The One Mistake That Costs You Your Twitter Success

Twitter has been around for ages; compared to some of the other social networks Twitter has not changed its fundamental functionality much. But still many, many Twitter users are not familiar with some of the most basic features of Twitter – and that totally screws up their Twitter success.

There are some small tweaks on Twitter that can work wonders for you – and they can completely cost you your reach and results when you do not understand how they work.

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And there is one mistake I see over and over again. It does not seem to be such a big thing; no one is going to cut your head of for getting it wrong – but it can be the one reason you do not see the results on Twitter that you were hoping for.

How can you use the @ sign on Twitter?Many Twitter users are not familiar with some of the most basic functionalities of Twitter – and that totally screws up their Twitter success.

On Twitter, you can explicitly mention other Twitter accounts in your tweets. You just put the Twitter handle of the person/account you want to mention in your tweet, complete with the @ in front of it:

Hi @dreckbaerfrau, How are you today?

Did you know that it makes a whole lot difference where you put that @twitterhandle in your tweet? That this @twitterhandle influences where your Tweet shows up?
When I started out, I early on understood, that by mentioning other Twitter accounts in my tweet I could get their attention. What took me much longer was to figure out that mentioning a Twitter handle influences if and how a tweet of mine shows up in the feed of my followers or elsewhere. And I am not the only one. Millions of Twitter users have it all wrong.

So here are some variations of using @mentions in your tweets and what it means for your reach:

Mentioning a @Twitterhandle at the beginning of a tweet

Mentioning a @Twitterhandle at the beginning of a tweet is probably the worst variant of getting the usage @Twitterhandle in a tweet wrong. If you start a tweet with a @Twitterhandle, your tweet will NOT show to all your followers in their feed. Mentioning a @Twitterhandle at the beginning of a tweet is for conversations between people. Most of the time these tweets are used as replies (that is also what Twitter calls this type of tweet), and that is exactly how Twitter treats this kind of tweet. The tweets show to the mentioned Twitter accounts and to people who follow both the sender of the tweet and the recipient.

For example, if I promised to bring Jonathan something he is waiting for and I missed it. He can tell me what he thinks in a simple tweet:

@dreckbaerfrau I waited for you. What’s going on?

That is right because he then is explicitly addressing me. You can use this form of tweets to get directly in touch with people on Twitter. These tweets will show up in the peoples’ notifications tab no matter if they follow you or if you are following them or neither of you is following the other.Bildschirmfoto 2016-02-10 um 11.30.44

If you want to see the replies of any account you can go to the “Tweets & replies” section of this Twitter account.

However, if I want to express my opinion about Jonathan (Twitter handle @jogebauer) and want the world to know, then a tweet like

@jogebauer is a very creative marketer

will not do the trick, because it does not show to the world, but only to @jogebauer, me and the handful of people following us both. So, if you want to shout out something like the above, you need to use a trick.
Either you add a . or ‘ in front of the @Twitterhandle, or you rephrase your tweet that it says something like

My brother @jogebauer is a very creative marketer

Mentioning a @Twitterhandle at another place in a tweet

There are several reasons why you may want to mention another Twitter account in one of your tweets. As long as you do not do it at the beginning of the tweet what will happen is this: Your tweet shows up in all your followers feeds PLUS it shows up in the notification tab of the accounts you mentioned – no matter if they follow you, or you follow them or neither.

Most of the time this is done to make sure to catch the attention of another account. And usually it works, since more people check their notifications tab than read ALL the tweets in their feed.

Now, do not head over to Twitter and mention random accounts in your tweets to get more attention. That is spam. And it is not going to get you anywhere.

But there are several legitimate ways to use @mentions with the intention of getting more attention to your tweet hopefully with some retweets. Here are some examples:

When you tweet other peoples’ content, you can mention the source in your tweet – often they will favorite (like) or retweet your tweet. Such a tweet looks like this:

14 great content marketing blogs LINK via @theblog

Or you can give credit to the author of a post. In some cases that are going to be the same as the above, but for instance for guest posts it can be a different Twitter account:

14 great content marketing blogs LINK @by @postauthor

You can even combine the two

14 great content marketing blogs LINK by @postauthor via @theblog

But there is more you do with mentions of @Twitterhandles in your tweets. You know why so many people write blog posts about the “Top Influencers” or “Top Twitter accounts” and publish them as list posts? Because these posts not only give you the opportunity to mention all these influencers or their Twitter handles in your tweets, you will also inspire a ton of (re-)tweets about this list from all the influencers that are on the list.

You can push it and make the influencers aware that you included them in your list by mentioning them in your Tweets about this list:

50 Twitter accounts for healthcare you should follow LINK including @Twitteraccount1 @Twitteraccount2 and @Twitteraccount3

Have you seen tweets like that? Well, now you know what they are about. They inspire retweets and interaction!

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A word of warning

This way of “tagging” people in your tweets is acceptable. However, don’t overdo it. Do not add a list of large but random Twitter accounts to your tweets. That will not work, and it will hurt your Twitter account. At best the large account will ignore your tweet, but they might just report you as spam. The same goes for randomly tagging people in images.

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This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.

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  • Steve

    Great explanation of how to properly use the @twitterhandle! I’m totally guilty of using it wrong. Or at least not realizing the difference it makes when you put the @ in the beginning of a tweet etc.
    This article was just what this novice Twitter user needed!

  • Colin Bielckus

    Very useful. Thank you.

  • narender sangwan

    Really informative this would help many to use twitter effectively.

  • samstravblog

    Great article. Thank you very much for sharing these wonderful tips.

  • Carl Kruse

    Echoing everyone else in thanking you for the info on the proper use of @ with Twitter.
    Follow up article in using # ? :)

    Carl Kruse