Don’t worry, we’ve all made mistakes. And Twitter can be tough to learn!

But some things are easier to excuse than others. You have to make an effort.

One of the easiest ways to learn Twitter is to follow good people and ask them questions. Or read blogs with lots of Twitter tips (like this one).

Keep a real or virtual notepad handy to jot down questions as you go so you won’t forget them later. Then take some time each week to ask folks or do some searches to find the answers.

Got a specific question right now? Be sure to leave a comment in the box below this article—we’d be happy to help! Our first 16 mistakes are for brand new users:

Mistakes 1-16: Mistakes Getting Started Buffer this

Not Creating A Good Profile Page

Can you imagine having a conversation with someone at a party in which you use a fake name, wear a disguise, and reveal no information about yourself? Your funny one-liners might get people initially interested in you, but after a bit, who would want to talk to you if they couldn’t know who you really are? Not the stuff good relationships are made of.

That describes you if you have erred by doing any of the following—or all of the following:

1.        There’s no description of who you are in your profile.
2.         You didn’t provide a link to your website or blog.
3.         There’s no location data in your profile.
4.         There’s no profile picture of yourself, or it’s too generic or impersonal: using a unique Twitter avatar is best.
5.         You provided too few —or no— details in your bio.
6.         You’re using a difficult-to-remember username.

Errors In Your Twitter Profile

7.         You put an incorrect URL in your profile (you left out the “http://”)
8.         Your color choices have made your text unreadable.

Your Twitter Background

9.         Make a Twitter background that is not just a generic background or the default Twitter layout.
10.       If you’re a business, brand your Twitter page with your business graphics.

Be Visible

11.       You don’t tweet regularly. Who’s going to follow someone who barely ever tweets?
12.       You always forget to share your Twitter account on your email signature, blog, website, Facebook page, or other online presence.
13.       Your participation is too random, spotty, and inconsistent.
14.       You’re not being active, not joining in. You connected your Twitter account and never updated it.
15.       You’re not tweeting, but you ARE complaining that you have no followers (or only spambot followers.)
16.       You protect your tweets, but complain about having no followers. You can’t have it both ways.

Mistakes 17-32: Being Confused and Clueless Buffer this

Pointless Useless Updates

Earth to you: did you forget there are other people out there reading your tweets?

Give us a reason to follow you or take an interest. Why would we want to see your tweets? And remember to be real, at least some of the time. If your tweets make us think you belong in a wax museum, you’re doing it wrong.

17.        Don’t forget to make sense. Tweets are short; it can take some effort to make them clear.
18.       Don’t share links without context.
19.       There is such a thing as being too professional; please  share you. Put a human face on your tweets. Tweet some personal tweets, not just work stuff or links.

Work Blunders

Here are some serious blunders you do not want to make at work. People have been fired for these errors in judgment.

20.       NEVER discuss private and/or security-related company matters.
21.       DO NOT share confidential information about your place of employment.
22.       Don’t ever tweet about faking sick.
23.      Seriously, don’t Tweet inappropriate pictures.

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24.       Be careful about Tweeting too much at work in the first place.
25.       Just DON’T be offensive or rude.
26.       STOP complaining about how much you hate your co-workers and/or boss.
27.       DON’T give too much information about your personal life and recreational activities.
28.       Watch out! Defending your employer in an online dispute can be a big  no-no. (They probably don’t need, or want, your help.)
29.       Don’t post when you are frustrated or angry.
30.       Don’t post comments about your job or your company.
31.       Don’t reveal passwords.
32.       NEVER breach privacy for your company’s clients.

Mistakes 33-39: Learning The Ins And Outs Of Twitter. Buffer this

33.       Don’t @reply when you could use a direct message to be more private, or to take a long conversation into the private chat room that DMs are designed for.
34.       Tweets that start with a username are hidden from people that don’t follow you both. Don’t make a username the first thing in a tweet if you want everyone to see it.
35.       If you write tweets over 120 characters long, someone who wants to retweet and add commentary won’t have enough room. Shorter is better.

