Yesterday, Lena Dunham (literally) pissed off a lot of people with one tiny, little Memorial Day tweet:
Happy Memorial Day! I’ve already peed in two different Starbucks bathrooms!
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) May 27, 2013
If you find this totally inappropriate, good for you! You have already passed Twitter etiquette class. If you are one of the hundreds of people who retweeted this or favorited it (and one of the likely thousands more who wouldn’t think twice about tweeting something similar!) then you’re in the right place. You may not realize this, but Twitter can potentially make or break your future! Don’t be a fail whale; master your Twitter etiquette with these lessons:
Lesson #1: Privacy? Ha!
You may think that, just because you have a little lock symbol next your Twitter handle, everything you tweet is totally private. If so, you’re thinking wrong. Why? Well, a few things stand in your way. 1) the Internet is an all-knowing thing and nothing ever actually gets deleted. 2) Screenshots. Anyone following you could easily hit the print screen button or take a screenshot on their smartphone and post your indiscretions all over the non-private sectors of the Internet. 3) Anything that you tweeted before going private is still searchable on the web. Yay!
The thing about Twitter is, you can’t really connect with people (the whole point of social networking!) when nobody can actually read your tweets. So, if it’s absolutely crucial for you to keep your profile private in case you post something inappropriate? You should probably just delete your Twitter altogether.
Just remember, once it’s on the Internet, well…
Lesson #2: The Grandmother Rule
Think before you tweet, bro. Ask yourself one question: what would my grandmother think if she read this? (Have a cool grandma? Think of someone else you’d rather not disappoint.) If what you’re about to say would offend her, you should probably just forgo posting it at all. If it’s totally harmless and appropriate, get tweeting. Oh, and don’t forget: swearing isn’t exactly “professional” so keep it to a minimum if you do it at all. One more thing: maybe you should keep that Instagram of you doing a keg stand to yourself. Just saying.
Lesson #3: Keep It Real
Sarcasm and snark is all well and good, but sometimes it can get lost in translation over the Internet. Be sarcastic and snarky only when it’s apparent that you’re just being humorous. The rest of the time? Keep it real. If you want people to take you seriously while also noting your sense of humor, be sure to draw the line between serious and silly. People will follow you if you’re funny, but not if you’re a joke.
Lesson #4: Be Valuable (But Be Yourself)
You want your online presence to represent you in the best way, but also be valuable. Showing off how funny you are or how clever you can be is great, and so is being brave and reaching out to brands and bloggers and building up your following, but in order to make yourself truly valuable, you should be contributing to discussions and responding to trending topics. Participate in Twitter chats, share interesting articles from around the web while adding your own thoughtful insight, and show everyone that you know your stuff.