10 Twitter Commandments

Jan 11, 2009   //   by Gerald Weber   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  66 Comments

This post is mostly assuming that those reading this have a pretty good idea about what twitter is all about. For anyone that is still not sure about Twitter and it’s purpose, Havi Brooks wrote a great post explaining the purpose of twitter in Twitter Demystified and Debunked

OK, now let’s get right to the meat and potatoes of this post.

For those of us who have been using twitter for awhile and are starting to get into the groove, I have assembled a list of 10 Twitter commandments to keep you on the right track and keep you from committing Twitter blasphemy.

  1. Thou shall not pull a Guy Kawasaki act spammy. i.e Don’t send an auto reply DM asking me to check out your blog or download your crappy E-book. FAIL! Let me put it this way: Would you walk up to a stranger in a bar, pull up a bar stool, slam your business card down and say “I have a new E-book that just came out and you can get it at a reduced price if you join my mailing list!” Of course not, people would think you were insane. Networking online is no different than IRL. Just be genuine, add value to the community, and people will naturally want to know more about you. That’s the way it works online and IRL (same as it ever was).
    Guy Kawasaki spam
  2. Thou shall not be boring. In other words don’t take the “what are you doing right now” too literally. No one wants to hear about you eating a bowl of cheerios. If you aren’t always skydiving or flying over the grand canyon, no problem. Just keep in mind the idea is to be a resource and add value to the community.
  3. Thou Shall not Tweet with beer goggles on. Similar in concept to Googles gmail mail goggles If you are the kind of person that maybe enjoys a cocktail here and there you may want to really think through what you’re tweeting and perhaps if you should even be doing so while in such a state. For heavens sake, your clients don’t need to know if you are at the local pub getting hammered on Friday night.
  4. Thou shall not Tweet using four letter words or other profanity. I’m certain there are individuals that will disagree with me on this and they are also the same individuals I’ll quickly unfollow. Especially if you are using twitter for business/networking as many people do. Twitter is about expressing yourself in 140 characters or less and certainly we can find more creative ways to do this than dropping the F-Bomb left and right. It’s just good taste really.
  5. Thou shall not use happiness as thy password. (especially if you are a Twitter employee with administrative access to Twitter) Can you say dictionary attack?
  6. Thou shall not have a profile with little or no information about thy self. Have a link to your website or blog. If you don’t have a website or blog then use your myspace profile or something. Have a brief description of yourself. Why the heck would I want to follow someone that I know nothing about?
  7. Thou shall not leave the default avatar on thy twitter profile page. If you can’t take 10 seconds to change the default avatar image then you’re clearly not taking the platform seriously.
  8. Thou shall not mass follow with no regard to who they are following in hopes that they will get followed back by a large number of people (following spam). Not only is this a bad idea but it can actually get you banned from twitter. You can read more about this at the Twitter blog. What is following spam?
  9. Thou shall not be a magpie. Come on folks! it’s just as cheesy as it is spammy.
  10. Thou shall not use the default Twitter background. This is similar to not using the twitter avatar. By changing the default background you can make your profile look more professional and it also shows your taking a serious approach to using twitter. You can either design a custom background yourself or you can use a company like PimpMyTwitter.net You can see an example of my Twitter background they designed here @the_gman

Please let us know in the comments below if you know something that should be a Twitter commandment.

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Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Comment Policy

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    #s 6, 7 and 8 resonated with me the most. I can’t tell you how many people follow me but have nothing in their profile and a twitter handle like “mrshohum.” I have no idea who they are or why I would want to follow or not follow.

    One other one: Thou shalt not try to sell something in one’s twitter profile. When I click on a profile and it reads “Make millions by working at home” or some such, I don’t follow back.

    Alisa Bowman’s last blog post..Free marriage advice: Part 5

  • Tracy says:

    Totally agree with Alisa. The obvious spammers, I don’t like but at least I can understand their purpose. The ones with no website or blog and two tweets that say something like “Goooooo Colts!!!” and have followed 897 people, I’m totally baffled by them. Maybe they just really, really like to read other people’s tweets. Who knows, but I’m not following them.

    Also, it wouldn’t kill you to occasionally reply to people’s direct replies to you. I understand sometimes things get lost in the mix, but if I’ve replied to you a half dozen times with something relevant to your tweet and you never reply, I’m going to figure you’re not interested in me and unfollow.