Not using Twitter tools.

Make it easy on yourself (do you wash your clothes in the tub with a washboard, too?)

36.       Use tools like BufferApp to schedule some tweets, some times.
37.       Stop overlooking web analytics; analyze your click-throughs and mentions.
38.       Pay attention to your following versus followers ratio.
39.       Plan how you will integrate Twitter into your workflow.

Mistakes 40-57: It’s All About You, You, You. Buffer this

40.       Reply to people. Don’t ignore folks trying to get in touch with you. Remember to check regularly for tweets using your name (called @mentions).
41.       Tweet to people by putting their @username in your tweet. Start conversations.
42.       Forgetting to thank people. Give back some love.
43.       Not helping others.
44.       Excessive self-promotion and bragging.
45.       Tweeting too many personal tweets.
46.       Retweeting compliments to you.
47.       Retweeting yourself is like laughing at your own jokes.
48.       Expecting a large following overnight.
49.       Not retweeting others’ content! It’s good karma.
50.       Not following other Twitter users.
51.       Taking your followers for granted.
52.       Don’t schedule Tweets without following up.
53.       You react without research.
54.       You ignore unfavorable tweets.
55.       You only link to biased content.
56.       You publicly shame those who unfollow you.
57.       You talk down to your followers.

Mistakes 58-66: Just Plain Bad Tweeting. Buffer this

58.       You make no effort to create catchy references to your blog posts.
59.       You click the ‘send updates to Twitter’ box on every single social network, game, and app on the planet.
60.       Tweeting way too much.
61.       Tweeting the same thing repeatedly.
62.       Feeding too many automated tweets into your stream.
63.       You post too much in too short a time.
64.       Spamming people. Don’t “shout” specials at your followers.
65.       Overtweeting contests and giveaways.
66.       Failing to take the time to listen to Twitter conversations before you jump in to promote your organization or cause.

Mistakes 67-77: Very Bad Behavior Buffer this

67.       Automating a thanks for following me message—no thanks.
68.       Auto responding (see: human, being.)
69.       DON’T follow too many people at one time.
70.       DON’T auto-follow. It’s against Twitter’s rules, and can get you suspended.
71.       BE DISCRIMINATING: Don’t follow just anyone and everyone. You’ll seem desperate.
72.       Don’t follow random people just to increase your number of followers.
73.       Don’t follow way more people than follow you, unless you’re a celebrity.
74.       A cheap trick that won’t work: trying to get followers by participating in trending topics.
75.       Saying a link is about one thing when it’s actually about something else and other link-clicking tricks.
76.       Disguising your identity; pretending to be someone else; impersonating someone.
77.       Using Twitter to stalk or harm others.

Back To You

What mistakes do you think we missed?

Do you disagree with any on this list? Leave a comment or question in the box below. We’d love to hear from you

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Written by Dave Larson

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  • Anonymous

    Great list! Already Buffered it 🙂

  • Jolie

     The list is very good, but let’s agree with something – if we’re going to follow precisely what’s written there, then you better deactivate your account. We’re human beings and sooner or later we will make not just one but many of those mistakes. If you start thinking too much abt this list before tweeting, you’ll get artificial. Let’s allow ourselves to be more spontaneous, without reaching the point of being childish, annoying or boring.

    • Agreed! I believe Twitter Rule #1 to be the best summary of what to do (Google it).

    • I seen this list as suggestions – not as MUST do’s. All our styles are different, my suggestion take what you like and leave the rest.


  • Don’t use “text speak” in your tweets! There are ways to creatively squeeze out a message in under 140 characters without massacring the English language! There are times when we all have to use the occasional “2,” “4,” or “U,” but they should be few and far between!

    • Good point, Mandy! Though depending on your writing skills, it can be tough to do. I use “…” (Number keypad shortcut: Alt 0133) and “►” (Number keypad shortcut: Alt 16) to help save space and/or improv readibility sometimes.

