Twitter Etiquette 101

photo by Ron Mead

It might (or might not) come as a surprise to you that many writers hate Twitter. I confess that I’ve had my own “die, Twitter, die” moments over the years, and it’s usually due to discourtesy. The character limit, the flood of information, the time drain: those I can stomach. But people being rude or obnoxious? Well, I think we’ve all had moments where we wanted to jump ship.

Unfortunately, we can’t make everyone else use Twitter well. What we can do as denizens of the writing Twit-o-sphere is make sure that we are using Twitter well. Of course, this is subjective, but isn’t all etiquette subjective? Today I’m going to cover my top 10 etiquette guidelines in hopes of encouraging a livable, courteous place for us all to tweet. Let’s go!

1. Don’t be a numbers hog.

Remember my first Twitter column about my 5 unshakeable beliefs? One of those was “quality over quantity,” and it still is. (Can’t shake it.) What this translates to behavior-wise is treating people as people rather than tally marks. Don’t follow 500 new people at once just to see who will follow you back. Don’t unfollow everyone if they don’t follow you back immediately. Instead, try finding people who actually interest you and engaging with them. Build relationships, not a big number. You’ll feel better, your platform will be stronger, and your followers will like you more (and actually know who you are).

2. Unhook your outside accounts.

I know I’ll get some flak for this, but it drives me crazy when people hook their outside accounts to their Twitter account. I don’t want to see every single post from your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or tumblr. And if I do… I can follow you on those platforms. In fact, having these hooked to your Twitter makes me less likely to follow you at those places. Why would I sign up for double information? Not to mention that most of these “hooked” accounts require Twitter users to click out to see/read the information, which is really annoying.

Instead of hooking Twitter to your other favorite platforms, try occasionally tweeting links to how to follow you elsewhere, sometimes mixed with what type of things you offer there. For example, I sometimes lure my Twitter followers with cute cat pictures if they come “like” my Facebook page. But if I were to share those same pictures on Twitter every time, why would they bother? Offering varied content without cross-pollinating creates value in each place, rather than just one. (Occasional cross-over is fine.)

On a related note: many writers also run secondary Twitter accounts, either for organizations, groups, magazines, or whatever. It’s fine to occasionally retweet these secondary accounts so people know they’re there, but don’t retweet every tweet. It’s the same as above; if your followers wanted to see every tweet, they would simply follow that account.

3. Don’t mass-tweet a personal tweet.

I’ve noticed a growing trend: the practice of replying to everyone to reply to one person. Someone tweets something. A follower @ replies. The original tweeter replies to that publicly instead of directly. They do this by putting a period in front of their response so everyone can see it, or by tagging the person at the end instead of the beginning of the tweet. This is a great trick to know, but it should be used sparingly, and only for a good reason, such as if you think all of your followers would be interested in the response. The problem, then, is when the response isn’t that interesting or otherwise doesn’t need to be universal. When every response becomes a public one, it makes the person seem like they have an inflated sense of self-importance. Not all of your followers want to know every part of every conversation you have – and even if they do, they can go see them on your actual timeline. Spare everyone else and keep most of your convos one-on-one.

4. Watch the sense of entitlement.

I have a whole post about entitlement here. Bottom line: no one owes you anything. Take a chill pill; you’re not a rock star. And even if you are, not everyone likes rock.

If you can’t get on Twitter regularly, try using a tweet-scheduling service to prevent overwhelming the timeline.

5. Don’t flood the timeline.

Being generally talkative on Twitter is one thing. Followers can choose to unfollow people who are too active for them. A bigger problem I see: users going silent for long periods of time, then occasionally signing on and doing catch-up with dozens of tweets at once. The problem with that? Someone scrolling through their timeline has to scroll through tons of your tweets just to see anyone else! If you can’t get on Twitter regularly, try using a tweet-scheduling service to prevent overwhelming the timeline.

6. Talk about things besides your books.

Nobody likes flyers on their car! You’re a writer, yes, but you do have other things in your life, right? Talk about some of them. No matter how famous you are, your followers want to hear about more than just books, books, books, buy, buy, buy.

7. Don’t tag someone in a negative comment or review. Don’t tell someone that you’re unfollowing them.

That’s just rude! Why would you point out something negative to the person it involves? Stop it!

