Twitter whaleFor those of us who’ve been using Twitter for a while, we sometimes forget that there are new adopters of the network every day. Trying to figure out Twitter back in the day was bad enough; can you imagine what it’s like these days?

So here are 18 tweetable Twitter tips for newbies (check out that alliteration!). They include tips on how to get set up with, and use smartly, a social network I still love.

And I’ve also included a “tweet this” link for a Twitter-friendly version of each tip (hence the “tweetability”). So if you particularly like some, perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing?

1. Use a real photo of yourself for your avatar. (I know, sounds like a d’uh moment, but you’d be surprised). <tweet this>

2. Make sure your avatar is “SFW” (safe for work… and yes, you’d be surprised again). <tweet this>

3. Use your real name, or some iteration thereof, as your Twitter handle. Leave your inner Hotlips Houlihan alone. <tweet this>

4. Try to keep your Twitter handle to as few characters as possible. This gives you more “real estate” to use when actually tweeting. <tweet this>

5. Fill out your 160-character bio. Creativity is fine, but don’t overdo it. <tweet this>

6. Use “Twitter speak” in your bio, such as other Twitter handles to refer to organizations and appropriate hashtags. These show as live links on Twitter.com, so have the advantage of “fleshing out” your bio, not to mention show you understand the lingo. <tweet this>

7. Include a link in your Twitter profile. If nothing else, use your LinkedIn profile; else your personal website or blog or, if a business account, to your company’s preferred URL. People like to know who they’re talking to (and might end up doing business with). <tweet this>

8. Don’t have an overly complicated Twitter background that makes your profile hard to view on the web. It’s distracting. <tweet this>

9. Use the “mom” rule of thumb when conversing on Twitter; if Mom wouldn’t like it, don’t say it. <tweet this>

10. Acknowledge and reply to @ mentions as soon as possible. <tweet this>

11. Attribute blog posts, news articles or other curated information to the original source using their Twitter handle. <tweet this>

12. Leave at least 10-12 character spaces in your tweets, so others can easily retweet you if they wish to. <tweet this>

13. Use “MT” to indicate you are retweeting another’s tweet, but with modifications of your own. <tweet this>

14. Use hashtags wisely; they can be a great way of broadening a conversation and audience, but irritating if overused. <tweet this>

15. Don’t use auto-DMs or “verification” programs to “welcome” new followers. The best way to welcome someone is to start talking to them on the public timeline. <tweet this>

16. Don’t constantly DM your followers asking them to share news, promotional events, etc. Use your asks sparingly, and they are more likely to be well-received. <tweet this>

17. Don’t automatically RT tweets, especially those of a “breaking news” nature, without first verifying the source and accuracy of content. <tweet this>

18. Don’t click on suspicious links in your DM stream, that urge you to see “what they’re saying about you,” etc. Instead, send your friend who supposedly sent that to you a message – on the public timeline, or another network, if you are connected there – to let them know their Twitter account has been hacked. <tweet this>

What tips would you add for Twitter newbies? Please leave them in the comments below and if there are enough, I’ll do a follow-up post that contains all your tips. And happy Monday!

Image: _DaniloRamos via Flickr, CC 2.0

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke