Social networking sites seem to have a lifespan of about two years before the next-big-thing arrives to steal the limelight.
The MySpace craze died out in the UK way back in 2005, and by 2007 Facebook had become the biggest social networking site of all time, ever.
Now, though, all the talk is about Twitter. And even though it was secretly growing in popularity long before the likes of Philip Schofield starting waffling about it on telly, it’s now taking over from Facebook as the most-talked about community platform.
The problem is that as people migrate across to Twitter, they bring their bad habits with them. And with every individual seemingly interpreting Twitter’s usefulness in entirely different ways, people are inevitably starting to annoy each other.
To avoid being unfollowed en-masse, try following these simple rules:
1. Don’t use your Twitter account as an RSS feed
Twitter is not an RSS reader! It’s intensely irritating when you follow a website, corporate account or individual expecting some interesting content, only to get dozens of links that haven’t even been vetted for the Twitter audience. If you’re going to link out, choose wisely, do it in context and don’t spew links all day long!
2. Avoid Twitter diarrhoea
If you update your twitter feed every 10 seconds all day every day, you’ll get unfollowed so fast you won’t even have time to tweet about it. It doesn’t matter how important, funny or clever you think you are, no one is interesting enough to clog up feeds with updates like “Am stood in Tesco buying a loaf of bread”.
3. Don’t re-tweet yourself
It sounds ridiculous, but it seems to happen all the time. People tweet something that they think is particularly clever or funny (it’s usually nothing of the sort), and when no one seems to notice or RT them, they repeat the tweet two hours later. If no-one noticed your tweet the first time, they almost certainly won’t the 2nd and 3rd time!
4. Be careful updating Facebook with Twitter updates
TweetDeck and the like are fantastic little apps, but integrating the Facebook status can be a bad idea. People tend to mix business contacts and friends on facebook, so do your friends really want to see hundreds of status updates that were intended for Twitter?
5. Don’t brag
It doesn’t matter how kind and tolerant you are, you have to admit it – the one thing you really can’t stand is someone trying to be clever. So when people brag, boast and crow about how great they are and what a fun time they’re having all the time, it just makes people think they’re annoying. If you win ten pounds on the lottery, please do tell your Twitter followers – but it’s not necessary to twitter about it all day, nor is it a pre-requisite for you to post 20 twitpics of the winning ticket to prove you’re telling the truth, and then list the 18 things you might spend your winnings on.
6. Don’t reply to celebrity twitterers
Following an interesting celebrity is all well and good – some of them really do offer up some good comments. However, replying to something a celeb with thousands of followers has said smacks of stupidity. It can make you look like a fool, and your followers will see you as such.
7. Don’t use Twitter like a chat window
If you’re going to have a 16-tweet conversation with someone, please either get a room or take your chat somewhere more appropriate like Windows Live Messenger. This kind of thing only shows up on people’s feeds if they’re following both parties – still though, more than two @replies each counts as SPAM in our book.
8. Don’t be a shameless follower chaser
It seems it doesn’t matter how different all the social media sites are, they have one key thing in common: the people using them are obsessed with getting as many friends/followers as possible. On Twitter, people tend to follow people/accounts who they think will follow them back, just to boost the numbers. It’s vanity in the extreme, don’t do it.
9. Don’t ask people to RT your tweets
If people liked what you said, they might choose to re-tweet it. If they didn’t like it, they definitely won’t – unless what you said was so ridiculously stupid that they’re repeating it in order to ridicule you. Admittedly, in some cases asking for RTs is ok, but on the whole it makes you look desperate.
10. Avoid “in-jokes”
Twittering in-jokes that only one other person is likely to ‘get’ – doesn’t make you look cool. It makes you look like a fool.