Twitter Tips: Twetiquette

Recently, someone posted a comment on my Rate Limits and Other Rules You Break post, asking me what rules or guidelines I follow when it comes to Twitter etiquette. I’m going to run down my personal Top 5 tips, share some of your thoughts and provide links to some other guides that I think offer really good advice.

Twetiquette

1. Follow Wisely (and Unfollow Without Prejudice).

  • One of the questions people ask me most is — “Do I have to follow back every person that follows me?” The short answer? NO. The slightly longer answer? No, but I think it’s nicer if you at least look at everyone that follows you, rather than disregarding the list completely. For more details on how I select which people to follow, see my post: “Who I Follow and Why (And 5 Ways to be More Followable)”
  • Follow people that you think might have interesting tweets — but feel free to unfollow if they are too wordy, make you angry or don’t serve as a valuable member of your community. You can always go back and refollow them if the circumstances change.
  • If you follow someone, don’t necessarily tweet them right away — and never tweet them and ask them to follow you back. If for some reason you would like them to follow you so you can DM (direct message) them privately, it’s OK to tell them that you’d like to DM them or ask for other contact information, but even that should be used sparingly. A better way to get followed is to engage with someone over time.

2. Use Hashtags. But Thoughtfully.

  • There are throngs of people who absolutely detest casual or comedic use of hashtags. #HeyIHaveDoneItToo But used purposefully — say, for a live chat or a special event — hashtags can be really great ways of directing your message. If you are going to be tweeting a lot, it’s a nice gesture to warn your followers (“Hey friends! I’m heading into a conference and will be live-tweeting — hence the hashtag storm!”). You can also direct them to http://muuter.com, which allows them to temporarily mute another user or a full hashtag.

3. Be Direct. With Messages, I Mean.

  • Twitter is meant for conversations, and many times, the back-and-forth you have can help others. So in most cases, I advise you to use @ replies when having a discussion. But if the conversation goes more than two rounds (Me/You/Me/You), my preference is that you take it to DMs or even off Twitter.
  • If you are going to ask a question that might be embarrassing or annoying, consider using the DM tool.
  • If you are talking about something that only applies to you and the person you’re tweeting with — where you’re meeting for lunch or what time the carpool stars, keep it private.

4. Don’t Automate.**

  • This really could have been at the top of the list, because it’s the biggest turnoff I have about social media. See that word? Social. Please for the love of all that is Twitter — do not automate DMs or other replies for new followers. I don’t care who you are, you are NOT so busy or so important that you can’t take a moment and be personal (and personable). If you want to acknowledge new followers, that’s great. But do it specifically, with intention and ask yourself… “does this seem spammy?” If the answer is yes, opt out.
  • **There are rare times when I’m OK with automation — especially when it comes to blog posts. I use a WordPress Plugin called Twitter Tools (and another for Facebook called Wordbooker) that automatically sends it to Twitter/Facebook when I hit publish. I only do that because it puts all the relevant information in for me, and because it is the exact same thing that I would do manually.

5. Respond Selectively.

  • You don’t need to publicly thank everyone that RTs your link, includes you in a #FF (Follow Friday) or even compliments you. If you do feel compelled to respond, I refer you to #3 (I try and DM people that #FF me to say thanks). If you still prefer to say thank you publicly, I recommend that you RT the original post and add your note to the top. Otherwise, it seems like you’re purposely keeping people out of the loop.
  • Example:
    • Do this “Thanks so much! RT @XYZ Hey @kwidrick, I loved today’s post on Twetiquette!”
    • Don’t do this “@XYZ That’s so sweet — thanks!”

There are so many other areas of best practices on Twitter — and you all responded to my call for additional points:

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Obviously I have just scratched the surface, so I refer to you other resources:

What other advice do you have for people who are new to Twitter or are looking for some guidance? Best comments added to a future post!

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for including my suggestion!

    These guidelines are spot on – especially the repetitive, automated tweets for blog posts. Scheduling the majority of your tweets is the exact opposite of why people use Twitter.

  2. says

    I am an excessive thanker. I thank everyone for everything and try to do it in RT fashion but sometimes, the tweets are just way to long to RT and have them still make sense. Which is another problem I seem to have, what do you do when you want to RT something but it is just too long?