    Last, using racial slurs, excessive profanity or obscenity is not cool someplace like twitter. I’m no prude, but use a bit of decorum and good taste. (So says the woman who spammed everyone with her haggis)

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Tracy,

      I couldn’t agree with you more.

      I know there are different strokes for different folks but I think some people lose site of the fact that when you tweet something into the public time line EVERYONE that is following your can see it.

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Tim,

    About the profanity. Keep in mind if it’s in the public timeilne EVERYONE can see it. IF it’s something cute done in good taste a DM might be a better option if it’s between friends.

    Regarding Guy Kawasaki. I did unfollow him. Couldn’t take his spam anymore. Spam is spam, it doesn’t matter who you are.

  • Dennis Edell says:

    I just started on twitter and need to get to my profile and background soon, thanks for the kick. :)

    Dennis Edell’s last blog post..*Best Blog Review Contest* EXTENDED To Months End – $100 First Prize

  • Rosa Vargas says:

    This is hilarious – and so true. Thanks. I really enjoyed this.

  • Will Paccione says:

    Great Post. I like the Guy K thing.

    Although, I disagree with #2. Posting that you’re eating Cheerios might get someone’s attention that loves Cheerios or worked for Cheerios. Or Cheerios coporate might be on looking for people posting about their product. If I post I’m petting my Shih-Tsu, I might get a slew of Shih-Tzu owners following me. Even though I’m straight, I’ll admit that mostly women own that dog which would be great to have a “Shih-Tzu Tweetup”.

    Haha! Good post.

    Will Paccione’s last blog post..Top 12 List to Prove You’ve Mastered Social Media

  • Sal B says:

    Great post. I've broken a few of those but I have since become much more twitter sinless

    <abbr>Sal B’s last blog post..Why I Use and Love MODx Content Management System</abbr>

  • Dee Langdon - Blogge says:

    came in via RT from Matt @ SmallBizBee…

    Great list, I think I have been guilty of tweeting total who cares stuff on occasion…

    I do believe I will retweet as well..

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for retweeting, commenting and stopping by. :-)

  • feathermaye says:

    I think I’ve got all that covered, I just don’t spend nearly the time twittering as some.

    There’s obviously a direct correlation between twitter-popularity and time spent pursuing it.

  • Matt says:

    Number three is a good one, especially if you are using Twitter as a business tool. Don't let a couple martini's comprise the business image you are working hard to build, and remember everything you type becomes part of a historical record.

    Great list!

  • JD Rucker says:

    But my password IS "happiness". Nothing wrong with that! Hack away, guys. I'm open for business.

    <abbr>JD Rucker’s last blog post..Twitter and Blogging, Tips and Tools</abbr>

  • JLibbey says:

    I'm happy to see that I'm not the only person who thinks Guy Kawasaki's tweets amount to spam! I stopped following him because he clearly is all about self-promotion, and he is not adding value to the conversation.

  • Dan Patterson says:

    Great list of commandments! I wasn't aware of the whole magpie thing, but I really am annoyed by those sorts of things on twitter.

  • will says:

    hahah Those are good. I am not sure that I have kept all of them, will you forgive my transgressions.

  • Jeff says:

    Well, I'm trying to keep 9 out of 10 so that's not too bad. I'm certainly with you about not being boring. What's the value in tweeting that you just got to work or that you're standing in line at the grocery store?

    Also, I'd add to the list that people should read over their tweets before sending. How many times a day do I see tweets that don't make sense?

    Nice commandments! We all need to strive to be good citizens of the Twitter community to keep it from degenerating into chaos.

    <abbr>Jeff@MySuperChargedLife’s last blog post..Finding Contentment and Fulfillment For A Happier Life</abbr>

  • Brian Horn says:

    I’ve been guilty of drunk twittering before. I’d like to say I’ll never do it again…but come on…it’s hard not to pull out the Blackberry after a few cocktails. :)

  • Abdulrehman says:

    Hey Gerald,

    Great Article, although I found number one the best. I read this article on John Chow telling how bloggers like him with 2000+ followers could spam them and make money from them, of course in a little cheezy way! :lol:

    <abbr>Abdulrehman’s last blog post..Hi, My Name is Sam!</abbr>

  • Dennis Edell says:

    Dumb question alert – what the hell is magpie? lol

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Basically it’s advertising other peoples stuff in your twitter stream. So maybe every fourth tweet your twitter account would automatically tweet out someone’s random ad. You can adjust the ratio but that is the basic idea.

