Tuesday, June 30, 2020

21 Best Twitter Practices for Writers

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

There has been a huge change with Twitter recently—Tweets are no longer limited to only 140 characters. Instead you can use up to 280. The question is, should you?


There are other, less obvious, shifts in the Twitter universe as well. Those feed into how we should approach the length of our updates. Instead of length explanations, I’m going to share a list to help navigate this new paradigm.

Best Practices for Twitter
1. Make sure your Twitter bio is completely—and accurately filled out. This means including your website and a recognizable headshot for your profile picture. 

2. DO NOT use an auto responder when someone follows you on Twitter. It irritates everyone and is almost universally considered a bad practice. 

3. Update your header with a clearly branded high resolution image. Your twitter header is the long rectangle at the top of your Twitter home page. And remember your brand is bigger than a single book. Yes, include your most recent book, but remember one book isn’t your brand. 

4. When you reply to someone else’s tweet, don’t include a link to your blog. (Yes, I’ve seen this done) Your blog link should be in your bio and if someone wishes to visit, they can find the link. 

5. Learn how to use hashtags correctly. This means limiting yourself to two (maybe three) per tweet, and researching a hashtag before you use it. For instance, there are hashtags that are used primarily for chats. Using one of those hashtags to promote your book will get you lots of irritated attention. 

6. Take time to use the robust search engine on Twitter for help. Unlike other social media networks, there’s a lot of valuable—easy to find—info on Twitter help. Get in the habit of searching there when you have questions.

7. Interact with those who interact with you. If someone makes a comment or answers a tweet you sent out, don’t ignore them. Also, if someone regularly retweets you or shares your posts, look for ways to do the same for them. Remember social media is reciprocal.

8. Along that same thought, follow people back who follow you. There are exceptions to this rule. I make it a point to NOT follow spammers or someone who makes me uncomfortable.

9. Don’t send a direct message to all your followers asking them to buy your book. This is actually a violation of Twitter’s Terms of Service (TOS). Everyone who follows you on Twitter is not your customer. Be smarter than that when it comes to marketing. 

10. Use the new 280 character length strategically. Create a list, use more than one link to show a natural continuity. But be smart. If you can say it effectively in 140 characters, do so. Shorter is still better on Twitter.

11. Also take advantage of the ability to lengthen your DISPLAY name on Twitter. We all know that our user names cannot be longer than 15 characters, but now our display names came be up to 50 characters.

12. Don’t tag someone in a tweet unless it pertains to them directly. If you mention them in your current blog post, yes tag them. Otherwise, don’t. This is another violation of Twitter TOS.

13. Be sure your Twitter feed is populated with updates that are NOT about you. I recommend Edie’s 5 to 1 rule to keep it from appearing to be self-serving. For every 5 Twitter updates you share, only 1 is about you.

14. DO NOT ever buy Twitter followers. This is another practice that violates Twitter TOS. Twitter is serious about protecting those who follow the guidelines and is really cracking down on spam practices. Educate yourself and make sure you know what is and isn’t considered spam. 

15. Always be on the lookout for new accounts to follow. You can do this by searching your followers, followers. We should never assume we’ve come to a place where our Twitter account will continue to grow automatically. 

16. Listen to your instincts. If someone is making you uncomfortable on Twitter, mute or block that account. There are a lot of crazy people out there. Don’t waste time trying to be polite. 

17. Vary your updates. Share a quote, ask or answer a question, put up a picture or a meme. Variety is the spice of life and will help your account grow faster.

18. Schedule and space out your updates. I use Hootsuite, but Buffer is also an excellent option to schedule your tweets. 

19. Always include an image. There was a time when tweets were driven by the text. Now a text-only tweet gets lost. 

20. Play nice. Google (and other search engines) cache Tweets, so even if you delete something it’s still available online. You’ll never regret being nice, but being rude or ugly can come back to haunt you years after the original update went out. 

21. Add value, not noise. There is a lot of junk on social media. I try to make sure that the things I share make someone’s life better.

Twitter is still a power house on social media, as long as you use it correctly. Take time to learn the culture and then enjoy the interactions that this network will bring your way. 

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know what you’d add to many list of dos and don’ts for Twitter. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Don’t forget to join the conversation


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram


  1. Edie,

    Thanks for these great tips about Twitter. I love Twitter. I particularly use #19 about adding an image to my tweets. We live in a thumb scrolling world and if you only sent a text tweet, then it is much harder to get people to stop and read your tweet.

    Terry (who tweets a lot every day)
    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Terry, thank you! You are the master at Twitter and I appreciate your support and encouragement! Blessings, E

  2. Thanks for these tips, Edie. I really need to give Twitter more attention...and Instagram, which I'm not on at all. Both are on my to-do list as soon as I finish my current project. Wish I were looking more forward to it...

    1. Karen, it took me a while to warm up to Twitter, but it is now my favorite social media network as far as ROI for writing. Blessings, E

    2. Thanks for the tips! How do you add an image to Click to Tweet? Or can you?

  3. I enjoy Twitter. Sharing my own tweets and retweeting messages from other people can be great.

    1. Melissa, I love following you on Twitter! Blessings, E

  4. Thanks, Edie. I like playing nice and using your 5 to 1 rule fits well in my life. Blessings, Tammy