Today, I did a random poll of a few co-workers and friends about Twitter replies. I asked the following question: “If I send the following tweet, who will see it in their timeline?”
Almost every friend I asked had the same answer, “All of your followers”. That’s actually incorrect. Only users that follow both of us see the tweet. This is documented in the Twitter help pages (under “Things to Note”).
To clarify, this only happens when the tweet starts with a “@”, which indicates that the tweet is a reply and replies get special treatment.
Recently, someone tweeted to promote a recent blog post of mine, but they wrote it this way:
@gregsramblings just blogged about …..
Unfortunately, their 10k+ followers didn’t see it. Only users that follow both of us saw it, which is a much smaller number, so I decided to create a little illustration of this Twitter oddity below.
Notice the common workaround of prepending a dot to the tweet as shown in the 4th tweet below. There is nothing special about the “.” character. It could have been any other valid character. If you want all of your followers to see the tweet, don’t start it with a “@”. Notice the 2nd tweet below.
It’s important to note that the filtering of replies is a feature of twitter, not a shortcoming. Most replies should have limited visibility because you are typically involved in an exchange of tweets with another individual. However, it’s important to understand the difference between a reply and a normal tweet.
Hover or tap one of the tweets below to see which followers will see it in their Twitter timeline.