Have you ever read through your Twitter feed and found a tweet that starts with a period (“.”)? Perhaps something like “.@Forechecker really needs to cut down on the hockey chatter“?
There’s a very good reason for it, actually, it’s not just a case of poor typing! Today’s How To Twitter tip shows you when & why you might want to start your tweets with a full stop…
Note: On May 24 2016, Twitter announced that they will make a change to the service which will no longer make the “.@” convention necessary.
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To Reply, or Not To Reply – That Is the Question
Twitter handles back-and-forth conversations by using “replies”. If you want to write a tweet to a specific user, you just click the “Reply” link, and you write a tweet that begins with their account name, such as “@Forechecker what an excellent point you just made, I do believe that’s Tweet of the Year material.”
This leads to a common mistake which I’ve seen folks make over and over again, however. If you just write a tweet from scratch, and start it with someone’s handle, Twitter assumes that this is a Reply.
Let’s take an example from the world of hockey, since that makes up the bulk of my Twitter stream:
@matekh14 convinced me to go to his favorite Swedish store (ikea) to buy our furniture for the yr. 5 hours later and all done #emptypockets
— Taylor Beck (@taybeckone9) October 14, 2012
In this case, Taylor Beck (a player with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals) is talking about his teammate @matekh14, Swedish defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Ekholm has apparently introduced Beck to the wonders of Ikea, and Beck is sharing that news with the world.
The problem is, the world won’t see this tweet!
Replies Aren’t for Everyone to See
Because that tweet starts with an account name (@matekh14), Twitter assumes that this is a Reply, instead of something which is meant for everyone to see. As a result, the only people who will see this pop up in their feed are the two people involved (@taybeckone9 & @matekh14) and anyone who follows BOTH of those accounts. If you follow just one or the other, you won’t see this in your general feed.
The solution that people came up with for this situation is to put a period (“.”) in front of the Twitter handle, so that Twitter doesn’t see it as a Reply, and shares it with all of your followers. You can visualize it with the following example, in which @A is giving credit to @B for bringing her some coffee. If Twitter thinks that this is a Reply, it will only show the tweet to people who follow both @A and @B.
The circles represent the people who follow @A and @B on Twitter (those who follow both of them are where the two circles intersect), with the shaded area representing the portion of those people who would see each tweet:
In this case, Beck should have written “.@matekh14 convinced me to go to his favorite Swedish store (ikea) to buy our furniture for the yr. 5 hours later and all done #emptypockets“.
So there’s your rule: if you mention someone at the very start of a tweet, and want everyone to see it, put a period in front of their handle first!
If you’d like to try this method out, share this tip with your friends!.@Forechecker just showed me why people put a period at the start of a tweet! Click To Tweet
Want to learn more about Twitter?
One of the best books I’ve seen lately on the subject of using Twitter (as well as Facebook, Instagram and more) to help get your message out to the masses is Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk (that’s an Amazon affiliate link, so if you click through and buy I get a small commission). It’s loaded with powerful, actionable insights on how to use each social media platform to its best advantage. Give it a read!