How to Reply on Twitter

In our previous post, Promote Yourself: Get Retweeted, we took a quick look at how to promote your Twitter account, and how to get retweeted.

In this post, we continue the Twitter series with a discussion of how to reply to messages on Twitter, as well as a word of caution about Direct Messages.

AttributionShare AlikeSome rights reserved by Luca Zappa

How to Reply

We briefly touched on replying via Twitter — start your tweet with @ and the user’s handle. Twitter automatically fills this in for you if you use the Website.

We’d like you to think before you reply, because by default, Twitter doesn’t include the content of the message you’re replying to. You should always remember when replying that your reply will be a public tweet, but without any context, nobody else will have any idea what you’re talking about, like this actual tweet: “@puppydog: Maybe in Montana!!! LOL.” That may be OK with you, but if your entire twitter stream is comprised of incomprehensible non sequitur replies to your tweeps, who’s going to want to follow you?

Be sensitive to others who may be reading your stream when replying, and if it really is nobody’s bus­iness what you’re saying, make the tweet a direct message (known as a DM) by placing a D as the first character. Be sure to use a D and not a DM. If DM is the first characters of a message, the message is a normal, public tweet.

Be Careful of Direct Messages

You are not likely to have a personal relationship with all of your followers. You may follow them back because they seem interesting, or because you’d like to get more followers. Thus you need to be careful about clicking on links from DMs. There have been many spam and phishing attempts via DM, so be aware that the URL in the tweet — especially a shortened URL — could go to a malware site.

If you’re not quite sure what we were saying in the last paragraph, here are some definitions:

  • Spam — delicious pork product
  • Phishing — messages pretending to be from a trusted source that try to get your account info
  • Malware — viruses, spyware, keystroke loggers — any type of program with a bad intent

Twitter will help you see where you’ll be taken if you click on a shortened link. Simply mouse over the link and up will pop a little balloon with the full URL.

Next up: Twitter Do’s

How to Reply on Twitter is the 113th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 310. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

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