8. Retweet manually only when you’re adding something.

Remember when I covered the different ways to retweet? The manual retweet (copy-pasting instead of pushing the RT button) should only be used if you’re adding a comment or editing their tweet. If you tweet exactly what they said with no addition, but do it manually, you’re basically taking their face away and putting yours there instead. If there’s no reason to RT manually, push the button and leave their profile/tweet/handle combo intact.

9. Don’t auto-DM new followers.

This is tied for the most obnoxious widely-used practice. I’ve never heard of anyone who likes receiving direct messages when they follow someone. Most people ignore them; some unfollow because of it. It does no good. Don’t do it. Nothing says “I don’t care about you” quite like an automated “buy my book follow me elsewhere” message to strangers. Personal connections, remember? Instead – unless you have something private to say – introduce yourself one-to-one in a normal @ message tailored to them. (Ex: “@handle Hi So-and-so! I found you through this writing organization we’re both members of. It’s great to meet you.”

10. Refrain from sharing lists of users.

This is the second part of the most obnoxious widely-used practice tie. #FollowFriday, #WriterWednesday, and the like can be useful tools, but rarely are. For these connection devices to work, they need to be wielded sparingly and thoughtfully. Rather than tweeting long lists of random people with no explanations:

#FollowFriday @handle @handle2 @handle3 @handle4 @smurflover @handle5 @handle 6 @hanlde 7 … @handle852

try tweeting one or two specific suggestions, and share why:

#FollowFriday @handle because his blog is always hilarious, and he’s the nicest guy I know!

See the difference? Big lists might get the attention of the people in those lists, but they don’t actually help anyone because everyone ignores them, they annoy most people, and they end up being clutter.

So there you have it: my top 10 tips for Twitter etiquette. Questions? Additions? Hit me up in the comments!

What Twitter etiquette breach drives you crazy? Have you ever been guilty of these offenses? How did you change them?

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About Annie Neugebauer

Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) is a novelist, short story author, and award-winning poet with stories and poems appearing or forthcoming in over fifty venues, including Black Static, Deep South Magazine, Fireside, and Buzzy Mag. She's an active member of the Horror Writers Association and webmaster for the Poetry Society of Texas. When Annie’s not frightening strangers with her writing, she’s most likely frightening her husband and their two cats, Buttons and Snaps.

Comments

  1. says

    All of this is great advice, but especially 9 and 10. I’m surprised at how many people still do that. Both are just annoying.

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  2. says

    New users ought to be required to read – and pass a test on – your rules of etiquette before being allowed to sign on to Twitter. Thanks for spreading the message, Annie!

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  3. says

    So glad to see the “don’t link” advice… something I do myself with all my social networking “lives.” Not only is it annoying but it seems like each platform has a slightly different vibe and my content and how I act and interact seems to be slightly different with each… would you agree? Plus, I have a variety of different friends/followers on each platform, which I love. Some cross pollinate and it’s really fun to find each other in other places :) As always, I love to read these posts… thanks Annie!

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    • says

      That is such a great point, Julia! Yes, every social media platform absolutely has its own vibe, and cross-content doesn’t always ‘make sense,’ much less ‘work.’ And yes — finding your online friends at all of their various platforms is so much fun! Having the same content everywhere kind of takes away that potential, so that’s yet another reason to unhook those accounts. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. says

    Oh all right, I’ll unhook my accounts. ;) But linking actually has helped me get followers in those times when, due to extreme time crunch, I just can’t get over to Twitter. You make good points though, and I do see how annoying it is to click away to see images, etc.

    Since I only get over to Twitter once a day, max, my pet peeve is followers who seem interesting yet dump me the next day, or even better, dump me before I even had a chance to see they’d followed me! This whole auto-Twitter thing to get big numbers makes me insane—I try not to follow such people but I don’t always catch the whiff— which is why I prefer Facebook, even though I like the broader reach Twitter can potentially offer.

    Plus, for a novelist (could you tell by the length of my comment?) each tweet is like a flash fiction challenge.

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    • says

      Hi Kathryn! Sharing that you have accounts elsewhere is a great idea, and a very smart thing to do! So though I recommend unhooking your accounts, I would still encourage you to occasionally share the links to your other platforms so followers can find you elsewhere. If the time to get to Twitter is the problem, you might consider prioritizing. Sometimes a few select platforms done well is more powerful than many done slightly, if that makes sense. (Of course I’m all for Twitter, but everyone has to find the platforms that are the best ‘fit’ for them.)

