How to tweet on Twitter without strangling the birdie

Twitter,tweets,micro blogging,blogs,writing,Suzan St Maur,online marketing,social media

What are your favorite terrible tweets?

Anyone who spends time on Twitter will gradually see a pattern of different tweet styles emerging, not all of which contribute much to the greater good. Having only been a keen Twitterer for a year or two I can’t claim to be an expert, but speaking as a professional writer I cringe at the time and energy that’s wasted on what I think are bad or inappropriate tweets.

Of course, everyone has their own view of what constitutes good tweeting. Already large sums of money have been spent generating analyses that tell you your tweets should consist of XX percent personal and YY percent business content, they should go out at intervals of no more or less than ZZ minutes, they should contain no more than XX @ symbols and YY hashtags, and so-on. Who would have thought so much science could be found in a mere 140 characters, huh. And not surprisingly, few people seem to take any notice of it.

Before I launch into my attack on what I think are bad tweets, it’s only fair that I should reveal how I put my own together. And please feel free to critique this! They fall into one of these brackets:

  • Observations, articles, news stories etc. that interest me and/or make me laugh
  • Conversational posts with people I know, but out of courtesy to them and other readers I try to include a précis of the original topic, or respond via a retweet
  • Retweets of friends’ and followers’ posts when I feel they’re worth sharing
  • Posts about and one or two of my own recent books

I try to create a good balance of all four. In every case my main criterion is to write something everyone can understand, either in the style of a newspaper headline, or as a short but self-contained thought. Here, now, are some of the stereotype tweets that irritate me. Do they irritate you?

THE ENGLISH EXPERT:  You need free artikles for the webbsite and we got some you want so clicks here go for free stuff you enjoy read. (If you can understand what this is all about, that is.)

THE STRONG, SILENT TYPE:  http://xxxxxxx.yyy (That’s it – no text. You are commanded to click on the link and I don’t need to tell you why. Now just f***ing well do it.)

For nearly 400 more articles, jokes, funny poems and more humor, click right here on #HTWB

THE CAPITALISATION LOVER:  The Official Report On The State Of Maggot Farms In Buckinghamshire Is Now Available For Sale At Newsagents Throughout The County (We know total capitalisation is fashionable right now but it makes your tweet very hard to read.)

THE HASHTAG FIEND:  Read my blog about mushrooms #mushrooms #restaurants #food #supermarkets #markets #conveniencestores #SOMEONE #ANYONE!!!!

Twitter,tweets,micro blogging,blogs,writing,Suzan St Maur,online marketing,social media

Say something sensible
in 140 characters or less

THE ADVERB FARMER:  Write your book easily quickly painlessly and get it sold fast profitably lucratively easily promptly make money successfully (Think I’m joking? This actually is a very close rewrite of a real tweet.)

THE TIPS TOUTER:  10 terrific tips on how to get rich quick!!! (We know people like tips list, or at least they did 10 years ago, but who do you think you’re kidding? And those exclamation marks are just soooo tacky.)

THE CLIFF HANGER:  It was only after several frozen, terrified seconds that I realized the hooded man had a fully loaded gun pointing directly at my forehead b….. (Truncated. I want to know what happens next but there’s no onward link, either.)

THE DOMESTIC GOD/GODDESS:  Just off to throw dinner together – we’re having foie gras, caviar, lobster, fillet steak, artichokes and vintage champagne. Back in a jiffy! (Bon appétit, snotty.)

THE T.M.I QUEEN:  Oh dear, baby Ellie has just barfed all down my angora sweater and her vomit is a rather strange beige colour. Should I take her to the doc? (Thanks for sharing; couldn’t have made it through the day without knowing that.)

THE ANGRY COOL DUDE:  Knickers Tits Bums You Know What I’d Like To Do To My Girlfriend But She’s A Slag And Dumped Me I’ll Slash Her Face With My D*ck (ZZZZzzzzzz. Sober up and go take a shower, idiot.)

THE ARTISTIC SLAPPER:  I’m writing a book about beautiful flowers and I’m in Milwaukee and I would love you to come and inspire my writing – will you? (Er, I think that lurid photo of you in very scanty underwear and holding a whip kinda gives the game away, don’t you?)

Enjoying this article? Spoil yourself with more good laughs in our humour section here

THE HOROSCOPE BORE:  Today’s prediction for Taurus: your stubborn nature will serve you well if you find yourself in a situation of conflict or confusion… (At least 11/12ths of the population – probably more – couldn’t care less.)

