Elements Of Twitter Style

April 23rd, 2010

Twitter has become hugely popular and is only getting bigger. Some users don’t understand that the formatting and content of their tweets has a huge impact on how well or poorly they are received as individuals, and by extension, how likely they are to be followed.

I participate extensively on Twitter with my personal account: @danielpunkass, and my company account: @redsweater. One of my applications, @marsedit, also tweets with a mind of its own.

I have strong opinions about what works well on Twitter, and what doesn’t. I decided I would start writing down these opinions so that I can easily reference them in the future. This advice is as much a memorandum to myself as to any readers who might feel that I am preaching to them. I violate most of these recommendations on a regular basis, but I hope that writing this guide helps me to do so less often.

Tweet Anatomy

For such a simple format, there is an incredible complexity to the variety of tweets, and the metadata that go along with them. In this section I will identify all of the standard tweet forms and many conventional metadata forms, and how they should be used.

Mentions

When referring to any person, product, or company that has an official presence on Twitter, include their @username organically in the content of your tweet. By including their @username, you provide a canonical link to their presence on Twitter, and make it easy for them to take notice of your comments, if they choose to. If it’s important to include the proper name as well, then include the Twitter name in parentheses:

Never start a tweet with a @username, unless that Tweet is a reply to the user. Placing the @username at the beginning of the tweet will mark it as a reply, preventing it from being seen by members of your audience who don’t also follow the user:

@danielpunkass was at the meeting last night, and he told me some juicy gossip about @marsedit.

Twitter claims that this should not show up as a reply, but in practice it seems to happen more often than not. Perhaps it is because Twitter clients set the “reply” flag on tweets that are written this way, even if they shouldn’t. To be safe, edit the format of your tweet so that the @username shows up elsewhere in the content:

I met Daniel Jalkut (@danielpunkass) last night. He told me some juicy gossip about the next release of @marsedit!

Because @username mentions will draw the attention of the user you are tweeting about, don’t overuse a particular user’s name in your tweets. You will irritate them and they may choose to block you.

Replies

Replies are a special form of mention that indicates your tweet is addressed specifically to the attention of another user. Reply directly to another tweet by using the reply feature of the web site or your Twitter client. This will ensure that the reply intent, and conversation flow is tracked appropriately inside Twitter.

In general you should not edit the standard formatting for replies, which include the @username of the user you are replying to at the beginning of the tweet. Deviating from this format will cause your reply to be visible to all of your followers, instead of just the ones who follow both you and your recipient.

Some users abuse this fact by adding an arbitrary character before the username, so that all of their followers see the reply:

.@danielpunkass I think you’re full of crap, and everybody knows it.

If it’s imperative to share a reply with your entire audience, be respectful and edit your tweet to adopt the format of a mention, so your audience knows you are not abusing the reply format:

I think @danielpunkass is full of crap, and everybody knows it.

You can address a tweet to more than one person by including multiple space-separated @usernames at the beginning of the tweet. Always list the primary target as the first name in the list.

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgement is a special form of mention where the @username does not show up organically in the content of the tweet. Use acknowledgements to credit other users as the source of content. Add acknowledgements to the end of your tweet, in parentheses if possible, and include shorthand citation language such as “via” or “thx” to clarify the kind of acknowledgement. Sometimes it is appropriate to use the shorthand “/cc” to indicate that you only mean to ensure these users are aware of the content of your Tweet:

Oops. Turns out I was totally wrong about Macworld’s editorial policy. Check this out: http://example.com/ (thx @danielpunkass, /cc @jsnell)

When you share information with your audience, always acknowledge the source of that information unless the source has explicitly requested to remain anonymous.

Tagging

Add tags to a tweet by adding a space-separated list of words at the end of the tweet, with a hash character before each word. These units are referred to as hashtags:

I don’t even like hashtags, but I guess I’ll use them just to make a point. #hashtags #twitterstyle #uglytweets

Use tags when you want your tweet, regardless of content, to be locatable as part of a larger trend or standardized category of tweet. For example, some people use the #fb tag to tag tweets that should automatically be copied to Facebook, or #ff to indicate that the tweet is a list of @usernames somebody recommends you follow as part of the “Follow Friday” meme.

