How to ruin your career on Twitter: 20 easy tips

Le 12 mai 2010

Quand on aime, on ne compte pas. Pire: parfois, on traduit. This article explains how to fail your communication on Twitter when you're a music band.

Quand on aime, on ne compte pas. Pire: parfois, on traduit. Cet article de MrOlivier (sur Twitter) nous délivre une formidable leçon de personal branding.

L’original (en français, donc) est disponible par ici.

Your opinion leader friends, if you have any, keep saying it at every single social occasion: Twitter is THE place to be.

No wonder, just take a look at this chart:

For those of you who were asleep in the past 18 months, Twitter is a microblogging service that enables you to send 140-character messages to your “followers”. This term designates the people who chose to listen to whatever it is you have to say.

If you publish quality content, you’ll surely be noticed by a great number of people. Your followers’ count will grow in less time than it takes to tweet “Myspace has become a nice piece of shit”, since you’ll get loads of retweets (i.e. relays) in less time than it takes to say “Is it just me or is Jason Mraz really boring?”

If you don’t get the previous paragraph, I’d suggest you go to this nice webpage that will explain everything in details.


Attention: Now, this article is for everyone.

If you aren’t everyone, you could read something else, like the hilarious french (“le blog des beauty addicts”).

Twitter turns out to be a formidable communication tool, blah blah blah, since everything there is fast, short and essentially viral.

Twitter turns out to be a formidable weapon of self destruction, since everything there is fast, short and essentially viral.

How can you ruin your career in a few weeks with Twitter?

Very easy.

In order to exemplify the arguments of this otherwise very serious article, let’s take the emoboring band I Hate Fucking Mondays as an example (copyright Thomas VDB). That’s a 5-year-old fictional band with a solid fan base gained through many concerts, gallons of sweat, interviews and all that.

The band I Hate Fucking Mondays has decided to open a Twitter account.

From the start, thanks to its solid fan base and for the needs of the example, our fictional band already has 500 followers.

Quite good but not so great.

Now, let’s look at how the band I Hate Fucking Mondays dealt a fatal blow to its own career through unwise Twitter choices.


1. Choose a challenging username

The band I Hate Fucking Mondays chose ihatfuckmondays.

The result: The Twitter account of the band I Hate Fucking Mondays is available at

Notice how hard it is for a normal human being to remember this name, to type it without any mistake and, first and foremost, to tell it to his friends.

It’s a very good way to succeed in failing your start on Twitter.

Choose the longest possible username.

We’ll see how this choice will bring about more funny usage troubles.

2. Use Twitter’s default avatar

Using this technique is dead easy. Twitter allows you to upload an image or a photo so you can create a visual identity that’s immediately recognizable, so as to reinforce your personal brand. Don’t do it! Choose the default Twitter icon instead (a stylized bird on a color background), it will help you to remain absolutely anonymous.

3. Personalize your Twitter page

Even though many clients are available on all platforms, numerous people still access twitter via the web. For them, Twitter allows you to customize your page (colors, background image). Use this opportunity to kill readability and upload this horrendous JPEG image you like so much, preciously ugly and misfit for the job.

Now you’re sure to make a bad first impression.

4. Oversized tweets

A classic. It just can’t fail. A tweet longer than 140 characters will give your followers the opportunity to silently insult you. If you manage to put the important bits of information at the end of the tweet, you make maximal impact.

5. Help no one

You follow at least a few hundred Twitter accounts. These are people you are relatively interested in. Twitter being a social network, it’s normal that these people will ask questions, look for ideas and solutions.

You have the answer?

Don’t start a conversation giving it. Keep your answer for yourself.

Each answer you keep is a ruined opportunity to make contact.

It’s a very good way to remain anonymous and to arouse interest from yourself only.

6. Never share anything interesting

Thanks to Twitter, you can share pieces of news, links, images and other type of data that could be of interest for your network of followers. Keep all that for yourself.

