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Twitter can be used for many things. From communicating with friends, family and associates to building an online profile to promoting products and services, many individuals employ Twitter for important functions.

But some of them shoot themselves in the foot by engaging in Twitter sin.

Here are The 10 Twitter Commandments that will keep you away from sin:

  • Thou shalt not use DM autoresponders. More often than not, DM autoresponders are used poorly. Unless you have a good reason to use them and know what you're doing, consider avoiding them altogether.
  • Thou shalt not beg for retweets. If your content is good, other Twitter users will retweet it. Asking "pls RT" makes you look desperate.
  • Thou shalt not autotweet. Unless your followers followed you to get automatic updates (eg. they know your account is tied to a content feed), autotweeting is usually a bad idea.
  • Thou shalt not tweet in bunches. You know the guy who always sends out a couple dozen tweets in rapid-fire succession? Don't be that guy. Sending lots of tweets in a short period of time is just downright annoying.
  • Thou shalt not take your followers on a trip to hashtag hell. Hashtags can be extremely useful but they're frequently abused by spammers, marketers and applications. So choose which ones you use wisely. Hint: hashtags relating to body parts, private matters, illegal activities and words you wouldn't use in the presence of your grandparents are usually the ones to avoid.
  • Thou shalt not sex up your avatar. Everyone loves a pretty face but when it comes to your Twitter avatar, make sure that pretty face is your own. Using a photo of a beautiful woman or a studly man to attract attention is suitable only for the lowliest of spammers. And don't forget to keep your clothes on; your rock-hard abs may be worthy of exhibition on the beach but you probably don't need to show them off in Twitter's public timeline.
  • Thou shalt not oversell. This is 'social' media. Just as nobody likes the person who is constantly selling vaccuum cleaners at the cocktail party on Friday, nobody likes the person who is selling via tweet 24x7. So even if you're using Twitter for business purposes, don't go overboard with the pitches; providing value with your tweets will do more for your selling efforts than 140 characters of hard pitch.
  • Thou shalt not overfollow or autofollow. If you have 500 followers but are following 5,000 people, something is wrong. Some people have sophisticated beliefs regarding follower ratios; I don't. But common sense is in order: there are plenty of reasons not to follow other users and you should only follow people who you find interesting. As it relates to autofollowing, if I told you I was jumping off a cliff, would you follow me over the edge? Hopefully not. Consider applying the same logic when it comes to who you follow on Twitter.
  • Thou shalt not sell out. Tweeting a message for a company for a chance to win a free laptop may be a good deal for the company but you'd probably ask for more if you were selling your soul and not your Twitter account. Even so, by tweeting marketing messages for compensation (or a chance at compensation), you send the message that you're easily bought and sold. That's probably not a message you want to send.
  • Thou shalt not tweet before thinking. You are what you tweet. So think twice before saying something dumb. From retweeting a fake news story to crudely voicing a opinion that makes you look like a jerk, there are plenty of ways you can put your foot in your mouth in 140 characters. So keep your shoes on and your feet on the ground by thinking before you hit 'update'.

Photo credit: respres via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 7 July, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2402 more posts from this author

Comments (24)

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IT Pie

Excellent post, especially agree with the 'Though shallt not tweet in bunches' the most annoying habit on here!

Hopefully some people will take note and make Twitter a more enjoyable place!

about 7 years ago

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Liam | EverythingZing.com

Thanks, I'm just getting into Twitter so posts like this are very useful for me!  Thankfully I'm not breaking any of the commandments as yet so halo firmly in place.

about 7 years ago

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vzaar Jamie

Some useful pointers there - thanks. The one that I jhave noticed really plight us from a a business perspective who are using twitter to respond to customer feedabck and to generate new leads, is the competition using and resorting to asking for ReTweets. If the story or the tweet is of interest people will do the rest - don't beg!

about 7 years ago

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Shane Kinkennon

This is great stuff -- I'll immediately share it with the folk in my world trying to figure Twitter out.  Thank you.

about 7 years ago

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Patsy

Slightly less annoying, although overused in my opinion, is adding a link in a tweet. You just start reading the interesting message in the tweet, and then have to click on a *TinyURL or Bit.ly* to see where the completed thought was going.

about 7 years ago

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Adrian Yearwood

This is an excellent little article with some good points.

“Thou shalt not sell out.” I wonder if this in reference to #Moonfruit by any chance.  Though I do agree with not spamming your followers with marketing message, I think joining in selective viral campaigns periodically is acceptable.  Viral is a part of digital marketing and spreading something via Twitter is no different to spreading it via email.

I think balance is the word; I would not spam my friends via twitter no more than I would by email.

about 7 years ago

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Adrian Yearwood

This is an excellent little article with some good points.

“Thou shalt not sell out.” I wonder if this in reference to #Moonfruit by any chance.  Though I do agree with not spamming your followers with marketing message, I think joining in selective viral campaigns periodically is acceptable.  Viral is a part of digital marketing and spreading something via Twitter is no different to spreading it via email.

