On-line Success: How Do You Use Twitter?

When I first started using Twitter, I knew very little about the service or the benefits of using it. Now that I’ve used it a bit, I’ve finally figured out how to do the things I want to accomplish with the network. But I’ve also developed a number of pet peeves about the way some other folks use the service that I feel take away from the overall benefit to everyone. Some people are trying so hard to milk the benefits of the service that they’re missing out on the real purpose (and benefit) of the service – making real connections.

Before I get into the things that bother me, I want to share two pieces of information with you. First of all, the vast majority of the people that actively use Twitter are friendly, wonderful people. I’ve enjoyed conversing with so many of them over both professional and fun topics. Second, I have my own secret formula for who I follow, but I’m glad to share it with you. It hasn’t made me a Twitter star by any means. But as I mentioned, it’s helped do what I wanted to with the service.

I typically follow people that I share interests with or have something in common with. Maybe there’s something in a tweet they’ve posted, sometimes it’s in their profile or sometimes it’s because a mutual friend follows them. I know very little about why people choose to follow me, but I typically follow everyone who follows me unless they fall into the categories I’m about to share with you. Occasionally, I’ll miss someone so if you follow me and think I should follow you, send me a note and I’d be glad to see what you’re up to.

Now let’s move on to my pet peeves in no particular order:

The Pointless Celebrities:

Your Twitter Grade, Influence or Friend-to-Follower ratios are, in my opinion, some of the most useless popularity contests to get involved in. Some people reach their high number of followers by following a lot of people in the hopes that they’ll be followed back. Many of these same people then go back at some point and unfollow most of these people so that they’re following one tenth of the people that follow them. I don’t really see the value in doing this other than satisfying an internal need for acceptance but it’s a free society so people can do whatever they feel the need to.

I suppose some of these people can share their Twitter success secrets with the rest of the world for monetary gain – after all, there’s a sucker born every minute, right?

The False Beauties:

Twitter allows you to use a picture as part of your profile. Some choose to use their real photos (even if it’s a bit old) while others choose an avatar that they feel represents their personality. Both of these people are fine in my book – the people that I have a problem with are the ones that use pictures of bikini clad babes to get people to follow them so they can spam them with their porn site, get rich quick scheme or MLM business. Some even have more malicious intentions such as hackers attempting to gain control of accounts for a variety of useless reasons.

The Great Pretenders:

These people are similar to the False Beauties except less harmful – they are like shoplifters compared to professorial thieves. The great pretender also uses a fake photo to get more followers, however the intentions are different. In some cases, the Twitter account is mere sock puppet used to make the puppeteer look good. For example, I could create a new Twitter account and pretend to be someone else that constantly praises my services and attacks the people who disagree with me. Some people do this for fun to get a lot of followers while others use it for promotional purposes. Whatever the reason, it’s still pretty pointless.

The PT Barnums:

When every tweet has a link to “the greatest web site on earth,” you know this person is channeling PT Barnum. It’s amazing how so some folks are able to find twenty or more great things about their web site or business each day that they can share with the rest of the world. But the truth is that Twitter is an excellent tool for sharing links and information – it’s just too bad these people get so caught up in self promotion that they miss out on really connecting with people.

The TMI (Too Much Info) Guys and Gals:

I know the purpose of Twitter is micro-blogging, but some people take the question “what are you doing now?” a little too seriously. It’s fine to say what you’re eating, where you’re going, who you’re talking to, what you’re watching, what you’re listening to and what’s on your mind. But some things are meant to be kept personal. I know some people want to share the joys of life with the world, but a good rule to follow is that if you do it behind a closed (or locked) door, you should not share it with the world.

The Quoter:

This isn’t one of my pet peeves but rather a type of person that I find interesting. A lot of folks simply post quotes and to be completely honest, I follow them because I love quotes. Others post songs to describe their moods and still others post nothing but tips or deals. Again, I like these types of people and just felt like mentioning them. I do find it a bit frustrating when I ask them a question about a quote (if I can’t find it through a web search) and don’t get an answer, but otherwise I enjoy following them.

You may have your own pet peeves which I invite you share via the comments feature here or on Twitter. I’ve found that everyone approaches these services with different goals and intentions so what works for me (and what I like) might not for you. Again, looking forward to your comments.

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