Twetiquette: How To Do Twitter

Posted by Dan | Posted in Social Media | Posted on 24-10-2013


Disclaimer: OK, I know not everyone uses Twitter in the same way or for the same reasons. This guide assumes you are a standard Twitter user – that is to say, someone who would like to interact with new people, gain followers, and gets that warm gooey feeling when someone retweets you.


1) Don’t Use A Private Account

Twitter is a giant online conversation. Through the power of retweets and hashtags you can enter a discussion on a global scale and make friends and enemies from the farthest reaches of the earth. But in order to partake in this global conversation people need to be able to hear you. Having a private Twitter account is like turning up at Speaker’s Corner wearing a gag, and only agreeing to take it off periodically to whisper things to a select few people. Use a pseudonym if it makes you feel more comfortable, but don’t go private.

2) Your Views Are Obviously Your Own

I get it: you have a job and you’re worried that your personal views might jeopardise it. The thing is so do most people: go down the pub and you don’t see everyone wearing signs stating “views expressed are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of McDonald’s.” Everyone has opinions; don’t waste valuable Bio characters stating this obvious fact.

To stay on the side of caution, simply don’t mention your employer on Twitter.


3) Carpe DM

Twitter is not Facebook Chat.

What you say on Twitter is publicly broadcast and shoved in the faces of everyone who follows you, so know when to send a DM or take the conversation elsewhere. As well as protecting your privacy, this will ensure you don’t annoy current followers and scare off prospective ones.

Remember this rule: if a person visits your page and is wondering whether to follow you, can they see an original tweet? If they need to go onto the second page before seeing something that doesn’t begin with an @, your ratio is wrong and you’re treating Twitter too much like MSN Messenger.


4) If It Doesn’t Fit In 140 Characters, It’s Not For Twitter

Twitter is a great lesson in editing. If what you have to say is significantly longer than 140 characters it’s not for Twitter: instead tweet a link to a blog post.

If you must break this rule: use TwitLonger, never consecutive tweets.


5) Use ‘Reply To All’ Sparingly

Also covered in the previous 2 points, the cardinal sin of Twitter is flooding people’s feeds: just because someone replied to your tweet on a topic doesn’t mean they want to be included in a 15-tweet discussion you’ve since begun with a third party.


6) Join In The Global Conversation

Twitter allows you to see what is being talked about across the globe, and there is always something being talked about. Keep an eye on trending topics, follow and utilise hashtags, and engage with people from all walks of life. Follow people who are interesting, even if you disagree with them. Never block or report a user unless they are actively spamming or harassing you: if you have a disagreement, accept that people have differing opinions and try to engage in diplomatic dialogue. It won’t always work, but Twitter is pretty huge and you’ll find that most people are willing to politely join in a discussion.

Lists can be a useful way of organising people (I have a list for left-wing atheists and another for right-wing fundamentalists, and it can be fascinating watching these two side-by-side when news is breaking). One great thing about lists is you can add people to them and then just follow the list rather than the people, so certain people won’t show up on your main feed but are easily accessible for when you’re feeling intrigued or up for a debate.


7) Don’t Beg

“Please RT” translates as “Please unfollow”. People will retweet if something’s worth retweeting, not because you’ve guilt-tripped them into doing it. Similarly don’t ask people to follow you or Like you on Facebook.


8) Give Explanations

Don’t just tweet a link without an explanation of what it is: it makes you look like a spam bot. This applies even if the link has a self-explanatory URL, because most Twitter clients will shorten it.

When recommending someone for #FF (Follow Friday), explain why we should follow that person. Don’t simply say “#FF” then list a bunch of users. (On a similar note: don’t retweet #FFs you’ve been included in. It’s an exercise in narcissism as the only people who see it already follow you.)



People check Twitter everywhere: at the gym, at work, at their mother’s house… if you’re going to share something inappropriate then mark it as NSFW (Not Safe For Work), particularly if it’s going to blare out of people’s speakers.


10) Check Before Retweeting

Seen an OUTRAGEOUS news story that needs to be shared with the world immediately? Hold on a second before hitting retweet. First, check that the story has been verified by a reputable source (Google the story and see if any big news websites are also covering it). Also take a look at the date, as old news can easily be mistaken as breaking news in the heat of the moment. Far better to take a minute to check facts than to perpetuate false or misleading news.


Write a comment