Twitter Reply, Mention and DM Made Easy

Twitter guide to reply, mention and DM to use them right

Reply, Mention and DM

Twitter Guide – Reply, Mention and DM

We tweet, reply and retweet every day to make new friends or keep the old ones. A reply to another user’s regular tweet makes conversations in Twitter. He may then reply you back. Another user may join in the conversation or retweet or favorite one of your updates. You may then express your gratitude by mentioning those who engaged in conversation with you. A user may also send a private direct message to another user. This is the foundation of Twitter.

In my previous article Twitter Reply Made Easy, a twitter friend and a tech blogger Justin Germino (@dragonblogger) engaged into an intense debate about twitter @reply. You may see his comments in that article. Such feedbacks and discussions are bloggers’ delight. That motivated me to extend the article to explain in detail twitter Reply, Mention and DM which could be useful for newbies as well as oldies on twitter.


On your twitter sidebar, you will see various tabs starting with Home which takes you to your Home page. Beneath that you will see two tabs @username and Direct Messages that is what we are going to discuss today.

Note: Username, also known as a Twitter handle, is used to identify you on Twitter for replies and mentions.

If you go to someone else’ profile page, you will find only two tabs – Favorites and Lists. You may see his favorite tweets, and what all lists he has created. You may make one of his favorite tweets your favorite as well, you may retweet it, or you may reply to tweeple whose tweet was made favorite. If you want you may follow any of his lists.

All other tabs are private, no one else would be able to peek into their contents.


An @reply is any Twitter update that begins with @username. You may also post a Tweet in reply to one of their Tweets, by clicking the reply button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Then the tweet will begin with @username, and you type the rest of the message.

Another benefit of using the reply button is that your message will get threaded as explained in my previous article Twitter Reply Made Easy, and a note ‘in reply to username’ will appear just below your tweet.



A mention is any Twitter update that contains @username in the body of the tweet (not in the beginning, then it becomes a reply).

You may mention another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username. It also refers to Tweets in which your username was included.

Click on your @username tab, also called replies tab, on your sidebar, to see all replies made to you, and mentions of your user name (tweets mentioning @username). You may use this page as a reference either to reply back all those who mentioned you by clicking the reply button in their tweets, or mention them as explained above.


While tweeting you would like to see that your tweet is read by as many people as possible. When you tweet, whether it is a regular tweet, a reply or a mention, three groups of people are involved:

the sender, the recipient, and thirdly, most important of all, anyone else on twitter.

Twitter would interprete your message either as a regular tweet, or a reply or a mention, and that affects the third group most.

A regular tweet, or a reply or a mention will always appear on the sender’s Profile page.

A regular tweet appears in the home page view of anyone who is following the sender.

A reply or a mention appears in the recipient’s @username tab, which is accessible only by them.

Additionally, replies and mentions will appear in the recipient’s home timeline view if they are following the sender. (Please note, unlike DMs, replies and mentions could be sent to anyone on twitter whether or not they are following the sender).

So far things are straight forward but now a subtle difference between a reply and mention for anyone on all of Twitter. Please, read it carefully, and you will understand the difference.

Anyone on all of Twitter will see replies in their home view ONLY if one is following BOTH the sender and the recipient of a reply.

Anyone on all of Twitter will see mentions in their home view even if they don’t follow the person mentioned – as long as they follow the sender of the mention. In other words, it is treated like a regular Tweet.

How does it affect you?

It will affect you when you include more than one person in your update using the @username format, and your tweet starts with @username:

@username1, @username2, @username3, … – some message, say #FollowFriday –

Twitter will interprete it as a reply to @username1, and it will appear on his home timeline view besides his @username1 tab.

But others are going to suffer, as they would be treated as anyone on all of Twitter, and the tweet would be treated as a REPLY and not as a mention.

The tweet will appear on their @username tab. BUT it will appear on their home timeline view ONLY if they are following the sender AS WELL AS @username1 who is luckily mentioned first in the group, and hence the recipient of the reply.

They will see the tweet in their @username tab BUT anyone on all of Twitter won’t see the tweet if they are NOT following @username1.

The problem could be overcome if the tweet doesn’t start with @ symbol. Then the tweet will be treated as a mention, and will appear on their home timeline view if they are following the sender even if they don’t follow the person(s) mentioned. The rule of thumb is reply to a single person, mention to many in one tweet with correct format.

