Twitter Etiquette – What’s the Right “Twitterquette?”

by Bradley Miller on October 2, 2009

I recently had the odd feeling of talking with one of my wife’s co-workers, who I also follow on Twitter.  Or, rather, she’s in my twitter stream and she’s fairly prolific and often entertaining.  The conversation, while itself wasn’t odd, but I had an odd feeling because as we were talking I realized that I know a disproportionate amount about her, relative to what she knew about me.  I almost felt like a stalker.

Clearly, people on Twitter understand that everything they say is public – or at least they should.  And we read what they write, so there’s a quid-pro-quo.  However, given traditional social norms I still at least feel a bit like a stalker when I talk to people I follow on Twitter.  A couple of friends, friends who are in social media, also concur – they should be most comfortable, but they still admit a slight feeling of stalker-itis.  If you google “twitter manners” or “twitter etiquette” you tend to get blog posts about how to properly post on Twitter (how to reply, DM and thank people for RT-ing) and be a good Twitter citizen – almost none advise what to do with the info you gather about people you follow on Twitter and how to most effectively use that social info.

I’m meeting with a person on Monday who I’d really like to impress, and as it turns out I also follow him on Twitter.  How do I let him know that I follow him out of interest rather than stalking?  If I come across as too familiar it might seem like I’m stalking him or just might be plainly weird.  I suppose this post is more about asking the question – what do you do with the information you gather about people on Twitter while you’re in a social or business situation with those very same people?

I asked my PR-pro wife and she had a great suggestion – just prior to remarking on their Twitter updates, preface your comments that “I saw on Twitter you did ………” or “I saw on Twitter you headed to Disneyland last week – how was it?”  Potentially, you could even engineer the conversation some – for example they may have tweeted that the trip was sunny and fantastic – and you therefore have an easy conversation starter that gets things off on the right foot.  Either way, it shows that you’re interested in what that person does – I wouldn’t rehash their entire Twitter history, but commenting on one or two status updates might be a good ice breaker and convo starter.  I thought it was a brilliant thought and wanted to pass it along!

So, that’s a start in thinking about how to productively use all the updates you read on Twitter without feeling too much like a member of the stalkerazzi.  I’m open to any other ideas – thoughts as to ways to more effectively mine and use the information you gather on Twitter?  Drop me a comment!

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