Screen shot 2009-12-18 at 11.57.03 AMThe concept of “Follow Friday” started with one simple tweet. Eleven months later the viral tradition continues to dominate trending topics at the end of every work week.

It’s great to give and receive ego-stroking shout-outs, but Twitter’s 140 character constraints often prevent us from explaining why a person is follow-worthy. Let’s take a little look-see at traits common amongst the beautiful tweople.

Screen shot 2009-12-18 at 11.58.52 AMTwitter has allowed millions of people to connect instantly to converse in real time across the world. The microblogging platform has evolved before our very eyes from a basic tool for personal correspondence, into a business-marketing-powerhouse-meets-brand-monitoring-treasure. (Remember back in the day when the homepage depicted Twitter as  “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”… Ho hum…not your mom’s Twitter any more, mate.)

Despite the metamorphoses, or perhaps because of it, it’s essential to remember that (spambots aside) we’re connecting with other human beings. That said- there are some exceptional human beings out there in the Twitterverse who literally can sit back and cultivate an enormous following thanks to their admirably charming tweeting habits.

Here’s a list of 14 habits some seriously-beloved Twitters take to the tweet-streets daily… the results of which are obvious not only by the quantity of their followers, but the supreme quality of their followers.

1. They remember to say “Good Morning”: @nannytweeting | Shana Albert01-shana-tweet

Face it: life is busy and, in a real-time stream,  content surges by so fast. It’s easy to forget the basics of human civility. Manners and niceties might not sound like a big deal but taking time to mark the passage of wakeful time to sleep and back humanizes the microblogging experience.  Checking in before and after beddy-bye makes us feel like insiders in our Twitter friends’ lives.

2. They bring their followers along with them: @hollisthomases | Hollis Thomases02-hollis-tweet

Social (media) butterflies are always on-the-go. Thanks to technological marvels like iPhones, twitpic, and Four Square followers can instantly travel vicariously through friends’ tweets. This adds dimension to the person behind the avatar, behind the 140 characters… it depicts them as, oh gosh, a real-live human being with an interesting life!

3. They reach out after meeting someone: @jeffpulver | Jeff Pulver03-jeff-tweet

It’s common etiquette to reach out via email after you physically meet a person. Mirroring this gesture via Twitter with an @mention shows that you’re proud to have connected with that person– proud enough to showcase it in a popular, public space.

4. They bolster up their buddies: @joannalord | Joanna Lord04-joanna-tweet

Twitter can definitely be a gush-factory, pumping out ” 🙂 ” symbols by the barrel, but not every day is sunshine and puppies. There’s nothing weird about tweeting frustration or a sense of helplessness… especially when you have friends out there who will tweet back with a little 140 character encouragement.

5. They don’t brush off their critics: @garyvee | Gary Vaynerchuck05-gary-tweet

Even madly successful entrepreneurs, with darn near 850,000 followers, take pride in maintaining their Twitter relationships. The true Twitterers don’t let their celebrity-status keep them from reaching out to recently-disappointed fans or critics to try to set things straight.

6. They say “thank you” for the little things: @johnlusher | John Lusher06-john-tweet

True, it takes two seconds to Retweet something… but it also only takes two seconds to thank someone for helping share your content on Twitter. It displays genuine appreciation, acts as a mutual hat-tip to the retweeter and shows off the manners your mama gave you.

Warning! Do not be gratuitous. Repeatedly blithering & blathering emotional “thank-you” is a sign of… well, ask your shrink.

7. They make themselves available on various social channels: @rickbakas | Rick Bakas07-rick-tweet

Across many demographics Twitter has saturated the concept of “social media” – but lest we forget, there are other social platforms out there. LinkedIn marries well with Twitter because it allows followers to learn more about who you are and what you do in a vast, professional context.

