7 Things Not to Do on Twitter

Things Not to Do on Twitter

When Twitter launched, critics questioned the limitation of 140 characters to make a meaningful conversation, especially for businesses. Over the years, Twitter has improved by leaps and bounds, added several business-friendly features and now ranks amongst the league of formidable social media tools for businesses.

Businesses have realized the value of messages limited to 140 characters and have thronged to Twitter in large numbers. As a result of this exponential growth in the Tweetosphere, there’s a strong need for a establishing a code of conduct and clearly laying out guidelines on what business should do and what they should not do on Twitter.

Interestingly, a number of social media experts often focus their pep talks on what to do on Twitter. Too bad, they miss out on the important things not to do on Twitter.  Here’s my take on the 7 things you should NOT do on Twitter.

Excessive Tweeting/ Re-tweets

I find that a number of businesses guilty of Twitter overuse. They tweet way too often to my comfort and to make matters worse, the tweets are repetitive. It’s annoying to say the least when I find same tweets in my feed before I go to bed every night and they pop up again when I access Twitter next morning. The idea is to be judicious with how much you tweet and what you tweet.

Follow Anyone and Everyone

Twitter works best as a business tool when there’s a targeted audience for it. If you follow people simply hoping they would follow you back and increase your follower count, it won’t help your business. Make a conscious effort to follow people who’d associate with your business. Also, auto follows may fetch you quantity but it won’t get you quality so make sure you weigh your options before you turn it on.


You need to maintain your dignity on Twitter. If you resort to using foul language or abusive tweets, your business will be kicked where it hurts most. Be mindful of your language and respect others. Your Twitter followers are human beings with real emotions so it’s important that you don’t end up hurting anyone’s sentiments. Tweet others the way you would like to be tweeted!

Inaccurate/ Incomplete profile

I never follow Twitter users who have incomplete profiles or provide misleading information on their profiles. Most Twitter users love to be associated with genuine businesses which are transparent about their conduct. Make sure to provide all the relevant information in your profile and refrain from including any inaccurate details.


While Twitter is a means of promoting your business and its associated products, tweets should not be used as blatant sales pitches to sell yourself. Avoid excessive self praise and self boasting. Adopt a balanced approach.

Personal Talk

If you are a business user, refrain from getting into any personal talks on Twitter. Most followers would not be interested in such information anyway so there’s no point in overloading them with useless information.


While it’s important that you don’t ‘overtweet’, it’s equally important to make sure that you tweet often enough. It’s a fine line but you need to ensure you tweet often enough so that your followers are still interested in being associated with you.

Do you want to add anything to my list of Twitter NO-DOs? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.


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  1. Ann Becker-Schutte

    Douglas–I think that this is a useful contribution to the conversation around Twitter. I just want to amplify your point on abuse. An interesting side effect of the growth of Twitter is that many of us are building communities of both professional and personal connections. I think that any of us using Twitter in a professional capacity need to remember that ALL of our tweets, even if they take place in a chat that we participate in weekly, are public record, and reflect on our businesses. We need to own the public aspect of the medium and treat it as we would any other professional tool. Thanks again for the good thoughts.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      The public responsibility, especially the public access part of Twitter, is what most Twitter users are rarely aware of. Once we keep that in mind, it forces us to tweet responsibly. Thanks Ann for your very thoughtful comment.

  2. Stephanie Slater

    Great advice, Douglas! I particularly like: “Tweet others the way you would like to be tweeted!” because that’s what it comes down to in the end. I’d add a caution about posting too many messages to other Tweeters along the lines of “thanks for the shout outs, RTs etc” While it may be good manners to acknowledge others, it can be tedious when one’s posts are a never-ending list of addresses and insider messages. When I check someone to see about following, I only look at one screen’s worth of posts. If there’s nothing of substance for me there I’m gone – so I’d say be judicious about the number of these insider posts.

