[ANSWERED] 10 Surefire Ways To Avoid Looking Like A Twitter Noob

This one came straight from a client in a meeting, as they were considering setting up their corporate Twitter account:

How do we get started and not look like a Twitter Noob? We have been wanting to tweet for a while, but we don’t want our customers to think we don’t know what we’re doing.

So, you’re ready to Tweet, right?

You’ve realized that Twitter isn’t just people sharing what they ate for breakfast and that there might be some real value to engaging with the more than 300 million active users that might give you valuable insights about your products, services, and competitors. Before  you jump in and start tweeting away, here are seven tips that can help you avoid looking like a newbie and (hopefully) avoid some common pitfalls.

1) Don’t Be An Egg

One way to avoid being a Twitter noob is to upload a profile photo of yourself

Adjust your Twitter profile photo to something other than the egg. Most users would prefer to interact with a human being, so consider having the person managing your Twitter account upload their photo.

If you absolutely don’t want a persons’ face, then at least upload a nice, high-res image of your company or brand logo.

2) Fill Out Your Twitter Profile

Nothing says “faceless Twitter bot” like a Twitter profile with no description. Who are you? What do you like? Are you actually a human being? Why should I follow you back? Take 5 minutes and come up with a short description that tells me something about you.

3) Sign Up For A Hootsuite Account Or Download TweetDeck

Nobody really tweets from Twitter.com. It’s hard to follow all the conversations and you can’t look at multiple conversation streams at the same time. Tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck make Twitter much easier to use and manage.

Personally, I like HootSuite because it’s web-based and I can access it anywhere. They have a decent mobile app, as well. TweetDeck has it’s benefits too, so try one and if you don’t like it, try the other.

4) Follow Some Folks

It’s likely that you know people on Twitter. Your employees are probably tweeting. Your competitors are probably tweeting. Heck, your grandma might be tweeting.

Click the Follow button and their status updates will start appearing in your home feed. If you’re interested in learning more about social media, feel free to follow me @socmedsean.

Don’t go follow crazy, though. Twitter does look at certain following:follower ratios to identify spam accounts, so try to keep your follower to following ratio around 2:1. That means for ever 2 people you follow, try to get one to follow you back by tweeting valuable content or engaging with others in conversations.

5) Learn What A Hashtag Is And How To Use It

On Twitter, hashtags are used to categorize your tweet into a specific topic.

For instance, suppose I write a blog post about setting your Gmail look and feel back to the more “classic” view that a lot of people preferred. I might write a tweet that goes something like this:

Don’t like the new look and feel of Gmail and want to revert back to the old, classic view? Here are the steps http://ow.ly/9H1h30mMglL

Notice that nowhere in my tweet is the word “email” or “tip” but these are terms that some people might use to find helpful tips specific to email. So, how do I make sure that my tweet gets in front of those who are interested in email tips? I add their hashtags. So my tweet will end up looking like this, instead:

Don’t like the new look and feel of Gmail and want to revert back to the old, classic view? Here are the steps http://ow.ly/9H1h30mMglL #email #tip

Be sure not to stuff your tweets too full of hashtags. There is such thing as hashtag overload and it gets a little annoying. I advise 2-3 that are specifically on-topic.

6) Set Up Some Searches And Conversations To Follow

This cmgr search finds Twitter conversations relating to community managementThis search identifies tweets relating to community management by searching the #cmgr hashtag

In TweetDeck and HootSuite, your home feed represents the tweets from people you are following. You can set up additional columns, however, that consists of mentions of specific search terms.

For instance, I like to hear what people say about online community management, so I have a column that filters all the tweets for the #cmgr hashtag. This allows me to easily see what topics people are discussing that relate to that topic.

Set up searches for your company name, brand names, and industry keywords. Heck, set up searches for your competitors and see what your prospective customers think about their products.

7) Learn The Limits And Get Comfortable With Them

Tweets were initially limited to 140 characters, and that’s still a good guide to use. Also, just because you have more characters, doesn’t mean you should use them all. Try to keep your tweets below 125 characters so that others can retweet your tweets.

In some tools like HootSuite, only displays the first 125 characters anyway…so make sure your entire message is visible by keeping it short and sweet.

When someone retweets you, it adds “RT” and your twitter handle to the message, which could cause their RT to go above 140 characters. They then have the choice of either editing the tweet or not retweeting it.

Either way is not optimal for your message, so try to keep your message clear and concise.

8 ) Use Contractions And Symbols, But Avoid Netslang When Possible

Instead of typing “would not”, type “won’t”. Instead of “did not”, use “didn’t”.

Use the & symbol instead of typing “and”. These small adjustments can save you characters and help make your messages easier to retweet.

Avoid using netslang, though. Things like “UR” instead of “your” or “2” instead of “to” can make your tweets confusing. Take the time to craft and re-craft your tweets to say what you want within the limits.

It’s a skill that takes a little time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be typing in 125 – 200 characters in no time.

9) Listen

Take the time to listen to your Twitter followers and understand what they need from you

Don’t just start tweeting and DON’T start tweeting links to your product pages. Also, don’t use Twitter as your personal rant platform.

