The Little Blog Book of Twitter Etiquette (Chapter One)

How appropriate that "twitter" appears between "twitch" and "twixt" in my Merriam-Webster's...

All social media platforms have their positives (Free accounts! Inbound links to your website! Access to people you lost touch with years ago!). They also have their negatives (Too much mundane broadcasting! Too many ads! Changes you don’t like!). You should use the ones that are right for you. I may never feel true love for Facebook, but I stay because of others who dwell there.

Once I made my “aha” connection with Twitter (it only took one month of mismatched following and an excellent seminar by Howard Yermish (@hyermish), now with Kokua Technologies), I was hooked. As a writer, there’s just something about enticing human beings to follow me using 140 or fewer characters. Even if you’re not new to Twitter, there is always the need to curate your account better than you did several months ago. That said, let’s start at the very beginning:

Tip #1 (Look Before You Click Follow!): We all like to be liked, but the number of people following you on Twitter can be misleading. I believe in the power of quality over quantity. If you purchase followers using software like Tweet Adder or you follow others in mass quantities, hoping that many will follow back, your Twitter following will ring hollow with unappreciated broadcasting. Aspire to quality:

  • When someone follows you, look at their profile and scan their timeline/tweets.
  • If their photo is mildly offensive (e.g., soft porn), feel free to click the Block button.
  • If they post the same self-promotional link continuously, post inspirational quotes endlessly or never “talk” with another follower, click the Block button.
  • If it’s someone you know, follow back and then add them to the appropriate Twitter list.

Tip #2 (Don’t Stimulate Someone’s Gag Reflex with a DM): You have the option of setting up your account to generate an automated Direct Message (DM) every time you gain a new follower, using tools such as SocialOomph and Twitter DMer. Quite frankly, when I’m on the receiving end of a DM after following someone back, I start to regret my reciprocal follow. Rather than automating your thank you (and stuffing it with a hard sales pitch), make it more memorable with a direct reply that appears in your timeline. Before being tempted to use Twitter as a business battering ram, which I don’t recommend, you must first (and always) be SOCIAL!

Tip #3 (If You Walk Away, I Will Unfollow): On Twitter, you will notice that your follower count decreases intermittently. Be forewarned that there are unscrupulous tweeps out there who will follow and then unfollow you, even if you return their follow in a timely manner. I refer to this experience as being “pumped and dumped.” This behavior is merely an indicator of someone focused on acquiring a large Twitter following. Sadly, these social media zealots probably have no intent of ever interacting with you on Twitter, and that’s okay.

What you can do about it is monitor your account followers at least once a month (but preferably once a week). Use handy tools/apps such as FriendorFollow (my favorite!), JustUnfollow, or Qwitter to identify those who recently did the pumping and dumping. You can then simply unfollow these insensitive hoarders. Don’t forget to remove these folks from any of your Twitter lists if you added them while following. This isn’t about petty revenge – it’s about curating your Twitter following for quality control purposes and encouraging engagement with the people who want to stick around…

If you’re active on Twitter, what tips or tactics work best for you when following others or deciding to follow back those who “click” you first? Share if you care, and come back soon, gentle reader!

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

6 Responses to The Little Blog Book of Twitter Etiquette (Chapter One)

  1. Thank you Lori for teaching me everything I know about Twitter. Doesn’t sound like something for me. I’m still holding out for some anti-social media.

    • Hi Jeff: This blog post was just the literal toe dipping into the (too chilly?) water, so I can appreciate that Twitter may not be for you. Please let me know when you find that special “anti-social media” platform!

    • Hi Robin,

      I’m glad you found this particular post worthwhile. I don’t consider myself a social media guru/ninja/prophet, but one does learn from daily use. I’m not sure what you mean about me having what the Interconnections For Women ladies want (!), but I’ll take that as a compliment…thanks for stopping by!

  2. Many thanks Lori for providing this review! So many folks try to use twitter for hammering home their message rather than using it as a medium for thoughtful exchange and support.

    • Hi Kristine,

      You are welcome – the ultimate proof that this media thing IS social is by sharing your hard-earned, straightforward knowledge with others. Just like you, I prefer softer “selling” tools rather than hammers and battering rams; thanks for your comment!