Top 5 Ways NOT To Use Twitter

I have been Twittering now for quite a while – since November of 2007. In my 1583 tweets (at this time), I have learned a lot about how to use and how not to use Twitter. It has taken me a while to get accustomed to the flow of Twitter – it definitely requires a different communication style than chat, email, or IM, even though it is a combination of the three.

Here are my top 5 ways NOT to use Twitter:

5. Don’t complain/whine about personal matters – Complaining 140 characters at a time is not going to make anyone want to follow you. Instead, reframe your frustration and use it as an opportunity to poke fun of yourself/the situation, or better, tweet something inspiring/positive for people who may be in a similar place as you.

For example, Zappos CEO, Tony, recently locked himself outside of his hotel room in Mexico – on his porch, no less. Instead of tweeting about the situation in a negative way, he tweeted about it in a neutral/fun way and it ended up being an enjoyable conversation with his followers, while he waited 45 minutes for someone to rescue him.

Tony says that Twitter can make otherwise frustrating situations actually enjoyable. According to Tony:

I now almost looked forward to situations that would normally be frustrating, because I’ve learned that almost any situation can be reframed to be funny as a tweet, which then makes the situation in real life funny as well.

(original article)

4. Don’t use Twitter to endlessly self-promote.. Twitter is an incredibly powerful tool for getting your “brand” out to the world, but it is equally important that you engage other people and not just promote your agenda.

For example, by asking questions and posting links to interesting articles, you are taking the “me” out of Twitter and instead using it as a conversation-generating tool, which will be far more valuable to your followers. I always try to tweet or re-tweet interesting articles or topics that I believe people will have an opinion about. As a result, people respond to my tweets, thereby creating an ongoing conversation about a wide variety of interesting topics.

3. Don’t constantly tell the world what you are doing. As funny as this sounds since it is the default question Twitter asks of us, no one is interested in constantly hearing about the mundane activities of your life. I understand how a random tweet about what you are doing is innocent and can be fun, but Twitter is much more valuable for engaging an audience/starting conversations than for telling people about the otherwise boring activities we all partake in.

Instead of just telling people what you are doing, SHOW them. You can do this by using a service such as TwitPic to post pics from your camera phone. You will notice on my blog’s sidebar that I have a widget which automatically displays my most recent TwitPics. These are pics I took from my phone and uploaded directly to Twitter. Pictures tend to receive a lot of click-throughs, as people rather look at something than read about it.

2. Don’t use Auto-DM’s and Auto-replies. This is just as bad as spam. Auto-DM’s and Auto-replies are so common now that they are simply annoying. If you want anyone to take you seriously on Twitter, turn these functions off and manually engage your followers via replies or direct messages.

1. Don’t use Twitter to massively follow and unfollow people. I understand that people run auto-follow scripts on hundreds of people at a time in order to gain new followers themselves, but if you are going to do this, don’t automatically unfollow those people the next day; that looks disingenuous. If you are going to follow someone and they mutually follow you, it is kind of sleazy to automatically unfollow them the next day. Where is the appreciation for their reciprocal follow?

So, there you have it. Those are the ways I recommend using and NOT using Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please consider re-tweeting this post by clicking here.

Do you have any tips about how NOT to use Twitter? Share them in the comments!

74 thoughts on “Top 5 Ways NOT To Use Twitter”

  1. i’m new in twitter but i do some of this mistakes , i will try to stop it , but i like the way you view your count ” i thought i missed something ” but got it :p , also the point number 3 is strange but i understood the meaning of it ” 3. Don’t constantly tell the world what you are doing ”

  2. I just started using twitter about two weeks ago. I’m still trying to find my groove and figure out exactly how to use it best. But so far I love all of the cool links and recommendations I’m receiving from other twitterers, so I’m trying to do the same in my tweets.

  3. These are exactly the reasons why I stayed away from Twitter for the longest time!

    I used to get so pissed off about people posting mundane and useless details of their lives, what they’re about to eat for dinner, or whether they woke up late or not. I follow some people who give me fitness updates, nutritional stuff, as well as people who write funny stuff on their twitter!

