20 Essential Tips for Better Twitter Etiquette

I’ve been on Twitter almost since it started. I love it. While it’s become more mainstream recently, I still find a lot of people misusing Twitter.

Twitter Etiquette

To be fair, it’s a user-driven platform, so the “rules” are always changing. Still, there are some simple practices anyone can use on Twitter to make you not look like such a newbie — or a jerk.

Here are 20 quick tips (in addition to my Twitter tips for beginners) to help your social media etiquette:

Twitter manners 101

  1. Be gracious.
  2. Be social. Twitter is about conversation, not monologue.
  3. Say “thank you” (a lot).
  4. Use the @ reply to publicly thank someone.
  5. Don’t just follow people; engage them.
  6. Have a sense of humor.
  7. Refrain from flaming. Use your words to encourage and lift up rather than to tear down. Never underestimate the power of a tweet.
  8. Don’t follow someone expecting him to follow you back. Follow because you’re interested in what the person has to say. (Conversely, and somewhat ironically, if someone does follow you, it’s courteous to follow back.)
  9. Be informal. Have fun. Don’t treat it as a chore.
  10. Don’t hound influential people, begging them to read your blog or retweet you. Win their trust and influence by being remarkable and serving them first. My best strategy for networking is serving others.
  11. Hold back the urge to tweet too much (more than 20 times per day). If you have a lot of ideas, use a program like Hootsuite or Cotweet to schedule your tweets so that they can be spaced out.
  12. Listen to your followers.
  13. Show interest in others, before asking them to care about you (or what you do).
  14. Ask questions.
  15. Don’t be afraid to ask for a retweet when it’s really important. (This is best utilized when it’s to help out someone else.)
  16. Tell the truth.
  17. Don’t tweet in the third person (Jeff hates it when you do that — it’s so Facebook circa 2008).
  18. Don’t retweet people who retweet you, unless you’re responding and quoting them. e.g. “RT @JeffGoins are you crazy?! // You bet.”
  19. Promote other people’s stuff (blog posts, photos, websites, etc.)
  20. Talk about other people more than you do about yourself. A good rule of thumb is the 20:1 ratio.

What tips for Twitter etiquette would you add? Share in the comments.


47 thoughts on “20 Essential Tips for Better Twitter Etiquette

  1. Wow, tweeting others 20:1!  I have heard 12:1.  That’s hard to achieve when I don’t probably don’t even tweet 20 times in a day!

    What thoughts do you have for someone like me, who really can’t be on Twitter much at all?  I don’t have time to have conversations, so I feel like I’m monologueing all the time. Should I just focus on sharing others stuff and not my own?

    1. Oh, p.s. Have you done a post like this for FB because I could really use some tips over there! Thanks for all your info, Jeff!  I really appreciate it, even when I don’t comment.  I try to RT.  🙂 

        1. In my niche, the readers I want to reach are NOT on Twitter, but they ARE on FB.  So I’m trying to make more use of my FB blog page.
          I have an FB page for my blog, and I also have my personal FB page.  For my fellow bloggers that I consider friends, I’m more than happy to accept a friend request, but I also would love to have their interaction on my FB blog page.  But, I don’t know how to get them there, other than posting a link to my FB blog page on my blog (which I have done).  Might be good to cover whether to have a separate FB page for your blog or to simply use your personal FB.
          I know that some want to build a platform and that is why they prefer to simply use the personal page, but I think it blurs too many lines.  I don’t want my readers seeing pics of my kids’ birthday party!
          Some questions I’ve pondered.
          Sharing content through my personal page: yes or no?
          Suggesting my FB blog page to friends: yes or no?
          How many times a day should I post on FB?
          I know there are more, but those are the only things off the top of my head. 
          I’m a pretty heavy FB user for personal comm with friends/family, but I want to use it much more for blogging!  Any tips you can share would be awesome, Jeff!  Oops, I think I went over the 50 word max!  😉

    2. It all depends on context and should be averaged out over time, but as a rule, I do agree with that.

      I’m trying to spend less time on Twitter. I schedule most of my tweets in bulk via hootsuite. I share 15-20 links from recent posts and articles I’ve read and throw in a few thoughts I have. (These days, though, I mostly just share links.)

      I think you can throw in a few of your own pieces of content in there, as well.

