Twitter Etiquette: 24 Guidelines to Tweet By

Twitter Manners Checklist

Twitter etiquette is a lot like the advice your mother gave you when you were young. Be nice and treat people well and they’ll respond in kind.

Sounds simple enough but somehow when people are on social media networks, communications flow straight through their fingertips without stopping in their brains long enough for consideration of the longer term impact. With Twitter, like any social media platform, consider how you would feel if your boss, client, colleagues, spouse, partner, kids or parents saw the tweet, because Twitter is an open, searchable, global public forum where any tweet can go viral. (Here’s more information about the life of a tweet (charts included.)

To help you mind your Twitter manners, here are twenty-four recommendations to guide your interactions. Even if you’re already an active Twitter participant, it’s useful to review this checklist.

  1. Use a recognizable Twitter handle. Where possible, align your presence across different platforms. Also, keep your Twitter handle (name) as short as possible so it doesn’t consume lots of letters of your tweets.
  2. Dress for the occasion so you don’t look like a bot. Get an avatar and add your branding to your Twitter profile.
  3. Use your Twitter bio to help others. Don’t be an egghead. Provide useful content about yourself to give context to your tweets.
  4. Don’t auto DM people. It’s a broadcast message that recipients know isn’t targeted at them. For many, especially more seasoned Twitter users, its spam.
  5. Check your environment before you tweet. Don’t ignore the people you’re with in real life to tweet. Consider how your behavior will be viewed before you do it.
  6. Always introduce yourself. This is particularly important when you join a chat or other group conversation. For example, when I join a Twitter chat, I introduce myself, “Hi I’m Heidi and I blog at http://HeidiCohen.com.
  7. Let followers know you’re going to be tweeting more than average. This is important when you’re participating in a chat or live tweeting a conference. It gives your followers a chance to not pay attention. I always let my followers know that I’m joining a chat.
  8. Review the people following you to determine if you should follow them back. You don’t need to feel that you have to follow everyone. The other side of this point is to not feel hurt if someone doesn’t follow you back.
  9. Don’t follow people and unfollow once they follow you. This is a rude move. If you want to build a large follower base, work to achieve it in a more above board manner.
  10. Don’t use someone’s Twitter handle in a tweet just to get their attention. Unless you’ve got a good reason to try to get someone’s attention, this type of tweeting can backfire. Beware especially if the person has a large following.
  11. Give credit where credit is due. Like any other piece of content, acknowledge the originator of the idea or information. Remember a tweet can have an embarrassingly long life.
  12. Don’t fill people’s Twitter streams with extraneous information. Have respect for other people’s time. This means don’t let everyone know what you had for breakfast. Send one to four tweets per hour unless you’re in a conversation.
  13. Beware of TIM (too much information). Remember even your mother isn’t interested in every detail of your life.
  14. Don’t be negative. Research shows that people react better to positive messages on social media platforms. Try to be a positive force on Twitter.
  15. Be a helpful resource. Be the go-to person with the information everyone follows for news on a specific topic.
  16. Don’t just yell buy, buy. Or followers will go bye-bye. On Twitter keep your messages to one promotion for every ten messages about others.
  17. Don’t use too many abbreviations. Stick to the main conventions so your message is clear.
  18. Use less than 140 characters. While a tweet can contain up to 140 characters, leave room at the end of your tweet so others can add their comments. As a rule of thumb, leave ten or more characters blank.
  19. Don’t rant or shout at people. You don’t want to be considered a troll or the angry person on Twitter. In other words, don’t use all caps since this is considered shouting at people. Think about whether people consider that you’re ranting.
  20. Engage with other people to broaden your social circle. Think dinner party conversation.
  21. Pay-it-forward. On Twitter, like other social media platforms, contribute helpful information and support others without expecting something in return.
  22. Expand the conversation with use of hashtags. Use relevant hashtags to target the message to people who might be interested in the conversation.
  23. Respond to others in a timely manner. You want to answer people quickly so they still remember the conversation. This applies to tweets and direct messages. Consider the lifetime of a tweet.
  24. Thank people for retweets and other forms of information. Let others know you appreciate their mentions and other information.

Regardless of whether you’re new to Twitter or an old hand, it’s useful to go through these suggestions to remind yourself that there are people on the receiving end of your tweets with real feelings. Therefore, it’s important to think about the impact that your Twitter missives can have. Consider how the recipient can interpret these 140 characters.

