12 Ways to Avoid Being a Dork on Twitter

November 17, 2011

Note: a version of this original post appeared previously on the B2B Twitterer of the Year (B2BTOTY) blog.

If you regularly read blogs like this, you’re probably already a Twitter pro. This post will be review for you. But, you also almost certainly come across new followers and others who haven’t attained your level of expertise. You know the type. You may want to pass this along as needed.

  1. How to Avoid Being a Dork on TwitterComplete your Twitter bio. You’ve got 160 characters to tell the world who you are, what you do, who you do it for, what you’re passionate about. Plus a link. Use it. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people leave their profiles blank. Or type in something short and lame like “Always learning!” or “Master of the Universe.” Whether trying to be mysterious, or just lazy, it looks bad.
  1. Use your real picture. Find one that reflects you in your best light. If tweeting for a company, using a logo is okay, but accounts with a real person behind them tend to get more followers. Again, seems like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many people use photos that look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot, or worse – the default Twitter egg.
  1. Avoid stop words in your bio. Most people have figured out that “MLM,” “network marketer,” “work from home” and “Internet marketer” are synonyms for “spammer.” Don’t be that person.
  1. Avoid obnoxious words in your bio. Unless you are actually a Hindu mystic, have recorded an album that’s gone platinum, or are extremely skilled in the martial arts, avoid the terms “guru,” “rock star” or “ninja” in your bio. They are over-used and just kind of silly.
  1. Watch your following/follower ratio. The numbers will never be identical, but you don’t want to let them get too far out of whack. The worst case is when someone is following 2,001 people but has only like 300 followers and is on four lists. That smacks of desperation. Or like someone who’s ignored tips #3 and #4 above.
  1. Neber twet when yur drunk. It wont com out good an u will end up regrething it.
  1. Never tweet when you’re angry. If you’re tempted to do so, go get drunk. Then see tip #6.
  1. Retweet others! It shows you’re paying attention, helps build your network, and will make others more likely to follow you and share your content.
  1. Say “please” and “thank you.” It’s common courtesy, something people learn from grandma, but not always common on Twitter. Again, thanking someone for a retweet or an answer to a question makes it more likely they’ll do for you again in the future, and it shows followers you have manners.
  1. Know when to DM. A little bit of banter back-and-forth with another Tweeter shows you are social. Too much makes your Tweet stream look worthless. If the interaction goes beyond three tweets, it’s probably time to take it offline and use direct messages.
  1. Be careful with repetition. If you’ve come across something, or written something yourself, that is truly brilliant and deserves to be shared far and wide, it’s okay to tweet it more than once. Just be sure to 1) space your tweets at least an hour apart (preferably longer), and 2) tweet other content in between. Nothing turns off current and potential followers like a Tweet stream with the same message repeated over and over and over and…
  1. Don’t use automated welcome DMs. One would think that Twitterers would understand by now that automated DMs are pointless and annoying—but like some of the more regrettable music from the 1970s, they refuse to go away.

Bonus tip: be very careful with automation, not just on Twitter but any social media site. While it’s okay to automate certain tasks like using an app to pre-schedule tweets for off-hours, social media is fundamentally about engagement. In other words, unless you really are a broadcaster (i.e., it’s your job to tweet on behalf of CNN or Fox News)—don’t be just a broadcaster.

Following these tips will make you look classy and sophisticated to others on Twitter. Or at least not like a dork. As noted above, feel free to pass this along to anyone who demonstrates the need for it. In the meantime, got any tips you’d like to add? Feel free to share them in the comments below.


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11 Responses

  1. Jill 

    These things are very important when Twitter is an arm of your business. Just be careful. But really, this doesn’t necessarily apply to personal accounts.

  2. Carmen Maqueo 

    Very useful information of dos and don’ts in Twitter, for those who, just like myself, haven’t been tweeting for a long time. Number 9, grandma’s common courtesy, speaks very well about people on the web! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tom 

    Some do, some don’t. But yes, one has more leeway with a purely personal account.

  4. Tom 

    Hi Carmen, thanks for the kind words! Grandma is no dummy. :-)

  5. It’s weird. I just unfollowed a guy who seemed to be talking to himself a lot and repeating some of the stuff he’s saying. I just figured out he was using some automation to post his tweets.

    I just makes him look like a dork and he should probably read this because he’s breaking tips #3, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12.

    I’m using “affiliate marketer” in my profile but I look at it as if someone is cool with that then they know what to expect. And since I don’t spam then I guess they’re getting value they don’t expect.

  6. Tom 

    Hi Jay, thanks for the comments. Not all affiliate marketers are bad sorts of course, hope I didn’t paint with too broad a brush.

  7. Thanks for these tips! I follow back most people that follow me, but some I am just not that interested in, especially if they start using profanity or are trying to sell me something. I still have about 500 more people I follow than how much are following me. What is a reasonable ratio? Thanks again!

  8. Tom 

    Hi Nanette. I know that story. I’d be careful about letting that ratio get more than 2:1.

  9. What I am missing here is, ‘never sell anything on twitter’! I think that’s a big one. Social Media platforms should be used to build relationships with customers and try to understand them what they want. Selling can hurt you badly. Thanks for the post.

  10. Thank you Tom for this post. I actually didn’t complete my bio. I’ll do that now. Btw my twitter account is JackrabbitMedia. I’ll add you now.

  11. Tom 

    You’re welcome! By all means, yes, complete that bio – it’s important! If I may add a recommendation: do some retweeting as well. It will help you grow your following. Good luck!

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