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I thought everyone knew about this Twitter tip.
In fact, I thought it was so well-known that I hesitated before writing a post about it for Steve Buttry’s blog. Would readers find it far too elementary? Would they think I was boring? Be annoyed that I was telling them something they already knew?
Then the post went live, and readers emailed and tweeted at me saying “thanks.” So I included the tip in my Twitter Power course — and whenever that lesson comes around, participants get excited over the tip there, too. Again and again, I hear, “I didn’t know that!”
So I’m finally going to share the tip here. What the heck am I talking about?
Adding a period before an @mention.
Not all the time, just sometimes. Here’s my explanation from Buttry’s blog:
Here's what trips tweeps up: when you send an @reply, the only people who will see that tweet in their home feed are you (the person who wrote it) and the recipient, plus anyone who follows both of you. That means if I send out a tweet like this…
@newfriend Loving your blog post today!
… the only people who will see it in their feed are me, @newfriend and our mutual followers.
That's fine, unless you write a tweet that starts with an @reply that you want more people to see, like this:
@newfriend has such a great blog post today on astronomy: http://bit.ly/sample
Even though it will only appear in the home feed of a select few, that doesn't mean the @reply isn't public. If you go to anyone's Twitter stream, you can see the @replies they sent. Those @replies just won't show up in your home feed unless you're the person they wrote to or you follow both the sender and the recipient.
This makes sense if you think about it. Twitter is trying to cut down on the noise in your feed, and they assume you're only interested in someone else's @reply if you are that person they're replying to or know both parties.
But can you see how this would lead to mistakes?
Sometimes a user will send out a tweet they want everyone to see, but begin it with an @reply. That means most of their network doesn't see it, which devalues the tweet.
So the Twitter community came up with a work-around. If you want to start a tweet with an @reply, simply add a period in front. That means your tweet would look like this:
.@newfriend has such a great blog post today on astronomy: http://bit.ly/sample
And boom! The tweet now goes to all your followers.
Want more? Read the entire post here.
And if you didn’t know this tip, consider signing up for Become a Twitter Power User! After five weeks of tips like this one, you’ll really understand how to use Twitter to your advantage.
Got any Twitter tips or advice YOU want to share?
16 Replies to “You’re Probably Doing This Wrong on Twitter”
Wow… I had no idea… thanks!
For some reason, learning this made feel extremely happy (and for the first time like I understand what it’s like to be a “power user”). 🙂
I had no idea @replies worked this way but will be sure to file it away for future use. This is a tip that could help tons of people with their Twitter strategy.
So, to use your example, if I did the tweet like “a great post today from @newfriend…”, I wouldn’t need the period because the @mention isn’t at the beginning of the post, correct?
I don’t remember when I learned this, but I remember thinking that I must be the LAST person on the planet to figure it out. Until I noticed how many people are still doing it. Somehow this is the best kept secret of Twitter-hackery! Thanks for helping to spread the word 🙂
I really am starting to use Twitter a lot more for play..and of course business. I absolutely did not know a period could make all the difference in the world. @Cordelia above: I did learn recently that putting my comment before the @ symbol will get the tweet out to more people…but I guess if I did not have a comment but would rather just reply..I would use the period(.)
Whoa. Thanks so much – that is really helpful.
Alexis – as soon as I read that you had written a tip that you thought might seem too elementary, I knew you’d be talking about the .@. It is one of those small, but important aspects of Twitter that so many people don’t understand. It always amazes me when I see posts from prominent social media personalities using @reply formats when they clearly mean to endorse and/or recommend content from someone.
I’m sure you’ve helped a lot of people.
Thank you so much for this post! I am trying to up our twitter followers and I have made this mistake. I can’t wait to see how this helps get more information to my followers and so on.
Good Karma to you!
Thanks for the reminder – I did know this, but I seem to forget it whenever I’m on Twitter!
How does that explain me seeing a lot of @ reply Tweets on the home page of that profile before I even follow that person, and if I’m not following the person who they are replying to? I see it a lot.
Hey there — The @replies ARE public, and they DO show up on the individual’s profile, so if you go to their profile, you’ll see them. They just won’t show up in YOUR home feed if you don’t follow them.
I just want to thank you for this post. I’ve always struggled to make Twitter useful. These tips will come in handy.