And it's time we all banded together to make sure our friends and family members and followers and followees understand one of the most crucial and oft-misunderstood functions in social media.
I covered the @Reply in my How to Use Twitter post, but, well, I still see it misused rather often so I thought I should dedicate a post to it.
Do you understand the @Reply? Do you? Are you sure? Do you see my skepticism? DO YOU?!
Here's what you need to know.
When you start a Tweet with @Username (whether that Username be @NathanBransford @LadyGaga or @YourMom), not everyone who follows you will see it. Only the people who follow both you and @Username will see it.
In other words, if you want to Tweet about this book that you've read and you want all of your followers to know about it, don't start your tweet with @ReallyGreatAuthorPerson
I want to Tweet about this great post I read by The Rejectionist. Let's say I write this Tweet:
@TheRejectionist wrote a great post! You should totally go read it! http://bit.ly/lxYL9wWRONG WAY!
See how I started with @TheRejectionist? The only people who are going to see that Tweet already follow The Rejectionist and likely already read (and liked) the post.
Check out this great post by @TheRejectionist! You should totally go read it! http://bit.ly/lxYL9wCORRECT!! Now everyone who follows me has been exposed to the wonders of The Rejectionist. Also acceptable:
.@TheRejectionist wrote a great post! Check it you must! http://bit.ly/lxYL9wNotice the period? Anything but starting with @TheRejectionist will expose it to everyone who follows me.
Let's say I want to have a MOST HILARIOUS DIALOGUE with The Rejectionist that may be of interest to those who know both us both but perhaps not others. In that case, we use the @Reply freely
(Note: Conversation made up/wildly improbable)
@TheRejectionist Aren't @replies the most!CORRECT USAGE! We did not annoy/confuse the people who don't follow both of us with our most hilarious banter.
@NathanBransford Golly gee they sure are!
@TheRejectionist Isn't it just wild that only the people who follow both of us will see this conversation?
@NathanBransford I'll say!
A few other points of note about the @Reply:
- If someone visits your profile directly they WILL see your @Replies. They will also appear in Tweet boxes like the one on the right side of this page, and may appear to users who use some third party applications like TweetDeck depending on their settings. So don't treat your @Replies as private. They are not. If you want to send a private message, use a Direct Message.
- @Replies are a great way of engaging with people on Twitter, so reach out and @Reply someone.
- One more time, this time with even more feeling, cowbell, and the kitchen sink: If you want to broadcast your Tweet widely, don't start with an @Reply!
Twitter has not heeded my call to set up a Twitter DMV to make sure people have been through Twitter driving school before they hit the road, so please spread the word. Let's make sure we have both flying cars and correct @Reply usage by 2012..