    • says

      Twitter ‘rule’ again is that your tweet should be approx 120 characters not 140 to allow for RT. Most people don’t follow this though.

      Tips – take out extraneous words, switch to>2 and>& that can easily take out 5-10 characters. Take out hashtags if there are any.

  3. says

    So much good advice here! One of my biggest pet peeves is constantly tweeting about their newest blog post…and it seems as if many people agree with me!

    Sadly, I’m taking a social media class and the teacher encourages some of this no-no stuff you mentioned. So it can be frustrating!

    • says

      I think some of the more annoying social media tactics are the ones that people think yield the most success. And maybe they do “work” – but do you really want to be popular, but annoying? I would rather be genuine! I feel bad saying this, but I have unfollowed people who constantly promote themselves.

    • says

      One interesting point (and I hate the excessive promotion, too) is that tweets tend to have a 1-hour shelf life. So there is some value to sharing it with different groups and segments of Twitter users.

      But I think that if people like you, they’re following your posts outside of Twitter. Twitter is good for slowly finding new fans.

  4. says

    Thank you!!! I had wondered about the frequency of tweeting your own blog post… I see some do it several times a day. I did not realize the hashtags were for humor. A question I still have – if you retweet on twitter, it just posts the tweet without allowing you to add a comment. Is there a different way to do it on twitter or do I need to use tweetdeck (or something else) to add a comment to a retweet?

  5. says

    I would actually say DON’T RT your thanks when someone says they like your blog or give you an #FF. I don’t see it as leaving others out of the conversation – I see it as sparing me from a conversation that has nothing to do with me! If you RT, make sure it’s relevant, something that the majority of your followers should know about or a link they should read. Knowing that so-and-so likes your post or recommends you just seems too spammy and self-congratulatory.

    • says

      I like Di’s idea about sticking with DMs.

      I struggle a lot with saying thanks to people because I want them to know how much I appreciate it. But I also get annoyed when other people say thanks to compliments — feels self-serving.

      I guess what I’m saying is…you’re right. And it’s still a tough balance. :)

  6. says

    There are a few people that I stopped following because they reposted their blog post link 5+ times a day. It was annoying and tiring. I get posting it first thing, then repost in the evening for people to see who don’t use Twitter during the day. Anything more than that just makes me skim.

    Also people that just complain on Twitter. I have to catch myself and remind myself to stop complaining. ;) It’s easy to do but I try to balance my “annoyed with…” tweets with positive ones too. LOL

  7. says

    Wow, thank you! I’m fairly new to twitter, so these are GREAT tips. It didn’t take me long to figure out what irritated me the most. My favorite line of all…
    “I don’t care who you are, you are NOT so busy or so important that you can’t take a moment and be personal (and personable). ”
    Now, I’m off to destroy my habit of fake hashtags #sniffcrywhine. They crack me up because I actually think like that, but when in Rome..

    • says

      Katrina,

      I actually do like comedic hashtags…and, based on the comments here, we’re not alone!

      There’s been some backlash, though, and I think it’s directed to people that use funny hashtags on EVERYTHING.

  8. says

    I don’t mind when people tweet about new blog posts (actually I like it because it helps me get to the blog of the tweeps I meet on #fitblog), but I cannot stand when people repeatedly tweet about the same post.

    Also – I am an obsessive thanker. I think it comes from my obsessive need to please people, ha! Perhaps I should keep this issue off twitter. :)

  9. says

    Great post :) I have unfollowers guilt, I think because it has hurt my feelings when people randomly unfollow me and I thought we were twitter friends. lol. I know how lame thing sounds, but my guilt has kept people I have nothing in common with on my list for too long, and has made me a little pickier about who I follow.

  10. says

    These are great reminders! At first I struggled with following/unfollowing and just started following everyone until I was overwhelmed by tweets that I wasn’t even interested in. Now I’m more selective, but always check out the bio, site and tweets of anyone who follows me.

  11. says

    Great post! For #FF, I respond by wishing them a great weekend or some other personal message.

    For blog posts, I’m OK with more than one tweet because not all followers are on that the same time. When I have new posts I promote, I don’t do more than two tweets per day (generally one in the morning, one in the afternoon).

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