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21 Irresistibly Irresponsible Ways to Tweet with Greater Confidence

Blogs are passé.

Twitter’s where it’s at.

So says Wired.  So says BBC Radio 4 for heaven’s sake.

Which means you’d better learn, fast, how to write on Twitter.  How to promote your brand.  How to put your message across.  How to make sure your voice is heard above the crowd.

Or does it?

I admit it: I love Twitter.  But Twitter is nothing like blogging.

Blogging means: thinking before you publish.  Working as editor, manager, publisher as well as writer and author of creative thoughts.  Blogging means thinking, hard, about your readers.  Adding value each time you post.  Creating something that will last, and that you’re proud of.

Whereas Twitter means…

Well Twitter defies definition.  Twitter means jumping in and chatting, laughing, playing, sharing, linking, listening, letting down your hair.  Twitter means being up, down, successful, worried, happy, frustrated, exhilarated, wondering, sad, anxious, proud.  Twitter means being willing to go with the flow.

But how do you learn to let go, and let the river Twitter stream carry you?

Twins by freebird4

Twins by freebird4

Here are 21 suggestions to help you do just that.

21 Non Rules for Tweeting with Confidence

1. Don’t obsessively study guides to using Twitter.  (There are a lot.)  You’ll drive yourself crazy and waste valuable tweeting time

2. Don’t edit out your tweets about the weather.  I talk about the weather a lot.  It’s not deliberate, maybe it’s because I live somewhere wild and wet, but it’s a great ice breaker and way to get to know people in other parts of the world

3. Don’t edit out your tweets about what you’re eating.  You’re sure to find someone who’s interested in or revolted by your food choice, or needs a translation.  (Haggis, neeps and tatties anyone?)

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You don’t need to know it all on Twitter.  Ask good questions and you’ll get a flood of witty, helpful responses in return

5. Don’t stick to one time of day.  Your Twitter stream will vary according to time zone, who’s awake, what kind of mood they’re in.   You too.  Experiment and see what suits you best

6. Don’t go so fast you miss your @ replies (replies sent to you).  Invest in replying to those who reply to you and you’ll start to make friends, not just pick up followers

7. Don’t follow people you think you ‘should’ follow.  It’s pretty dull following a whole lot of social media A listers.  Twitter’s full of interesting, quirky people.  Leave room in your stream for people who aren’t ‘anyone’, just someone.

8. Don’t forget to share pictures.  People enjoy clicking on a link to a picture.  It’s quick, easy and doesn’t require any mental effort to read another blog post.  Plus it’s a great way to share another part of your world.

9. Don’t stick to talking about your core brand.  Share something of yourself.  Talk about things you’re interested in.  You never know where it might lead.  Apparently I’m to lead a Twitter class on beginner’s Gaelic.  What does this have to with this blog, with Confident Writing, with my professional reputation?  Not a lot.  With me? Mucho.

10.  Don’t worry about the numbers.  And don’t tweet about your numbers: it’s really not that interesting to anyone else.  Focus on the conversation.

11. Don’t worry about unfollowing people.  So what if they’re clocking your clicks with Qwitter?  We’re all following and unfollowing all the time.  It’s one of the reasons I like it: the realisation that there’s no such thing as Twitter because everyone is enjoying a different conversation with a different pattern of people

12. Don’t worry about leaving Twitter for weeks at a time. ‘Twitter’ won’t care because Twitter doesn’t exist.  Most of the 100s of people following you won’t notice either way.  Your friends will - and will be glad to see you back.

13. Don’t forget to be yourself, whatever that means

14. Don’t think about the fact that the world can read your Twitter stream.  (You have remembered it’s open to all to read haven’t you?)  It might just cramp your style

15. Don’t thank your followers for following.  I mean really: how much effort does it take me to click a link on your name? I don’t expect thanks for following.  And I don’t expect you to mind if I click away later.

16. Don’t reread your own Twitter stream: it might scare you

17. Don’t post your Twitter stream to your blog.  Unless you’re stuck in broadcasting mode your stream will make no sense to readers of your blog.  It might just make sense to people following your stream, but it really makes no sense at all out of context.

18. Don’t try and follow all the links you find in your stream.  It’ll make your head explode. (Apparently Twitter serves up a new post every 2 seconds.)

19. Don’t broadcast all the time. (It’ll sound like you’re not listening.)  Or reply all the time.  (It’ll baffle the people who follow you.)  Or try and find the perfect balance between the two. (You never will.)

20. Don’t follow my rules - or anyone els’es. But you might want to set some of your own.  (Mine are: Don’t talk about clients in an identifiable way.  Ever.  Don’t drink and tweet.  Don’t DM anything I couldn’t cope with others reading if something scary happened to the system.  Don’t be unkind.)

