The Top 5 Things Not to Do on Twitter

Twitter is all about discovering sources of information, interacting and sharing. It’s a conversation, a place to learn and to find people to interact with on topics you care about.

But it’s only as valuable as the quality of the people you surround yourself with and the conversations you maintain. Like any gathering, it has it’s own version of etiquette (or “Twitterquette” – kudos to whoever came up with that word!). Think of it like a dinner party or business event – you chat with people, follow the conversation, see how you can add to it, have fun, and learn something.

A useful site to evaluate your followers – and yourself – on Twitter is The Twit Cleaner:

Here’s their quick rundown on bad “Twitterquette” – behavior that will get you “unfollowed.” Do you see yourself in any of these?

1. You engage in potentially “dodgy” behavior, posting:
- nothing but links
- few or no retweets (RT)
- few or no acknowledgments of sources “@”s
- identical tweets

2. You’re inactive: you’ve been absent from Twitter for more than a month.

3. You don’t interact with anyone:
- you’re self-obsessed – you talk about yourself more than 50% of the time
- you’re a snob – you follow back fewer than 10% of your followers
- you’re not there – you use a feed for your tweets (e.g. Twitterfeed, Facebook)

4. You talk too much…like over 20 tweets a day.

5. You post little original content.

If you do some of these things – and we’ve all done them from time to time – then it’s relatively simple to fix: do the opposite. Schedule 10 minutes a day to stop by Twitter and see what is in your feed. Retweet what you find interesting. Acknowledge what others are saying by using their Twitter handle (@________) in your response, if appropriate. Post original content. You get the idea. It’s not hard, just basic conversational common sense, albeit in a new medium.

Do you have suggestions on being a good Twitter Citizen? Or other useful resources for Twitter best practices? Please share below – and happy Tweeting!



© 2011. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without written consent from the author, Moira Hill.

2 Responses to The Top 5 Things Not to Do on Twitter

  1. Si Dawson October 30, 2011 at 2:33 PM #

    Hey Moira

    Thanks for writing about Twit Cleaner.

    One important note re “Talking too much,” talking to people is fine. Great, ideal even. It’s public talking – ie, not @replying to someone, and not DMing (private messaging) that’s the real problem.

    Why is this an issue? Because then you’re just using Twitter as a broadcast medium, talking at the world, rather than engaging with the community.

    Twitter is not TV.

    Now, it can definitely be used as an information source (and many news sites do broadcast headlines out to Twitter to drive traffic to their sites), and it’s great for that, but the real power is in connecting people. To do that, you must engage.

    Another issue with sending out that many public tweets a day is that the vast majority of people simply don’t follow that many people. The average is around 500 followers. So, if you’re tweeting 20 times a day, you’re going to be flooding their tweetstream, making it impossible for them to see what anyone else is talking about. And that? Well, it’s just rude.

    Keep up the great work!

    Si Dawson
    [Twit Cleaner creator]

  2. Moira Hill October 30, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

    Hi Si, Thanks for the comments, and clarifying about talking *with* people. And the point about “tweet-flooding” – that is so annoying. The medium may change (and have it’s own style), but good conversational principles seem to stay the same. – Moira

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