Come surf the Twittersphere, but don’t be a tweep about it


Way too many people are getting anal retentive about Twitter etiquette today. It’s definitely important to be conscious of, and while it’s important for public figures to be wary of their social media exposure, freedom of thought and expression needs to be extended into the online domain without a premise of scrutiny on which opinions are valid and which are not.

Every once in a while I attend a social media seminar and almost every time, Twitter is hyper-marketed as a tool for product branding – not just of things, but also of people.

That’s right, with the ability to splash our online identities on multiple online platforms, we are not only socializing through the Internet, but also inadvertently marketing ourselves and ‘pimping’ our online package. But to what end?

The easy answer to that question is “access.” It’s Google for search, eBay (or pretty much any retail website with a catalog) for shopping, Facebook for connecting, Twitter for informing, LinkedIn for professional networking and promoting your skill set.

A Gravatar profile seals the deal as your virtual, universal photo ID that can be interfaced with multiple platforms.

Twitter is, by far, the most effective for this streamlined information propagation; Facebook in contrast is considerably softer around the edges. In the Twittersphere, 140-character chunks of information are retained at light speed by readers glancing over them. To harness this power into your personal brand image, marketers will insist you only tweet what you know best and to curate Twitter to your specialization.

This isn’t a bad approach by any means, and theoretically it makes a whole lot of sense, but an alternate approach as an individual user, however, is to brand your online identify by establishing your patterns of behaviour on Twitter. The patterns you establish through what you tweet, and retweet, will be picked up over time by your most loyal followers. So, subjectively, just relax. Marketing products and services, a web strategy is essential but individual tweeting should be turned over to liberal expression for your true individual character to shine through.

If you’re part of a professional organization that utilizes Twitter as a tool for information delivery, still keep up an individual account for yourself but don’t create multiple individual accounts to differentiate the ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ you. If you’re paranoid about how your opinions may be attached to others you may be affiliated with, add a short disclaimer to your Twitter description if you’re into cover-your-ass politics. Use the same account, switch gears as needed, and @mention your organization to give a heads up on what you’re up to, so that home base will have you on the radar for notable mentions.

Journos, you know what I’m talking about; keep the newspaper’s twitter account rolling by tweeting breaking news and retweeting most newsworthy development updates from reporters in the field. But if you’re a reporter, don’t fall behind a needless curtain of anonymity by ambushing the home base account and tweeting from the mother ship account every time a public figure sneezes at a press conference.

The bottom line is to either be online or not. It’s easy to have too much exposure online and fall behind on upkeep. Many people inadvertently have Google+ profiles who don’t know it, because Google advertised the service without considering who may find it useful. Turns out most of those offered were already on Facebook anyway. Oh, and let’s not forget the New Myspace. *Rolls eyes*

What’s more, once you are online, you need to be open to fresh ideas, to constantly look to churn them out, and to accept all others’ ideas without a hint of prejudice. Fresh opinions are okay, as long as the veil of anonymity (which never made sense to me because nothing online is anonymous) does not afford you a false sense of security.

The Internet is good for you. The notion that as an information highway it can overload your neural circuitry is bogus. It’s up to you to harness the power of the Internet for your social networking, but not to try to exploit your online identity by restricting your Twitter behaviour.

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