A practical guide to Twitter | Part II: Twitter etiquette

It’s easy to forget that Twitter is a social medium. Many organizations use Twitter as a one-way communication tool for publicizing their latest activities. But Twitter has many features and conventions that allow users to interact with each other.

In the first part of this series, we parsed the typical business tweet. Here we’ll take a closer look at Twitter’s social elements.


Now let’s go back to the example that concluded our prior post:

New post: 11 hot topics in regulation for 2012 | based on a recent NICSA webinar. ow.ly/8MxVx @Deloitte @dechertllp

This tweet highlights a NICSA News blog post recapping a recent webinar – which featured speakers from two NICSA member firms with a Twitter presence. The tweet mentions these members by including their Twitter handles.

In effect, the mention is a shout out to the firms, thanking them for their support and participation.


In addition to mentioning other Twitter users, I can help them broadcast their message through a retweet, abbreviated as RT. Here’s an example:

RT @ThePrincipal: Makes sense that more #advisors are taking a renewed interest in retirement plan governance. bit.ly/tybQxv

The RT and Twitter handle at the front indicate that the remainder of the message was originally tweeted by @ThePrincipal, a NICSA member.

(If I don’t quote the tweet exactly, but still want to acknowledge the source, I might note that the material came “via” another user. Or I might include “MT,” for modified tweet.)

Retweeting allows me to act as a publisher – collecting stories of interest to my followers. (More on followers in a moment.) At NICSA, we focus on news and commentary about the business of investment management.


Twitter etiquette calls for publicly acknowledging retweets and mentions, in a tweet like this:

Thanks for recent RTs and mentions: @CAMS @DCarsonCPA @wiley_finance

Follows and followers

So far, all of the Twitter features we’ve discussed are visible to anyone who opens the Twitter web page – but to follow other users , you’ll need your own Twitter account and username.

Once your account is set up, following other users is easy: search for their Twitter handle, then click the Follow button – and their tweets will begin scrolling through on your Twitter home page.

Because followers are an audience for your own tweets, you’ll want some of your own. If you’re a well-known figure or organization, followers will flock to you. But for the rest of us, you’ll get followers by following other people, in the Twitter version of mutual backscratching.

Direct messages

You’ll also want to hang on to the followers that you do attract by thanking them – and most tweeters do that by sending new followers a direct message. A DM, as it’s abbreviated, is a non-public tweet seen only by the recipient. It can be sent only to your followers.

Here’s an example of a thank-you DM which does a little promotion at the same time:

Jonathan, thanks for the follow. We appreciate it. Hope you join the NICSA group on LinkedIn.


You can also encourage other people to follow your favorite Tweeters. Wait until Friday, then send out a tweet with the Twitter handle you’re promoting and the hashtag #FF – for “follow Friday.”


Now that you know how to read a Twitter stream, we’re ready to talk about how you can use Twitter to learn more about the investment industry. That will be the topic of our next post.


First post in this series:

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