There have been countless articles, guides, monographs and lists offering advice to people who use Twitter to make money, selling everything from real estate to yet another ponzi scam to 100% Herbal Penis Enlargement Software.
This guide is for the rest of us. Those of us who use Twitter to inform and be informed, to entertain and be entertained, to see what people around the world are thinking and doing and reading and listening to - or just plain talk to people.
We don't care about monetizing Twitter, we are not interested in phishing or downlines or affliliates or online marketing or landing pages.
We are just having fun. Amusing ourselves, maybe we might amuse someone else. Maybe we'll learn something. But the things we want to learn about have nothing to do with effective business model strategy implementation potential of social media.
Twitter Dos and Don'ts
Pay no attention to guidelines or Tweet Tips that advise you to tweet only once every fifteen or twenty minutes. These are usually written by well-meaning individuals who have simply not yet grasped the entirely voluntary nature of the following process.
You may rest assured that if any fellow Tweeter is of the opinion that you Tweet too much, they will not follow you, nor continue to do so a minute longer than they wish to.
Similarly, should they find that your Tweets displease them, for any reason at all, the TweetLord has, in his wisdom, provided an easy-to-click button that will render your utterances completely invisible, empowering him to enjoy his Twitter experience without the anxiety that he might be obliged to view your horrid thoughts.
There is one thing, though...
That awesome background composed of tiled wallet-sized photos of your offspring, pupdog, or self that renders your actual Tweets for all practical purposes invisible to any and all who have enough interest to click your profile page, is a terrific way to discourage would-be followers.
Followers and Followees
Commercial and business Twitter users need lots of followers, to increase the likelihood that somehow the time they spend on Twitter will result in someone sending them money. They may follow very few people, or none at all.
For the rest of us, however, whether we use Twitter for fun, information, or both, it's the opposite.
If you're not on Twitter for the purpose of getting money, then it's not about who follows you, but whom you follow!
It is the people you follow - and what they say - that will affect your "Twitter experience, because it is the Tweets of your followees that will populate your "Home" page!
Having a real person follow you is a compliment. It means that something you said struck that person as intriguing, interesting or useful - or maybe they thought it was just awful, and are following you out of horrid fascination.
Whatever. You made an impression, and that person decided that they want the things you say to appear in their Twitter Home page.
Some younger users may have some special feelings or perceptions about the number of followers they have, versus the number of followers their friends have. This is just a normal aspect of the growing up process, and real talk, no matter how old we are, we all like to think that we are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like us!
However, we are less likely to view the number of Twitter followers we have as any sort of benchmark or indicator of our coolness, nor is it likely to impact our self-esteem.
What it can do is give us an idea of whether what we are saying on Twitter is interesting to a lot of people - that is, if we give a speidihead whether we are saying interesting things on Twitter or not.
That's going to be a very individual question, and will depend entirely on each person's personality and reason for Twittering in the first place.
If your only reason for dedicating a browser tab or two to Twitter is because you want to keep up-to-date with news and/or celebrity gossip headlines, and rarely, if ever, emit a Tweet yourself, then whether those infrequent utterances are perceived by those who read them as interesting is likely to be a matter of supreme indifference to you.
If, however, your intention is to inform people about a worthy cause or a cool new open source video converter, if you perceive yourself to be an armchair pundit or wag, or just someone with interesting things to say, or if you simply like the "giant chat room" aspect of Twitter, and are there to talk to people, then the number of followers you have can be a useful indicator light - if they're growing by the week, whatever you are saying is interesting to those people, at least, and conversely, if they're dropping like flies, maybe typing Finnegans Wake in 140 character installments wasn't the brilliant idea you thought it was.
What's Your Twitternality?
Unlike many social networking sites, Twitter allows you to have multiple accounts.
So even if you're a Digital Native with zero security concerns who Twitters using their real offline "government name," you don't have to go open a new gmail account just to make yourself a Twitter alter-ego named Bubbles who likes to Tweet about her hobby of decorating herself with ver temporary mehendi tattoos made with fine fruit compotes and other high-end condiments.
Not that you necessarily should divide yourself into two or more beings, if you happen to have widely divergent interests.
