Is Twitter mute the start of a stormy new chapter?

Should Twitter mute change how you tweet?

Ah, Twitter. It used to be so simple:

  1. Follow a user
  2. Dig or don’t dig what they’re adding to the conversation
  3. Realize they’re not as interesting as you thought? Unfollow!

But now there’s a Twitter mute button. Muting a user means you won’t see their tweets or retweets any more, and you won’t get any notifications from them. They’ll also have no idea that you’ve done this. However you’ll still be following them. Why mute instead of unfollow? If your strategy for growing your Twitter followers is to follow a ton of people just so that they follow you back, then mute lets you have your cake and eat it, too. You can follow to boost your own follower numbers and then mute so that you don’t actually have to see what they’re tweeting. For businesses the introduction of the mute button might be a sign of things to come. Is this Twitter’s strategy for convincing businesses to cough up the cash? Because guess which kind of tweets cannot be muted at all? Promoted tweets! I.e. the ones that you pay for! We can only hope that Twitter will not go the Facebook “f— you, pay me” route. We’ll see. Does Twitter mute mean you should you tweet less often? Twitter is ephemeral. Some say the half-life of a tweet ranges from 5 to 24 minutes. Plus, most users are not on it continuously. Instead they’re checking it every now and then. So I’ve always held that you should tweet frequently, with once every hour being a good and lofty target. Should you tweet less now that Twitter has a mute button? Not if your followers are truly relevant to who you are and what you’re saying, and not if you can follow the tips below.

  1. Focus even more on providing good content. Have a blog? Perfect — share that! If not, share a useful article from someone else that can really help your customers or other people in  your industry or location. Help inspire people with a great quote. (A good quote is the thinking person’s version of cat pics — the internet can’t seem to get enough of them.) And if you can’t do this consistently then get someone to do it for you, like Emphatic.
  2. Minimize the, “So what are you doing this weekend?” kind of banter. Save it for your the people you talk to offline, or for more closed arenas like web forums and subreddits.
  3. Do less livetweeting. If I’m at a great conference I often find it hard to resist playing the role of Twitter stenographer, but I’m going to stop. Because while doing so is a great way to connect with other attendees, if you’re not there you probably don’t care. So only the highlights from now on.
  4. Let a reply be a reply. If you see a tweet and you want to respond directly you can do so in two ways. A reply means your tweet will start with the person’s handle

    @soandso –> This is a reply

    In most cases this will be seen only by the sender, the recipient, and anyone who happens to follow them both. Add any character in front of the handle and it becomes a mention.

    .@soandso –> This is a mention

    This will be seen by anyone who follows you. If you are addressing someone of influence or saying something particularly insightful then mentions are great for showing off how smart you are. But if you do this too often you might end up annoying your followers and motivating them to mute you.

Twitter mute is relatively new, so we’ll just have to see how it evolves. (And what else Twitter might have up its sleeve!) Any tips of your own to add?