Who can see your @reply in twitter

I’ve been a serious twitter user for over a year now but only learned a fundamental of Twitter’s reply mechanism a couple of weeks ago (how embarrassing). Looking at the behaviour of some of the people I follow it makes me think others don’t know this little fact either.

If you were like me you probably assumed that if you @replied a person at the start of a tweet, this message would be seen by the person you were @replying (it appearing in their mentions) as well as being seen by all of your followers. Well if you thought that you’d be wrong. What actually happens is this tweet would only be seen by you, the @recipient and only the followers you have in common.

I overcame this ‘threshold concept’ having read and played with Tony Hirst’s Common Friends or Followers on Twitter. Using Tony’s tool I can tell you that if Tony (@psychemedia) mentioned me at the very start of a tweet of his 2795 followers only a 194 would see it.

So if you wanted to share a reply with all your followers how can you do it? Have you ever looked at your twitter stream and wondered why there is a typo a full stop at the start of one of your friends tweets (e.g. .@mhawksey you need to go on twitter 101)? If you have you probably, like me, didn’t realise this was how people get around this Twitter eccentricity.

One important thing to remember is this is only for tweets with @reply at the beginning of your tweet. Tweets with mentions in the body of the tweet will automatically be seen by all your followers.