Retweets

When you want to share another user’s tweet with all of your followers, use the retweet feature of the web site or your Twitter client. If your client does not include a retweet feature, adopt standard “organic” retweeting notation:

RT @danielpunkass Everybody should download MarsEdit today.

It’s highly preferable to use standard retweet features where available, because they store intent about the retweet into Twitter, and allow for more advanced filtering and searching by your audience. Using the standard retweet feature also eliminates the need to edit the original tweet to make room for the “RT @username” notation.

If you copy the contents of another user’s tweet without using the retweet feature or standard RT notation, you must put that content into quotation marks, and clearly cite the original author:

“Everybody should download MarsEdit today.” — Whoo hoo, @danielpunkass is right about that.

Failure to do this leads to confusion about whether you, or the person you are citing, is the original author of the content.

Direct Messages

When you wish to communicate privately with another Twitter user who follows you, use the direct message feature of the web site or your Twitter client. If your client does not support a direct message feature, or the user in question does not follow you, there is no way to communicate privately with them via Twitter.

You should never use replies to highlight the fact that you can’t direct message a user. This is a rude implication that the other user should be following you, when it’s every user’s prerogative to manage their following list as they see fit.

If you need to get in touch with somebody privately, and you can’t find contact information for them on their personal blog, web site or by other means, request their attention tastefully with a reply tweet:

@danielpunkass I’m trying to get in touch with you privately about something. It’s important. Can you direct-message me your contact info?

Before writing such a tweet, make sure you are following the person so that their gracious attempt to contact you with a direct message will succeed.

Write For The Medium

Twitter’s 140 character limitation beguiles and infuriates its users. At its best, it forces users to come up with the most concise, purest of language expressions for their thoughts. At its worst, it leaves users “just a few characters shy” of pure genius. The advice in this section is intended to clarify how you can best embrace these constraints: work with them and not against them, and your audience will thank you.

Avoid Abbreviation

Brevity is an art, and Twitter’s 140 character limit encourages it. Don’t compress more than 140 characters worth of thought by using abbreviations, or worse, non-grammatical fragments. If u try 2 hard to fit yr thoughts, it duz not work. You just sound like a moron.

Exceptions: some shorthand notation has become so commonplace on Twitter that you should use it in favor of longer-form words. For example, never spell out “RETWEET” in your efforts to retweet another user. Also, abbreviations are acceptable inside acknowledgements, because this language is not considered part of the language of your tweet.

One Tweet Per Thought

When an expression doesn’t fit in 140 characters, don’t spread it out over multiple tweets. Instead, switch to a longer form medium such as a blog and write as extensively as you wish on the subject. Then, summarize your long-form post in a single tweet and link to the longer-form content.

Never “Tweet-longer.”

Using services such as Twitlonger achieves the goal of limiting yourself to one tweet per thought, but it does so in a sloppy way that does not inspire confidence among your audience. They want to hear your thoughts, carefully edited for consumption, not vomited out onto the table.

Identify Linked Content

A tweet should stand on its own, and should not require outside resources to be understood. This problem is exacerbated on Twitter, where the destination of a link is often masked by the use of a URL shortening service.

Never post bare URLs, or URLs with a meaningless description. It’s insulting to your audience and doesn’t fulfill the value of Twitter as a content vehicle:

This is hilarious! http://bit.ly/4Wm7cs

Instead, include a meaningful comment that makes it clear what your audience will find when they click the link, and helps them decide whether they want to or not:

It’s going to be hilarious when you click this link and find out it’s Rick Astley: http://bit.ly/4Wm7cs

Write For Your Audience

Because there are few explicit rules to what you may use Twitter for, there are a variety of interesting uses that don’t map directly to “a person’s identity.” For example, companies, products, even news sources and aggregators use Twitter as a means of publicizing information in short bursts of text.

In any case, every Twitter account publishes content that is directed towards an intended audience. This audience may include your close circle of friends, your customers, professional peers, or a combination of all these and more.

