Twitter manners- how to write good tweets and be a good twittizen

Like any community there are a lot of un-written laws to how you tweet on Twitter. Most of it is just plain common courtesy and some of it is specific to the platform. What I’m posting here in no particular order are the ones I try to remember and I encourage you to add your own for us all to learn from.

Fill out your profile and upload a picture. Before you start Tweeting let people know who they’re listening to. When someone discovers your carefully written and deeply valuable first Tweets, they’re going to come to our profile to learn more and decide if they want to follow you. If you’ve got the default icon and no info they may wait until later. There is no later. They’ll forget you.

Don’t follow a bizillion people right off the bat. Choose your Twitter friends carefully for the value they add to you and your network. You’re looking to build relationships, not notches in your cyber bedpost.

Auto-follow is lazy. I know it’s hard. Especially when you get 10’s or even 100’s of followers a day, but this is about relationships. If you auto-follow you could be suddenly following a bunch of people you don’t want to talk to and have nothing in common with. Then you have to un-follow them and that takes time too.

Only direct message when absolutely necessary and do not auto DM for any reason. Nothing will turn new followers off faster than getting an automated response. If you really do have a kick-ass white paper tell me in public and I just might re-tweet the link.

It’s not about you, you, you, glorious you! If all you ever talk about is you and how smart, witty and perfectly fabulous you are we will all turn our backs on you and pretend we never saw you. Share your Tweet-stream with people you admire (If you don’t have any find some. ) Send out links to blogs, web sites or Tweets from people that are just as smart as you. Better yet, even smarter.

Add value. Share information through links. You can’t keep all the good stuff to yourself. Share links with a very short and clear description so Tweeple know what to expect when they get there.Lave room for somebody else. When you write a Tweet make sure there is room for it to get re-tweeted. That means leave at least 20-40 characters at the end so when someone re-tweets it to their network they don’t have to shorten your Tweet.

Say please and thank you. If you want a post re-tweeted that’s more likely to happen if you say “Please RT“. Of course this means your post has to be that much shorter. Always thank people for re-tweeting or mentioning you. It doesn’t have to be a reply, it can be a direct message or even an e-mail or a phone call. Let them know you appreciate their time and sharing your Tweet with their network.

Give credit to the source. If you found a great blogger find their name on Twitter and say something like “Awesome post from @jfouts on Twitter: to give credit to the author and simultaneously let them know you liked it. Same thing with re-tweets. Don’t steal somebody else’s Tweet without giving them credit. Either say RT @jfouts and then quote the tweet verbatim (don’t edit somebody else’s Tweet unless you have to to make it short enough) or give the title and then (via @jfouts ) as a credit. The only exception to this is if the Tweet has been re-tweeted several times, and then you can credit the original tweeter.

Be personal, but remember you’re in public. Don’t say things you’ll be ashamed of later and don’t be mean. You can’t really take it back even if you erase it. Why? Because your enemies (and some of your friends) will have re-tweeted it to the heavens before you can delete it. This is why Tweeting while drunk is a bad idea.

Be transparent. If your Twitter persona is for a corporation or your looking for a job, let people know either in your profile or by your tweets. The more open you are about who you are and why you’re on Twitter the better.

Put the flamethrower away. There are certain individuals on Twitter who have become quite high-profile by attacking the social media bigwigs at every opportunity. Do we laugh occasionally? Well sometimes, but in the end we don’t respect them and we don’t trust them. Is that who you want to be friends with?

Be open minded. When you create your new Twitter network of pals think out of the box. Listen carefully for people talking about things that interest you in other niches. If you only talk about one subject with people they get bored with you. Branch out. Talk about your hobbies and follow people doing things you always wanted to do. Someday you might get the opportunity to do something through one of your new buddies.

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  • Great post, thanks Janet. I appreciate you taking the time to write this info, it can be hard for twitter newbies to 'get' it straight away. Even though I have been using twitter for a while, it was good to see your point about it being okay to just credit the original tweeter when RT'ing a message that has already been passed around a lot. I had always wondered the best way to do this!

    Also, on the note of keeping track of new followers . . . I recently started using Topify which has enabled me to keep an eye on new followers in (almost) real time. If you are interested, have a look at my review here:

    I am going to save this post to delicious so I can share with others when they join Twitter.

    Thanks, Matt.

  • Thanks for the link to your post. I tried Topify once before but I didn't like putting their email in place of mine on my profile, maybe I'll take a second look!

