Star Wars fans will read the title of this article and immediately have flashbacks to the mind control that a Jedi could willfully exert over others. One of my favorite scenes was when the overconfident Qui-Gon was trying to negotiate with the junk dealer Watto and pay with Republic credits. With a wave of his left hand the Jedi master insisted “Credits will do fine.” Over and over, Watto argued “No they won’t!” because “Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me.” Even though the Jedi is supposed to be the hero, I relate more to the anti-trickery camp. I am the Twitter Watto.
There is a huge difference between marketing and trickery. Either there are a lot of gullible Twitter users out there who make get-rich-scheme advertisements work, or there are an infinite number of lazy so-called entrepreneurs who would rather hope for instant income online rather than make a meaningful contribution to the social media dialog. Last year I wrote an article How to #Fail on Twitter and mentioned “Salestweeting” through infomercial-like posts on Twitter. I am probably a little bit obsessive-compulsive about my connection list on Twitter and have adopted a personal set of rules for who to follow and who not to follow. Your rules may (and probably should) differ, but at a bare minimum everyone needs to define the criteria for following or unfollowing people on Twitter. Mine is this: I follow you if I want to hear what you have to say or find your opinions and comments interesting. I do not care if you follow me back and I do not automatically follow everybody who follows me. I only rarely will instantly follow-back someone who follows me on Twitter and that would be primarily when we have already had a dialog.
- Mention “make money online” and I probably won’t follow you. If every tweet is a variation of all the others or appears to be an electronic version of the old “chain letter” concept, then originality is not your strong suit. Let me know if you want a real job and maybe we can dialog about that.
- Any use of the term “MLM” is an instant pass. The recent economic downturn has spawned a resurgence of the old “pyramid scheme” concept. Of course the fallacy of this idea is the same as it always has been: only those at the top of the pyramid ever get anything and most that join later are no more than suckers funding the deceivers at the top. If this is selling a legitimate product, I would look for the best deal somewhere else rather than buy into the scheme.
- Avoid ads for “buyer web sites” that use Twitter like a newspaper classified. They purportedly give great deals on big ticket items, but are really “business in a box” cookie cutter templates and are not really a business. It may look like an Amazon or eBay but are really shoestring operations in someone’s garage. If you are interested in such a template for yourself, you can probably get one from the people in items 1 and 2 above.
- Remind me again how it is that you can help me? I’m not particularly impressed with people professing to be SEO or web marketing gurus that have fewer followers and a lower Klout score than I do. Yes, I understand that it takes time to build up a Twitter following as we all started with low numbers, but the hype must match the advertisement or it is not believable.
- Failure to lead with your best elevator speech is failure. If you have no Twitter profile and are not a job seeker or recruiter new to Twitter, I will probably ignore you. You probably have only one shot to get someone’s attention so getting it right the first time is important. I also mentioned Eggheads in my previous article, but I actually follow some people who let me know who they are but do not wish to put up a picture for some reason.
- So you changed your mind about following me? If you follow me and almost immediately unfollow me to balance your numbers, you are playing games and not really interested in what I have to say. Guess what? I’m not particularly interested in following what you say either. Any questions?
- If you are a bot you are either stupid or think I am. If you follow nobody and are followed by nobody (or a few of the handful of the previously mentioned gullible tweeters) you have signaled that you are not real. If you use your profile to spam a twitter chat stream, expect to be reported as spam by me immediately. Unfortunately, Twitter has no mechanism to police this kind of activity, but at least after I block you I won’t be bothered again.
- I speak English. I am not offended by or opposed to people whose primary language is not English, but I have to ask why you are following me if you don’t speak the language that I do. If your profile and every tweet is something I can’t understand then just maybe I would disagree with you and not be able to reply. As a basic rule of thumb, engage those you wish to follow in the language they use in their profile.
- Offensive language is universal. When I look at a stream of tweets and see racial or ethnic language you are banned from my list. No exceptions! I am a sucker for a good joke even if it is a little off-color, but not if it is inappropriate or in bad taste. Note: If you are Black please understand that I find the n-word offensive. Even you are not allowed to use it in my world.
- I respect your political and religious views and value the freedom we have to say just about anything online. If your views are different from mine there is room for discussion. If there is no dialog but only a diatribe of mindless sound bites it gets a little tedious at times. Please say something else occasionally because you have forgotten the reason you were there in the first place.
Did I offend anybody here? If you abuse the system I certainly hope so! I want to be the Twitter Watto and not a Twitter Snob. If you have a different viewpoint about the use of Twitter, then there is no problem. The first rule of using Twitter is that there are no rules. If you want to play a numbers game in the follower/following contest that’s OK but don’t expect everybody to play the way you do. In my world, you are missing out on the key aspects of social media which are: It’s social and it’s media. As a key to communicating it must be a two-way street. Engagement with followers will not only grow you personally and professionally it will strengthen the medium and make it better.
Image credit: StarWars Episode I – The Phantom Menace TM & © 2012 Lucasfilm Ltd. via Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki.