Twitter is a social platform. I repeat, social. In most on-ground social settings we are very aware of our appearance, our mannerisms, our words. Why do these etiquettes rarely show up in our virtual interactions?
Several businesses on Twitter would avoid a lot of bashing and build a more loyal following if they were to keep some virtual society rules in mind and individual account holders would no longer have to wonder, "Why are so many people unfollowing me?"
Give Some Orienting Information: Imagine you've been invited to your distant cousin Bertha's wedding. If you were to go there wearing a mask and volunteer no information about yourself (who you are, where in the world you live, what you do), you'll be kicked out (unless it's a masquerade). Move to Twitter - is your profile there completely anonymous? No profile photo, no location, no bio? If that defines your Twitter account, don't be surprised if you don't get the deluge of followers you were expecting.
Security concerns notwithstanding, it is basic courtesy to volunteer some information about yourself.
Conversations, Conversations, Conversations: Back to Bertha and her wedding. How would it look if you didn't greet the bride and groom? Or if someone were to approach you and start a conversation and you didn't reply? Imagine this weird conversation:
You: Hi Martha!
Bertha's sister Martha: Hey You! How are you?
You: I bought an iPhone5.
Bertha's sister Martha: Really?! When?
You: Happy birthday to you Lola! That's my cat, by the way.
Bertha's sister Martha: ???
You see what's happening? Can you imagine this conversation really taking place? And yet, this is precisely what happens on Twitter when people don't reply and keep up conversations. Martha will clearly not talk with you anymore, nor will all your Twitter followers if you can't keep up conversations (they will, of course, also unfollow you).
Racism, Bullying And Snobbery: Don't say or do things on Twitter that you wouldn't do otherwise. Don't bully others or pass racist comments - totally not done. Don't be a snob either - follow people back and be nice in general. These are simple things we all know and yet, somehow, assume that this doesn't apply on Twitter.
Negativity Is A No-No: We recently asked our followers on Twitter, all 750,000 of them, what is the top reason why they unfollowed people. And one of the top reasons given was "too much negativity". If you are constantly complaining and cribbing, be assured people are going to follow you. Twitter users may feel like friends, but they are strangers nonetheless. How would it feel if a random guest in Bertha's wedding came up to you and started complaining about everything from the wedding arrangements to the food to Bertha's hairdo?
These are a few amongst a list of many other etiquettes you should be aware of. Think of your twitter actions and their real life counterparts and you'll be able to gauge whether you are walking the line alright. Any specific points you'd like to mention - something that annoys you consistently?
Image from Flickr