Twitiquette for theatre tweeps?

Is it just me, or is Twitter the most outrageously uptight social media tool ever invented? It starts with a simple question: “What are you doing?” But Twitter quickly reveals itself to be a minefield of unwritten rules, exclusive jargon and career-damaging etiquette traps.

Following this hunch, I hopped on my Twitter account yesterday and asked some theatre tweeps “what’s your number one piece of twitter etiquette?”

A sampling:

  • Don’t tweet during a play. I know people are trying to make that the next big thing (aren’t they?), but just say NO.
  • Be conversational. For instance: What have you seen lately? Are you planning on Shirley V.?
  • Provide at least a pinch of value with every tweet.
  • The conventional, unwritten rule is one ‘heads up’ tweet per blog post.

Sounds like good advice. But what happens to Twitter users who aren’t up on the latest Twitter etiquette? Will they be banished to the land of the great unfollowed? Or, worse, will their colleagues simply sit in quiet judgment of their ill-mannered Twitter friends?

On the topic of Twitter etiquette, the Vancouver-based theatre blogger Simon Ogden has said: “Twitter etiquette is evolving all the time, that’s for sure.”

He’s right. I just hope I can evolve with it.

Maybe this Twitiquette primer will help.

7 thoughts on “Twitiquette for theatre tweeps?

  1. there’s a situation in the nba where a relatively low profile player twitted during half time, and was fined by his team. and then shaquille o’neal did the same thing a few games later, making fun of the other player for being fined, and saying how he could get away with it..all in his tweet. and sure enough, he wasn’t fined.

    i think if you have social status, or if you’re simply ‘great’, you can probably get away with breaking the rules of etiquette, because in some fashion you have led the way for others in the past.

    but if you’re just looking to stay on the ladder, or climb it, there’s a prince line that goes “if you want to play with me, you better learn the rules.”

    im not on twitter yet, though.

  2. I think that’s a bit different than the community rules of twitter though Kevin, that’s a penalty imposed by a bunch of people that don’t really get what’s going on with the thing. Shaq – and everyone else on twitter, probably – is quite right thinking that’s funny, because we all have to endure those looks from people who think it’s ‘all about telling everyone what you’re doing right now and like, who cares?’. They don’t get it, and explaining the value to them is exhausting.

    It’s the vast amount of people on twitter that don’t get – or haven’t considered – the natural rules of etiquette that make for a fun and efficient community that make twitter aggravating sometimes, despite the fact that some very smart people talk about it a lot.

    But it’s free and it’s new, so in due course twitter will streamline itself. It’s tipping right now, so we’re seeing an avalanche of people who want the value without putting in the work. We’re riding it out.

  3. I like the Prince line, Kevin. And I think it’s appropriate here. There are times where we need to learn the rules if we want to play the game. And I don’t mind making the investment in learning them if it seems like a worthwhile journey to take. But there’s something exclusive about Twitter that rubs me the wrong way.

    I haven’t really articulated a position on it here, just kind of mapped out my grievances in a silly way. But I think the Shaq example is telling.

    Selfishly, my primary worry is that I don’t have the knowledge I need to protect myself on Twitter. So I end up worrying how my Tweets are being received. Am I stepping on toes? Wasting my Followers’ time? Etc. Etc. So something I think should be light fun, turns in to a sour-tasting lesson in web etiquette.

    Simon, this is a beautiful line: “It’s tipping right now, so we’re seeing an avalanche of people who want the value without putting in the work. We’re riding it out.”

    But the social media that gets me excited is the kind that makes newbies feel welcome, not ignorant.

  4. I should also say that I’m not “against” Twitter. I’m just trying to put my finger on some feelings I’ve been having about it. So I really appreciate your thoughts on this.

  5. No, no, I totally get it Ian. It’s the weirdest SM platform yet to quantify it’s value, which is counterweighted by how relatively easy it seems. Many people are chirping about how twitter is replacing blogs, and that blogs are going the way of the dodo (one of the other downsides of twitter is that bird references start saturating your life). I think this is absolute garbage. While some people I know (and whose writing I particularly enjoy) are certainly posting less because they get a lot of stuff out via tweets, I’m finding that the result of this is a lot less updates in my blog reader, which is streamlining my day nicely. I find that when the good bloggers post, those posts are more laden with value now, because these are ideas that they just had to go into deeper detail on. Anything that reduces the vast amount of traffic in my google reader is most welcome.

    The most important thing to consider when being on twitter is whether or not you need to be on twitter. A ton of people are on it now because they think they have to be because ‘everybody’s doing it’. And that’s where twitter’s getting a black eye, there’s so many people out there that are using it as a way to make friends and have a virtual social life. I can’t speak to that, to me it only makes sense as a networking tool couched in a personal sensibility. I think you should be on it if you’re promoting a business or a blog, outside of that I fail to see the point. The whole point to me is in its brevity, it’s short, it’s unobtrusive, and should be an effective tool because it doesn’t take up much of your day.

    That’s why the users themselves, the ones who understand its potential, figured out how to make it searchable with hashtags and @ replies, none of that was twitter’s idea. The worst thing for the PR of the platform is the ‘what are you doing’ ignition phrase.

    Because really, who does care?

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