  • I agree for the most part, but come on guys-whatever happened to a good old fashioned "Grape Nuts/Black Lab Tweetup"? What's the world coming to?

    @chasL -out

  • Sean Davis says:

    #8!!! More are flocking to twitter and aren't taking the time to listen to others. They just want to rack up followers in the shortest time possible. I didn't realized that mass follow would get you banned, thanks for pointing that out. Maybe twitter should lower the threshold.

  • adam says:

    interesting point of view . some people may see it differently . But that is another opinion ?

  • These are great tips for all twitter users! I am glad someone took the time to put this info out there.

    - Barbara Aquino

    Pimpmytwiter.net Custom Twitter Backgrounds

  • mizdi says:

    I agree on all these rules and i just found out i’ve followed most of them already without even knowing and i’m doing good at twitter. I’m a actually a newbie.. barely 2 weeks old. i made just 1 mistake but if i had read this article beforehand.. that mistake could gave been avoided…and i would have been graded 100 by twittergrader by now, haha just kidding.

    This article should be made known to one and all aspiring to be high caliber twitters. This should be Twitter’s Rules of Engagement.

  • mizdi says:

    typo error sorry… submitted too soon..was in a hurry.. partner is shouting.. “dinner is ready!”

    *I am actually a newbie NOT I am a actually
    *that mistake could have been NOT could gave been..

  • Sheena says:

    Gman,

    Wonderful post. Though I am not as active as I should be on Twitter (i.e. its limited to updates about when I am broadcasting live, or if I have new music for folks to hear), this is great so I don’t make mistakes once I get my iPhone twittering as well!

    xoxo
    s.

    Sheena’s last blog post..Taylor Swift – Teardrops On My Guitar (SheenaMelwani)

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh cool. Thanks for stopping by my blog Sheena. Make sure you follow me back ha ha. I forgot to add that one. ;-)

  • Jonathan Muller says:

    I love it gerald, I'm stil laughing… From the looks of the comments this article achieved some success? Nice original idea.

  • Trontastic says:

    I think this is a decent list but you missed a biggie…

    thou shall engage with other users and not use Twitter to spout self indulgence.

  • Tobias Fox says:

    Absolutely agree with not tweeting about the hammer on friday. And I love your word on #8 so called Follow Spam. Great Post

  • I see a lot of must nots about Twitter and Social Media in General, and was beginning to wonder if they weren't becoming some kind of staple for a blog post! Especially because on Twitter, everyone can use it as they see fit and if you don't like a person's antics you can unfollow or block.

    However for some reason, your post made me laugh… maybe because I agreed with, well, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10! I find GK's tweets unsually very interesting though. I like that you reply to your commentators as well ;)

    <abbr>Nicky Jameson’s last blog post..Copywriting Hints and Tips – Get Personal</abbr>

  • Great article, and really amusing to read. I agree about not spamming. I like to receive updates from people about their own content or what they find interesting (that's the point of being on Twitter), but if anyone goes overboard and Tweets wayyyy too often, I unfollow them.

    <abbr>Diana Freedman’s last blog post..Disney: A Model of Success For Your Product or Website</abbr>

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Well also I think it’s ok to self promote on Twitter as long asd you don’t over do it. I think when someone tweets way to ofter it’s referred to as OTS (over tweet syndrome). Thanks for stopping by Dianna.

  • Ed Rovera says:

    #11: Thou shalt not put music on your blog and have it start automatically.

    Who says I want your favorite little ditty to start blasting through my speakers without so much as a warning? Auto-tick-me-off!!!

  • I like most points but LOVE Guy Kawasaki and have no problem with his Alltop tweets. I RT him too so support what he does. But like you said, different strokes. Great list otherwise.

    Susie Blackmon’s last blog post..It’s National Pancake Day!

  • Alysson says:

    I must admit that I’m guilty of breaking Twitter commandment #4, but here’s why: my number one Twitter commandment is “Thou shalt be thyself”.

