Twitter is a wonderful resource for learning about current news and new resources. My problem is how to use Twitter for family history responsibly.
I don't want to clog up the tweet streams of my followers with useless tweets so I don't retweet items that a number of my followers who have the same follower base have already retweeted.
Neal Chambers says that "The most important thing about your Twitter account is your username. This will be used to identify you in the Twitter stream and how people will find your account (http://twitter.com/username) It's best to choose something easy to remember/spell. A perfect example of this is your real name (gasp!)." I chose Geniaus as I wanted something short and easy to remember that indicated my interest in genealogy and my location and interest in Australia. If you do not want to use your own name think of a short identity that somehow describes you. I particularly like @infolass, @geneabloggers, @genebrarian and @geneaphile.
The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette includes the advice "Don't feel compelled to tweet regularly. I promise that if you take a personal tweet-free day, your audience will understand." One does not need to tweet every day, interesting news does not arrive at regular intervals but in waves, one's pattern of tweeting can reflect these peaks and troughs. Less is more.
Some Twitterers with a commercial affiliation use Twitter as a marketing tool and seem to retweet endlessly; I am tempted to unfollow them but I might miss some of the original snippets they post. The Search Marketing Spin Blog warns against being"Re-tweeting Machines: If all you do is re-tweet, that can get annoying as well. I definitely encourage re-tweeting articles and thoughts that are deemed important, but keep that as part of the overall mix." I wish Twitter had a facility where one could select individual settings for those one follows ie so one could select to see just a user's original tweets, retweets, replies or any combination of these.
"Don’t RT Yourself If you have multiple Twitter accounts, for example one for personal stuff and another for work, please do not Retweet what you said on another account. If people want to follow both, they will. There’s a reason you have two accounts: not everyone cares about both of your online personalities." This advice from "Online etiquette: Tweet with care" should be heeded by some genealogy Tweeters.
In Mind your twitter manners Jacqueline Whitmore says: "Don’t spam. If people are following you, they are going to want real content that matches their interests or teaches them something new. If you are sending out numerous tweets that are trying to sell your products, you will quickly lose your following. People have enough spam through e-mail and don’t want this to be another source of excess clutter."
I actually unfollow and refollow some people while they are at events and conferences. A PCWorld article "Twitter Etiquette: How to Tweet Politely" states "Reconsider the running commentary. Live-tweeting sporting events or conference speeches may seem like a public service, but who's listening? If you normally use Twitter to post once-a-week status updates but then abruptly let fly with 80 tweets in a day, you'll aggravate followers who aren't expecting their account to be inundated by your sudden outpouring. Consider composing a blog post instead, or offer a single succinct observation each hour".
"Don't bother re-tweeting the big dogs" is more sage advice from The nine essentials of Twitter etiquette includes the advice. Most people interested in genealogy will follow Ancestry and FamilySearch and other major organisations in their countries, don't retweet what most of your followers will have already read.
One of my pet hates is the Follow Friday post where one thanks followers. These posts seem impersonal to me and clog up tweet streams. If a thank you is warranted one can send a private thankyou via a direct message. It is important to build relationships on Twitter; this can be done by sending public individual thankyous, using the reply function and retweeting followers' posts.
Remember that your Tweets are in the public domain. If you say something on Twitter you are potentially telling the world. Your tweets can be read by everyone.