A Newbie’s Adventures in Twitterland #1

You know, this tweeting thing isn’t quite as straightforward as a person might think. I mean, it sounds simple enough, right? Trot out your delightful and delicious 140-character bon mots, reply to or retweet other people’s equally delightful bon mots, play nice or play mean–how hard can it be?

Except, as a relative newbie to the Twitterverse, I have to tell you, it’s not as 1-2-3 as it looks. As friendly and welcoming a social media platform as Twitter is, it does have its own quirky lexicon, its own rules of etiquette, and its own tricks and strategies–and not all of them are entirely intuitive.

When I started tweeting in earnest towards the end of May, I decided I’d better do a bit of Google research before I committed some gaucherie so heinous that all (10 or so at the time) of my followers decided to abandon me en masse. Coming from a long line of co-dependent, please-let-me-please-you enablers, I wanted to do the right things in the right way at the right time. I wanted, in fact, to be smacked in the forehead with the shovel of rightness.

But do you know what I discovered as I plumbed the depths of Google wisdom on this subject? I discovered–shocker of shockers–that there is an essential disharmony in the realm of Tweet. In fact, to paraphrase Newton, it appears that for pretty much every opinion on every convention, practice or definition in Twitterland, there is an equal and opposite opinion.

For you long-time tweeters, I’m sure this disharmony is nothing new, and I’d guess that it barely even ruffles your sails as you navigate the Twitter waters. But imagine the plight of the poor newbie, stranded without a lifejacket in a sea of #hashtags, DMs, RTs, spammers and bots, looking for advice so she doesn’t wind up making a big splatty fool of herself. What does she find? I’ll tell you what she finds: 

  • Only follow people who follow you back! 
  • Follow everyone who interests you!
  • Hashtags are annoying and pointless! 
  • Hashtags saved my life! 
  • Old school retweet rules and new retweet sucks! 
  • Old retweet sucks and new retweet rules! 
  • #WatchWednesday and #FollowFriday are lame! 
  • #WatchWednesday and #FollowFriday are the building blocks of your social media empire!

So, what’s a newbie to do? On which side of the Twitter divide is she to cast her anchor (to belabour my metaphor beyond forgiveness)?  I’ll tell you what I’ve done. As any self-respecting middle child with co-dependency issues might do, I’ve tried to chart a course right down the middle, with the occasional veering off into one side or the other.

Over my next four blog posts, I’m going to share with you how I’ve made sense of and come to terms with a few of the contradictory Twitterlaws around: 

  • Following and unfollowing
  • Retweeting, replying and DMs, oh my!
  • Hashtags
  • Self-promotion

Do I have the definitive answers? Very much not, I’m afraid. Feel free to chime in along the way with your thoughts and your own personal Twitter rules of survival.