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Zen Peacekeeper Guide to Twitter: Join the conversation

Monday, March 15, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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Twitter-radish Two weeks ago I started a series of short posts sharing what I know about Twitter.

If you missed them, you can read the previous posts:

Twitter posts will pop up once a week and although I have some ideas
about the topics they’ll cover, please feel free to leave a comment
with any of your burning questions about Twitter.

Last week I shared my thoughts on getting started on Twitter, so now you have your profile, have chosen some people to follow and hopefully some of them are following you back. What next? Twitter is not just a series of millions of tiny billboards, it’s a form of conversation. So, it’s time to join the conversation.

Join the conversation

There are four main ways to join the Twitter conversation:

  • replying;
  • retweeting;
  • direct messaging; and
  • using hashtags.

I’m going to take these one at a time. Each is relatively simple but it can get overwhelming fast. So this week, let’s look at ‘replying’ which is also known as ‘mentioning’.


When you place the symbol @ before anyone’s Twitter name in a Tweet, that tweet will show up in that person’s feed, whether or not they are following you. There is a special feed in each person’s Twitter account for all tweets that mention them. Here is a screen shot of mine:

Picture 1

As you can see, this is a great way of initiating conversation with someone you are following.

In fact the only reason I have that response from Chuck (who is someone every aspiring writer should be following, he is the King of agent advice) is because I responded to one of his Tweets, including his Twitter name preceded by the @ symbol so that it showed up in his stream.

You can also see that while two of these Tweets are direct responses to something I had Tweeted, the third (from irenenam) is not a reply but a mention. She’s talking about me, and Twitter makes sure I know about it.

As it happens I already know and love irenenam, so I’m already following her. But if I hadn’t been, seeing this Tweet would have motivated me to go and check out her profile and, almost certainly, given how sweet this Tweet is, follow her.

So mentions are also a good way to connect with your ‘right people’ on Twitter.

A couple of final points about ‘mentions’ and ‘replies’ – which perhaps explain the difference between the two.

If you are replying directly to someone else then you are likely to put their twitter name (preceded by @) at the front of the Tweet, in fact if you use the “reply” button built into Twitter this is what it will do for you. These replies show up in the stream of the person they are directed towards and in the streams of anyone following both you and the person you have replied to, your other followers won’t see them.

If you are “mentioning” someone, then it is likely that you’ll place other words before their name, in this case the Tweet will appear in the feeds of all your followers.

To use the examples above, Chuck’s tweet would only have shown up in my stream and the stream of anyone who was following us both. Irene’s tweet will have gone out to all her followers.

Occasionally you’ll see that someone has inserted a period before a reply, they do this so that the tweet appears in all of their followers feeds/streams, presumably because what they have to say to that one person is important enough for everyone else to read it to. Make sense?

Start a conversation with me!

If you read my blog and follow me on Twitter and I’m not following you, mentioning me or replying to me this way is a great way to let me know you are out there and would like to connect, by the way. I’m sure I’d love to connect with you too!

Have fun with that folks, and meet me back here next week to talk about retweeting.

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4 Responses to "Zen Peacekeeper Guide to Twitter: Join the conversation"

  1. a.q.s. says:

    nevermind. this answers a lot of my questions. thanks! sorry for asking on the other post! whoops. should have read this first!

  2. a.q.s. says:

    Could you please elaborate on this? A little confusing?
    Thanks so much!

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