Good And Bad Practices When Using Twitter

In this article, I would like to point out a few good and bad practices to be aware of when using the popular social media service Twitter.

Some of these I have noticed on a personal level and others I’ve seen multiple people participate in or complain about throughout my time using the service. While I’m no “power-user,” I have been featured in several must-follow design lists and believe that these tips could come in handy for new and experienced users alike.

Bad Practices

It’s not hard to abuse Twitter and in some cases upset your followers. It’s wise to be consciously aware of your actions and how they may effect other users throughout the community. Here are just a few actions that I have noticed in my time on Twitter that may be considered bad practice.

Limit Your Self-Promotion

Twitter is an excellent way to send traffic to your blog. Don’t abuse this privilege by promoting yourself in every other tweet. One to two times a day is a safe number to stick with.

Don’t Steal Tweets

You know that tweet that just ran through your timeline that was frickin awesome? If you want to share that with your followers, make sure and cite the source. Use the Retweet function in Twitter so that others know where this creativity is coming from. If you think they will never find out, guess again.

Two RT’s is Company, Three’s a Crowd

Sometimes you just have to let a tweet die. If you see a whole bunch of RT’s in a tweet, no matter how cool it may be, do everyone a favor and avoid the RT button. If you must keep it alive just cite the original source.

Auto-Following

Guilty as charged. When I first made my way onto Twitter I thought that it would be a great idea to follow everyone who followed me. Wrong! Unless you enjoy reading spam or finding out that some random person named Rhonda is headed to the club to get jiggy with it, avoid this common practice. No offense to anyone named Rhonda.

Direct Message Scams

Twitter accounts do get hacked. If someone you know sends you a DM that sings to the tune of – “You look funny on this Blog – http://shad.y”. Don’t be “that guy” by clicking on the link. If it feels suspicious then it probably is. DM scam is running rampant, so be careful.

Post Links to the Source, not Your Personal Site

If you think that it’s cool to copy the first paragraph of someones original article, publish it on your personal site and then drive traffic to it via Twitter, then you need to reevaluate your online presence. No one likes to jump through hoops and you’re likely to lose friends and gain enemies by engaging in this.

The only way that this is acceptable is through a design link community such as DesignBump or TheWebBlend, where the original author intentionally posted an article in an effort to drive traffic.

Hash Tag Abuse

Hash tags are an excellent way to find tweets of a specific topic. When using them, it’s good practice to place them at the end of your text. Using them as the actual wording of your tweet is annoying to readers. Using several of them within the wording of your tweet has got to be a crime in some country.

Auto-Tweeting

This is something that I engaged in when I first joined Twitter but over time it just didn’t sit well with me. It’s easy to spot people who do this, especially when Twitter goes down for a while. If you suddenly see 9 new tweets in 5 seconds all from the same person, It’s likely that their auto-tweets got hung up and are now being regurgitated all at once. The majority of Twitter users are looking for real people and not someone who is acting robotic.

Drunk-Tweeting

If you’re sporting the Captain Morgan stance, do your followers a favor and shutdown Twitter for the night. Sending a Twitpic of yourself streaking down Bourbon Street may sound like an awesome idea at 2 a.m., but I’m willing to bet you’ll hit that delete button when you awake from your drunken state.

Don’t Update Too Often

You know that user who dominates your timeline? I know you know who I’m talking about. That, is updating too often. Unless your speaking to @others, limit your tweets to around 1-3 times an hour max.

Profanity

I’ll keep this one simple. This isn’t Myspace and we’re not in the 8th grade. Don’t cuss! Shame on you Elmo.

Good Practices

Twitter is a great place to network with others, especially in your particular niche. On top of that, when used properly, you can create some awesome lasting friendships with people you otherwise would’ve never met. I’ve experienced this first-hand. If you want to keep your followers happy and also increase your count, here are a couple of easy ways to use Twitter effectively. This should come natural to most people.

Share the Cool Stuff

Did you find some really cool website that legitimately prints out $100 bills for free? Don’t keep stuff like that to yourself. Sharing cool links helps to build a strong following. You will gain respect for this.

Be a Human

If all you do is post links all day, then you are acting more like a conveyor belt than an actual human. I love it when someone I follow shows their personal side and let’s me know that their frozen meal just exploded in their microwave. It shows me that they’re real. Take the time to congratulate people when they tweet about their accomplishments as well.

