10 Twitter Mistakes That Make You Look Clueless

In 2009, I joined the Twitterverse. And when I did, I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know beans from peas about how to use the tool.

I learned by imitation. I watched three or four people who used Twitter — all of whom were fellow authors — and I followed their example.

What I didn’t realize is that they didn’t have much of a clue either.

I later discovered that there is such a thing as “Twitter etiquette.”

One person in particular emailed me privately. In a gracious but straight-forward way, he pointed out my Twitter transgressions. (He had a lot of class to approach me the way he did, and I was grateful.)

So in the spirit of “do unto others,” I’m writing this post to pass on what I’ve learned. Some of these things are mistakes I’ve made myself. Others are things I intuitively knew were bad practices when I first started out, but I keep seeing people practice them.

I’m no expert on Twitter (I don’t know if such people exist), but I can pass on what I’ve learned and have observed.

As I’ve previously pointed out, Twitter is a great ministry tool. (See Twitter vs. Facebook: Reflections, Comparisons, and Ministry Perspective.)

But the fact is, many Christian authors and bloggers are guilty of some of these same mistakes. So if you — or others you know — practice these things, feel free to share this post with them. Hopefully, they will be as grateful as I was.

1. Repeating the same tweet over and over on the same day. People usually do this when they want others to know about a new blog post they’ve written. Tweeting your post twice in a day is sufficient (or for special ones, three times max). But space the same tweet out at least 5 hours apart.

2. Repeating the same tweet multiple times, tagging all the people you want to see the post. For instance, some people who are overzealous about having certain people see their blog posts will do something like this:

10 Twitter Mistakes That Make You Look Clueless: link @JoeyBuddafooko @BonesApart @FieldingMelish @MarvinSnurdly

10 Twitter Mistakes That Make You Look Clueless: link @JimmyPage @RobertPlant @JohnPaulJones @TheZepsters

10 Twitter Mistakes That Make You Look Clueless: link @CravenMoorepeace @AlBino @MoonUnit @ChessieLagrange

And they’ll keep doing this 10 – 20x one after the other.

It’s fine if you tag certain people with a tweet twice in a day, spacing each tweet out 5 hours apart. But anything else makes you look like a clueless spammer. If you want specific people to see a post of yours, email them, DM them (if they follow you), or use a Facebook note and tag them (a proper use of Facebook notes).

3. Retweeting compliments and posts that extol your own work. Many authors are notorious at doing this. And I used to follow their example. If someone says something nice about your work (“your book changed my life”, for instance), Retweeting that remark makes you look like your patting yourself on the back in public. While that may not be in your heart, that’s how it comes across to many. The same with Retweeting great book reviews, if the review is for one of your books. It’s much better to respond with a “Thank you,” and move on.

4. Only tweeting your own work. Some authors only tweet their own blog posts or books. While your readers are following you to learn about your new stuff, if you never tweet the work of others or quote them, it makes you appear self absorbed.

5. Asking questions that demand long answers. Tweets like, “What’s the last great movie you saw?” and “Who is your favorite female music artist?” can be easily answered in a tweet. So they are fine. But questions like, “How can Calvinism and Arminianism be reconciled?” isn’t suited for Twitter — unless you give your email address or leave a link for people to answer in another place. Sometimes people will ask me questions about my books that are impossible to answer on Twitter. My FAQ page is set up for such questions.

6. Overwhelming your Twitter followers with too many tweets in a day.  Some people tweet every 10 minutes or so. Some tweet 10+ times one after the other. So their profile picture fills up one screen of your twitter feed. Many people find this annoying. On average, I tweet once an hour between 5am and 4pm. The exception is if I’m responding to various people. Presently, I use Buffer to queue up my tweets ahead of time and set them on a schedule. This tool keeps count of how many times a link you’ve tweeted is clicked and how many times it’s been Retweeted, if you’re interested in seeing what tweets of yours are the most engaging.

7. Not thinking before you tweet. Once you hit the “Tweet” button, what you wrote becomes public. So never tweet when you’re angry or upset. You might regret it.

8. Never Retweeting others. Twitter is a collective tool, part of social media. Don’t make it a solo production. If you find a link that’s helpful or a quote that you like, click the Retweet button. Show a little link love. Your friends will appreciate it.

