8 Frank Rules for How Not to Tweet


What is the purpose of writing? Did you say to share your thoughts? To influence? To educate? To entertain? To conjure made-up worlds and share them with others?

Well, that’s all nonsense. The purpose of writing is to demonstrate to everyone how clever you are. And that’s why Twitter is so great, because it gives you a constant opportunity to show the world  — including famous celebrities — your genius, with instant feedback.

Now, as you may know, I’ve blogged for well over a decade, written numerous columns, written several books, worked on scripts for a video series coming out later this year, and just released my first novel (Superego, available in ebook, paperback, and Audible versions, if I haven’t mentioned it), so by now I’ve picked up a few writing tips that are worth sharing. I’m going to start by talking about Twitter, which I have been on since January 2009, and where I’ve built up a pretty decent following (@IMAO_).

A few of you are probably asking, “What’s Twitter?” If that’s you, just leave now. What are you even doing on the internet? Stop wasting my time.

I think everyone else is pretty aware of Twitter by now. What I like about it is that you only have 140 characters, so it forces you to get to the core of your idea if you wish to express it within those constraints. A lot of people cover up the fact that they don’t have anything to say by using a lot of verbiage. You’ve probably seen people in comment sections ranting for paragraphs without a single coherent thought — I mean, none of you, though. I’m sure you’re all nice people. I’m talking about other nuts. But anyway, there’s no room for that on Twitter. With that small a space, you’d better have something to say, and it had better be sharp.

Also, for a writer like me, Twitter is a great marketing tool for marketing things, like my new novel (Superego, available in ebook, paperback, and Audible versions, if I haven’t mentioned it). You already have all these people listening to you and can potentially get quickly retweeted by people with even bigger followings and reach thousands of people.

But to do that, you have to build up a following. And, of course, you do that by referring back to the purpose of writing: demonstrating how clever you are. But there are number of pitfalls to avoid in tweeting, and I am here to help. Because I love you. And America.

1. Don’t be a pest.

This is a tough one starting out, as you won’t have many followers, and you’ll mainly need to reply to people to get attention. You’ll just need to do this sparingly and make sure you have something worthwhile (i.e., clever) to say before you reply at anyone. If you tweet at too many people, Twitter will actually suspend your account. And it’s well deserved; you shouldn’t have been bothering me, because I’m very important.

And don’t just come out and ask someone to follow you. That’s pathetic. You come off like a beggar rattling his tin cup. The way you get follows is by being awesome so that people would feel they’d be missing out in life if they didn’t get to further see your wisdom. Distinguish yourself with quality.

2. dnt writ lik idit.

When you’re getting used to the space constraints on Twitter, you might find yourself abbreviating words. This should be a last resort, though. Always instead try to figure out how to express your thought in fewer words, because wen u writ lik dis u luk lik a mron. If people see that, they’re going to expect your next tweet to be about how fire can’t melt steel. And use proper punctuation, grammar, and capitalization when you can. You’re not being chased by wild boars; you have the time.

3. Don’t steal jokes.

The joke thief is to the internet what the horse thief was to the wild west. Many people, after seeing a really clever tweet, are tempted to tweet it as their own with maybe a slight variation — and some people have made successful Twitter feeds doing just this — but resist that temptation. Joke thieves are the worst. Joke theft is worse than murder. Even Hitler wouldn’t steal jokes.

But it can happen accidentally, too, so get off my back.

4. Don’t be excessive.

Once you have some followers, you’ll need to avoid annoying them so much that they unfollow you. That means you can’t fill up people’s Twitter feeds with a bunch of nonsense garbage. So don’t tweet every little thing that pops into your head. I can do that, because I have carefully trained my mind to only have genius thoughts. You, on the other hand, are going to need to first think whether your tweet really is clever, and not just the same thought everyone else is expressing about what Kanye just did.

And no multi-part tweets. Nothing you have to say is that important. Nothing. If you need to express something that won’t fit in one tweet, then write a blog post or something and just link to it on your Twitter account. I won’t read it — I don’t have the time — but maybe someone will. But learn to fit any worthwhile thought into one tweet.

And I have to admit, not tweeting excessively is something I’m still working on. When I have something to promote, like my new novel (Superego, available in ebook, paperback, and Audible versions, if I haven’t mentioned it), I’m not sure how much I can mention it before it just irritates someone. Then again, everyone loves me, and if I irritate someone, it’s only because he’s a horrible person, and it’s not through any fault of mine. It will be different for you, though.

Whoops. This section went on way too long. Still with me?

5. Don’t obsess over unfollows.

I see people constantly watching their follows and keeping track of every unfollow. That’s just going to give you anxiety. I know if someone unfollows me, he must be some weirdo loser I’m much better off having no interaction with. He’s not worth a second thought. And I hope he dies sad and alone.

6. Don’t be self-centered.

When you have lots of followers, it’s time to give back. Retweet other people’s clever tweets, favorite tweets you find clever, and respond to people who tweet at you. When I look at all the lessers out there with far fewer follows than me, I feel pity and want to help. Look at me right now, writing this informative article. Because I care. Be like me.

7. Don’t feed the trolls.

I know this constantly comes up on the internet, but there are people out there who want nothing more than to give you a bad day. It’s not worth dealing with them. Just ignore them. Block if you have to.

But don’t block me. I’m not a troll. You just need a thicker skin, or you shouldn’t even be on the internet.

8. Don’t take it too seriously.

While you do want a Twitter account appreciated by lots of followers, don’t forget to have fun. You have this modern miracle of the internet — a way to converse with interesting people all over the world and to quickly share quips with potentially millions of people — so don’t neglect to just enjoy Twitter for what it is.

Well, that’s all the Twitter advice I have for now. So go out, get on Twitter, and be awesome.

But don’t tweet at me; that will just irritate me.

Did I mention I have a novel out (Superego, available in ebook, paperback, and Audible versions, if I haven’t mentioned it)?


image illustration via shutterstock / 

Join the discussion on Twitter. The essay above is the seventh in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism.

For these Tuesday discussions Frank is beginning a series offering writing tips and advice across a variety of mediums, genres, and styles.

Volume II

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015