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Twitiquette: Mind Your Social Networking Ps and Qs

Philosophies regarding social media networks, such as Twitter, can vary greatly. But similar to email, an unspoken etiquette has emerged for these social websites as well.

The etiquette for these social sites does not consist of hard and fast rules, but simply a list of guidelines for posting. The following is a set of Twitter etiquette guidelines, but they can also be applied to other social networks.

1. Avoid offensive terms.
People of all ages use Twitter, and Twitter is public...which means that, in most cases, virtually anyone can see your tweets. Etiquette dictates that you should always use language that is appropriate for all ages and demographics. You never know who will be viewing your postings.

2. Avoid inappropriate avatars.
Avoid using avatars that are risqué or vulgar. Use an avatar that is eye-catching and relevant, without being over the top.

3. Interact on Twitter.
Twitter is all about engaging others. Do not make the mistake of simply shouting your message without ever replying to or engaging your audience.

4. Be gracious.
Thank those that re-tweet your messages and reciprocate if someone suggests that their followers follow you too.

5. Don't spam.
Do not spam your Twitter followers with blatant advertisements and excessive repeated tweets.

6. Don't offend or be offended.
If someone "un-follows" you, do not take it as a personal affront. There may be a number of valid reasons why someone stops following you. If, on the other hand, you have been abusing your Twitter account, consider modifying your tweet schedule.

7. Use the "DM" option.
Some things are meant to be public, while others are intended to be private. If you are sending comments meant to be private, be sure to use the "Direct Message" ("DM") option.

8. Count to 10.
Don't tweet when you're angry or in an altered state. Tweets are hard to take back once they're posted — even more so if they've been re-tweeted. While it is true that you can delete your own tweets, it is often difficult to put the genie back in the bottle after others have read your tweets and re-tweeted them.

9. Practise moderation.
Do not twitter-bomb — space your tweets out over an appropriate period of time instead of dumping a whole bunch in a single session.

10. Be careful.
Tweets are public. Be careful about the level of personal detail you disclose. For example, there have been documented home break-ins as a result of people tweeting about their travel plans and schedule details.

Just as with email, tweets that are in ALL-CAPITAL LETTERS are considered as "shouting." And in addition to being more difficult to read, ALL-CAPS posting is often viewed as rude. Use proper capitalization when tweeting and use all-caps ONLY for emphasis, as we've done here.

12. Provide details.
When interacting on Twitter, use comments that will help others follow the conversation, since they may not have seen the initial tweet. For example, instead of responding to a request for more information with "You can find it here:," you might instead say, "You can find software to convert images at" This will make your reply comment more understandable to someone who didn't see the original tweet.

13. Tie hashtags to content.
Hashtags should relate to the content of the tweet. In other words, if the tweet is about software, you should not include a hashtag for Justin Bieber.

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