18 Tweetable Twitter Tips for Newbies

March 18th, 2013 | Shonali Burke | 52 Comments

Twitter whaleFor those of us who’ve been using Twitter for a while, we sometimes forget that there are new adopters of the network every day. Trying to figure out Twitter back in the day was bad enough; can you imagine what it’s like these days?

So here are 18 tweetable Twitter tips for newbies (check out that alliteration!). They include tips on how to get set up with, and use smartly, a social network I still love.

And I’ve also included a “tweet this” link for a Twitter-friendly version of each tip (hence the “tweetability”). So if you particularly like some, perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing?

1. Use a real photo of yourself for your avatar. (I know, sounds like a d’uh moment, but you’d be surprised). <tweet this>

2. Make sure your avatar is “SFW” (safe for work… and yes, you’d be surprised again). <tweet this>

3. Use your real name, or some iteration thereof, as your Twitter handle. Leave your inner Hotlips Houlihan alone. <tweet this>

4. Try to keep your Twitter handle to as few characters as possible. This gives you more “real estate” to use when actually tweeting. <tweet this>

5. Fill out your 160-character bio. Creativity is fine, but don’t overdo it. <tweet this>

6. Use “Twitter speak” in your bio, such as other Twitter handles to refer to organizations and appropriate hashtags. These show as live links on Twitter.com, so have the advantage of “fleshing out” your bio, not to mention show you understand the lingo. <tweet this>

7. Include a link in your Twitter profile. If nothing else, use your LinkedIn profile; else your personal website or blog or, if a business account, to your company’s preferred URL. People like to know who they’re talking to (and might end up doing business with). <tweet this>

8. Don’t have an overly complicated Twitter background that makes your profile hard to view on the web. It’s distracting. <tweet this>

9. Use the “mom” rule of thumb when conversing on Twitter; if Mom wouldn’t like it, don’t say it. <tweet this>

10. Acknowledge and reply to @ mentions as soon as possible. <tweet this>

11. Attribute blog posts, news articles or other curated information to the original source using their Twitter handle. <tweet this>

12. Leave at least 10-12 character spaces in your tweets, so others can easily retweet you if they wish to. <tweet this>

13. Use “MT” to indicate you are retweeting another’s tweet, but with modifications of your own. <tweet this>

14. Use hashtags wisely; they can be a great way of broadening a conversation and audience, but irritating if overused. <tweet this>

15. Don’t use auto-DMs or “verification” programs to “welcome” new followers. The best way to welcome someone is to start talking to them on the public timeline. <tweet this>

16. Don’t constantly DM your followers asking them to share news, promotional events, etc. Use your asks sparingly, and they are more likely to be well-received. <tweet this>

17. Don’t automatically RT tweets, especially those of a “breaking news” nature, without first verifying the source and accuracy of content. <tweet this>

18. Don’t click on suspicious links in your DM stream, that urge you to see “what they’re saying about you,” etc. Instead, send your friend who supposedly sent that to you a message – on the public timeline, or another network, if you are connected there – to let them know their Twitter account has been hacked. <tweet this>

What tips would you add for Twitter newbies? Please leave them in the comments below and if there are enough, I’ll do a follow-up post that contains all your tips. And happy Monday!

Image: _DaniloRamos via Flickr, CC 2.0

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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Chris Slinger
Chris Slinger

Hi, some great tips here. I particularly like the rule of Mom, never heard it called that before. @wealthengineer1


Late to the conversation on this excellent post, @Shonali . This is very valuable information that I will share with my students and others who are trying to wrap their social heads around social media, especially Twitter. Thanks for simplifying my so-called *life*!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Great list @shonali Number 18 is so important especially for DM's that damn virus is still circulating 'Hey have you seen this funny video of you?' 'Did you hear what people are saying about you?"


%s %s Uhhh..Mark. We are to attract "Followers", Not scare them off. %s is "The Hero of The Internet". Not MEeee!


@Shonali you nailed it, I can't think of anything that you didn't mention. One thing I do preach is that your tweets should mirror your bio, somewhat. It's annoying to me when I follow someone because of their bio but they never tweet any information that relates to why I followed them. Thanks for the list!


This is a great post, Shonali (and of course I love the alliteration!). One thing I struggle with is the fact that we must (it seems) give up on some niceties of language because of the 140 characters. (For example, not having a space between a period and the start of the next sentence, abbreviating words (u for you), using lowercase letters for things that would get an upper case in other arenas). I have accepted that "it is what it is," but it still reflects on the tweeter if they misspell things or just have blantant disregard for any rules of language at all (in my opinion). 


@shonali I don't like logos or avatars with no name! Makes it real difficult to be social!

Shonali moderator

@biggreenpen Thanks, Paula! I look at those things too, and you're right, they do make an impression (and not necessarily the one we want). I wonder, though, if we react differently to that kind of thing because we're of a different generation? Though I see many of my friends, of my generation, using that kind of abbreviated language even on Facebook, etc. - it drives me nuts!


@shonali Good news! I'll cross my fingers with you. Again, enjoy your weekend, Shonali! :)


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