      Your pet peeve is one of mine too! That’s sort of tied into “don’t be a numbers hog” for me. It drives me crazy when a person follows me and unfollows if I don’t follow them back IMMEDIATELY. They never even say hi to get my attention or anything! Why is everyone so impatient? Ugh. Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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  5. Scott Mulraney says

    I just wrote a list of DOs and DON’Ts myself. I’ve seen an overabundance of hashtag abuse lately. Six, seven, sometimes more hashtags in a tweet! Out of control, people! ;)

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  6. says

    Yet another installment of Annie’s sage twittiquete. I love how you reason through each of the rules. I also find platform linking annoying. I hadn’t considered how the manual RT without adding info removed the other person’s authorship to no justifiable end. I was doing it as you recommend (whew!) but only now do I realize how important it can be.

    One challenge to using a scheduler instead of several tweets in a row is that a scheduler makes it hard if not impossible for real-time interaction. Scheduling announcements or links is great, and I agree that a huge dump of tweets is a pain. But the reality is that I (and many people) only want to go on twitter a few times a day, and that’s when we’ll tweet.

    In any case, thank you: great insight as always!

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    • says

      Thank you so much, Marialena! I agree about the auto-scheduling; it can cause its own problems. (For example, cheerful tweets going out during a national tragedy, etc.) For the record, I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with getting on twitter less often! (And several times a day is PLENTY, in my opinion.) The trick is to balance the amount of content you put out when you get on, and to vary it.

      So if I can only get on Twitter once a day, I’ll keep my interactions limited. I’ll answer any @ mentions and reply to other people (which isn’t flooding the timeline because the only people who see those things are those who happen to be following both people involved). Then I’ll push RT on one or two great tweets, and I’ll post my own ‘free-standing’ tweets — but I’ll keep them to 1-3 that day. So I might do a personal tweet, a linking tweet to share my content, and a funny/clever type tweet. Essentially, I vary my content and keep it in scale with how long I can be on. This is opposed to tweeting 15 times in a row all about my latest news. Of course, everyone will need to find their own balance, but I hope that clarifies my intent a bit.

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      • says

        I find it very useful to schedule tweets so they are spread through the day or week. I can always edit them before they appear if some event makes them irrelevant or insensitive to a crisis.

        As I find time during the day, I try to find people to interact with. It’s sad to say, but that part is hard sometimes, because so few people ask questions or say something to respond invites a response. Many just post something promotional, and nothing else, as though Twitter were just a giant bulletin board.

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        • says

          Yes, scheduling tweets can be great, but you do have to remember to check in — not just to avoid poor timing but also to make sure you’re participating in others’ conversations and not just starting your own. Which ties in to the second part of your comment! Yes, that can be hard. The very best way to avoid the promo-only stream is to follow really solid, quality tweeters! There are those who think following back is a required practice, but I’m a proponent of only following those you really want to for this very reason. I want a timeline that brings me good, entertaining stuff! So any time I scroll through my timeline and find myself thinking ‘there’s nothing good here,’ I go find three promising new people to follow. :)

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          • says

            These are all great points. But as for #10, I do like to give #FFs as a shoutout to friends and loyal followers and they seem to appreciate it. So I do send out lists. I figure the best policy is to just ignore what you don’t like. It’s not the end of the world and the next thing you know, the tweets will have disappeared from your feed and fallen down the social media black hole. :-)

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            • says

              I understand, Wendy! And of course, you’re free to use Twitter however you like; that’s one of our two inalienable Twitter rights. :) If you have a group of friends that use this as a way to say hi or whatever — like Porter mentioned in his comment — then that works for you! The point of #FollowFriday, though, is to recommend tweeps worth following to your other followers. So if that’s the end you’re trying to reach (supporting some of your favorite tweeps by recommending them to others), the recommendation will hold more power if you choose 1-3 at a time and give a reason why they’re worth following. Most people tune out lists of #FF, as you said, which really makes it no different than just messaging everyone to say hi, talk as usual, etc. (and would annoy less people, since so many have come to hate #FF for the way it clogs up their timelines). But as I said, do what works for you and ignore the rest. Thanks very much for your comment!

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  7. says

    Thanks for the great tips, Annie. I wasn’t aware there are different techniques for mass tweets and personal responses. I love Twitter and try to adhere to the etiquette, but I am not a very sophisticated user.

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    • says

      It’s my pleasure! I hope to cover how to use the @ mention in a future post, but here’s a quick tip: If a tweet starts with someone’s @handle, only that person sees that tweet in their timeline (except for people follow both of you). If you want others to see it, start with anything but that @handle. You can do that by putting a period first, or by shifting their @handle into the later part of the tweet. Thanks for the comment, and please always feel free to ask me any questions that come up!

