Automated Tweets: Rules of the Road

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Auto Tweeting

I thought about just amending this to each of the posts in this series but I think it’s an important enough topic to cover on it’s own.

Twitter has rules and even though everyone else doesn’t follow then you should. Now their listed rules of the road are subject to some interpretation but if you are not trying to scam anyone and are building intelligent auto tweeters then for the most part you should be okay. Just be courteous and think to yourself “If I was following this twitter account with my personal twitter account, would I block or report it as spam?” Don’t forget to give yourself a genuine answer. If you don’t then people are just going to unfollow and block your bot and then really, what was the point of building it after all?

Twitter Spam & Automation Rule Resources

Twitter’s developer portal has an entire document dedicated to Automation Rules and Best Practices that you should absolutely read before you push your auto tweeting bot live. Also take a look at the Spam and Abuse section of the Twitter rules. One last link, I know you read it when you checked okay next to the TOS box on the API but it’s a quick read and maybe you should read it again Twitter API Terms of Service. #justsaayin

Twitter’s rules (at the time of this post) outline a lot of different do’s and don’ts and I thought it would be helpful if I outline some of them*:

Do Not

  • Do not auto follow (and or unfollow) large amount of users in a short amount of time;
  • Do not include links in every single tweet
  • Do not post misleading links
  • Do not post in a manner that would cause a large number of people to blocking you
  • Do not post in a manner that would cause a large number to file spam complaints against you
  • Do not post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account
  • Do not overuse # tags!
  • Do not automatically target trending or popular topics
  • Do not post lots of duplicate @replies or mentions
  • Do not solicited users using @replies or mentions
  • Do not scrape other Twitter user’s posts and repost as your own.
  • Do not buy or sell followers (it’s just dumb and doesn’t work!)
  • Do not buy or sell Twitter accounts

Do

  • Do post some personal updates or conversational stuff too (not always links)
  • Do post thing that your followers will enjoy or find relevant to the typos of tweets on that account
  • Do have fun
  • Do inject posts from your own writing from time to time

I know, it’s a lot more don’ts than do’s but that’s how rules are – you are only ass restricted as your imagination on the do’s so go out there and do good things with your twitter bot. Also – make sure you follow people who are always doing good things, like the

*PS I’m not a Damn Lawyer

* I cannot stress enough that I am not a legal resource nor should I even be your moral compass. It’s important for you to read the actual rules of any API or service you are using and make intelligent decisions based on that or ask your own legal council to help guide your decision if you find yourself in a grey area. I’ve always like the beg forgiveness over asking permission guidelines but that will often bite you in the ass and you won’t be forgiven with many of these large corporate service’s and API’s.

My Personal Twitter Bot Guidelines

For an idea of how I interpret these rules here are the guidelines I and my twitter bot(s) adhere to.

  • My auto tweets are on cron’s every ~15 minutes and it posts 60-75% of the time on week days and less than 50% of the time on weekends.
  • The crons only trigger from just about the start of a business day till a bit after supper time. There’s no use tweeting if no one is going to see it.
  • About 60% of the tweets contain links, and of those tweets 40% go to my website, 40% to another website and the remaining 20% are distributed to other related websites; typically through retweets.
  • When I automate an @reply or mention someone it’s always with relevant text or to genuinely thank them for retweeting something I posted. Thanks you tweets never contain links (that’s part of what makes them feel genuine.)
  • I have a system in place to ensure the same tweet is never duplicated within an ~3-5 day period.
  • I, myself, tweet on that account almost daily using a typical 3rd party twitter client. I try to post at least one real tweet in the morning and afternoon. Some days it’s more, some days it’s less.
  • I always report spammy @replies that I receive.
  • I monitor my twitter account’s followers to see if I have real followers or only spammy ones. When I have too many spammy followers I block them and lower my auto tweeting threshold.
  • I have also started to monitor trends in the number of followers my account have, if it starts to dip I take a look at my stream and see what might have caused it, often times I lower my tweeting threshold while I investigate. If it is trending upwards I do a little dance. :)

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