While I claim to be no expert on Twitter etiquette, I would hope that over the past 2 years of tweeting I have picked up at least a few morsels of useful info.

Whenever I’ve tried to explain how Twitter works, I use the analogy of attending a large party with some potentially important guests in attendance.

Tip #1: How to make a Twitter entrance

As is the case with large parties, you know very few people there. Thus, when you first get there, you want to introduce yourself to as many people as possible.

But you wouldn’t simply enter through the front door holding a megaphone and announce to everyone present: “HELLO I AM JOHN AND I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO ALL OF YOU!”

That is, you don’t want to just blindly follow hundreds or even thousands of people without really getting to know any of them, and giving them an opportunity to learn something about you.

Most appropriate method would be to introduce yourself to a few people at a time, and to move around the room, slowly building contacts.

Tip #2: Say something…at least remotely intelligent

Regardless of your method of introduction, you should follow this up with something intelligent to say. If you introduce yourself at a party and then say nothing else and stand there in silence, you haven’t made the best impression.

One of the top reasons I personally don’t follow back people who recently followed me is because either they have no single update – that is, they apparently have nothing to say, but are standing at the party in the corner eavesdropping on conversations – CREEPY.

Or they seem to be suffering from Twitterrhea:

11:12am OMG – this is so awesome! I love burritos!

11:13am wow I ate that too fast  #facepalm

11:14am just threwup in the trash. #soclassy

11:15am I wonder what’s on tv tonight. I’m getting hungry again….

Imagine entering a social gathering of some potentially important people and announcing to everyone as your entry into the conversation that finding parking was a real pain in the ass and that you can’t wait to see who get’s voted off of Survivor. Probably not the best start. Unless, of course, you are solely interacting with Snooki and colleagues from Jersey Shore.

Tip #3: Don’t be a stalker

But what if you see Rhianna or Bill Gates or Brad Pitt standing in one room at the party – surrounded by a significant following of oogling fellow party-goers?

Should you just yell across the room: “Hey Bill, I AM SUCH A HUGE FAN! Please talk to me – PLEASE!”

Probably a bad move. But one that is all too common on Twitter, and is another reason why some people gain few followers despite 24hr dedication to tweeting up a storm.

Tip #4: Distinguish private vs public conversations

Let’s say you overhear from across the room someone make mention of your favourite band, show, book, or other passion. You first yell – “OMG – I love that band! I just saw them perform last week!” At this point the circle of people who were previously discussing that issue among themselves turn to look over at you.

At this point do you a) walk over to that circle and discuss the topic with those on it, or B) do you continue to yell across the room, interrupting everyone else’s conversation? If you chose B) you are likely a chronic @ messenger. If a conversation between you and one other person has been started, it is best after one or two exchanges to move the conversation into DM, or direct message mode.  This way the conversation can continue between the two of you and interfere with everyone else’s conversations, or Twitter update streams.

Tip #5: Don’t be a robot

After the party, one way to make a really bad impression is to directly call everyone who was at the party with a pre-recorded message telling them how nice it was to meet them – even though you only actually spoke to a few of the people in attendance. This is the fatal flaw of the automatically set up DM many send out to anyone who began following them. I find this very annoying and have unfollowed a number of folks due to the spammy nature of these robot direct messages.

Don’t get me wrong – I like sending and receiving DMs as long as there are relevant and actually directed at me. Telling me in a very non-personalized way that you will be tweeting about this and that and that you’re really glad I followed you back isn’t really adding value to our relationship.

Armed with these tips, you should be able to make a great Twitter entrance. So what are you waiting for?

And if you’re looking for someone to follow you can find me at @pmjaniszewski

For regular Twitter users, I’d be curious to learn what your top Twitter tips are. Please let us know in the comments section.

Peter