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Tweetiquette for Beginners



Recently, I have received several requests to write a 'how-to' article about Twitter, from both fans of my articles, as well as friends who are just now joining Twitter. 

No doubt these recent requests are due to the 'annointing' of our 'King of Twitter' by Oprah, who, as the Queen of Daytime, joined Twitter on April 17th.

As a result, Twitter has gained exposure, leading to a tsunami of newbies jumping into Twitter. (Even though I suggested my friends join Twitter a couple of months ago, apparently, my blogging has been to no travail and Oprah is still more influencial than me).

Not A "how to guide"

It is not the mechanics of Twitter that are complicated, but the etiquette. Therefore, instead of a 'how-to,' this article is written so a newbie can follow proper tweetiquette and not commit a Tweet Pas (if you have read previous articles of mine about Twitter, I employ wordplay ad nauseam).

@ Symbol

Everyone on Twitter has a Twitter-name (obvious).  However, whenever you refer to, retweet, or respond to a person in a "tweet' (the characteristic 140 character message) their name must always be preceded by the @ symbol (not so obvious)

Example, my Twitter name is jdvarlaro, but if you were to write to me, you would type @jdvarlaro.


1) The @ symbol tells Twitter to send your response to the person's reply box. This person now knows you replied to something they wrote, retweeted it, or just said something really nice about them. Without the @, there is no way for them to know unless they are following your tweets constantly (and trust me, NO ONE follows anyone's tweets constantly).

2) Your response is broadcast to everyone following you. EVERYONE who follows you can now click on that person's name, and be directed to their Twitter account. This is extremely important tweetiquette in the Twitter world, as mentioning someone without the @ means your followers cannot click and find them.

Wait...what's a reweet??

If you like something someone wrote... retweet it. For example, if you like something I tweet, type RT @jdvarlaro and a copy of my tweet.

The @ ensures that I see you retweeted me as a response, while your followers see that I wrote it and can now follow me. (Tip: People love to be retweeted, and it builds karma for you).

Direct Message

A direct message is Twitter email - it is only visible to the person you are sending it to.  Precede the message with DM @person's name or just use the Direct Message option on your twitter home page.

CAUTION: DMing is NOT the primary means of conversing on Twitter, and over DMing can be a Tweet Pas. Conversing on Twitter is open for all to see. If you do not like it, then Twitter is not for you.

# Symbol

Occasionally, a message will be followed by a # and then a word or acronym. Known as a hash tag, it allows all of the tweets containing the #... to be followed as one, continuous conversation.

Most famous is the #followfriday usage: every Friday, you endorse the people you like by tweeting @their name and #followfriday. This tells other people 'hey, follow this guy!'

By the way: #FollowFriday is an institution on Twitter, and is standard tweetiquette.

Other Uses

The # is also for following special events or even breaking news. More recently, the protesters at the G20 summit in London tweeted and tagged all tweets #G20. Anyone on Twitter was able to read and participate by following #G20 and tagging tweets with #G20.

This method of tagging is also used to conduct political and news forums. You can read my article "Twitter and Politics; Twolitics" about how I participated, through Twitter, in a town hall meeting in Massachusetts (and my question was answered by the Governor of Massachusetts). 

The Golden Rule: Tweet the one you're with

All social media follow the golden rule: by supporting other's and interacting, you will gain support. 

This is the basis of tweetiquette. Retweeting, @ symbols and the ilk do just that - show support and interaction with fellow tweople. 

Unfortunately, newbies, as well as some corporations and celebrities do not understand, or just ignore the golden rule. But while celebs and some corporations can ignore it, if YOU want to be loved (and followed), well, you'll have to give love out.

So do not be selfish, and 'tweet the one you're with.'


Related Articles found on the Humanistic Strategist

Twitter and Politics - Twolitics?

Twitter: Celebrity Endorsed Stalking

References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (3)

Great post. Thanks for breaking it down with examples. And I love "tweet pas"!

December 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Simone

good posting, I'll book your blog.

September 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermetal dome

It's been really awesome to have read great writing from you! I'm hoping to read more well written articles such as this!

November 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGold Ira

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