    Using a service to schedule Tweets can help avoid some of the “don’t dos” and creating a free daily paper using http://www.paper.li can ensure you have at least one Tweet a day

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      It comes down to the old saying, “too much of anything is bad” and excessive thank-yous in the form of tweets are not far from it. There’s always need for balance. Thanks for your contributive comment, Stephanie.

  3. Inner Ear

    Excellent post Douglas, with sound advice for everyone using Twitter (beginners and experienced users alike). Great comments too, Stephanie and Ann. I think your points about etiquette and respect are vitally important. When it comes to social media, I keep saying it’s called social for a reason. Don’t behave differently online to how you would in “real life”. Abuse and careless criticism are not only unkind, they are unhelpful and, ultimately, I believe, do more harm to the person posting than whoever they are posting about. Criticism is important, and can be a great way of learning and improving, but should always be constructive, not to say diplomatic.

    I would also suggest adding don’t forget to be human. Automating and scheduling tweets (especially from great services like Paper.li) is all well and good, but don’t forget to check for replies, answer questions, respond to comments and so on.

    Another addition might be don’t tweet for the sake of it (which backs up several of your points, Douglas, about not tweeting too often, or tweeting irrelevant points). Don’t simply grab a blog post title or web link and tweet it without having read (or at least skimmed) it first because otherwise you don’t know what you’re saying about yourself and can’t answer any questions from other users on the topic.

    Great blog, great post. Keep up the good work.

    Dougal (@dougalperman from @innerearuk)

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Dougal, I really appreciate the point you brought up on not retweeting without at least skimming the content. Whatever is on your tweet stream represent your belief. You might not think so but your followers and readers do.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment and complements, Dougal!

  4. Gabriele Maidecchi

    About #2, I followed the school of “following everyone who follows me”, but I changed that since a while. Especially because it’s way too full of suspect people, with 20 Tweets and 10’000 followers, that doesn’t strike me as fair use of the medium so I just stay away from them. Recently I started not following accounts tweeting about topics very far off from any of my interests, as there’s no real point and it makes me wonder how they got to follow me in first place.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      Gabriele, it’s unfortunate many Twitter users see Twitter follow counts as some sort of a prestige badge. Followers without clout, relevance and influence on their followers’ action is practically useless. Be human, not a bot. It’s always interesting to read your comments, Gabriele!

  5. Joel

    Thanks Douglas. As a newbie to the social media game and Twitter in particular, I’m happy to get some intelligent guidelines on what not to do on Twitter. It all seems to boil down to respect and common sense. And common sense as we know, is not all that common.

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      You’re welcome Joel! I’m glad you find the post useful. In a world where everybody is smart, common sense becomes revolutionary and common things are seen as revered! The simple always outperform the complex.

  6. Susan Kay Wyatt

    I don’t follow people who don’t have a profile. It only takes a minute to write one. Doesn’t make sense to follow someone you have no idea who they are or what they do. Unless they are so huge I should know who they are huh? I find that I get turned off by negative tweets. I have also found an amazing community of supportive heart centered saving the world people on twitter. What a lovely surprise! GROUP HUG!

  7. @stephsigel

    Hi Douglas, great post. I agree with all your points and wanted to add an 8th DON’T to your list, if I may – Sending automatic ‘Thanks for the follow’ messages.

    Reason? They are pointless. We’re all on Twitter to be followed. Have you ever seen a ‘What on earth are you thinking?’ reply? Save your time and our inbox space. We know you are grateful. If you really want to stand out, take a moment and send a brief note manually. Otherwise, your ‘personal’ message is achieving the opposite effect.

    @stephsigel (from http://social-butterfly.ca)

    1. Douglas Idugboe

      You couldn’t be more spot on Steph. These auto DM welcome/thank-you messages are rarely responded to most of the time if you were to respond to them. If you are want to start a conversation with a DM, you might as well be prepared to engage in that conversation. Great point Steph.

