11 Rules of Twitter Etiquette You Need to Know

Twitter sometimes feels like a spectator sport. You sit on the sidelines and watch the passing parade with bemusement, interest and often amazement.11 Rules of Twitter Etiquette You Need to Know

The torrent of tweets and interactions vary from hard sell, links to valuable content and humor all the way to inspirational quotes. It is nothing more than a snapshot of humanity in 140 characters.

It is the good, the bad and the ugly.

Despite its simplicity it has nuanced  customs that people new to Twitter need to understand. Good habits always go a long way in any society and correct Twitter manners are important if you want to impress the netizens of the online equivalent of texting on steroids.

Twitter and dating

When on a date, one should have proper etiquette! Just like being on a date, when you are tweeting away on twitter, one should also have proper etiquette. TWITIQUETTE if you prefer!

So how does one have awesome Twitiquette? 

Follow these simple rules and you will get more followers and better engagement. 

Rule #1

Don’t start a tweet with a hashtag. Let us see your thought, idea, comment, or story first.

Rule #2

Please, please don’t use more than 3 hashtags in a tweet. If you do use three hashtags, do it sparingly. It’s just annoying.

Rule #3

This rule is going to go against what most “tweeps” believe! Don’t strive for followers. Strive for engagement. Ask people questions and engage with them! They’ll like it. In the long run, you’ll get more followers this way.

Rule #4

Some people just don’t follow back. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t interact with you! Tweet them a question, idea, or story.

Rule #5

Even though you have a maximum of 140 characters, you don’t have to use all 140 characters. Try using around 120 characters. This will allow other tweeps the ability to retweet you.

Rule #6

Add a profile picture. Enough said. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t add a profile picture.

Rule #7

If you were selling your house, would you make it look nice for an open house or showing? Absolutely! Same applies for you twitter handle. Add a background, make it look nice.

Rule #8

Should you come across a spam account (and you will) please report them. The less spam accounts there are on twitter, the better it will be for all of us.

Rule #9

Add a description. By looking at some of your information, Tweeps who don’t know you will be able to find out what to Tweet with you about?

Rule #10

If you’re struggling on determining how long your tweet should be, what your tweet should contain, hashtags, etc. remember to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid.).

Rule #11

In the end, just be yourself. Be authentic. Create value and enrich people’s tweets with great content!

After all it’s just Twitter, it should be fun

What about you?

Have you heard of all of these Twitter rules? What other Twitter rules have I left out?

Look forward to reading your comments below.

Guest author: Corey Donohue is the community manager/strategist for Heyo, a tech startup that specializes in DIY Build & Design Custom Facebook Page Apps, Mobile Apps and Websites. Feel free to connect with him @heyo or @cdonohue@heyo.com


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  • http://www.about.me/nninoss Ninos Youkhana

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge :-)

  • http://www.howtosolutions.net/ HowToSolution

    Great list of simple rules.

    But I am wondering about one thing. What account is considered a spam account?

    Accounts that tweet tons of tweets a day? Accounts that DM you?

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      If you use a product, such as manage flitter, you can find all of the spam accounts that are following you. Spam accounts usually only tweet one thing to multiple people with a url link for some promotion, etc. Sometimes they do DM you too.

  • http://twitter.com/tonyvincent Tony Vincent

    I’ve noticed some users repeat their own tweets often. That’s annoying too, especially when they use a hashtag I follow. I’m forced to see their same spammy tweets repeatedly.

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      Yep, they consistently recycle their tweets. Most of the time, those recycled tweets are spammy and very “selly sell” (as Chris Brogan says).

  • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

    I especially appreciate that you suggested blocking / reporting spammers on Twitter. If we all do this, Twitter will be a better place. I’m sure that Jeff would agree.

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      I can’t stand those spam accounts. Especially when they keep trying to tweet a url link

  • http://learnit2earnitwithlynn.com Lynn Brown

    Good tips here Corey and while I feel they are common sense, I know there are many that don’t use common sense or twitter etiquette, lol. I am not a fan of making the entire tweet of hashtags, but I do see that hashtags can benefit others within that interest.

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      Thanks @learnit2earnit:disqus I really appreciate it! Totally agree with you on the use of hashtags!

  • http://www.facebook.com/monet.diamante Monet Diamante

    I always appreciate your insight on social media! Always learning. I would add one more rule and Gary Vee said it best: “If you RT something someone awesome said about you, you’re (expletive) bragging.” Wouldn’t brag on a first date, would you? Food for thought for some Tweeps!

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      100% agree with you @facebook-5202951:disqus I wish I had included that one! Gary really knows his stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/_Rashmirathi Rashmirathi Tiwari

    Great tips here Corey, it should surely help people who can’t demystify twitter.
    By the way, your twitter profile seems to have some problem with the rule #6 you shared here.

    • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

      Thanks for the feedback @twitter-184864012:disqus, all of my twitter handles have pictures though (rule 6). Which one were you talking about?

