10 Twitter Crimes You Really Shouldn’t Commit

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Twitter has exploded over recent years to the point where your friends, family members and favourite celebs are all part of one massive network, but since the early days there have been people who don’t get it, misuse it or simple do it wrong. This post rounds up a collection of common crimes that Twitter veterans and newcomers will all be able to relate to, are you guilt of any of them?

Hiring people tweet on your behalf

The biggest criminals in the whole of Twitterville has to be the celebs who try to gain extra cool points by being on Twitter, but they end up with a profile updated by their ‘team’. There’s a decent collection of high profile celebs who “get it”, but the majority simple don’t understand the whole meaning of Twitter and end up talking at their fans with no personal interaction.
Whether you’re an average Joe or this year’s hottest idol, you should be Tweeting messages yourself. A get out of jail free card may be supplied to companies who use Twitter, who allow their employees to interact with customers and fans.

Tweeting spam messages, especially as a bot

No doubt we’ve all experienced this one, either as @replies selling you something or random messages when you mention a certain keyword. Companies soon caught on that Twitter was a good marketing and branding tool, but yet again they go about it completely the wrong way by trying to ram their message down your throat. Don’t bring junk mail and cold calling tactics into the digital age.

Keeping the default avatar and profile design

Nothing makes you stand out as a Twitter noob more than sticking with the default profile background and avatar. People follow other humans on Twitter; a default profile has no personality and doesn’t relate to you as a person. Make sure the first thing you do is upload a picture of yourself as your avatar and take the time to change the background image and colours of your profile.

Never responding to people

Twitter is a great communication tool, but many people don’t realise that communication is a two-way process. If you don’t respond to your @replies, mentions or comment on the status of others you’ll simply come across as an ignorant arse. Make sure you listen and engage with your followers, don’t just talk at them. A common excuse is users don’t want to fill up the streams of their followers with response messages, but they don’t realise your @reply tweets only show up in someone else’s stream if they’re following both you and the recipient.

Gaming your follower count

Twitter newcomers often get caught up on the all powerful follower count and try to game the system to increase their numbers by following people in a hope for a follow back in return, often just ditching them once they’ve gained that extra number. Be a real person, chat and engage with others and your follower count will grow naturally.


There’s a fine balance between every day social interaction and being an annoyance. Be careful not to get overzealous in your tweeting as it doesn’t take long for a person’s Twitter stream to become completely saturated with nothing but your tweets, especially those who don’t follow a great deal of people. If you’re tweeting links or any kind of self promotion give it at least 15 minutes between posts.

Excessive Multitweeting

Twitter is limited to 140 characters for a reason. It’s aimed a short and concise messages, so don’t be that person who writes complete novel in their stream 140 characters at a time, with each successive tweet taking up more of your screen real estate. If you want to express yourself in more than 140 characters, consider writing a blog post and linking to it.

Converting every other word into a hash tag

Hash tags are one of the great resources Twitter provides which allow us to keep track of tweets based on a certain subject and find new friends. Hash tags are exceptionally handy for conferences and gatherings, but they can also be used to tag every day tweet content. Sometimes the odd person really gets it wrong and ends up converting every noun or verb in their tweet into a hash tag. The words in your tweets are crawled in searches anyway, so think about whether the word you’re hash tagging is really going to be worth clicking to see all the other tweets including that word.

Starting a tweet with “is…”

Finally we’ve got a petty crime that is often excused, but could be the start of the path that turns this person into a hardened Twitter criminal. Unlike Facebook, Twitter updates don’t start with your name, so posting updates starting with “is…” simple doesn’t make sense. You’re not observing yourself from a third person perspective, tell people what you’re doing as yourself.

Do you have any Twitter pet peeves of your own? Add any other Twitter crimes you can think of as a comment.

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Written by Iggy

Iggy is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques collating creative website designs. You can follow Iggy on Twitter.


  1. Faqeeh says:

    OK, this is so useful…

  2. With Twitter being such a new entity it's good to hear some guidelines of what is good and bad when it comes to Tweeting.

  3. Jacobwakeup says:

    I know a guy and he is the worst rapper that I ever seen (and heard). He keeps tweeting the same thing over and over and over the link to his "album". Many times a day. THAT is overtweeting.

  4. Joe says:

    Those are usually things that warrant an "unfollow".

  5. Yashodhan Deshmukh says:

    hey thanks for the post I have noticed manny people doing above mistakes specially the 'Overtweeting' and 'Converting every other word into a hash tag' just hate that.

  6. Salman Saeed says:

    Lol. True them :D

  7. The White House has a problem with Excessive Multitweeting, especially during Obama's speeches.

    As much as lists are useful, it's also nice to have everything in one stream. People who tweet every 30 seconds make it worthless.

  8. Danae says:

    Haha! Nice read. :) I use twitter mainly for interesting links, so I tend not to follow people who incessantly tweet about what they are doing. Exceptions are the Mojang Team, Epic Meal Time and FPSRussia. :)

  9. Jason says:

    Ok, I have to admit – my startup committed "Tweeting spam messages" and we realize the mistake we committed.

    How do we market our product on twitter without being spammer? Any good idea? Or it's totally a bad idea to use twitter as a marketing tool…

    • The Web Decorator says:

      If you have a product worth selling, then just posting informative tweets with keywords in should be enough. People will search the keywords and follow you.

  10. @quarkmonkey says:

    One more that I'm guilty of – excessive retweeting. It's a sickness really.

  11. for me, now now twitter just for the media campaign alone, more shall I do not understand

  12. Brandon says:

    Yeah, I think everybody is guilty of at least some of these things. The converting of the hash does irritate me.

  13. Alex says:

    Oops! I did some of the mistakes listed above. Thank you for article!

