Twitetiquitte: Etiquette For the Rest of Us


Ahhh, yet another twitter-nated word from the Twictionary of internet mini-webloging nerds: Twitetiquitte.

Twittetiquitte, per my definition, is the generally accepted standards of use for ‘tweeples’ across the world.  The number of Twitter fiascos I have followed over the past couple of months, including a notable incident that I followed as it transpired online between a reporter and a PR pro in which the reporter threw a bit of a twitter-hissy fit, profanity and all, forced me to ask, “Why?”  Why do individuals break social standards for acceptable behavior in the ‘real’ world with abandon online?  What is it about Twitter that makes people drop their guard and speak without censor?

Watching the twitter failures of others over the past few months, not to mention a few ‘huh, stupid’ moments of my own forced me to stop and think about my twitetiquette.  This introspection was also promped in large part by the etiquette advice of Eugene, Oregon based etiquette coach Mindy Lockard at an Allen Hall Public Relations firm meeting.  The one piece of advice that seems to reign supreme: online is not so different from offline.

Here are my five top tips to avoid a Twitter faux pas (as described by a fantastic and funny post from Joe Loong)

1. Avoid personal information: A friend of mine made the error of posting her phone number on twitter for people to contact her if they were in the area.  Hmm…an obvious breach of personal security, yes.  Well, apparently not.  I have seen numerous individuals post their personal locations as they travel (not just cities, but addresses, hotels, restaurants) Transparency: great, stalkers: not so much.  Consider the number of individuals who can view your information on Twitter and that while the majority have innocent motives, it only takes on bag egg to spoil the bunch.

2. Proper Picture: Does your picture accurately represent ‘you’?  A lecture from Kelli Matthews regarding pictorial appropriateness provided one simple rule for twitter: se your head, literally. A simple head shot that actually looks like you is ideal.  Avoid the sorority pose, the cut-out-friend picture or any pic that features you looking semi-naked (unless of course that is the look you are going for, though as Mindy says “flaunting what your mama gave you is neither professional nor chic!”)

3. Say it only if you mean it: Think before you type, just as you would think before you speak.  Hit each key with intentionality.  Consider the multiple audiences and polysematic nature of your message.  Avoid ambiguous language because chances are your tweeples will interpret each message differently.

4. Look before you link: I am so very guilty of this Twitter failure.  Linking to fantastic content online is one of the many benefits of Twitter, though before you link look at the peripheral content on the page.  I recently linked to a Jim Beam commercial I found particularly amusing, needless to say there was a strange video of a strange woman doing something even stranger with a balloon and a body part in the ‘related videos’ bar.  Not exactly what I was going for.

5. Be humble: During her speech Lockard repeatedly reminded us to be humble, to be gracious and to say thank you.  Though Twitter input is often informal, a little thank you goes a long ways.  If you pose a question and recieve an answer, be sure that you say thank you.  Direct message, tweet, @reply, whatever your style is, give thanks.


~ by kristaberlincourt on March 3, 2009.

One Response to “Twitetiquitte: Etiquette For the Rest of Us”

  1. Hi, Krista,

    I love the post! You have represented the Etiquette Industry well. Thank you for sharing.

    Best, Mindy

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