You know your audience best, so speak to them in ways that make sense. The more diverse your audience is, the harder it is to refine content to their taste. The advice in this section is intended to help you limit widely-offensive behavior in your tweets.

Write Every Tweet By Hand

Never let a service automate tweets on your behalf. Unless your audience expects the content of your tweets to be machine-made, make the effort to editorialize everything you share. Users who follow you expect to see original content, not the mechanized ramblings of location-aware services, or the spam-like news of your progress in an online game. Even the seemingly innocuous plugins that tweet about updates to your blog are transparently automated, and take away from the human aspect of your account. Write those tweets by hand, as well.

Avoid Ideological Hotspots

Unless your audience shares you political or religious views, resist the temptation to rant about your ideological beliefs. As satisfying as this can be, it alienates many of your readers and gives the impression that you lack the discipline to avoid obviously provocative topics.

Complain Constructively

Nobody cares to hear about the subtle inequities of your daily life:

Grr, I wish that newspaper boy would FREAKING learn how to get the paper onto the porch!

It may feel good to get it off your chest, but it’s boring to the rest of us. Even if we happen to commiserate with you, it’s a useless tweet. Instead, channel your frustration into valuable content:

I wrote a blog post: 10 tips for getting the newspaper boy to do his job better.

While it may be meaningless to some of your audience, at least it offers constructive content for those who are interested.

Be Yourself, Only Better

Twitter is your opportunity to show off your best attributes. Some people will defend rude or tactless behavior on Twitter by quipping, “I’m just being myself.” It’s true, but you’re also just being yourself when you’re using the toilet. Don’t share every little facet of your life, only the charming parts.

Don’t Pick Fights

If you disagree with something another user has said, offer thoughtful evidence that they may be wrong, without resorting to snide or sarcastic language. Don’t assume that the only way to attract the attention of another user is to provoke them to angry debate. This kind of personality defect is easy to detect, and if you persist in picking fights, your targets will block you, and your followers will abandon you.

Take It Outside

When Twitter replies start to resemble chat, the interchange can be joyous for the people taking part, but tedious for those followers who are forced to watch. Unless the content of a discussion is of particular interest to a wide audience, it should be taken to a private medium such as direct messages, chat, or email. This is doubly true for any discussion that has the hallmark tones of argument.

In Summary

Twitter is a powerful vehicle for sharing our thoughts with the world. Used appropriately, we maximize this power and encourage others to respect and applaud us. Used carelessly or with sinister motivations, we simply beg to be ignored.

I hope this collection of advice helps you maximize the power of your tweets. Those of you who also have strong opinions, what did I leave out? What did I get completely wrong? Let me know in the comments so I can consider revising this as a living reference for using Twitter correctly.

44 Responses to “Elements Of Twitter Style”

  1. Troy Gilbert Says:

    Great! I agree with all of these. You’re the next Strunk & White, you are!

  2. Neven Says:

    Great work, Jalbait.

    A note for the Take it Outside section:

    If you’re bothered by Twitter debates and wish to continue the discussion via email, make sure that your email is actually findable on the Internet. Ideally it should be visible on the page you’ve linked to in your Twitter profile. If not, it should be easily googlable.

    A possible addition:

    Rein in the Funnies

    While humorous replies can be entertaining, they are most likely simply distracting when delivered in reply to an honest question. Keep in mind that the person who asked for advice or recommendation may have to sift through dozens of replies. This fact also makes it likely that your joke has already been made.

    “Any thought on Adobe Photoshop CS5? Is it worth the upgrade?”
    “I hear Apple rejected it from the Mac App Store LOL!!”

    If you must reply with a joke, make it truly hilarious and original, and try to include helpful info in addition to the joke.

    An observation on how I personally use Twitter (it may not be appropriate as a bullet point in this particular list): I follow people I find interesting. That is my sole requirement, and I enforce it. I don’t follow those friends, acquaintances, and even members of my family who simply aren’t interesting on Twitter, regardless of my social proximity to them.

  3. corbin Says:

    Oh, let me add to it:

    When Complaining About Apple Bugs

    Be sure to reference the radar number of the bug you logged!

