Freelance Friday: How to not tweet like a douche

on Misc  

Image is only vaguely related by still awesome (from xkcd)

We’ve now moved well beyond the point where people respond with a confused look when I mention Twitter, or Twitter users get derided as people who post pointless updates about their cat. No longer the realm of geeky early-adopters, it seems like everyone is coming aboard. For half the websites I make these days clients ask me to put in a link to the Twitter feed. Every day it seems I get new follows – mostly not from actual people, just spammers and businesses bulk adding as much as they can. Most of these businesses or even individuals I don’t follow back, some because they aren’t interesting to me, but some because I dislike their way of tweeting.

Now, everyone has different ideas of online etiquette, and some of you might feel that it’s perfectly fine to do these things. But this is what constitutes douchey tweeting to me:

Douche Type 1: The Absentee

This type of douche has a Twitter account just because they thing everyone/business should have one, regardless of whether they actually want to spend time on it or not. They might have a lot of tweets, but these are entirely automated from their blog or Facebook. Don’t bother trying to interact with them – they never log in to check for replies. You’re better off subscribing to their RSS feed if you’re interested in their blog content, as there isn’t any extra value in their Twitter feed.

You can only really get away with this if your business is SO HUGE that people want regular updates more than they actually want to interact with you. This is not the case for most freelancers.

Douche Type 2: The Retweeter

Similar to the Absentee, the Retweeter doesn’t seem to have a personality or much to say at all – their entire Twitter stream is retweets or links to articles, without any commentary. Again, usually there’s no point in trying to communicate with this douche as they don’t check for replies or have little to say.

Again, this can work if you’re more of a faceless business that is so popular that people want to read whatever you’re reading. Again, this isn’t so much the case for freelancers – you’re an individual, and people want to interact with an individual.

Douche Type 3: The Reply Retweeter

Alright, some people might disagree with me and defend their position on this one. But it really, really bothers me when people have to retweet everything that they reply to, regardless of whether it makes sense out of context or is of any value to other people in their feed. I once followed someone who retweeted every single birthday tweet she got. It gets old. Fast. Don’t be this douche. Retweeting is for sharing things that you think are interesting, not for boasting about how popular you are.

Douche Type 4: The Whiner

Yes, it is hard getting up in the morning, going to work, and counting down the minutes until you’re free go go home. But if you’re whining about the same things on Twitter every single day, maybe it’s time to consider whether it really needs to be shared that often. It’s the same as complaining about the same things to the same friend every day. Douchey.

Douche Type 5: The ‘Google it’ Person

When someone asks a question on Twitter, usually it’s because they couldn’t find the answer by other means, they know some people who follow them might have a better idea, or they want to hear about a first-hand experience. Replying with “I don’t know. Google it” is not helpful. It’s douchey.

Douche Type 6: THE SHOUTER

TYPING IN CAPS IS SHOUTING. YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME. IF YOU’RE SHOUTING FOR MULTIPLE TWEETS IN A ROW, THAT’S DOUCHEY.

Douche Type 7: The Client Bagger

Bagging clients online is a recipe for disaster. In fact, I’d say try not to bitch too much about any individual online – talk it through with them instead, or complain privately to a friend. Besides potential hurt feelings if they ever find it, it doesn’t look good to potential clients or contacts who might stumble across a Twitter feed filled with negative things about individuals – it makes them wonder if you’ll do the same to them. Moaning about things like Internet Explorer and Comic Sans are however fair game, and you usually end up with people joining in.

So you might not agree with me in all of these things, but do keep in mind how your tweets are being received. Used properly Twitter is a great medium for meeting people, especially other freelancers and potential clients. Just avoid being a douche!

I’m going to try and write a weekly post each Friday about what it’s like to be a freelancer! This is something that I find a lot of people are curious about, and there’s a lot of incorrect assumptions out there. If you have any questions for me on freelancing, leave a comment here or on Formspring.

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