Twitter Etiquette

Twitter is an effective marketing tool for your non-profit marketing, but as with every social media platform, there are unwritten rules of online etiquette to observe.


1.  Auto DM when someone follows you
You may do it with the best of intentions in an effort to make you appear more friendly and welcoming to new followers , but the reality is that an auto-DM (automatic direct message) is often viewed as spam. (Here’s a great post from Heidi Cohen on why auto DMs are a social fail)

2. Use  someone’s Twitter handle to get their attention

Yes, it’s tempting to try to get the attention of someone high profile, or a celebrity when you are tweeting about your cause, but unless you have a very good reason to do so, don’t.

3. Have a public disagreement via Twitter

I noticed this happening quite recently with an Irish charity. Someone tweeted that they didn’t appreciate being door-stepped at 9.30 pm by a collector for this charity and the charity responded on Twitter to the complaint in a way that escalated the situation, especially when others joined in. Address complaints straight away but do it via direct message.

4. Tweet too much
Don’t clog your followers‘ feeds with spam-like tweets. Yes, you want to get your message out there, but too much tweeting will turn people off.

5. Over-use hashtags
Hashtags ( this # is a hashtag) are a good way to brand your cause, and help others follow your conversations, but overusing them will just irritate your followers and diminish their effectiveness. Hashtagging every word is excessive, and hard to read, so use wisely.


1. Let your followers know if you are going to be tweeting a lot
If you are tweeting from a conference or joining in a twitter chat, do let your followers know that you will be tweeting more than usual for the next hour or day.

2. Pay It Forward
Support other causes that fit with yours, by retweeting and providing helpful information and links when you can.

3. Respond to others in timely manner
Twitter conversations move fast, so don’t leave it for hours or days before you respond to someone’s question, comment or direct message.  It’s perceived as rude to leave a conversation hanging when someone reaches out to you. Social media is great for giving you an opportunity to engage immediately and directly with your audience, so make sure you do.

4. Thank people for retweets and acknowledge their comments
People like to be recognised for their efforts and it also opens the lines of communication. Twitter should be a conversation, not a monologue.

5. Strike a balance between being personal and professional
While it’s important to show some personality through your tweets, consider what is appropriate. You need to strike a balance between the personal and professional and as a rule of thumb, professional should take precedence.

6. Use professional language
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t curse or use bad language when tweeting, but equally you should be wary of using texting terms, like IMO, OMG, UR, etc.

Whether you are new to Twitter, or you have been tweeting for some time, following these tips will make sure you are minding your manners on Twitter.

Do you have any other Twitter etiquette tips to share?

5 thoughts on “Twitter Etiquette

  1. I witnessed the unseemly twitter debate betwee that charity you refer to and the tweeter and it didn’t do the charity any favours. Maybe you should send them your guide??

  2. Marie,
    Thanks for the tips. As you know I’m fairly new to Twitter and I have found certain things to be annoying, even bordering on rude. I was thinking of writing a post on it sometime myself, but we’ll see…Anyway your tips are quite helpful. I didn’t realize you had this blog too! You continue to amaze…

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