Here is the correct format of group mention tweet:

– some message, say #FollowFriday – @username1, @username2, @username3… – may or may not any more message –

I have seen scores of people, newbies as well as oldies, making this mistake. This is the main highlight of this article. Please, correct yourself if you are not using the right format for mentions, spread the news, and share your feedback on this article.

Lastly, people with protected accounts cannot send replies to people who aren’t following them, and mentions won’t be seen by non-followers either.

If you include more than one person in your update and you use the @username format, that person will also see the update in their replies tab.

Direct Message (DM)

Direct Message is a private message sent directly to someone who follows you. Also called a DM, these messages are private between only the sender and the recipient. When you click the Direct Messages tab on your sidebar, it takes you to the page where you see direct messages sent only to you, or sent by you.

But you may send a DM from your home page also. Tweets become DMs when they begin with “d username” to specify who the message is for.

Note: We use special twitter abbreviations to shorten our messages like 2 for to, 4 for for, u for you, and d for the. If the first word of a tweet happens to be ‘The’ and you abbreviate it to ‘d’, twitter will interprete it to be a DM. Say, your message is ‘d weather today is fine!’

The conspicuous What’s happening? above the tweet box would change to Direct message: as soon as you type ‘d’ space.

Then as soon as you type the second word ‘weather’, the header would become – Direct message weather:

If you ignore that, and press the tweet button to send your message, you may get an error message:

weather doesn’t follow you. Send ‘follow weather’ to request.

Twitter has interpreted d as DM and weather as a username. Even if weather is a username, if he doesn’t follow you, you can’t send him a DM. So, you get an error message. And if weather is a username, and he is following you, he will receive your anomalous direct message – ‘is fine’. You will see the confirmation message above the tweet box:

Your direct message has been sent.

There are two folders in the Direct Message page – inbox and sent.

DM sent by you will appear in your private “Sent” folder. It will disappear if the recipient deletes it.

DM received by you will appear in your private “Inbox” folder. It will disappear if the sender deletes it.

You may delete any DM from your folders. You may also reply to any DM. The reply would also be a DM.

DM will never appear in any public timeline or public search.

Good Private Messages and Spamming

Some direct messages are acknowledgements, thanks or welcome notes, or private invitations but others could be spams and offers.

I would give a few examples of good and bad DMs:

She has sent an invitation to like her fan page on Facebook.

djmissdiamond To join the page as well on facebook

She has sent a pleasant welcome note:

carpool_queen Hi, thanks for following me. Looking forward to your tweets!

He has sent a quote, a beautiful way to introduce himself:

jicolvin Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

But individuals or Brands often use DMs to spam you. Many spammers follow you so that they could spam you privately by sending a DM once you follow them back. If you unfollow them they don’t care, and if they don’t get any response from you they will unfollow you.

DM Spam
DM Spam

You can not send a DM to someone if that user is not following you. If you are following someone, that user could send you a DM even if not following you.

Many tweeples use automated tools to send welcome DMs whenever someone follows them like this one:

DougAshe DougAshe uses TrueTwit validation service. Please follow this link to validate your profile. Thanks

I won’t be able to send this user a DM as she is not yet following me. I find TrueTwit validation an anooying service, and I unfollow tweeples using such a service after a week if they don’t follow me.

You may send a DM to someone who is not following you, and receive an error message:

Error(s) sending direct message: recipient is not following the sender.

You could find out easily whether someone is following you or not without visiting the user’s profile page.

If you hover over a username on Twitter, a hovercard, floating messages about that Twitter user, appears.


If the user is following you then you will see Direct Message Username amongst the options, otherwise not as in this case.

Social Media consists of media that support and encourage social interaction among users. For instance, online discussion forums are designed to allow people to post messages and for other users to respond in kind.
While there may be social aspects to any medium (e.g. links to share an article by email), social media typically refers to those media whose major functions are oriented toward sharing of information, and consequently most of the information on such media are generated by users. Common examples of social media sites are Twitter and Facebook.
Social media marketing is the process of promoting your site or business through social media channels.
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Admin/Author Admin/Author: Subrato Paul, owner of GoldenTwine Informatics founded in April 2003, lives in Kolkata, India. He is a freelance website designer, Internet marketer, social media enthusiast, and blogger. He writes in his blogs and as a guest writer about marketing and social media, eCommerce, website design and development, and his website.
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  1. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your article seem
    to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let
    you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the
    issue fixed soon. Many thanks

  2. A very nice detailed explanation about twitter tools , & the way we should be aware of !
    as twitter user i really did learn something very useful while reading your topic .
    thanks a lot Paul .