8. They warn the community about bad user-experiences: @gabgoldenberg | Gab Goldenberg08-gab-tweet

Good tweeps “got your back.” Spam is one of the most dreadful drawbacks of cyberspace – it’s like a nasty BandAid resting delicately atop the most wonderful entrée imaginable. You’d warn your friends about going to the restaurant that served up that disaster… why not warn them about spam sites, hackers, and poor user-experiences so they can steer clear as well?

9. They take time to share shout-outs & praise: @briansolis | Brian Solis09-brian-tweet

It’s not blindly egotistical to admit that shout-outs make us feel good… and that praise during the holidays make us feel awesome… and that congratulations during the holidays for doing “great work” make us feel super loved. Pass the love around baby, and it will come back to you in spades. (Or, you know, followers).

10. They take a break from business to share funky stuff: @iamkhayyam | Khayyam Wakil10-khayyam-tweet

Twitter has revolutionized the way marketers interact with consumers- the way we trade industry information with like-minded professionals. But a five minute mental break, especially to check out the coolest thing we’ll see today (!), is a godsend amid a chaotic workday.

11. They say “Happy Birthday”: @katjaib |Kat11-kat-tweet

Taking a couple of seconds to say “Happy Birthday” is a simple surefire way to make someone feel super special on their special day. Sort of expected from your family, but there’s something extra heartwarming about reaching out across the Internet with well-wishes (and with all those exclamation points, no less…!!!).

12. They hug people: @buzzedition | Susan Elaine12-susan-tweet

Few things in life rival the surge of comfort and flutters that comes with a big ol’ bear hug. Still there’s no point in denying that e-hugs are downright splendid. If you’re thinking it, share it – it only takes a handful of characters to give someone that warm fuzzy feeling. *HUG* See? Auh yeah. Here it is again…*HUG * Mmm.

13. They don’t just Retweet posts– they offer feedback: @lookadoo | Dana Lookadoo13-dana-tweet

Blogs are platforms where we publish information, but there’s no rule that says the conversation has to stop there. Getting a pat on the back from a reader who dug the material is simply the bee’s knees; it’s easy to walk away from a post with new knowledge- it’s mutually rewarding to personally give the blogger a thumbs up for their time and effort.

14. They tell it like it is: @lisabarone | Lisa Barone14-lisa-tweet

People crave personality, especially in a place as seemingly two-dimensional as cyberspace. Mushy-gushy compassion, snarky wit and goofy merriment are memorable, and as such are embraced by different groups of people- but the important thing is they are embraced.

So you see, boys and girls…
The unifying factor among these 14 seriously-beloved Twitterers is that they let their personalities shine… they’re transparent, they’re thoughtful– they bring warmth, energy and value to their followers; they give and receive and because of that, are genuinely successful online and in life.

  • Dana Lookadoo

    Lauren, THANK YOU for the mention. FYI that my lucky number is 13! 🙂

    You have covered the keys to Twitter – human behavior and communications. As in Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs, we all share fundamental basic needs, wants and desires.

    I especially like your point that “it’s essential to remember that we’re connecting with other human beings.”

    I joke that Twitter is my RSS, but is also one of my emotional connections. Imagine that sentiment is shared by many. AND, you are one of my beloved Twitter friends as well!

  • Lauren

    Dana – girl, you deserved to be a part of that group, no question!

    I love that – RSS feed of info and emotional connections. That really hammers home the importance of the wealth of data and the value of human relationships.

    I’m so glad we’ve been able to connect in this special space. Cheers!

  • Shana Albert

    aimclear + Lauren Litwinka = Totally beautiful, yummy and delicious!!

    Love this post, Lauren. What you wrote about here is exactly what brings me back to Twitter day after day after day…..

    I go to Twitter not only for my daily happy juice, I also go for my social life and use it as my RSS. Me without Twitter…. I would be lost.

    Shana – aka @nannytweeting

  • Marty Weintraub

    @LisaBarone and her freezing snot…aint’ it a tragedy….