  4. Tom Harrington Says:

    My personal pet peeve: Do not participage in “Tweet blasts”. It’s become increasingly common for contests or other promotions to invite people to enter by asking them to post a message about the contest to Twitter, typically something along the lines of:

    I just entered to win a dill pickle from @Picklr! RT to enter! #picklr

    There’s a word for this kind of message, and that word is “spam”. The fact that you’re only posting one of these messages doesn’t change that, it just means that the spam is crowdsourced instead of single-sourced. Your followers may see this message repeated all day or all week, so the effect on them is the same as if someone were filling their inbox with spam. If you participate, you’re helping someone to spam your friends in exchange for a minute chance that you might personally benefit (though you almost certainly won’t). How much is your reputation worth? Are you really willing to sell it out for a contest entry?

  5. Dan Says:

    Well put, Daniel. Props for the Strunk & White allusion in the title—never has their advice to “omit needless words” been more appropriate.

  6. @madmw Says:

    What about people protecting their tweets? Protect from who? Don’t they use twitter search?

  7. Mark Jenkinson Says:

    Can I add one to this? I’m a big fan of Gowalla, FourSquare, and the likes, but I do not see the point in those services having a feature that allows you to tweet at every check in. I’m seeing my Twitter feed inundated with check ins…and mayoral victories. Whooot? Whoot? I know Gowalla and FourSquare want to keep their services trending, but this is spam. Please don’t do it people.

  8. zwei Says:

    Most excellent post! Should be a required read for all twitter users.

    Especially the part about automated tweets. Someone needs to club the person who came up with the idea of sharing every song you listen to.

  9. Brian Stormont Says:

    “Some people will defend rude or tactless behavior on Twitter by quipping, “I’m just being myself.” It’s true, but you’re also just being yourself when you’re using the toilet.”

    Nice point! I’ll have to try to keep that in mind when I feel the need to go on a rant.

  10. daiyami Says:

    Wow, this is one of the few style guides I’ve read (for anything) that I didn’t go “well, except for….”

    Though, can we use via for shorthand citation? I’d like to, but I thought there were clients (tweetie) out there using it for old-style retweeted quotations sans quotation marks, thus confusing everyone about what it means. But I learned thx, much better than h/t for hattip.

  11. 5v3n Says:

    Great article on the subject!

    I didn’t know that the replies are limited to the common follower – good to know.

    “Write Every Tweet By Hand” – I found myself guilty for that little crime, using the “Send to Twitter” & automated Facebook features of my tumblr blog. I stopped & now write “real” messages about the most interesting new posts to reach a broader audience.

    Plus, I really spammed both my FB & Twitter feed with Foursquare just like Mark admitted – I’m working on that one too, but it’s sometimes too tempting to show off this great place you just discovered. But a fault confessed is half redressed ;-).

    Gary Vaynerchuck is talking about the “bs-detector”, which in my opinion also detects auto generated content. Some companies use Twitter in that way, one hoot suite message every two hours and no intreaction – as if they just redirected their RSS stream.

    “Complain constructively” – that’s a nice advice, too. The #fail tag is considered the tourette syndrom of the net for good reason.

    So – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Cheers

    5v3n

  12. Scott Loganbill Says:

    Nice!

    A little expansion on URL shortening would be cool. For example: if you have enough characters left in the tweet, use the original URL. If you don’t, try to use the URL shortener of the website you’re linking to (if one exists). Otherwise, qualify your link with a description of its destination, etc…

  13. Cary Says:

    I’m of the opinion that if someone’s following me on Twitter, it’s their own fault if they don’t like what I say. It’s not my responsibility not to alienate followers, it’s their responsibility not to follow me if they don’t want to hear something.

  14. Sarah Holbrook Says:

    Thanks for writing this Daniel.

    I think it’s polite when asking a crowdsourcing question (which foobar should I buy?) to post a summary tweet later on. I don’t like having to filter through all of the @ replies myself, especially given the ratio of jokey or off-topic replies as citied above by Neven.

