There are too many boring articles on the internet about what to do on Twitter, and how to be "relevant" and "engaging". I've been slowly working together a set of my own rules for the people who I follow over the last year, so today, we're going to look at what NOT to do.

The Rules of Display Pictures

How could so many people manage to get something so simple, so wrong? If I'm following you and find that your picture breaks any one of these rules, there's a good chance you're gone.

  1. Don't use the Twitter default picture - Survival odds: 10% How lazy can you get? Your Twitter profile picture is used for absolutely everything, so upload one! There are two types of accounts that don't bother with display pictures: spammers, and robots. I'm not interested in either.
  2. Don't use a cheesy smiling picture of yourself in a suit - Survival odds: 30% There are a few exceptions to this, but for the most part if you're wearing a suit in your display picture then you're an "affiliate marketer" or "social media expert" - neither of whom I want to follow.
  3. Don't use a logo - Survival odds: 50% I use Twitter because I want to talk to people. Typically people with faces, but I do sometimes make exceptions. What a logo for a profile picture says to me is "I'm a dormant company account, not a real person."

The Rules of Usernames

  1. Don't use underscores - Survival odds: 50% Do you know how annoying it is to fumble around with the shift and hyphen keys? Seriously.
  2. Don't use numbers - Survival odds: 30%-70% The variation in survival rates depends on just how many numbers you use, the fewer the better. Don't expect me to be replying to you much if I have to try and remember to type @username25356 every time.
  3. Don't use the fail words - Survival odds: 3% Allow me to introduce you to the fail words: SEO, PPC, Affiliate, Guru, Feed, Bot, Jobs, Trump, LOL, and of course: Jesus. I've yet to meet anyone with any of these in their username who isn't a worthless spammer.

The Rules of Tweeting

  1. Don't tweet the fail words/phrases - Survival odds: 2% A slightly more extensive list when it comes to tweeting: work at home moms, affiliate marketing, SEO, PPC, Bing, guru, Trump Network, SpyMaster, Twibe, recession, credit crunch, Mafia Family, make money, passive income, Jesus, law of attraction, job opportunity, more followers, social media expert. I don't think that I really need to explain any of these.
  2. Don't tweet 5 (or more) times in 1 minute - Survival odds: 5% I know you think your tweets are important, but when you clog up my entire Tweetdeck and all I can see is your picture repeated everywhere - it means you're effectively stopping from interacting with anyone BUT you. Nine times out of ten you're just spamming links anyway.
  3. Don't tweet all caps, or text-speak - Survival odds: 10% I'll forgive you for doing it now and again, but if the overwhelming majority of your tweets are "IM GOIN 2 BUY SUM MILK FRM D SHOP YO!" then it's game-over.
  4. Don't use multiple tweets to send an extra-long message - Survival odds: 50% There's a 140 character limit for a reason. Once in a while, it's just not enough, and that's fine. But as soon as you post 7 tweets in a row trying to tell me something, you start breaking Tweeting Rule number 2. If you have so much to say, write a blog post.
  5. Don't endlessly promote stuff - Survival odds: 40% Sure, I like a good link every now and again, but if I wanted nothing but links then I'd use my RSS reader. Try doing a little more talking and replying.

What Did I Miss?

Is there anything I forgot to mention that makes you instantly unfollow someone? Let me know in the comments below!