Jen's Twitter Rules

I’m still trying to work my way through this whole Twitter thing. I’m getting updates from a few people. Some of them are interesting. It’s neat to see what kinds of things people are working on, and what kinds of puzzles they’re trying to solve. Some of the Twitter messages (tweets) are irrelevant. While I like you personally and respect you professionally, I don’t care if you’re having Chinese takeout tonight. Some of the tweets don’t make any sense, because they’re replies from people I’m following to people I’m not following. So I’m only hearing one side of the conversation.

On Sunday night, I was discussing some of this with Jennifer Wagner (yes, she’s the famous educational technology expert Jdub that you’ve heard so much about). She jumped into the Twitter universe head-first, and found that it was so addicting that it was interfering with her work and her life. She finally asked to have it blocked in her school so she could get some work done. She finally settled on some personal rules for Twitter:

  • MegaphoneDon’t follow more than 55 people. If you follow a lot of people, you’re constantly being interrupted by their messages. Fifty-five is a good number (as long as none of them are too Twitter-obsessed), because it keeps you informed without being too distracting.
  • Limit yourself to five tweets a day. Don’t inundate the network with the inane details of your life. Stick to the really good stuff.
  • Don’t small talk on Twitter. Get to the point.
  • Remember that every time you Tweet, it’s like hitting Reply-All, or using the school PA system. You’re talking to a lot of people. Make sure you say something they want to hear. This ties in with John’s Rule #1: Don’t waste people’s time. Use direct messages if you want to talk to individual people.
  • Share successes. Tell people about things that work. Twitter should be a give and take. So ask questions and express frustrations. That’s part of relying on the network. But answer questions, too, and share the positive success stories. Give as much as you receive.
  • If you can’t say it in 140 characters, it doesn’t belong on Twitter.

I’m still not sure if it’s right for me. I may not be following enough people yet. I know that I haven’t yet reached the point where I recognize the Twitter-worthy moments. But I’m sticking with it for a while.

I’ll keep you posted.