Having successfully navigated through the first two months of my graduate program, I’m painfully aware of the culture clashes among my various worlds. I could act one way while in college, another way in the workplace, and a radically different way in the housing co-op I lived in. Different rules–spoken or unspoken–governed each context. Although no eyebrow would be raised if an employee chose to eat wheat-free vegan fare in the workplace, I doubt that’d be the same case if one chose to indulge in a clothing optional policy.
Of course that’s a funny and dramatic example of how rules that govern one context don’t fly in another. But it’s important to be self-aware of the behavior required to succeed while adapting to new environments. When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, this applies tenfold. I decided it was important enough a topic to take the time to write out my own Twitter policy. My Twitter feed is public and can be accessed without my knowledge. I’m not egotistical enough to believe people care what I say at each given moment, but I do know that one careless post can color a reader’s idea of who I am, and it’s hard to correct false impressions.
This first draft of Top 10’s came from thinking about what makes Twitter fun and useful for me, and from reflecting on other posts that don’t impress me. It’s not about gaining followers. It’s about proving you’re an active and thoughtful member of the professional community.
Twitter Policy for Profession Track Grad Students
1) Make your profile public. There’s no shame in connecting with mentors and commiserating with peers via Twitter.
2) Hashtags can be great for finding people with similar interests, but overusing them in cutesy ways can get annoying.
3) No trolling! No matter how tempting it is to be snarky, you’re not in a place where cutting people down will benefit your career.
4) Posts should follow an 80-20 rule: 80% observation and 20% emotion. You want to look like a well-rounded person, but you also need to look smart.
5) No cussing out the opponents of your team when they compete. No one wants to work with someone who can’t handle pressure vicariously.
6) If you choose to have a couple of drinks, have someone screen what you’re about to post. If you’re drinking alone, maybe you should just keep away from Twitter (and Facebook) entirely.
7) Keep the re-tweeting to a minimum. You point here is to showcase your independent thinking. Re-tweeting is best used to share resources people link to.
8 ) Links are also best used to identify new or buried information. If it’s news, use more discretion–people may have already read it and think you’re behind the times.
9) Seize learning moments! Part of fitting in with a group is using the right shibboleth. Using jargon correctly and with insight will score you points.
10) Critiques must be solution-driven. Don’t criticize someone’s ideas, work, or position without offering alternatives.
I’d love to hear thoughts from other professionals about what they like and don’t like to read on Twitter. Here’s to more research!