“I don’t get Twitter.”
This, in a nutshell, is company founder Jack Dorsey’s biggest problem as he wrestles with stalled user growth on Twitter, which turned 10 this week. Maybe it’s your biggest problem, too, as you wrestle with understanding the fast-moving social media network.
We (@Eden_Eats and @BridgetPhetasy) have been on Twitter for varying lengths of time. Eden has been tweeting for almost as long as Twitter has had a URL; Bridget didn’t really “get it” until 2013. In fact, like many of our best friends we met on Twitter. By no way are we “elite” or “Twitter famous” (terms we’ll get to later), but we’ve been around long enough to learn the many unspoken rules for success. We don’t necessarily like these rules, but dems da rules! Consider this your Lonely Planet guide to the Twitterverse.
PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING
Look cooler than you are. That’s what we do. Always follow fewer people than your follower count. You don’t have to follow just one person (who do you think you are, Kanye?), but it makes you look desperate if you’re following more people than follow you. It also clogs up your TL (timeline).
DON’T COME @ ME, BRO
Most @ replies sound stupid. According to statistics that we made up for this article, 95 percent of @ replies are lame. That’s not to say you shouldn’t interact with people. Interaction is critical, but delete it from your TL. No one wants to see that shit–what is this, an AOL chat room? The exceptions are:
• You’re @ reply is exceptionally witty and funnier than the original tweet
• You’re shutting down a troll/hater/heckler
• @AndyRichter has deemed you worthy of engaging in discourse
WE ARE NEVER CLICKING YOUR INSTAGRAM LINK
Ever. There’s an app for Instagram photos. It’s called “Instagram.” This is Twitter. And we are addicts. It’s the equivalent of a crackhead leaving the crackhouse to go watch people eat brunch.
DON’T FOLLOW CELEBRITIES (UNLESS THEY FOLLOW YOU)
In fact, most celebrity Twitter accounts are total shit. There are some exceptions. They’re mostly all comedians and @annakendrick47.
Unless you’re live-tweeting something topical, leave the hash tag out.
DON’T SCREENSHOT A CELEBRITY WHO FOLLOWED YOU AND POST IT ON FACEBOOK
Or we reserve the right to screenshot your braggy Facebook post and post it on Twitter. We’re all laughing at you behind your back when you do this. Don’t be THAT GUY.
DON’T FOLLOW TO FOLLOW BACK
This a strategy to get followers. It works, but you will never be seen as “Twitter elite” by the gatekeepers who make the lists, and unless you want your feed to be a disaster, we recommend you be a bit selective. Eden doesn’t follow anyone. Bridget will follow, at random, fellow comics and celebrities, just so she can un-follow them when she’s feeling blue.
IF YOUR AVATAR IS A CARTOON, WE ASSUME:
• You’re fugly (Eden’s words–she’s a mean girl)
• You’re a teenager
• You have a normal life and respectable job so you need to be anonymous on Twitter
When Favstar started aggregating favorites and retweets it revolutionized Twitter and essentially turned it into a game–a competition to see who can get the most fake trophies and give your meaningless life value. Don’t play this game. It’s basically the ass-kissy way to get followers. Look! I gave you a trophy! Now retweet me, bitch.
VERIFICATION MEANS SHIT
Verified accounts don’t mean you’re hilarious, highly followed or famous.
Exhibit A: @meganamram and @arishaffir (both hilarious, highly followed, and well-known) - NOT VERIFIED
Exhibit B: the mail boy at Buzzfeed with 320 followers - VERIFIED
FUNNY ON TWITTER DOESN’T MAKE YOU A ‘COMEDIAN’
Just because you can type something kind of funny doesn’t mean you can make an entire room of people° laugh out loud. Many stand-up comedians are actually boring on Twitter but super funny on stage. Some people are good at both. Bottom line: don’t read too much into what the bio says.
°four people and a homeless guy at a coffee shop
WE DON’T CARE WHERE YOU’RE FROM
Stop with the whole “LA via NYC via Tampa via your mom’s basement.”
WE KNOW YOU BOUGHT YOUR FOLLOWERS
Worry about the quality of your followers, NOT the quantity. It’s all about engagement, NOT numbers. Industry peeps don’t quite know this yet. Who gives a shit if you have 20k followers and you get two retweets? This is also a red flag that someone bought his or her followers. It’s false advertising. They don’t actually have an audience. They have robots. You’re way cooler with 200 real followers who will engage, RT and make you awesome memes than 100K fake ones who don’t do shit.
GET YOUR FOLLOWERS THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY
Boobs. Just kidding, that’s what Bridget did. Although unless you’re an adult film star or engaged in some 10-year psychosocial experiment, be warned, Twitter doesn’t take kindly to using your goods to get attention. It’s all about the brain parts here.
This is something we can’t teach. We recommend you have a traumatizing childhood, maybe some tragedy in your teens and early 20s. Throw in a natural sense of the absurd.
AVOID TWITTER DRAMA
Life is full of awful, stressful, soul-crushing things. Don’t let a bunch of imaginary friends in your phone suck you into drama you really don’t need in your life.
BREAK THE RULES
Friends don’t let friends @ celebrities. Much to the embarrassment of her friends, Bridget @’s celebrities all the time, and Eden secretly wishes she was verified even if it means being a janitor at Buzzfeed’s office.
Here are some helpful links to the lingo and endless Twitter acronyms:
Finally, some Twitter Urban Dictionary for you:
IRL: In Real Life - that thing that doesn’t exist anymore once you get addicted to Twitter
Twitter Elite: People with lots of followers who are very picky about who they follow. Twitter is all they have. If they don’t have Wi-Fi, they’re nobodies. (see: @edendranger)
Twitter Famous: They’re only known ON TWITTER. You can’t be Twitter famous if you’re mildly famous for your Netflix special, curing polio or being Beyoncé. Walk out the Twitter door, and they’re nobodies. (See: @bridgetphetasy although she’s Twitter infamous.)
Twitter Boyfriend: Married guys who flirt on Twitter
Twittercide: Doing some sort of act that brings on a lot of backlash, haterade and unfollows that lead you to deactivate your account. The Twitter version of “suicide.”
JUST BE YOURSELF. (And be witty, self-deprecating, brief, topical and too cool.) GOT IT?