Whether tweeting as yourself or from a brand account, there are certain guidelines—let’s call them rules of the road—by which we all must abide. When people don’t follow proper Twitter etiquette, we all cringe, it’s awkward, everyone feels deflated, and you just look unenlightened.
So here are 10 Twitter etiquette rules:
1. Always add value. This can’t be stressed enough. Everything you tweet should add value to your followers’ day. This rule applies especially to brands, but you should follow it in your personal tweets as well. We’ve come so far from the days when everyone made the joke that Twitter was just a collection of what people ate for breakfast. Don’t drag the platform back to those days—unless what you had for breakfast was truly remarkable, in which case there had better be a pic!
2. #Dont #Overuse #Hashtags #In #Your #Tweets #It #Looks #Ridiculous #Stick #To #Three #Or #Fewer #TwitterEtiquette Need we say more? No? Good, ‘cuz we’re out of space.
3. A follow-back is nice, but it’s not required. It’s not a bad idea to follow influential users and people who frequently retweet or comment on your post, but don’t feel that you have to followeveryone who follows you.
4. Don’t just tweet headlines and links. I realize it’s easier to just send out a headline of a relevant article with a link, but if you really want to add value, give your take on the article or pull out some interesting quote or nugget from it. The exception might be news organizations and publishing companies, but a good rule to follow is to go beyond the headline. Think of it like a shopping mall food court. Sure, the bourbon chicken is listed on the menu at the Chinese food kiosk, but it’s not until you try the sample that you really take notice.
5. The people you follow say something about you. This may be a personal thing, but I like to ensure that the people I follow are relevant and adding value. You’d be surprised—especially if you’ve been using the platform for some time—at how many of the people you follow add no value.SocialBro is a great tool to help you clean up your following list. Twitter frowns upon following/unfollowing en masse. What does this have to do with etiquette? If you’re invited to a dinner party with a plus-one, you’re going to want to make sure the person you bring is an engaging guest, not a total mess.
6. No manual retweets. If you manually put “RT” in your tweet and just copy/paste a person’s thoughts, you’re seen as stealing that user’s thunder. It’s a small thing, and some might disagree, but few will question the use of the handy retweet button. Do a quick search on “manual retweet” in Twitter, and watch the hatred spew forth.
7. No automatic DMs. I’m surprised that this is still done, but about once a month I’ll get a DM thanking me for the follow and claiming that he or she is excited to connect with me. Don’t need it. Come to think about it, no one should do anything automated on Twitter. (Please see next item.)
8. Avoid automation if possible. Scheduling tweets is tricky. It’s not the worst thing in the world, as long as the tweets still sound human and there’s someone to engage with people once the tweets are sent, but something about it just feels icky.
9. Avoid negativity. Criticism of a thing, a piece of media, or something inanimate is OK if you know what you’re talking about, but criticizing individuals opens a door that you don’t want to walk through in social media. Keep it positive, and you’ll never have a problem. Go negative, and not much good will happen.
10. If you have to write “spoiler alert,” maybe just don’t tweet it. Writing “spoiler alert” in a post almost guarantees that you’ll spoil something for someone.
So, there you have a batch of guidelines for you and your followers to follow. (That’s a hint, by the way: Please tweet the link to this article, adding a comment of your own, of course. Always add value.)
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com