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The 10 Commandments of Twitter

When I stumbled upon Twitter 54 months ago I was bemused, flummoxed and even curious. What is this social network that keeps me to 140 characters, sounds like a bird and seemed…well…. pointless?10 Commandments of Twitter

I tweeted here and there and collected 31 followers in 90 days of meandering. Even followed people with large Twitter tribes on topics as diverse as food, photography and politics. Malcolm Turnbull, the local senator must have thought I was a Twitter groupie.

Luckily he didn’t report me for stalking.

My progress on Twitter was slow, confused but persistent. Despite this I continued to tweet, retweet and play. My curiosity was undiminished.

Obsession on Twitter is not unknown. Some people such as Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend at the time tweeted so much that she decided that he loved Twitter more than her.

She moved onto boyfriend number twenty seven.

Twitter is more powerful than you think

Twitter’s sometimes chaotic nature does make management of the torrent of tweets seem like herding cats. It is essential that you plug your Twitter account into management tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. This will help you manage your stream with lists of people and hashtags that categorise on topics.

The real power of Twitter is that you can build a follower base that allows you to share a focused stream of content that adds value to your followers daily lives.

There are no fancy Facebook “Edgerank” algorithms to throttle your tweets and choke your content distribution.

Its pure and wild. I like that.

So what are some fundamental principles that you should embrace if you want Twitter to work for you?

The 10 Commandments of Twitter

Here are 10 commandments that may guide you to the Twitter promised land of a large and loyal following that engages with you and shares your content with speed and velocity.

Thou shalt

Moses used this term so I thought that I couldn’t go wrong if I borrowed the term “Thou shalt”

1. Write a meaningful “bio” description

If you are using Twitter for purely personal reasons then go crazy and knock yourself out with a crazy and cute bio. If you are serious then make sure that when they read it they know in a heartbeat what you are about.

2. Have a link

I don’t know how many times I have looked for a link to take a deeper dive into a Tweeter to see what they do and where they have come from but get stymied. If you don’t have a blog then take them to your Linked account or Facebook page.

Let them discover the real you. The bio is just the start

3. Be focused

Build a tribe of Twitter followers who are passionate and interested in your topic of interest. That can be done with tools such as Tweepi or Twellow.

4. Automate where appropriate

This may seem evil to some but as you grow your follower base things like following back becomes time consuming and unmanageable. Automate the boring tasks such as content distribution and follow back but not the conversation and engagement

5. Not neglect Twitter

Keep the stream of Tweets rolling out so that followers see activity and content. Keep that activity going. Do this at a level that you are comfortable with.

It is different for everyone. Remember it is a tool not a religion.

6. Use Hashtags

Hashtags allow you to put content into followers accounts that are topic driven and organised. If you are interested in blogging then include a tweet with the hashtag #blogging.

It will lead to increased awareness and sharing of your tweets.

7. Manage with a tool

The Twitter eco-system of tools and apps evolved because Twitter kept its network simple. It has been effective and been part of its charm. To manage and monitor both the tweets and the people you interact with on Twitter and organised like your mum would be proud of then Hootsuite and Tweetdeck should be used.

8. Brand your Twitter account

Ensure that when people trip up on your Twitter account that they recognise your brand that is on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. My caricature works for me.

Consistent branding is good.

9. Use Twitter sharing and subscribe buttons on your blog

Make it easy and obvious for people to share your content on your blog with obvious Twitter buttons at the top of your article. Make sure they can follow you on Twitter with buttons that don’t confuse and again are in a position that is prominent..

10. Write the best headline you can

As Twitter has only 140 characters your tweets should be written with the best headlines you can muster. Learn and practice this skill until your fingers hurt and your mind burns.

You only have 2 seconds to capture their attention until they click away.

What about you?

What commandment resonates with you. What have I left out. Maybe we could come up with 20 but I ran out of time.

Look forward to your feedback in the comments below.



Want to learn how to market your blog with Twitter?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 149,000.

