We need to talk. While I still love you, this just isn’t working out. You don’t return my tweets, you stalk me for no good reason, you don’t listen and you simply don’t have what it takes to build a relationship! It needs to work both ways, you know.

So…. Twitter, I’m breaking up with you. It’s not me, it’s you. The love affair is over, but I hope we can still be friends.

And BTW? Thanks to you and your rebellious ways, I’m behind bars at #Twitmo* (Twitter Jail). Otherwise I’d dump you in person.

What is Twitter jail? When you can’t send tweets because you’ve hit send limitations. (See the second half of this post for details) How do you know? Usually, you’ll get a 403 Error Code message.

Fun aside, Twitter jail is no joke – especially for chat guests and moderators. When you are presenting a topic to chat participants and suddenly banned from using your Twitter account for minutes, hours or days, it is disastrous. Trust me, I’ve been there far too often lately. It happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So what can you do to prevent it or fix it? Turns out, not much. It’s more than a little arbitrary based on a mysterious algorithm.

5 Twitter Jailhouse Rules

  1. Don’t send more than 100 tweets per hour or 1,000 per day, including retweets.twitter_jail_icon_morgancarrie
  2. Don’t believe following #1 will keep you out of jail.
  3. That 100 tweets? It’s not actually counted by the hour. It’s counted at bizarre (and loosely defined ) “semi-hourly” intervals – sometimes it’s a per-minute quota, per-15-minute quota or per-any-other-combination-of-minutes quota. Good luck trying to follow it.
  4. Understand tweets with links or using devices and apps (smartphones, tablets, iPads, TweetDeck, HootSuite, OneQube, etc.) will make you hit that limit much more quickly. The limitations sound high at first blush, but you’ll hit it VERY quickly based on certain conditions – even if you aren’t tweeting that much.
  5. Once you follow 2,000 handles, your ability to follow more is limited and based on another mysterious algorithm using your ratio of followers/following – so don’t #followback everyone! Have a strategy behind who you follow so each one adds value to your stream and your overall strategy. Make each follow count.
  6. Realize this is a free social media platform, so if the rules don’t work, you can’t do anything about it… all you can do is whine and complain. Nobody’s home to answer the customer service call unless you are actually spending major bucks to access their API firehose. Small users? Forget about getting help. It’s free, remember?! Do I ever wish they sold a white listing solution or more capacity… I’d gladly pay.

Twitter limitations revolve around sending and following, and were created to keep the bandwidth manageable on their servers. Fair enough…. if they worked and could tell the difference between legitimate activity and spammers. But they don’t. Twitter may be monitoring our activity for all the right reasons, but the end result is not very helpful.

3 Ways To Break Outta Jail

Maybe I can’t break up with you completely, Twitter, since you are my one twu love – but I have managed to break out of jail with a few “get out of jail free” cards up my sleeve. Here’s what seems to work…

  1. Have a back-up moderator that you can quickly pull in to co-moderate and let everyone know you’re in #Twalcatraz. If you’ve prepared your tweets in advance, make sure you’ve emailed them to your back-up and prepped them on the topic. Then prepare for the torture of watching your chat happen without you.
  2. Set up a second Twitter handle. If possible, be logged in with that handle on a second computer and a copy of any tweets or chat questions you may have prepared in advance (time to cut/paste!). If you don’t have a second computer, realize that Twitter tracks by that computer’s individual IP address, so you may not be able to use the second handle either. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
  3. Have a screaming melt-down, then keep trying to get back in. Sometimes you can jump in after a few minutes, and sometimes you can’t. If you’ve already done #2 and landed in jail for BOTH your first and your second handles – which happened to me yesterday – then revert to #1.

Anyone else have a brilliant solution for breaking out of Twitter jail? Please share!

* Rumor has it that #Twitmo was originally conceived by @Bekiweki. Not sayin’ it’s verified, but that’s the word on the street according to @WordWacker!