Three simple dos and don'ts for every Twitter user

By Maria Davison

Image by Jurgen Appelo
Everyone says that you should be using Twitter. And they’re probably right. Twitter is a great tool for doing journalism, for consuming journalism and for, like, knowing things about the world. But like most social media, there is a wrong way and a right way to use Twitter.

Do: Share articles that you find interesting
When I say interesting, I mean things that are actually interesting to you. Share content that actually deals with things you care about. I am a big art and history nerd and scrolling back through my Twitter, a lot of the things I share fall into those categories. Stories about Pompeii and Google Art Project and a long-lost Stradivarius are some recent personal favorites.

Don’t: Pretend to care about things you don’t
By that same token, don’t feign interest in things that you don’t actually care about at all. Only sharing things because you think it’s what professors/employers/whoever want to see will unfailingly end up seeming contrived.

Do: Understand how Twitter functions
If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, take a little bit of time to learn. Make sure you know who’s going to see your reply, and other little things like that. Here’s a great resource. As a bonus, it’s also super useful for when your parents start asking you questions about social media.

Don’t: Abuse it
Tweet responsibly. Tweet while you’re reporting and when it’s interesting. But don’t live tweet every moment of every day.

Do: Be professional
If you’re looking for a job or scholarship or internship (especially in an online media-type position), they’re probably going to take a look at the online persona you’ve created. Twitter is also a great place to find job postings. Want to work at NPR? Follow @NPRjobs on Twitter.

Don’t: Create a fake persona
Some will disagree, but I don’t recommend using a separate personal and a professional Twitter account. That seems shady. Even if there’s nothing you’re trying to hide, it seems like there might be. You are a person with thoughts and opinions and jokes. Show that in the person that you are on Twitter and on the Internet. Having multiple accounts is also very confusing for potential employers who are looking at your online presence.

I think this is all really good advice, but I wrote it, and as much as I would like to think everything I say is sacred, I am not the arbiter of all things Twitter. If you disagree or think I missed something, let us know in the comments! And while you're at it, follow @ONAMizzou on Twitter. We always follow the rules, and it's a great way to stay up with everything ONA Mizzou and digital media.

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