    I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not and I expect the same of those in my Twitterverse. I prefer that those following me on Twitter be open-minded and have a tendency to like me as much in real life as they are to like me online. I am who I am and I put on a show for no one, in life or on Twitter. Take me or leave me. :)

    Alysson’s last blog post..Can an SEO Audit Help Your Small Business Website?

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Alysson,

      I definitely understand where you are coming from on this. I know when it comes to blogging and twitter it’s definitely appropriate to inject some personality into your tweets and your post. My main thinking here on #4 is my clients or prospective clients may be reading my tweets so I mostly refrain from using four letter words on Twitter for this reason.

  • Kschumacher says:

    I think I’m going to really like this place! Just looked in to check it out. I really like the commandments. Common sense seems to be a thing often sought and rarely found these days. The only thing I can think of to add is “Never air your dirty laundry on any public forum”. It’s not only tacky, irritating, and YOUR personal business, but humiliating and possibly injurius to both the poster’s image and the person they are slamming.

    I am so frequently running in to people complaining about one person or another, when it really is business between those parties, and not all of us who are on the site. Reporting business scams I can understand-so long as they are REAL scams and not just someone personally upset or trying to get more traffic to their own interests.

    Other than this, I look forward to reading EVERYTHING I find here. Thank you to those responsible for this site.

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Your very welcome. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. Look forward to seeing you here more in the future.

  • Eve says:

    Hello!

    I am very old in my person and very young/new on twitter :) I liked your article and learned much useful info.

    Alas, I do have a default background simply because I am purple’s biggest fan. The proper shade of purple, I feel at one with the Universe, and I really have no desire to trifle with it ;)

    But I do get your drift.. and again, I very much appreciated your Commandments even though I was raised by an Atheist mother and a fallen Catholic father…may train of thought just jumped the tracks-

    Sincerely,

    Eve Norton

  • Daniel Egan says:

    So how did you get 13,000 followers. I would assume you used some sort of tool to help you both follow and follow people back.

    What is YOUR definition of follower spam? I personally think that if you follow people that are talking about things that you are interested in (no matter what the number is) then that is what twitter is for. On the other hand, if you are following EVERYONE you find for the SOLE purpose of having them follow you back, then that's follower spam.

    Is a company that follows people that mentions their product a follower spammer or on the cutting edge of customer service?

    On the other hand, I am not even sure why it bugs people so much… If you don't want people to follow you easily, then make your tweets private. And if you don't want to do that, then you still don't have to follow them back.

    Thoughts??

    <abbr>Daniel Egan’s last blog post..Online Windows 7 Event !!</abbr>

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Daniel,

    To answer your first question. I don't use any kind of tool. I have been on Twitter for about six months now and basically a take a quick look at someone's profile to see what they are about and then I look at their blog or website and if I make a decision if it seems like someone I would like to network with. I also look at how many people they are following and how many follow back as well as number of tweets. So I take a quick overview and decide if I want to follow them or not. Also I am very active on many social platforms as well as the blogosphere and this helps. Especially being active on Twitter will help you become more visible in the Twittersphere and people that like your tweets will proactively follow you.

    Regarding your following spam question. The definition of that is Twitters not mine.

    Here is Twitters definition of following spam from the Twitter blog:

    "Follow spam is the act of following mass numbers of people, not because you're actually interested in their tweets, but simply to gain attention, get views of your profile (and possibly clicks on URLs therein), or (ideally) to get followed back."

    I hope that helps answer your question.

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and comment. Hope to see you around here in the future. :-)

  • @Agent_Luke says:

    haha,

    nice. I actually got here from smallbizbee.com blog, a post by Matt about the topic of twitter.

    I must say that #9 – "Thou shall not be a magpie. Come on folks! it’s just as cheesy as it is spammy." cracked me up. I had no idea that this service even existed. And I had no choice to give it a thumbs down on my stumbleupon ;) I fell like they are sabotaging the concept here.

    anyhow, good reading, will come back for sure.

  • gautam hans says:

    I agree i hate auto DM, i employ the ignore policy though, because some people just forgot to turn the thing off, but actually they are good engagers, so i may follow them but only if they have something good about them.
    .-= gautam hans´s last blog ..Vote for us as Rookie Blogger of the year!! =-.

  • IrishWonder says:

    The “Do not attempt to copy our content” alert on right click is so meh – don’t you know there is more than one reason to use the right click, e.g. to open a link in a new tab?