Twitter Non-Guidebook: What NOT to Do

Have you ever wondered how NOT to use Twitter? Probably not, but I’m here to tell you. According to I have been tweeting for 1 year, 2 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours, 16 minutes, 46 seconds. Little do they know that I was really incubating in my tweetless nest for most of that time. My first tweet came out last October after two colleagues went to an education conference. They came back and told me that educators were using Twitter to stay connected and share resources. Oh, yeah?  I love to learn new things, so I hatched right out of my Tweet shell and chirped a message to  the whole world. To the world? Maybe not. Actually, it went out to my one friend who had become my follower. She probably didn’t even have her TweetDeck open.

My First Tweet
In the past three months, I have made some important Twitter mistakes. So, without further ado, here are my top unlearnings about Twitter. What NOT to do!

1.  Don’t tell anyone when you are talking to them.

No audience for this Tweet!

In the above tweet, in my make-believe world, I was part of a conversation with my NaNoWriMo novel-writing friends following @nanowordsprints, but I forgot to mention it in my tweet. At this point in my Twitter history, I still had one follower, and since she was not writing a novel with me, she didn’t know what I was talking about. After a few tweets like this and noticing mine were not showing up in the Twitter stream, I did finally catch on and began to reply back so my voice could become part of the conversation.

2.  Write about questionable activities.

Family of skinny dippers? Really?

Yes, one of my very first tweets was about skinny dipping. I may have used the dare machine on NaNoWriMo. I honestly don’t remember why I wrote a skinny dipping family into my novel and reported it during a word sprint. Anyway, after I had sent just a handful of tweets I went to Mrsdkrebs’ Here you can see my top five tweeted words, one includes someone I was word sprinting with–Jonny Boy. Since you can only weigh your twitter stream on this site once, that’s what is out there for all time. It’s pretty lightweight, actually–my Twitter didn’t weigh a ton at all, maybe just a shekel.  If I started over today, I probably wouldn’t go to MyTwitterWeighsATon and I may have thought twice about admitting I wrote about a skinny dipping hippie family.* Not such a proud moment in my profile building, or brand, as Angela Maiers calls it.  (*11-4-11 — I outlasted MyTwitterWeighsATon, but I still wouldn’t recommend tweeting about questionable activities.)

3.  Don’t properly use the four symbols in the Twitter language. RT, d, @, #

Misuse of the Hashtags

This tweet was sent when I first started to get it. I was so excited to say something to the people in the room with me as Angela Maiers spoke to us at a Digital Literacy Conference. “Brenda, Mary, Eileen, Stacy, Erin and Angela!” Here I come, world! I tweeted out. Stacy sweetly explained to me that using the hashtag in that tweet probably wouldn’t get all of my friends to see it. I needed the @ or mention symbol. Thanks, Stacy!

4.  Don’t leave any room for Retweeting.

Flickr CC Search Toy - So much to say, ran out of characters!

Yes, once in a while I have something valuable to offer. Like the tweets about word clouds, NEH Landmarks in History free with stipend summer workshops, and my new favorite the Flickr CC search toy. However, when you use every single one of your 140 characters to tell about the wonderful resource you are sharing AND put the URL at the end of the message, it’s a hassle for others to RT your great find. Especially when they are novices like me.

Now, not only did I want to share my What Not to Do Twitter Non-Guidebook. I do want to conclude with two more things that you should do. I’ve learned from the best of them…

Do Be Gracious to Others

So many people are out there to help us newbie Twitterers. They are playing nice in the digital world. Thanks for everyone who is patient with us when we make mistakes. (Number 7 on our class netiquette list.) Also, a big thanks to those who are teaching me good etiquette in a new medium. So, for those of you who haven’t started yet, go ahead and get an account.  Have fun, because even though I do the things in my Non-Guidebook, people are forgiving and kind.

NEH Landmarks Worshop

Ron retweeted this announcement about NEH Landmarks of American History workshop,  changing my hashtag to a more useful one. (Notice it had to be continued on because I had hogged the 140 characters. Non-rule #4 above.)

Thanks from a fellow teacher!

Beverly offering thanks and reciprocation for our students’ blogging efforts.

A retweet from a new friend in my PLN

Nancy retweeting my blog post. How nice is that? I was nervous because it was my first attempt after the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge ended. Not only did she read it, but she retweeted it. I receive other messages thanking me for following or commenting on student or teacher’s creative work. I’m learning from others in the Twitter community how to be patient and kind with others.