    What also bugs me is when links to websites keep on coming from somebody – that’s just shameless promotion. Once in a while is fine but I don’t think anybody has the time to sit around and read other people’s posts all fucking day long!

  4. I do # 5 (very sporadically) and # 3 (frequently) yet I think that’s actually quite acceptable. I use Twitter to engage in conversations. How the hell am I going to talk to people if they don’t tell me what they’re doing and I respond?

    On the whining front – I actually think that whining does make you look human. In re-framing it you’re also trying to put a face that is NOT the way you really feel. I prefer to show myself exactly the way I am instead of making me look as though I have “reframed positively how I feel”. But then again, that’s just me 🙂

  5. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! @garylee – not begging for social media votes is key IMO. Begging for social media votes is just another great way to alienate people real quick!

  6. “2. Don’t use Auto-DM’s and Auto-replies.” Quoted for truth.

    If I get a follow, I tend to follow them back out of courtesy to see what they “tweet” about. But if I get an auto DM that says “Thanks for following here’s a link to a free piece of crap” (I’m paraphrasing) I’m instantly turned off, and if you don’t give solid tweets. I’m probably going to unfollow you. I see enough spam in my inbox, enewsletters, and forums. I don’t need it on my personal profile on twitter.

  7. Hi, very well written! I just started using Twitter and you’re tips are very usefull.
    First thing I will do when I’m on my laptop is checking if the auto-dm is turned off.

  8. Great post, Mr. N!

    As Mr. Perry B says, “Social Media is one BIG party so DON’T sell at the party!”

    Just have fun and be yourself.

    Life is all about “starting conversations.”

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Keep the faith and keep being you!

    TrueBeliever & HopeDealer

  9. I agree about the mundane tweets, some people just over do it and it can be annoying. but the whole point of twitter is to micro-blog about what you are up to. Twitter has obviously taken another direction to what its original intent was. I agree with your article for the most part, except for #5. I’m gonna tweet what ever is on my mind whether its positive or negative because that’s what I micro-blog for.

  10. The one item I’d add to this,

    Don’t use Twitter as a chat client. There’s only so many LOL’s back and forth before you feel like saying “Take it to IM” It’s one thing to attempt a discussion in 140 char but chit chat and mindless drivel tends to make me unfollow.

  11. Thank you for the blog. It’s a good how to post. It seems that once people start using Twitter and really engage their audience they are able to learn how Twitter may be the best benefit to their agenda. Some of the things I take from 17 Twitter Tips include:
    # Add extreme value to your followers
    # Engage your followers-start conversations with people
    # Be yourself
    # Don’t use DM so much it isn’t picked up by the search tools
    # Have meaningful conversations
    # Go the extra mile to help others

  12. Thanks for that check list of what not to do on twitter. That way I can beware of these mistakes and not make them when I do finally start to use twitter 🙂

  13. You are exactly right, I agree with your each and every points. Generally people always would like to make their products or name. I love this 5th point very much because it requires a lot more attention while doing micro blogging with twitter. Nicely explained Nate.

  14. Good points Nate

    On whining: sharing a frustration, e.g. with something not working on a WordPress site, can be valuable, in that people can/do help and someone else might be having the same problem

    I have a challenge with asking people to re-tweet something I’ve posted. Taking a cue from Ronald’s party metaphor, would you tell a joke at a party and then ask everyone who laughed to go and repeat the joke, with attribution? I like to think of re-tweeting as a more spontaneous, more inspirational activity, but that’s me – not always pragmatic in the marketing department.

    One other thing I would add is – Please Don’t Link Your Twitter Profile to Your Sales Page! I follow people, not sales pages.

  15. Hey Nate, I just saw on people wishing you happy birthday, if it is your birthday, i hearty would like to wish you a very happy birthday and new year brings lot more happiness and fun in your life.

  16. I liked and used twitter quite for a long time and until reading your post I haven’t thought of staying away from it. Now I am quite concerned as all written by you makes sense indeed.

