does everyone need to know what’s on your mind?

What's on your mind?When you login to Facebook, it asks, “What’s on your mind?”

But does everyone need to know what’s on your mind?

What's happening?When you visit Twitter, it asks, “What’s happening?”

But Twitter isn’t just about what’s happening to you.

“We were never created to live ‘publicly,’” says Sarah Markley.  No one really needs a play-by-play Twitter account of our day.  No one but the grandparents want to see every moment of our lives captured on Instagrammed, and the grandparents likely aren’t on Instagram.  No one on Facebook needs to know every thought that passes through your mind.

In this age of smart phones, we don’t even have to wait until we get back to the computer to air our frustration online.  Witty thought or exasperated one, it’s on Facebook the moment it’s formed in our head.  We’re many times more likely to Tweet a complaint about a company than a piece of praise.  And when it comes to politics, we get just plain nasty on social media.

The country seems to have forgotten that if we don’t want to hear the comments about the presidential debates, we do have the option to turn off the computer and read a good book.  Few of us are required by our jobs to sit and watch Facebook and Twitter streams of political rantings and ravings.

When social media starts to irritate you, close your browser and turn off your computer.  “Taking the on-line world so seriously…is an IDOL,” says September McCarthy.  Don’t let social media have that kind of power over you.

When you start turning to social media for solace, turn off the computer and call a friend on the phone.  We were made for in real life relationships.  We need to speak to faces, not avatars; we can feel hugs, not likes.

When you’re in the midst of a raw situation, ask yourself, “Does everyone need to know about this now?”  Some situations need space before we can speak of them with grace in public places.  Some lessons need to be learned before they are blogged.  When the pain is raw, use social media with extra care.

When you feel social media swinging out of balance in your life, take a break: declare a social media SabbathGoing offline gives you the perspective you need to share and interact wisely when you come back online.

When you go to post on Facebook or Twitter, ask yourself, “Does everyone really need to know this?” Let’s share the things that are helpful, the things that are necessary, the things that are kind.  And yes, let’s be honest and open and authentic—but not to the lessening of our privacy.

What if we were to be remembered by the last thing we posted online?

“I believe that we can live openly with one another and honestly, but still be wise and mature in our sharing.”
-Sarah Markley in “A Call for Privacy” on deeperstory.com

RT Styles

If you’re new to Twitter, Retweet styles can be a bit confusing. 

When you’re on Twitter.com and click “Retweet”, it doesn’t look like it does much—it just shows a few green arrows to indicate that you’ve Retweeted a Tweet. 

But your friends are Retweeting and adding their own comments.  How do they do that?

There are three main Retweet methods and styles:

1. Inline Retweet from within Twitter.com

Fullscreen capture 12132011 93752 PMYour followers will see the original Tweet with the picture of the original author, along with the text “Retweeted by @soandso”.

2.  Copy and Paste

Just copy the author’s username and the text of the Tweet and rearrange it to your own satisfaction.

3. Use a Client

In HootSuite and TweetDeck, you can choose to use the inline Retweets in the style of Twitter.com or to have the text automatically ready for you to edit and RT.  With the Buffer app for browsers, you can click “Buffer” under any Tweet on Twitter.com and it will give bring up the text and username of the Tweet for you to edit before you RT.

Which RT style should you choose?

I prefer to add my own commentary or use a slightly different quote when I RT, just to make it different from what everyone else is Tweeting.  Plus, users have the option to turn off RTs from individual people they follow—but that only turns off the inline RTs, so for maximum exposure, you’d edit your RTs. 

However, inline RTs are much easier, because you don’t have to reduce a wordy Tweet to make room for the text and the username.  So if you’re looking for the easiest way to RT, or won’t have time to do anything but the quickest method—use inline.  But if you want more flexibility and exposure in what you share, copy and paste or use a client.

More reading:

Choose Your Twitter Topics

There are a lot of fabulous Tweets to Retweet and great links to share.  How do you choose which ones to pass on to your followers and which ones to just enjoy yourself?

Go back to your niche and think about your tribe.  What topics would be most beneficial to your tribe for you to share?