  15. Paul Mison Says:

    @madmw: I’m private on Twitter, and I was starting to write a comment here when I decided it would be better spun into a post of its own. If you’re interested, it’s here: http://notes.husk.org/post/544107842/twitter-style-privacy

  16. jack Says:

    All good points, though as you said, it’s only a guide. Gruber loves to play the asshole and he’s followers count goes through the roof.

  17. Jon Says:

    Re: “Avoid Ideological Hotspots… Complain Constructively… & Be Yourself, Only Better”

    Not sure about this self-censorship stuff.

    Sure, at some point if paper boy issues were all someone tweeted then I’d stop following them. But, I think shared in balance with other relevant topics, normal frustrations are a part of life.

    Twitter is a part of life too. Twitter’s about connecting with real people and real people aren’t airbrushed and perfect. I don’t want to have to be half myself to be listened to online. Nor do I only want to hear half of who you are.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who gets pissed about neighbours and the paper boy.

    Again, I understand openness and whining has its limits. I am, however, questioning the point at which these lines are drawn.

    I think something like, “Don’t be whiny cock”, would suffice.

    ___

    mild contention aside, brilliant post and very helpful for one (myself) just starting out.

    via @jon_amar

  18. Matthias Says:

    Great article. I especially loved the section avoiding against automated posts and controversial topics. The former makes me write you off as spam, and the latter as a troll. Both make it much more likely that I will start subconsciously filtering out your tweets as I scan my feed. I could never understand why people would want to troll the very people who have publicly stated that they’re interested in what you have to say. Your snide tweet is not going to convince anyone that their god is a myth or that political party XX is blatantly 100% wrong. You’ll only cause followers who disagree with you to shift their attention elsewhere. You’d do better to present a well-balanced article that provides some level of though, and simply state that you agree with its premise.

    My one addendum for this is to not be afraid to create & apply hashtags liberally. This does not mean adding 3+ hashtags to every tweet to add it to any category that it might conceivably fit in; rather, if you ask a question of the hivemind, present a hashtag for people to use when replying to said question. This allows third parties who find your question via a search to easily find answers, which are normally packaged in less available @ replies.

    My favorite forum community have some members that are pretty active on Twitter, and it is not uncommon for someone’s tweet to evolve into a multi-party conversation. They’re all in @ replies, and they’re from people I care about, so I’m not typically bothered by the conversations. Unfortunately, there are many times when multiple conversations between people within the same group arise, so it starts to become unclear who is talking to whom about what, even with clients that can show reply chains. I therefore would also recommend coming up with a short hashtag for a topic once it looks like it’s becoming a full-fledged conversation. That way, newcomers and participants who have stepped away from their feeds can catch up on the conversation, at least as far back as the tag’s creation. The tag does even really have to make sense in the long run; indeed, common long-term tags should be avoided.

  19. andreslucero Says:

    Great points on tweet style, although I agree with Jon that self-censorship is rarely needed. If I think someone is boring or disagreeable, I simply won’t follow them. Some additional thoughts:

    Retweeting-as-replies drives me nuts, and there are several high-profile people that I admire who do this regularly. Example: “I am! RT @danielpunkass @andreslucero you sound grumpy today.” To me, this is even worse than dot-replying and I don’t understand why anyone would do it consistently, but they do.

    Twitter Search has been very good since they acquired Summize, so hashtags aren’t needed as much (or at all) to track topics around a brand, person, or event. For example, the hashtags in “I can’t believe I’m talking to #podcast king @leolaporte at #SXSW!” don’t make the hashtagged terms any more searchable. I only use hashtags when the body of the tweet does not contain the trackable term, as in, “I can’t believe I’m talking to podcast king @leolaporte! #sxsw”

    While I do enjoy using Gowalla (and Foursquare before it), I don’t auto-tweet every checkin. I usually try to add a comment about the location before sending out a tweet, for example “New coffee shop in the area, hadn’t heard of it before — at Starbucks http://gowal.la/…” This gives some context to your checkin or at least breaks up the robotic feel of auto-tweets.

