What is a subtweet, you may ask?
You may be seeing this unfamiliar term being thrown about on Twitter these days, but what is the definition of a “subtweet”?
Basically, “subtweet” means a message on Twitter that refers to another person without using their handle, i.e. “Forechecker” instead of “@Forechecker” if you were mentioning me. The purpose of a subtweet is often to talk about another person without addressing them directly, or inviting a reply, since they receive notifications for any tweets containing their handle.
So a subtweet is used when you either don’t want to recognize an individual publicly (say, a friend who you don’t want to embarrass) or don’t want them to see it (for fear of repercussions).
Would you like to try one out? Here’s a sample for how to subtweet already set up and ready to go…
A Subtweet Example
Here is a great subtweet example. With broadcasters on competing local radio stations, the prevailing culture dictates that they don’t address each other directly on social media. For someone like me coming from a blogging background, this is absurd – but hey, we’re talking about old-school media here. In this situation, two local sports talk hosts take up opposite ends of a point when the NFL’s Tennessee Titans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer.
WGFX’s Clay Travis ridiculed Palmer’s background ever since he was hired by the Titans, since his previous stint was as the offensive coordinator for the United Football League’s Hartford franchise. So here’s what he had to say when Palmer was fired by the Titans:
Titans have fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. Shocking that Hartford Colonials OC didn’t pan out in NFL.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) November 27, 2012
Willy Daunic over at 102.5 The Game took the respectful view, however, firing off a subtweet in response later that evening:
In this case, Daunic is clearly reacting to Travis, but can’t call him out by name. Instead, he invokes the “Don’t Be That Guy” label, which refers to a recurring radio segment wherein Daunic invites callers to give examples of “guys” who nobody should attempt to emulate.
Perfectly executed subtweet there by Daunic, with a bit of personal branding thrown in. Well done…
Beware the risk!
While the example above shows why someone would want to subtweet for professional concerns, often people use the subtweet in a passive-aggressive fashion, griping about an individual without addressing them directly. When the target of that griping sees those messages, it makes the subtweeter look rather petty.
So take care when using the subtweet… it’s hardly a “stealth technology” on Twitter, but it can be appropriate at times. Just ask yourself – if the intended subject of this message saw it, will you stand by what you write?