Twitter Manners: How To Write Good Tweets and Be a Good 'Twittizen'

  1. Thou Shall Be Kind
  2. Thou Shall Create a Profile and Avatar
  3. Thou Shall Not Covet Another's Follower Count
  4. Thou Shall Engage, Not Broadcast
  5. Thou Shall Be Generous
  6. Thou Shall Be Grateful
  7. Thou Shall Not Auto-DM
  8. Thou Shall Not Abuse The #
  9. Thou Shall Not Over-Post
  10. Thou Shall Be Responsive

I would love to hear your thoughts on the best practices for tweeting effectively. Add your own commandments in the comments! I also absolutely love Haiku Deck for creating visually stunning presentations quickly and easily on my iPad.

10 Commandments for Twitter/Haiku Deck.

Like any community, there are a lot of un-written laws about how to 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 your 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 bazillion 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 an outstanding white paper that you want to share, tell me in public and I just might re-tweet the link.

Twitter is 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. Send out links to blogs, websites 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. Leave 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 to 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 in order 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.


Janet Fouts is a social media coach who helps individuals and corporations figure out how to use social media as part of their outreach and marketing program. She's a frequent speaker at conferences, conducts workshops, training sessions and webinars around social media and online marketing and has authored three books on social media, "Social Media Success," "#Socialmedia PR tweet," and "#Socialmedia Nonprofit tweet." TatuDigital is a full service inbound marketing agency, co-founded by Fouts.