My first idea was to write a similar post to @themanwhofell and @MattWhatsit, who both wrote fantastic Twitter Rules blogs (here and here, respectively). But then I thought of the few people I know who don’t really use Twitter, such as my fiancé, who has an account but doesn’t really use it as she can’t get her head around why I often have my head buried in my phone during X Factor.
I often find that people who aren’t on Twitter don’t really understand is how it works, and to lay out one ‘set in stone’ blueprint wouldn’t be accurate enough because I’m fairly certain there are people who use it in a completely different way to the manner in which I do, so I thought I’d outline my approach to Twitter.
It’s probably better if I outline how it really all began. I started up on Twitter a while back, and whilst I set up my account eager to see what all the fuss was about, it subsequently lay dormant for about a year as I didn’t really get it. After a recommendation from a mate to give my blog a few shouts on Twitter, I decided to give it another crack. I jazzed my profile up somewhat and I started following people.
After a short while there was a pretty big realisation that I was logging in for quite a few things other than having an account for this blog. My timeline was, happily, clogged up with tweets about Liverpool FC, and the majority of my followers were getting a bit of Liverpool FC with a non-subject blog and a satirical post thrown in here and there which isn’t what I was initially after. Both subjects were being diluted and, in my humble opinion, deserved an account of their own so @MexicanPenguin’s LFC tweets branched off into @JoeyBurns87 and the tweets now remain (more often than not) separate.
Running two accounts is, to put it bluntly, a piece of piss with a third-party Twitter client. Even the official Twitter iPhone app has the ability to run a few accounts but I find it harder to switch between them than on the one I currently use. My two Following lists pretty much read the same as I don’t mind having LFC tweets mixed in with jokes and pictures of @Moanup‘s bollock hanging out of his shorts. But separately the Followers lists are quite varied and, other than the people I tweet quite a lot to, they remain, for lack of a better term, ‘genre specific.’ I’m happy that this is the case as it certainly justifies running two main accounts when I’m asked why I do it.
Now on to the why’s. In all honesty, I didn’t really understand why people sit and read their timeline until I’d been on Twitter properly for a while and I find it difficult to see how anyone does until they have too. I was initially putting the blog out in the open, and as a result of a few retweets from mates on there it got some good coverage and some followers too. But I found myself following people talking a lot about Liverpool and as a result I was tweeting about Liverpool a lot too. As this developed, I realised that various people on Twitter were telling me stuff about Liverpool that hadn’t yet made it to Sky Sports News or even the official LFC website. I feel that this ‘news service’ moved up another level when the huge court case in October regarding the takeover of the club came to a head, and thanks to huge amount of people on Twitter for pretty much the same reason, we were all kept as up to date as possible while events just kept on developing.
And for me, I think the Liverpool example sums up Twitter completely. On the face of it, you’d think that Twitter was simply full of people who tweet about Liverpool but then it is down to who you follow. I’m pretty sure if you supported United or Arsenal you could get a similar, but relative, timeline that is full of people keeping you up to date about your team. The same can be said about people who are enthusiastic about British politics, X-Box games or Apple products. For example.
On the flip side, there is the fun element to Twitter. My timeline suggests that the funniest times on Twitter are during reasonably big television events like X Factor and The Apprentice. You’ll find a lot of people tweeting about them and, as is the case with a lot of the people I’m following, there is some comedy gold in there. But then, it has to be said, a lot of the humour is mostly to my liking and not to that of my fiancé, who often asks to read what I’m tittering at during Coronation Street and isn’t amused in the slightest. Further proof that Twitter almost always ends up tailored completely to your own tastes.
With that in mind, for me, the idea of any set rules on Twitter go out of the window, because everyone is different. I would say there’s already a general etiquette about the whole thing, but then that could be just the people I happen to follow. Of course, someone tweeting to Robbie Savage to take the piss out of his ill father is out of order, for example, regardless of what you think of the man. Unfortunately, things like that go on and they will probably happen more often as Twitter’s popularity increases.
But the more you’re on Twitter, the more I’d say you develop your own sense of ideals and I feel that I have developed mine. On the whole, give respect to people on Twitter, unless they’re dishing out shite to other people. But there is one thing that really twists my tits when I’ve got my head tucked in to my phone during work or some shite programme on telly…
Followers, unfollowers, followbacks, etc. This seems to be the biggest gripe for a lot of people on Twitter. On the whole, I mostly end up following people through retweets, where someone spots something interesting or in most cases hilarious, and sends it to their followers. I also generally follow people I interact with. If someone mentions me and a quick skim through their timeline doesn’t make my eyes bleed, more often than not I’ll click the follow button.
But then there’s also the dreaded ‘unfollow.’ Admittedly, I don’t decide to do this often, so if it does happen it’s usually a culmination of a month or so’s woeful tweets. If someone’s tweets in general get on your tits when you browse through your timeline, just unfollow them. It’s your timeline, it shouldn’t matter that much. On the flip side, if someone unfollows you, you’re not necessarily posting shite, but it may not be to the individual’s tastes.
I’d also say that pissing and moaning about losing followers, or using those services which let’s you name and shame them, is pretty cringeworthy. That’s where some Twitter users have got a little bit of Facebook in them, where reciprocal ‘follows’ matter that little bit too much. There are a very good few people I follow and chat to on Twitter who respond yet don’t follow me. It is their choice and to question them would be, in my eyes, a little bit small time on my part. But as I’ve said, that’s just me.
I do hope this has helped anyone who is trying to get a decent grasp on what Twitter is, or what it does, etc. And, as it really is tailored wholly to the individual, I’d love to hear anyone elses views on what their Twitter does for them!