Okay, “must” is a strong word, but let me tell you a little story…
You know that “Similar to You” section on the right side of your Twitter profile?
Well, the other day (and contrary to its usual function – for some reason, it normally only suggests I follow other users named “Alicia”) it suggested I follow someone who is not only a fellow writer, but also a writer I know.
We’ll call her Jane.
Jane and I belonged to the same e-mail group for writers a few years ago, but have since lost touch, so I was actually excited to see that she was on Twitter, and immediately clicked through to her profile.
Boy, how fast that excitement turned to disappointment.
You see, Jane – like a lot of other writers I’ve seen on Twitter – was committing a Twitter taboo too heinous for me to overlook even though I genuinely enjoyed her friendship years ago.
Well, two, actually.
First, every single tweet was automatically generated from one of her blogs. There was no interaction with other writers on Twitter (or anyone else, for that matter). No replies, no retweets – nothing. Second, every tweet, as you can imagine, was self-promotional.
With a slightly heavy heart, I opted not to follow Jane and closed the tab containing her profile.
Then, I decided to write this post.
Before we launch into it, let me first point out that I know there are zillions of articles out there instructing people on how to use Twitter; providing Twitter tips, especially tips for marketing on Twitter and gaining followers on Twitter.
Please note that this is not another one of those articles; rather, this is a post on a few of the behaviors that I’ve come to label as Twitter taboos: Behaviors that will prevent me from following you most of the time, or, if I do follow you, make it extra crucial for you to kick ass in some other area.
1. Using Only Automated Tweets
Setting up automatic tweets of your latest blog posts is fine, right? Yet, if you don’t care enough about your followers on Twitter to post an actual thought once in a while, why should they care enough to follow you?
2. Interacting With No One
Even if you have a nice blend of automated and “real” tweets, if you’re not interacting with anyone, you’re not connecting with anyone. If you’re not connecting with anyone, you’re not going to be very effective at marketing on Twitter, are you?
3. Doing Nothing For Anyone
How much fun are people who never retweet or post relevant links to blog posts or articles that they didn’t write?
No fun at all.
4. Having No Profile Picture
Okay, so technically you can’t have no profile picture; Twitter has its generic standby that all users get until they upload their own. So, better phrased, “Using Twitter’s Generic Profile Picture.”
Doing this for any longer than it takes to open up your hard drive’s Picture folder and choose a decent shot of your mug (or cover of your novel, or logo for your writing business, or whatever) is dumb. It’s just dumb.
Let Twitter help you correct this dumbness.
5. Being ONLY A Writer
You’re a writer, and you tweet about writing and follow other writers and, you know, write. You do other stuff, though, too – right? If your Twitter bio or stream tells me nothing about you as a person and provides only information about you as a writer, how am I supposed to know if I’m interested? Or, that you’re interesting?
I know @ToddRMoody is a pilot and that @martharandolf kicked cancer’s ass. I also know that @mollygreene doesn’t spend too much money on wine (a woman after my own heart) and likes her dog. I even know his name. It’s Frank.
The point is, you have a life outside of writing, and you’re much more interesting when you admit it.
6. Tweeting Once In A Blue Moon
I hate finding interesting writers on Twitter, only to discover they haven’t tweeted in a month and a half. Usually, this means they’re way too busy to keep up with a Twitter account (which means they’re likely to commit taboos #2 and #3, as well), or they’ve abandoned the account.
Or, they could’ve taken time off to have a baby (in which case a courteous “On hiatus – just had a baby!” would be nice).
7. Promoting The Hell Out Of Yourself
I want to know what you’re doing. Really, I do. I’m interested in what you’re writing, or what you’ve just posted, or the interview you just gave. Otherwise, I wouldn’t follow you. I see what’s going on with you, and I can learn from that – and vice-versa.
What I’m NOT interested in is All You, All The Time. Post a link to your blog post or your most recent article in Whatever Magazine or the occasional link to your book on Amazon, and then ask me how my day’s going.
(NOTE: This goes for bios, too. For example, @hazelindeed managed to let me know she has a YA novel coming out and enjoys life’s simple pleasures. Likewise, @mizwrite tells us she not only writes for LifeScript.com, but she’s also married with kids.)
So, what about you, writers? Agree? Disagree? Have your own Twitter taboos to add to the list?
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