okay, you hooked me, I’m jumping in. Actually found my way here through Sherri! Since I’m new to twittering and tweeting, and no one I know is on board yet, this was very helpful information.

  7. Finally, all the answers to the questions I’ve had since starting my Twitter last week. Thanks! :) But I do have one more question still. Let’s say my Twitter profile is private and I’m following you. If I respond to something you say with @, will you be able to read see it in your feed? Or will it never show since my Twitter is private ? This may be the determining factor on whether my account remains private or not. I want to be able to talk to people.

  8. Great tips but I’m out on tip #10 as I’m protected. Reason sometimes a person needs to be private to have the freedom of speech and can’t have it if public. Just one little place in the world to be me even if no one follows me.
    I see your worry about re-tweeting however, I think there are others out there that feel the same way I do. You should not throw us all out to people coming for first time advice.
    I found you before I saw Sherri as I follow her and am now following you. Your advice has been best I’ve found since I started twitter.
    thanks

  9. I find alot of information on twitter very exciting and interesting, I also find alot of people that just tweet to be tweeting, and the only reason I am on twitter is to read interesting things about the world and the way the world works such as alot of your information about twitter, thanks for all the info, I find it very interesting to read.

  10. Very interesting. Im new on twitter. Im trying to catch up wasnt sure sure on how to use twitter. only have a few tweeps, but i get the idea thanks

  11. Right, my tweets are protected. I’m so sorry ;-P

    I just think that some things are not to be made public as they will hurt some eyes. Religious stuff, sexuality stuff, political stuff (the real deal, not the sissy chatter).

  12. Very good explanation for a twitter newbie, thank you!

    Sounds logical for me.

    Greetings from germany
    Karline
    http://twitter.com/karline_tine

  13. A most comprehensive article. Thank you for taking the time to fill in the gaps I had on Twitter, since I’m a newbie.

  14. Ha ha, I got some things right by accident! :)
    I like your style!! :)

    hmm.. about posting links. I do click on links of interesting people, considered it a matter of advertising before. Never thought it to be means of identification too.. Of course it is that too.. But I’d subscribe even to people with no link if they had funny & interesting tweets! :)

    Well, I think it’s better to not post a VERY personal blog or very silly site as a bio link (unless you really want to!) so I prefer to have no link until I can scramble up something proper! :)

    Also, I always thought it has to be ‘your’ site, if you post a link to a fav pub, how do I know if it’s your pub or you just go there (or want to go there) or you just designed the website or are dating their waitress? hm.-?

  15. I like your style of writing. It’s kinda cool. I only came to the site looking for HT and I am reading lot more than I anticipated…:)

  16. Thanks Brent, Im a newbie. Just realised i’ve been breaking most of the above rules, this is very helpful :)

  17. Hey,
    I totally enjoyed this post. I like your style, it’s very relaxed and all that. Give you a beer if you follow me on tweeter ;))))))))))

  18. Wow!! Your post is a big slap in the face, or for me it was a big wake up call. I wanted everything for my shop(me), me, me, and after opening at Etsy, I am all new to all this networking world. It’s now been 3 weeks and I wish I had found this before I read all the other ways to grow(spam) your business.
    Rather than spamming to grow on the internet, may I ask what would you suggest??….
    Thank you very much o(^-^)o

    Kind Regards,

    Mikiko Sasaki
    ???????

  19. Great info- thanks Brent! Got challenged by one of my 4 kids to go on Twitter and to blog and got confused by the ‘RT’ stuff. Googled and found you.

  20. Good one…extremely useful and filled with some (bitter) truths…thks!

  21. Great post! I agree with it all! All valid reasons to no follow someone or something haha!

  22. So funny Brent! You don’t follow me on Twitter but I get your stuff sent to my email address. I am definitely old enough to be your mother and I talk about crap like jam and geese and leaving home, so why WOULD you be interested anyway! LOL
    Anna (@marthabob2u)

  23. Can’t you have a conversation around a topic without knowing the person’s background? Social media is about opinions (idle chat), not facts. Seems like you’re looking to hire people or show up unexpectedly at their house.

    • TwitFan – sure, absolutely, but I don’t have to *follow* you in order to have a conversation. People reply to me all the time, and I’ll reply to back to them, but I don’t need to hear every tweet from them the rest of the time.

  24. Thank you for taking the time to share all this information. Admittedly, my use of Twitter (I am a neophyte twitterer) is blatantly commercial but we nonetheless want to make it fun. You have been a great help. Though after reading some tweets, I searched and searched in vain to find out what the Twitter abrreviation “&apos” stood for before I twigged. Hmmm. A twitter twig – a moment of clarity while on Twitter.

    Thanks again.

  25. you forgot: you just keep retweeting things from people I already follow.

    Seriously I followed someone who had to live vicariously through other peoples twitter accounts by constantly retweeting. When an entire page was taken up with this Twit’s RTs I had to unfollow them.

  26. Interesting rules why you are not following the others … the results are:

    489 Following 3,859 Followers 232 Listed

    17,120 Tweets

    Have a nice twittering BrentO!

  27. After reading this I decided to follow you. :)

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  32. One question: Why is it so important to have people follow you?

  33. Thank you so much for all the advice! I don’t feel like such a twitter dummy now! You saved me a ton of time trying to figure all the crap out myself!

  34. Thanks pal, you simplified it.

  35. I loved this. Thanks for posting! Anyone reading this feel free to follow me – @lucedillon and i’ll follow back!

  36. I don’t know if i’m a twit or just twittering, this is my 1st ever comment,& I have no idea why! I’m here to take a look.

    Terry

  37. Thanks for above guidance, Twitter will find its purest, strongest expression only when it gets into the hands of creative sensitive & aggressive individuals who are guided by conscience…(the virtue most needed when we run out of it…)
    @mjkShervani

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