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  8. says

    Very helpful article, Annie. During my few months on Twitter, I have seen examples of misuse from all of your listed etiquette tips, but No. 1 is my greatest pet peeve. I get numerous follows daily, from people who don’t share any interest with me — a few don’t even speak English! I no longer automatically ‘follow back.’ Like you mentioned, I am trying to build relationships and in that vein, I’ve streamlined my new follows to those I might be interested in hearing from.

    For the most part, my efforts ‘tweeting’ have not translated into any book sales – probably because most of the new followers are other writers and not readers. Makes me wonder if Twitter has actually helped any writing careers.

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    • says

      Thanks, Suzanne! That’s how I use Twitter too, in regards to following. I think quality connections are where the real power lies, and I’ve become impatient with follow-mongers. If someone is only following me to get followed back… they probably aren’t interested in my content anyway. So I say let them go!

      The other issue you bring up is a big one, and could probably have an entire post of its own. The problem is not (I don’t think) that Twitter is inherently ineffective for writers, but that the vast majority of writers are leveraging it poorly. Like you said, most of us end up with a body of followers consisting of other writers — not new readers. The real trick is in forcing ourselves to seek writer-reader connections rather than writer-writer connections. I think I’ll put this topic on my list of future posts!

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      • says

        Have you considered following booksellers and librarians? They tend to be voracious readers. They also review books. I know. Although I’m a blogger who reviews books, my main business is supposed to be selling them. We booksellers are the ones whose houses you can’t easily walk through because of all the book piles. We are the ones with a stack accumulating at our bedside (or a loaded Kindle).

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  9. says

    #3!!! I just want to shake people who do that. But ALL of these are spot-on.

    I won’t even follow links to Facebook, 90% of the time all you get is a ‘page not found’ message.

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    • says

      Thanks! #3 is actually my biggest issue from this list, mostly because I don’t understand WHY people are doing it. Do they simply not understand how to tweet? Do they think everyone cares about their every whim? I don’t get it, and that makes it difficult for me to ignore. And yes, I never click on the Facebook links anymore either. Such a waste!

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  10. says

    Hi Annie,

    I like to use Twitter whenever I feel like sharing something worthwhile. I look for followers who do the same. When someone follows me, the first thing I do is check out what they tweet, then I will wander to their website. I don’t like it when I feel like I’m connected to a robot, or an ego-driven sell-a-holic. One time, someone dropped me a custom message, but it was cleverly written, so I thought it was from them. I responded, but they didn’t respond back, so I unfollowed them, then refollowed. Guess what identical message appeared? I unfollowed and did not follow back.

    I think Twitter is a great place to share, as is Facebook. It’s a different environment, a different kind of sharing, so it is has the danger to be a lot less personal than Facebook might be. My simple rule when it comes to following is I want to have a home feed that is worth reading, not something I have to skim for clutter. I try to tweet so that anyone whose feed I am a part of would be the same.

    Thanks for these tips – I will keep them in mind (though so far I haven’t found myself guilty of any of them).

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    • says

      That’s really wonderfully said, John! That’s the bottom line of all etiquette, isn’t it? Do our best to make others’ experiences as pleasant as we want ours to be. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  11. says

    Thanks for the informative post, Annie. #9 makes me want to crush a beer can on my forehead, or, at the very least, unfollow. I recently read not to put multiple hashtags in a Tweet, that more than one looks spammy. I’m curious how to find out which hashtags are important to authors. Can you help with that?

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    • says

      #9 seems to be winning for everyone’s biggest pet peeve! I agree that too many hashtags looks spammy; I say the ideal is 0-2 with a maximum of 3. As for hashtags for authors, I list a few of the most popular ones at the bottom of this post: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/09/14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-hashtag/ But really, you want to reach readers, so the ideal would mean finding the specific hashtags that your target readers look at. The only way I know to find those is browsing plus trial and error. You might start by looking through a vocal reader’s timeline and seeing what hashtags they use. Good luck!

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  12. says

    Hi, Annie:

    Thanks for the guidelines. I will admit to being a total Luddite about Twitter, and have yet to do anything meaningful with it except violate rule #2 above. I have no idea how I “hooked” my FB account into Twitter and likewise have no clue how to “unhook” it. Some guidance would be deeply appreciated.

    Sorry to be a pest. Really.