THE “WORKING AT HOME TODAY” STORY:  Am working from home today as the plumbers are in replacing the entire central heating system, bathroom and shower. Busy, busy! (You rotten liar – we all know you’ve got a raging hangover after drinking three bottles of wine last night.)

THE QUOTE QUOTER:  “All that glitters is not gold.” William Shakespeare (Why do you never say anything original? And it was “glisters,” not “glitters,” you nitwit.)

Please share some of your pet tweet-hates!

How to un-strangle that birdie:

“Business Writing Made Easy…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand




  1. Pet hate tweet: “It’s raining here today. What’s it’s like where you are?”

    • *makes note never to do that again*

      • @Jackie … there’s a guy on Twitter who is based a few miles from where I live and he tweets that every morning. When I’m feeling particularly bitchy I respond by saying “strangely enough the weather where I am is almost identical to yours…” I’m surprised he hasn’t “unfollowed” me yet. Perhaps he has a sense of humour…


        • I think I follow that guy too. It grates on me because I don’t believe for one minute that he cares what the weather is like where I am. I realise he’s just trying to start a conversation (which is good), but because he gives a weather report *every day* (and didn’t reply when I replied), it doesn’t seem genuine.

          • Maybe I should retweet his next post about it being a sunny day with a comment like // LIAR – IT’S PI**ING DOWN & BLOWING A GALE.

  2. My pet hate is someone that only ever tweets about their wares-
    Buy this, Buy that..

    OK I sell things and often tell people that I do but I try to balance out the sales tweets by actually engaging with others

    • Yes, those endless hard-sell tweets are bad news. The other ones I hate are the tweets that purport to be a link to a genuine article with an interesting-sounding headline … then when you click through it’s just a link farmyard and pile of garbage. Watch this space next week for my post about those….grrrrrr….

  3. Ha ha. I am so guilty of the capital letters for the beginning of every word. Habit from writing so many articles but you are right. It does make the tweet easy to read.

    I love it when bloggers add a brief title such as photo essay or new blog post at the beginning of their tweet. Makes it easier fro me to decide on whether I will click on it.

    • Hi Natalie – total capitalisation isn’t so bad when it’s a short phrase or sentence – it’s When You Get A Whole Load Of Small And Rather Silly Words That Would Never Make A Title In A Million Years that I find it distracting…!

      I like your word “blogarticle” – would you care to guest post for us on that? I think I posted on Birds On The Blog some time ago about blogs versus articles so it would be nice to get another blogger’s input on the topic.

      If you’re up for that send it to me on suze at suzanstmaur dot com and I’ll load it up. (OK with you, boss laydee?)


  4. Mike Korner says


    These are great! Thanks for sharing them.

    I’ll add two pet peeves:
    1) Tweets that say “Please RT”. Sorry but I’ll make that decision 🙂
    2) Tweets that are so long I can’t add a note. I like to add a brief comment when I RT; I am not alone in this. I think 120 characters is a smart goal for people. That makes it easy for people to pass it on.

    • Thanks for your comment Mike! I agree that it’s irritating to see tweets that are blatant promotion saying “Plz RT” – but I don’t mind (and do it myself) if it’s a charitable issue or other good cause, or a genuine warning or other piece of public-spirited information.

      Very good point about the length, too. 120 characters is a good idea and saves you having to shorten the original message if you want to add something in a RT.


  5. Oh dear, although I agree with all the above which I hate just as much, I noticed that I may have tweeted the odd one very similar to those. Note to self: must pay more attention to all those wonderful blogs I read!

    PS Luckily I haven’t tweeted a picture of myself with no clothes and a whip 😉

  6. Oh grammar…I’m in a constant battle to make sure it’s proper, and I’m sure I fail many times over. However, I’ve always been one to cringe when I see it. I can’t follow any rapper without fear of cringing out of my seat. Ignore the fact that I wouldn’t since I’m more a 60’s rock guy, but I digress.

    So, we can learn to write better here? Count me in! Someone sent me here via Stumble and I find that amusing since I haven’t used Stumble for years now, but whatever. I’ve been meaning to re-educate myself a little.

    I enjoyed this Suze, will be back!

    • Hi Wayne and thanks for dropping by! Am glad you enjoyed your visit here. Come back soon as we’re adding to it every day and there will be some very useful eBooks on offer soon, too. Sz.

  7. Very funny post, Suze 🙂

    I’m no expert either, but my pet hate on Twitter is the Quote Quoter (Tweeters from America seem to like quotes a lot), closely followed by The Horoscope Bore (why on earth would I be interested in your daily horoscope?).

    I’m also not keen on being asked repeatedly to Pls RT by people who seem to very seldom, if ever, return the favour for anyone.

