How to Twitter responsibly

Twitter is great way of sharing information, but the way some of that information is shared is more damaging than useful. How can you improve your Twitter behaviour to make sure you give real value to your followers and don’t annoy them?

Don’t Spam

As a web designer, I’m always on the look out for new ways of doing things, so links to CSS tips or PhotoShop techniques are very useful. It’s common practice for Tweeters to share one link per tweet and that’s fine if you spread them out over the day, but don’t block tweet more than a 2 or 3 at a time.

Many people are creating up to 30 consecutive tweets and it’s simply too much information. It comes across as spammy, it prevents me seeing valuable info from other people and it suggests you’re not interested in conversations. Get in to the habit of spreading your links over a longer period, your followers will appreciate it.

Don’t swear

Swearing in tweets is probably OK for a personal account which you use to twitter to your friends, but if you are twittering on a business related account, then don’t swear. Ever.

You might think that swearing helps you really hammer home an important point, or allows you to “be real”, or helps you express anger at some indignity you have witnessed or experienced. Sure, it might do those things, but it also makes you look like a moron.

You’re an intelligent person with a decent vocabulary. Use it.

Personalise #followfriday

Follow Friday is a great networking idea: Every Friday you list some people that you’re following, giving some info on why they are helpful.

There’s currently a trend for a list of #followfriday names to be just that — a list:

#followfriday @person1 @person2 @person3 @person4 @person5 @person6

This is meaningless. It offers no real value to your followers at all. It’s a list of names that tell me nothing about the people listed and why they might be worth following.

If you’ve already decided to follow someone, you’ll (hopefully) have made a judgement about why to follow them. You’ll likely have viewed their biography, checked out their website, had a look at their last 20 or so tweets and made your decision based on the value of that research.

So if you have done that research, and found the person valuable enough to follow and recommend, then explain to us why you recommend them. Otherwise, we have to go and do all that research again and that completely misses the point of what #followfriday is all about. Here’s an example of a good #followfriday recommendation:

#followfriday: @person – Great web-designer with inspiring portfolio who regularly links to awesome web design resources

Give credit on Re-Tweets

Re-tweeting is the act of re-posting another user’s tweet in your own twitter stream. Tweets that contain links to useful resources are often re-tweeted to enable a wider reach than the original tweeter’s network.

Twitter relies on building strong, honest relationships between people. Claiming tweets as your own is rather against the spirit of the community. You should always ensure that anything you re-tweet gives credit to the original author. It doesn’t matter how — use the convention “RT @author” or “(via @author)” or any other style you like, just ensure you give the credit.

You should also preserve any shortened URLs so that the original creator gets the credit for anyone following the link. Don’t create your own new shortened URL; it’s both unfair and pointless.


  • Don’t spam. Lots to share? Spread it out over the day.
  • Don’t swear — you’ll look like an idiot.
  • Personalise your #followfriday recommendations and limit them to a few each week
  • Credit all re-tweets to the original author and retain existing shortened URLs

I hope these tips were helpful for you to improve your tweeting. If you have anything to share, please comment below.

5 thoughts on “How to Twitter responsibly

  1. Yep – I totally agree. All good points that are well made, Matt.

    Regarding the current #followfriday madness, it may well help if you repost your tweet to this topic on Thu/Fri for maximum impact.

  2. Hi Matt

    Nice to-the-point article.

    May i also suggest, for upcoming posts, something along the lines of:

    -dont ignore peeps who @message you

    -dont follow thousands of innocent peeps only to advertise your useless pyramid scheme or life-coaching services.

    -don’t auto-DM those “thx for following – check out ”

    -dont tweet about taboo subjects – god, sex, politics and religion should be kept out of the twitter stream…

    I tend to unfollow all of the above.

  3. Excellent points Max, thanks for contributing. Sorry for the delay in approving your comment: Akismet had marked it as spam – I guess it was the “” that did it ;-)

  4. Excellent piece, Matt; difficult to argue with. I’d just mention two things:

    1 Stacked tweets where someone loads 10 or more is BAD… Too easy to miss a good tweet lurking in a sequence

    2 Twitter already deems what is not acceptable. The magnificent ‘transparency’ of Twitter makes it unreasonable to cite further taboo subjects. The decision to follow/unfollow is a choice which remains based on personal criteria