9. Never checking or responding to your Direct Messages (DM). This something that many people neglect. In addition, if a person sends you a DM and you ignore it, it’s like having them say something to you on the street and you pretend they’re not there. The word “rude” comes to mind. I’ve known authors who missed out on huge opportunities because they ignored the emails or DMs of fellow authors. Ignoring someone’s DM is not only a foolish thing to do, but we have not so learned Jesus Christ to do so. The exception of course if someone is flaming you. In such cases, it’s often wise not to engage.

10. Tweeting things that contain no value for your readers. Poor quality tweets are something to avoid. (And those who engage in multiple rapid-fire tweets are often guilty of this – #6.) Most people are monumentally disinterested to know what your location is while you eat a hamburger (“I’m at the McDonald’s on 22nd & 5th in Miami inhaling a Big Mac right now.”)  And many are turned off by corny or overly-sappy tweets.

So there you have it.

While I’m not as clueless as I used to be when I first started using Twitter, I’m still in school and learning.

Again, if you find this post of help, follow #8 and Retweet it. And if you know people who regularly make some of these mistakes, and you don’t have the nerve to say anything to them, feel free to @tag them when you tweet the link. Just don’t overdo it as stated in #2. :-)

Finally, if you’re not already connected with me on Twitter, you can find me at @FrankViola.




  1. David Gerry Hallowell says

    Thanks Frank. I have found it hard to get involved in social networks because of the lack of etiquette therein. Tweets like this may spark a revolution worth joining.

  2. Sean Stewart says

    Thanks Frank. I am new to Twitter myself and would like to avoid these mistakes. As I improve on my tweets, I would like to be able to manage them with something like Buffer, or Timely. I just went to the Timely website and saw that they’re shutting it down. They recommend Hootsuite (http://hootsuite.com/) and Buffer as other alternatives. Thought it would be a good update for those of us looking to manage our tweets.

  3. Denise Kiggan says

    Great to see these listed. #6 – I have unfollowed many frequent tweeters.
    #11 – A persoanl addition. Triple check for typos! I can’t believe how many slip through the cracks and only become glaringly obvious after tweeting!

  4. Deborah H. Bateman says

    Thanks for sharing this post and giving us some guidelines when using Twitter. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman-Author

  5. says

    It’s wonderful when people approach us with grace and a desire to help, isn’t it?

    I’m definitely guilty of #9 and have often wished Twitter would let us disable that feature if we wanted to, instead offering an email contact. I find it challenging to decide between following back those who follow me (which inevitably seems to lead to a DM box full of messages, mostly auto-replies, spam and trash, that I can’t keep up with fully) or to not follow people back (which means they can’t DM me and does cut down on the volume). I want to interact and follow back instead of expecting others to follow me without me following back. But I’ve given up on keeping up with DMs. I don’t use DMs to contact anyone about anything important (email or pick up the phone instead). Maybe this isn’t the best approach. Open to any suggestions. :) How do you handle keeping up with all the channels people want to contact you through and not miss anything?

  6. BradinDC says

    Absolutely correct. There are a few people I repeatedly try to follow, because they have some great insights. But then I re-learn just how much noise they include in their feed. So I unfollow them again.

    If I’m lucky, I follow someone else who will retweet the high quality tweets from that person. Otherwise, I just miss out.

  7. says

    Retweeted this! Thanks, Frank. You hit upon nine of my own pet peeves on Twitter, and you said it all in a much more diplomatic fashion than I could. ; )

    I don’t agree 100% on #3. While I do see your point about bragging, I also take those “patting self on back” tweets in a slightly different way. Nowadays, it seems the internet is filled to overflowing with negativity, snark, pithiness, and sarcasm. I find it refreshing to see someone tweeting something positive — even if it is a compliment someone else paid them. It’s just nice to know that people are still saying nice things out there. : )

    • says

      Thx. As for #3, the fact is that many people view it as self-congratulatory if it’s about the person tweeting. If it’s about others, it’s not a problem at all. Even if the person tweeting doesn’t view it that way, that’s how many others see it. So those who use Twitter need to be aware of the perception and act according to what they feel is right.

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