I am far from a social media expert, but there are three things Twitter users do that drive me insane and that absolutely violate fundamental principles of good communication.
1. Auto Tweets
I understand it’s an efficient way for busy people to schedule out their tweets over the course of a day, but it’s important to wrest control from the robots when big events are happening. Especially predictable events.
Yesterday between 9 and 10 am Central, my Twitter stream was 95% filled with tweets about the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling, one of the biggest news events in a generation or two. The other 5% were tweets from people who clearly had their Twitter stream on autopilot, yammering away about Pippa’s latest hat or sharing some article on the latest fat-burning scheme.
Maybe you don’t want to talk about healthcare. That’s fine — just shut off your auto tweets. Or maybe you think it’s an opportunity to be noticed during a high-traffic time. If that’s the case, you’re being noticed, all right, but not in the way you’d like.
Communication violation: it’s impersonal. And it makes you come across like those awkward people at parties unable to join the conversation, relate to others or pick up on basic social cues.
I suppose people view this as an efficient way to get their message out — blasting the same post across Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. But they’re not thinking of their audience.
Why would I follow you both on Twitter and Facebook if you’re saying the exact same thing the exact same way on both? These are two different platforms, with two different audiences and a whole bunch of different protocols and rules of etiquette.
Besides, we don’t want to see all your damned hashtags on Facebook. (The overuse of which on Twitter is a whole other issue.)
Communication violation: Again, it’s impersonal. It stinks of spam and shows you’re not thinking of your audience.
3. Posting Stale News
The news cycle is incredibly compressed these days. Tweeting days-old news is absolutely unforgivable — unless you’ve got a particular spin on that news you want to communicate. Hell, I feel funny tweeting hours-old news.
If you plan to be breaking news on Twitter, then it had damned well better be actual breaking news.
Communication violation: it wastes peoples’ time and suggests you’re out of touch and behind the curve.
Social media is obviously a wonderful thing. But it also tends to magnify our worst habits and mistakes. As with any other form of communication, a lot can be solved by thinking of your audience.