June 1, 2010

A Twitter Journey: Conversations, Etiquette, and Cautions

Conversations on Twitter come in two forms, via tweets to followers who may respond using the direct message (DM) option only to you or basically doing a reply to all like in email. The reply to all is done by either using the reply button on an existing tweet to build a new tweet, by using the mention button to put an account name somewhere in their new tweet, or of course doing a manual mention TO by putting an @ symbol in front of the user account name that the response is to at the beginning of a new tweet. So be careful to pick the appropriate method for conversations – do you want private via DM or public via a tweet to all your followers.

So how do you start a conversation? By asking a question! Make the questions short and clear. Quickie surveys can be done by asking questions that can be answered Yes or No. Opinions can be sought by asking open-ended questions. If you wish to gather responses to several questions, you may want to do an on-line survey instead and provide a link to the survey for Twitter users to go to.

If you really want to be part of a conversation on Twitter and get people interested in what you have to say, learn to use hashtags (#) in your tweets to be part of a group discussion. Also be sure to retweet (RT) good content from others, and use @ replies to thank people who mention or retweet you or if you want to comment on their individual tweets.

How else can you get a conversation going? Are you on other social networks too? If you are and if you desire to include those friends in the conversation, you may also link to your Twitter account from your Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace account so your Tweets appear as part of your status updates there. You can also create a widget that allows you to have your tweet timeline (newest to oldest tweets you post) appear on your website or blog. Although web widgets are really just a one-way option so not really conversation so much as providing information.

With most groups, there are etiquette rules to follow. Twitter users have adopted some guidelines, but I find not everyone on Twitter is consistent with their use. However, regarding conversations via Tweets, I’ve written an on-line article on the topic that says just about everything I’ve discovered called 6 Basics of Tweet Etiquette on Twitter. There are also inconsistencies in what people believe to be proper etiquette about following others. I wrote about following in my previous post. Below are a few links you may want to check out regarding etiquette and conversation opinions of other Twitter users.

Many people who direct message you or whose tweets you may see in your timeline will send you links to great articles, their website where you can find out more about them, or to other items they thought were good. Please use caution on Twitter when it comes to clicking on hyperlinks. Buried within the Help documentation on Twitter, it recommends you do not click on any URLs from people you do not know and trust. Unfortunately there are spammers using this as a way to get your email or phone number. Also some video clips sent out via Twitter have had adware and worms attached which you don’t want on your computer. Typically these mean links come in direct messages from new followers, so think before you click.

If you are considering using Twitter for your business, you should take the steps suggested for getting started in my first Twitter post to be immediately successful. If you are already on Twitter, hopefully these posts have provided some information you did not know and that you will find helpful in your continued journey as well. Look for my next post for some tools you may find helpful in your own Twitter journey. Hoping Tweeting works well for you – by the way follow me on Twitter and I will follow you back.

Tweet as reference http://bit.ly/aZJRuz

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