Twitter Etiquette

More and more writers are joining the large community of writers on Twitter. I’ve personally found the support and encouragement there incredible. I’m better able to stay connected with friends and meet new writers. It’s a quick and easy way to promote our blogs, books, and one another.

However, after participating in Twitter for many months, I’ve come to realize there are a few basic courtesies. I'm not sure I have a full grasp on twitter etiquette, but here's what I've learned so far:

1. Promote yourself, but promote others too. It’s perfectly fine to use Twitter to post links to our blogs, to share big news about ourselves, or to showcase our books. That’s a wonderful part of social media--the ability to share news instantly with crowds of people.

But we can’t stop there. Nobody likes to listen to someone who is constantly talking about themselves. And the same is true on Twitter. We should be looking for opportunities to help shout out the good news of others, link to other encouraging blog posts, and retweet helpful information.

2. Join in conversations, but don’t overdo it. People talk back and forth on Twitter, but because of the fast-pace we can’t always easily follow along with all the chatting. My eyes tend to glaze over the tweets of someone who comments too much.

For more personal ongoing conversations, consider using direct messages. I’ve begun to make more use of DM’s for private matters, thank yous, or conversations that others may not understand.

3. If you find a helpful link, give credit where it’s due. Retweet is an excellent function on Twitter. When we see a helpful link or comment that someone else has tweeted, retweet allows us to quickly post it to our followers.

However, we need to make sure we’re giving credit to the person who first tweeted that post and not making it seem like the clever saying or link came from us. It’s just one more way to help promote others.

4. For every complaint you post, try to make an equal number of positives. We all appreciate open and honest communication. If we’re having a bad day, we should feel the freedom to express ourselves to a caring community.

But we don’t want Twitter to become the place where we’re constantly complaining about our health, work load, or life in general. So, let’s be real, but remember to balance with the positives too.

I think we’ll all be safe if we follow the Twitter Golden Rule: Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you. (Yes, I made that up, but you get my point!)

A few other basic Twitter considerations:

Make use of hashtags to communicate with others. Among the writing community here are a few that I follow: #amwriting, #writechat, #writers, #authors, #writetip

Make use of Twitter applications for ease in organizing followers. There are quite a few available to download for free. I use Tweetdeck and organize my followers into columns like: Blogging Friends, WordServe Clients, Agents, Etc.

Make use of Twitter buttons. At the very basic, we can all get one of those cute birdie widgets into our sidebars so people can sign up to follow us on Twitter. Also, a retweet button like the one at the bottom of my posts, allows readers to easily share a link to helpful posts on Twitter. (Click here for the application.)

Make professional use of the Bio. Just like our blogs, we never know who might stumble across our Twitter home page. We should make sure our real name is evident, the fact that we’re a writer, and any other credits or important links.

What about you? What things about Twitter bother you the most? Are there other “rules” or etiquette you would add to my list? And are there other Twitter gadgets or applications you’ve found helpful? Please share!


  1. I'm glad you posted this because I've been considering setting up a Twitter account. It's nice to know right away what to do and not to do.

    Now if someone would write a post about blog etiquette.

  2. Thanks Jody,
    I'm have been thinking long and hard about Twitter and think I'm going to join over the next few days.
    Good to know Thanks!

  3. I use a remote client called Digsby, not only can I see what's going on in my Twitterverse, but I can also keep up with Facebook, all my email accounts, and I can chat with IM friends.

  4. I agree. There is a wealth of information out there and we should all share it. I visit it several times a day. If you don't like what people have to say you can block them or simply unfollow them.
    Thanks for putting this out there.

  5. LOL, you've seen all my negative tweets haven't you! *grin* I'm trying to get better, I really am:-)

    Love your twitter etiquitte. I probably don't promote other's blogs as I should, but at times I am nervous that if I "retweet" someone's blog post and not another, someone else will feel bad. SO rarely do I retweet blog posts (and I really try to limit my own links to my own blogs to some of my fav posts or when I'm doing a book giveaway for the same reason... I don't think this is etiquette though but my own fearful persuasion.)

