As part of Salisbury Big Business Event last week, I attended a seminar and workshop run by Thomas Power about social media and online presence. Power refers to Twitter as a giant, online pub and says if you think of it that way, it becomes clear what is and isn’t appropriate.

With that in mind, here are a couple of points on Twitter etiquette (Twitterquette?). Please note that these are really my own personal bug bears and preferences, and everyone should feel free to take this entire post with a pinch of salt. Similarly, do please feel free to leave your own opinion in the comments.

twitter etiquette tips

1. Auto Responders: Don’t do it!

I love it when I follow someone and they reach out to connect with me; it’s nice. I try to tweet people who follow me whenever I can. What I can’t stand is a blanket, automatic DM or tweet that usually goes along the lines of “thanks for following, here’s a link to my blog/website/book/other thing that will help me make money or build my audience”  Not only is it bad form to try and sell to me on a first date, it’s just icky and impersonal. I’d rather you were silent than faux friendly (when you’re probably not even at your laptop/phone at the time any way).

To use the pub analogy, it’s like someone at the bar smiles at you, and you respond by saying “I sell life insurance, and you should buy some; here’s a leaflet.” You wouldn’t do it in real life; don’t do it on Twitter.

2. “Pls RT.”

Don’t get me wrong; when I’m advertising the Weekend Blog Hop or certain other things, I ask my followers to retweet me. I tend to only put “Pls RT” if I think my tweet (or the link in it) is something that a wider audience might genuinely be interested in – for example, anyone with a blog may well want to join in with the Weekend Blog Hop. There are also hashtags where bloggers tend to retweet each other’s links – but without any of us wasting precious characters on asking each other to do so.

Just lately though, I’ve had people tweet me personally with a link to their blog and “pls RT” at the end. They don’t even go to the trouble of writing a personalised message or “you might be interested in this post.” Nothing. I’m not egotistical enough to think they’re singling me out for this; they’re probably tweeting a dozen people at a time, all with the same, impersonal and frankly rude message.

If I’ve been chatting to someone about a particular topic, and then they say “oh, I wrote a blog post about that; here it is” then that’s perfectly legitimate, and I welcome it. It’s about relevance, and conversation. If we’re not having a conversation and you tweet me a link to your site asking me to retweet you, it’s the same as walking up to a person in the pub, tapping them on the shoulder and going “I run a great shop, tell all your friends about it!”

3. Be Friendly

The great thing about Twitter is that it’s so sociable! You can see – and join in with – any conversation. And other people can see yours – and they might try to join in. They might see that you’re talking about chickens, and they have a pet chicken too and want to compare notes. It’s easy to think “I don’t know you, get lost” – but that’s not very friendly, is it? And for all you know, this person who’s just tweeted you might be some sort of chicken guru who holds the answers to all your questions.

I’ve tweeted a lot of people in the past who didn’t respond, and my general reaction to being ignored is that this person must think they’re too grand to talk to me. I don’t want other people to think that of me, so I do my best to respond when people tweet me. At the very least, if I feel there’s nothing to add to the conversation, I’ll “favourite” their last tweet as an acknowledgement that I’ve read and understood/appreciated what they’ve said.

In the same way you wouldn’t ignore someone who spoke to you in the pub – and you hopefully wouldn’t be downright rude if they spoke to you either – you shouldn’t do it on Twitter. For one thing, you never know when you might want to ask that person for some assistance. And people remember when other people are knobs.

Another thing that goes alongside being friendly is thanking people. I don’t expect people to thank me when I retweet them. Some days, I retweet well over a hundred people and if they all thanked me I’d get lost in notifications. I also don’t often thank other people for retweeting me. What I do thank people for, is tweeting a link to my blog with a personal recommendation, for example “great post” or “this is an interesting read.” More than a retweet, this is a person going out of their way to personally recommend me to their followers – like in real life, when you tell your friends about the plumber who fixed your sink because he did a good job. I thank people for this, and I tend to expect the courtesy of a simple “thank you” when I do it for other people. It’s just polite, isn’t it? If you don’t thank me the first time I recommend your blog, there will most likely not be a second time


Do you have anything to add to this list? Is there something people do on Twitter that really gets your goat?

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Tim · 30/04/2015 at 06:50

Excellent tips, Vicky.

I have to admit that I did set up an auto responder for a few weeks for new followers but stopped it when I realised how irritating I found it when people did it to me. Your real world analogy is spot on!

I’m not a fan of the incessant ‘pls RT’ brigade. I’m fine if you’re promoting a linky or hashtag that I participate in – I totally get that and it benefits me as well if I RT as it’s all about increasing ‘eyeballs’ (as they say). What I despise more than anything is people who participate in hashtags who plead for RTs off the back of it. Funny enough, if a person does that I’m far less likely to read and RT, not more. I can even think of one particular individual who bombards a particular hashtag with the same 30 links every week, with half of them asking people to click on ads on his site as well as reading. I’ve never read any of his posts and have now blocked him from my timeline. I mean, seriously? I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s bang out of order, can I?

