The 10 Commandments of Twitter

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Not to get all biblical on you or anything, but Twitter is governed by a set of strict commandments. You should probably follow these to avoid feeling the wrath of the unfollow.

1. Thou Shall Devote a Few Minutes Each Day to Twitter

This is a hard and fast rule. It’s set in stone, hence it’s a Twitter commandment. In order to fully optimize your Twitter experience, you’ve got to be around to pay attention to it. Take a few minutes each day and tweet a couple of things your followers will find valuable in your niche. The more, the better, but if you’re pressed for a time, a few minutes each day is good enough. It’s important that you don’t let a day pass without at least checking in and seeing if anyone has mentioned you in a tweet.

2. Thou Shall not Spam Thy Neighbor

It’s not 1995 anymore, and I think we’ve all figured out that spam is really annoying. Don’t do it on Twitter, please. It’s one of the quickest ways to lose followers. Your Twitter account is a great way to promote your blog or your product, but if you’re too forceful, people will back away. Go ahead and promote, but walk the line between promotion and spamming very carefully.

3. Thou Shall Pay Attention to Mentions of Thy Brand

People are talking about your business, your industry or your niche on Twitter right now. Why are you not involved in the conversation? Twitter search is a great way to find out what people are saying about things that are important to you. Use it as if your Twitter success depended on it, because it does. The more conversations you’re able to contribute to, the more people will take notice. When that happens, you’re more likely to build a strong following.

4. Thou Shall Respond to @ Mentions in a Reasonable Time

This goes hand-in-hand with the first commandment, but it deserves a separate space. When other Twitter users tweet at you using the @ reply, you shouldn’t let their words go unheard. These are potential customers or followers, and they’re important. Get back to them. If you’re unsure of how to answer their question, send them a reply and let them know that you got their tweet and that you’ll get back to them. Being on top of your mentions shows that you care about your Twitter presence and the folks who could potentially become customers.

5. Thou Shall Tweet Valuable Information and Steer Away from Fluff

I love a good quote as much as the next guy. I really do. But lately, I’ve noticed that my Twitter stream is filled with so many quotes that I’m noticing some are starting to contradict each other. It’s confusing. Quotes are great, but they should be used sparingly. Be original with your tweets and provide value — that is, something that I can’t get anywhere else. Be the person I need to come to in order to get the type of information you can provide. Inspiring me with a quote from someone else is nice, but teach me something I didn’t know before. That’s how you achieve value.

6. Thou Shall not Send Automatic Direct Messages When I Follow You

I realize there are some people reading this that use the auto DM function on some third-party Twitter application. I appreciate the sentiment. It’s always nice to be thanked for something. But automating the system takes all the human interaction out of it. When I follow you and I get a DM a few hours later that asks me what I’m working on and then links to your blog, I don’t exactly feel all warm and fuzzy about it. If you want to thank your followers for following, do it personally. Sure, it takes more time, but make a connection. It’ll go a lot further for you and for me.

7. Thou Shall Ditch Your Logo and Be a Human

Your company’s logo is nice. Really, it is. But I don’t want to talk to a logo, and neither does anyone else on Twitter. Humans, not logos, create connections. Show me who you are. Don’t show me what your graphic artist created. Be real and create authenticity. It doesn’t matter how cool or edgy your logo is if you can’t create a connection with other Twitter users.

8. Thou Shall Manage Crises with Grace and Understanding

You’re not always going to hear what you want about your business or industry. When negative comments arise, do you handle them with wrath and vengeance? Absolutely not. Kindness rules all, even if you receive comments that are less than amicable. If there was a mistake on your part, acknowledge it and apologize for it. Do what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If it’s a difference of opinion, be open to hearing the other side. Never resort to harsh words or indifference toward negative comments.

9. Thou Shall Retweet and Share the Message of Others

We all want to be retweeted, but in order to heighten our chances of that happening, we need to share the content and message of others first. If you retweet someone often enough, they’ll remember you and likely follow you. That’s when they’ll probably return the favor by retweeting your content. Sharing is an important part of building Twitter relationships.