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Jeffbullas's Blog


  • LOVE TWITTER… LOVE your 10 commandments.

    I would add engage… not about your topic or business…about life… it’s amazing what you can exchange in 140 characters… how you can lift others up… and share your gifts with the world.

    If you’re new to Twitter… as I was just 18 months ago… TweetChats are a marvelous way to meet Tweeps, find common threads for engagement, and learn more about TwitterVille. #LeadFromWithin and #BlogChat are two of my FAVEs…


    • Ande… iI sounds like you have given Twitter a big hug!

    • #Blogchat is awesome Ande…good call!

  • Great advice. I started playing with Twitter a year ago & couldn’t use common sense to figure it out. I was overwhelmed, but determined. Now after studying your info & others, I’ve come to enjoy meeting people around the world and really connecting. It has been nice to move past just trying to get numbers. Thanks for sharing great info. Tweet me @CoastalDeb.

    • Good to hear your story and Twitter does seem to be an enigma to quite a few!

  • Jeff is that a social media pun to say you “Stumbled Upon Twitter” in your opening sentance? 😉

    • That is well spotted but wasn’t meant to be. But it is!

    • It was unintentional but well spotted Anthony. 🙂

  • Be human by engaging with others not a Robert 🙂
    Thanx for the commandments , useful and helpful for those who think to join or have joined recently,,

    • Thanks for the comment. Engagement is important but it becomes a challenge as you start getting thousands of followers. Then being selective starts to come into the mix

  • I really appreciate your advice Jeff. I actually studied your Twitter habits prior to reading this post and well you are a pro haha. I love when bloggers present content that they have applied before. Thank you!

    I never thought about automation until I started following you. I love your use of hashtags as well.

    Thank you for providing great content.

    • Thanks Praverb. The use of hashtags is important and it is also good to not use too many. 2-3 usually does it

      • thank you very much for taking the time to provide an answer.

        • A pleasure Praverb and you are very welcome.

  • Excellent article Jeff, which automatic follow-back tool do you recommend?

    • Glad you enjoyed it Eric. I am currently using socialoomphprofessional.comand it has been working well for me for years.

  • Holly Ritchie

    Having a link and being focused!! I literally just updated my personal and company twitter from your advise. Thanks!! 🙂

  • Glad to hear about your success with Twitter Elke. Twitter is often underestimated.

  • No, but they have certain limits.

  • There is only one benefit of buying Twitter followers and that is creating the impression of social proof. As for me I have never bought any. It just doesn’t seem right.
    That’s just me.

  • Excellent advice as always Jeff. I too started off like a headless chicken but only 52 months ago so I’m 2 months behind you and one hell of a lot of tweets and followers less 🙂 Personally I prefer Twitter to the other Social Media platforms – I use it for business and personal chat plus manage some client accounts. And I couldn’t manage that without Tweetdeck. I like the fact it is immediate and lots of chat. It can connect you with people all over the world simply – I managed to pin you down for an interview and all via Twitter so it has to be good 🙂 Something I find works well is answering questions and showing your expertise so people tend to come to you or recommend you for your niche. Thanks so much for sharing this on Bizsugar. I will be sharing it on social media too.

    • Glad to catch up Sian again and great to see Twitter is no enigma for you!

  • Thanks for sharing Jeff! Great advice for anyone wanting to get the most out of Twitter.

  • blackdogdev

    Dig the post .. My favorite is Not Neglect – I’m the worst at this and my lack of “stickiness” can prove it. Thanks for keeping me honest and refocusing my attention.

  • Excellent post! Sharing to our clients and followers. 🙂

  • Written many a post on Twitter, these are pretty much on the money Jeff. One quibble on #4 – automation and it’s flaws. I consider following back engagement; it’s not something I do automatically, don’t recommend others follow anyone and everyone that follows them (leads to spam, noise, etc.). Also, I schedule content when appropriate – when read, written w/ some contribution, attribution; but not blind, ala ‘set and forget’ automatically.

