Twitter is a great tool for businesses, but like any tool, it can be used incorrectly. A perfectly good tool used incorrectly becomes a terrible mistake — like using a saw to cut a turkey or using a spoon to shovel snow. Just because you can tweet something doesn’t mean you should tweet something. In the same way you would get scoffs and eye-rolls for sawing a turkey dinner or spending hours vigorously scooping snow, there’s a sort of etiquette for twitter.
Today I’m going to share with you the use of and the difference between two characters that cause people a lot of trouble on Twitter: # and @. If you mix them up, overuse them, or abuse them, read on.
Hashtag isn’t a bad word, although whoever started the hashtag trend probably had a Dr. Frankenstein, “I’ve created a monster!” kind of moment. Hashtags are great for getting your tweet where you want it. Think of a hashtag as a key word; you want one, maybe two, three tops keywords that people can find your post with. You do not want a double digit string of hashtags that are so odd and specific that no one would ever search for any of them. When you use too many tags, they lose their effect.
Hashtags are also not for talking to people directly. When you want to get somebody’s attention, you use a different symbol. Read on for that.
More on hashtags:
The @ symbol on Twitter can be a tricky command, but if you know how it works, you can use it in different ways to get different results. If you use the @ symbol, you are trying to directly converse with someone. However, using @ doesn’t result in a private conversation between you and that person.
If you start a tweet with @, the only people who get to see the message are those who follow you and the person you’re tweeting. So if you type, “@PoppinFresh Why are you so ticklish?” The only people who will see the tweet are: you, Poppin’ Fresh, and the people who follow both you and Poppin’ Fresh. Folks who follow just you or just Poppin’ Fresh won’t see the conversation.
Starting a tweet with @ is great if the only audience you want is the one with the people who follow both you and the person you’re tweeting, but you’re also narrowing your audience.
Let’s say that Poppin’ Fresh got the tweet, and he is not amused. In fact, Poppin’ Fresh is livid. He wants to send a reply, only he doesn’t just want the people who follow you and him to see it; he wants the whole world to see it.
If you want to tweet at somebody and have everyone see it, use the @ symbol after the first character in the tweet. People commonly just type a period and then use @ to do this. So, Poppin’ Fresh might respond, “.@You Mind your own business.” You don’t have to use a period; any character will do.
The best option for using @ in a tweet that you want everyone to see is to actually use your words. “I’m sorry @PoppinFresh, let’s be friends.”