I think balance is the word; I would not spam my friends via twitter no more than I would by email.

about 7 years ago

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Aimee

GREAT post.Absolutely sharing this!  I'm guilty of one or two, for sure, but I think I see the "overselling" is the most common offense. I've heard an unofficial rule that you should only promote every third post, at the most. Seems pretty reasonable to me. But notice that the most successful Twitters are the ones who build relationships by adding value to the conversations on Twitter - not the ones who just self-promote.

about 7 years ago

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Scott

This is a really useful piece. Thank you for posting. Also, if you really want to learn how to use Twitter for your advantage, you should start by looking at the story of Guy Kawasaki, who tries to change the world one tweet at a time: http://thestimulist.com/guy-kawasaki/

about 7 years ago

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Monawea

Love it!! Commandments to remember ;o)

about 7 years ago

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Jorge

The best words

If you have 500 followers but are following 5,000 people,

I know a lot of people...

I have a question! Its good follow a person that follow you witout know this peson?

about 7 years ago

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ashraf chaudhry

An excellent post and lot of sense it makes. One has to be very careful while selling on social media. It has to be in a subtle way.

Regards

Ashraf Chaudhry

ashraf@ashrafchaudhry.com

Pakistan's # 1 Sales Trainer &

Author of The Craft of Selling "YOURSELF"

Follow me: http://twitter.com/Ashraf_Chaudhry

about 7 years ago

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Lisa Lomas

Great tips, I think that Quality will always be valued more that Quantity. Automation for personal accounts is a no no, only use it when totally nessacary. More importantly add value to those around you, don't tell them the boring stuff, lo..

about 7 years ago

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Jim Symcox

These 10 commandments are great.  I too think the #moonfruit tweets were a bit of a laugh.

I totally agree with the commandment NOT to tweet in bunches.

As for using Twitter for business, it's about building relationships with your followers and those you follow, rather than simply selling to them at every opportunity.

Jim

I'm on Twitter as jimsymcox

about 7 years ago

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Trudy

Also, "thou shalt not follow people to intimidate them." If I support Obama...that is MY PREROGATIVE and I can retweet messages from @BarackObama or @whitehouse if I choose to. I should have to deal with people where every single tweet is something hateful (as well as incredibly ignorant and INCORRECT) in most instances, following me, and then immediately after they start following they are tweeting more hate. If I mention a leather jacket in a tweet, I should not have animal rights people following me (with harassing tweets), you know the ones who care about animal rights but will step over a homeless Vietnam Vet in the street without a second thought. If I mention that I love Michael Jackson or the new AI artist Adam Lambert, I should not have to deal with harassment. People can like WHOMEVER they choose. I would never send a hateful tweet or follow someone to intimidate them if they liked say Sarah Palin or similar figure. That is their choice. People need to grow up before using Twitter, period. 

about 7 years ago

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Stefan Pinto

I agree, mostly but still feel that asking for a RT (as long as you acknowledge the recipient's existence), isn't a crime. Many people miss Tweets, simply because they are busy or for whatever other myriad of reasons. If they don't do it, then don't ask again.

about 7 years ago

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Lauren McMullen

Great list! especially "Thou shalt not Tweet in bunches" I hate that

about 7 years ago

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Mary

I've been tweeting for awhile now and was glad to see that I don't do the top 10 no-nos, but it's good to have a reminder and I'm glad that others dislike the same practices I do.  I've landed in a nice community of nice folks and while I do promote our events, I really do enjoy chatting with those with similar interests to mine--it should never be all about promotion!

about 7 years ago

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Daniel Wired

Thou shalt not tweet before thinking?  But regretable tweets are the best!

about 7 years ago

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mrking

Deign 2 answer: Why is tweet bunches annoying?   I found if I got annoyed w/ bunch twits I could just by-pass them, or pic favs, & move on. So many guys just REPEAT!    Routine of pic favs, go thru, if none addressed my news 2 use, I bunch tweeted mine. Also bunched some that were tweets unto themselves, but had a continuing theme & relation.   Sorry 2 B lame w/ twitter. So much I don't understand. Still sifting thru do's & don'ts. Most of my group is by accident-don't ask me what buttons I mashed.   oleheifer on twitter. THX

about 7 years ago

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Akila

This is great. This will be valuable for anyone who is new to twitter. I have seen many new users' accounts get supended because of too many followings. @akilakalum

about 7 years ago

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Jon Pear (a.k.a. NeuroAster)

Tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you :)

about 7 years ago

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farouk

thanks for the advices :)

about 7 years ago

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Evan Skuthorpe

Simple straight forward advice.

Just use common sense and put yourself in your audiences shoes. Would you keep following someone who spams/tweets constant sh*t? Don't think so.

about 7 years ago

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