Twitter: Learn the Etiquette, Tips & Tricks

Up until July 2006, tweeting was something only birds did, but then, Twitter happened. Nowadays, tweeting is something people do on Twitter (and birds hardly tweet anymore!)

 Twitter is one of the most famous online social networks and microblogging services that enables users to “tweet.” Tweets are messages limited to 140 characters. A tweets can contain text, images, videos, links, etc.

Whether you’re tweeting with your personal account or from a brand account, there are rules to tweet with. By many people, Twitter is considered to be a lawless place where you can enjoy ‘sharing’ worthless nonsense freely, without the need to worry about it. Well, it’s not! When people do not follow the unwritten (yet!) Twitter etiquette, it’s awkward and makes us all cringe. Let me explain how not to be that awkward guy on Twitter!

 

Twitter Etiquette:

Like any other social network, Twitter is social, before its being an online network. I mean it’s a community of people, not robots. Therefore, many rules of an offline society have their digital twins in an online community, such as Twitter.

 

Content is the King

1. Always try to add value. What you tweet should add value to your followers’ timeline.  You should give people a reason to follow you, and this is more crucial if you’re tweeting as a brand. Also, when tweeting as a brand, you need to be more careful with spelling, the language you’re using, the strategy you’re using to face and service your customers.

2. Sharing others’ content. If you don’t want to be called a “tweet stealer“, give credit to people for their work and original content. A link, a mention, or at least a name (as much as you can put in a tweet). I believe this is also true for ‘manual retweet‘ or RT. There’s a simple Retweet button for each tweet. Don’t manually RT it if you don’t have anything to add to it. It just makes you look like someone who’s just trying to steal someone else’s moment, and it’s pathetic. However, if you’re RT a tweet with your own comment on it, it’s better than a simple retweet.

3. #Hashtags.  Hashtag is a powerful tool in Twitter, which can be both used and overused! Learn how to use hashtags #and #don’t #overuse #them #in #your #tweets #and #waste #your #precious #140characters!

4. News and headlines. Don’t just Tweet links to news with the same title as the article itself. Add your touch to it, even if it’s a few words, then hit the tweet button (and don’t forget one or two relevant hashtags.)

5. Links. Although Twitter automatically shorten the links it in the tweet (to save the valuable characters for you), it will show the expanded link in the tweet. It’s better if you shorten your links before posting them. It will make your tweets more readable and less cluttered. You can use Bit.ly, Goo.gl, Ow.ly, etc. to shorten your links. In addition to your tweets’ looks, these URL shorteners will give you insight about the number of clicks on your links, the client, the location and more, which can be useful to learn about your followers.

Tip. Try to put the shortened link at the end of your tweet. It just makes it more accessible.

6. Automation. Automatic tweets are not entirely bad, but they are not the best. It’s good if you can keep it relevant to your timeline or if it’s not just old news links you saved up.

 

Followers & Followings

7. Followback.  A followback is nice, but it's not necessary . It’s a good idea to followback people who engage with your tweets, whether it’s a retweet, a reply, or just a favorite; but you don’t have to followback every single person who follows you.

8. Automatic DMs. This is one of the least personal behaviours on Twitter , and it actually might cost you the follower you just earned! Just don’t do it.

Hey “new follower”, thanks for following me. Please follow me here, here, and here because I’m too cool to send you a message myself! Let’s keep in touch!

Oh, and by the way, that keeping in touch part doesn’t happen! Like ever! That being said, if you can make it personal for everyone who follows you, go for it! It would be great!

9. Follower/Following ratio. Twitter is not just about numbers, but there are a few numbers that you shouldn’t easily ignore. One of these numbers is Follower/Following ratio, which is some how related to the quality of a Twitter account. In addition to the ratio, the number of people someone follows on Twitter can give you an idea about the account.

For example, when someone follows me and adds me to his/her 30K following list, this automatically pops into my head “Alright, this guy won’t read my tweets – like ever! Just like the other 30K people he doesn’t read! And if I don’t follow him back, he’ll unfollow! So I’ll pass!” These are usually the accounts you see with a few thousand followers and following! And if they’re lucky enough, they’ll have a few more followers than followings, which make their follower/following ratio above one.

10. Mass follow/unfollow. As much as its becoming a common practice to gain followers, I don’t believe in it. As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is like any other community. It takes time to build relationships in it. So, by frequently following a bunch of irrelevant users and hoping they followback, you might be able to gain a number of followers, but you won’t be able to create any relationships. However, if you don’t have a target audience, this might work for you; like when you are managing a parody account, or a joke account, or an account that general public can relate to.

Twitter Follower/Following ratio numbers
Twitter Numbers – Follower/Following ratio examples by Behrouz Jafarnezhad

Tips & Tricks

11. Don’t start with @username. Starting your tweet with someone's @username means that you're limiting the visibility of the tweet to people who follow you and @username both . Unless it’s a personal mention, put a period before the @ to make it visible to all your followers. For example:

[email protected] is awesome!

12. Mention the author. In addition to giving credit to the creator of the content you’re sharing, by mentioning the author in the tweet, you’re creating a chance to engage with the author as he/she get a notification about your tweet. This is a genuine and valuable type of interaction that can help building real relationships.

13. Tweet length. I know what you’re thinking. How can 140 characters be too long!? However, research shows that tweets between 100 and 120 characters gets more retweets!

Tweet length and ReTweets on Twitter
Effects of Tweet Length on Retweet on Twitter

14. A picture is worth a thousand words. Using images on Twitter can boost followers’ engagement – pretty much works in all social networks. And now that Twitter allows up to four images in a tweet, your tweets can be worth up to four thousand words; instead of 140 characters 😀

15. Don’t flood the feed. People who actually read their followings’ tweets usually hate it when someone floods their feed. This might be by someone who is tweeting fast and continuously. Even retweeting can have the same annoying effect. For instance, one of your followings has found an interesting profile and decided to retweet his/her last thousand tweets! Or maybe he/she has searched for a keyword or hashtag of a trending topic and started retweeting everything they find!

Whichever it is, doing that means you’re flooding your followers’ feed with the content they might not signed up to see, which is totally annoying. I’m not against occasional retweets or joining a trending conversation, however I really advise against flooding others’ timeline.

So, now that you have a set of guidelines to be awesome on Twitter, why don’t you start by tweeting the link to this article? Of course, don’t forget to add your comment and mention me @BehrouzIX so I can get back to you!

Enjoy tweeting – Hope to see you in my feed 🙂

 

Image credit: SumAll.com

10 Comments Twitter: Learn the Etiquette, Tips & Tricks

  1. Mat April 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks Behrouz, nice article. i’ve been using twitter as my main social network, i will be applying these rules 🙂

    Reply
  2. Mat April 27, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks Behrouz, nice article. i’ve been using twitter as my main social network, i will be applying these rules 🙂

    Reply
    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad April 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Awesome! Glad you found them useful!
      Let me know how it works out for you 🙂

      Reply
  3. Mamad April 28, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Perfect. No matter how good one thinks he/she knows twitter rules, there’s much to offer in this article that one can learn. Very useful. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad April 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. I think we cannot stop learning in an ever-changing social platform 🙂

      Reply
      1. Mamad April 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm

        Totally

        Reply
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