On the other hand, let’s not forget that you can share insignificant information concerning YOU:

7. Never contribute to a conversation in an interesting way

You’ll see conversations building up between Twitterers you follow. If you selected them wisely. These conversations will be of interest to you. You’ll even have an opinion or a bit of information you could bring in, allowing for the debate to go further.

Don’t say anything.

People might get interested in your Twitter activity.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to pinch in deep debates in order to bring your 2 cents to people who would gladly ignore them. You’ll look like a real ignoranus in no time:

8. Don’t EVER EVER retweet

The most important technique.

Retweet (one of your followers liked your message and tweets it further) allows for you to gain in visibility and attract interest from new followers.

In order to really stagnate, it’s necessary to avoid it at any cost.

Your oversized username already limits the very desire to think about retweeting, for it’s more complicated to relay the entirety of your messages. Nevertheless, if you want to be sure to NEVER get retweeted, take care when applying techniques 4, 6 and 7.


9. Be unintelligible

It’s simple, short and makes no sense.

Nobody knows JP.

And those who know him won’t be sure you’re talking about THIS JP in particular anyway.

Nobody knows what’s going to please him, let alone why. That’s a message none of your

followers will be able to understand: A matchless technique to fill your network’s timeline with noise. That’ll probably piss them off enough for you to loose them.

Don’t hesitate to share more of these!

Any theme is fair game. The only important thing is that no one shall understand what you’re talking about.

10. Useless tweets

Talk about nothing, or not much. Don’t share anything essential and focus on topics that only you are interested in.

For example:

Useless tweeting has absolutely no purpose, of course. As a rule of thumb, if a message is boring even for you: share it!

With time, you’re guaranteed to lose a good chunk of your followers, who couldn’t care less about your daily life.

11. The delayed tweet

Twitter is fast. Very fast. Too fast for you?

Very good.

Tweet about overused topics. Give your opinion on last week’s news. Ask dated questions. You’ll bore all your followers, who will silently be embarrassed before they stop following you.

12. The stupid tweet

Asking stupid questions on the fly is a very good way to look like an idiot. The stupid tweet allows you to do just that in less than 140 signs (and to lose a few appalled followers in the process).

In the very unlikely case where someone does answer one of your stupid tweets, don’t thank your benefactor. If you’re lucky, he’ll point it out.

Moronic statements are also a good way to look stupid.

Select examples:

13. The automated tweet

There’s something magical in the fact that you can connect your Twitter account with any application going from useless to privacy-invasive. They’ll tweet for you, at a sometimes frenzied rate.

The list could get long, but I’ll quote only the most used ones:

- Foursquare: It’ll make you look tiresome as it displays all the places you get into. Painstakingly boring if used intensely.

- Thanks to, you can find anything you listened to. Well-configured, your account will show the whole of your followers what you listen to in real time, your favorites, your weekly Top3, etc. If you intensely use the service, you’ll occupy the whole timeline to share your musical experiences. And most of us, frankly, couldn’t care less.

- Facebook: You can easily automate your Facebook statuses through Twitter. All your tweets become statuses. You can also do the reverse: each new Facebook status becomes a tweet. Such a configuration will help you share totally irrelevant bits of information.

Example of an automated Facebook update on Twitter:

Even better:

If you’re good enough, you can easily create a permanent loop between your tweets and your Facebook updates. Each one will mutually publish the other.

Not only is it unbearable, but it will block your Twitter account as it becomes overactive.

A great victory.

14. Never answer the public messages sent to you

On Twitter, you can converse in public. In this case, looking like a douche is amazingly easy. You simply have to not answer.

For example:

At this point, don’t answer ANYTHING. 100% certain it’ll work. In a few hours, your image in the eyes of the person talking to you will go from ‘nice band’ to ‘pesky boneheaded bot’.