  20. Gabe Roth Says:

    Proposed addendum: Don’t post tweets asking for more followers, under any circumstances. I don’t care if you’re at 999,996 followers. If I want to follow you I will.

  21. Craig James Says:

    Wow. This is a fabulous piece. *Very* useful. Thanks!

    One thought, and one question:

    A thought regarding Retweeting: It is tricky to retweet when all 140 characters are used. I try to leave a “courtesy buffer” and limit original tweets to 120 characters so that a recipient can easily retweet it with out an edit challenge – And, with my somewhat-long @CjamesCatStrat, user name, even only 120 characters of content leaves the recipient with a challenge as there are only a couple characters open by the time it gets to him/her with @CjamesCatStrat in there too. Which leads to a question:

    Question re: editing content: I find that when I retweet, especially if I want to add some editorial, I need to edit the content… sometimes taking out elements of the originator’s content. Though I try very hard not to change her/his meaning… I might accidentally do so and/or offend the originator by editing at all. Do you have recommendations on how to make reference to the fact that the content has been edited, with out adding to the problem by having to explain it with yet even more characters?

    Thanks again…

  22. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Thanks, everybody, for the feedback so far. Lots of great ideas, and I might make a revision en masse at some point.

    Gabe: I think I would go one step further: never talk about the number of followers you do or do not have. Period.

    Craig: The buffer you are alluding to for retweeting is only required when the people doing the retweeting are not using “native retweets.” This is one of the big benefits of using the native retweet feature in Twitter, that it reproduces the original verbatim and doesn’t require any extra space for the RT terminology.

  23. andreslucero Says:

    Craig: if you’re just adding commentary, then a link to the original tweet might work better than a retweet. If you absolutely must edit someone’s content, use ellipses to show omissions and brackets to show additions. Swapping out shorter words or using abbreviations that the original author didn’t is a big no-no, in my opinion.

  24. Janine Sisk Says:

    IMHO it is *never* ok to respond to a tweet asking for information with a sales pitch about a product. Even if its something I was looking for, I want to know what my presumably impartial followers think of it, not be sold something.

    And a related comment, services like lazytweet.com are evil. I’m fine with an individual retweeting something I said because they liked it, but services that retweet based on keywords or hash tags are just making it easier for the aforementioned marketers to do their dirty work. @chockenberry has a choice phrase for some of these folks, and I second that emotion.

    Agree completely on the foursquare, gowalla, contest type tweets. They add no useful info at all as far as I’m concerned, and they make me wish that it was possible to hide tweets based on keywords, ala hiding applications in Facebook.

  25. Chris Says:

    What if I want to tweet the following: “@glennbeck is a moron.”

    What would be the proper way to format it? Is it really that bad to just put a “.” in front?

  26. andreslucero Says:

    Chris: I think (but I’m not 100% sure) that all of your followers will see that, regardless of whether they’re following @glennbeck, because it’s not “in reply to” a tweet that @glennbeck posted.

    When you click the “Reply” link on the website (or in your Twitter client), it tags your new tweet with the ID of the tweet to which you are replying (the “in-reply-to” ID). It’s my understanding that this is what separates a reply from a mention, but I could be wrong about how it’s displayed to your followers.

  27. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Chris, Andres: the problem is that some (many?) clients will apparently mark a tweet as a reply if it has a @ at the beginning, and Twitter respects this.

    As for the style question, Chris, I don’t see what the “.” buys you in this scenario. If it’s really a reply, it should be phrased as one e.g. “@glennbeck you are a moron.” If you want everybody who follows you to know what you think, why not phrase it more accurately as “I think @glennbeck is a moron.” Usually rephrasing to make the tweet sensible on its own also causes the user’s name not to appear at the beginning any longer.

  28. Laignelet Says:

    Thanks for writing these guidelines of Twitter style Daniel.
    Graig, in my opinion the courtesy buffer should be at least 50 character long in order to permit proper RT.
    Also I think in many cases we need to rephrase the context when RT.

    Thanks again.

  29. Max Weaver Says:

    An excellent collection of tips. I agree with pretty much all of them. Not sure about your information on hastags though. Didn’t the need to use hashtags end ages ago? All the words in a tweet are now searchable as keywords, not just hashtagged words.

