Why You Should Never Put a Dot in Front of a Tweet

Never Put a Dot in Front of a Tweet. Not Even in That Case ;)

Why You Should Never Put a Dot in Front of a Tweet

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.

Example of tweet including the dot and handle combination in the middle of the tweet

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.

Annoying Practice: Dot in Front of Twitter Reply

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.

5. Takeaways

Just remember these two simple rules…

  1. 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.

  2. 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!
Adrian Jock

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.

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28 thoughts on “Never Put a Dot in Front of a Tweet. Not Even in That Case ;)

  1. Hi Adrian,

    Twitter marketing is really a tough one. And if we don’t use the things in a proper manner, we will not get success from it. I never heard about this dot funda of twitter before reading your blog post. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us.
    Ovais Mirza

  2. Good article. You give a nice break down of how to use and not use the (dot) on Twitter. I do think it has its benefits when used appropriately. Thanks for pointing out the proper etiquette for the dot. P.S. I came across your article on Pinterest. Thought you might like to know. :)

  3. Thank you for your comment, Carol. I know where each commenter or simple visitor comes from. Not checking the stats is a big mistake for a marketer ;-)

  4. Hi Adrian, I have not used the dot more than once or twice in years. I don’t see the point to it. If it is something meant to be private I would either send a DM or an email to that user. I love your 2nd takeaway, that’s how you can tell who is a well versed Twitter user.
    Thanks for great tips and reminders Adrian.

  5. Want to know the truth? I literally placed a dot in front of a Twitter reply 10 seconds before reading this post. LOL!

    You make some good points – especially like the idea on placing a meaningful hashtag before the @ instead of a period – thanks for the good advice!

  6. Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for your comment :) I think that replacing the dot by an appropriate hashtag is the best option.

    The original intent of the dot is the increase of the reach, right? Well, a hashtag may increase the reach even more. By adding the hashtag, the tweet may get also additional impressions from Twitter Search (people who search for content related to that hashtag).

  7. All this time I thought people were just messing up accidentally without knowing they had a purpose with that period; oy! lol I also never thought about the fact that if I lead with the Twitter handle that only certain people would see it; just never occurred to me. So I learned two big things today; great stuff! See, all this because Lisa wrote about you. :-)

  8. Hi Mitch,

    Thank you for your comment. Many tweeps don’t know that the Twitter handle has one more function besides tagging, and that is limiting the audience when placed in front of a tweet. I’m glad my article helped you :)

    As for Lisa, well, she’s a very nice lady, and I still regret that I was too harsh on her when we first met online :-(

  9. Thanks for clarifying Adrian! I didn’t even realize that this was a thing… And that is exactly why I’ve been so overwhelmed with Twitter, and with most other forms of social media.

    Now that I have ‘luckily’ stumble across this useful tip, I will make sure I try to always put something meaningful or fun in front of it.

  10. Question.
    If I start a tweet so:
    Well, @jadajadajada I do not have to use the dot or period? Or
    Well, .@jadajadajada gives the same results as above

    I am aware that starting is different, example:
    .@jadajadajada says so and so

    1. Hi Ed,

      No matter how many characters you add in front of a Twitter handle and irrespective what these characters are, that tweet is a regular tweet and may be seen by all your followers.

      You may add in front of the handle 1) one or more meaningful words, or 2) you may add a meaningless dot, or 3) a meaningless string of letters such as “fdgfhjkb.” While all three cases transform the tweet into a regular tweet, only the first case looks like a regular human piece of communication.

      Therefore the tweet #1 – Well, @jadajadajada – is a regular tweet, and also the tweet #2 – Well, .@jadajadajada – is also a regular tweet. Both tweets give the same result: they may be seen by all your followers.

      However, the tweet #2 from your example has a dot that has no value, no meaning and no function. In order for that tweet to be seen by everyone you don’t need to add the dot. That’s because you already have other characters in front of the handle – you have the word “well” and the comma, so you don’t need the dot anyway.

      If you have more questions, let me know :)

  11. I know about the dot, but here is what I keep wondering: what happens if you start your tweet with more than one username?
    @X @Y the rest of your tweet.
    Who sees the tweet in this case? Only people who follow both me and X (regardless of whether they follow Y), plus Y since Y was tagged (regardless of whether Y follows me and/or X)?

    1. Hi Alfreda,

      That’s a very good question.

      Your assumption is 99% correct. Most probably because it was too obvious, you forgot to add this: since X was tagged, also X sees that tweet, regardless of whether X follows you and/or Y or not.

      Now let me correct something…

      you start your tweet with more than one username

      The second username (@Y) isn’t at the beginning of the tweet :) Actually you didn’t start the tweet with more than one username. Only one username (@X) is at the beginning of the tweet.