    David

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      • says

        Excellent! The interwebs are wonderful that way, aren’t they? :) Asking for Twitter help never makes you a pest to me! I’m so glad you decided to unhook them. Don’t forget to occasionally remind Twitter that you have Facebook now, though. I hope it serves you well!

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        • says

          Well since it just took me AN HOUR to research this, through a bunch of advice that did not work, here’s how to unlink:

          1. Sign in to your Facebook account

          2. While signed in, navigate to the URL https://www.facebook.com/twitter/

          3. All of your Facebook accounts should be listed there. Select “unlink” from the appropriate accounts.

          All unlinked, Annie. Thanks for the great advice!

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  13. Anjali Amit says

    Thank you for this article. I’m still trying to learn all about Twitter (just found out how to use @handle).

    What is there to learn? one may ask. It’s there. You sign up, and start posting your thoughts. That is kind of like asking what is there to learn about writing. Pick up pen and paper and write. As with any other skill, doing it well requires learning and practice.

    Still don’t see the value of #. In its weekly roundup email Twitter often says to use the #. Get it that it is more targeted, eg #amwriting or #writing. But how does it create for the reader a better reading experience?

    Love Twitter because it is my customized newspaper. The more I can learn about using it the better the experience.
    Thanks.

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    • says

      Absolutely, Anjali! There’s tons to learn! I do this Twitter column every other month in hopes of helping writers with that very thing. You’re in luck; I have a whole post about the hashtag: http://writerunboxed.com/2013/09/14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-hashtag/ And if you’re looking for even more Twitter tips, I’d invite you to read any and all of my previous posts, listed here: http://writerunboxed.com/author/annien/ I hope that helps! You can also find me on Twitter @AnnieNeugebauer, and I’m always happy to answer any questions that come up!

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    • says

      This was all very useful. I didn’t know there was an option to RT someone without simply hitting the button! Truly, there is a learning curve and I am sure I have committed some of these faux pas myself.

      I instantly resented the automated DM though, and it was a big turn off.

      I don’t even know how to link my accounts, so I am thankful that this is a bad idea.

      Thanks so much, I loved this article!

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      • says

        There’s definitely a learning curve! Everyone commits faux pas at some point; it’s just part of getting in there and figuring things out. I’m so glad you’ve found the articles helpful. Thanks very much for the comment!

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  14. says

    Numbers 6, 9, and 10 drive me the craziest. But I will focus on #6. And it’s not just when the tweets are about your books. It can be any repetitive tweet or six tweets in a row about the latest score in a game unless you are sure all your followers are following the game. The idea is not to hog the Twitter feed with several of your tweets in a row, no matter what they are about, but especially if they are #10 tweets that offer no value at all to anyone but the tweeter, and that value is questionable, since it upsets so many Tweeps.

    When I schedule my tweets, I try to keep in mind how they will look on my profile page, especially the last five. I try to keep them balanced so that at least one of them is likely to be of general interest. I check the scheduled tweets often to make sure there is a balance between tweets that promote my own work and tweets that will promote the work of others.

    I add retweets and replies in a more haphazard fashion, but still try to balance them or spread them out if speed isn’t a factor. I try to keep the big picture in mind, always asking if I would follow someone whose profile looked like mine, if they had similar interests.

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    • says

      Those are all fantastic practices! I wish everyone was as considerate as you are. And I totally agree with what you said about tweeting only about one thing — I was thinking about that as part of #5 rather than #6, but I’m pretty sure we’re talking about the same thing. It’s just frustrating when someone signs on and tweets 10 times (or even more) about a single TV show that I’m not watching (or whatever). The bottom line is exactly what you expressed: we should all be aware of what we’re putting out there and try to make it balanced and appealing for our followers. That is why we’re tweeting, after all! Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments, Barbara!

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  15. says

    Love all of these! Violators of number 6 are in my crosshairs at the moment. I started using Twitter simply because everyone said it was a good idea for new writers without much thought to how I would use it. It was “great for networking,” they said. Umm, sure, okay. I signed up. I’ve since found that it really is a fantastic way to network, if used correctly.

    But it appears that in my early days of using Twitter I inadvertently followed many writers who do nothing but repeatedly (and with gusto) tweet slight variations of the same pitch for their own book. Or, even worse, tweet random lines of floating dialogue. I’m currently learning about new filters and tools to best deal with this in the least offensive way possible. I’m just more interested in what people genuinely have to say than advertisements for books and unattributed dialogue.

