Personal Branding: 5 Simple Twitter Etiquette Rules

Today we’re going to discuss Twitter. Misuse and abuse seems to happen fairly often and there are always new ways to annoy people. Don’t be that guy.

1. The Running Commentary

Yes, I’m guilty of this too. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Consider your following audience before you decide to live-tweet the latest episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. If you normally only post to Twitter once or twice a day, then suddenly let 100 tweets in one night fly, not only will you annoy your followers, but you might end up in Twitter jail. Consider doing a wrap-up blog post or hosting the commentary on your website so others can join in as well.

2. Acronyms are not your friend

Twitter was designed for cell phones but most phones come with a full keyboard, so there’s no need for the text-speak on Twitter. Spelling still counts on Twitter, especially when you’re a writer.

3. Mind the plugs

No, that’s not an erotica reference. On Twitter, if your feed consists of nothing but plugs for yourself and your work, your followers will probably check out. People followed you because they thought you’d be interesting.

4. Following your followers.

This is largely your choice. In the early days of Twitter, it was commonplace for users to follow anyone who followed them. But then the bots moved in and Twitter is just too large for it now. In fact, the auto-follow account option is long gone. Following back is strictly voluntary. But really, if they seem interesting, and they have some commonality with you, why not?

5. Twitter is a public forum.

Twitter can be read by anyone, and they pop up on Google searches. I recently googled myself (Yes, yes, I did) and I found a lot of older tweets had been indexed by Google. That means anyone can find it. Anyone can read it. Sure you can protect your stream, but that’s not a good practice for someone like authors that need to get their name out. I never follow protected users back, and it’s not because I hate them, but because I can’t gauge how their tweets will go if I do follow, because I can’t see them.

Most of Twitter etiquette is common sense. If you wouldn’t do it to a stranger in person, then don’t do it to a person on Twitter. I’ve always described Twitter as a giant, worldwide cocktail party. You can always jump into conversations, or you can sit in the corner. But don’t be that guy dancing on the table with a lampshade on his head.

What kind of etiquette rules have you heard about Twitter? What confuses you?  What makes sense? I love hearing from you!


I’m looking for guest bloggers for Thursdays in April and May. If interested, email me at edits [at] novelistsatwork [dot] com.

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