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Sharon Housley -- Philosophies regarding social media networks, such as Twitter, can vary greatly. But similar to email, an unspoken etiquette has emerged for these social Web sites as well.

The etiquette for these social sites does not consist of hard and fast rules, but is simply a list of guidelines for posting. The following is a set of Twitter etiquette guidelines, but can also be applied to other social networks...

1. Avoid offensive terms

People of all ages use Twitter, and Twitter is public... which means that in most cases, virtually anyone can see your tweets. Etiquette dictates that you should always use language that is appropriate for all ages and demographics. You never know who will be viewing your postings.

2. Avoid inappropriate avatars

Avoid using avatars that are risque or vulgar. Use an avatar that is eye catching and relevant, without being over the top.

3. Interact on Twitter.

Twitter is all about engaging with others. Do not make the mistake of simply shouting your message without ever replying to or engaging with your audience.

4. Be gracious

Thank those that re-tweet your messages, and reciprocate if someone suggests that their followers follow you too.

5. Don't spam

Do not spam your Twitter followers with blatant advertisements and excessive repeated tweets.

6. Don't offend or be offended

If someone un-follows you, do not take it as a personal affront. There may be a number of valid reasons that someone stops following you. If, on the other hand, you have been abusing your twitter account, consider modifying your tweet schedule.

7. DM - Direct Message

Some things are meant to be public, while others are intended to be private. If you are sending comments meant to be private, be sure to use the Direct Message option.

8. Count to ten

Don't tweet when you're angry or in an altered state. Tweets are hard to take back once they're posted, and even more so if they've been re-tweeted. While it is true that you can delete your own tweets, it is often difficult to put the genie back in the bottle after others have read your tweets and they've re-tweeted them.

9. Moderation

Do not twitter-bomb -- space your tweets out over an appropriate period of time instead of dumping a whole bunch in a single session.

10. Be careful

Tweets are public. Be careful about the level of personal detail you disclose. For example, there have been documented home break-ins as a result of people tweeting about their travel plans and schedule details.


Just as it is with email, tweets that are in ALL-CAPITAL LETTERS are considered as "shouting". And in addition to being more difficult to read, posting in ALL-CAPS is often viewed as rude. Use proper capitalization when tweeting, and use all-caps ONLY for emphasis as we've done here.

12. Detail

When interacting on Twitter, use comments that will help others follow the conversation, since they may not have seen the initial tweet. For example, instead of responding to a request for more information with "You can find it here:", you might instead say "You can find software to convert images at". This will make your reply comment more understandable to someone who didn't see the original Tweet.

13. Hash tags

Hash tags should relate to the content in the tweet. In other words, if the tweet is about software, you should not include a hash tag for Justin Beiber.

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds, and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll, audio recording and editing software.

© 2011 Sharon Housley

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