  6. Thank you Jody! I've still been learning this whole twitter thing and appreciate the tips!

  7. Agree with you.

    The one thing I find puzzling is when a person I'm following (and is following me) puts out a question to the general public and does not respond when I answer.

    Or those that never speak to one at all. Don't understand why they're following in the first place.

    But, yes, Twitter is a wonderful place to connect with people, and to learn from other writers. I joined last summer and am so glad I did!

  8. Great post, Jodi!

    I love Twitter, but I probably don't use it effectively. I get confused about little things like #FF.

    I've read etiquette suggests that you thank people who #FF you.

    I looked Digsby after reading CJ's comment. Looks like a great program. Too bad it's not available for Mac yet. :(

  9. I like your Twitter etiquette points. I was a bit worried, before I read it, though. You hear so much about how etiquette includes following those who follow you.

    Of course, the folks who say that are usually those Twitter marketers who think the point of Twitter is to get as many followers as possible... So here's something you can add:

    Don't obsess over follower count, don't focus on getting more followers, and don't tweet about follower count (at least, not often). Follower count is very fluid - followers come and go, and most of those are marketers who aren't really following you, just collecting followers.

    I don't have thousands of followers, but I like to think that those who remain are finding my tweets useful or entertaining - preferably both.

    Thanks for a great post on REAL Twitter etiquette!

  10. I'm still figuring out Twitter. But I think I get it. I don't try and figure out other people's conversations. I just look for neat blog posts, contests, cool quotes. And I don't spend hours on it. But I can see how it would be a procrastination tool.

  11. There's a lot to learn on Twitter and it's still developing and taking shape. I don't pretend to know everything about Twitter manners. I'm sure I make mistakes myself. But . . .

    There are five things which make me stop following a person:

    1. Tweeting negative or abrasive comments about other people. If you want to fight, do it somewhere else -- not here where I have to listen.

    2. Tweeting too much. It clogs up the highway. There are a lot of great people on Twitter. Some of them are very chatty. If they are still really good to read, I put them in a special group I call "chatty." But I definitely don't read them as much as I would if they tweeted less.

    3. Following me then unfollowing me after I follow you. This is confusing, frustrating, and rude. Here's how it works. Person A follows me. I follow back. Person A unfollows me within a few days. They just wanted another number on their list, I guess.

    4. TMI. Giving me data that should be personal like cleaning out toe jam or vomiting up breakfast or your spouse's bad habits. If I don't want to know it in a face-to-face setting, I sure don't want to read it on Twitter.

    5. Use the word "monetize." I'm not into the money. If you are, we have nothing in common.

    My comment here is way too long. Very ironic, after I just typed #2. Maybe I should write a blog post on this! (Maybe next week. Wouldn't that be fun?)

    Anyway, have a great day!

  12. Regarding #FF:

    #FF (or #FollowFriday) is about recommending people you follow to others. It's most useful if you say why you're recommending these folks - great info, funny, a good cause, and so forth.

    I've seen some people abusing it, though. They #FF many people - sometimes hundreds - at once, usually over many tweets. These folks are counting on the thank yous to get them in front of your followers, and maybe increase their follower counts. I don't bother thanking these folks, because they're not giving real recommendations.

    For most people, though, I will thank them.

    Sorry for talking so much...

  13. I've avoided Twitter so far because I don't text/have a cell phone (yes, I know, I'm a cave girl), and when I'm at the computer I have forums and blogs to keep up with which already distract my procrastinated self, so I fear Twitter would further decrease my writing window. I don't know how all of you do it, honestly.

  14. Amazingly helpful post, Jody. I am guilty of bad etiquette from time to time, but I try to make my tweets fun, funny, entertaining, enlightening, or promotional for myself and others.


    4square - Sorry, but I could care less where you are. Plus, do you really want people knowing where you are? Have you heard the word, "stalker?"

    Bodily, er, problems. This often relates to kids, but sometimes to the parents as well. Sorry, if you're sick, I don't want the graphic details.

