We’ve all heard it. We all know it. Some may have forgotten it.
The Grandma Test.
It’s a pretty straightforward self-evaluation. Before you say, act, write or do something questionable, ask yourself – “Would Grandma approve?”
Well, guess what? The Test still applies. In fact, on the social Web, the Grandma Test applies more than ever. Twitter is a prime example of an online space where you really should not let your guard down.
Need a quick Twitter Grandma Test refresher? Here are a few examples:
*Nobody needs to know that you are currently using the restroom. Seriously, they don’t.
*Nobody needs to know that you haven’t been able to get a date through X online dating site for the last six months. Take a hint.
*Profanity…on Twitter? Really? Just don’t do it.
*These two tweets from @southtownstar (mind you, this could be a case of brandjacking and someone is just broadcasting news stories, but we are lead to believe it is a profile for the Southtown Star newspaper) blew me away:
Who beats up old people? http://bit.ly/ixMR
Oops. Cops now say the elderly folks were shot in the head. http://bit.ly/ixMR
Ummm….no, did you really just tweet in that manner about an elderly couple from the Chicago suburbs that was shot to death?! I really hope this isn’t the actual Southtown Star and I really, really hope no relatives of the couple ever see those tweets.
Revisit the basics. Be smart. Before you post a tweet, ask yourself whether you would you get on a megaphone and announce your tweet in front of a packed room of listeners (let alone Grandma). There is of course Twitterquette, but there is also basic common sense.
Otherwise you risk being mocked and giving me more reason to consider starting a @terribletweet profile or separate blog to feature such fallacies.
Last week, Tamar Weinberg at Techipedia did an incredible post on the Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook. Throughout her post, Tamar identifies key “rules of engagment” and tips for anyone currently using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, social bookmarking sites (digg, delicious, etc.), FriendFeed, YouTube, StumbleUpon and blogs.
The comprehensive post, concludes with this key statement that drives it all home:
“You’re leaving your digital signature on the Internet right now. Think about the consequences of your engagement on any social site.”
Whether it’s a blog comment, wall post on Facebook or reaction to a YouTube video, think before you type. Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy and it’s up to you to brand yourself and develop a reputation for being a thoughtful, considerate individual who understands the existing nuances and repercussions that can result from not being smart about your Social Web presence.
Aside from sheer networking and overall etiquette in using different online tools, how you engage with others online speaks volumes. In many cases, online communications can be a more honest depiction of someone’s personality due to the openness that results from perceived anonymity that might not otherwise exist with in-person interactions. On the flip side, tone is often misconstrued online and thus it is easy to have your thoughts and emotions misinterpreted, causing a false perception of one’s personality.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t question or challenge ideas. Healthy dialogue and conversation is one of the core benefits of social media in helping solidify community and bring together smart, thoughtful minds to make new discoveries and answer tough questions. Just be cognizant of your approach and think about how that approach will be perceived based on the tool you’re using to channel communications.
Be sure to give Tamar’s post a read and pass it around. It’s one of the best posts I’ve seen this year.
If you’re active over on Twitter, you’ve likely come across tweets that include topics, keywords, locations, conferences or events proceeded by a “#”.
Known as “hashtags“, the purpose of these identifiers is to create groupings to help users easily follow conversation around a particular topic. Just as you use a tag to help people find your blog posts, photos on Flickr or videos on YouTube, hashtags help Twitter users find conversation topics.
One of the toughest parts about Twitter is finding an efficient way to enter and engage in the ongoing conversation while directing your tweets to followers that will find your content interesting. Many users balance their tweets between professional and personal interests or hobbies. Hashtags are one way to help direct relevant tweets to the right groups of followers.
Where Do I Search Hashtags?
Both sites track real-time hashtags to help categorize these topical conversations. You can also take a look at the popularity of new hashtags, subscribe to RSS feeds for tags and also keep on top of newly created hashtags.
How Do I Use a Hashtag?
Simple. Check out the sites above to see if a topic or hashtag already exists. Want to set up a new topic? Visit twemes.com or follow @hashtags (they will automatically follow you back) then start using your hashtag of choice by including #yourtag in your tweets.
Why Would I Use a Hashtag?
There are a number of ways to consider using hashtags. Here are a few ideas:
Major News Event/Crisis – We all witnessed the information flow that quickly spread across Twitter with the Mumbai attacks. #mumbai was set up to help track the flow of info being shared across the platform. It’s more than likely that a highly active Twitter user or news organization will beat you to the punch setting up breaking news event hashtags, but keep in mind that it’s an easy way to track the conversation.
Event or Conference – Popular among PR/Marketing pros, event hashtags are frequently used to build conversation around those attending a specific event or conference. For example, you can see how #sxsw is being used to focus conversation around the annual South by Southwest conference. From a media relations standpoint, this is also a great way to help interested reporters track news and info from a conference or event.
Another good example of hashtag use is Twitter user Sarah Evans’ (@PRsarahevans) creation of #journchat – a weekly “tweet-up” conversation that takes place each Monday night to help bridge relationships between journalists and PR folks. Can’t make it on a given Monday but want to know what went down? That’s the beauty of hashtags with the entire conversation being tracked via the tag above (Sarah has also set up a #journchat friendfeed room to help track).
Those are just a few examples, but you can of course be as creative as you’d like. Do keep in mind that various users may apply the same hashtag for different purposes so it’s worth your time to research and see what hashtags are already in use.
Is There More I Can Do With Hashtags?
It’s social media, there’s always more. Hop over to TwiTip’s post that includes some great info on additional hashtag commands.
Is There Any Etiquette to Using Hashtags?
Of course. No one likes a hashtag hog. Only utilize hashtags when you are actively and smartly contributing to an ongoing conversation. Here’s a good post on some additional etiquette.
Here’s a nice post from Wild Apricot on an Introduction to Twitter Hashtags.
More of a visual learner? Here’s a video from Bwana.tv on hashtags as well.