Twitter Tips 2 (Politeness)

Here are some suggestions for how to be polite in English on Twitter. These suggestions may be different from how you use Twitter in another language. You can decide to use these suggestions or not. It depends on what makes you comfortable.

If you want to be polite to English-speaking Twitter users, notice how they use Twitter, and how it’s different. For example, when I use Twitter in Japanese, it’s polite to say “Good morning!” and “Good night!” For most of “English Twitter,” this isn’t done. It would probably be considered annoying, because on English Twitter, people try not to tweet too often if they don’t have anything in particular to say.

Don’t make your account “private” unless you have a special reason for doing that. If your account is private, no one can see what you tweet. When you follow someone, that person will click on your name to find out something about you. However, if your account is private, no one can see anything. As a result, people will think “This person is probably an advertiser…I don’t want to follow an advertiser!” Most people won’t follow you back.

If you’re posting a link, use a URL shortener. That way, it takes up less room. is a popular one. Just paste in the URL, and it gets shortened! The official Twitter app will do this for you (you can choose which service you use). This is polite, and it increases the chances that someone will RT your tweet!

If you’d like people to RT your tweet, write your tweet so that it’s a little bit short. That way, other people can more easily RT it and comment on it without editing it.

Remember, RT does not mean reply–RT means “retweet” (tweet again). It’s like forwarding an email. For tweeting in English, do not use RT to just reply to someone. RT is for sharing someone else’s tweet with your other followers.

If you RT something and need to change it to make it shorter, don’t change it too much. Never change someone else’s meaning. If you just want to use their link and not their words, you can use “/via.” For example, @talkclouds posts Tokyo teachers: try having your students read restaurant reviews at I think “ is cool, but my followers don’t need the rest of the message, because it’s for teachers.. I just want to give them the link.” Then @readable could tweet Have you tried reading the restaurant reviews in English at /via @readable

Try not to post a lot of tweets in a row or use “cont” (continued) or multi-part (1) 2) 3)) messages very often. This is considered very bad Twitter etiquette. It’s especially annoying for your followers if they’re reading you on a cell phone. If you really need to post a long tweet, use TwitLonger. You don’t need to make an account there. Just use your Twitter username and password. (This function is built into the official Twitter app! If you type more than 140 characters, it can automatically use TwitLonger.)

Use a DM if you are tweeting with one other person about something personal–for example, if you and a friend are making plans to have coffee, but your other followers are not invited. Anyone who follows both of you can see all of the messages, and it can quickly become annoying.

Put a . or other symbol in front of a reply so everyone can see it if you want everyone to see a reply. For example, @somebody asks me why my icon changed. I think everyone might want to know. I can write .@somebody I changed my icon because I was getting tired of it! I hope everyone likes it! Then @somebody and all of your other followers will see it. (If your message starts with an @ …, only that person and anyone following both of you can see it.)


Happy tweeting!

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