    Biggest thing I can add, part of #5 and not neglecting Twitter – Thou Shalt Talk to Others! It’s why you’re there, not just to schedule and share links, but to use it per interests, per chats and conversations, to contribute, to listen, discuss, talk to people. FWIW.

    • Thanks Davina for adding some great insights to the conversation.

  • I also find it awesome that you have responded to most of the comments in this post! You are doing it right! Thanks for the great info.

    • Glad to have you drop by Andrew. I do my best 🙂

  • Hi Jeff! Very nice post! Any recommendations on automating content distribution tools?

    • Two tools to try… Twitterfeed.com for sharing other bloggers content and Socialoomph.com professional version for your own content

  • Hi! Great article. Thanks. I’m not sure when I started to tweet and I’m still trying to keep up! I’m the worst at branding! I have two twitter accounts, two blogs which relate to the twitter accounts, one company FB which relates to both, google+, vimeo, youtube, one tumblr, about me, scoopit and and… I’m getting so confused. When I started my twitter accounts I used names that I didn’t use for the blogs when I finally started them. I use different gravatar pics too. Some of these have a personal identity, others are about one of two of my major interests like: one twitter is mostly yoga/psychology/spirituality and the other is anything eco-fashion to eco-conscious anything so not so personal. Most with different identities. I feel like Sybil! 🙂 Any advice?

    • Hey Sybil…. also known as Chrissy 🙂
      I think it is time to get focused. One category is enough to keep you busy.
      Pick one!
      Jeff 🙂

      • Thx I’ll try! I hate to lose all the work though. 🙁

  • Thanks so much Jeff for always sharing the best value! I would just add thanking people for RT & following, but I guess that falls under engagement….Anyway, again, thanks for sharing! http://www.empowernetwork.com/grammywealth/blog/steps-to-building-a-list/?id=grammywealth

    • Thanks Tamarray That is a great tip. 🙂

  • SMS48

    Commandment # 3, “Be focused”, touches very lightly on an issue that deserves a lot more attention. I follow various Tweeters because they provide technical information that is valuable to me. However, enough of them also tweet enough off-topic, personal information that it becomes very annoying and a major time-drain. An occasional mention of something that shows the Tweeter’s human-side is fine; but not frequent Tweets about personal activities, family life, hobbies, sport interests, etc. Currently, the solution to this issue is separate Twitter accounts for personal use and for other topics. Twitter could help with this issue by making “lists” not just for grouping incoming Tweets for reading, but also for directing outgoing Tweets to specific groups of followers. Otherwise, following commandment #3 by using separate accounts to focus on separate personas/topics would certainly be an improvement.

  • Tracie Sanim

    Commandments – be constructive; and be consistent to ensure your branding isn’t compromised

  • C Gallagher-Louisy

    This is a great article. Thanks! Tip re: #2: an excellent way to provide a link on your twitter profile page is http://www.about.me. It’s a one-page profile where you can provide a description of yourself and links to all your social media accounts and other websites where you share information and resources.

  • I’ve been much more active since the fall of 2012 and went from about 200 followers to over 2200 in about 8 months, mostly due to be an active #uniteblue follower. However, I don’t want to have separate accounts for separate interests, so I do list my interests in my bio. (@lauriedtmann) My main commandment would be “Thou shalt not troll and shall block trolls.”

  • I would add engage with your audience. Twitter is part of the social media world, not the news media world. You must respect the nature of the platform as well as the intricacies of the platform itself.

  • I use hootsuite to manage my tweets since it’s not whole day that I’ll be checking out my twitter but I still make sure that I share relevant information with my followers. Great list here @jeffbullas:disqus.

  • Respectfully disagree with part of #4. Followback was a popular technique a couple years ago, but has fallen out of favour. If you automatically follow back, you’re going to end up following a lot of spam bots and scammers, which reflects poorly on your brand. I think the signal to noise ratio is too poor to automate following.