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    • says

      Oh, that’s the worst! I understand your dilemma; you probably don’t want to hurt their feelings by unfollowing, especially if you’ve been following for a long time. Have you discovered Twitter’s new “mute” feature yet? It just might be the solution to your problem. If you click on the little settings wheel next to the follow/unfollow button on someone’s profile page, a drop-down menu appears. Fourth on that list is a new option called “mute.” If you mute a user, you won’t see any of their tweets in your timeline, and the best part is that they won’t know you’ve muted them, so no hurt feelings! You’ll still get notices if they mention you, and you can unmute them at any time. This has been a real sanity-saver for me. I hope that helps, Kendra! Feel free to find me on Twitter if you have any questions. :)

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      • says

        I was thinking the “mute” feature might be what I needed, but had never seen clear instructions on how to use it until you just so kindly provided them! Thanks! I’m off to mute some tweeters! :)

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  16. says

    Thanks especially for #10, Annie. These #FF and #WW and #MM really tick me off.

    Several thoughts nobody asked me for:

    (1) However well-intended, the #FF things really clog up your stream. Particularly when the maybe 7 or 8 people on one of them do Reply All to say thanks to the person who initially inflicted the tweet on everybody. If you want to say thanks (and sometimes you do because we know the #FF was meant well — maybe it’s a friend), then just do Reply. So if the initial tweet says:

    @GratuitiousSweetTweeter #FF and cupcakes !!!!!! for @Porter_Anderson @RandomSomebodyWhomever @JesusHChristAndMaryMag @MahatmaGandhisBrother @JulesVerneLives and @GladysPipAndtheKnights …

    Just do a Reply, not Reply All, to @GratuitousSweetTweeter who sent out the first #FF and those stupid cupcakes. (Boy, am I sick of book people’s fascination with cupcakes, can we not get past whatever illness that is?)

    Reason: Me, Mr. Random, Ms. Jesus, Mr. Mahatma and Ms. Jules, don’t need to see Ms. Gladys saying thanks to Gratuitous. Just stop it.

    (2) These ##FF things are frequently sent out by people who “contribute” nothing of their own. No, I do not mean anyone anywhere is just taking up space, don’t try it. I Love Everybody, Lyle Lovett. I’m just saying that they seem to come from folks who don’t blog, themselves, or produce books, or provide any useful material to the community. These folks just shove names around. Based on their Klout scores, which I check occasionally because I’m like that, it doesn’t seem to do them much good, either — I don’t see them turning into really popular people because they shove these piles of names around. Frequently, you’re in the same group of names each week. You realize this is just a list from which these piles are chunked into tweets and dumped out on everybody by folks who aren’t bringing anything of their own to the party and probably have no reason why they should even be advising others to follow you. Do I think @GratuitousSweetTweeter is reading me between baking cupcakes? Are you kidding? Despite the fact that I Love Everybody, this is pretty pathetic.

    (3) SOMETIMES they are from folks you know. And if the list of people is a bunch of really good folks you know, you can tell that this is (a) a truly nice thing and (b) a flattering effort in that you’re in some very good company you know and like. I have one correspondent who does this very nicely each Friday. And in that case we DO Reply All, not least because we’re saying hello to each other, too. We’re in about six different countries (the initial #FF sender is in Europe) and it’s a nice way for all of us to wave, in a sense, to each other. So there are exceptions, “my circle of friends” situations in which this is nice and the Reply All is actually a little friendly thing.

    (4) Back to my first example, though, the @GratuitousSweetTweeter who is contributing nothing to the community in terms of content, just shoving names and cupcakes around, you know what I do? I turn it around in a Reply All with a link to one of my latest stories or to something else useful. I offer them a little value, in other words. I piggyback one of my or someone else’s recent writes so the others can at least get something of sustenance (not virtual cupcakes) and the other names being shoved around in that pile with me just might click the link and see a nice read. You have to knock out some of the anonymous people in the pile to make room, but you just do it like this:

    (My Reply All:)

    @GratuitousSweetTweeter Thanks! And a new story: http://bit.ly/1mnMToS @RandomSomebodyWhomever @JesusHChristAndMaryMag @MahatmaGandhisBrother

    So at least the thank-you tweet has a little value added instead of going back as just another shove of the pile.

    ….. and by the way, Annie, have you ever dealt with these Paper.li “newspaper” things that fill up your datastream with:

    “The Stupid and Utterly Useless Stories About Publishing Daily is out!! Featuring @Porter_Anderson and @AnnieNeugebauer!!

