Sunday, April 19, 2009

Twitter: You're Doing It Wrong

Joined Twitter, but still don't get it? Perhaps these tips may help.

1. You do not need to follow celebrities.

Most celebrities on Twitter are dull. The fact that they have tens or hundreds of thousands of people following them does not make them any less boring. In fact it suggests to them that Twitter users are all too happy to read the lamest details of their celebrity life.

Now if you enjoy celebrity-watching, and feel a thrill knowing that Ashton Kutcher and P. Diddy are together on Larry King RIGHT NOW, or if it is your dream to get a 140-character answer to your question from John Cleese, go right ahead.

2. You do not need to receive breaking news

It can feel exciting to learn about an earthquake, or a plane crash, or a daring sea rescue minutes (or even hours) before the news shows up on But unless there's something you can do about it, breaking news doesn't have much actual value to your life.

Alternately, you might want to be the person who turns around and shares the breaking news with others. In which case: sure, become the news desk.

(Note also that people who receive breaking news via Twitter are advised not to crack jokes about said breaking news in the real world, as no one will know what the hell you are talking about until they hear about it the next day on Morning Edition.)

3. You do not need to follow your friends

Unless you and your friends-in-real-life use Twitter to meet up at a conference or on a night of bar-hopping, you do not need to follow your friends' Twitter feeds to keep up with their lives. That is what Facebook is for.

Most of the people I follow (and who now follow me) I don't know in real life. Or, I didn't before Twitter.

4. It is okay to prune your list of people you follow

If someone you're following isn't posting tweets that are interesting, useful, or funny, feel free to stop following them. They might be funny and interesting and lovely in real life, but on Twitter their random mutterings are only so much noise.

5. There is no harm in trying

Find new people to follow by seeing who your favorite Twitterers follow. Funny Twitterers may also have a list of "Favorites", which may point you to other funny Twitterers. There's no cost to follow someone on a trial basis. If, after a week (or in some cases a day) you decide that the person's tweets aren't interesting, useful, or funny, you can prune them off your list.

6. Write tweets that are interesting, useful, or funny

Every time you type in the box and click "update", it's like you're stepping up to a microphone to make a brief statement. Make it worth everybody's time.

Smart people have two Twitter accounts: one personal, one professional. That way you can be interesting or useful about your job to one audience, and interesting or funny about your kids to another.

Me, I just try to be funny, regardless of topic. Which leads me to jokes at the intersection of HTML programming and bluegrass.

Perhaps I'm the one who's doing it wrong.

7. Someone has probably gotten to that joke before you

If you care about these things, there's

Tell me what I'm doing wrong below.


md'a said...

ur doing it wrong: ur doing it wrong.

tb said...

You are doing nothing wrong.