Twitter is not about marketing and it’s not about anger and rants, it’s about building relationships.

Again, listen.

Watch the conversation streams.


Then, engage in human conversations.

See someone that has a question, answer it.

Have an opinion on a tweet? Express it.

Commented on a blog post? Share it.

Just remember that there are humans on the other ends of those tweets. Treat others with respect and don’t engage in hateful tweeting. Be sure to learn and follow Thumper’s Rule when engaging in social media.

Again…don’t try to sell to your tweeps.

10) Determine How You Can Help Your Followers

Explore the reasons that people following your twitter account? Do they want updates on your products? Are they looking for customer support? Maybe they want coupons or discounts. Find a way to help them.

Ask them what they’d like to see from you and then provide it, when possible. Contribute to the community and you’ll see big returns from your followers.

I hope these tips help get you started on Twitter and help you avoid some of the common pitfalls. Happy tweeting and let me know if you have additional tips to add.

Also, be sure to check out a couple of other related articles:



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Comments And Reactions

  1. Stacey at RealWorldMom says

    Thank you for writing this! Oh, how I dread seeing that egg avatar!

  2. Thank you, I am one of the newbies you mention so I really need to reas stuff to put me up to date. Thank you!

  3. Janet Callaway says

    Sean, aloha. Though it is slightly more advanced, I do think that people need to learn about tweetchats and how to use them. Since they are held on twitter, I figured this suggestion was a fit with your post.

    Great list–especially the egg. If I receive a follow request and it is an egg, I do not follow back. Friends do not let friends follow eggs!

    • Sean R. Nicholson says

      Completely agree, Janet! Tweetchats can be overwhelming at first if there are a lot of conversations going on, but they can also be great ways to learn about a specific niche and meet a lot of great new tweeps!

      Personally, I use the combination of Tweetchat.com and Hootsuite to manage the tweetchat conversations. You?



  4. Karleen Harp says

    ALL excellent points! Also: Twitter is a conversation with the world. Use the same manners as in real life conversations. Acknowledge. Thank. Be genuine.

  5. Dana J Lange says

    Great list. I would add be human and be sincere. Sometimes people just want a laugh or some fun.

  6. So funny, nice form bro

  7. stud

  8. Thank you. Useful tips.

  9. great article, i agree with all your thoughts, I have however broke your rule of not tweeting my product page….im still thinking about that one….any more thoughts from you as to that one?

    • Sean R. Nicholson says

      I think the challenge is to balance content that is useful for the Twitter community vs. content that benefits you. I like to always use that 80/20 rule, where 80% of my tweets are promoting other people, carrying on conversations, or uncovering new resources. The other 20% can be about my blog posts or content.

      Hope that helps!



  10. Steve Masters says

    A nice article Sean. I think you’ve got it pretty much covered.

  11. Anne @ GreenEggs&Moms says

    If I may add, stop tweeting about yourself and your “achievements” 95% of the time.

    Example: This popular group is just reached out to me to this OR I just finished a video for so and so. It get’s annoying. Really. (Haha sorry!)

    Great article for beginners. Number one made me chuckle so much by the way.

    • Sean R. Nicholson says

      Couldn’t agree more, Anne! Less self-promotion, more sharing of resources that benefit the community and your followers!



  12. Alexander BK says

    The greatest tips for Twitter ever! 🙂

    Thank you.

  13. Wayne Mansfield says

    I Like this tip:

    Use contractions and symbols, but avoid netslang – Instead of typing “would not”, type “won’t”. Instead of “did not”, use “didn’t”. Use the & symbol instead of typing “and”. These small adjustments can save you characters and help make your messages easier to retweet. Avoid using netslang, though. Things like “UR” instead of “your” or “2″ instead of “to” can make your tweets confusing. Take the time to craft and re-craft your tweets to say what you want within the limits. It’s a skill that takes a little time to develop, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be typing in 125 characters in no time.

  14. Oh yes, those egg heads drive me crazy. I believe you can tweet from your site but no more than 20% of the time and it should be informational including special new products or sale.

  15. Hello Sean,
    Is it important to add a face?
    I am prone to use a logo or obscure and esoteric shots of myself. I kinda know that this might put “people” off a bit. However the content is matched to the Profile description which is your #2.
    I use Twitter as a SM tool only for 1 account @MyEmpireAve. The others are all very personal and offer a selection of thoughts from my varied interests and slant on life.
    Great article as always.

    • Sean R. Nicholson says


      In my opinion, logos/images are good…but faces are better. People like to know that they are interacting with a person, even if they are a representative of a company.

      Just my $.02…



  16. Kevin Dugan says

    Sean: I always tell people to think about content in the law of thirds. 1/3: conversation, 1/3: value content/links, 1/3: self promotion. But I usually err on the side of value content, then conversation, then the self promo stuff is less than a third. But it helps people visualize the balance.

    • Sean R. Nicholson says

      Great approach, Kevin! I think anything that gets people to think about how much self-promotion they are doing is getting them on the right track!



  17. Claire Jones-Hughes says

    Great post, the only point I disagree with is getting on not using Twitter.com, the Twitter.com app for iPad is excellent for live tweeting.

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