Follow Basic Guidelines for Conversing on Twitter

By Marsha Collier

A few conventions and standards make Twitter interesting, so follow these basic guidelines for conversing with others on Twitter, and you’ll be tweeting like a pro in no time.

  • Don’t just broadcast your ideologies. When you’re on Twitter, you’ll see that some people just continually broadcast their thoughts over the stream. Broadcast media is so yesterday! In 21st-century new media, it’s all about conversation and engaging others. Your interaction is with real people — talk to them!

  • Do Tweet out ideas and comments. Since it’s all about conversation, give people something to reply to you about. Did you ruin a batch of cookies in the oven? If you’re following other people who might be baking cookies, they’ll commiserate with you. You have to buy new tires, and you’re going through sticker shock? Certainly, in this economy, someone out there can relate.

  • Reply to others. When someone makes a comment that you’re interested in, make a comment back! In the figure, the user is about to reply to the @craignewmark (founder of craigslist and a popular blog, craigconnects.org) about his comment on the HBO TV show, Game of Thrones. In the box below you can see the typed response.

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  1. Mouse over a Tweet on a Twitter page, look for the word Reply at the bottom.

    When you click this Reply link (or swoosh), the Twitter member’s ID appears in the Reply to text box with an at-sign (@) in front of it — for example, @craignewmark. These are called @ (at) replies; they’re visible to the person you addressed them to, and to the people who follow both of you.

    If more than one person is mentioned in the Tweet you’re responding to, all of their IDs will appear in the text box. You may respond to one or all. Just delete any names you don’t want in your Tweet.

  2. If you want all the people who follow you to see an @ reply, embed their names within your Tweet.

    See the example in shown, where the reply is to @Jason__Ramsey. You can also type a period (.) at the start of the @ reply.

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    Remember that @ replies are not private; the private messages you can send are called Direct Messages.

  3. In the following figure, notice how the message looks after you respond to @shashib and click the Reply button.

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    When you send a Tweet like this, the recipient will definitely recognize it as a conversation, and most likely will respond to you.

To see all your interactions and mentions, click the link on the top of your Twitter home page that has the bell icon and the word Notifications next to it.

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In the Notifications area, you can toggle your view between Notifications (every detail of your Twitter stream) or only the Mentions (@ replies) directed at you.

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