How not to look dumb on Twitter

NFL player Mike Wallace tweeted some dumb stuff in the wake of NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay. Of course, he’s not the only one to tweet dumb things as the all too common appearance of homophobic, racist and sexist trending topics shows. The first rule of how not to look dumb on Twitter is not to tweet dumb stuff. If you do tweet dumb stuff at least delete it and apologize.

However, even people with intelligent and witty things to say on Twitter can end up looking dumb if they don’t understand some of the fundamental ways in which Twitter works. For those people here are 3 ways to not look dumb on Twitter.

  1. Don’t start a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle unless you are only trying to respond to that person. If the first thing in a tweet is an @+name it is considered a reply. The tweet will only show up in the feed of people who follow both of you. The tweet “@observacious is awesome. You should follow her.” is flattering, but it will only be seen by people who already follow me. If you want a tweet that starts with someone’s handle to be public put a period before the @.
  2. Don’t ask people who you don’t follow to DM you. Only people you follow can send you direct messages. I often see this when people conduct contests. “Hey @person, you won! DM me your address.” To which @person replies, “I can’t because you don’t follow me.” Either you need to follow the people you want to DM you, or you need to find another way for them to contact you.
  3. Don’t automatically tweet your Facebook posts. Not only do Facebook posts often get truncated when tweeted but nothing says I don’t really care about Twitter like a tweet telling people to “click like” or “see my new post in the comments.” If you need to occasionally simulpost things to multiple social media platforms fine, but do it selectively. How do you expect anyone to care about you on Twitter if you don’t care enough to manually create a tweet?

Follow those 3 rules and no one will accuse you of looking dumb on Twitter unless of course you tweet dumb stuff. I can’t help if you insist on doing that.

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