21. Don’t worry about how to Tweet.  There is no right way.  Only your way.

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  1. Ricardo Bueno says:

    Joanna: you cracked me up with #16! :-P That’s happened to me once before :-)

    On a serious note, I see some people making the mistake of reading this “How To Guide” then another, and another and another… Next thing you know, they’re on twitter and all they do is 1. broadcast information, 2. send private DM’s that say: “thx 4 da follow! Check out my blog here. Def. look forward to connecting!” then you never hear from them again!

    That’s why I like your closing point, Number 21. Don’t over think it and just jump right in. Exercise some caution if you’re talking about your product/service…but otherwise, just meet people and create connections.

    Ricardo Buenos last blog post..Social Media Is…

  2. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, your advice is so right on! I see people get caught up in the “rules” too but Twitter really is about making it your own and creating a tribe that responds to you. I follow some people for business to stay on top of news, trends, etc but I get the greatest joy from people that are just people like me. This was a great post Joanna! Count me in on the Gaelic lessons. :-)

    Karen Swims last blog post..Write a Novel in Six Months … or Thirty Days

  3. Robert Hruzek says:

    Joanna, regarding #17: THANK YOU! I’ve never understood why so many put this on their blogs. It’s just clutter; not to mention if you read it, it makes no sense whatsoever!

    Great list! One of the best things about Twitter is that it’s a great equalizer, if you get my meanin’. We all have the same chance to look silly in front of the world! Why not revel in it? :-D

  4. Ulla Hennig
    Twitter: ullahe

    I like #13! Sometime ago I read a blogpost telling me not to say “Hello” or “good morning” on twitter because of information overload. Hmphh! I am still saying it.

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..Derelict House in Jüterbog

  5. Brad Shorr says:

    Thanks for the Twips, Joanna! I’m glad you said what you did about the weather. I for one am interested in that topic, especially hearing from people far away.

  6. Jacob from Group Writing Projects says:

    I’m not sure I agree about not posting your tweets to your blog. It depends how you’re twittering.

    If the tweets are relevant, posting them is a great way to encourage readers to get involved, similar (but not identical) to displaying recent blog comments.

    Jacob from Group Writing Projectss last blog post..Results from the My Ideal Writing Weekend Group Writing Project

  7. Lissa Boles says:

    Hey Joanna,

    Funny and true all, ‘specially #1!

    Never once thought of #16, but now that little nugget’s planted in my wee busy brain, I’m fighting the urge to take a peek(jeesh,how suggest-able am I?)

    And you know, the last time I took a solid Tweetbreak (went on vaca) I got 3 or 4 ‘you okay out there?’ DMs, which was a nice surprise (and proof positive of your #7).

    Lissa Boless last blog post..3 Things You Need to Know

  8. Crystal Tillman says:

    Thanks for this! I’ve noticed my perfectionism starting to creep up on me a bit when it comes to Twittering.

    Overall though, Twitter reminds me of a huge potluck style party. Everyone has something dish (point of view) that they brought to the party. :)

    Crystal Tillmans last blog post..SideTracked Saturday…

  9. Ralph says:

    Hi, Joana,
    I came across your blog by a tweet of Ulla´s, who also gave me the idea if starting to blog. And although I am very busy, I love it! That´s why I am grateful for the “20 ways…”. It shows me the importance of commenting and answering to comments. Sharing yourself and your views with others now appears to me most important. As a teacher, I tend to be a bit formal in my style, I believe. But I´m trying to work on that!

    So thank you for helping a “newbie” in blogging with this post!

    Ralphs last blog post..Why does the German school system not work effectively?

  10. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Ricardo, told you, it’s scary stuff isn’t it?!

    I guess I was getting a bit fed up seeing so many serious sounding guides to something which is designed to be so human, so fluid, so friendly. Though I agree about exercising some caution about your overall brand. (Hence my own ‘rules’)

    Karen, you are a Twitter shining star. I’ve learned so much from following your enchanting brand of sunshine :-)

    Robert, I know. I’ve seen a few on blogs and they make absolutely no sense without context. A whole lot of @ replies on random topics? It’s beyond me. Plus it often slows the site down too. I agree with you about the great equalizer and I think that’s why I like it so much too. It works best if you’ve got a sense of the ridiculous :-)

  11. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Ulla, it would be a strange thing if we stopped saying hello to each other wouldn’t it? I’m glad you decided to carry on being yourself :-)

    Brad, twips, that’s a good one! I like hearing about the weather too. It makes the world smaller and more comprehensible to me.

