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.
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 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:
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:
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.
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 http://www.facebook.com/Miss.Diamond.DJ
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.
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. http://truetwit.com/vy3368995 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.
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