  2. Jeff, Thanks for this post. speaking from experience. I think a lot of people don’t know how to engage in conversation.  I’ve been on twitter for well over a year but didn’t know the full potential until 2 months ago when i started reaching out and talking to others.
    It’s when conversation starts happening that the magic happens…

  3. Great list! I especially love #6 and #9.

    However, #11 is my favorite because 20 tweets a day will put you in my Twitter time-out. As will linking to things all day long – including your own stuff found elsewhere. I want to hear your voice on that platform in that moment (with a smidgen of the other). I think over-tweeting simply devalues what you’re bringing to the table. I like Michael Hyatt’s suggestion of 10-12 daily tweets max.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jamie. I confess that I sometimes tweet a LOT. I love it so. I appreciated your feedback, though. I’m trying to learn to say more by tweeting less.

      1.  P.S. You weren’t actually the “you” in my example. To my knowledge, you’re far from being disciplined. 🙂

          1. “Disciplined” in terms of going to previously mentioned “time out.” I automatically write 3x less effectively when posting comments on a blog of a real writer.

  4. Hai Jeff, i like your Twitter Etiequette, it is so usefull form me.
    I want to translating it into Indonesian, for my blog, if you don’t mind. 🙂
    Just 20 tips only, not the whole article, i will place a linkback to this article. 🙂
    Sorry if my english is messed up.

  5. #8… Interesting…do you..yes, you, really “follow” people who “follow” you? Or do you just like to reiterate things you’ve read/ heard? What is being Twitter Courtious mean to you?

  6. Great post Jeff.  I’ve only been on Twitter since last summer but the one that perplexes me is when people retweet compliments they’re given.  There’s something about that that kind of doesn’t sit well with me, but it seems so common. 

    Wish I’d gotten to meet you at Killer Tribes–that day was so busy but thank you for your contribution to that outstanding event!

  7. So very superficial and Diplomatic!  Anyone  could have said this. These etiquette  are not good behaviour but protocol to impress others.

  8. Thank you for mentioning the practice of saying, “thank you” and/or replying. The number of people on Twitter who never acknowledge tweets sent to them, or at best, retweet a compliment they received, breaks my heart. It’s not just rude, it’s a stupid business/branding practice. Time and again, I see someone doing this, and start losing followers, who are often so offended, they even delete their tweets sent before unfollowing. Btw, I’m not talking about people receiving a massive number of messages either, I’m talking about people getting 6-20 tweets sent to them a week, who seemingly do this practice “on principle’ – one I have yet to figure out.

  9. Thanks for this Jeff – a great, really helpful article and as a twitter newbie just what I needed! I was wondering whether I my instinct of following others who follow you was the right one – finding this is one of those things that makes me grateful for the internet! Of course I wouldn’t expect people to treat it like a rule book to be followed to the letter but its clear you don’t meant it that way. I must try the conversation thing some time : )

    1. Another rule should be that you should put an avatar on your account and not use the default egg. The egg icon is usually a newb thing and/or a bot thing. Personalize without giving to much information .. just enough so folks get who you are. 🙂

  10. Just clarifying tip 18 as we have a great online network that supports eachother. When we have put up a new blog, we retweet others in our network. They reciprocate by retweeting our blog. This seems to be an ideal method to get our content / brand out in front of many eyes as possible. It seems to be in contrary to your tip 18 though. We avoid all spam techniques as well as very limited self promotion tweets. The material in our content is usually supportive social media tips and informative blogs.

  11. Great tips! It’s polite to follow back but if you’re not interested in the person, you will end up unfollowing. Been there, done that. So I don’t do it anymore.

    Also, inline RTs. Like why do it when you have nothing to add? Just RT the original unless you have a million followers and think it will get more visibility.

  12. Not a lot of people talk about this, but if you’re going to retweet someone, use the retweet button. Don’t type “RT” and their handle, because that robs them of the credit for the post in Twitter analytics. And for God’s sake don’t take a screenshot of their tweet and post it as a picture. They’ll never even know you did it or that anyone else liked it. Manual retweets and screenshot retweets are Twitter’s equivalent of theft. People need to stop doing it.

    1. I see your point and agree that credit where credit is due is important, but the irony is that ‘manual’ retweets take on a new meaning if you’re following point 11 and using Hootsuite to schedule and spread out your tweets. You can’t schedule retweets UNLESS you quote and use the ‘RT @’ format; for me, ‘manual’ retweeting is going through my feed and hitting the button to retweet there-and-then. Social media managers don’t just encourage this, they require it, so unless they make changes to what their platform can do it’s not going anywhere. There’s simply no excuse for screenshot retweets, though.

  13. Interesting article. Something weird with CoTweet page. Any Free tweet management sites?

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