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Twitter Rules – Keep It Real


Although Twitter was launched in 2006, one can notice a shift during 2009 and 2010 towards “business tweeting” by all sizes of brands, corporations and businesses aiming to connect with their customers and position themselves as modern, interactive, fast reacting and resourceful. As of today, despite still some strong resistance among Internet bloggers to accept the use of Twitter as a form of business/brand communication & messaging, many companies and organizations utilize Twitter as their primary or key word-of-mouth channel to spread announcements and information. Interaria’s web host MediaTemple announced recently that it has stopped sending email alerts about service down times and rather for now on would announce them in the company’s Twitter page. Another side for an example: The University of Texas in Austin was able to spread the world fast to its thousands of students when a disturbed gunman terrorized the campus area.

At first glance it feels that Twitter is all about the numbers. The higher the number of followers, the higher the popularity. Companies, brands and organizations that have a high number of users, members or subscribers have no trouble getting followers. For smaller specialized businesses – that deal with a small but special customer base – connecting with a large follower base is not an easy task. For instance, our company Interaria, runs at max. about 10 – 20 projects a year. In quantitative numbers that is less than the number of people entering to a brand store, say Whole Foods in Plano, within 30 minutes.

Interaria recently launched its Twitter page. Interaria’s Twitter account’s TFF Ratio (Twitter Follower-Friend Ratio) is clearly less than 1.0 of which many Internet bloggers out there classify as “not getting much Twitter Love in return”. As a company we advise to approach these type of classifications calmly, and not to take the personalized and often narcissistic nature and genre of social media too personally. Just like with exercising, rather set your own goals and objectives as a business in tiers, rather measuring your own progress than comparing yourself to others.

One of the biggest targets of critique by social media bloggers are (of course) other social media bloggers who have self-claimed their position as social media gurus* and from this position of expertise and popularity give advise and instructions on the proper use and best strategies on Twitter. Interaria is new to Twitter but we suggest that your company does some independent research. Start simply from the Twitter’s user rules page (http://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules) that clearly state the policies for the proper use of Twitter. The closer you follow the policies, the better longevity.

In its rules page Twitter clearly sets the rules against spamming and excessive self-promotion, outlining a policy for balanced “organic” use of Twitter. For instance, Twitter rules outline not to grow the number for accounts “followed” much higher than number of “followers”. This can be hard at first and we also had our first stumbles – and we still do.

As we’ve grown to use Twitter, our own experience has been shifting away from the numbers game to use tweeting (and blogging and other social media activity) as an input for inspiration to do more research, grow as a company, and develop our service offerings. We at Interaria think that providing real quality resources and help is the way to go. In the end, if that value cannot be measured in a clear cut number on a public page then so be it. You will get as much back, if not more, as you give, and just like in life there’s no guarantee of endless love, and heck, we never asked for it.

* Self-promotion aside, Interaria regards that web design / development companies need to have some kind of responsiveness to this topic. As a web design / development company we need to be ready to give proper answers and advise to our customers, and be sure to inform them about their choices. As popular as social media is, many of our customers are new to this topic.

© 2010. Interaria. By Meri Kuusi-Shields. All rights reserved.

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Below are the main points from the Twitter rule book (unedited, without a spin). We sincerely ask our clients to read these rules thoroughly:
Direct Source: http://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules

Username Squatting:

You may not engage in username squatting. Accounts that are inactive for more than 6 months may also be removed without further notice. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be username squatting are:

  • the number of accounts created
  • creating accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names (…)

Spam:

  • You may not use the Twitter service for the purpose of spamming anyone.
  • What constitutes “spamming” will evolve as we respond to new tricks and tactics by spammers.
  • Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming are:
  • If you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time;
  • If you have followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn);
  • If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;
  • If you have a small number of followers compared to the amount of people you are following;
  • If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates;
  • If you post misleading links;
  • If a large number of people are blocking you;
  • The number of spam complaints that have been filed against you;
  • If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account;
  • If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #;
  • If you post multiple unrelated updates to a trending or popular topic;
  • If you send large numbers of duplicate @replies;
  • If you send large numbers of unsolicited @replies in an attempt to spam a service or link;
  • If you add a large number of unrelated users to lists in an attempt to spam a service or link;
  • If you repeatedly post other users’ Tweets as your own;
  • If you have attempted to “sell” followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn;
  • Creating or purchasing accounts in order to gain followers;
  • Using or promoting third-party sites that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast,” or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account);
  • If you create false or misleading Points of Interest;
  • If you create Points of Interest to namesquat or spam.
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