Proper Twitter Etiquette For Small Businesses

by ShellyF on April 5, 2013

Proper Twitter Etiquette For Small Businesses

Twitter is a great tool for small businesses to connect up to industry experts and leaders as well as customers and fans of services/products. By properly engaging with Twitter, there is the potential to drive traffic and new customers to your website.

There are many mistakes that companies make on Twitter which could be extremely damaging, unfruitful or even illegal if a small business were to take on these bad habits. There are a set of unwritten guidelines that everyone should know before leaping into a business Twitter account. By following the tips we’ve included in this article, you’ll be well on your way to using Twitter effectively, in accordance with the law and with the correct etiquette – Twittequette!


One of the main features on Twitter is the ‘follow’ feature – the ability to subscribe to a person’s tweets and have them pulled into the main News Feed. Many people consider it polite to return the follow with a reciprocal ‘follow back’; however this can often ruin a proper and tailored Twitter experience.

As nice as it is to think that you would want to read everyone’s tweets and them to be relevant to your own and your business’ interests, this won’t always be the case and you don’t want to flood your Twitter feed with irrelevant tweets. Replying to customers, engaging in conversations can all be done without following back every single person.

Open and Honest

Everyone will know that you are a business one way or another, even if you decide to use Twitter as yourself, Catherine Smith for example, rather than Sweet Bakes Cupcakes – you’re still ultimately a representative of your company. Never try and sneakily make out you’re a normal person and craftily post links to your website to try and drive traffic that way.

Build up a trusted following by being honest as well as open with your customers about who your business is and what your aims are. People who want your product want to trust you as a company before they will give you their custom.


Always add a personal flair when it comes to Twitter, never post boring monotonous tweets or be link-heavy with what you put out there. Be yourself, and speak for your business, you need to be approachable.

No one wants to connect with businesses that can come across as spammy.

Direct Message Politely

When you follow people back and they follow you, you have the ability to send a Direct Message (DM). This is a private message that appears in your Twitter ‘Inbox’. Many businesses use this as a tool to send over spammy links to their website or cheap gimmicky offers. If you are going to DM someone, make it a personal message with something relevant they want to hear.

Looking for people tweeting with keywords of products or services you offer, this can be a good way to politely show yourself to them!


One big mistake many companies make is that they try and post news, information and articles solely relating to their own business. This is a very selfish practice and unless you’re a large established business, this is a potentially self-damaging. Engage with other non-competing small businesses.

By retweeting, commenting, posting and linking to things that are going on in other small businesses that your own customers may be interested in, you can have a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” effect and encourage these other businesses to do the same for you. This can lead to many more people seeing you in the Twittersphere!

Be Careful

The final and most important thing to remember when using Twitter for business is to be careful what you put on there. If you use images, always use the correct links so you won’t be facing a nasty sting as a result of copyright issues. The BBC recently posted a helpful video about what can happen when you get things wrong on Twitter.

Never post political or personal opinions on there and definitely don’t engage in anything that could be deemed offensive or abusive. This is likely to tarnish your reputation as a business and unless you openly have a strong opinion on affairs (if you run a business magazine, for example) then keep personal feelings to yourself or a private personal account where you know your business can’t be harmed. Remember – you can break the law on Twitter too!

About the Author: Shelly Flaherty is a mum of two and an avid blogger. She suggests that any ecommerce business does everything from ordering plenty of cardboard boxes to send out items, to being ethical and abiding by the law online.




Latest posts by ShellyF (see all)

Previous post:

Next post: