Tweets that make me want to scream

On Twitter there’s just no excuse for mind-numbing teasers, drive-by rants, and self-congratulatory re-runs.

Subject + Verb (+ Object) + Hyperlink

Is it really that hard to write a decent tweet?

The way I look at it, tweets follow the same basic communications rules that journalism does:

1. Since they’re public, tweets are written in language most people can understand. If they aren’t, they read like a private Twitter message that the author, for some reason, decided to foist on a head-scratching public. When those people stop scratching their heads, they’ll tap the Unfollow button.

2. Effective tweets are usually either a news story, a reaction story, or a provocative question.

News story: “Man bites LOLcat” or “Gingrich supporters keep fundraising.”

Reaction story: “Seattle LOLcat owner bites back with $2 million lawsuit” or “Gingrich loss paves the way for a secret right-wing candidate.”

Question: “So, how many people will be lining up to buy the heavily hyped new [name of gadget]?” or “Am I the only one stuck waiting at a Metro bus stop this morning in .025 inches of snow?”

A big “thank you” to folks like Chris Pirillo, Joe Hage, Steve Sorbo, Green Ronin, and others who follow these rules and whose tweets frequently get me to click through.

A loud hiss to people whose tweets make me want to scream, cry, kick, and give up on Twitter. For example:

  • The clueless teaser: “I thought my updated and interesting blog post was worth sharing with you guys.” (Blog post about what? A tweet that sounds exactly like a spam blog comment.)
  • The spam teaser: “Whoa! Sneak peek at the specs for the iPhone 5.” (This one has a link to a site that sells off-brand iPhone cases.)
  • The stoned hipster chime-in retweet: “Really? Just sayin’, dudes.”
  • The self-congratulatory resume tweet: “So excited about getting the Dingbat Award just a month after my Zapf Award and a year after my Helvetica Prize. Thanks, guys!” (No link. Note that the news portion, sans re-runs, could have been perfectly tasteful as a retweet from the Dingbat Society’s original Twitter announcement.)
  • The drive-by rant, without link: “Stupid idiots! They. Have. No. Effing. Idea.” (And, boy, neither do we.)