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Vail Tech Bytes: A few ways to talk to Twitterers

Jessie Williams
Tech Bytes
Vail, CO Colorado

In last week’s Tech Bytes we covered some of the basics to getting started on Twitter, finding and following other Twitter users, and writing your first tweet. This week, we’re going to cover some of Twitter’s communication functions.

Twitter is not only a service that allows people to broadcast updates on whatever they’re doing or finding interesting at that moment, using a one-to-many communication model, but it also is a way for people to communicate with each other, one-to-one. This is done through the use of @replys, mentions and direct messaging.

Let’s start with @reply. What this allows a user to do is to comment directly on a person’s tweet and say something back. There are two main ways to create a reply – the first is to manually type the at symbol (@) and then the person’s username into your “What’s happening?” bar at the top of your Twitter home page. Then follow that up with your message. So for example, if someone wanted to reply to a post that I made, they would type “@2ndoctobermedia” and then their message.



The second way to write a reply is to click on the “reply” link in the bottom-right corner of the tweet you’d like to comment on. This will automatically fill in the @reply, which you can then follow with your reply message, and then hit the “tweet” button.

Along the same line as @reply is a twitter mention. It’s the same basic idea as @reply, except that instead of starting the tweet, the @username is found within the body of the message. This is used when a twitterer wants to mention a user in the context of the tweet, but show that the message is not specifically addressed directly to the user.



A couple of things to remember about @reply and mentions is that they are public messages, so anyone who can view your profile and tweets can read these messages. If you want to send a private message, you’ll want to use direct messages, which we’ll get to in a bit.

The other thing you’ll need to know is that to view any replies or mentions that are directed to you, you’ll need to go to your Twitter homepage, and then click on the “@username” (of course substituting “username” for your actual username) link that is located in the right column directly below “Home” and above “Direct Messages.”

In contrast, a direct message allows a user to send a private message to another twitter user. By using a direct message, only the author and recipient can read the message. It works similar to e-mail or a private message on Facebook, however there are a few unique twist to Twitter direct messaging.



First, you can only send a direct message to someone if they are following you. You cannot send a direct message to just anyone you find, like you can with Facebook or e-mail.

Also, with Twitter direct messages, you should know that if you delete a message from your inbox, the message will also be deleted from the sender’s sent mailbox and vice versa. It’s important to note this relationship, as the person with whom you’re communicating can directly affect whether or not you can read past correspondences.

To send a direct message to a follower, there are a few different steps you can take. The first is to click on the “Direct Messages” link in the right column of your home screen. From here, you can choose your message recipient and type in the message. Of course, just like tweets, your direct messages are limited to 140 characters.

The other way to send a direct message is very similar to the way we talked about sending a reply earlier. You can type a direct message into the “What’s happening?” box on your homepage, however this time instead of starting the message with “@username” like you do for a reply, you can instead remove the @ sign and replace it with the letter d (for direct) and a space, for example “d username.”

Stay tuned for next week’s article where we’ll go over even more Twitter shortcuts and features.

Jessie Williams is the owner of Second October Media, http://secondoctober.com, a Web development and graphic design firm in Edwards. Follow her on Twitter at 2ndoctobermedia or e-mail her at info@secondoctober.com.


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