Twitter can, and often is used as a tool to build relationships and engage in conversation with likeminded people, which can build into blossoming friendships. For businesses Twitter is also an invaluable social media marketing tool, which enables you engage with customers, clients and other businesses, about issues that appeal to you both.

However, as with all elements of conversation, from the etiquette of formal letter writing, to the etiquette of having an everyday conversation, Twitter also has an etiquette – albeit, unwritten.

In recent months the unwritten etiquette has been broken in some way, from the abuse from “trolls” the former England international and current radio present, Stan Collymore faced throughout 2013; through to people being fined for libel and defamation, following their tweets.

The latter incident, led to the Attorney General, in December issuing guidance for social media users over court cases, following a number of high profile cases where people have been find after commenting on case, or naming people involving in cases online and therefore committing contempt of court.

However, Twitter etiquette is not just about ensuring you do not “troll” someone, or fall foul of contempt of court. Instead Twitter etiquette, particularly for businesses and professionals using the service to boost their audience and promote their services, includes the following…..

Avoiding the One-Way Street:

Twitter, although not in the conventional sense, is still a conversation and as such, the etiquette you use in an everyday, face-to-face conversation, should be applied to Twitter.

In principal, what this means is that you listen to what others are saying, and respond to their questions, queries, etc – or join in the debates that they may be having about a particular topic.

What it doesn’t mean is ignoring the “notifications” you receive from followers, or updating your Twitter status without paying attention to what others are saying about a particular subject you are commenting on.

By listening to other Twitter users, not only will you be able to engage and build relationships with your audience, but you also have the potential to learn more about a subject, which can benefit you later down the line.

Ignoring notifications and your audience could result in you not only losing followers (and therefore potential customers) but also a potential deal.


The etiquette of “self-promotion” on Twitter is somewhat a grey area.

Understandably, businesses and professionals marketing their services will use the platform to “promote” – however, it is possible to go overboard.

If you are to use Twitter, or any social media platform for that matter, to promote your services, products, etc, it is best to do it subtly and minimally.

You wouldn’t turn up to a party in a sandwich board promoting your business, and spend all evening discussing your work, the services you offer, etc, etc – because if you did, the chances are you would find yourself alone in the corner.

Twitter is the same as a party, if all you do is talk about yourself, you’ll soon find that your followers will dwindle, whilst your notifications will become non-existent.

In addition, it isn’t beneficial in the long-run to constantly retweet updates from your business to your individual account; as over time, your followers will begin to skim the retweets (or ignore them completely) before viewing them in a similar light to the many leaflets you get through the door!

Too Much to Say:

For some it is a bugbear of Twitter, for others it is seen as a blessing; whatever your stance on the character limit of tweets, Twitter has introduced it for a reason – and if you want to utilise Twitter to its full capacity, you’ll stay within the character limit.

Research has suggested that those tweets that are 100 characters or less are more likely to be retweeted, than those which use the full 140 characters. Tweets which go over the character limit, and therefore required an app such as “TwitLonger” are likely to be ignored completely, as the premise of Twitter is for short, sharp burst of information being shared – not long essays!

If you cannot get your message across in a clear and concise manner using the character limits available via Twitter, then chances are it is not appropriate for the platform, and perhaps should be turned into a blog, or added to another social media platform such as Facebook.

Following the unwritten Twitter etiquette mentioned above, will help to ensure that your social media marketing via the platform continues to flourish, and that you are not left, standing in a corner talking to yourself, whilst everyone else is having fun.

Categories: Blog