The dot in Twitter replies

2013.11 twitter-256-blackYou learn something new everyday. I picked this tidbit up from “How To Twitter: Why Do People Put a Period in Front of Tweets?” — if you want your reply or @ message to someone to show up to everyone in your feed, you need to add a period before the @.

Because otherwise, if a tweet starts with an account name, Twitter assumes that this is a Reply, instead of something which is meant for everyone to see. As a result, the only people who will see this pop up in their feed are the two people involved and anyone who follows BOTH of those accounts. If you follow just one or the other, you won’t see this in your general feed.

Thinking that this might be wrong, I looked up it on the Twitter website:

This has nothing to do with @replies directed to you. This is about what @replies you see from people you follow. The default—@ replies to the people I’m following—is probably what you have it set on (98% of people do). That means, if you’re following me, but not following @veronica, you wouldn’t see the tweet above (unless you went to my profile).

The beauty of this is that I can feel free to @reply Veronica without worrying about the fact that only a subset of my followers also follow Veronica, so they won’t know what I’m talking about. My followers will only see my update if they follow both of us (if they have their setting on the default).

We’re trying to avoid the situation of you hearing someone answer a question when you didn’t hear the question (for instance). Also, you don’t have to hear answers to the question from people you don’t want to hear from. (If you’re not following them, you won’t see their answer.)

This is the main thing that people are confused about, I’ve found. There are good reasons for this. For one, it didn’t use to work like this. (Since @replies were just normal tweets at one point, all your followers would see all of your, no matter who you were replying to.) Secondly, we don’t explain it very well (thus, the need for this post). And third, some people do have their setting at “all @ replies”—so they see all the replies people they’re following make, even if they’re not following the person being replied to. Many people I’ve talked to have this setting on and don’t realize what it actually does. (Usually, they just want to see @replies directed to them).

So now I am going to start doing this myself. When a message is more than a reply, I will use the period… and see what happens.

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About Sandra Fernandez

Sandra Fernandez is a professional communicator, tech enthusiast, book lover, and blogger. You can find her main blog at and more of her writing at

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  1. Sandra – yea, I occasionally add that to replies I make to guests that I think will be useful for other fans to see. If it’s a response to a specific question or complaint that I want to keep between us, then I don’t.

    • Sandra Fernandez says:

      That’s a good way to approach it. I know that if it’s something I intend everyone in my feed to read, a tip or a comments of some sort, adding the dot at the beginning (if you are starting with an @ name) is essential. Tks.


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