    Complaints. Don't complain about your life on Twitter. Of course, we all have our down days, and it's fine to admit that. However, keep it to a minimum.

    I am, of course, retweeting this! I may do my own post on this as well, if you don't mind. (Copying is the sincerest form of flattery, right?)

    I was slow finding out the wonders of Twitter. I avoided it like the plague until one day I went kicking and screaming into heaven. ;-)

    Thanks for this great Public Service, Jody. You have such a way with words!

  15. I'm with Cassandra on #2. I've spent less time on Twitter lately in order to put thing in priority. I enjoy it though. Thanks for the info. on hashtags. I'll have to look into that when things slow down a little.

    ~ Wendy

  16. Jody,

    As always, a helpful post. It's one of the reasons I enjoy visiting this blog so much.

  17. Great post, Jody! I agree with all your points.

    I wrote a blog post once about my top five Twitter tips. In brief:
    1) Show your real picture (rather than an Avatar of some kind)
    2) Mind your manners (don't use swear words or insult people publically)
    3) Be specific (instead of "take a look at this" with a link, explain why I should be interested.)
    4) Use #FF tags (great way to give recognition)
    5) Interact (be responsive)

  18. I love twitter! I do get annoyed when people tweet too often. I have one person I would love to follow but he simply tweets too often. Everyone else gets buried.

  19. Twitter is extremely helpful for writers. There are so many of us there and most of us are really down-to-earth in our support and promotion of ourselves (and others). Many other forums have writers who think they're better than others because they've got more published. I like the feel of twitter writers'groups.
    I like your points. I wrote a similar article too. I think you raise some valid ones for people starting out on the site.

  20. I'm yet to understand the philosophy of hash marks. I see them all the time ... :( HELP! :)

  21. Oh dear, Jody, this makes me feel as if I need to give Twitter another chance. I set up an account and tried it for awhile, but I never did get the hang of it. I kept seeing tweets of people I didn't care about. Guess I need to find the writing community and get connected there somehow. But I don't seem to have the energy.
    Thanks. This is so helpful to understand how it works and the do's and don'ts.


  22. Something else to mention: posting pictures. Photos are great especially for personally connecting with your followers, but consider what might be funny to you might be offensive or disgusting to another. Another way to put it: if you don't want to look at it, probably no one else does either!

    Excellent post, Jody!

  23. I still haven't used Twitter, but it's on my list of goals for the year. This post will come in handy when I finally get around to it.

  24. Thanks for the Twittiquette lesson--and it's a reminder because I almost always forget to open it. LOL! I love it when I have it open, but I so rarely do.

  25. Another great post, Jody. I feel I'm still learning how to be a good Tweeter and appreciate the tips.

    One thing I appreciate is when people use their real names on Twitter. I like to know whose tweets I'm reading without having to remember that @CutsyNameHere is really @JaneSmith. For the same reason, I prefer gravatars that are a person's picture, not his/her dog, book cover, or favorite scenery shot.

  26. Great lesson. I'm not on Twitter yet...but figure I'll get there eventually. Your comments helped me know what to expect.

  27. Great lesson. I'm not on Twitter yet...but figure I'll get there eventually. Your comments helped me know what to expect.

  28. Fantastic list! I've already retweeted. ;)

  29. I resisted Twitter for a long time, but now I find it useful. It's not a place for deep conversations, but it helps us keep up with one another.

    Good advice, Jody! I've unfollowed a couple of strangers because they tweeted too often and got in the way of my friends' news. :-) I know, I could use Tweetdeck to filter, but I found Tweetdeck too intrusive when I first tried it. Maybe I'll try it again sometime.

  30. Thanks for this - I finally have the blog figured out & am just gearing up for Twitter. All this social media makes my head spin!

    Your post helps a lot, though. There do seem to be cultural rules with each of these elements of social media & it's nice to not have to learn them all the hard way.

  31. Interesting information to tuck away for possible future use. Thanks, Jody. At present I'm not on Twitter. I spend too much time online as it is, and decided not to add any more distractions until I have a legitimate reason. Now when the day comes that I'm published I'll undoubtedly feel that's a good reason!

