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Ask small business owners or entrepreneurs about Twitter and you tend to hear one of two responses:

Famous in your field tip: @replies on Twitter

Is this Twitter quirk sabotaging your outreach?

“I’m ADDICTED to Twitter. I’ve met so many great people/mentors/friends/joint venture partners, it’s insane.”


“I’m on Twitter, but I don’t really know what to do. I just don’t get it.”

Hey, don’t sweat it. Too much Twitter isn’t the best use of time for every business owner. However, if you’re trying to build a strong personal brand, and get your expertise into the world, it’s a smart tool to throw into your Craftsman Pro Chest.

Guidelines for tweeting to build your personal brand and position as a leader and expert include tweeting helpful articles, resources, and tips, as well as commenting and retweeting other people’s helpful articles, resources and tips. Just like at a cocktail party, you want to steer clear of being that cringe-worthy guy who just won’t shut up about themselves.

There is one Twitter quirk that even people who fall into the addicted camp may not know. It’s about the “@reply.”

The @reply

What those in the Twitter know call “at replies”, more often “@reply” are just what you’d think they are; a Twitter tweet directed at one person (or Twitter account.)

Here’s how it works:

I write an update that says, “@laurapclark I totally agree. Argo was robbed!”

Starting my update with “@laurapclark” signals that I’m addressing her specifically, just like you would in a group conversation. But even though my update is directed at her, it’s not private. Other people can see what I’m saying, just like in a group conversation.

The “@reply” can appear anywhere within the tweet.

And now for that pesky quirk  you may not know…

@replies to you

If someone @replies you—that is, they start a tweet with @yourusername—you will see that in your main timeline if you follow the person.  You’ll see it in your replies tab, whether you follow them or not (unless you’ve blocked them.)

That means, if you’re following me, but not following @laurapclark, you wouldn’t see the tweet above (unless you went to my profile).

Let me lay out a scenario where this Twitter quirk is doing you wrong.

Let’s say that I just read @laurapclark’s blog article on Sunday Success Steps and I’d like to spread a little love by posting a link to it on Twitter.

If I write this status update, “@laurapclark explains how scanning and planning your week brings more ease & success: http://ow.ly/hlvbn” my followers won’t see that tweet unless they happen to be following me and @laurapclark.

Love spreading opportunity lost.

Fortunately, you can easily remedy that. Whenever you want all your Twitter followers to be able to see your tweets mentioning someone that you’re connected with, start the update with a period, like this:

.@laurapclark explains how scanning and planning your week brings more ease & success: http://ow.ly/hlvbn”

You can also use the @username somewhere else within your tweet, such as:

“Soul-wise @laurapclark explains how scanning and planning your week brings more ease & success: http://ow.ly/hlvbn”

Your fame boosting assignment:

Whenever you want to publicly throw a little Twitter love to someone else, be sure to start your tweet with a period or use the person’s Twitter handle within the tweet, not at the beginning. Happy tweeting!


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