    Vicky Charles · 30/04/2015 at 10:40

    Agreed Tim. I also don’t understand why people would continue to do it when it’s clearly had no success. If you’ve never once retweeted that guy, why does he continue? I don’t like to block people from my timeline but I think I’m going to start. I want to have genuine conversations with people and don’t want my notifications clogged up with all this nonsense!

Ashley Beolens · 30/04/2015 at 11:45

Great tips as always :)

I’ve never thought of it like a pub but that makes sense, it also makes sense to use that analogy to decide what to do or not to do :)

christina · 30/04/2015 at 13:05

Fabulous tips! I have found Twitter to be an all around wonderful place. I love interacting, finding new knowledge and helping to support fellow Twitter peeps!

Catherine · 01/05/2015 at 19:08

I’m uncomfortable about asking people to RT my blogposts. A couple of times I have asked people to RT giveaways but I don’t think it made any difference. I do try and thank for RTs and faves but as you say it is sometimes difficult when you have lots in one day!


    Vicky Charles · 02/05/2015 at 09:58

    For me, I find it perfectly reasonable if you’re inviting me to join in with a giveaway or a linky, that you should ask me to RT it.
    I sometimes get people just tweeting me their posts for no discernible reason though, and asking me to RT – which I don’t understand. It’s like asking someone to recommend your service when they’ve not experienced it!

Leandra · 02/05/2015 at 08:07

Great advice as always :) funnily I resonate most with your mention of thanking for the Pls RT! I find my notification feed clogged up with thank you’s particularly on a Saturday for #archiveday when I’d rather spend the time retweeting #archiveday instead of trawling through for true connections that need a response. I feel that if you join in with something like #archiveday then thanks is not necessary, a reciprocated retweet is far more appropriate!

    Vicky Charles · 02/05/2015 at 09:42

    I’m so glad it’s not just me! I feel rude sometimes, especially if everyone’s thanking me – but I can’t be doing with it and I really don’t expect people to thank me for just pressing a button!

    the ^mostly mindful mommy · 02/05/2015 at 10:12

    I completely agree, Leandra! I appreciate a RT on a hashtag day much more than a thank you tweet!

Ruth · 02/05/2015 at 14:10

Good analogy about the pub, I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I think I need to be more sociable on Twitter – I find that difficult . Thanks for sharing!

    Vicky Charles · 02/05/2015 at 15:47

    Thanks Ruth, when Thomas Power said that it was like “aha!” – I’d been trying to figure out how to explain it for ages!

Carol Hedges · 03/05/2015 at 08:28

I could add SO MANY more things …don’t HOG the hashtag sites..someone is currently doing this on #sundayblogshare. Do READ other people’s blogs and comment….don’t tweet anything to them you wouldn’t say to their face! hahaha..maybe we should do a combined blog sometime!!

    Vicky Charles · 03/05/2015 at 10:13

    Oh Carol, you’re so right. The hashtag thing bothers me – because I run #ArchiveDay and have a column in my Tweetdeck for it, it bothers me when people use it all through the week. I end up wondering if they get any mileage out of doing so. Also on a “hashtag” day I try to make sure there’s at least half an hour between any tweet I send with that tag. If I go to look at the stream and see loads from the same person all in a block, I only RT one of them. There are a couple of people who do it every week though, drives me batty!

      Ann Marie Ackermann · 10/05/2015 at 10:55

      This raises an issue for me I’ve never thought of before. Sometimes I visit #ArchiveDay during the week, when I have more time, and if I see something I like that I’d overlooked before, I retweet it. Does the RT show up again in your column? I assume you have nothing against an RT during the week.

        Vicky Charles · 10/05/2015 at 12:05

        It does… but it doesn’t bother me – it’s nice to see people are still enjoying the tweets. It’s when you see 50 tweets from the same couple of people!

sdemagazine · 03/05/2015 at 22:09

Such GREAT tips!! It gets kind of frustrating having to sift through my auto responder notification s and the real ones. You can always tell when someone took the time to personalize something. :)

    Vicky Charles · 04/05/2015 at 08:08

    I can’t stand them, it’s ruder than not sending a message at all!

Ann Marie Ackermann · 09/05/2015 at 08:10

Nice points, Vicky!

    Vicky Charles · 09/05/2015 at 12:27

    Thanks! I’m a bit of a stickler for things like this!

Adventures of a Novice Mum · 09/05/2015 at 21:43

Points most can probably relate to. I’d a few of the auto DMs that I mostly ignore; and a few random tweets from folks who don’t follow me asking me to RT links – this really baffles me. I don’t expect thanks for RTs too, but I aim to thank others for it though I don’t do it all the time. It’s a good principle to extend real life behaviour to online behaviour. :-) #aNoviceMumTwitterFeed

    Vicky Charles · 10/05/2015 at 12:13

    I like the idea that we exten real life behaviour to online behaviour!

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