I love Twitter. Really, I do. I’ve been using Twitter for just over a year now, and I find it amusing, engaging and informative. I’ve been able to connect with real people and virtual communities that I otherwise never would have known. But every now and then, I have a day where Twitter — or rather some of the people that use it — just makes me want to scream in frustration. Hence I bring you today’s post on my Twitter-related pet peeves.*
1. Starting tweets with @usernames for the wrong reasons. When you start a tweet with someone’s username, it’s usually because you’re directing the message to that person or replying to something they said. But lately I’ve noticed more people sending messages like this: @ThatNewRestaurant makes the best club sandwiches ever!! In this case, the only people that will see this tweet are those people that follow both @ThatNewRestaurant and the person who posted the message — not the sender’s entire audience! Depending on the overlap between their followers, the tweet could be going to only a handful of people — or no one at all. On the other hand, a tweet like this would be seen by all of the sender’s followers, not just the ones already following @ThatNewRestaurant: Wow, @ThatNewRestaurant makes the best club sandwiches ever!! If you want your entire audience to see the tweet, don’t start it with an @.
2. Messing with re-Tweeting conventions. Re-tweeting is one of my favourite things about Twitter, although I’m not a fan of the automatic re-tweet (RT), because I like the commentary that accompanies the RT, the personal touch. I want to know why you’re re-tweeting something: do you agree, or disagree? Did it make you laugh, or make you cry? Do you have something to add? To make this work and allow space to add that commentary, sometimes it’s necessary to edit the original message. But don’t change the meaning of the original message — I’ve had people “re-tweet” me but they altered the message so much that it was nothing I ever would have said — and don’t forget to cite the person you’re re-tweeting.
3. Hashtag overdose. Hashtags are great for including meta-data in a tweet when squeezing in extra details would send you over the character limits. I especially appreciate hashtags for event-based tweeting, e.g. when attendees of a conference all tag their tweets with the same hashtag (like #bookcampvan). But some people take it too far and use a #hashtag on #every #single #keyword. All tweets are searchable anyway, so excessive hashtaggery is unnecessary and annoying. Think of it this way: if you were including the word anyway, it doesn’t need a hashtag.
4. Follow Friday overdose. I know some people are anti-Follow Friday, but I don’t mind the meme when done well, which is to say with a bit of thought and intention. The original purpose of Follow Friday was to highlight fellow Twitter users that you felt were particularly worthy of following; sort of a “best of” recommendation. Somewhere along the way, however, people started using Follow Friday to broadcast out multiple tweets listing what seems like every single account they follow. Twitter isn’t middle school: it’s okay to single some people out for attention, and you don’t have to feel bad for not including everyone. If you’re going to participate in Follow Friday, pick one or two people a week, and explain why you enjoy their tweets. Oh, and don’t re-tweet it when people include you in a Follow Friday message — that’s preaching to the choir, and makes you look lame.
Whew, rant over. If you’re new to Twitter or just looking for a refresher, check out this great (and beautifully designed) primer at Jessica Hische’s blog: Mom, this is how Twitter works.
What are your social media pet peeves? Let me know in the comments.* Caveat: I’m not saying there’s only one right way to use Twitter, and I’ve certainly made my share of faux pas while learning my way around. These are just the things that irk me, especially when it’s the self-professed ‘social media gurus’ doing them…