  • http://www.mobilephonedealshop.co.uk/ Steve

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips Jeff. While tweeting these should be much helpful to reach out to considerably larger audience now.

  • http://twitter.com/CoreyDonohue33 Corey Donohue

    agreed haha!

  • http://twitter.com/nixdminx nixdminx eva keogan

    My tip would be do not add an automatic DM responder which directs people to a facebook page or other space, people follow each other on twitter to read their tweets and not get sent somewhere else

    • http://www.flairminute.com/ FlairMedia

      I would actually say just don’t auto-DM, period. I can’t remember the last time I replied to one.

      • http://changememe.com/ Louise McGregor

        Agree with both of you. And if you must auto-DM don’t talk like you know me. It’s just twitter.

  • Rachel

    These are great tips! I especially agree with #3 – engaging with your followers is key to keeping them interested!

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Not without editing

  • http://twitter.com/cksyme Chris Syme

    I would add to #4–remember that lots of people now list instead of follow for convenience on dashboards. Don’t judge a person’s generosity by how many people they follow. Check their lists. There might be something there worth following, too.

  • http://twitter.com/WisSkier The Wisconsin Skier

    I like the point on the number of followers and to engage. I have a number of accounts I follow that are simply one-way accounts, they tweet I read. There is no response to tweets I direct at them, I can compliment them, question them, etc but silence back, and it is not like many of those accounts have many followers.

    I can not think of anything I would add.

  • http://www.tugsearch.co.uk/ Carlo Pandian

    I use these ways to engage with other tweeps:

    – Comment on one of their blog post linking to their post and mentioning them
    – Ask a question
    – RT
    – Providing them with a resource related to one of their conversations
    – Help them solve their website issues, in particular broken links

  • cmac

    #4 Just because people don’t write back, don’t read into it.

  • Danielle Brooks

    Thank you for sending this email primer, Jeff – I appreciate it. Wish I had more time to read some of your great advise – maybe on the weekend, I hope!

  • Tom Whitsed

    Agreed…but I’d be interested in any pet that sh**s rainbows or even a regular non rainbow sh**ing unicorn. Then again, it’s personal pref so if you don’t like what some schmuck tweets then DON’T FOLLOW THEM. Pretty elementary concept.

  • http://jacobyount.com/ Jacob Yount

    I’d say also to loosen up and have fun with it. Some people treat their tweets like a stuffy, starchy shirt. You can be serious, but throw in some levity or human-like qualities from time to time. Engage with others. The fewer “@” I see in someone’s stream, the more I know they don’t engage and so I don’t follow. Repeat of tweets isn’t a big to me…there’s other stuff to read and it’s not a major issue if my eye has to spend half a millisecond to look past an annoying tweet.

  • http://bit.ly/XXBbSw Sophia

    in the end i was expecting the last part will be the best one. Hey, I just downloaded your tactics.

  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Jeff – I like everything you have offered. I especially like idea number 11. Be authentic. You don’t have to be all things to all people. There are enough people on Twitter that some will like you and some won’t. Virtual mimics reality.

  • http://www.howtosolutions.net/ HowToSolution

    I got one more. If you tweet a page, do not remove “via @…” part

  • http://lmbartelt.wordpress.com/ Lisa Bartelt

    I especially like the tip to not strive for followers but engagement. Quality, not quantity. Great advice!

  • Audrey Larson

    Well said!

  • Lady Saera

    I really didnt understand twitter at first, kind of still dont, hate to admit that but love it, and it matters to me to figure out twitter ettiquette. I just learned something today, so thanks! 😉

  • DateEtc.com

    I would like to know how to target a specific audience or group using hashtags?

  • Gail Severini

    Maybe it’s just me but I have a growing dislike for people who only tweet their own stuff – no sharing and no engagement – pure self promotion. Sure I follow them because I want to know what they think but not just about their own stuff – what do they think about what’s going on around them? Seems to me there should be a ratio, you know, # shares: # self tweets and it should, like, 2:1.

    It’s that they come off as the drunken bore who every one avoids at the cocktail party. Should be a code word for calling them out – like “you’re getting a little Al Czervik”

  • Scott Valentine

    My insights may be different because I am trying to reach an audience that is seeking information and conducting research. And it is through analyzing my twitter analytics that I have come to realize that there is no cookie-cutter approach to twitter etiquette.

    My twitter analytics shows that tweets that start with the hashtag have a higher rate of engagement (Fav, Reply and RT). I believe that is because it provides important details up-front.

    As Twitter becomes more popular, and feeds become more congested, the
    more important getting through the scanning process is going to be. Many people tend to scan through their tweets, like they do email, they pick out the ones that catch their attention most, and click on them. I have also see a high amount of RT and FAV from people who never actually clicked on the link (What?). Finally, I have seen results showing that adding a single hashtag up-front is a good signal (for relevance), which is especially valuable for people looking for answers or doing research.