I don’t write social media How-To posts very often, but I’m in the middle of developing a three-day course on writing compelling online content, and, well, I guess I was inspired. I also had a head-shaking experience yesterday on Twitter. I was contacted by a blogger, with the announcement that I had been specially selected this week, to be included in their list of “Top 50 Mom Blogs You Should Read”. Hmm.

Anyone who knows me (either in person or online) knows that I am not actually a Mom. Not to humans, anyway – and that’s the kind of Mom blogger that this blogger was looking for. I quickly checked the blogger’s tweet stream (as I’d never heard of them before) and saw that they were sending the exact same message over and over to each person they had specially “selected” for their list. Oh dear. Tweet-spamming.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I replied to the offending Twitterer and said something to the effect that I thought it was curious that they’d selected me, since I’m not actually a parent (to humans).

The Tweeter replied to me to say, “Oh, I mis-read your Twitter profile, sorry.”

To which I replied, “So, you don’t actually read the blogs, just the Twitter profiles, to select the list?”

To which Tweeter replied, “Blame the intern! I’ll remove the name from your list.”

Now, not only is tweet spamming bad, not doing one’s research into creating a good list of blogs to follow is equally bad. If you’re going to compile a list of 50 or 10 or 5 anything, make sure you’ve researched and can stand behind the items you’ve selected. And for the love of Tweets, make sure the people on your list meet your basic criteria!

The other huge issue I have with this is that this Tweeter “blamed the intern”. I’m a teacher, so I take particular offense to this statement. If you’re going to hire a new grad or a student as an intern, that’s great. I love that students are given opportunities this way. I hire them too. But if you’re not going to train them, and then just throw them into the deep end of the pool, then you’re doing it wrong. It turns out that this Tweeter actually IS the intern, which is double bad, because this poor girl or guy has obviously been handed the keys to the Twitter account and the blog with little or no direction or guidance. And now everyone looks bad.

So, with all that said (so much for being concise), I am compelled to write my own, well vetted, talking from experience top 5 list, about how to be more riveting on Twitter.

1) If it can’t fit in 140 characters, don’t write it.
Some people find the 140 character limit of Twitter limiting. I look at it as a challenge. Learn to be concise in tweets, and it will get you far. Short sentences can communicate a tremendous amount. Save the essays for your blog. Oh, and “Ths wknd m gng 2 c U2 in cncrt OMG LOL m so xcted r u gng 2?” is not a tweet. It’s jibberish.

2) Reply more than you post.
If you don’t know what to say on Twitter, then talk to other people. Read through your stream and see if there’s something you want to say, a comment or opinion you want to share, or a question you can answer. Twitter starts and ends with conversation. Get in there and talk to us!

3) Share other stuff more than you share your own.
When you find interesting articles online, share them on Twitter. Try to add your own short comment at the beginning of the share, too, to give it context and get people interested in reading it. Retweet (RT) people in your stream who are sharing interesting things. And support your local bloggers by sharing their good stuff too. For instance I share stuff by @FoodiePrints all the time, because they do great work for my community, are knowledgeable and are two of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.

4) Get to know me.
Don’t be the guy or gal at the party walking around throwing business cards at people. Introduce yourself. Get to know me. Comment on my posts. Ask me (non business related, at first) questions. If you’re a life coach, don’t start talking to me about how you can fix my stage fright, because you saw me chatting with a friend about it. Rather, wish me luck on my presentation, or comment on the photo of the ravioli I made for my pre-presentation dinner. Get to know me before you make any sort of ask. I promise it will make you more likeable.

5) Be Yourself.
It sounds too clichĂ© and simple, doesn’t it? Be yourself. But it’s what makes or breaks people in the online world, I’m convinced. You are great, interesting, fun to be around, and knowledgeable. You come across this way in person, and with a little practice, you can extend this to online too. Want some examples of people who are just being themselves? Follow @jasonfalls, @bobledrew, @bobgoyetche, @dianebrogan, and @HerrlesMarket. All great people, who are EXACTLY the same way in person as they are on Twitter.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Now go forth and Tweet well!

[photo credit: Lida Rose]