Tweet Wisely or Forever Hold Your Peace

One measure of the popularity of Twitter is the proliferation of Twitter debacles due to inappropriate tweets—with one Scottish politician committing political death when he referred to his elderly constituents as “coffin dodgers.

And politicians aren’t the only offenders: while many people have a morbid fascination with celebrities, is there anyone who doesn’t have Lindsay-Lohan-tweet-fatigue? I’m about to buy that family a washer/dryer so they can stop airing their dirty laundry in public.

Here’s the thing: like Facebook, Twitter began as a way to make your opinions known, and one of its supposed ‘benefits’ is its immediacy. But how often is our first reaction our best? I say, rarely. Consequently, and forthwith, my #1 rule for Twitter:

  • Tweets are forever: Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

After that, the other elements I consider mandatory are:

  • Be amusing without being mean-spirited.

For example, I have tweeted about T-shirt slogans I found preposterous: “Avoid Responsibility” not being work-attire; and not being my first choice for the email address I would put on my resume.

  • Offer actionable information people can use to run their business, or their life, more efficiently.

For myself, this has included items along the lines of “Here’s a great telephone greeting I heard,” and “Wow, this big box store not only gave my dog a cart to ride in- they gave him a pillow to sit on.” In both cases, both readers, and the businesses mentioned, wrote to thank me.

  • Additionally, and despite the 140 character restrictions, do not fall back on abbreviations, emoticons, and/or any other trappings of the junior high school set.

As you’re not in high school anymore, your tweets shouldn’t sound like you’re stuck in detention.

Used wisely, Twitter is a great way to help others feel connected to you and your business. But just because its immediacy gives it a shotgun-wedding-in-Vegas feel, doesn’t mean the words you commit to it aren’t important– and binding. So tweet wisely, or forever hold your peace.

Frances Cole Jones


93 responses to “Tweet Wisely or Forever Hold Your Peace

  1. GREAT BLOG TODAY! And on the money! Thank you! Richard Skipper

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  3. Very important points. I never completely understood why people used ‘short-form’ when the internet/sms came around. Is it so hard to learn how to type ‘you’ as opposed to ‘u.’ Maybe I’m just really set in my ‘English-styled’ ways and I’m not ‘hip to the lingo,’ but I just don’t like seeing ‘ur’ to represent “you are.” Something about it, to me, screams uneducated, even if it’s PhD candidates who are using the script like that.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

  4. I still have yet to join the Twitter world…after your post, I’m still uncertain.
    Thanks for the update 🙂

    • I have quite a few twitter accounts for different reasons. The twitter “world” is really not that great unless you find the people you REALLY want to hear from and somehow stay away from the super spammers!

  5. Great post with some keen observations. I’m glad you were featured on Freshly Pressed so I could find you.

    I do think you missed one aspect of tweeting wisely, though. I’m talking about the act of over-tweeting. I follow several people because I find them interesting. Sometimes, though, a single person will flood twitter with hundreds of tweets per day, pushing everyone else’s tweets down and out of sight. When that happens I have no choice but to unfollow the over-tweeter no matter how interesting they may be.

  6. Great post! love it! I want to know what the phone greeting was…

    • Hi Abby,
      To me, elements of a great phone greeting are: saying your name clearly enough that I’m certain how to pronounce it when we speak; leaving any alternate number slowly enough that I don’t need to call you back six times in order to write it down; telling me what “standard business hours” are (not just telling me to call back during standard business hours); and– of course– not sounding exhausted, drunk, overly flirtatious, or like you got in the car, rolled the windows down, and decided to record your voice mail….

  7. While I appreciate where you are coming from- you are living in a cyber-dream. Things are only gonna get worse.

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  9. At last! – Someone who understands… Great article!

  10. I am absolutely wondered on how such useless service as Twitter has gained so much popularity. My #1 rule for twitter is: Never Use Twitter. =)))

  11. How about Tweet impostors? Back in January someone started up a page about me and included all kinds of personal information. I contacted Twitter and the local police and both said they couldn’t do anything. Twitter’s policy is that “parody sites are allowed to exist.”