  • Twitter Fools

    Very well done post. Sometimes it is good to reflect on what seems like ‘basics’ but too many times we tend to forget. The reminder is appreciated.

  • Lauren

    Shana – thank you so much for the props and kind words. We feel like it’s a pretty awesome fit here, too =)

    So glad you dug the post. I feel the same way you do (maybe why we connect so well…)- I come back to Twitter each day in large part thanks to the serendipitous, fuzzy feelings I get from people such as yourself.

  • Lauren

    “Twitter Fools”…

    Thanks for the feedback- you’re spot-on- it’s important to never take things like humanity and the technology that fosters connectivity for granted. Cheers!

  • adelaide dj hire

    tru dat, it’s more about interacting rather than broadcasting, in order to be interesting first you must be interested in others

  • alison

    Thanks for great tips. All too often we get info on what not to tweet. It was good to see examples of positive tweets.

  • Jeff Pulver

    Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for sharing your observations. You are on my list of “Social Media Stars to watch in 2010!” 🙂

  • Kat Jaibur (@katjaib)

    Lauren, this is beautiful. This, to me, is what makes Twitter so appealing and slightly addictive. It’s the interactions! The humanity. The warmth. I can find news anywhere. But it’s the people, always the people, that make this worthwhile.

    To be included in your list of “seriously beloved twitterers” makes my heart do a happy dance. I am cherishing those words. What a lovely, lovely post from a truly lovely woman. Thank you!


  • TheRECoach

    Great Post! What I hear you saying is “Keep the human touch” in your Tweets, even if your objective is to Network with business friends? If so, I have been teaching my Agents that very philosophy since 2006, when I found Twitter (FB Too). Nice to know I am on the right track, thanks for the validation!

    Happy Holidays All…The Coach

  • Lauren

    Jeff – touched to be included on that list… I look forward to 2010 and all the things I’ll learn from the other candidates!

    Kat – wow – thank *you* for the kind words! You deserved to be in this special bunch; you’re exactly right – we can get the news anywhere – it’s the person from whom we learn the news that makes them follow-worthy. *Happy dance*

    Coach – for sure – and way to take it that approach to these budding social media platforms!

  • Alexa

    Great post! I love that instead of the negative you’ve chosen the positive little things that can make us all feel warm and fuzzy 🙂 Happy Holidays!

  • Vicki

    I have to disagree. Thoughtful users of Twitter don’t waste other people’s bandwidth!


    @joehall Nice, informative post
    You have 140 characters. USE them. Or put it in a DM. (Now, if you tell me what jow said or, better yet, include a tweet. Or how about RT that “nice, informative post” eh?

    …big hugs to you too, dear
    Not for public consumption. Take it to DM

    … Thanks for the RT
    You have to be kidding. Not worth the space.

    Sorry. MY most beloved and most followed twitterers don’t waste my time.

  • Melissa DelGaudio

    Lauren: so sorry I’m late to the party! This is a wonderful post. To really engage with your community, you have to do so much more than just talk about what YOU are doing. I hope that more and more people embrace what you’ve said & make Twitter even better than it is today! Happy holidays, my friend!!

  • Lauren

    Vicki – I appreciate your criticism of the post. In my opinion, the examples I cited weren’t a waste of time (or bandwidth) in the eyes of the giver and receiver because they helped strengthen their relationship with a simple but thoughtful tweet- it’s this that makes the whole online experience more “human.” Of course this can take place via DMs, but sometimes it’s nice to share it where others can see it. Whether or not that’s your concept of a valuable Twitter experience is entirely to your discretion. True, Twitter profiles and feeds are often set to be public, but you don’t have to consume any tweets from people who you find irrelevant or overly gratuitous.

    Melissa – better late than never! I’m touched that you dug the post. I agree – it’s about engaging your followers- talking *with* them, not just at them. Thanks for the kind words – and happy holidays to you as well!