Twitter allows users across the globe to engage in conversation in real-time. But, just like any communication platform, there are rules that you’d be wise to follow as a writer. So here is a primer on what you should and shouldn’t do when interacting with other users on this social media network.
What you shouldn’t do
Do not commit libel or allow yourself to be lured into arguments or negative discussions with other users. Your words represent your personal brand as a writer as well as Bleacher Report’s image. Approach each tweet the same way you would when producing content.
Do not believe everything you read on the Twitterverse. There are unreliable sources as well as fake user accounts floating around that are looking to garner attention. Just because a user said something doesn’t necessarily mean it is valid.
Do not post a piece of information without crediting your source. The same rules apply here as to when you are using attribution in producing content. Due to the 140-character limit, a simple “via @username” or “RT @username” will suffice.
Do not tweet incessantly on a routine basis. Users don’t want to see their timeline comprising primarily your tweets. There are exceptions during certain marquee events, but as a general rule, sending 10 tweets per minute is probably going to turn your followers off.
Do not send extraneous tweets. Chances are, the public doesn’t want to know when you last went to the bathroom, what happened during your favorite soap opera or how loud the dog next door is barking.
Do not use caps lock when tweeting. This will turn your followers off quickly. Don’t be an attention-grabber.
Do not beg prominent users for retweets or incessantly tweet links to your articles. This makes you come off as desperate and unprofessional. Good content speaks for itself, so there is no reason to over-promote it.
What you should do:
Humanize yourself. Post a short bio and upload a picture to serve as your personal profile. The people want to see your face!
Interact with your audience. Reply to tweets you receive and strike up some conversations. Engage in crowdsourcing and see what the public is saying about, well, everything!
Use Twitter as a professional means of communication, rather than a personal one. Facebook is a great social media platform with which to interact with friends on a personal level, but Twitter should be used for gathering news, promoting your content and networking with other users. Sure, it’s great to follow and interact with some of your buddies—and you should—but the majority of the users you follow should be for news gathering or professional purposes.
Build your brand. Choose a creative handle that is easy to remember and declares what your tweets are about. This is a great way to showcase your area of expertise.
Include hashtags in your tweets. It’s a great way to communicate with users who are interested in your subject matter and can help you develop a following.
THINK before you tweet! We saved the most important rule for last. If you have to question whether something is or isn’t appropriate, then it’s probably better left unsaid.
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Matt Birch is an associate NFL editor at Bleacher Report.