Even better, you could get this:

You’ve just lost a follower AND a potential fan (and a few appalled followers). But Twitter’s power, thanks to the miracle of the retweet and CC’ing will enable you to optimize the negative outcome of your action:


Pay attention: for optimal results, these techniques should be applied if your followers’ count hasn’t fallen with techniques 1 to 14. The impact will only be stronger.

At the height of your tweeting activity and in a few simple steps, you can manage to get a pretty lousy reputation in less than 12 hours.

15. The overly promotional tweet

Twitter is a social, hence horizontal medium? Use it vertically. You’ll see it quickly for yourself: it’s as efficient as getting a nail through a marshmallow.

THE secret trick: excessive self-promotion.

A formidable technique, the efficiency of which has been proven many times: Talk only about yourself.

Always. At a sustained rhythm. Your followers will leave you in less time than it takes to write “I’ll be on tour on the 12th at…”

Excessive self-promotion is at its best when it’s your only form of tweeting. Don’t get ahead of yourself with fruitless discussions, useful links and other socially acceptable tweets. Talk only about yourself. Be a bitch.

Again and again.

Yeah, just like that.

Don’t be shy : repeat the same message over and over again. A simple copy/paste is the perfect tool for the job.

Share these messages at least 10 times a day.

Interesting variant: point your twams (portmanteau for tweet + spam) to untargeted prospects who haven’t asked anything. 100% guaranteed antipathy. Using imperative phrases is even better.

Send the same message to 100 Twitter accounts)(minimum)

16. The aggressive tweet

Simple example:

You’re certain to piss off the close network of the person you’re talking to in less than 140 characters.

Another good option, more radical: Insult the whole of your followers (preferably at a time of maximum affluence: 3 or 4 pm on a weekday)

17. Plunder the tweets of opinion leaders

It’s easy, you just have to copy/paste interesting, thoroughly researched tweets and publish them as your own, WITHOUT quoting your source.

You’ll very quickly (less than 3 hours) be frowned upon as a reckless plunderer (what you’ll be, by the way). The feedback will be quick to come, either from the plundered herself or from one of her many followers.

Of course, the plundered person underlines the matter further, if need be:

18. Publish a private message

Twitter isn’t only a great public forum. It’s also a classical instant messaging service. The Direct Message allows you to talk discreetly. That’s handy.

It’s a great opportunity to strike a big blow to your followers.

Answer a – very – private message with a public one. It’ll be appreciated:

Even better, answer a – very – private message with a public one and manage for lots of opinion leaders to hate you (aim at those with more than 1000 followers):

You’ve just launched a baaaaaad buzz.

On the matter, read the funny experience of David A., a famous french journalist with more than 5000 followers.

It’ here: “How I fought over my private life on Twitter”.

19. Making a fool of yourself

Just like I Hate Fucking Mondays, you’re very confident in your immense talent. Maybe you’re wrong and some more work would do you good. Now, thanks to Twitter, you can post a direct link on this controversial movie clip you’re so proud of.

Awesome: You’ve just shot yourself a Scud in the foot. In less than 2 hours, you’ll see yourself reaching the trending topics (what people talk about) thanks to serial retweets overtly making a fool of yourself.

Don’t laugh, it happens every day.

You’ve reached the other side of bad buzz. You’re becoming a running gag.

That should be enough to burry your career once and for all.

20. Shamelessly try to bribe opinion leaders

The most lethal weapon: Go for the large Twitter accounts with more than 2k followers. Now you’re playing with the big boys, you’ll have to be ready.

The technique is a simple one: A sorry attempt at public corruption (some music companies try it behind closed doors, what a poor strategy) that will bounce back in your head in less than an hour.

Of course, this attempt will be seen by everyone…

You certainly have a lot of other tricks to commit suicide on this amazing social tool, Twitter. Nevertheless, let’s bet that the implementation of this advice will allow you to sink in the depths of the unknown in a record time. Or, better, to remain in your network’s memories for a long time as a mean buffoon.

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