    Jacob, it would depend on how you’re using it. If you’re using it as a microblog it might make sense… but then you’d be missing the joy of twitter. If you’re posting a lot of @replies… it really doesn’t make much sense from the outside. Unlike comments, which do. If people are already on Twitter they’ll get it… but then they’d go and follow you on Twitter rather than via the blog, wouldn’t they? Anyway, it’s good to see you there :-)

  12. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Lissa, the tweetbreak point is interesting isn’t it? I was also touched when I realised that people were missing / concerned about me. It’s the difference between those who are following, and those who really are friends.

    Crystal, hello :-) I suppose the one good thing about Twitter is that it moves so fast - stops your internal editor getting the chance to kick in.

    Nice analogy about the potluck party. Everyone uses it differently, and everyone brings something different with them. (Plus, it is a lot like being at a great party!)

  13. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Ralph, and welcome to Confident Writing. It’s always interesting to hear how people get here… and how they start blogging. I’m sure Ulla will be teaching you well.

    Blogging is a great way to adapt your stye - because we’re all learning, each and every day about ways to change, adapt and improve. It’s one of the reasons I think it’s such a great tool for teachers :-)

    Best wishes with your blog


  14. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Joanna - Thanks. I’m still struggling with Twitter. These tips make it feel a lot less intimidating.

    I totally agree on not following some of the so called A listers. Some of them are so far up their own asses they don’t reply to most folk anyway. It’s like they see it as a one way broadcasting channel.

  15. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, I have been enjoying the comments throughout the day and it’s so nice to learn how other people are using Twitter.

    @Cath Lawson, your comment had me laughing so hard, tears came to my eyes. I really enjoy following you around the blogosphere and your comments are always dead on honest and funny! Thanks for making me laugh!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Write a Novel in Six Months … or Thirty Days

  16. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Cath, Twitter is quite hard to get your head round. Then one day it kind of clicks and the conversations become fun. I treat it mainly as fun and a distraction rather than anything too serious - though I do try to remain aware that anyone can read what you’re saying. That’s one of the weird things about it - it feels quite intimate and private but in fact the conversations are totally public.

    I know what you mean about some people who are broadcasting. And how can they hope to connect when they’re following so many 1000s of people?

    Karen, thanks for following along. I agree, Cath is one of the most refreshingly honest voices in the blogosphere

  17. --Deb says:

    Great list, Joanna. I still don’t understand, though, the people who say Twitter will replace Blogs. It’s entirely different! More like a conversation, or a chatroom. Blogs are more like letters. Complimentary, but not mutually exclusive!

    -Debs last blog post..Who’s Driving this Thing, Anyway?

  18. Alina Popescu
    Twitter: alina_popescu

    Joanna, great post! I loved the part about not worrying you’re away for a few weeks. And you are right, having your friends tell you they’re glad to see you back is amazing!

    Alina Popescus last blog post..Fresh New Look for WoBM

  19. John Flynn says:

    Thanks for the post. Twitter is so fun. I sit a desk all day so Twitter has become like crack for me.

    But there is a lot of informaton and with the WSJ calling it “mainstream” I think that is great.

    I wonder when the big companies come on board how they will tweet.

    Lessons to learn from Whole Foods and Comcast which do a great job!

  20. Kim Woodbridge says:

    I think I just found the link to this article through Twitter :-) I completely agree about #7. That’s what I did when I first started using Twitter and it wasn’t very much fun.

    I slightly disagree about #17. I don’t have my stream on my site but my last tweat, not including @’s, is part of the header design of my site. But like you said, we should do what works for us.

    Thanks for this!

    Kim Woodbridges last blog post..(Anti) Social-Lists 10/26/08

  21. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    -Deb, I agree, complimentary but not mutually exclusive. I like thinking of blogs like letters… that will last. Though it does scare me sometimes to think that our tweets last too!

    Alina, that was something I learned over the summer. I felt awkward about going back after the break, but shouldn’t have worried. Your friends will always be pleased to see you back

    Hi John and welcome to Confident Writing :-) I’d love to see the big companies tweeting in a conversational way, and really interacting with their customers. Otherwise there’s not much point in them just broadcasting micro blogs… is there?

    Hi Kim and welcome :-) I know I said don’t follow all links, but it’s always good to follow some. I’ve found lots of great new blogs like that. I still struggle a bit with #7 - folllowing people because I think I’ll miss ‘something’ even though I’m not actually that interested or engaged with what they’re saying. But each time I let go of some I create space for other new voices. I guess it’s a constant adjustment.

    Sounds like you’ve got a good technique worked out for posting a relevant tweet. Although I have to confess that most of mine would still look a bit bizarre on my blog!

  22. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been having a lot of fun using Twitter too. In a lot of ways I find it more social than your typical blog. You may be limited to 140 characters, but you can have some pretty great conversations with people you never would have met that way.

    Stephanies last blog post..Should You Be Generating Content for Other Sites?