Participate in #FF

Follow Friday is a great way to share your favorite Twitter users with your followers. Not only are you sharing the love, but you are also letting the people that you mention know that you enjoy their tweets.

Turn it off

If you’re even remotely addicted to Twitter, turn it off when you need to get some work done. I’ve finally convinced myself to do this when writing posts or working on client projects. That little number in the tab that represents incoming tweets can easily tempt you to stray away from the task at hand and before you know it you’re actively tweeting away.

Ask for Input

You would be amazed at how many people are willing to add their 2ยข if you just ask. If you need advice about something, are having issues with your site or are just looking for a fresh pair of eyes to look over some work, ask your followers for help.

Use Direct Messages Appropriately

If someone sends you a question through a direct message, respond the same way. I had someone send me a link recently displaying the new redesign of their website and asking for some input. Imagine if I had responded publicly – “Hey Joe, that new redesign looks spiffy. When can we expect to see it launched?”. Don’t be “that guy”.

Make Mental Notes

If someone mentions that their birthday is next week, make a mental note and ask them how it went once the time has passed. The same goes for any type of special occasion. Showing that you care or are interested in others creates a lasting memory for the recipient.

Clean up the Clutter

Occasionally it’s a good idea to make a run through your list of followers and dump the few who are bringing nothing or irrelevant info to the table. Twitter is supposed to be a fun and an interesting way to receive information and useful links. You have complete control over who and what makes it into your stream, so take the time to weed out the bad apples. Don’t be afraid to unfollow.

Open Links before Retweeting

Just because a certain someone typically tweets great stuff, don’t assume that they’re King Midas and that every link is gold. Click the link, read the post and then decide if it’s worth passing on to others.

On a Sidenote

No disrespect to any of the Sesame Street characters mentioned. I’ve been watching you guys since I was born and probably couldn’t count or say my ABC’s without you. I needed your help in conveying what I believe are some great guidelines and tips for using Twitter. Had I not spiced up the post a bit, most people would of just scanned the list.

If you have some tips that you have learned throughout the time you’ve spent on Twitter or want to add to one of the tips above, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. If you liked the post, then go ahead and follow me on Twitter as well. Thanks!

14 Comments

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  1. This article was absolutely amazing! Thanks for the walk down Sesame Street. I really enjoyed this!

    • Got this just in time too… Seems like Twitter is down! Will RT when it’s back up.

  2. really nice article m8!! read it all till the end and agree with you in all points!! keep going the good work!! cheers!

  3. Great article… had a good read. It always troubled me weather i should cite someone in a linked tweet even if its going to their blog anyway. What do you think?

  4. Great points, very helpful article thank you!

  5. Love the Twitter avatars! Sesame Street owns.

  6. Rachel

    This is awesome. I love the Sesame Street examples. Do they have an article for good and bad Practices for Facebook? If there is one, could someone link me to it. And if there isn’t, I think that’s the next thing that needs to be published.

    • Great idea Rachel! I may put one together in the near future. I’ll have to get creative with a different theme other than Sesame Street though. Thanks for the comment!

  7. This is the most awesome twitter post ever.
    And you know why.

  8. RGC Media

    Great article, really useful and I hope more people take it on board!

  9. Your post has quality content and it’s presented in any engaging manner so I thank you for publishing it. I originally got a twitter account to let my small number of readers know when I published posts and they joined for the same reasons. It didn’t take long until we had a legion of non-blogging followers, who rarely blabbed about sweet muck all all day long. Worse still they began to lecture us about providing “quality content” in tweets. Get real! The quality content is at the link in the tweet … DUH! I pruned them.

    Next came the schemers and scammers and their bot armies who tried to suck me into a race based on how many automatic followers could be racked up. I pruned them too.

    As I was reading this post I realized I need to take out the pruning shears again.

    Cheers!

    • Thanks for sharing this.

      Your post was a good refresher for me as I am not a total newbie, but needed some useful reminders.

      And yes, I will do some sorting out now that I am more aware of automatic tweets.

  10. JJ

    Great advice, written good and wonderfully illustrated. Thank you for this post!

  11. Great insight on tweeting! Really liked the one with Elmo! I was just writing about the spammers! As a new tweeter, I noticed that the spammers were the first to jump on board. But why focus on the negative? The most amazing thing about all of these social networks is the ability to learn new information quickly. If you thought you knew everything, the internet let’s you know pretty quickly, that you don’t know-it-all! Thanks for the tips! I will schedule this tweet!

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