Whether you are familiar with Twitter or you are just starting to learn what a great networking tool it is, you must get to know how it really works to communicate well and make use of its potential. People use Twitter for many things, but the same rules apply for everyone. Misuse and abuse of Twitter is not at all uncommon and even the experienced twitterers often don’t follow the netiquette.
Here are 15 tips on how to tweet politely and avoid getting unfollowed.
1. Provide your name, avatar and a short bio
Always include your name and a short bio in your Twitter profile. People want to know who you are. Do not hide behind false names. Be honest if you expect honesty. Make sure to use your photo or a custom avatar so others can remember and recognize you.
2. Be social
Be social and interact. Make your tweets personal and let your followers get to know you. Kindly reply if someone asks you a question. Feel free to ask questions zourself and connect with people. Share interesting links with the community (but be sure to check they actually work). After all, Twitter is a social network.
3. Be moderate in self-plugging
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional self-plug, but don’t keep a Twitter account just to promote your work. Although many people use Twitter simply to publish site news, that is not what Twitter is about.
4. No auto direct messages, please
Auto direct messages are a big no-no, even if you are just being nice and saying hi to someone who has just started following you. What auto messages are really saying is “I don’t have the time to be really polite so I’ll just send and auto DM to everyone”. Also, no one is expecting a DM when they start following you.
5. Give credit
When you find a useful information somewhere, be it a tweet, a blog post or a picture you want to share, give credit by letting people know who it was that led you to your discovery. If you read a tweet you want to share with others, a simple retweet will do.
6. Don’t use twitter for chatting or personal conversation
Twitter is not an instant messenger. Not only it is not as effective as IM is, but others don’t really want to read through multiple tweets of your personal conversation. Instead of making private conversations public, use direct messages (or e-mail or an IM client).
7. Your post should not span through multiple tweets
A tweet should contain up to 140 characters. That’s 140, and not a character more. Don’t write messages that are more than one tweet long and continue your message in the next tweet. Move longer posts to appropriate mediums, like Posterous, Tumblr, or your blog.
8. Don’t tweet too much
Twitter is all about quick and easy messages. Try not to tweet too much or your followers might not want to read all what you have to say. For me, reading dozens of tweets and retweets a day from a single person is too much. Choose quality over quantity. If you suspect you might be tweeting too much, a good idea might be to ask your followers what they think.
9. Don’t flood
While there are people who are interested in reading dozens of your tweets one after the other, most are not. Flooding is not polite so try not to overdo it. If your followers have too much to read and explore, they might easily choose to ignore your tweets.
10. Follow, unfollow and block whoever you wish
On Twitter, you are free to follow and unfollow whoever you wish. You’re also free to block people from viewing your tweets. When someone follows you, you are not obligated to follow them back. When someone unfollows you, it does not mean you have to unfollow them. Unfollowing someone does not mean “I don’t like you”.
11. Do not follow everyone who follows you
Do not follow everyone who follows you, just for the sake of it. What good is it to follow thousands of people if you aren’t really following their tweets? Most users who follow thousands of people are considered to be spammers.
12. Use hashtags, but do not overuse them
Hashtags aren’t really effective if every word in a tweet is a hashtag. Use them sparingly to help people find information without making the message look spammy.
13. Do not spam
Never spam on Twitter and do not send people unwanted information. People will unfollow you if you keep asking them to retweet your posts, help you reach a certain number of followers or if you are retweeting contest tweets all of the time. Open a second Twitter account if you like the contests that require retweeting.
14. Provide enough information
When you tweet, make sure you provide enough information. Simply copy/pasting an URL is not enough. Add value to your tweets and make them easy to understand and scan.
15. Retweet in 140 characters
Sometimes a retweet will not fit inside the 140 chars limit once you add the @username. To make it fit, cut the last part of the message. If you think it will not make a lot of sense like that, change the text but try to keep it as similar to the original as possible. What you are basically doing is quoting someone else, so be fair.