  14. The Web Decorator says:

    Changing every other word to a hashtag is the worst. There are even other (not so good, of course) Web design blogs out there that do it… Tsk tsk.

  15. @abdelsalam76 says:

    Never copy a tweet you can always RT

  16. Paul says:

    I like your line of 10 X crimes you shouldn't commit articles. Keep at it! :D

  17. Josh says:

    This is great advice. Some of these Twitter "don'ts" made me cringe! We've also written article on the subject of social media marketing.

  18. Alex says:

    Follow Fridays are the worst…

  19. There's irony in the fact that I just posted 2 tweets to make up one message, directly before reading this. Lol. It's extremely rare for me to do, though.

    For the longest time I didn't realize that the search found non-hash words. I thought that, if you wanted it found, you HAD to hash tag it. Not that I'd do every other word, but I'd pick out the key subject and do that. Granted, I barely ever used Twitter…so maybe I can claim that as an excuse. ;)

    Good list here, though. :) Totally agree, especially with the not replying part. I try to tweet others, but after a couple times of not getting replies, I often sort of feel shunned and stop with them. It's amazing how affective a little 140 reply can be.

  20. fadingmind says:

    The worst crime of them all would be non-responders. People whom you follow because you find interesting, then you go and one day compliment or say anything about their recent post and nada. Not a damn thing, a peep, or a single acknowledgement. Definitely makes them appear snobbish. So I agree. Be polite and be engaged. Seems most of twitter is full of people advertising crap without ever really participating.

  21. Emir Ayouni says:

    A good advice:
    Limit your "meme" tweets. Don't Retweet EVERY tweet you or your product is mentioned in. This will definitely make you lose followers if it's exessive. You can Favorite the tweets to keep them and it's a nice gesture to whomever mentioned you.

  22. Ken says:

    Twitter does not have crimes. It is silly to put rules to it. Twitter is what people make it, and is not set to any rules. That is what is so great about social media. We have the freedom to use the tool in any way we want to (pending its legal).

  23. Iamnegative says:

    You could also add about excessive retweeting. Some peoples feeds end up being 90% retweets.

    To me the point of tweeting is to share little snippits of yourself and your life rather than just recycling someone elses.

    Retweeting something you think your followers might like or something that is very relevant to your interests is fine, just don't take it over the top and spam people with junk.

    As I said on twitter, great read as always.

  24. yeah says:

    Ha! Agree.

    Worst is a several brand having twitter account, follows hundred – thousand people just to get the 'follow-back' , when they gain much followers back, they suddenly unfollow-ed → so they might look alike a super famous something with lots of follower.

    I know it's a no-big-deal but sometimes it just … Kind of annoying.

    Also, agree with #giving #hastags #for #every #word #just #to #look #cool lol :p

  25. Mike Payne says:

    Very nice list Chris. I always hate it when people send out a second tweet just to finish the sentence they should have shortened in the first place!

  26. autopedia says:

    Or like the people who register the name of a celibrity and tweeting as if they are this celebrity…

  27. alsd says:

    As someone who uses both Chinese and English in tweet, I am not convinced the 140 characters limit is for good reason.

    I have had a tweeter account for a couple years but only started using it weekly since Feb this year, and have begun to see the usefulness of twitter after I started following some Chinese tweets and tweeting in Chinese myself. With Chinese language, 140 characters limitations is like a value pack compare to romanized languages. IMHO it's not about being concise in one's tweet–140 characters alone can be a blog's title or excerpt, but 280 characters can't make a concise blog post either (in this sense it serves little purpose to make it to a blog post) however 280 characters in Chinese (likely similar for Japanese and Korean too) can be a pretty damn good micro-blog, fun and informative that attracts re-tweet and replies.

    Couple weeks ago I stumbled on an article that shows information flow during the devastated earthquake In Japan, I can read Japanese a bit and think it has the same benefit of the Chinese language in tweet. Reading some earthquake related tweets in Japanese I think the advantage of the Japanese language helps people passed the important realtime messages more effectively than in English.

    With English, I do find 140 characters limit helps me articulate my thought and think about the language more carefully, however so very often I want to say something that 140 characters simply not enough but doesn't justified a blog post [1], also, significant number of twitter users (especially the Chinese and Japanese users that I know of) actually user mobile phones to send/receive tweet, and announcing a blog post in a tweet because it exceeds 140 characters likely prevent followers from clicking the link from your tweet for various reasons.

    [1] One example that I think justifies my argument :

    Yesterday I wanted to share an audio interview about Modren Cambodia by Joel Brinkley. The interview is about Cambodians suffer from PTSD that are being passed to 2nd generation; people are traumatized, incapable of standing up for themselves, social, democracy and human rights issue etc…

    Cambodia is a country forgotten by the world at large. I wanted the message in my tweet draws attention in hope that there will be slightly more people start noticing Cambodia, but I couldn't do it in 140 characters that allows me to give the important keywords which also need to include speaker's name and the link. Yet I was able to do it with some 100 characters in Chinese.

  28. Massively agree with all of these points but the one that annoys me the post is people not responding. What is the point of embracing social media to shut everyone out! ridiculous.

    Great post, cheers.

  29. ABDUL JANOO says:

    OK SIR….

  30. Malerie says:

    Ah, i see. Well that's not too tkricy at all!"

  31. LeeB says:

    Good post – those points probably describe about 50% of all active twitter accounts!

  32. Maria says:

    Another bad thing is not to tweet regularly.

  33. David Morgan says:

    Personally I'm not keen on people thanking lists of new followers in tweets – I thought DMs were for personal correspondence.

    I use to auto-thank followers via DMs for my other site account @contractjob.

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