These days almost everyone is a social media coach. Or at least a Twitter expert.
[They remind me of the time when I nicknamed one of my newsletters “The Worst”. Why? Almost every other newsletter was named “The Best”]
That’s why so many good Twitter tips are misunderstood and applied in a way that I would politely call it… not the best one.
What I propose you for today is to forget all videos, articles, or whatever content you have read on this topic, and use a powerful weapon: the common sense. OK?
Just in case you don’t know why some tweeps use that dot in front of some of their tweets, lemme start with some basics…
1. What Happens When a Tweet Begins with a Username?
Let’s suppose that you want everyone know how happy you are with Twitter’s customer support. You could send to your followers this tweet:
Twitter’s customer support rocks!
This tweet isn’t that good though. You didn’t tag Twitter. When you’re happy with a service, you usually let the provider know your feeling. So you try to improve the first tweet and write the second version…
@Twitter’s customer support rocks!
Apparently the second tweet looks better. But there’s a trap here…
A tweet that begins with a username isn’t seen by your followers in their home timeline unless they follow the user mentioned in the tweet (Twitter in this example).
While your intention was to let both Twitter and all your followers know how happy you are, the result is different. If 5% (just an example) of your followers follow the account @Twitter, then for sure 95% of your followers will not see your tweet.
That is a very low reach for your tweet. That wasn’t your intention, was it? This bad result was caused by the fact that you transformed a normal tweet into a kind of reply.
2. A Noob-Style Solution: a Meaningless Dot
The solution to this new problem is simple: don’t begin that tweet with a Twitter handle. If you add anything in front of that handle – even a dot – you solved the problem:
.@Twitter’s customer support rocks!
That dot is a solution indeed. Not the best one though…
What’s the point of a dot in front of a sentence? It’s meaningless, isn’t it? It doesn’t convey any message to the reader.
And it’s very confusing to the new users. That’s why so many people ask, “What does the period/dot in front of a tweet mean?”
Warning: The dot from the example shown above has no meaning indeed, but at least it’s functional: it solves a problem. However, when a Twitter handle isn’t placed at the very beginning of a tweet (as shown in the example below), a dot in front of that handle has no meaning and no function. Such a dot only wastes the space for no reason at all.
3. The Elegant Solutions
If adding anything in front of a Twitter handle solves the problem, why adding something meaningless instead of adding something meaningful?
Just because it’s the easiest solution? Well, robbing a bank is one of the easiest solution to make money, but…
So… Rephrase it…
Happy with @Twitter’s customer support. It rocks!
Or add a meaningful emoji instead of that dumb dot…
:) @Twitter’s customer support rocks!
Or add an appropriate hashtag and you may increase even more the reach of your tweet…
#CustomerSupport: @Twitter rocks!
4. Bonus: A Good Twitter Tip Converted into Pesky Behavior
The lesson learned by almost everyone is that if you don’t start your tweets with a Twitter handle you increase their reach. Good lesson, good tip.
The lesson not learned by many tweeps (so many!) is that you don’t want to increase the reach of all your tweets.
See the tweet on the left side? The simple dot in front of the handle transformed that reply into a normal tweet. With the help of that simple trick all followers of the sender of that tweet will see that masterpiece.
Masterpiece? Just kidding’, of course. Who cares about your smiley addressed to someone else? Will your followers be happy to see that type of tweet in their home timeline?
Many fake experts and influencers will tell you that the answer is yes or that they don’t care whether the followers are happy or not.
I’m telling you something else: that’s one of the most annoying Twitter habits.
Why annoy people for no reason?
When it comes to sharing an article, a quote or an opinion, you want indeed to get as many readers as possible. In such a case, you want an increased reach.
When it comes to a conversation between you and another person, most of the times that’s irrelevant to the other people. You aren’t the center of the world, are you?
Just figure out what mess your home (or list) timeline becomes if everyone applies this dumb tactic and shares all pieces of conversation with you.
Just remember these two simple rules…
If you talk/tweet about someone, you usually want to increase the reach of that tweet. So you don’t start your tweet with that person’s username. Begin your tweet with a relevant hashtag. Or at least an emoji. Or rephrase it. Never start it with something meaningless such as a dot.
If you talk/tweet to someone, there’s usually no point in increasing the reach of that tweet (unless that piece of conversation is important, it’s understandable as a stand-alone tweet and other people may be interested in it). So you start your tweet with that person’s username.
To Your Twitter Marketing Success!
P.S. Your turn. Did you ever use a dot in front of some tweets? Will you still use it after reading this blog post? (Why?)
P.P.S. Follow me on Twitter for more interesting internet marketing tips & news.