Read Twitter for Dummies Online

Authors: Laura Fitton,Michael Gruen,Leslie Poston

Tags: #Internet, #Computers, #Web Page Design, #General

Twitter for Dummies (10 page)

BOOK: Twitter for Dummies
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This spring Twitter changed how @replies are collected by making the @replies link into an
@username
link that tracks
all
mentions. Anytime your
@username
appears in a tweet, it gets collected here. Some heavy users don’t like this setup because it can get cluttered fast if you’re lucky enough to get mentioned a lot. Even though the page is now considered the Mentions page, most Twitterers still call them @replies, so we use that here.

If you hover your cursor over the tweet that you want to respond to, the Arrow icon appears, which you can then click to reply to that tweet. Clicking the Arrow icon makes the user’s Twitter handle appear in the “What are you doing?” window, and the words “What are you doing?” change to “Reply to” followed by the username of the person you’re replying to, and the Update button becomes a Reply button. Twitter then associates your reply with the original tweet in the Twitter system. The person can see what tweet prompted your reply by clicking the In Reply To link at the bottom of your tweet to him. This In Reply To link is helpful, especially when you’re responding to people who are frequent Twitter users and may have already put out more tweets since the one you’re replying to — it lets them see specifically what you’re responding to.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your Twitter Mentions page (like the one shown in Figure 3-2), which you can open by clicking the
@username
link (with your own username) in the sidebar:

Send @replies anytime.
You can send an @reply to someone by just typing the @ symbol and, without a space, his or her username (for example,
@geechee_girl
). Then type your message and click Update. (See Chapter 5 for more on replying.)

If you just do your reply manually (as opposed to clicking the Reply icon on a specific tweet that you want to reply to), your reply won’t be linked to any particular tweet. This may be exactly the case — @replies actually do initiate a conversation as much as they act as actual replies. But if you really want to reply to a specific tweet, you’re usually better off clicking the Reply icon.

Read (or don’t read) other people’s @replies.
Some more conservative Twitter users prefer not to read @replies that don’t concern them. In the Notices tab on the Settings page, you can opt to

• Not display any @replies

• Display only @replies directed at other Twitter users in your network

• View all @replies from your contacts

If you don’t really care which @replies you see, try the last option: Seeing what your friends and followers are talking about with other Twitter users can help you get more value out of the service and is one of the very best ways to discover new people to add to your network by jumping into conversations.

Figure 3-2:
The @mentions screen, where your ego can get a boost — or not.

Because of the recent shift to collecting mentions on the
@username
tab, it’s interesting to note that the preceding settings apply only to tweets that begin with an
@username
, not those where the
@username
appears anywhere else in the tweet.

Join a conversation.
If you see that one friend or colleague on Twitter has responded to someone in his or her network who wants to know where to get the best pizza in Boston, and you have a recommendation, you can share it. You just have to click the Twitter handle that your friend is @replying to and throw in your two cents. By starting conversations with friends of your friends, you bring new people into your own stream.

Keep in mind that @replies are public tweets. So, unlike text that you send in an instant message program, which you may be used to, other people can always read your @replies, and they’ll be stored by search engines. If you have something private that you need to tell someone, use another feature of Twitter, the direct message (which we talk about in the following section).

Shhh! Sending Private Notes via Direct Messages

Direct messages (DMs) let you send your contacts private notes through Twitter. Just like regular tweets and @replies, they’re limited to 140 characters. Unlike regular tweets and @replies, the only person who can see a DM is the recipient.

You can send a DM only to a Twitter user who’s following you (but you don’t have to be following that user), which is designed to prevent spamming and other unwanted messages by ensuring that people get direct messages only from people they actually want to follow.

The easiest way to see whether someone is following you and to send them a direct message while you’re there is to simply go to that person’s Profile page. You can get to the Profile page by either clicking that person’s
@username
anywhere that you see it or by typing the username into the URL bar on your Web browser after Twitter.com (
http://twitter.com/username
). Then follow these steps:

1. Look for the Message link in the right sidebar under Actions.

If the only action visible is to block the person, he does not follow you, and you can’t DM him.

2.
Click the Message link.

The screen changes to a single text box over the user’s Twitter background that is labeled Send Username a Message.

3.
Write and send your message.

Compose your direct message in this box and then click Send.

You can also send a DM using the main Direct Messages interface:

1. If you’re not on the Direct Messages page on Twitter, click the Direct Messages tab on the sidebar of any Twitter page.

The Direct Messages page opens (as shown in Figure 3-3), displaying

• The Inbox tab, which shows all the direct messages you’ve received over the course of your time using Twitter

• The Sent tab, which shows you all the DMs that you’ve sent

• A tweet input box that’s specifically for DMs

Above the text field, you can find a drop-down menu from which you select the recipient of your DM. That menu lists only the Twitter users who are following you and hence can receive DMs from you.

2. Select a name from the drop-down menu.

Note:
If a lot of people follow you, your drop-down menu doesn’t contain every single follower’s name. After recent Twitter changes, the list now appears to show you the list of people you’ve most recently been DMing with, which is a great solution.

Figure 3-3:
The Direct Messages panel, which lets you have private Twitter conversations.

The only problem is that when a name doesn’t appear in your Direct Message drop-down list, you may assume that it’s because the person no longer follows you. The Direct Message interface can even mistakenly return an error message saying that a given person doesn’t follow you. It’s just not true. The only reliable way to see whether someone follows you back or not is to visit that person’s Profile page. (These steps are described in the preceding list.) Laura has actually had people get sort of mad at her about this, which is ironic because she goes really far out of her way (following everyone back) to make sure that any reader can send her a DM.

BOOK: Twitter for Dummies
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