I see the Montana Republican Party is trying to train its members how to understand social media on September 25th. Good luck with that.
The twitter hashtag #mtpol has become a meeting place, a bulletin board, for all things political in Montana. Just type #mtpol into the Twitter search box and you will find anything and everything–a thought, an article, a video, a photo–that anyone has tweeted lately about Montana politics, assuming, of course, that the person making the tweet remembered to include the hashtag in it. If you are new to Twitter, just click here to see what I am talking about.
It’s really an excellent service, as it is used by reporters, activists, bloggers, candidates and even elected officials, and used by both parties and all persuasions. But it also means that anyone, without restriction, can tweet anything they like, and as many times as they like, and end up in this feed. And that’s not always a good thing.
So I would like to suggest some ideas for making #mtpol more useful for the community. The #mtpol hashtag is essentially an online community, and a successful community requires a code of behavior that community members follow even without an enforcement mechanism.
Here is a list of #mtpol Twitter DON’Ts:
- Please don’t tell us 60 times a day how much you love fossil fuels and oil drillers. That’s not really helpful. Please ask yourself, “will anyone be interested in what I’m tweeting?”
- Candidates, and those who promote them, please refrain from simply tweeting stupid bromides and slogans like “we need less government and more jobs” or “We are Montana GOP Young Guns” If you are going to use up space, please add something substantive to the conversation. No one wants to read your pablum over and over and over.
- Also, don’t just tell us that you “just met with folks in Roundup and a good time was had by all” That’s fine (sort of), but better to let us know ahead of time that you’ll be there. That way those of us in Roundup can come say hi.
- Please don’t monopolize the feed. Nobody is important enough to tweet 15 times in a row, every three seconds. Nobody is that relevant. Nobody.
- If you tweet something with a link (and this goes for blog commenters as well) please save us all some time and make reference in your tweet what the link is. Give us a reliable and accurate teaser.
- Refrain from trolling, profanity or childish speak. We don’t want to hear how angry and petty you are or what a small vocabulary you have.
- Don’t go all Twitter Rambo and attack your personal enemies. Settle that in your own time. The person who starts or decides to engage in a pointless Twitter war never looks good. Never.
- Don’t tweet drunk, under the influence, or when you are excessively angry (you’ll regret it). PWI, posting while intoxicated, is always a bad idea.
- Don’t pay someone to get you followers. When a politician’s Twitter feed is packed with emoji-happy teens and accounts which appear only to tweet random words, this is a sign your supporters are not real. We can tell.
- Engage in the discussion. It’s ok a lurk for a while to get a sense of how Twitter works, but you’ll gain more followers and a more engaged base of supporters if you Tweet more than once a week.
- Keep timing in mind. If you are a politician or an elected official, don’t send all your Tweets out at 11:30 pm when no one is reading them.
- Be a real person. Don’t engage in automated systems that send a “thanks for following” DM follow people back if they follow you. It’s weird, obviously automated, and off-putting.
- Add value. Don’t just tweet headlines and links. I realize it’s easier to just send out a headline of an interesting article with a link, but if you really want to add value, give your take on the article or pull out a short interesting quote.
- Promote the work and observations of others. Give others credit when it is due and Tweet links to others’ pages and statements. No one likes someone who only makes self-promoting statements in real life–Twitter isn’t any different in that respect.