I don't. I'm liable to Tweet about current events one minute and Lauren Conrad's eyeliner choices the next, and something entirely unrelated to either a minute later. (My followers tend to be the intrepid, extremely tolerant type with wide ranging interests of their own).
It's just nice to know that you have the option.
You can have one Twitternality, or several. It's up to you. As is how much any or all of them reflect who you actually are.
If you need to be told that it is impolite to insult people, or that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or any of that other basic social skill stuff that should have happened to you sometime around age six and stuck, then nothing I have to say will help you, and it is very probable that you don't care, and so aren't even reading this.
It is common courtesy to be considerate of your followers as in not sending them off to links that don't work, or recommending software or recipes you haven't tried (unless you make that clear), but if you are Twittering for your own amusement, unless "being different characters" IS your amusement, you will have a much easier time of it if you will just be yourself, whether that self is, like me, a Brevity Impaired person who Tweets Too Much AND takes Pills, or an unabashedly airheaded box o' rocks, a slightly obnoxious roue wannabe, even a pompous ass.
So you're an acquired taste. You may not have thousands of followers, but at least you'll know that the ones you do have have acquired the needed taste to enjoy reading what you have to say, vapid or inane, profound or profane!
We Have The Power
From time to time, someone will innocently wonder why the TwitLord does not simply divide the population in two: Business or Personal, Commercial and Non.
While we cannot know the mind of the TwitLord, the most obvious answer is that without the Non, Twitter is of little use to Commerce, save for the B to B element, which, while significant, is of somewhat limited utility to the ever-burgeoning hordes of online marketers, MLM/ponzi scheme mongers, purveyors of affiliates, click-throughs and assorted flotsam and jetsam of the Fauxconomy.
You and I may know, for example, that it will be a cold day in hell before we go off clicking our way through eighty pages of crap in the belief that doing so will result in our receiving a benefit of some kind, or purchasing a list of junk e-mail addresses from which we hope to fabricate a downline that will result in people sending us money.
But the hapless fool who just paid some "entrepreneur" $59.99 for an e-book entitled "How to Make Real Money Working From Home," consisting of a brief explanation of how ponzi schemes work, and a price list for various sized lists of email addresses does not know that.
Nor, for that matter, does Wal-Mart, or The Coca-Cola company, nor will they know that when they assign an intern to the task of Tweeting urls to their latest promotion or printable coupon.
In short, they need us more than we need them.
So if your reason for Tweeting has nothing whatsoever to do with anything remotely connected to making money, feel free to follow only others who share that quality, and even, if you wish, to block any commercial Tweeters from following you, although, if you are into the status of follower numbers, or having a good "grade" on those amusement sites that rate your Twitterfabulousness according to your proportion of followers, followees, and mutually following entities, it may interest you to know that because of that They Need US More thing, the business Tweeters will follow you whether you follow them back or not, so they may be, in that sense, useful to some non-business Tweeters.
There are exceptions, of course, but most of them do not Tweet very much, all you will see from them will be an occasional automated exhortation to buy their mud and/or visit their website.
Even if you could care less how many followers and followees you have, there is a legitmate reason why you might want to let some of the commercial Tweeters follow you.
Rightly or wrongly, justly or unjustly, people who are following a great many more people than they are being followed by may be viewed by some Tweeters, even intelligent ones who say interesting things, as more likely to be a bot - or a commercial Tweeter.
Thus, as your numbers of both followers and followees creeps from the dozens to the hundreds, you may wish to address the issue of parity, by paring, as need be.
It can be a tricky operation - Some Business Tweeters say interesting things, and participate in conversations as well as conduct business, so unfollowing ALL commercial Tweeters could hurl baby out with the bathwater!
OK, I signed up, and I read this whole thing but I still don't get it. What IS Twitter exactly?
Think of it as a giant chat room. The whole world is here, all these people are telling you what they're doing. You can do the same, tell what you're doing, and you can comment on what other people say.
There are no separate rooms you can duck into, you can't make your own room, but you can pick out people who look interesting and follow them, that means that you can see everything they say. If they think you look interesting, they can follow you back.
That's pretty much it. Go forth and Tweet.