Get Twitter @ Replies Right
The folks over at the New Organizing Institute have a great “tip of the day” for new twitter users. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a few tweets that look something like this: “.@neworganizing, what time does tonight’s event start?” So what’s the dot (.) at the beginning of a tweet? According to NOI, “It all comes down to how Twitter determines what to show people. When your tweet starts with the handle of a person or organization, Twitter assumes it’s a reply. So why does that matter?”
- Replies are filtered. Twitter assumes replies are semi-private, so tweets that start with a handle (@neworganizing what time…) get filtered. Only people who follow BOTH you AND the account you’re tweeting at will see a reply. This keeps your stream from getting filled with questions and replies between other people.
- Why is this good? It’s helpful if you follow people who answer a lot of questions on Twitter. For example, I follow lots of fantasy football analysts who answer hundreds of questions per day. If I saw all those responses, it would clog my stream.
- Why is it bad? Maybe you want everyone to see the tweet you sent to @WhiteHouse and RT you. Or maybe you want everyone to see your response to a question. When people tweet questions at @neworganizing, I usually want everyone who follows us to see the response, because I know others may have the same question.
- How to solve it. If you’re tweeting at someone and you want all your followers to see it, put any character in front of the handle. It could be a dot (.), a >, a blank space, a word (Hey @WhiteHouse), or anything you want. As long as @ isn’t the first character in your tweet, Twitter gets tricked into thinking it’s just an ordinary tweet, and shows it to everyone who follows you or searches for the other party’s handle.