  17. I’m seeing alot better use of Twitter these days @ComcastCares and @Zappos have done great b2c stuff. Right now I’m following @KaBloom and @NinosPizza who are giving away free stuff. @AndersonCooper has been great for news, though a bit behind in what Tweeps post. These are all great examples of companies using Twitter well. I’m glad to see regular people using Twitter well too. Etiquette and best practices are starting to fall into place.

  18. Thank you for this post, Phew! I hope your pointers will come across people who really need to hear it. Exactly the complaining and whining, creating a mass following on people. Now that’s irritating for many people, some people just spam twitter.

  19. Bottom Line:

    Think to yourself – Does anybody give a shit about what I’m about to write?

    Does anybody give a shit if I just had a nice cup of coffee, or woke up so late? No.
    Does anybody give a shit if I’m having trouble deciding what to have for lunch? No.
    Does anybody give a shit that the new sushi place I tried was excellent? Ok, Maybe, for some sushi fans.
    Does anybody give a shit about my new blog post? Why yes, they probably do, as long as it’s not posted 20 times in the day.

  20. How good it is provide upcoming products information on twitter? It won’t be self promotion but can be considered in self promotion category. Is it good way to promote upcoming news? Would like to hear from you soon.

  21. I couldn’t even find out much more time after twittering. But would love to see how people become brand and why other follows them. It requires lil bit reasearch.

  22. I probably have broken #4 a lot. Still can’t think of much to talk about with it other than business. “what are you doing” is sure simple, but “selling stuff” is pretty much the only answer I can give.

  23. It’s been a while since I’ve been around your site Nate!!!
    and it’s funny because today I’m actually starting a twitter money making experiment and some of your “tips” may come in handy!

    keep it up and i’m glad to see that UBD has taken off and been such a success, i remember when it was bran spanking new!!!

    -jesse cooper…. COOPREME!

  24. Good advice there. Currently, I’m trying to gain more followers on Twitter. I have been following one method that is posted in featured link in my blog. Do you have any idea on how to increase followers?

  25. @Atniz
    to get more followers will be easy if you have a famous blog

    or follow the others there so they will follow you back ” this working for me ”

    but don’t spam .

  26. Hi Nate — I’m new to your blog. Good tips on Twitter. Similar principles to a lot of social media channels, don’t be spammy and try to add value to your followers.

  27. All 5 are very relevant ways not to use Twitter Nate.

    Have always avoided manuals and tending to learn by trial & error, I typically jumped into Twitter at the beginning of the year, without seeking any advice.

    While ‘The way of the tortoise’ may not be for everyone, more meaningful relationships have developed by not using Auto-DM’s and taking the time to look at EVERY new follower’s Websites and tweets. Instead of sending a DM often I look for something in a follower’s tweets, that others will also find of interest and RT it * With a TFTF (Thanks For The Follow)

    Extending social Golden Rules to Twitter * For me it’s just common sense to be positive in ‘public’ * Although being authentic is important too and so I can totally understand Raul’s perspective.

    Generally receiving and passing on links for interesting articles/videos is appreciated far more than what someone had for breakfast * Although in some instances the odd banality gives a touch of human warmth to the tweets of iPhone & technology geeks.

    A new idea for me is having TwitPics on the sidebar of ones blog.

    Nate, do you get the widget to automatically display recent TwitPics from TwitPics? If not can you tell me where to get it?

    Thanks Nate

  28. Yes your information is right but some times twitter is use full to communicate within a social group, roughly the same numbers of friends and followers.

  29. this days some of the new twitters use twitter bad usage , so they add you ( follow you ) and asking you to do the same , but if you follow them or not they dis-follow you . they do this to collect more followers .

  30. I have a better advice: find some way to limit your number of twits to 5-6 a day. If you use twitter every time you feel like it you may end up like me – addicted, broken man ;). I spend around 3-4 hours a day just twitting, reading twits and generaly wasting time.

  31. Twitter is like facebook or myspace! Don’t spend too much time on them because time is money and social platforms don’t bring a lot of money!

  32. As far as tip #3, I would say only a few people could probably pull off a telling it all of what they are doing at every moment in their life. Probably one of those celebrities, etc.

Comments are closed.