Hard on the heels of @RayBeckerman‘s Twitter refollow policy, I’ve decided to pen my own. Twitter is a great tool for spreading information in short bursts but it has been hampered by the large amount of marketing, self-promotion, bots, and adult-content promoters. I have a finite amount of time per day so any extra time spent in one area means making a sacrifice somewhere else. Therefore, I aim to maximize my Twitter return on investment (TwiROI).
Let me first share how I use Twitter:
- I filter through hundreds of websites that post thousands of pieces of news, commentaries, studies, and other media on a broad range of topics (collectively referred to as “posts” from this points forward). The end result is a somewhat manageable amount of items that I can read. I further reduce this set of posts into potential tweets.
- My tweets are structured in a predictable way:
- The type of post comes first followed by a colon. For example: “News,” “Politics,” “Opinion,” “Research/Study,” etc.
- The headline is next. If I can’t fit the headline within the character limit or it’s ambiguous then I may modify it but I try to avoid this as much as possible.
- A link to the post through a URL shortener comes next followed by a hyphen.
- In this space I may include include a short comment. There are times when I let the headline stand for itself by omitting a comment.
- Finally, I include hashtags to ease the search for content. I may also go back and add hashes to key words within the headline.
- Due to obligations in real life, I schedule my tweets at no more than a 15-minute interval instead of sending them out in real-time. I break this rule when there is some breaking news or event upon which I can share articles and/or thoughts.
- Any content I tweet, even if I include a comment, is to never be considered an endorsement of the message, opinions, beliefs, or mission of that person, group, organization, business, government, etc. In fact, I will tweet items that are spread along the full spectrum from “completely agree” to “completely disagree.” Therefore, all a tweet means is that I considered the information worth a set of eyeballs but nothing more. I prefer my readers to take the information and make up their own mind.
- I enjoy and encourage discussion but my replies will be delayed. I try my best to check Twitter when I can and respond where it is appropriate but it can take several hours. When I do respond my replies are almost always in real-time.
- I have been known to retweet noteworthy tweets using the classic RT format (or the “via” format). If the tweet is too long then I may use the newer (and much-hated) API-based RT method Twitter introduced. I try to avoid retweeting too much as I don’t like to duplicate content.
- I encourage fellow tweeters to send me articles, blog posts, etc. that they find interesting and/or important. I will do my best to read it and if it is appropriate (and I have permission) then I may RT it my readers.
- I read every linked article. If I have not read it then I will not tweet it.
- I may post tweets that I categorize as purely personal. These refers to linkless tweets that are random comments or observations on whatever I’m doing (or have done) in real life. This may include pictures and other media.
- I will never send sponsored tweets.
- I read tweets through highly filtered lists due to “bandwidth/time” constraints. This means that I cannot promise to read every single tweet every person sends out. However, chances are that if we converse then I will read your stream and occasionally respond.
Here are my rules (apologies to Ray for stealing most of them) on how to not be refollowed:
- Your Twitter account is primarily about selling products (teeth whitening, car insurance, real estate, SEO, etc.), promoting yourself, promoting your business, promoting your products, or promoting your religion (with the expectation that I become a convert).
- Your Twitter account is primarily used for company PR that manned by an employee or an automated bot. I don’t have a problem if you’re providing another means for customers to provide feedback or to help use your business services but if you’re advertising then I’m not interested. If you SPAM me (adult-content promoters especially) then I’ll report you to @SPAM so you’re account is terminated.
- You want to be my savior, life coach, or show me the path to spiritual redemption.
- A majority of your tweets come from a client called “API” (meaning you’re a bot), you steal other people’s tweets in an attempt to make your account look legitimate, or you are trying to make money by allowing business to advertise to your followers. We call this SPAM.
- You follow my account with multiple fake accounts with the same basic naming rules (i.e. firstname_lastnameXXX where XXX is a set of numbers) in the hopes of amassing a large following. I do not auto-refollow.
- You don’t have a real Twitter picture of your face, you don’t link to a blog or a homepage that you run or have contributed to, or your description is generic. If I can’t identify that you are a real person then chances are I won’t be following you.
- I’m not interested in adult-content. If your picture is not something I’d feel comfortable showing to my 5 year old cousin then I won’t follow you. If a majority of links on your page are to an adult site then again I won’t be following you.
- Your account has tons and tons of #followfriday (#ff) tweets with nothing more than a list of people’s @ nicknames. I’m not interested in sorting through such tweets. Giving your readers a recommendation for a person is just as important as to why you’ve suggested them. This is why #followfriday was created. Also, please don’t retweet another person’s #ff tweet. It’s tacky.
- You tweet frequently about how to make money, get more followers, or achieve as much success as you. I’m South Asian so (like most South Asians) my parents will serve in that role in some way for a long time whether I ask for it or not. Love you mom and dad!
- Your account has only a couple of tweets but you’re following several hundred (or thousand) people and are slowly collecting followers (aka disproportionate follow/followers ratio). Chances are you’re a bot or a company planning on spamming people. (Thanks to @plasticmadness for this rule. She’s someone I follow on Twitter.)
- You follow a hit-and-run policy where you follow a ton of people, collect followers, and then unfollow everyone following at some later point to make yourself look like a popular celeb with a very high follow/followers ratio.