Twitter Etiquette 101

June 19, 2012
Twitter has evolved from being a mere social networking platform to share interesting tidbits and make friends into a venue for businesses to promote brands, establish thought leadership in various industries and make important policy announcements. However, with the around 500 million tweets being sent out worldwide in a day, it is easier to get lost than build a niche. Abiding by the Twitter rules of engagement the moment you create your account?will prevent your followers and potential clients from feeling alienated and clicking that 'unfollow' button. Twitter may be a highly-public domain, but there still are basic rules?that you must follow if you want to maximize your micro-blogging experience. The simplest rule is this: be nice and you'll get nice in return. Here are 5 guidelines to help make your Twitter experience fruitful.

Twitter Etiquette In 5 Ways

1. Cherish your relationships.

When another user retweets?your post or @mentions?you, thank him or her. This is a great way to get into a conversation and learn more about your followers. Engagement, or getting into a conversation, is the core of the Twitter experience. If you want to earn the respect and endorsement of your followers (and get more followers), you should interact -- and nicely. If you think saying 'thank you' is too patronizing, you can return the favor and retweet one of their posts. For example: 'RT @username Time is gold -- I certainly agree!'

2. Learn how hashtags really work.

Hashtags, or the keywords that begin with the # sign and drive trends, are there to encourage participation among users and to create a community where like-minded people can shares thoughts and discuss specific topics, i.e. #USElections or #MSL. Use them wisely. Peppering your tweets with too many hashtags is not only defeating the purpose of a hashtag but also very annoying to see. Expect to get unfollowed when you do this. Another trend on hashtag use is to succeed the # sign with a sentiment, not necessarily a real hashtag that gathers into a thread, as with #imsotiredtoday or #iwishitwerefriday. They can be amusing to your close group of friends, but your other followers might find these pretentious and self-serving. Use them sparingly if you have to.

3. You are what you tweet.

Be mindful of what you post because anything you place on your timeline will be accessed by all of your followers and seen by their own followers. You might have been in an embarrassing situation at the office and found the photo nice to share with friends. However, do note that it will also reach a horde of strangers and possibly your boss, who might not appreciate what you have made public. Posting inappropriate photos and using explicit language is also a big NO. You also don't have to post a blow-by-blow account of what you did since you woke up in the morning, what you ate, where you went, etc. This can be very annoying for followers who would like to see only valuable information shared on their timelines. Before you know it, they could already be blocking your tweets. Resist the urge to over-tweet.

4. Know your audience.

When you post a tweet, you are doing it not just for yourself but also for the benefit of your followers. That said, be mindful of the types of content you get out and ensure that they are valuable and relevent to your readers. Speak to your followers.

5. When in doubt, have common sense prevail.

Don't post anything you wouldn't try to defend face to face. If you're unsure, don't post it online, or just send it privately via a direct message. Better yet, protect your tweets so they don't go public. Bear in mind, though, that by protecting your tweets?you have a greater responsibility to the users who are actually subscribed to see your posts. So make them count. Overall, Twitter is a platform for communication and information-sharing. While you have all the liberty in the world to post whatever you like, whenever you like, you have a unspoken responsibility to share only what is relevant, interesting, or valuable. If you want to expand your Twitter following, this is the route you should take. Read more about Twitter basics.

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