Do Read a Bit About Twitter

Usually, I’m pretty confident to just dig in and figure things out, but, for me, Twitter is one of those things that has a steeper and more slippery learning curve than some of the other tools I’ve used. Here are helpful posts that I finally read about three months after I got started. In the past few days, I’ve learned so much that I probably wouldn’t have had to write this post had I done the reading earlier. – To follow trends and figure out hashtags.
Twitter Wiki
Mashable Twitter Guidebook
Follow the links for Tons of Twitter How-to Posts – By Jon M. Reid – An archive of all your tweets – even on skinny dipping
Angela Maiers’ Twitter Resources Library
Make graphs of all your Twitter stats.

Create a word cloud of your Twitter account with MyTweetCloud.
Jessica Hische’s “mom, this is how twitter works” – Not just for moms!

What about you? Do you have other things to add to my What Not To Do Non-Guidebook for Twitter? What other important things are on your DO List for Twitter? I’m learning, so I’d love to hear more!

22 thoughts on “Twitter Non-Guidebook: What NOT to Do

  1. Great list of “What Not to Do!” I, too, have been on Twitter for quite a while. (Over 2 years in fact!) Yet, I’ve only been active on Twitter for 8 months. I have to admit, I’ve done some of the Twitter No-Nos. The one I’m most guilty of is taking up the 140 characters! I remember reading somewhere that one should not do that – but I really never understood why. To me the space was there – why not use it. Your post helped clarify why I shouldn’t be such a “character hog.”

    I love your style of writing. You have a fun VOICE!


    1. Kathy, thanks for reading and stopping by. You are another one who could have clearly been in my post as someone who has been kind and patient. You answered my student’s Answer Garden and retweeted it. I also love watching you introduce and welcome new people to Twitter and to blogging. You have taught me much on how to be a kind digital citizen!

  2. Hi –
    Great Post! I have been on Twitter for a while but until I took the teacher’s blog challenge I don’t think I really used it but for 5 tweets! Wish I had read something like this before I started!

    I am truly thrilled that you mentioned me in your post! I have enjoyed connecting with you through KSYB and Twitter!

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. Are you doing the new blog challenge that starts tomorrow? On getting your students ready for blogging?

      I’ll be doing those challenges because I have 15 students new to blogging, so I want to make sure I help them get ready. It’s exciting to be learning so much! Denise

  3. Always great to look back at the things we have done and realize our mistakes. I am learning about so many tools out there for teachers I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed. This is a great post to remind me to continue improving some of the tools I have already in use.

    1. I hear you! In January, I started a little address book keeping track of usernames, passwords, and URLs. It’s almost filled with Web 2.0 apps. Fun, but easy to get overwhelmed!

  4. Great post, Denise! I too have been on Twitter for a while now, but still loved all of the tips!

  5. This was a great run down. I have very much felt the same way as I have started in the world of Twitter. I feel I still have a lot to learn, but am still trying to learn! Thanks for pointing out some of those common mistakes!

    1. Thanks, Sarah. There is so much to learn, isn’t there? It’s exciting to be involved in the learning!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! This is definitely helpful for me since I just joined twitter a few weeks ago! #4 was new information for me! 🙂

  7. Jee, thanks for reading. I don’t know if #4 is really true or necessary! I’m still learning how to retweet. Is it still a retweet if you have to take out half of the words and you add your own note to it? I’m still learning the etiquette. Loved your valentines post!

  8. I am still reading – every word! I came to your blog via the nice comments you left on my kids’ blogs (the photo essays today). Thank you very much!

    Once I got to your site, I was thrilled to find this how-to (or how-not-to I mean) guide to twitter. Fabulous post! Thanks for sharing! I’ll be back to read more of you again soon!


  9. Tatiana,
    How nice of you to come back and visit! I love #comments4kids. I have met many wonderful teachers and classes through using it, both as a commenter and a teacher seeking comments for my students. Thanks for being one of them!

  10. Hi Denise
    Thanks for sharing this post. It is a great one to direct new and experience twitter users to. I love the examples and the screen shot dumps as it makes is easy to see exactly what you are talking about. I shall add this link to may list of links in my twitter post. Thanks again for adding your link to my post.

  11. I love this post Denise! I am new to twitter and I mess up all the time! There have been several times where I’ve tried to add to the #5thchat from my phone and forget to RT so nothing shows up! Thank you for this post and your patience with the newer newbies!

    Jennifer Diaz

    1. Oh, Jen, it is amazing how fast one picks it up! Thank you for visiting my blog. I look forward to connecting with you at the Global Read Aloud.


  12. Fantastic list! And I, too, have made all these mistakes in the last year. This is great–will share with students and friends new to Twitter!

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