    My understanding was that the result of this means the hashtag is now superfluous.

  30. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Max, I happen to agree (mostly) with you about hashtags. I included them for completeness because as I was thinking of all the parts of tweets users are likely to see, those are among them, so they may as well be used correctly if they are used.

    If you look carefully in my example you’ll see signs from my hashtags that I am not personally their biggest fan :) I have used them extremely rarely, usually only when I am taking part in some group event like a conference, where the content of the tweet may not explicitly refer to the event, but you still want friends and colleagues at the event to see it.

  31. Max Weaver Says:

    Yes, I see your point. Hastags can also be visually beneficial to the huiman viewer as sign posts to a particular topic.

    Thanks again.

  32. Chris Says:

    @Daniel Jalkut The problem is this: what if I don’t want to rephrase it? Putting the phrase “I think that…” in front of a statement makes it weak. That’s what the “.” buys me. I’m not sure I see a better way around it.

    “.@glennbeck is a moron.”

  33. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Chris: That’s a good point. And you’re probably right there are some edge cases where putting the period in front is the best solution. But in this example, the goal is to say something forcefully opinionated to your readers, while letting them know Glenn Beck’s Twitter handle, and also offering @glennbeck the opportunity to notice and take your criticism.

    So I would suggest: “Glenn Beck is a moron. (/cc @glennbeck)” or something else that allows you to include the name in the tweet but without confusing it with reply format.

  34. Usul Says:

    Wonderful read! Clear and concise! Thanks for posting!

  35. Gemma Says:

    Awesome post, plenty of detail (which is often lacking in fluffy blog content)
    Keep it coming!

  36. Andreas Says:

    Good overview, good summary, good advice – but one thing I completely disagree with: I cannot see any added value in putting acknowledgements or any other elements of microsyntax into parentheses.

    Slashtags are perfectly fine to make both people and machines understand that the unique content of a tweet is to be followed by some contextual stuff.

    Additional parentheses don’t add any value, only noise and inconvenience, as far as I can see. The idea of introducing slashtags was to make tweets more readable, I think Chriss Messina called it the separation of meta and meat.

    Or am I overlooking something?

  37. Tyler Hayes Says:

    Simply spot-on.

  38. twerp Says:

    It’s a social medium……..people’s tweets are a reflection of how they are in society, imperfect. Personally i think twitter is a massive waste of time, but i do appreciate it’s rawness of it. Users won’t follow convention unless it’s enforced by the app so you are out of luck.

  39. Allen Says:

    Wonderful guide Daniel.

    I would expand on what Max said about hashtags being unnecessary. In general, the more links, mentions and hashtags there are in your tweets, the harder it is to read and process them. Each time you link, tag, or mention something, it should be done with care.

    For example: http://www.unladenfollow.com/anatomy/

  40. Byron Edwards Says:

    Next week – How to tie your shoelaces…

  41. LPC Says:

    I found you via @communicatrix. Wonderful post and very helpful. I only wanted to say thank you.

  42. Austin Grigg Says:

    I wish I had this article when I got into twitter. Most of these things are common sense, but I couldn’t find a well laid out guide to the twitter lingo and best-practices. I think this will be really helpful as people join twitter.

  43. Jackson Says:

    Even if your Twitter client doesn’t directly support direct messages you can still send them with the following syntax: d username tweet. http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/14606

  44. Anita Says:

    For some time now I’ve been contemplating whether to create a Twitter account. I haven’t been able to get past my concern over the time drain aspect or the inanity that seems so much a part of it. And, geez, what the heck do I want to add to the already clogged twittersphere? Here it comes . . . but, I’m an instructional technologist at a small liberal arts college. As we explore ways to incorporate social media into the learning environment I sorta kinda need to experience these things myself if I’m to be worth my salt. So this is a roundabout way of saying thank you! This is very helpful information to have and, in addition to the “best practices” aspect, it gives me a better sense of how Twitter can be useful.

Comments are closed.

Follow the Conversation

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this entry.