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How To Use Twitter Without Being A Douchebag

By cecilyk |

You know who I’m talking about. The broadcasters. The nothing-but-links people. The non-engagers. The auto-DMers.

The Twitter douchebags.

You don’t want to be a Twitter douchebag. No, you really don’t. Take that finger off that auto-DM function! Don’t do it! No one likes them. Seriously. NO ONE.

When I try to explain Twitter to people that don’t use the platform, I always say the same thing: it’s like a massive, non-stop cocktail party, and you should behave on Twitter exactly the way you would at a cocktail party. Would you stand in a corner and yell out the name of your company over and over? Obviously not.

Networking on Twitter is just like networking in person. Some folks are shy, some are congenial and friendly, some share way too much personal information (guilty as charged, yo!), some are too pushy and aggressive, and some are going to be excellent connections and may even become friends.

But chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know most of this. It’s likely that you already practice good Twitter behavior (you would NEVER send an auto-DM, no, not you!). But here are some more unusual things you might not be thinking about when you hang out on Twitter.

1. Think before you retweet. If you’re working with brands, you might want to hit the pause button before you retweet that link slamming a company’s behavior. Big brands own lots of smaller brands these days, and you might be a brand ambassador for the very company that article is slamming. No, this hasn’t happened to me, why?

2. Be a professional, all the time. No, I am NOT talking about me. DUH. I’m that crazy girl on Twitter! But you, yes, YOU need to be professional, even when you’re watching the Oscars. However, YOU have to be the one that defines what professional is for your Twitter stream, and act accordingly.

3. Don’t drink and tweet. I know, this one is easy for me, I’m sober! But I’ve seen more folks have to delete tweets that went public, but were meant to be DMs, after imbibing, particularly at conferences! Oh, my GOD, the drunken conference tweets. Seriously, just don’t do it. It really is not that critical that you be tweeting right then. Honest.

4. If you have more than one Twitter account, have a management system in place. The vast majority of public relations gaffes that have happened on Twitter can be traced directly to folks confusing their personal and professional Twitter streams. This might be why I only have the one; I like to keep my gaffes all in one place.

5. Don’t automate. I know it’s tempting. But Twitter is about engagement, and if you are sending out links and tweets and aren’t checking in to respond to people, you look like a total douchebag. Not to mention that you do NOT want to be that person tweeting out links about your products or blog posts when a horrible tragedy is unfolding. It’s simply not worth it; you’ll get unfollowed at the speed of light that way.

I hope these tips help. Down with douchebags!

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About cecilyk



Cecily Kellogg writes all over the web, including here at Babble for Voices and Tech. She neglects her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cecily's latest posts →

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17 thoughts on “How To Use Twitter Without Being A Douchebag

  1. Andrea says:

    Oh, good lord. This line right here is perfection: “Would you stand in a corner and yell out the name of your company over and over? Obviously not.”

    Love it. I’ll go RT it now. ;)

  2. The Slacker Mom says:

    And what about people who don’t respond to those who are trying to engage them?

  3. “Love!” I find the Auto DMs offensive. They literally irritate me!

  4. Kristin says:

    I’m a long time reader of your main blog, and I’m worried about you posting on this site. Have you heard what is going on with Babble and their sneaky Similac funded “breastfeeding” advice? If you look over on the breastfeeding page, you can tell it’s all funded by a formula company, and the breastfeeding helpline is really the Similac line. You are way too awesome to be involved with this. Many bloggers are boycotting Babble for this right now. I know you will think about it and do the right thing.

  5. Mrsrkfj says:

    This is so true! I see some tweets and they remind me of my children when they do outrageous things for attention! You forgot to add those folks who follow you, you follow them back, and then they unfollow you. Um, when did Twitter followers become capital?

  6. Alexandra says:

    Ah, yes.

    And no to the Public tweets that really should be DM’s.


  7. Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} says:

    This is perfect! You’d think by now people would get it but… this post NEEDED to be written. You rock.

  8. Amy B. says:

    Great post, Cecily. The cocktail party analogy is perfect. People can do whatever they want on Twitter. They can be a douchebag, if they prefer. But they should know that if they do some of the things you listed, no one will like them. Just like if you go to a cocktail party, talk only about yourself, spill wine on the carpet and puke in the houseplants, no one will like you.

  9. Anne @notasupermom says:

    Thoughts on Triberr?

    I’m in a tribe I’m not sure I’m a good fit for. I’d hate to annoy or be annoying.

    And, I can’t believe I’ve missed the drunken conference tweets!

  10. Jenny says:

    THANK GOD, finally a visual of a Twitter douchebag. ;)

    Great article, good reminders, thanks!

  11. Kylie @ The Rockgarden says:

    Wow! Thanks for this article. I’m a twitter novice. I try it every now and again and can’t seem to keep up with it. I’ll keep trying.
    I appreciate your advice about auto posts. I have an auto post going out to twitter every time I update my blog. But I don’t really get on twitter much apart from that. I think I’ve been a total douche-bag! And I’ll go fix that up right now.
    What do you think about having double up posts, eg. posting to your facebook page which copies the status update to twitter?

  12. Ron Steele says:

    Thanks. This was interesting as I’m a fairly young ‘old’ user to this twitter stuff. One thing I have noticed is the ratio of returned tweets compared to sent is quite low. It seems most do not want active discussion, but rather just tweet and run. I see this with average tweeter as well as from business reps/owners. No one wants to answer questions but yet are trying to get our business. It’s a Go Figure. So I can see why so many stay on the sidelines and watch and do not participate.

  13. Melinda says:

    Just wanted to note – my comment here, from September 15th, was deleted and never restored. I also HIGHLY doubt that mine was the only comment that was deleted. Cecily’s posts are being manipulated to show ONLY positive and praising comments. There is not a single shred of integrity in that kind of censorship. It is purely based on narcissism, and totally disregards the essence of community and dialogue.

    The Babble content manager, Jack, admits that comments are being deleted and has restored a few, in the comments section on this post:

    Maybe this comment won’t be deleted. But.. now, I guess you never know…

    1. catherine says:

      Melinda, there are a variety of reasons why comments might not turn up; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve been deleted. But where comments have been deleted (or not approved) for reasons other than violation of our commenting terms, we do have a look and restore them.

      In the case of the comments that are critical of Cecily – those that are civilly and constructively critical won’t be deleted. But it’s contrary to the spirit of dialogue to allow a comment stream devolve into a pile-up. Some of the comments that are directed against Cecily border on vitriolic, and have been made not in the spirit of dialogue, but in the spirit of attack. We do keep an eye on those, and won’t undelete them. We want to preserve a space that’s safe and friendly for both commenters and writers.

      – Catherine, Director of Community

  14. Chloe Jeffreys @ The Chloe Chronicles says:

    I think the learning curve for Twitter is steep and the terrain is sometimes very harsh. Posts like this are helpful.

    I’d like to second Anne’s question about whether Triberr is cool or not.

  15. Barb says:

    Hey-you stole my line! Actually I say “you wouldn’t stand on top of a table in the middle of a cocktail party and scream out your business, would you?” Guess great minds think alike, or crazy minds… not sure. In any case, great post!

  16. Shandra says:

    I’m fine seeing “douchebag” on Cecily’s site (because you know what you’re getting there; just letting you know Cecily) but I think this is not the first time I’ve seen it here and it saddens me to see it on a pro site. It’s such a woman-hating phrase and there are so many other ways to express things and still have me not embarrassed to read them at work and just…urg.

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