  • Nice summary of the Tweet etiquette's – much needed.

  • Thanks for the good post!!! So we all suppose to behave like you describe in your blog!

  • Thank you for an eye opening look at the twitterverse!

  • What I like about this post is the straightforward, easy to follow advice. Twitter is a unique site where it isn't always apparent how to use it or what the etiquette is. For example, I have never used the retweet feature but making your post short enough to retweet now makes sense. Thank you for taking the time to explain the rules. Sincerely, Anygoodwoman

  • Thanks… I am new to twitter and posts like yours give us newbies confidence…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Am a little new to twittering….and have been trying hard to understand the etiquette's….thanks for taking time and jotting them down ……. its really helpful…..

  • I have read many article about this subject but I love how your approach was smooth and very simple.

    Thank you for sharing these points.

    You are a good twitizen ๐Ÿ™‚

    Best of luck!

  • Thanks all for your kind feedback on the post!

  • Meri McCoy-Thompson

    I enjoyed hearing you at NTC and this post was helpful as well. It went into more depth some of the things that us newbies really need…

  • Enter text right here!Thank you, some great points here, most I am aware of but one in particular struck a chord.

  • Great guidelines, thanks. (PS: The article would be even better if there were subheadings–for usability, accessibility.)

  • Great article! I was just asking for this yesterday so I will tweet it out there today for anyone that hasn’t seen it. Thanks!

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  • kitgolson

    thanks for clear and informative post!

  • thanks for clear and informative post!

  • thanks for clear and informative post!

  • Great post Janet. I can't add much more, but like those before me, I appreciate the time and thought put into this message. I will happily share with my Tweeps!

  • Great post Janet. I can't add much more, but like those before me, I appreciate the time and thought put into this message. I will happily share with my Tweeps!

  • Great post Janet. I can't add much more, but like those before me, I appreciate the time and thought put into this message. I will happily share with my Tweeps!

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  • Thanks Matthew, I’m glad you found it useful!

  • Thanks for the post. Good manners might seem to be going out the window these days but it's good to see they are still important.

  • Kate @workstew

    As someone who’s very new to Twitter, I really appreciated this thoughtful post–thank you, Janet. Also, as a fan of manners, I thought you might enjoy this line, which I view as the Nicest Rejection Ever. I received it from someone I had invited to be a guest on my podcast. โ€œThanks, Kate, but I am so overwhelmed by various commitments that I canโ€™t possibly consider even something as pleasant as your request.โ€ Isn’t that lovely?

  • Yes, that IS lovely. It’s nice to know that manners are not dead after all! Glad you liked the post. I aim to please!

  • Saloni

    great article.


  • Wow, awesome advice! I wish I found this post months ago.

  • ZStar7

    Thank You for this, I must say I am a tad…have to do my first one in a bit…Again thanks!

  • Anthony Stagg

    I really like this article-n’ I tend to “follow” those who practice these “actions” &/or try to reach as many of these”goals” as possible…..I do try to keep certain “conections” going with others I don’t always agree with in order 2 try 2 challenge myself -in order 2 avoid “bubble” living !!!


  • Bob

    Thanking people for retweeting you? I’d laugh if someone did that. Otherwise, thanks for the tips

  • Really Bob? I think it’s just courtesy. It’s not always possible, but i still try.

  • Sandy

    I completely agree with Bob. It’s not necessary to thank people for RTing (although sometimes it’s a nice thing to do). However, your suggestion to thank people with an email or phone call is a bit ridiculous. The strength of a social media platform lies in its inherent ability to contain all conversations within the framework. If I’m supposed to write an email to thank someone for a RT, then Twitter has failed at providing appropriate communication avenues. The thing is, they haven’t failed at all. It’s just a very silly (and naive) suggestion on your part.

  • Manners remain of utmost imprtance in my household and this should apply to social media too. Nice article.


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  • A.JLeeGeek

    What does it mean when someone asks you to credit them ?

  • Jack Norwood

    Great post ! Wonderful artical to much great information for this post…And also cheek this link…Because this is to much great informative for such kind of people….Thanks

  • Argenis Mago

    Great post! Some people need to read more articles like these since I get alot of people direct messages selling me stuff without even building a relationship first or worse, telling me (more like begging me) to follow them on Facebook or Twitter. My question is always ‘Why should I?’

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  • Did you phone Janet to thank her for this fine article? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • dindaasfihani

    Twitter manners indeed to be studied, especially for jual crystal x jakarta and obat gatal pada selangkangan