Sending @ messages on Twitter can be a great way to connect with others, but are you making the most of these tweets?
@ message (my definition): tweet that includes someone’s username preceded by the @ symbol, so their profile is linked in the tweet and they are notified of the mention
Per Twitter’s “Types of Tweets” Help page, there are two kinds of @ messages:
- @replies, which always begin with the username. For example:
@AdamSinger Thanks for the RT!— Laurel Miltner (@laurelmackenzie) July 19, 2012
- @mentions, which include the username within the tweet, but not at the beginning. For example:
What’s the difference between these two messages, besides where someone is mentioned? This minor detail may mean more than you think.
- @replies are only visible to the person who sent the tweet, the person mentioned, and anyone who follows both parties
- @mentions are visible to anyone on the web (as long as the sender’s profile is public)
So what does this mean for your Twitter strategy?
First, think about why you might want to mention someone in a tweet:
- To thank them for sharing your content
- To alert someone about something you’re sharing that you think they’d be interested in
- To quote, attribute or credit the content you’re sharing
- To engage in dialog with someone on a more one-to-one basis
In the scenarios above, the only time I’d recommend sending an @reply (i.e. starting the tweet with their username) is the last example. In most cases, it’s still beneficial to have others see the tweet.
For example, if you’re thanking someone for sharing a helpful blog post, others may be interested in reading it, too. What if the share from another person makes it more trustworthy to others? Use others’ shares of your content not only to reach their connections, but also to showcase third-party validation of your content to your existing network.
So, when you're mentioning someone in a tweet, but you want others to see it, be sure to include something before their username. (This is why you may sometimes see a period before a username in tweets.) For example:
One thing to keep in mind with this approach: to keep your @mentions relevant, be sure to provide context by referencing or linking to the article, tweet, photo, etc. that spurred conversation. That way, if someone finds the tweet interesting, he or she doesn't need to dig around for the source of the conversation. For example:
Lastly, remember that if you ever want to send someone a completely private message, use Twitter’s direct message (DM) service. This is advisable for more personal conversations, or those that start to get long, after a few rounds of @replies. The screenshots below show where you can access DMs on your Twitter account, and from others' profiles. Note: To DM a Twitter user, you must be mutually following each other.
How do you differentiate between @replies and @mentions on Twitter to maximize both engagement and reach? Share your tips in the comments below!comments powered by Disqus