    They also said that sites that are inactive for 6 months are disabled. But it has been over 6 month since the last nasty tweet about me and it is still one of the first things to show up when I google myself.


  12. Great advice. I think I’ll be linking back to this on a few important sites.

  13. Um ah like yeah basically.

    Completely true – thank you for writing this.

  14. It is possible that @SarahPalinUSA breaks every one of these guidelines.

  15. A reasonable and useful overview on the use of Twitter. I have been holding out on using Twitter because, as you’ve cited, much of its use seems…junior high. However your post casts light in a different way.Thank you! ~Heather

  16. I am a responsible tweeter. However, it’s pretty entertaining when someone isn’t. It’s hard to beat a social train wreck.

  17. Funny you should mention Lindsay Lohan. I was thinking Justin Bieber over-load. He trended for about 2 months.

    Twitter is more of a toy for me. It’s fast becoming more of a business oriented media platform. Most of my followers are people selling something. Though I do have an online store, I RARELY tweet anything from it. My followers know I have store, they know the link if they’re interested. I’m not pushy. Occasionally, I’ll get a random tweet which I like best of all…the daily observation from someone just making it through the day.

  18. I like your advice, especially about remembering that what shows up on twitter is forever. I do not have a twitter account nor am I sure how beneficial it would be for me however I do appreciate discussions about it.

  19. Well said and I agree heartily! I would love to see a marked decrease in frivolous, trivial tweeting and posting…ahhh, to dream…

  20. I like the concept of twitter, but it is so hard to see some of the vulgar comments on there. It is a great tool that is just being abused by so many people, for pointless reasons. I agree with you, the thing holding social media back is the lack of etiquette and respect.

  21. Twitter can be wonderful when following an event in real time, but it’s also the greatest spam repository in the universe. Perhaps the key is to simply limit follow/followers to a manageable roar? 😛
    First thing off the top of our heads is never a good idea,but for some reason being on computers seems to make us feel invulnerable to repercussions, as if what we do on the net is not real or doesn’t count. Look both ways before you cross the street – looks like mom is right – again!

  22. Wow. A voice of sanity in the world of the dawn chorus.

    I advise twits not so much to “hold their peace” (I like people being a little combative) as to “hold their piece”. To paraphrase your sound advice: Press ‘send’ in haste, be embarrassed at leisure.


  23. Love it! I haven’t joined twitter just for that very reason. I’m so glad you were featured and I found you!

  24. Great post! Many professional athletes should read this haha, they break these rules constantly. Twitter is a good tool to use, as you said, but only if it is used wisely.

  25. In other words, use common sense! Great post!

  26. “Be amusing without being mean-spirited.”
    I agree with you completely but this could be applied to so many things on the internet. Especially commenting.

  27. I still do not understand how Twitter has become such a social phenomenon. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that everyone and their mother is concerned with what you’re doing, and with whom, and when, and how. I, for one, do not. And if I did, I’d call you to find out about whatever “awsumly kewl” thing happened to you.

    Goodbye, ACTUAL social interaction. Hello, lazy, egoistic America.

  28. Very good points… and also do not send more than 3 or 4 tweets per day…max… nothing is more annoying than receiving trivial tweets 30 times per day…

  29. Wow… so profound… “use common sense and don’t be an idiot” would have sufficed.

  30. I’m 22 and many of my friends on Facebook and those who I follow on Twitter have yet to learn the internet makes the world a small place and for those that write not-so-appropriate things on Facebook or Twitter are probably, at some point, going to regret it!

  31. Thank you for this. Twitter and Facebook are great for those who are passive aggressive, but I just like anything else in life it can go wrong when abused. I had one friend delete her Facebook account when she had potential employers look at and many of her friends wouldn’t respect her wish to remain professional with their comments. And another friend who was fired for tweets about work.

