Have we forgotten etiquette when it comes to Twitter?

I love Twitter. I have since the day I signed on and saw this amazing stream of consciousness on my monitor. I quickly found people to follow, people from whom I could learn things, and I finally took the plunge and tweeted my first tweet.  I do recall complaining about a company once, when my cable continually went to black for a few days, and was thrilled when they got back to me almost immediately through an @mention. And I thanked them for their amazing customer service.

What does it say about a complaint if you won’t own it?

Managing the Twitter accounts for five hospitals, I’ve met all kinds of people and most are incredibly nice. Some have a complaint and voice their opinions. After all, we are hospitals and people find themselves here at some of the worst times of their lives. So while “customer service” is not my job, it definitely comes with the territory when you work in social media. And I feel like it’s one of my functions as the social media representative to put our best face on and respond to people who aren’t happy with their care, service, food, or what have you.

For the most part, people are incredibly appreciative of the response, and often will actually tell me that things are fine and they appreciate the care they received. But I’m always amazed by people who tweet how unhappy they are with a hospital, receive a response from said hospital, and then not even bother to respond. Or there are others who simply retweet the response.

So what does that mean? Does it mean you’re happy with your care now? Does it mean you are embarrassed that we actually saw the tweet? Does it mean that you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to Twitter? It just seems to me that a post like that deserves a response. It’s simple etiquette. Have we forgotten etiquette in the social media world?

What is the point of serial retweeting?

And that brings me to a little rant about retweeting. Why do people feel it necessary to retweet everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. All. The. Time. There are some people who follow the hospital accounts who have never once said anything original or personal through a tweet, at least not to me. They retweet almost every tweet I put out there. It’s rather odd behavior and it strikes me as poor Twitter etiquette!

Now don’t get me wrong — I LOVE when people retweet. But the retweets I appreciate are those posts with CONTENT, with INFORMATION, something with WIT, something with a link to a blog that we just have to read. But make sure it has CONTENT! I can’t imagine that many people enjoy seeing one tweet after another with lists of @names in a tweet because it was retweeted, and retweeted, and retweeted by everyone mentioned.

To me, the purpose of a retweet is to continue to pass along a post that you find helpful, relevant, funny, etc. And if the 140 characters allows, it’s always a good practice to add a comment of your own, right? Isn’t the purpose of Twitter to get people talking, sharing their thoughts and ideas, and even having debates? When did this practice of retweeting the universe in a tweet become a standard practice? PLEASE stop the insanity!

If you’re going to retweet, have a reason for it!!!

So that’s my two cents on Twitter etiquette, or the lack of it in some cases. Maybe I’m way off base here, and I’d love to hear from you if you think so, or if you agree!

Thanks for reading!


The original post, “Have we forgotten etiquette when it comes to Twitter?” by Nancy Jean was originally published on Nancy P. Jean’s blog
Nancy Jean

Nancy Jean

Senior Media Relations Officer at Lifespan, Inc.
Nancy Jean is a communications and media relations professional with over 25 years of experience in the health care industry. For nearly 12 years, she has served as a senior media relations officer for the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island. In her current role, she launched the system’s social media efforts in 2009 and now manages it for five hospitals and a women's medicine practice. She is a mom to two rescue dogs, an avid reader, and a diehard Red Sox fan.
  • http://www.ubersocialmedia.co.uk/ Shell Robshaw-Bryan

    I’m with you on your point about serial re-tweeting, it drives me mad! I really should stop following those on my timeline who are guilty of it!

    • http://twitter.com/NancyCawleyJean Nancy Cawley Jean

      LOL! I agree! Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.barbsbooks.com/ Barbara Radisavljevic

    I agree with most of your points. It’s Friday I hate. Seems as though #FF is payback time. I’ve decided to feature one great follow on each Friday and explain why he or she is worth following. Seems way too many Friday posts are just lists of names, and some people tweet several such lists. Boring!

  • http://thisiswhatihavetosay.wordpress.com/ Darryl Schoeman

    Ha ha. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for writing it. I agree with you about the serial retweeters. It just simply GRINDS me. I read an interesting article a while back that said that more than 50% of web content is not original, and that it is getting worse. That is seriously sad. Another possible reason for all the needless @mentions is people are trying to increase their online influence scores (like Klout) and or trying to increase their search engine ranking by linking themselves to “influential” people. That’s my two cents worth. God bless. Darryl.