Thursday, January 8, 2009

Talk Tweet To Me

I've been on Twitter a long time, so by now the language used there is sort of second nature to me. And a lot of it is the same stuff you see all the time on IM conversations - things like "LOL" because there is only so much you can fit into 140 characters. I hope to help take the mystery out of some of the other stuff that might come up there.

1. Follow
This one is sort of obvious. You read something that someone likes, and you want to follow them so you can read more. It has a few different impacts on your relationship with that person when it comes to Twitter. Not only do their posts now show up in your stream to read, but depending on their settings, they will now see @ messages that you send to them, and you can receive direct messages (DMs) from them. Follow people you want to keep up with, people that are interesting to you, people you want to network with, companies you use ... heck, you can even follow God, DarthVader, and a long list of other wacky accounts.

Here is the catch though -- just because you follow someone, they may or may not follow you back. The same holds true that you don't have to follow everyone that follows you. Personally, I try to follow people that bring my life value, that I can relate to somehow. I use TweetDeck, as I mentioned before, to keep them all straight. I have to admit, I think that if you're using Twitter to market your business, you *should* try to follow the majority of people that follow you. If someone walked into your studio, you wouldn't just ignore them after telling them about your latest promotion. It is a conversation - join in.

2. The @ Thing
This takes a little bit to get used to, but before you know it you will find it to be second nature. This cool little thing makes it easy for someone else to hear you. Think of it like walking up to someone at a party and saying something - out loud - directly to them.

Something important to know -- the @ reply works best when you put it at the FRONT of the message, before anything else. Otherwise, and some of the other software will not display it to the user you intend to see it.

For example, the other day Anne sent me this message:
@christinebpc thinking about going to SXSW in March for @alexruthmann's spring break- any advice?

The whole world could see her message, but because of that magical @christinebpc up at the very beginning, it showed up on under my "Replies".  How awesome is that? Just like at a party, other people could "hear" what we were saying, and join in the conversation if they wanted to -- sometimes, I find out really helpful things that way. Someone else who read that message to me might choose to tip Anne off to great hotel room deals, or things to be sure not to miss. Just like a group gathering at a party.

The @ part of the example above, where it has @alexruthmann, would not show up under Alex's Twitter reply tab though, because he isn't the lead @ in the tweet. However, it would still be a link to his Twitter stream, so people could follow it and check it out. Some softwares will display it too, and it would show up in Twitter Search as well.

Want to streamline what you see in your Twitter timeline? You have the option in your settings on Twitter to view all @ replies that the people you follow send, to view only the @ replies sent to people you are following, or no @ replies. I have mine set to show me all @ replies, even to the people I don't follow, because I often discover new people and things that way.

You can send @ replies to people you do not otherwise follow. Depending on their settings, they may or may not see them. I use Twitter Search to find any replies I might have missed (along with a variety of other things.)

3. The Direct Message aka DM
You want to say something directly to someone - but you don't want the whole world to see what you're saying. A nifty feature of Twitter is the ability to send someone a Direct Message, or a DM. Only hitch? They have to follow you in order for you to DM them. If they don't follow you, then you just have to shout to the wind with an @ message.

If you are on the Twitter site, and viewing someone's profile page, you can quickly tell if they follow you because there is a "Message" option in the right sidebar, just above the icons of who they follow. If that Message option is there, you're all set. Click it, and send your private message along.

There is an even faster way to send a direct message though! Just type a d before the username, at the very beginning of the tweet, then when you hit send - they will get the message! This is really handy if you use SMS to send tweets along. As long as you know their username, you don't have to go to their profile to send a message.

Note: there is no @ needed when you're sending a DM.

Here is how you would format it:
d AnneRuthmann I got your message about SXSW - it is so awesome! You must come! I can't wait to see you there.

Once I hit send, this would go straight to her.  If you try to do that to someone that doesn't follow you, it will bounce, and I don't think you'll have any way of knowing it unless you're on the Twitter site.

If you use the Message option on their profile page, you do not have to type "d username" also. It is a one or the other thing.

Sometimes you'll see people write a post, and they will say at the end "dm me" or "d me for more details" -- I know someone that sold her used camera gear that way, listing it in a tweet, and the person that bought it sent her a direct message to start to make the arrangements.  

4. TinyURL? What are these strange addresses?
The down side of Twitter is that 140 character limit. Awesome to make quick posts. Not so great to post a long website address. Ugh.

Two of the services out there - there are many others, I'm sure - that will allow you to shorten a URL so it will fit can be found at and at I use most of the time because it is shorter, but was one of the first available, allows you to create a custom TinyURL, the URLs are permanent and never expire, and is a reliable service.

Hope that helps with the basics - in the next few day, I'll talk more about some of the other terms you often see on Twitter. Is there anything you've seen over there that you can't figure out? Let me know!

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. It took me the LONGEST time to figure out direct messages. Even longer to figure out why some of mine had a d in front of them, this is so helpful to Twitter-ers!

    One question, why does my DM number change all the time? Sometimes I'm at 59, then the next load I'm at 60 then back to 59???

  2. I've noticed that too, and it bugs me! But I don't know why it does that -- I think it may have to do with (geek stuff ahead) how they load-balance the servers for and as that happens, the number changes? But it is always 1-2 digits off, and then you look again and it is right. So weird!

  3. check

  4. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your informative posts!! I'm so glad you're here!!


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