News has broken that David Cameron is to set up his own personal Twitter account, much to the horror of the political journalists on the Telegraph. They tell me that Twitter is where all the "conversations" are happening so I suppose it makes sense to be part of it. But not everyone agrees. My cynical and unemployed friend Derek was unsurprisingly scornful. "A new low in political discourse," he muttered over Skype looking rather down at heel, unshaven and in his dressing gown. "Imagine trying to say anything of meaning in 140 characters," he added. "Soon we'll be longing nostalgically for an Alistair-Campbell-crafted TV soundbite."
As for me, I still think of myself as something of a newbie on the platform but after some in-depth guidance from my shaven-headed social media guru Phil, I can now claim a following in excess of five hundred and so I thought I might offer Mr. Cameron a few Twitter pointers in the coaching spirit. So here are my top ten Twitter tips:
1. It's not a numbers game
Or so everyone tells me. My valedictory blog in the now defunct Guardian Work section was a plaintive appeal for more followers. After all, Phil encouraged me to look at Twitter as a way of building my "social graph". So follow me and I'll follow you right back.
2. Watch out for offers of making money at home
Since, Mr. Cameron, you are a home-worker in a manner of speaking, as am I, my guess is that you won't be tempted by the many offers that come your way. I clicked on one or two of the links but have been told these are scams. However, should you receive a request for executive coaching, do let me know.
3. Make appropriate use of hashtags
I offer this tip but must confess that I don't really get hashtags. If you come across a coherent explanation, do tweet it. And since we're on the subject, why is it called a "hashtag" when Americans call the '#' symbol a "pound sign"? As my son Ollie might say, "What's all that about?"
4. Don't auto-tweet your blog posts
I'm not sure if you're planning to blog - I doubt it as you have your hands full running the country as it is and really shouldn't be squandering your time on Twitter. But if you do set up a blog, please refrain from auto-tweeting old posts every few minutes.
5. Don't click on links in private messages
As I say, I'm a newbie and rather naïve but I've had one or two private messages suggesting compromising videos featuring me on Facebook. Needless to say, the link takes you to an inappropriate site that has, on at least one occasion, led to a rather awkward conversation with Sandra.
6. Keep an eye on what's "trending"
It's easy to miss but the topics that "trend" are often "hot" - from time to time, Mr. Cameron, one of the trends is you although not, I'm afraid to say, always in a good way.
7. Block people offering thousands of followers
Perhaps it was my plaintive Guardian appeal for more followers but I'm inundated with tweets from people offering me thousands of followers in exchange for money. I doubt you'll have trouble picking up followers - I hope they'll all be as charming as mine.
8. People can be unpleasant - don't take it personally
I do hope, Mr. Cameron, that you have a thick skin. I've just taken a quick look at what #Cameron throws up and I have to say much of it is a bit near the knuckle.
9. Try a "tweet-up"
When you make connections via Twitter, why not get together and do a bit of face-to-face networking? Have you thought of a Downing Street tweet-up? If you have one, I'd love to come - armed to the teeth with business cards, of course!
10. Follow me - I'll follow you right back!
As a leadership coach, I hope you'll find my occasional tweets insightful and a source of reassurance in times of adversity.
Follow Geoffrey Wadhurst on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@gwadhurst