  32. I agree with what you say and with the many great comments. About following back: I don't do this automatically. I use a stats site (currently chirpstats) to see who's started following me, and I look at the timeline of each person.

    If they're obviously spam or strange I just leave them alone; they'll unfollow me pretty soon. If they're genuine, I thank them for the follow via DM. If something about their timeline or their blog (I usually check the blog) attracts me I'll follow them. Sometimes I don't follow someone straight away but they engage me later by reacting to my tweets in an interesting way, so I go back and take another look.

    I enjoy watching my follower count go up, but I don't obsess about it. I don't feel hurt when people unfollow me.

  33. All good tips, as usual. :-)

    Just a quick note though - when you DM (direct message) someone, you may want to send an "@" message to them as well (letting them know you sent a DM). I keep my DM's turned off in tweetdeck to save API usage, so I often don't see them until days after they're sent, esp. if I get one on the weekend when I'm at home. And a lot of people on Twitter don't look at their DM file at all, since that's a main way people pass "spam" to accounts. Just FYI.

    And thanks for the link to the RT button...that's one thing I haven't gotten around to doing on my blog posts yet, and need to. :-)

  34. Great post! My only gripe? Can't stand those who tweet every minute promoting their business!

    Also, as a new tweeter, I find this very helpful!

  35. Good post, thanks!

    For those who want to keep better track of people they're following and those who respond to them, I suggest looking into things like Tweetdeck & Hootsuite (I have used both & personally prefer Hootsuite). Both allow you to make specific columns for specific lists. I have one for anyone who @s me, one for general, one for all those on my authors & resources list one for #amwriting and then one for my sent messages. It helps me follow along much better!

  36. Excellent suggestions. Am retweeting now!

  37. Use, don't abuse hash tags. You don't have to hit every writing hashtag for the same tweet. Sometimes I feel like I'm reading nothing but a series of hashtags and have no idea what the message is actually supposed to be.

    Also, don't use hashtags to spam your product or book. #amwriting for me should be about writers who are writing. Not about selling someone's editing service or book to writers.

  38. Make use of hashtags to communicate with others. Among the writing community here are a few that I follow: #amwriting, #writechat, #writers, #authors, #writetip

    I've seen these but didn't know what they meant. Now I understand. Thanks!

  39. I definitely don't use Twitter as much as I could. These are some really helpful tips!

    I can't stand when someone sends 5 or 6 ranty tweets right in a row. I get a lot of my tweets sent to my phone and it gets old fast.

  40. Oh Jody, I'm so glad you schooled me on Twitter. I've so many questions, which is partly why I haven't started it yet.

    I really need to do my homework.

  41. Very nice post, Jody. Very informative. The jury is still out for me on Twitter for a few reasons.

    1. I've been hacked twice in six months. So annoying, not only for me, but for the folks who follow me who get spam. I appreciated the heads-up from folks when I got hacked, but by the 25th email telling me so, I was ready to quit Twitter altogether.

    2. When I feel like my Twitter gets hijacked by two or three commentors who carry on a "You're the best writer in the universe" "No YOU are, silly" kind of conversation for about thirty tweets in a row.

    3. If I'm already following someone on Facebook, do I need to follow them on Twitter too? Because it seems like everyone updates Twitter and FB simultaneously, so my homepage on FB reads like my homepage on Twitter. If I'm following you and you're following me, who is in the lead, and where are we going?

  42. Cracking up at Erica's #3. I kind of dropped out of Twitter, although I still have an active account, because of just what Erica said about Twitter and FB. Found that I was reading the same stuff in two places, but since not all the same people were in on both conversations, it was lots of rework for me.

    Also, I was hijacked too, which kind of turned me off.

    Last, I had problems with Tweetdeck, and without a tool like this, using Twitter just isn't realistic for me. I only accessed it online. I'm afraid to link my phone up to Twitter. Will I have text messages non-stop?

  43. Good to know that I'm not the last person on earth not to Tweet. My CP swears by it, but I just can't find the barest sliver of time to add anything else.