10. Thou Shall not Over-commit to Twitter

Twitter is great for networking, promotion and interaction, but it’s not a savior in and of itself. It’s simply a tool. Treat it as such. Spread your attention around different social media platforms, but don’t neglect traditional ways of spreading your message. It’s important to recognize that, while social media is showing its true potential in the business world, it’s not going replace other forms of promotion. The best plan is a plan that includes a healthy mix of both new and traditional channels of promotion.

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  1. Kristina Summers

    I shall go forth and Tweet this message to all my Tweeps!

  2. Jay Adams

    Thanks for spreading the word of Twitter! 🙂

  3. socialtool

    I agree with all of this, especially the first one! To be a memorable and strong presence in the millions of accounts flooding twitter everyday, it is pertinent to periodically update your personal account, and answer pending queries from your followers asap.

  4. Batman

    7 is like the real 7th Commandment, and we all know how often that gets followed….

  5. Douglas Idugboe

    Unfortunately, only a few follow that commandment. It's not the logo or your brand that makes the people, it's the people that make the brand. Always great to hear your comments Batman.

  6. Douglas Idugboe

    Hence the conversation. Conversation is the difference between old media and new media. Without conversations as facilitated by social media, we'll be back where we use to be: The planet plagued by the 'I talk, you listen' syndrome. Thanks for the comment social tool.

  7. Batman

    Totally agree, Douglas. We need to get back to top down, from bottom up thinking, otherwise, we may be in for a longer recovery than first predicted. Thanks for your reply 🙂

  8. John Porter

    I am new to twitter and have had an account for over 2 years but have not worked it, I am excited to be apart of smedio becaasue I am learning so much in a short period of time, now I ama market research and marketing professional but this social media component has a new twist for my business and after reading the 10 commandments of Twitter I feel I am in a better position to do more for my clients and myself, thanks douglas, I will be activly workingwith you and smedio everyday my friend! Peace and good will to you and the family

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  13. Eric Straatsma

    Commandment 11; Thou shalt go forth and multiply Thy Twitter connections to the end of the Earth and be fruitful with Thy Tweets. By your tweeting fruit you will be known..

    Follow me and I will follow you.. @ericstraatsma

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  15. Vasif Abbas

    Thou shalt definitely Tweet this just like me.. All the followers must religiously follow the commandments 🙂

  16. Steven Pofcher

    Nice list.
    I especially like #’s 2, 6 & 7. No spamming , no Auto DM’s and no logo’s.
    #11 should be: Do not just send quotes. Once in a while is OK, but not all the time.

  17. Mazy Yap

    Lovely article.

    Commandment 7: Should add Thou shall ditch your logo AND EGG HEADS =]. I can’t stand it when people use the default colored egg as profile pictures, makes me feel like I’m talking to an egg head. =].

  18. The Diddybear Maker

    While this is an interesting read, I strongly disagree with a few points made here.  

    Replying to each and every mention isn’t necessary, nor is it practical.  For instance, last week I got in the region of 150 #FollowFridays.  I’m most certainly not going to answer them; instead I issue a blanket “thank you for the #FollowFriday” tweet, job done. Over-politeness is just as annoying as spam, when two tweeters having a convo end with a 10-minute game of twitter ping-pong!  Total waste of time.

    Steering clear of “fluff” as you put it totally contradicts other points made about injecting your personality into your twitter feed.  Fluff is exactly what people want; they want a joke, a laugh, a funny pic.  And it doesn’t have to be relevant to the business; showing the human side of the person or people behind the business is crucial to good B2C relationships.

    Ditching the logo is a very bad idea for a business unless – like me – there is an alternative to a photo of a human.  My logo wouldn’t translate to a square – I would have to either zoom in on just one or two characters, or zoom right out and that would make it unreadable.  Since I have various characters associated with my brand, I use those.   Instantly recognisable as my brand without actually using the logo.  Personally I would not trust a business tweeter who uses an image that is difficult to associate with the brand.  If I want to ask a question of a service provider – let’s say, Virgin Media, I am not going to get into a discussion about my service with someone who could, let’s face it, be totally unrelated to Virgin.  Brand image is very important to business; my guess is you have an aversion to logos and designers.

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  23. Ceci Cuevas

    great post thanks for sharing!! my favorite is 6. Thou Shall not Send Automatic Direct Messages When I Follow You

  24. Anonymous

    Great article. All very important commandments, that are really easy to follow. Thanks for posting!

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