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What are the Rules of Etiquette for Marketing on Twitter?

Like everything else online, there are certain unwritten rules of behavior on Twitter. As a social media marketer, it is important you follow these rules to avoid alienating yourself from customers.

What follows is a list of accepted Twitter practices. Most of these items are common courtesy, and some are things that aren’t so intuitive to the new Twitter users. While most of these items won’t get you booted off Twitter, not following certain rules of etiquette can cost you some followers.

  • Don’t spam. If a potential follower takes a peek at your Twitter stream and it’s nothing but preprogrammed links, she’s going to turn tail and run. If you post sales or traffic driving links all day, you’re going to lose community. If you only talk about yourself, your brand, or your product, you’ll never enjoy a good conversation. Balance your promotional tweets with conversational tweets.

  • Be positive. There’s a time and place for negativity, and Twitter usually isn’t it. Avoid rants, profanity, and depressing “woe is me”-type topics. If you’re bringing down the mood of the community, they won’t feel the love anymore and will unfollow.

  • Don’t use all caps. TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED YELLING. It hurts the eyes, too. Avoid it at all costs.

  • Leave space for retweets. Try to make all your tweets retweetable. Because you’re only allowed 140 characters, try typing no more than 120 characters so that others have room to retweet your tweets. If it’s too much work for them to edit your tweet to add their own commentary, they won’t do it.

  • Don’t swear unless you’re sure that your community isn’t easily offended by profanity. Though some people don’t mind a little cursing, most people do. If you’re going to go the edgy route, make sure that your community is comfortable with it.

  • If you’re joining a Twitter chat, let your community know. When you participate in a Twitter chat, you generally have more tweets in your stream than usual. Give a tweet before beginning to let everyone know that you’re joining a chat and will tweet more than normal for the next hour or so.

  • Don’t feel you need to follow everyone who follows you. Not everyone who follows you is a good fit for you. Don’t feel compelled to follow everyone who follows you first.

  • Give credit where it’s due. If you’re sharing a tip, quote, or link you saw someone else share, give that person credit. You don’t want a reputation as someone who steals everyone’s thunder.

  • Don’t hijack someone else’s hashtag. Don’t use someone else’s hashtag to promote your stuff. It’s wrong and will turn off both old and new followers.

  • Don’t respond to a tweet with a sales push. If someone is reaching out to the community for assistance, don’t respond with a link to something promotional. It makes you look insincere. Instead, reach out with genuine, helpful information.

  • Avoid private jokes. If you can’t share with everyone, don’t share at all.

When using Twitter, follow your best practices for business in the offline world. Sure, it’s a more casual form of communication, but you’re still looking to make a good impression.

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