    Besides, I'm a complete nincompoop when it comes to new tech stuff. But I know I must learn it. And I will. Tomorrow. Or the day after.

  44. Jody, I have yet to return to Twitter after my Lenten fast. I'm not exactly sure why. I know I'll be back there eventually. Right now, my kids are still home on spring break so perhaps I need to get back into a business mode before I'll engage on Twitter. Thanks for putting me in mental prep stage for it. I have had some fun exchanges there, but of all my social networking, I'll admit it, I use it the least. I still believe it's valuable and look forward to seeing you there again soon! :) Great tips. I honestly never really "got" hash tags. I think I sort of get it now but still a little unclear.

  45. I've avoided Twitter so far, but my brother sent me an article just this week that made me reconsider. Your post is just the nudge (and the how-to) I need to make the leap. Thank you - as always - for the really helpful information.

  46. Jody,
    what a comprehensive examination of Twitter!

    I will stick to reading your comments about twitter!!

  47. Having only just made a new account recently, I'm a babe to twitter. I must have a common name or something because I couldn't use my real name - every derevation was taken :( So I used lynfaw which is short for Lyn at Fearfully & wonderfully which is my blog.

    Glad you mentioned tweetdeck because I was struggling with only 18 followers so far. And one is so chatty I almost unfollowed them. Now I don't have to :)

    What I also find difficult is my timezone. Since I live in Australia I'm asleep when the majority on twitter are most active.

    So far however it's been a great experience. Thanks again for your post.

  48. Hi Jody -

    I haven't joined the Twitter crowd. While I'm sure it's helpful, I like the relaxed atmosphere on Facebook. Maybe someday I'll consider it, but for now I'm a happy camper. :)


  49. I agree, and agree and agree! I have to say that tweeters that prom, promo, promo drive me nuts. I am interested in the mundane once in a while. Don't quote me on that. ;) (Quotes are OK but I don't want to feel like a tweeter is drowning in them.)

  50. I haven't tried Twitter yet, but I've been thinking I need to give it a try. Thanks for the pointers!

  51. Great tips. I find there's definitey a learning curve with Twitter.

  52. I have been considering Twitter and looking into it some. Your post is timely for me. My issue with Tweeting is the constant connection and the responibility. I'm not sure I have time to do it.

    "Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you." Love this.

    Great post.

  53. Wait...Cassandra - Am I in the "chatty" column? I suspect that I am.

    My pet peeve are folks who only tweet links to promote themselves. It's called social media for a reason. Build relationships with folks and when the time comes people will promote you and your work.

    Good tips, Jody.

  54. good post! so how does one get those links to Twitter and FB for one's blog? i'm kinda html-slow! haha

  55. There is a lot of helpful information here about using Twitter. I also like the 'lists' feature to group interests as well as the search components. Thanks.

  56. All valid points Jody, and thanks for the writer hashtags. A couple of those are new to me.

  57. Great post Jody! When I first starting using twitter I was lost but now I find it so helpful for connecting with other writers.

  58. I've been meaning to check out Tweetdeck, to better organize things. Going to do that ASAP, now.

    Thanks for the helpful post!

  59. That is how we met...Thanks Twitter!

    I have a time zone problem, most of my US/ Canadian Twitter friends are getting up as I am finishing for the day. I am also 2 hours ahead of UK, but I can sometimes pin down a friend or two for a brief banter.

    I did have to remove my button off of my blog because of spam followers. I might put it back at some point. I use Tweedeck.

  60. Thanks for the link to that retweet button -- I always wondered where everyone got one of those! :)

    Personally, I do not like Twitter. I often feel "left out" -- like everyone else seems to know each other and seems to be chatting back and forth so easily, while I'm on the sidelines, looking in and yelling Hello??? Anyone hear me?!

    I guess I don't know how to use it properly, which is why this post is good for me. I'm going to reread it right now!

  61. I'm have been thinking long and hard about Twitter and think I'm going to join over the next few days.
    Good to know Thanks!
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