  32. Good points to be made! I just still havent been able to bring myself to Twitter yet.

  33. I think the best tweets I have seen are whole knitting patterns which usu. take a page or two, written in the hundred something characters. Now that’s creativity 🙂

  34. We are in an age where nearly everyone has very passionate political views (at least in the U.S.) and I often see business bloggers who are spreading their political views for the world to see.

    With such a divided country, you are bound to alienate 1/2 of your potential customer base by continuing to “blow off steam” about the liberal/conservative ideologies you disagree with.

    Politics and religion – leave ’em alone!

  35. How right you are!

    Specially on your last point. I simply don’t follow people who write that way. One emoticon here and there doesn’t do any harm, but I can’t stand bad grammar done on purpose…

  36. giggle you know you need to put an area so that we can retweet this blog. Good points
    Going to tweet it now

  37. Eh…I somewhat disagree with your article. Tweeting is fun. Don’t be so uptight about it. Of course, don’t say anything that will ruin you professionally. But, your too anal about it all.

  38. I just got started on Twitter. It’s odd. It’s a lot like any other social situation where you sort of awkwardly walk in and wonder if you’ll ever fit in here, while the veterans kind of yuck it up and judge.

    This direct set of guidelines is EXTREMELY helpful to those of us just now sticking our toes in the pool. Thanks very much –

  39. What a great post. I especially like what you said:

    “Offer actionable information people can use to run their business, or their life, more efficiently.

    I’m amazed how often I find relevant or useful information by reading blogs.

  40. I think of the 140 character limit as a challenge; if there’s a more concise way to get your point across, you should use it.

    My 14-year-old niece is guilty of this on Facebook – always using abbreviations, misspellings, and symbols. I informed her she was getting a dictionary and thesaurus for her next birthday.

  41. That’s mostly true, Frances, but occasionally a smiley emoticon is essential to insure our jokes aren’t taken seriously. The severe word count sometimes makes a funny comment sound mean. 🙂

  42. Very nicely compiled. I kind of agree with the short abbreviation suggestion; or rather not to use those..
    Your snap shot shows a beautiful you..


  43. I think that Twitter should use this post somewhere in their sign up.
    Great job!

  44. Colin L Beadon

    I am not intelligent enough to twitter. There is just not enough room to convey emotions. How do I convey dancing a Salsa with you, my lips on your neck ?

  45. Colin L Beadon

    That is all I ever see. ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’. Why do I waste my time to write anything ?

  46. I quit twitter for good!

  47. I agree. Twitter is becoming the downfall of our grammatical and educational civilization. We’re forced to make statements in code without any real depth or thought. And spelling as a whole has lost its place in Twitterverse. And to make matters worse, it has the nasty habit of making people feel a little too self-important.

  48. Great tweet Frances – looking forward to reading more and like your sense of humour!

  49. Great, informative post!

    I’m not a big fan of the texting shorthand and was even less a fan of the status updates and 140 characters of mundane daily activities my friends insisted on Tweeting to the world.

    Why do I care that you burnt your toast and are making fish for dinner?

    I held out as long as I could. But then I started a blog and found out that having a Twitter account is actually pretty damn handy for promotional purposes.

    A Twitter account is indeed useful if managed properly. It certainly seems less evil than I’d original assumed. Nevertheless, no matter how many hits it generates, it still makes me feel a little dirty inside. Maybe that’s just me?


  50. Completely true – thank you for writing this.

  51. I don’t think it’s only limited to tweets. Many of my friends (the younger, Gen-Y students) use social media as a form of self-expression, which is good, except when it has become a medium for expression of dissatisfaction and anger. I hope it won’t affect them badly when it comes to getting employed in the future.

  52. Pingback: Tweet Wisely or Forever Hold Your Peace (via The Blog of Frances Cole Jones) | Davidawatson's Blog

  53. Exellent post.
    I have a post on a similar subject, here you go a link.

  54. Good post, however, I don’t think tweets are forever. There is a way to delete any tweet whenever you want.

  55. Pingback: Tweet Wisely or Forever Hold Your Peace (via The Blog of Frances Cole Jones) | Sheankim's Blog

  56. J. Nelson Leith

    Julian said a mouthful when he commented: “I hope it won’t affect them badly when it comes to getting employed in the future.”