  23. wilson says:

    I would say that my blogs are my “Mon Amour” and I cannot live without them lol

    Honestly, Twitter is overflooding with lot of spams from all around the world and I just don’t feel comfortable to use it anymore…

    wilsons last blog post..The Hair Care Tips 3: Your Hair Also Need Some Hair Massage As Well!

  24. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi and welcome Stephanie. I agree, it’s an extremely social network, and I too have had lots of great conversations and ‘met’ some great people (including some great people I’ve gone on to meet). Don’t forget to follow me so we can chat some more there!

    Wilson, this blog is mon amour too, but shh, don’t tell other people!

    I’m sorry that’s been your experience with Twitter. I hope it doesn’t get spoiled - it offers something very special

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  27. Robyn McMaster says:

    Interesting, Joanna. I’ve never attempted to Tweet. I joined several social media offerings, such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. My thought is that you have some great tips. Is tweetint mostly done through texting? What’s the medium?

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Explore Escape Routes from Corporate America

  28. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Robyn, Twitter is a bit of an acquired taste, and fairly bizarre when you first start using it… then can become addictive, conversational, witty, entertaining, connecting, educating… well pretty much what you’d get from putting thousands of people into a virtual room together and then letting them get on with it!

    Each entry is limited to 140 characters, which means you get to practice writing with brevity :-) It’s a very good way to crystallise your thoughts, ask questions that’ll generate useful answers, reply to others in a way that another set of people can follow what’s going on and feel included… lots of ways it can improve communication skills (including listening skills)

    You can send a message in 140 characters, or reply to someone else (still within 140 limit). If you were on twitter I might reply:

    @robynmc that’s an interesting question about brain power - your ideas always get me thinking!

    The interesting point is that other people can also read my reply to you. If they’re interested in my reply, what kind of conversation we’re having about brain power (etc) they can click on your name and read your name, profile, the messages (tweets) you’ve been sending.

    To me what makes it different from other sites is that you need to go and spend time there. A bit like going to a cafe or a networking event. Unlike facebook, linked in etc where you can post something and others pick up it up at some later date. People can still ready your messages after the event (or when they wake up or switch on, esp if in a different time zone) but most communicaiton and conversation happens in live time.

    Sorry, long answer to the question! You can send your 140 characters from a phone (like a text) but also from your computer (like sending an e-mail) I use mine from the pc.

    If you’re interested you can always lurk for a while and ‘listen in’. I’m there, and Robert, and Brad, and we’d all be glad to have you listening in for a while I’m sure (isn’t that right guys?)

  29. Robyn McMaster says:

    Joanna, I want to thank you for such a thoughtful and “dancing” answer. Now my curiosity’s piqued. Hmmm… I like the idea of lurking for awhile, just to get my feet wet.

    I’m all for the way you describe it… “addictive, conversational, witty, entertaining, connecting, educating.”

    You are a writer with great purpose. I truly see the value of learning to say what I mean in 140 words or less. That’s a lesson in itself.

    Thanks again!!!! :-)

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Is Your Brain in Gear at Work?

  30. Monday Reading Roundup Take #15 says:

    [...] Worried about how to tweet, if you should unfollow certain people or about what will happen if you disappear from Twitter for a couple of weeks? Forget all of your fears and just start tweeting after reading Joanna Young’s 21 irresponsible ways to improve twitter confidence. [...]

  31. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Robyn, thanks. Let us know how you get on :-)

  32. Barbara Rozgonyi says:

    Hello Joanna:
    I like number 20. It took me some time to set up my guidelines [like being more casual and family-focused on the weekends] and I still question sometimes whether or not I should click update. But, some of the edgier or goofier stuff sparks the better conversations. Thanks for the list and for mentioning Copyblogger’s headline remix challenge on twitter. It’s always a treat to read your posts~and tweets. :)

    Barbara Rozgonyis last blog post..Chicago’s Master Storyteller Moves On

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  34. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Barbara

    I definitely think it’s worth working out your own rules. a) because we all tweet differently and b) because it means reflecting on what you do and don’t want to share.

    It took me a while too to share more personal stuff, but as you say that is the material that generates the best conversations. I sometimes feel strange at the thought of someone reading through my stream… but comfort myself that there are 1000s of others in the same boat.

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  36. Marla Taviano says:

    Love it!

  37. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi Marla, glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by.

  38. [...] 21 Irresistibly Irresponsible Ways to Tweet with Greater Confidence by Joanna Young [...]

  39. Jean at The Delightful Repast says:

    Another great post that is so “you”! I really liked #20, especially “Don’t drink and tweet.” I rarely drink, but the thought of drinking while at my computer really makes me laugh! That could have consequences, couldn’t it?!

  40. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Jean at The Delightful Repast: So glad you enjoyed it, and I was smiling to think this was so ‘me’ ;-) Re the drinking and tweeting… most definitely ;-)

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