Twitter Sinners

I know… “Another post about Twitter? I’m sick of it!” 

Sorry, but folks are still so blatantly abusing Twitter, I’m forced back on my platform to expose the heathens. Twitter is not a new advertising platform. It’s not a new place for SPAM. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this VERY SIMPLE law of most all social media: treat it like a real relationship. Right now, you’re not treating Twitter right. You’re abusing it – and that makes you a Twitter Sinner. I’m here to save your soul.

1. Social Media is not about collecting friends. How many friends do you have in real life? I need an exact number. You don’t know, do you? Why not? Because you don’t collect friends. That’s not how friendship, or any relationship, works. So, why do people think that social media is about collecting friends? Do not obsess about how many friends or followers you have. You’re not a better person if you have more followers. 70,000 – oh my! There is no direct correlation between followers/friends and your worth. Deal with it!

2. Give value to your relationship. Any good relationship is symbiotic – you give to me, I give to you. Too often, Twitter relationship are parasitic – one party consumes and doesn’t give back. These are the worst Twitter sinners. Are your messages purely promotional? Or do you offer value to the relationship you’ve created? Do you share articles, insights, breaking news, anything of value? No, telling people you can make them a millionaire is not a post of value. It’s a selfish, promotional tweet.

3. Content before followers. You should post a dozen updates (arbitrary number) with some sort of value before you start hunting for relationships (followers). You’re disgusting, following 800 people with 4 updates. If you want to have a relationship with me, I want to know it will be worthwhile. This is also a rule about giving value to your relationships. 

4. Be upfront with who you are. Are you a company that will be posting promotions, sneak peaks, extras, etc? Are you a person, who will sprinkle tweets with updates about your personal life? It doesn’t matter what you are, I just need to know. I need to know what kind of relationship I’m getting into here. 

5. Do more than re-tweet. Look at your stream of updates – how often are you beginning it with “RT” (ReTweet)? You’re just an aggregator. Have an opinion. Generate your own stuff. Sometimes it’s nice to have somebody passing info along from multiple sources – so I understand if my position on this is controversial, but you’re asking me to have a relationship with YOU. You are the guy at the party, who, when asked his opinion on a matter, quotes somebody else. You’re Matt Damon‘s character on Good Will Hunting. And nobody likes Matt Damon. (OK, just kidding. That was a cheap shot at Damon). 

Here’s a few Twitter Sinners I’ve collected just today. Repent, and change your ways…


10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kinggame said,

    I just can’t bring myself to use Twitter. It seems like the ultimate bastardization of the Internet. I refuse to be a party to it.

    • 2

      Mike McDowell said,

      You’d be surprised. Twitter is actually a great communication tool. However, it’s people like these Twitter Sinners that ruin the experience because the abuse the hell out of the medium. I love Twitter, I just hate when people use it as a means to an end, and not as a communication tool to connect to other human beings.

  2. 3

    BIGstLittleCity said,

    Twitter Bio: Woman, Wife, Mom, Me! Living, Loving and Laughing in Reno! Following a local group of Tweeps for the purpose of hearing what we are doing in our own back yard 🙂

    I have been enjoying following other Twitter users in my community and hearing what they have to say about local events and interests. I like the diversity of individuals that I follow. Some, I have things in common with and others are a sharp contrast. It’s that diversity that I feel gives a truer representation of the ”heartbeat” of the thing that binds us, which is the city that we all inhabit together.

  3. 4

    Wolfy said,

    My first instinct is that no once needs this kind of info. It seems so obvious. But there are a ton of people out there who either don’t understand, don’t find it or completely ignore it. It’s strange.

    Though I’m a marketer too, I find myself rebelling against the commercialization of twitter. I”m sure it’ll self regulate, but i don’t want it to turn into myspace. If it gets too bad people will start using and other open source systems to create their own microblog networks.


  4. 6

    edadkins said,

    i don’t agree. it seems like the steps I see people go through on the web are the same.

    1. Misuse through ignorance, not understanding the customs
    2. Discover problogger
    3. Become a social media expert
    4. Tell people how to/not to use the popular tools

    Then if they stick around long enough, they hit:
    5. Actually settle into something that works for them despite the rules

    I see people and businesses “misusing” things like twitter all the time and it’s working for them just fine. doesn’t talk to me, but finding out what they’re selling in real time is awesome.

    • 7

      Mike McDowell said,

      Yes, most people don’t know any better, and they misuse through ignorance – that’s why I’m here to help (although the folks who need it will never read it or they’ll ignore it. I’ve come to terms with that.).

      But if you look at Woot, they’re actually a great example of not being a Twitter sinner – they’ve followed all of my guidelines. They didn’t go out there and just start following people or collecting contacts (following #1). They’re giving legitimate value to the relationship, by giving you real-time updates on their close-out sales (following #2). They started by giving content (their updates) before they started swarming for followers (following #3). The fourth guideline is the important one – be upfront with the type of relationship. You mention that Woot doesn’t talk to you and that’s ok. That’s the kind of relationship you and other people have come to expect. The guideline is simply to be upfront – if you’re just a channel for promotions, and people want to have that kind of relationship with you, lovely. And, by default, Woot follows guideline 5, by not just retweeting everyone else’s content and offering nothing of their own.

      Thanks for the feedback, Ed. And the passive snarkiness.

  5. 8

    edadkins said,

    Mike- great response. Honestly I didn’t read the post well enough- I arrived on it from a tweet that had a different bent to it, scanned this and actually was more responding to the tweet. My bad on that one- lazy rant.

    Good points all around.

  6. 9

    elisapiper said,

    Happy not to see my twitter profiles in your rogues gallery. Agree w/ Ed that a lot of folks go through the learning curve … others don’t bother at all.

    Thinking about the day when the twitterverse will be completely littered with abandoned twitter profiles and dead blogs, abandoned myspace and facebook pages … sort of like the debris in space.

  7. 10

    Katrina Nada said,

    I applaud your twitter commandments. Collecting followers just plays on everyone’s vanity which sometimes I think most peeps are guilty for. A rule of thumb I have on any social networking media is that if I have not met you in real life…I probably will not be your “online” friend 🙂

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