How to Keep Your Tweets Authentic

By Laura Fitton, Anum Hussain, Brittany Leaning

Because of the frequency and personal nature of what people share on Twitter, any twitterer absolutely must be genuine and real, whether she’s representing a business or tweeting as an individual. Joining Twitter as a private citizen is the route many users take, even if they have business to promote.

Twitter is ideally suited for personal connection, and you can often more easily make yourself accessible and personable when you use Twitter as a person, not as your business.

Being genuine

Authentic people and businesses, using Twitter in real and interactive ways, can experience tremendous growth and return on investment from Twitter because they make real contributions and build up a rich base of trust, influence, and social capital.

People respond much better to an authentic, human voice. They engage more closely because they feel comfortable responding, retweeting, and otherwise paying attention to the genuine voice. Bring some value to the Twitterverse by adding your authentic contributions, whatever those may be.

For example, if you’re tweeting about politics, whether you’re a conservative, moderate, liberal, apathetic, or whatever, feel free to agree or disagree with someone. Twitter is, after all, a digital extension of real life, so if you want to engage in that type of dialog, be yourself. Don’t try to come off as something you’re not just to appeal to people.

If you’re representing a business or tweeting on behalf of your company, you probably want to avoid politics, religion, sex, and other hot-button topics, so as not to offend your potential customers.

Your update stream speaks volumes about you. Twitter is a network built on trust and relationships, and being insincere jeopardizes the quality and effectiveness of your network, both on- and offline. You lose some of that hard-won trust that you’ve been building since you joined Twitter.

Even though you want to be genuine and real at all times, remember that you can easily forget to be nice to people behind the safety of a monitor and keyboard thousands of miles away. Treat others with respect, as you hope to be treated, and you can have a positive online experience.

Try not to engage in arguments over petty things; this behavior gets you branded as a troll, and people start to avoid you and stop taking you seriously.

Evangelizing your causes

When you’re on Twitter as an individual, if you share a favorite cause or a local event in a way that makes it interesting to others, you’ll attract those with common interests. They may get involved and show support, and the more fellow twitterers know about you and about the things you have in common, the more connections and ideas will flow in your network.

Don’t be afraid to voice your support for social causes and charities that are important to you. By tweeting about your cause, you both spread awareness about what’s important to you (which may lead to more contributions for that cause) and give your audience a better idea of who you are as a person.

In just its first four days, the grassroots Twitter movement #YesAllWomen produced over one million Tweets, most of which were women sharing their personal stories of everyday sexism and misogyny. The hashtag arose after a 22-year-old male shot six people and himself because he wanted to punish women for not being attracted to him. The news was so troubling, and yet so resonant to so many women, that the movement arose spontaneously.

For example, Stephanie Germanotta, more famously known as @LadyGaga, famously mobilized her following to advocate for the legalization of same sex marriage in New York in 2011. She shared phone numbers, websites, and other resources that her fans — The Little Monsters — could use to directly impact the government vote.

So, if you’re passionate about cancer research, domestic violence, or another cause and want to have a fundraiser for it, a Twitter update that you send about the fundraiser might get repeated and reach 50, 500, 5,000, or 50,000 people (or more) who are directly and indirectly connected to you. Spread the love!

Many have raised money for worthy causes right on Twitter. One of the first was Beth Kanter (@kanter), whose network sent a Cambodian woman to college in a matter of a few hours of Twitter conversation about it and links to a donation site.

Don’t feed the trolls

In Internet parlance, a troll is someone who intentionally posts messages to upset people — for example, making rude and insulting comments on someone’s blog or replying to someone’s Tweets with personal attacks.

Because so many conversations happen so quickly on Twitter, sometimes about touchy subjects, users need to be on the lookout for others who insist on asking inappropriately-charged questions, saying questionable things to users, and otherwise being a poor citizen of the Internet. Because Twitter’s a network based on trust, you can often easily identify trolls and block them.

You feed the trolls by acknowledging their existence and allowing them to take control of the dialog. Just ignore them, and they eventually get bored and go away.

Blocking someone pretty aggressive move if they’re simply annoying. They can still view your public profile — assuming you haven’t protected your Tweets — and they can even still reply to you, which will show up on your Mentions tab, but they have to make a real effort to do that, because your Tweets won’t show up in their timeline if you block them.

On the other side of the coin, some people get a little intimidated by the thought of tweeting about something serious. Some people actually decide to not even try Twitter because they worry that they don’t have anything interesting to say!

Whatever you feel like tweeting about, someone, somewhere on Twitter, is into that subject, too. You might have to tweet for a few days or weeks before you connect with them, but after you find one person who “gets” you, the floodgates open.