  8. Beck-Reit and Sons

    Thank You Douglas! I have been doing twitter for my business for 3 months now . I know I broke one of your rules. I excessivly thank people and retweet their post. I was doing so to have good manners, but I completely agree that too much of a good thing can be bad. I will keep all of your rules in mind going forward. Great Blog!

  9. Toni Aull

    Everything seems right on line.

    1. resume help

      really) at last something what not to do about twitter) all the articles) just tell us what to do with it and never what not to do)))

  10. Denyse Drummond-Dunn

    Thanks for this Doug. I am tired of hearing about the meal just eaten, the bar someone has just gone into, what his wife is shopping for, or what his time was on his daily run. I am here for connecting and these intimate details should stay just that, with your close friends – who hopefully you are speaking / phoning / Skyping.

  11. online coupons

    I think its better to remain human. Share only interesting and informative content.
    RT @ 7 Things Not to Do on Twitter – http://goo.gl/pCWE5

  12. Ralph Bastarache

    Good post! I think it is important to remember to ‘keep it real’ with Twitter, and a lot of the above is in direct reference to that. For a business/corporate Twitter account I agree with all of the points mentioned.

    Individuals use Twitter for both business and personal purposes and I think it is 100% appropriate to include both business and personal posts in the same feed. I like to know a little bit about the person I am communicating with, about who they are not just what they do.

    Common sense applies though with personal posts. Share what is appropriate, interesting and entertaining. It can only strengthen your Twitter connections.

    Thanks for posting.

  13. JamesL

    It seems from time to time these suggestions above are overlooked. It is always good to see them refreshed. Well done

  14. JamesL

    It seems from time to time these suggestions above are overlooked. It is always good to see them refreshed. Well done

  15. Anonymous

    Let me add a few:

    1. Try to tweet in the native language of your audience. Tweets in Urdu and Mandarin are unlikely to generate much business.
    2. Refrain from quoting people. If they had said anything worthwhile, we’d have remembered it.
    3. Don’t eat garlic while tweeting. Have some consideration for your audience.
    4. Threatening your customers with violence is effective, but crude. Do this only when absolutely necessary.
    5. Invite everyone who follows you out for a drink. Twitter is great, but there’s no substitute for personal contact.

    That’s all for now.

  16. Linda Wyatt

    Good article, tips are certainly valid for business. I use twitter for personal fulfillment however; it’s cathartic. I tell my biz friends: DO NOT DO what I do, unless you want to get a following of un-laser targeted but incredibly interesting real people. Another biz tip: DO NOT bore people with fluff and puff filler content, especially if autobot generated. Unless you only want marketers,or your own business people to bot back to you. Provide good information, interesting or useful content, resources. If you want to interest the general public, pull in some new leads, make some sales or boost your brand, you should also show some personality, not just the Zig Ziglar quotes. Nobody wants to be friends with the happiest pepiest person on earth who just talks conferences, product, pep, quotes.

  17. Janet Makarick

    Good post. I’ve been trying to get the right mix of business vs personal tweets. Still working on it!

  18. Janet Makarick

    Good post. I’ve been trying to get the right mix of business vs personal tweets. Still working on it!

  19. Janet Makarick

    Thanks for the tips – very informative and useful. I have tried automated posts in the past but felt I did not have the control over the content, so discontinued it a while ago.

  20. Janet Makarick

    Thanks for the tips – very informative and useful. I have tried automated posts in the past but felt I did not have the control over the content, so discontinued it a while ago.

  21. The Business Outsource Guy

    While I agree with most of what you say here, there is varying opinion on the use of multiple tweets. The life of a “tweet” is almost universally accepted as less than 1 hour. Therefore, if you are trying to get a message out to your followers and tweet it only once, then there is a 1 in 24 chance of them seing it at best. Many self proclaimed “expert” columns will recommend retweeting the same tweet 2 or 3 times per day at varying times to reach more of an audience. This can continue for up to a week to be sure your message is delivered.