    • The “quoters” drive me insane! There is circle in hell that Dante never imagined for those that recycle quotes all day across social media platforms 😉

      • Hee hee … when I see those quotes I’m often tempted to RT them with the added remark of //SO F***ING WHAT? But I don’t of course, because I’m a nice girl and don’t swear… 🙂

    • Eep. I send out one writing quote every day, and also RT the quotes I see others post that I really, really love. I guess I’ll have to slow that down a bit.

      My pet peeve would have to be when people tweet with — dashes — every — other — word. Does — anybody — talk — like — this — that — can — help — it?

      Seriously, I have a few people who do this every day, several times a day. It’s like speaking with a horrible stutter, only worse, because they could stop typing that way if they wanted.

      Awesome topic! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll be sure to keep this in mind while I tweet.

      • Hi Kyla – glad you enjoyed the article! Actually one quote a day is fine … it’s the people who do it every ten minutes who grate on my nerves a bit. And I haven’t seen the stutter style you describe (should this be called twuttering?) – will watch out for it. Seems a weird way to tweet!


  8. I find one in twenty quotes to be uplifting/meaningful. I guess I need to pay more attention to who does the meaningful quoting, and un-follow the rest.

    I don’t mind the RT as it is a good reminder-it is a social network after all. It’s easy to ignore if I don’t find the tweet worthwhile.

    (Boy it’s difficult to write a comment on a “writers” site. I feel like I’m in school!)

  9. I love this! I love quotes, I wish people would create their own though!

    One of my favourite quotes is “any fool can copy it takes a little more to create” – Guess what – that’s one of my own.

    I love to see the people behind the tweets so personal is good for me. Some people go too far into personal and not enough business.

    The main thing is not that it bothers me, it’s just culprits need to be a bit more savvy commercially. I am convinced some people in business just use twitter for office banter and miss so many opportunities and that SHOULD be a concern to them, it is business after all!

    Don’t even get me started on “get rich” tweets – let me reveal a secret here and now. Few people will ever be rich and there are reasons for that – mostly mind-set . Funnily enough I wrote a blog on that…..

    And finally auto tweets and Business related tweets on a Sunday – oozes desperation and makes me feel pity for them really.

    Nice blog this one !

    • Hi Darren and thanks for your comment. I love your “quote” – so true!

      I have one of my own which has worked well for me for a long time … “if you can’t get in the front door, wait a while, then try around the back.”

      Thanks for visiting and come back soon!


  10. I quite like the quotes but the ones that make me GROWL are the ones that tell me to have a Wonderful Day (or evening or weekend) – especially when I know that it’s going to be a stressful/boring/difficult one!

  11. Totally agree with ethnicsupplies, the balance its important, otherwise you are just a twitter infomercial.

  12. I think my all time favourite twitterer was someone who invented a character based on that woman who threw a kitten into the bin.

    They were along the lines of “Just accidentally on purpose knocked Sallys drink into her handbag, silly me – why do I do these things?”

    I haven’t seen any for a long while though, I suppose she couldn’t keep it up forever.

  13. I’m still laughing to much to think about a cliche 🙂

    I love the adverb farmer, but perhaps need 71 tips on how to write a comment to a blog profitably, humourfully and easily

  14. My biggest pet peeve is the constant spammer. As in they have absolutely nothing to contribute to Twitter aside from self-promotion. THAT irritates me, because I could care less about what you are trying to sell me. Not just the constant spam, but the SAME spam over and over. If I didn’t really want to buy it the first time I saw it, seeing it 20 more times won’t necessarily change my mind. Now if you have something useful to say in between all that self promotion, I might continue following you. Just DO NOT post the same links with nothing else day after day.

    Also, your list is near perfect. All of those irritate me as well. Several of them suggest auto-tweeting is being used, which also irritates me. I understand it takes a lot of the “work” out of social networking, but it also takes out the “social” part of it as well. Personally, I hand-pick every one of my tweets and refuse to use anything “automated” (except, of course, for the share apps when I find something of use for my followers).

    Great article! I hope those that need it the most are paying attention. 🙂

    • Hi Dawn – great to hear from you! I’m not sure if the perpetrators of these tweet-offences take notice of our outrage or not, but this article is one of the most popular on my site here … over 100,000 reads … so I’m assuming we do at least have some sympathy from others!

      Have you seen our “How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss” series by novelist Lucy McCarraher? As you are a novelist too it would be interesting to know your views.

      Come back soon!


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  7. says:

    How to tweet on Twitter without strangling the birdie…

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