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15 Twitter Netiquette Rules You Must Know

Written by Bojan on August 25, 2009.

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.

Screenshot of a tweet from iA

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.

About the author

Bojan Janjanin is a web enthusiast based in Croatia. He has over eight years of experience in web design and development. Besides WebD&D, he runs his blog, called Yesterdayishere.

28 Responses to “15 Twitter Netiquette Rules You Must Know”

  1. Very practical Twitter Rules yet so many people do not know them as they are not always practised. Twitter Rules are common sense really, so it says a lot about the people who don’t follow them. Thanks Bojan.

  2. For rt’in 140 char. messages I copy the status link of the message and retweet that link; adding credit for the poster and a brief summary and comment abt. the link… is that ok by the book? :)

  3. @Jeanette: You’re welcome :)

    @Emre: I can’t say I see much point in that. What you want to do is to enable the people who are reading your tweets to access information quickly. If you copy the link of the original tweet, they have to read your tweet and then click on the link to read the original one. It’s best to make your comment after the RT, but in the same tweet (example).

  4. Got it, will do my best. Thanks for the quick reply :) And for the article, of course :D

  5. Maxine says:

    Thanks for this – good list and shall refer to it and pass on :)

  6. @andrewabraham says:

    Twitter + Netiquette…Twittiquette? I mean, if we’re shortening things.

  7. do not chat? so what supose we must to do on twitter? tell thing like “im in the bathroom” “im so cool that im traveling to europe” ? do that is more interesting to “yeah @guy the apple tablet do not exists and apple sucks” ? Whats the objetive of that use? full of trash the timeline to be able to send spam without people thinking you are a spammer? Looks really sad to use twitter like an ego public show… it not make sense

  8. Bojan says:

    @Ivan: there’s no harm in replying to tweets, but conversations through multiple tweets are not welcome. Twitter is not a chat room, and any long or private conversations should be moved to DM (or a different medium altogether). Short conversations through @ replies are welcome.

  9. Kevin Fox says:

    Well said! There is so much misinformation out there about Twitter and social media, and everybody is still learning. This is a good article for all Twitterers to read.

  10. Mark says:

    I pretty much follow these ettiquette rules. If my twitter presence suffers my brand can suffer so I am careful to be a good twitterer *lol*

  11. bruce_mi says:

    I’m not familiar with the term “hashback?” Can sum1 pls explain the symbol and its proper use…thks, Bruce

  12. Bojan says:

    @Bruce: if you meant hashtags, many have already written about them, so I’ll point you to an article I found via Google: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/twitter-hashtags/9419/

  13. Mitchell says:

    Hi Bojan,
    Excellent list!

    #4 made me laugh, because when I first joined Twitter I sent many DMs, mostly pointing out errors on new follower’s sites. However DM is good to send quick text message to friend’s phones.

    Best wishes, Mitchell

  14. Austro says:

    Can we use Twitter for educational activities?

  15. When I hear this, I am really becoming a fan of twitter.

  16. Tariq says:

    This is a great article, very informative, some great points here about Twitter and how to use to your advantage.
    Thanks

  17. Kelly says:

    Good advice but I disagree with number 4. I actually like getting a thank you when I follow someone. It’s a pleasant surprise.

    • Bojan says:

      Kelly, I agree, it could be a nice surprise. Taking the time to say hi to someone is OK — I was referring to generic auto messages you might be getting when you start following someone.

  18. printed bags says:

    Thank you very much for this useful information it is really appreciated.

    Taz

  19. Taxmann says:

    Great and informative article

  20. seutje says:

    regarding rule 15, decent clients (even twitter’s horrible webclient) support native RTs, which don’t add a “RT @foobar” to the tweet, so the length is preserved (I admit, I usually try to leave space for “RT @seutje” as it seems not too many ppl have discovered the native RT functionality)

  21. David Chiles says:

    Netiquette is important.

    NetworkEtiquette.net is a site with more information about it.

    http://www.NetworkEtiquette.net
    Everyone could use a little netiuquette!

  22. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  23. kasif says:

    Well that’s really a great in formation about twetter i had no idea about.

    thankxx

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