    I log on to Twitter at different times of the day and often see the same message delivered, usually linking to a blog or article. Running news updates are a bit different. They are issued randomly throughout the day, usually only once. I guess it really depends on the topic.

    1. CE

      I disagree,I cant stand repetition in tweets

    2. Emmhairsalon

      Well they can always make following lists if they don’t want the info as frequently. I don’t mind the repetition a few times, perhaps mix it up a bit during the day alternating the tweets. You are right is mentioning that there is the 1 in 24 chance of viewing a tweet. 3 times is reasonable.It is more that the content of the tweet has to be engaging. For me…add a pic or link & I’m there!! 

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  23. Firebrand

    Great article.  We ensure that we check everyone who follows us, our of respect we go and learn a little about them and engage at some level which is relevant.

      @FirebrandHQ:twitter  also find it frustrating when people don’t create their own twitter personality and just re tweet what others are saying.

    I do however agree with “the business outsource” guy that often with traffic updated so regularly, a business related tweet may need to be repeated over the course of a day or campaign.

    1. The Business Outsource Guy

      Thx Firebrand. I find it almost a necessity to re-tweet business articles several times per day for several days.  There was another supporting study done by @niemanlab . This article is worth reading http://entm.ag/kwVvdl

  24. JaneatRelicajewelry

    For small businesses, I might say that it’s important to be ready for clicks on your tweeted links, in the event that someone actually does click through.  If you link to a blog, makes sure that your links are effective there.   If you offer an Etsy coupon code, make sure it’s up and running.  

  25. Xoxopx

    I disagree with a few of your “not to do” list. I am sooooooo bored  hearing  business comments likely because Linked in is my business go to site and is more interactive with over 2 million 1st second third connections I am always receiving relevant tips, advice, recommendations and simply fun banter. twitter allows people who may have only known me as my “Lady with Title in a executive chair at  how-fun-would-that-be advertising agency to see me in a different light. Human, I hope.

  26. Xoxopx

    and yet another typo…… yup I am human.

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  28. Dario Krestalica

    Very useful post !

  29. Heidi Skinner

    How about, don’t just post #ff or #followfriday with 19 twitter handles?  If you still post #ff’s give a reason or context to make it meaningful? 🙂  *Great post, btw.

  30. Heidi Skinner

    Don’t tweet #followfriday or #ff with 19 twitter handles. If you still do #ff’s, provide some context on why 1 person is follow-worthy. 

  31. Donna Queza

    Thanks for the list. Lots of great points. I’d love to add to #4 and say that people should always add a picture to their profiles. I never follow egg-heads!

    I posted a blog recently about the 7 People You’ll Meet on Twitter. It’s about all the people I’ve come across since getting to know the ins and outs of the network. I hope you’ll take a second to check it out! http://theoptimistblog.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/hello-world/ 

  32. Bella Khaykin

     Hello! Thank you, Douglas for friendship and this valuable article. I have only 1 question – Why twitter block users? sometimes, i have 7 of my followers to be blocked. What they might violate? Thank you!  Bella

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  45. Claire Traveling

    Here’s something that really annoys me: companies who only tweet about what they post on Facebook. What’s the use of using a different media if you only use it the same way?

  46. luannecrawford

    Great advice!  Thanks!

  47. Rayne Hall

    Frequency is relative. When you follow people, you have personal preferences about how many tweets you want from them. What you consider too much may be just right for someone else; what you consider too little may already be too much for someone else’s taste.
    Nobody can get the amount of tweets right for every single follower’s personal preferences. 
    So I say, don’t sweat that. Tweet as much or as little as you like.

  48. Kimberly R. Harris

    These are some really good reminders. Thank you!

  49. Sheena Neil

    Hi Douglas,  How often should you tweet? I have BufferApp and have it setup to send a tweet every 3 hours between 8am – 6pm every day.  I normally will promote my new blog post during the day along with other tweets like engaging questions, polls or mentions about other products etc. Do you think this is too much or just enough?

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