    • Agree, and imagine that when we write in spanish!! Words are larger buy is still annoying…

  • This is a great resource…thanks for the post

  • PB

    To sum up… use common sense!

    Good list.

  • Possibly, “Twitter without Followers is like Christmas without Santa” Help grow the community ReTweet The profound and help Twitter grow.” 

  • Hannes

    • Don’t tweet when inebriated.  
    • Don’t split existing conversations by changing into a language not spoken by all.  
    • Don’t be deliberately cryptic. You want to be understood by your audience.  
    • If you make a mistake, a heartfelt apology is the most gracious way to recover.

    • Great work…I could have saved writing 73 of the tips! 😉

  • Lorenc Nyc

    Thanks for sharing all this information.

  • Lindsay – 3seven9

    Great list Dave. It’s good to see you’ve pointed out some of the elementary mistakes people have made on Twitter. We’ve expanded on top Twitter mistakes for companies (obviously these vary, but are arguably different to general use) here: and they include the consequence of said tweets!
    And just to reiterate the point Hannes made – it isn’t too late to apologise or change if your approach is wrong!

    • Nice post! I’ve scheduled a tweet of it 🙂

  • “73.       Don’t follow way more people than follow you, unless you’re a celebrity.”  I just started using Twitter not long ago and only have about 38 follower – According to this I should only be following say 35 people.  This really limits those of us who are not popular.  I would have to do some seriously picking and choosing on who I would stop following.  Some of the “people” I follow because I use them in relation to my digital papers via Others I follow because I gather information about what is going on around where I live and in the world.  Still others I follow because I am interested in what they have to say.

    •  I use lists for this; I’ve set up one list for Dutch museums, I don’t necessarily want their status updates in my general feed but I want to be able to find their content easily. I have fifty museums on that list, but the numbers don’t overload my follow/follower ratio.

  • Agree with a lot of these, but disagree with point 46…. RT compliments from your followers from a business perspective is worthwhile for real testimonials

    • True, it a conflict for businesses. You should include testimonials everywhere you can (without overdoing it), so a business site is a great place for testimonials gathered on Twitter.

  • #34. is a really good tip I haven’t known. Thanks!

  • Great suggestion about keeping the message at 120 words – so people can respond when they RT. I like to have space to respond directly to the message and not respond with another tweet referencing to the message.

    I will work hard to keep my tweets at 120


  • Kamyer

    Excellent advice. You captured the authenticity required by the indivual, the need to add value (instead of droning, the notion that bigger is not better, as well as the need to limit who you follow. Brilliant advice, all of it.

    The fact is that the most eminent non-digital senior execs have nearly zero overlap with the most eminent digital personalities. Different skill sets, and frankly they are not on devices all day.

  • Thanks, this is a good resource – I’ll share this with our team. (And I did not know #34)

  • Great list! The only one I don’t agree with is #46, I retweet & add a comment to compliments that I get because it’s an unsolicited testimonial right there! But it’s always good to put a comment with the RT, thanking the person who gave you the compliment. Other than that, there’s really nothing wrong with RTing a compliment. It’s really no different than showing off your testimonials on your website. 🙂 The only way I can see it getting annoying is if you continually RT the same compliment or if you get like, hundreds of compliments a day and RT them all at the same time. 

    I’m definitely going to be sending this list along to future clients. 🙂 

  • I haven’t grasped direct messaging yet. How do I do that?

  • Anonymous

    I could use some clarification on a couple –  

    #52: What do you mean by *following up* on a scheduled tweet?#60: How much is too much? During the summer, I tweet about 10-20 times between 8am and 11pm. Some are scheduled, some replies, some new links, ideas. Is that too much? During the school year, it’s about half of that as I am working in the classroom and am not available to tweet then.

  • I’ve never scheduled tweets before. I’m going to give that a try.