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March 31, 2017, update
Replies on Twitter are an interesting thing. It used to be years ago that when you replied to somebody everyone following you would see those tweets. Then they changed that to: Only people following you and the person you replied to would see those tweets. Then in May 2016, Twitter made the announcement mentioned below that everyone would once again see tweets in @ replies. Then just now, Twitter rolled out a new way replies worked.
When you click reply, it looks like this below. As you can see there’s no way to add the period to maximize reach of the tweet.
Once a reply is sent it looks like this:
I wondered how many people see those reply tweets. This one above was seen 28 times, which is far less than the 688 average impressions each of my 1,801 tweets saw in the most recent 28-day time period.
Still, only people who follow both accounts can see these reply tweets. I did see some examples in my Twitter feed and verified that I followed both accounts indeed. When I follow both Twitter users, I saw their replies. So that wasn’t changed – at least not yet.
And that might be okay if fewer people see them since it’s a reply to a person and not a more broadcast type tweet.
But there’s a way to share a “reply” tweet with all your followers.
There might be a reason to do that and here’s how I would. Instead of clicking reply, click the retweet button, but instead of clicking retweet, click Quote (on mobile) or add a comment (on desktop).
This is by far the best way to ensure to reply AND make sure more people can see the tweet – if that’s your goal. If your goal is to just respond to the person and you could care less who else sees it, just click reply. Remember though, that replies of public accounts are public and people can still see them on your timeline no matter what.
May 24, 2016 update
This appears to be moot point in the coming months, according to this Twitter announcement:
Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.
February 2016 post
This isn’t exactly new information in early 2016 but I see a lot of people who are starting Tweets with the @ sign. Sometimes they want to give somebody credit or share news surrounding that person.
This might look like this:
@ctrappe will be on TV in 10 minutes to ….
The thing is that only people who follow the poster and the person mentioned will see the tweet. Many of the ones I see out there are meant for a wider audience.
The quickest way to reach more people is to simple add a period in front of @.
So like this:
. @ctrappe will be on TV in 10 minutes to ….
Or you could rewrite it with the handle later in the Tweet. The key thing is to not start with @. Starting with the @ is supposed to signal a direct conversation with the other person. Keep in mind that it’s still not private, though.
I inadvertently did this myself when I quoted and responded to a Tweet.
Certainly, some tweets don’t need to be seen by all of our followers and in those cases starting with @ is just fine. Just be sure of the intent before tweeting.