    These are another way to totally clog up people’s streams with junk, in my not at all humble opinion. They’re auto-generated, too, there’s no human intervention needed once they get going. They grab stories you have tweeted because the person who set up this faux “newspaper/daily” has listed you as a source from which to gather links. Then they pump out the tweet with your name on it, sometimes for being the source of an insanely minor story in the faux “newspaper/daily,” too.

    I want these stopped. Could you work on that, please, and report back to us? Thanks.

    Crazy from the heat,
    -p.

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    • says

      Yes, yes, and triple yes! You round up all the writers, and I’ll bring a squirt gun and a megaphone. Ready?

      Porter, I know you’re fluent enough at twitter to get this old post of mine: http://annieneugebauer.com/2012/09/24/what-the-way-you-retweet-says-about-you/ (Note the “you’re the devil” part.)

      The comparison to an email “reply” vs “reply all” is apt. And people do that with emails, too. Have you ever been caught in one of those loops where 3-4 people from a 30-person list are having conversations via reply all? And they always seem to be the same people who use email like it’s a chat room — little 1-2 sentence messages back and forth every five minutes. It’s horrendous. It makes me want to throw my computer at something sharp.

      I have to admit I’m not crazy about the reply-all with your own content part. A reply to the person who did it though, absolutely! But if I’m in a useless #FF list and someone I don’t know from that list tweets links at me, I think it would be equally annoying. But maybe I misunderstood and you meant you only do that to the people who have already committed the reply-all crime — a sort of self-promo punishment, if you will. ;)

      The “newspapers” drive me nuts. I remember the first time I was tagged in one; I thought it was kind of neat. Then I quickly realized they were auto-generated and utterly meaningless, and the shine wore off.

      Don’t talk to me about heat; I’m in Texas. We’re supposed to break triple digits this week!

      Thanks very much for the comment!

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  17. says

    Thank you, Annie, for mentioning #8. It feels like someone is stealing my pictures when they remove my face from a tweet and put their picture in. Usually I block those people now since they’ll do it to my dear tweet friends (it happened and the person was livid). I sooo appreciate the validation on this one.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • says

      That can be so frustrating! I don’t know if you need to block them, though; you could probably just unfollow to get the same effect. Keep in mind that some people simply don’t know it’s a faux pas! Thanks for you comment, Wendy.

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    • says

      Annie, I wanted to check back in to let you know that I have begun to follow your advice in #5 by going onto Twitter more often with short visits. This way I don’t tweet too much at once. I was guilty of that one. It’s more fun to this way too. I get overwhelmed when I let stuff pile up. Now I respond to people sooner etc.

      Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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  18. says

    Great post. Thank you. I am about to read all your posts about how to be on twitter.
    I would though, ask for some tolerance for those of us who spend hours looking up how to use twitter properly and still don’t understand! and I have 4 degrees!
    I am still working out what it it means below when it says don’t use your http or your @
    I looked up what my twitter handle is and it was @.
    So friends, please be patient when we make mistakes. Most of us are trying really hard to learn how to do things but trip up now and then.
    It may seem simple to you but for those of us who are confused by computers at times, and working hard to learn, it dismays me to read some of the comments here.
    It took me a long time learning and asking others on twitter how to post a photo from my computer on Twitter. Lots of people couldn’t tell me until one kind person told me the photo had to be a certain size and to use Ipiicy.
    So, a little help and support goes a long way!

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    • says

      Thanks, Sherry! I know how overwhelming it can be, but I hope you believe me when I say that I’m very understanding with my tweeps. I talk about the faux-pas here so people can learn (and we all need to learn; how else will we know?), but I don’t unfollow people just because they make a few mistakes or don’t do things the way I do. If a person is friendly, kind, and earnest, I can overlook almost anything! Of course I can’t say that everyone uses Twitter that way, but I can tell from your comment alone that you’re kind and well-intended, so I’m sure you’re doing just fine! That said, I’m always available to help out if you have Twitter questions, etc. Please feel free to find me on Twitter. Say hi and I’ll follow back. :)

      PS- the box in the comment form is requesting that you put your @handle, but just leave off the @ symbol itself. So instead of typing @AnnieNeugebauer into the form I just type AnnieNeugebauer; that’s my “user name.” (The http is the web address of your profile page; mine is https://twitter.com/AnnieNeugebauer .) I hope that helps!

