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Yes, there are rules. Just like practicing web etiquette when elsewhere, there are “rules’ to using Twitter.

1. Please Don’t use Auto DMs for new followers: Seasoned Twitter users find these very, very annoying. Why? For one, they are very impersonal. And yes, you can’t trick us. We know there are now tools that can stagger the amount of time before it sends an auto DM to the new user. Secondly, some people follow a lot of new people per day. If every one of them has an Auto DM being sent, that means tons of extra email that the person is getting per day. And usually all they say is “Hey, thanks for following. Check out my website.” Well, if they have followed you, most likely it was because they are interested in your content and will check out your website anyway.

2. Don’t use True Twit Validation service: While the premise might be a good idea (to keep spammers away), it annoys legitimate users because it adds an extra step to what should be a one button follow process. And, since because of #1 most might never read what they believe is an Auto DM, they will never click the True Twit link anyway.

3. Don’t DM Strangers asking for a RT: If you have never personally interacted with someone and setup a “relationship”, don’t DM them asking them to promote your product or service. A regular tweet announcing your service can get this done and reach more users. This goes double if your “product or service” is some type of paid site asking us to spend $$ on a “great marketing tool”.

4. Be Careful Using the Find My Friends Tool: This one I found out about the hard way. When you sign up for Twitter, I would recommend not doing the “find my email contacts that are using Twitter” function. Unless of course you are certain that you may want to interact with every one of those people. The main problem with this is that some services like Gmail automatically add anyone that you email, or that emails you to your contacts unless you remember to turn off that option. I have had my email account for years. There were some folks that I really did not know, or just really did not need to follow on Twitter, and had not spoken to in years. So I was a bit shocked when I started getting “So and so is now following your updates on Twitter”. Just be careful.

5. Be Sure to Interact: Don’t let your Twitter account be only a sea of links and promotions for your cause. This is a surefire way to lose followers if they are bombarded with the same links over and over again about how you can save them money, or fix their credit.

Of course these are just some suggestions.  They are a mix of complaints that I have read over and over from other Twitter users and tips that prominent social networking experts have posted on their own blogs. But in the end, it is you that is going to make your Twitter experience work for you. So, don’t sweat it too much. Do what you do and have fun.

Are you following me on Twitter? If not, please do!