    Watch what you tweet, or those controlling the resources won’t let you have any. You are required to keep your personal life out of your professional life, but your employers are under no such ethical strictures in the opposite direction. Why? Because they hold all the cards, silly.

    Maintaining a positive and cheerful attitude in all situations, wherever someone might read or overhear (i.e., any time you participate in society) is necessary if you don’t want to end up unemployable and on the street.

    Those who complain about this reality are just foolish idealists who don’t know what side their bread is buttered on. As Saruman would say: we cannot fight this power, “we must join with Him.”

    Big Brother is watching. The Eye is upon you. Squelch all unpleasant truths and sew on those smiles. Or else.

  57. I agree with your thoughts.

  58. coffeepearlsgrace

    Excellent post! I completely agree.

  59. Loved your post!

    Especially this phrase:
    “Tweets are forever: Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.” Thks.

  60. Hi Frances,
    Love your post for today. quite co-incidental as I was just about to log into my blog to post something my sister sent me via email this morning 🙂 (forgive the moticon). So here’s to twitter, to which I am addicted.
    @notjustagranny and notjustagranny

  61. Pingback: From another blog: The benefits and necessities of Tweeting wisely « Sinfonia da Vita, Op. 1

  62. Awesome blog nd great article, to the MONEY…;)

  63. Joining the Tweet world seems to me something done great for me.

  64. You have a cool name, nice hair and a great smile.
    And the blog goes right along with all of it.

  65. Every aspect on the web looses its charm after certain overuse…happened to mySpace, then ORKUT now Facebook and then twitter….its a cycle will keep repeating…something new will come and TWITTER will loose the charm

  66. Pingback: Twitter Trouble |

  67. So true, hence why I don’t use twitter. Yes it can be useful, but so easy for people to misinterpret what was posted. Stick to the safe topics!

  68. Pingback: Tweet Wisely or Forever Hold Your Peace (via The Blog of Frances Cole Jones) « Wax Poetic~Blue Moon Candle's Blog~

  69. Great post. I have a hard time following people who don’t use proper grammar or spelling in their tweets.

  70. Hi great comments on here

  71. I can honestly say that twitter has become a way to be so mean spirited, immediately. People will use the opportunity to say something god awful about someone and air it out in front of mutual friends and/or random strangers.

  72. This is so true! I feel like a lot of people look at twitter as a more private way of getting their feelings across as opposed to facebook. But, tweets last forever, too! Yes, there aren’t as many drinking pictures on it but, dumb tweets will stick with you forever!

  73. I totally agree with you! I don’t know much about tweets, or Facebook for that matter, but I do know to be very careful about it. Seems like employers check out their employees Facebook to see what they’re doing or to see who a potential person is as an employee. I would think that Twitter would be the exact same way too.

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  75. Completely agree! It is tiring to read obnoxious and even rude comments on twitter, not to mention those that talk about completely pointless information (e.g. people who publish their own personal drama or angry comments toward an unmentioned individual).

    I think if people followed those simple steps, twitter would be a more friendly and enjoyable place.

  76. That story about the politician is hilarious! Slipups are understandable, but that’s huge!

    Trindaz on fedang

  77. What’s next funny and interesting in Tweeter?

  78. Great post! Just like your wonderful books! The Wow Factor helped me a lot thank you!

    P.S Tweets are forever: Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.
    The principle is great. But if you have tweeted something by mistake , you always can delete it, what is impossible in NY times. Just for plan ‘B’.)))

  79. The Perfectly Imperfect One

    I loved your post, and I wrote one a while back that is similar.

    It really does drive me crazy at how people communicate in today’s high-tech world.

  80. Tweet means to me whatever one wishes to voice on it except very obscene things to feel release out of heavy mood, can voice unlike it is in innumerable sites of the internet.

    I like Tweet more than much.

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