Tweet This, Not That: A Guide to Social Media Etiquette

October 30, 2014

If you had the options in front of you right now to either have 50 instant retweets on your next post or a chance to be featured on a reputable website in your industry, which would you choose? If you chose the retweets, please unplug your computer. Most marketers understand the importance of building a social media conversation, but our posting habits sometimes tell a different story. Many times, the problem isn’t what you’re posting, but how you’re posting it. So before you send that post, check the following guidelines:

helpful guide to social media etiquette

Offense #1: Posting a link that’s already popular on social media

Let’s say you just came across some breaking news for your industry. Maybe you subscribe to email newsletters from a reputable source, or you have Google alerts sent to your inbox. You know your followers would be interested in this story, so you share the link to your various channels.

Why you should avoid it:

Chances are, if you’ve found an article from a popular source, thousands of people have already shared it. Are you this first person to share this article? Did you help write this article? If not, you’re probably not adding anything of value by reposting the link.

A better alternative:

Instead of pasting a link that’s been shared hundreds or thousands of times, try sharing an existing post, either direct from the source or via an industry influencer. You can use tools like Social Searcher to pinpoint the topic you want by platform.

Why it’s beneficial to you:

Social media is most effective when you build real relationships. By engaging with a profile rather than posting a link yourself, you open the opportunity of fostering a relationship. In fact, why not take it a step further and follow the profile or reply to their post while you’re at it?


Offense #2: The “manual retweet”

For those who are unfamiliar, a “manual retweet” works like this: Person A posts to Twitter. Person B copies the exact same post to their own profile and sticks the letters “RT” somewhere in the post. Person B may or may not acknowledge the original profile. For example, we see an original post here:


Compared to a manual retweet:


Why you should avoid it:

The problem with manual retweeting is that it doesn’t give “credit” for the retweet to the original source. In addition, any retweets of the manual retweet can remove the content from its original source, leading to a potential lack of credibility or knowledge of where the content came from. The trend became so controversial that users began publicly shaming other Twitter users for doing it.

A better alternative:

Just retweet the post! Unless you have a good reason not to ( ex: you want to add valuable commentary)  it doesn’t make sense to remove the Tweet from its original source. We should point out that comments like “interesting” or “so true” don’t count as valuable commentary. Twitter had a great answer to this problem when they introduced Tweets within Tweets, but it appears the function is no longer available (no word from Twitter on the reasoning behind it).

Why it’s beneficial to you:

As mentioned above, building a valuable relationship is more beneficial than “stealing” a few retweets. Think long term goals, and remember that social signals are not the KPI of a successful SEO campaign.

Offense #3: Being a “Social Media Zombie”

We’ve talked about being a social media zombie before. What is a social media zombie? In a nutshell, it’s person who mindlessly schedules out posts without ever logging into their social media platforms or engaging with their audience (or anyone).

example of an unattractive twitter stream

Why you should avoid it:

If you’re posting just for the sake of posting without putting in any effort to engage with your audience, you need to rethink your social media strategy. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying you should never schedule posts – just remember to be human about it.

A better alternative:

Be social! That means logging into the actual social media platform once in a while. Retweet posts that you genuinely find interesting or useful, check your notifications – look at the people who are following you or interacting with you. Don’t be shy about replying to tweets and including other users in your conversations!

Why it’s beneficial to you:

Human interaction and relationships are the foundation of your business, and it’s no different online (notice a pattern yet?). When you open the door to a dialogue, you’ll start to build momentum. It’s called a conversation.

Twitter conversation about social media marketing

Final thoughts

Social media is meant to be just that – social. However, many internet marketing companies attempt to force the social conversation back to themselves, then wonder why no one engages with their posts. It sounds counterintuitive to many business owners, but you can truly do more in the long run by giving without expecting anything in return.