Are there any other points of Twitter etiquette that you’d add to this list? If so, what would they be and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Big tip of my hat to one of my followers for suggesting this post.

Here are some related articles about Twitter that you may enjoy.

Photo credit: http://www.productivedreams.com/its-twitter-time-free-vector-icon-set/

 

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  • http://www.couponblessingsnow.com andrea

    thanks – i’m going to start doing #6 (introducing myself when I enter a chat) – “Hi, I’m Andrea…” :D

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Great list, Heidi! I am a BIG fan of #4. I would add to the list: Don’t tweet too much. I know the opinions on this vary, but if Twitter is a conversation, I think it’s important to not monopolize it.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Jeff — I agree. No one wants someone who has to dominate the conversation. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.loveandrespectNOW.com Joy Eggerichs

    Great list and reminder. #11 is really important in a day where so much info is free – people forget to give credit for the originator of an idea. Thanks for the re-focusing.

  • http://Www.miadesignz.etsy.com Melissa

    This was very helpful. I was feeling completely out of my element.
    Thanks

  • http://www.catangeliscommunications Catherine DeAngelis

    Your twitter manner checklist has steered me into the right direction in our virtual Tweedom! Thank you so much Heidi ~

  • http://kelleyhighway.blogspot.com/ Kelley

    Give an example to no. 7 please.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Kelley — If you tweet a few times a day or an hour and you’re tweeting from an event or a Twitter chat, it’s polite to let folks know that you’re going to be tweeting more. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • https://twitter.com/#!/LBobT3 Bob Tieman

    Hey, I think #13 ought to be Beware of TMI… unless there’s someone on twitter named Tim I ought to watch out for. :)

  • Leslie Neiss

    Heidi, thank you for all this info that I can immediately use. I’m new to Twitter and now know how to get started.

  • http://www.customersatisfactionevaluation.com Anne Miner

    Terrific article Heidi! Will be sharing with my network many of whom are confused by Twitter and will be glad of these tips.

  • Guillaume

    Thank you for this article! I am new on Twitter and it is exactly that kind of etiquette-related information I was lookin’ for.

  • http://twitter.com/UBCMET UBC MET

    I hate those who do #4. It just seems so impersonal, even more impersonal than just being ignored to begin with. It’s almost patronizing, in a way.

    And I’ll have to remember #7! I don’t do many chats or conferences, but the one or two times I have, I’ve forgotten to warn my followers of increased tweeting.

    Do people really do #9? I can’t imagine unfollowing somebody I’ve followed *after* they follow me. I guess I’ve just been lucky I’ve never seen it.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • http://twitter.com/AdlibTraveller Ad-lib Traveller

    Good tips, especially with regards to thanking others for retweets and only sharing content with specific usernames where it is relevant. 

  • http://www.thebumblebeeblogs.blogspot.ca/ Julie

    New Tweeter/Blogger and was happy to read up on your tips.  There are some definite annoyances out there – Hope to not be one of them! Great list:)

  • http://www.xfinityonline.com/ FeliciaCorrine

    One important thing that many do not do is they forget to
    introduce themselves. Whenever you join a a chat or group for the first time,
    you need to provide a good introduction about yourself so the others can
    identify you in the social network. Don’t spam and be upto the point and
    relevant to the topic. Be very responsive to those who follow you. this is
    really important.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003995110327 Marco Garcia

    Thanks for the tips! They were very informative and I will be using them as guides!

    XtremeHikers.com

  • Motherhoodinsights

    Thanks Heidi, this is a big help….

  • http://twitter.com/EveGelman Eve Gelman

    By accident I came across this blog post and I am glad I did. Thank you kindly for a concise refresher course.

  • daveguymon

    Heidi, I teach Twitter classes to teachers in my school district. The points that you write about here are excellent additions to the etiquette that I share with my colleagues. Plus, I discovered that I could have some better Twitter manners myself. I really love your blog.

  • hello

    Beware of TIM (too much information). Remember even your mother isn’t interested in every detail of your life.

  • Aylin Sankur

    Awesome
    article, Heidi. Twitter can be a huge asset to businesses of all sizes,
    but it’s important to Tweet the right way to avoid your social media
    strategy backfiring on you. This is GREAT advice.

  • http://whatsonthelist.net/ Joanne T Ferguson

    G’day Heidi! Great post today; VERY informative too!
    Can you please expand on #7 HOW specifically you do and the words you post on Twitter? Thank you! Joanne