Exactly a year ago, I posted my first tweet.
On 3 May 2009, I said "I am swimming inside twitter" and I really meant it. I was quite clueless as to what I was supposed to do with Twitter. Many people told me that Twitter is relatively simple compared to other social network websites such as Facebook. It is true. It did not take me long to figure out most of its basic features.
(I shared my initial thoughts in "Let's Do The Tweet" in May last year. You can also find out how Twitter got its name in "Modern 'Brandology'")
For the less informed, Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you to post text messages of up to 140 characters. You can learn more about Twitter in "The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter".
I am an advocate for continuous learning and I would seize every opportunity to do it. That was the main impetus for me to sign up Twitter. I just had to try it. In the last 12 months, I have learned a great deal from the use of Twitter - much more than any 12-month period in the past since I was out from school.
It was reported that Twitter has about 75 million users and the number is growing at about 8 million per month. Even though many of these users are relatively inactive, the amount of resources from Twitter is not to be ignored.
Twitter is used in different style. Some use it for daily babbling. Some use it to spread their commercial presence. Some use it to share knowledge. Given that, Twitter can be meaningless, annoying or informative. It all depends entirely on who you follow.
I choose who I follow carefully, avoiding spammers, whiners, advertisers and those who are simply rude or crude. It is the same as how you would choose your friends in the real world. Twitter 'friends' can also have an influence on you too. Choose them wisely.
I have benefited from the use of Twitter and here are 10 DOs and DON'Ts I have learned:
1. Do share sensibly
Twitter prompts you at the 'update' box with the question "What's Happening?". Some people take it too far and share the last detail of their lives. Seriously, no one needs to know the texture of your fecal matters or number of exploding zits on your forehead. Having said that, do share a little about yourself. Your followers want and need to know that they are hearing from real people and not some bots.
2. Do be positive and happy
We are how we speak to ourselves and others. If we constantly say positive things and make happy notes, we will in turn feel that way. It is the same with Twitter. You will feel upbeat by your own happy thoughts. What is amazing is that, with Twitter, you are able to spread positive energy to your followers and that same energy can be further passed on to your followers' followers. (Re-tweets)
3. Do share useful resources
We constantly come across useful information on the Internet. In the spirit of sharing, we would want many to benefit from it too. Twitter allows you to do just that. There are many other users who are doing the same. They tweet about stuff which they find useful. Follow them and you stand to benefit from their sharing too.
4. Do pursue your passion
You can find like-minded people in Twitter. Follow them and get updates, ideas and views in your areas of passion. I get updates on conservation effort and great tips on photography.
5. Do be yourself
Our relationship with others in Twitter is virtual (unless they happen to be friends in the real world too). However, that does not mean that we should behave any differently. Be yourself and be authentic. Your followers would appreciate that.
6. Don't whine
It is not difficult to understand why this is so. We do meet whiners in the real world and they wear us down. In Twitter, it is the same. If you want to get more followers, don't whine.
7. Don't criticize
Be open-minded. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We need not agree with all of them but there is also no need to be overly critical about their point of view. If their opinions get too unacceptable and unbearable, you can always unfollow. However, if you criticize, you are telling your followers that they too will get the same from you one day.
8. Don't hold a private conversation
It is very convenient to 'reply' to a message in Twitter. In any case, you should not use Twitter like an online chat. Your follower may not be interested to know the details of how you get on to a movie date with another Twitter user.
9. Don't forget basic courtesy
We have been taught from a young age that "Please" and "Thank You" are magic words. The magic does not go away just because we interact in a virtual world. Be courteous and respect your followers in the same way as you would in the real world.