The Importance of Social Etiquette on Twitter

Very interesting; this social networking business.  I am definitely not new to the digital age and online networking.  Truth be known, I’ve been doing it since my days as a realtor in 1999.  I have seen many sites come and go and many businesses fail and mostly because they didn’t know how to make the most of their marketing and free press ventures.  I’m no expert by any means but trial and error seems to work quite well when figuring out what to do and how to present yourself in a public forum in order to gain future business, client trust, and of course build credibility with other people and businesses within your network.  

With that said, let’s move on to some very basic but important social etiquette of using Twitter to promote yourself, your ideas, and your business. (Just for reference, RT=Retweet  & Post=Tweet)

1. Introduction

Make yourself known! I like it when people say hello or even just say something to me regarding something I have posted.  It isn’t about an ego boost, it’s just a way for me to know you are there and I can talk to you.  I may be in a league of my own here but I don’t see anything wrong with a brief introduction or some kind words about someone you pick to follow on Twitter.  If you don’t want to tweet it to the public forum, at the very least a direct message, which is private, is a great way to break the ice.  Also, if someone personally recommends you to follow someone else because of this or that, and you decide to follow, tell that person who recommended you to follow and mention something about a post they made.  It isn’t hard to do, and I think more people should do it…Communication is the key to success!  Twitter isn’t just about your business or ideas; it is about building relationships, credibility, and long-term contacts whether for business or personal reasons.

2. Acknowledgement, Reciprocity, & Saying Thank You

I had an experience today, which I think was what really drove me to write this article.  I tweeted a message to someone and a few minutes later I saw that my tweet had been copied and there was no mention of me in the copied version.  It wasn’t really a huge issue but it did bother me.  The person that copied it doesn’t follow me and has never as much as acknowledged me, so I guess I found it somewhat rude; it kind of seems like plagiarism in a way.  There are a couple of things you can do if you want to RT someone else’s post…First you can use the “retweet” button which is the easiest, OR, you can type in RT @personsname, if you want to include a comment of your own in their tweet.  Things like this are acknowledgements of others and are appreciated; they are also great rapport builders for future followers.  

Something else I have noticed on a few occasions is the lack of reciprocity which boggles me.  My twitter use is based around employment, news, and nonprofit affiliations.  Often times I will use the RT function to help a nonprofit or media outlet to spread the word but I have seen very little of the same returned.  It has happened on a few occasions but it’s sparse compared to my efforts to support their message.  Although, they are very good for the most part about saying Thank you for the RT and mentioning me.  Here’s the suggestion, if you see that someone has RT your post, reciprocate by RT one of theirs.  If however, their posts are not in line with your objectives, at minimum, you really should acknowledge them by saying TY for the RT @theirname.  It is just a polite thing to do, and they won’t become annoyed with your lack of acknowledgement, and will probably continue to help you by RT your tweets!   

3: Repetition is futile

Twitter is a prime example of trial and error…You have 140 words to get your message across, so use it wisely.  If you’re not getting a response, then stop and try a different approach.  I have seen so many entrepreneurs tweet the same message over and over and in all honesty, that can be detrimental to your business and you will lose followers.  If I have followed someone and the only thing they post is “Try this SEO Trick” believe me,  I quickly unfollow because I don’t want repetitive information from the same person, and more so, because there is absolutely no creativity or human element behind the tweet.  For me, Twitter is a great venue for sharing information so why does it have to be all about one topic in the same tweet over and over?  Leverage your efforts by writing a thought provoking article on your subject and share it, or share a post from another company that supports your ideas, ask your followers for opinions, look to others in your field of interest for inspiration and follow them…they might be your competition but you can learn from their achievements, as well as shortcomings.  

4: Create a dialogue and human interest

People want to do business with people…not messages, or what appears to be a machine driven posting. Sometimes random thoughts are a great communication tool on Twitter because you are creating an opportunity for a dialogue, if someone likes or takes issue with the tweet.  However, some risk is involved because if someone responds then your next step should be to answer their response, unless what they responded with was hate driven or insulting…in those instances the block feature works quite well.  You can sell your ideas through a personalized touch as long as you don’t forget your main goal; your business or message you want to convey.  I had a realtor that I followed on Twitter who never lost sight of his message but he used the random thought tool in a way that annoyed me and I unfollowed.  This is a personal judgment call on the behalf of the individual following, but when he posted “What would Karl Marx think of our High School system” more than once, that was a deal breaker for me.  It almost seemed that he had his account set up on a time session and would post the same random thought every other day, at the same time, like clockwork.  Remember…Repetition is futile.  If you want to use the random thought approach, do so in such a way that it will peak the positive interest of others and encourage responses if possible, but avoid using the same random thought more than once, as it shows lack of creativity and human introspection.

5. Remember your Twitter Etiquette

As with anything else in life there is a certain expectation of etiquette when using Twitter.  Five things you should probably limit or avoid all together…Swearing, drama, dribble, threats, & bad links.

First: If you are trying to get your points across, name calling and swearing won’t do it.  I’m not saying this because I’m prude to the occasional four letter word, if used in the right context, but when you are trying to build credibility with others, the last thing you want to be doing is positioning yourself or your business as nothing more than propaganda or making yourself look like a fool because you have no language or people skills.  Personal accounts are different and if you want to use that kind of language in your personal account, I would suggest you mark your account as private so peering eyes of employers, vendors, clients, and the like don’t have access.

Second: drama can be fun sometimes if you’re bantering about sports and which team is better, but dramatizing your business or speaking poorly of others you work with and displaying it all over Twitter is a bad idea and reflects poorly on you as an individual and a professional. 

Third: Dribble…the “poor me” scenario is horrible for business; no one is going to feel sorry for you and most likely will choose to abandon their follow ship.  If you really need to whine and complain, find a friend, a mental health worker, or a family member and have a real conversation away from the computer.  Maybe it isn’t as bad as all that but you just feel like complaining, then use a blog…but remember if you post it, someone will read it and you may not like the results. 

Fourth: Offer proof and information-don’t just use threats, antagonize, or coerce others into your opinions.  If something is important to you or your business, and you want to share it, be positive and if at all possible, offer an article or two on the subject matter.  People like evidence and proof not just a random post that states “ABC Company are cheaters and should be punished”…Your followers and other business contacts have no idea what you’re going on about and will more than likely unfollow and quite possibly stop doing business with you all together because you make claims and accusatory comments or post threatening messages.  The first thing on your followers mind will be “Wow, if they say that about ABC Company, what are they saying about me or my company?” which will then prompt the train of your Twitter account to derail.

Fifth: If you are posting links make sure they work! Before you retweet someone else’s tweet, check the link for accuracy and also just to make sure it is working properly.  If you do by chance post a nonfunctional link, delete your original post, apologize, and repost with a correction, people are more forgiving when you own your mistakes.  There is a company out there, I won’t mention names, but for whatever reason, their links change after a brief time…so what you thought was a link to a concert event actually ends up being a link to bank foreclosures…just be aware of it.  Also, if you see a tweet you don’t feel comfortable retweeting, even if it’s along the same lines as your business or ideas; trust your instincts because Twitter won’t tell you if there is a virus waiting on the other side of that link.  Best practice…use the twitter button on the page you want to link to or if you’re anything like me and don’t trust that one company with links, I recommend three companies for shortening links: and  (I like tinyurl the best, there’s no account needed).

Happy Tweeting 🙂


  1. theglamorousone

    Great post – social etiquette is essential in all spheres, whether it be reality or virtual.

    I’m a bit of a newbie on Twitter, so thanks for the info! 😀


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