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  19. says

    This is awesome, Annie! I agree with every thing listed here. I also agree with Porter’s frustration and cupcakes and what not, including those daily “papers.” But I’m with you on not being too crazy about Porter’s idea of replying with a link to a blog post. I do not write #ffs. Just as bad as the reply all is the fact that every time someone in that lists “favorites” that tweet we all get the notification on Twitter. And then we get the notification for all the thank yous and the favoriting for the thank you. We can get 10 notifications for one person’s random #ff.

    Okay, rant over. But don’t get me started on the “Check out my _____” DMS or the “thanks for the follow” tweets. Just interact! Not need to thanks in this case. But you know that’s my personal crusade.

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    • says

      Thanks so much, Nina! Yeah, the cupcakes (coffee, bacon, whatever) obsession gets old, for sure. I think it just becomes a communal topic that everyone can contribute to — a conversation starter, basically, but many have worn out their welcome. And yes! We’ve talked about this before, but the new Twitter policy of showing us every time someone favorites a tweet we’re mentioned in (instead of that we wrote) is absolutely maddening! I don’t want to see every time anyone else favorites a #FF list. UGH. Twitter should really ask us these things first. ;)

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  20. says

    I agree with #9. I hate DMs or the ones that want to confirm that you are a real person, but you have to click a link and enter info to further friend them. Gotten that one several times and no thank you.

    Account linking can get annoying, but if done properly and not excessively I don’t mind it. What I do hate is when someone does nothing but link to their etsy shop or blog. If I wanted to 24 hour infomercial I would watch TV not go on twitter. Sometimes I look at my twitter feed and see nothing but read my blog posts. That’s when I start unfollowing.

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    • says

      I totally agree! Self-promotion needs to be in good proportion with other (more fun/interesting) content. My rule of thumb is to share everything 3 times, then let it go. Sometime less and occasionally more, but I get tired of seeing a link to the same blog post a dozen times. Thanks for your comment!

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  21. says

    Very cool advice and, in general, I agree.

    I’m sure you’ve already gotten flak about #2 as you expected. Heh. So I’ll only say that I don’t mind hooked accounts, because even though I’m following in both places, having it hooked through twitter lets me see things I might have missed. Though I do think it should be regulated. I don’t hook Pinterest, for example, since it tends to spam my twitter account. But I do hook tumblr, since I limit the queue to posting only two times a day.

    I also think it’s okay to sometimes mass tweet @ replies, IF the reply is of interest to the main body of readers and it can lead them to participate in the discussion. In those cases, I usually order it differently with the comment first and the @ tag at the end.

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    • says

      I haven’t, actually. =)~ But I think anything in moderation is okay. Like you mentioned, if you choose just some of your photos to share and spread them out, you’re probably not annoying anyone. The real problem is when someone is extremely active elsewhere and has every post “tweeted” automatically; it becomes another way to flood the timeline. And yes, I agree about the mass reply tweet! I tried to specify with that faux-pas that it’s only annoying when it’s done often and without purpose. (“You Betcha! @handle”) If it’s something that might really interest your followers, it’s a wonderful trick to draw people in! Thanks Andrea!

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  22. says

    Terrific tips, Annie.
    Number 5 has been a recent pet peeve of mine. I’ve noticed some Twitter users flooding the stream with tweets every few minutes (or even every minute!) and it becomes a long string of that one person. I’m sure it’s a result of trying to play catch up on social media, so I understand the reason behind it, but I’ve actually unfollowed people who do this too often.

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    • says

      Thanks, Jackie! Yes, there are some very talkative tweeps out there. For some people it just works — they usually follow and are followed by other talkative people — but I’m like you. I have had to unfollow people before because they became the main face in my timeline. Yikes! Thanks for your comment.

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  23. says

    I don’t understand Twitter’s appeal. It comes over to me as a flood of random ideas that I have to wade through to get the nuggets from.

    Am I missing something? Is there a better way to consume the Twitter feed so it has value to me?

    Only when I understand my audience’s experience can I figure out how best to use the platform, and Twitter is a mystery to me….

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    • says

      Hi Jack! Twitter isn’t for everyone, and it might just not be to your taste. One way to get the most from it is by following people selectively. If you keep the number of people you follow to a small number, and only follow people who tweet good, quality content, the stream of information becomes much more manageable. If you follow every single person who follows you, you’re likely to get overwhelmed. You might try making a list of only your top tweeters and looking at that instead of the main timeline. Good luck!

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