Rules of the Road-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Twitterverse

140 characters. That’s all you get. Accept a few terms–no bells and whistles, no groups, no pokes, no pictures. In 140 characters you can talk about walking your dog, report live accounts of breaking news, or link to relevant information. Very basic, right?

Not exactly. I have been on Twitter since April, and it is interesting to follow the social agreement over what is acceptable and what is not. Out of chaos and void, people form rules. If for no other reason: unfollow lurks a click away. Without fanfare or drama you can be dropped or blocked. End of story.

Here are a few:

  • Don’t betray me. Don’t use me. Don’t patronize me. This is one of my top rules. Apparently, a number of tweeps agree as seen wtih Magpie.
  • Don’t be an asshat–even if you have been drinking.
  • Reply if you wanna. “Twitter is Reply-Optional.”
  • Auto replies, love ’em hate ’em. Is it courteous to send a canned answer when someone follows you? Tweetlater offers some cool tools (like @reply digest), but you can also send a canned DM when someone follows you. Some loathe this.
  • Retweet me. Asking for people to retweet doesn’t make sense to me. If you share a message that is unique and interesting people will retweet. Right?
  • Groups. Personally, I don’t get it. Why bloat the simplicity?
  • Be yourself. Don’t hire someone to write for you. BS detectors are very sensitive on Twitter. As Doug McCaughan says, “Tweet naked” (ie. be honest and transparent.
  • Use the right number of characters. Some say leave enough characters to retweet. Others say to use all 140. I think you create relevant content sometimes it is 10 characters and others it is 140.
  • Guard your Twitter password. Several months ago, Twitterank allegedly set out to “steal everyone’s password” who waded into their own Narcissist Twitterverse. As it turned out, no tom foolery, but it was a wake up call. For more information on Twitter’s password issues, check out this article.
  • Most importantly follow this rule, at least once. We all have to lose a few followers.

Just like “clean up your forwards” and “snopes that shiz” became mandatory rules with email, and all of the delicate and obscure etiquette emerged from BBS and newsgroups, social networks don’t need no stinkin’ rules–we’ll make them ourselves. We tear down signs and erect pillars. Sometimes it is the way we make sense out of this nonsensical world.

Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

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