The Tiny Twig has a great philosophy: she limits herself to tweeting about 4 topics.  She says:

On Twitter, I limited myself to tweeting about 4 topics.  I knew I wanted to be a “resourcer” on Twitter, someone who provides high quality content for their followers.  If I retweet something, it falls into one of those categories.  If I link to an article, it passes through that filter.  Setting these boundaries kept me in check on Twitter.
-The Tiny Twig in "be wise with your words" on thetinytwig.com

What are your topics?  Is it obvious in your Twitter bio or your Twitter-specific about page that you will be sharing those kind of links?

Twitter Party 101

“Twitter parties are fast-paced conversations between many (sometimes hundreds) of people at once. They are often informative and usually a ton of fun!”
-“How to Successfully Navigate a Twitter Party” from So I Married a Mennonite

A Twitter party is when any number of Twitter users get together at a specific time to Tweet using a specific hashtag.  Usually, there is a designated host or two, who Tweet the main questions or points of discussion.  Sometimes, there are prizes included.

Twitter Party 101 via @GretLouise

Joining a Twitter Party?

  • Check to make sure you know which time zone it’s in—you don’t want to be the only one there when you show up for the party!
  • Get logged in and set up early in case the first Twitter party site/client you try doesn’t work.
  • Be sure to follow the host(s) so you don’t miss important announcements.
  • If you use a client to follow Twitter parties, create a private Twitter list called “Twitter Party Hosts” and rotate the host(s) of whichever party you’re attending through it for an easy way to add the host’s Tweets to a column .
  • Don’t forget—if you don’t use the hashtag, the other partiers won’t see your Tweet!
  • If you’re not using a client that automatically inputs the hashtag each time, copy the hashtag so you can paste it rather than retyping it for each Tweet.
  • Reply and Retweet—it’s a great way to find new followers and promote your favorite Tweets in the party.
  • Be careful—too many Tweets within the space of an hour (over 100) can land you in Twitter jail!

“A Twitter party is a real-time conversation on Twitter on a certain date, at a certain time, using a specified hashtag. Basically, it is like-minded people tweeting (that is, talking) about the same thing at the same time.”
-“How to Participate in a Twitter Party” on thesmartmomma.com

Ways to Follow a Twitter Party

Twitter.com

I use Twitter.com to follow slower-paced Twitter parties, to keep track of a Twitter party I’m not really interested in joining, and to review the top Tweets from ended parties.  To follow a Twitter party on Twitter.com, all you have to do is enter the party hashtag in the search box.  Be aware that you can choose to view the top Tweets in a hashtag, all the Tweets, or just the Tweets you follow—it’s great for reviewing a party, but can make it easy to miss Tweets when a party is happening.

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Don’t Spam the Hashtags

“Overuse of hashtags is spam at it worst.”

-Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) in Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time

In case you didn’t know, putting # in front of a word turns it into a hashtag—a searchable, linkable, followable stream of Tweets. It doesn’t have to be an official hashtag to become one the moment you put a # in front of a word or phrase—no spaces between, of course!

If you want to serve others on Twitter, you’ll use hashtags carefully.

Hashtags can be fun. Especially when you make them up. #latenight #notenoughcoffee #procrastinatorsunitelater And it’s totally okay to have fun with hashtags with your friends.  But the purpose of hashtags is to join conversations through selective, relevant Tweets. 

When I’m sharing a link about DIY business cards, I share it with the #Allume hashtag because I know my Allume friends will be needing to make or buy business cards soon.  But I don’t spam the #Allume hashtag with every single post I write.

When I have a question about WordPress, I ask it in the #WordPress or #savvyblogging hashtag.  If I find a great post on blogging, I’ll share it in the #savvyblogging hashtag.  But I try not to spam those hashtags if I want to maintain respect within them and receive help from them.

Cluttering your Tweet with hashtags every other word not only obscures what you’re actually trying to say, but it makes your Tweet look like spam. 

A general rule of thumb is to never use more than two hashtags per Tweet.  If you must Tweet a link or quote to three or four different hashtags, it’s best to compose separate Tweets for each hashtag and spread them out throughout the day or week.

In Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time, Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@claire) discusses the power of hashtags, and gives a few reminders:

Rules for Hashtags from @Claire & @CarrieI

  1. Use carefully chosen hashtags.
  2. Be relevant in the hashtags that you use.
  3. Understand the context of those hashtags.
  4. Avoid using overly general words as hashtags.

Which hashtags do you use most frequently?  What’s the best made-up hashtag you’ve seen?

Further Reading: