Twitter has rapidly become one of the most prevalent social networks on the Internet; there’s an account for everything from celebrities to TV shows to Internet memes. Twitter stands out from its predecessors in a number of ways, as it is designed for quick, concise bursts of thought rather than in-depth posts. Because of this, there are some unwritten rules of etiquette on Twitter that can be confusing for new or inexperienced users. Here’s a few rules of thumb to help make your Twitter experience (and that of your followers) the best it can be.
DON’T use Twitter for long, involved thoughts
Twitter has a 140 character limit for a reason. If what you need to say takes up more space than that, consider changing it or posting it to another medium (e.g., Facebook, Tumblr, or another site that allows long text posts.) While you do have the option to split up a thought over multiple tweets, they will often be interrupted by other tweets in your followers’ feed, and your point won’t come across very clearly.
DO use Twitter to share short jokes or quick thoughts
The limited length of a tweet is perfect to send out a punchline or an idea that only take a moment to read. Twitter is the perfect stage for witty observations and shoutouts.
DON’T steal tweets or jokes from other users
When scrolling through Twitter, you might come across something that you particularly agree with or that makes you laugh. Resist the urge to simply copy another tweet and post it as your own. While all tweets are technically in the public domain, it is still considered bad form to take credit for someone else’s work.
DO retweet, quote tweets, or share screencaps
It is, however, completely acceptable (and encouraged) to share content with acknowledgement given to the original creator. Twitter offers several ways to do so, and you can retweet something in its entirety, quote a tweet and add your own comment, or share a picture of the tweet itself. All of these methods are great ways to share ideas you like while still giving credit where it’s due.
DON’T over-post or over-share
While twitter users generally make multiple tweets a day, it is still best to avoid spamming your followers with too many updates. Try to wait a reasonable amount of time between tweets. In the same vein, your followers do not need (or want) to know every detail of your day, so avoid tweets with mundane details or too much information.
DO use #hashtags when appropriate
One of the best parts of Twitter is the hashtag feature, which helps to link together tweets from many users with a word or phrase. Whether using suggested tags from a TV show or a common tag (for example #awesome, #sorrynotsorry, #yum), hashtags help reinforce the main idea of your tweet and connect it to searchable topics.
DON’T overuse #hashtags
That said, if your tweet is entirely made up of hashtags, it can be hard to read and even annoying to your followers. If half of your 140 characters follow this symbol: #, rethink your tweet.
While these rules are not absolute by any means, they are a good foundation for getting the most out of Twitter. Use them along with common sense as a guideline for staying appropriate, polite, and entertaining to your followers.