Twitter Etiquette – The Least You Need To Know

TwitterverseWhat? Twitter etiquette? But there’s only 140 characters. Why would I want to worry about etiquette in these tiny little messages?

It has to do with Twitter’s uniqueness as a social site.

How Twitter Is Different
Facebook and LinkedIn are primarily used as social sites for people who already know each other or have at least met once or twice; for the most part, anyway. You may have noticed that the LinkedIn standard invitation starts out with these words: “Because you are someone I trust…” I know not everyone uses it that way, but that’s the intent and much of the LinkedIn community still operates that way. (Not me. Feel free to invite me!)  Same thing with Facebook. Have you seen the message that Facebook sends when you accept a friend invitation? They want to know if we’re acquainted with the person outside of Facebook.

Twitter’s different. There’s no expectation that we’ll only be joined by people we know. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You don’t even have a say in who can follow you. There’s no permission given, no acceptance or rejection, and no way to block followers. Well, you can, but not really. If you’re on Twitter, you’re public and fair game to follow. And maybe that’s why etiquette is so important to talk about. Since we don’t know each other, we have no frame of reference to apply to comments. Readers can’t infer tone, so we need to be just a little more careful in the way we reach out and what we say in the Twitterverse.

A Few Guidelines To Help Us Enjoy Twitter

  • Consider following back. It’s not required, but generally speaking, it’s seen as polite. It’s a nice way to show you’re interested in others.
  • Add value. If you’re sending out an article link, say why you like it. Or share your expertise. It feels good and your community will appreciate it and will grow more quickly.
  • Don’t use auto follow robots or auto direct messaging systems to respond to people who follow you. If anyone tries to sell you one of these programs, run. Your Twitter peeps will spot this immediately. There’s no nice way to say it – auto DM’s are tacky.
  • Be mindful of your message tone. Don’t ever send a message that you wouldn’t want your family (or law enforcement) to read. 🙂
  • #Overusing #hashtags #in #your #posts #is #irritating #to #your #readers.
  • Say thank you when people retweet your tweets or when they do something else nice for you.

My most important piece of advice is this: Don’t tweet if you don’t enjoy Twitter. If you’re there because someone said you should be, or you feel obligated because someone invited you, or because your company wants you to have a Twitter presence… just stop. Delete your account and let those shoulders relax. Find a different medium that suits you better.

If you need help with social media, please feel free to send me a note using the contact form. You’ll find it in the main menu at the top of the screen. I’ll be pleased to send my response to you in the form of a blog post. If it’s a question in your mind, you can be sure others are curious – or frustrated – about the same thing.

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8 Replies to “Twitter Etiquette – The Least You Need To Know”

  1. After nearly a week of twitter and facebook vacation, reading this reminded me that I needed to go check my followers and get caught up on following people back. I think I’m fairly decent at the rest of the twitter etiquette, though. I like it, but sometimes I find it a little overwhelming to keep up with all the time. I think the same of facebook and my blog though. 😉


  2. Thanks! This was so helpful, especially the way you have distinguished Twitter from other social media. I am on it and have a whopping 15 followers but not sure exactly what I’m doing. I hope I’ve been following back each one and will now go and double check that. Great tips!


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