  3. I don't know what you're talking about! KIDDING!

    This is a pretty good topic Subrato! You made it easier for me to find your blog! (I had initially missed it as I thought it was a category only on blooging!)

    Ok…what do I think? I think you're dead-on for the difference between "Mentions" and "Reply". I had initially sent #FF tweets starting with @xxxx followed by other twitter names. Then when I looked ait the whole thing and felt it looked wierd!

    Then, I started changing and tweeted mentions like that instead:
    Happy to meet: @xxx @xxx @xx……………… #ff

    Casey Peacocks: I've discovered from experience that if you reply to peeps that aren't following you, you should use the Retweet button on the tweet you want to respond to before your reply.

    I think there's pros and cons to using the RT buttons.

    For eg. If @A RTed @B's tweet, this will appear on @A's timeline as:
    RT @B tweeeeeeeeeeet

    If I use the RT of @A's RTbutton it will only appear as:
    RT @B tweeeeeeeeeeet
    or sometimes as
    @A RT @B tweeeeeeeeeeet

    @A may or may not appear!!

    If I don't use the RT button, I can easily include both @A and @B so it appears as
    RT @A @B tweeeeeeeeeeet

    I prefer the manual way of RTing if more than one name is involved. And I will use the manual way of RTing if a tweet has more than one name in it.

    I avoid RTing any messy tweets like:
    RT @ABC haha RT @Jan Qool >> @DAN xxxx via @Sam >> I think so too! via @mark

    • Thanks for giving your feedback in detail.
      I would not like to comment about RTs as I am going to post a separate article about Favs and RTs next week.
      Whenever we tweet the main idea is to see that it reaches maximum number of people.
      I have tried to explain that if the mention format is wrong then it is interpreted as a reply. So it will appear on the home timeline view of 2nd to last mentioned person only if they are following the sender as well as the FIRST mentioned person. So it won't reach their followers.

  4. Very good article. Learned something new and I consider myself a twitter expert. I don't use DM's because of the spam & now I know why I have a lot of spammers follow me that i followback then they unFollow me. Excellent.

    One area you ought to cover is the Retweet button. Then also viewing Retweets from your sidebar. You talked a lot about the twitter reply thread (which is awesome because I'm paying more attention to it now). But I've discovered from experience that if you reply to peeps that aren't following you, you should use the Retweet button on the tweet you want to respond to before your reply. I've experimented with doing it after the reply for possibly better context of the conversation (it reads easier from your profile page) but I like to end with my tweet last (and at the top) for a another reason I won't go into here. The main reason I like to do this is I enter into controversial conversations where I've had another peep lock his account so that anyone else following the conversation would only see my half of it unless they followed & were accepted by the locked account. What I discovered is that the Retweets will remain on your profile even though the account was later locked thereby keeping the conversation intact.

    -Casey Peacock

    • Thanks for your deep interest in the subject, and valuable feed back.
      I have noted your interest in Retweets and Protected Accounts. I shall publish an article on retweets next week, covering all aspects.
      I would like to request you, and all other visitors to register with twitter widget and Google friend connect (sidebar) so that our communication gets extended.

  5. Excellent tutorial for beginners and always note you can't start a tweet with a D without having it try to send a DM instead of a normal tweet.

    • Twitter has clarified everything in its support module. But even the most addictive twitterer don't refer them. That is how we make mistakes.

  6. wooow that is really reach of info , you covered all the questions in tweeples 's mind , i 'm sure that i 'll come back to read more than once this topic , as a twitter user i need all that info to ease & understand more what i 'm doing !
    thanks a lot Paul 🙂

    • I have decided to publish tips and guides on smaller issues that tweeples generally ignore.
      Whenever, I see a user making small mistakes, I note it down. That helps me to write articles with real-life examples, and that makes a finer point clearer.

  7. Very informative Twitter information.. A MUST View for all that would like to learn about Twitter Keep up the good work RICH :0)

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