I consider myself to be somewhat of a Social Media pioneer. I started with Friendster, migrated to MySpace (MS), reluctantly made my way to Facebook (FB), and happily plowed headlong into Twitter. I was a proficient MySpacer, but had to step away as the site began to wane. I have never been fond of FB because it is not user friendly, has little customization and a User Interface (UI) that was designed to make privatization impossible. There is also the matter of FB’s puritanical censorship policies. I would like to highlight that Twitter has very liberal content policies, and the likelihood you will stumble across hardcore, disturbing porn will be in direct correlation to the feeds you follow. Unlike FB, which is an environment safe enough for your great-grandmother to navigate. Regrettably, I have a FB page that I must maintain to keep up with administrative duties for other pages, but I digress.
What exactly is Twitter? According to Wikipedia it is,
An online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets.”
Twitter launched in 2006 and as of May 2013 has approximately 500 million users. It remains one of the most misunderstood of all social media platforms amongst the general population, and yet is a brilliant marketing tool for the social media savvy. Please read up on Syfy’s made-for-television, B-movie Sharnado, should you doubt the validity of its marketing power.
Ask a hundred random users that same question and you will get as many answers. The best description I have read was within a tweet inquiring about the type of content of a particular user’s Timeline (TL).
“Are you bacon, anal, and vodka, or inspirational?”
Twitter is a collective stream of consciousness. The best advice I ever read was that users would eventually find their niche and to not worry about the when or where. I am going to attempt to break down these niches and nuances for beginners, and for those who have an account, but believe it serves no purpose.
Twitter forces users to be succinct with its 140-character limit. Expect to see a lot of acronyms, l33t, text, and other abbreviated forms of words within tweets. As is true with much of the Interwebs, grammar is irrelevant, and no one likes an English teacher. The use of hashtags “#” started with Twitter, and has recently been assimilated by FB, which Twitter users in particular despise. Use of a # designates a tweet as belonging to a trending topic, or can be used for emphasis or sarcasm or just because.
Common Twitter Acronyms:
FF– Follow Friday. This trend will likely blow-up on your TL on Fridays. It is the Twitter version of a reach-around. Use this to identify you favorite users or friends. Expect to see #FF a lot, and don’t bother posting content during this frenzy.
SO– Shout Out. A less common form of a reach-around that identifies a user.
ICYMI– In Case You Missed It. Used to draw attention to a topic that may or may not have been of importance or relevance.
NSFW– Not Safe For Work. Self-explanatory.
IMHO– In My Humble Opinion. Added to tweets that may contain opinions that do not conscribe to popular opinion or groupthink.
FWIW– For What It’s Worth. Refer to IMHO.
SMH– Shake My Head. Used to express disgust, disdain, disbelief or disappointment in three characters.
DM– Direct Message. We will go into these later.
There are users who subscribe to third-party services that track the popularity of their tweets. The amount of Retweets (RTs) and Favorites (known as stars) are tracked on what are essentially leaderboards. The two main services for this are Favstar★and WitStream. Favstar is the service most commonly referred to throughout the Twitterverse. Users will discuss star-fucking each other, handing out trophies (Favstar allows its users one Tweet-of-The-Day that uses an trophy as an icon) and other site-specific jargon.
These sites are also where you will find the elusive, Twitter Elite. Twitter Elite are users who have high followers-to-following ratios. In some parts of the Twitterverse this is a very important formula. IMHO it is irrelevant and often correlates with users hoping to make a crossover into comedy writing, standup comedy, or be discovered by Hollywood, and bomb à la Shit My Dad Says.
No true commandments exist, but it has been my observation that specific behaviors are perceived as inappropriate here.
Don’t Be a Dick. An abridged version of The Golden Rule, follow it and you will thrive.
DMs. Don’t use third-party apps to auto-DM people who follow you. It comes across as insincere, or that you believe yourself and your product to be of great importance. Sorry to mention this, but if this were true, you wouldn’t need to thank someone for following you with an auto-reply. DM are reserved for private communications between users. Don’t DM a dick pic unless you have been given permission to do so.
Mass Unfollow. Some accounts set out to follow as many users as possible in hopes of building a large ‘fan base.’ Later, these accounts go back through and cull their following lists to fake an elite following-to-followers ratio. Beware; this dick move does not go unnoticed. There are apps that track unfollow actions and can have a negative impact on your account or brand.
Stealing Tweets. Don’t do it. Nowhere is it more obvious that humans have similar dreams, thoughts, needs, and wants than on Twitter. It is also apparent we are capable of paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism. Some just outright steal another’s words and post them as their own. This does not go unnoticed and expect to be mocked and trolled if you pull this dick move.
Deleting Tweets. I don’t understand this one, and do not always follow it, but it is obvious the removal of tweets is perceived as a dick move. Some remove replies after the fact, others remove tweets to keep their TLs short enough to showcase their brilliance, and some remove tweets for typos or after a drunken evening of shit-talking.
Team Follow Back. If your only goal is to amass a lot of followers and indiscriminately follow users, this is your go-to niche. Just hop on the Follow Back train and enjoy the ride.
Twittercide. I leave you with the very last dick move a user can pull in the Twitterverse. Twittercide occurs when a user decides to quit Twitter or delete their account, but must do so in a pathologically verbose fashion. Celebrities are the most common victims of Twittercide. I have personally seen one rock star’s meltdown via their TL and I must say it was ugly and amusing. More commonly known as the Train Wreck Effect. Please keep it on the Down Low (DL) if you decide to quit Twitter or delete your account, and go away quietly.
Twitter can be an amazing marketing tool for brands and a fun environment for interaction. However, it is also the Wild West of communications where trolls can and will attack. The most important rule of the Internet applies in this environment and it is one we should all follow.
So raise your right hand and repeat after me: I will not fight on the Internet, I will not fight on the Internet, and I will not be a dick.
Until next time, kiddies.
dixē.flatlin3 is a pistol-packing mama from the American Wild West. Having survived more travails than Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress, she decided to get mean and take it to the world. Honing her acid-sharp wit on MySpace, Facebook, and later Twitter, she became known for compacting volumes worth of vitriolic social commentary into one-liners, which she would throw off with the abandon of a Vegas stripper. She is a long-time contributor to Paraphilia Magazine and also runs its Twitter account. With Dixē Ex Machina she shares her insights into the vagaries of social media, technology, business, and 21st century communications: the good points, the bad points, and suppositions as to where it all might be headed.