      That’s why there’s no difference between these two types of tweets:

      @X @Y text

      @X text1 @Y text2

      Both tweets above are replies addressed to X that include a mention of Y. Both of them follow the reply visibility rule (RVR) + the tagging rule (TR)

      Both tweets are seen by:

      – (according to RVR) the sender (you), plus
      – (according to RVR, TR) the recipient (X), plus
      – (according to RVR) the users who follow both you and X, plus
      – (according to TR) Y

  12. I have wondered about this for literally a year. Thank you so much for clearing that up.

  13. Well I came here to try and understand why my friend puts dots at the front of her tweets. I hadn’t been and apparently I should have been. So my takeaway is that I SHOULD be putting dots at the front of my tweets cause I don’t have time to play games to make my tweets conform to twitter’s confusing setup that many, many people like me are probably sending out invisible tweets. Now I will add a period to the front of my tweets so people can see them. Thanks!

    1. 1) Twitter’s setup is very good, not confusing. You’re the one confused. And that’s because you only scanned the article instead of actually reading it. The replies aren’t visible to everyone because it makes no sense to show them.

      Picture this: your friend asks you if you’re online. You reply, “Yes.” Why do you think that your yes is so important and your followers have to see it? Most probably they haven’t seen the question you’re responding anyway.

      2) If your friend puts dots in front of all her tweets, then you’re not the only one who is confused. She’s even more confused than you.

  14. Came here by way of Googling for this topic. It was first link. :-) Now read a couple more of your linked postings. All very interesting and useful. Thanks! Qq (bit off topic but was in a linked topic ) should a ordinary tweep (new word) (eg myself!) always/usually thank a retweet?

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for stopping by. Usually you should thank for a retweet indeed. But not all the time.

      Example #1: Let’s say that you shared on Twitter an article that wasn’t written by you.

      a) Sometimes the author may retweet your tweet that promoted his article. Well, your tweet was retweeted but it’s not you the one who should say thank you. The guy who retweeted (the author of the article) should thank YOU.

      b) Other times, a third party guy (not the author of the article) may retweet the article referred above. Since it wasn’t your article, that retweet doesn’t value too much for you. Usually I don’t thank for such retweets.

      Example #2: Some people retweet based on hashtags. If your tweet includes one of the hashtags they target, then they will retweet your tweet. But the truth is that they never read your tweet. It was an automatic retweet. I don’t thank for such a RT. I don’t talk to bots ;)

      Example #3: Some people retweet irrelevant pieces of conversations that you had with them or with someone else. For example you tweet to someone “You’re right!” and that person retweet it. You shouldn’t thank for such retweets.

      I didn’t list all the situations when you shouldn’t thank for a RT, but I guess you understood my point. As for thanking to someone, you shouldn’t necessarily understand an actual “thank you.” I don’t say it all the time. What I do is to share the content of the person who shared my content. That’s more useful than a simple “thank you” ;)

      1. “If your tweet includes one of the hashtags they target”
        Are targets notifications of particular tweets with keywords?
        How does a person (tweeper) set up targets?

        Thank you!

        1. Hi Mike. There are pieces of software – like Tweet Attacks Pro – that retweet automatically based on your settings. You decide the keyword, the number of retweets per hour, etc.

  15. 1) Yes, I have used .@.
    2) Yes, I’ll use it in the future, though not as much as before.
    3) Why? I’m lazy & sometimes I decide a tweet should be public after composing it and μs before the battery conks.

    1. Hi Stephen, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ve just checked your blog and your English language Twitter account. You’re not a marketer. That’s fine, of course, but the point of my remark is this one: my blog includes “marketing tips” in its title and all my articles are addressed to marketers (including brands, businesses, etc).

      Since you aren’t a marketer, my tips doesn’t apply to you. It’s OK to use Twitter the way you want.

      You can even use swear words like you did it today when you tweeted about Stu Loeser, etc. That’s a big no-no for a brand, but not for people like you (and many others – nothing offensive here). Almost anything is OK when you tweet for your own pleasure :)

  16. So, does the dot do nothing if the handle is embedded within the tweet eg: ‘I love the resources on the .@bbc’?

    1. Hi Kerstyn. You understood it very well: the dot from your example has no meaning and no function. So it doesn’t make sense to use it.

      The proper tweet is “I love the resources on the @bbc” This tweet will be displayed in all your followers home pages, on your own timeline (= profile page), and in addition @bbc will be notified about it.

  17. I still think I should use dot[.] at start of tweet as it will still get me more reach than an emoji or hashtag or at least a rephrased tweet! What do you say, Adrian?

    1. Hi Sarabjeet,

      Of course that you can do anything you want. But if you want to get more than you got so far (923 followers within more than 4 years = quite nothing), then it should be obvious that you should change some things and start listening to pieces of advice provided by the people who have better results than you and have more experience ;)

      Coming back to your question, the main answer is included in the article itself. Haven’t you read it? A hashtag – instead of a meaningless dot – may increase the reach of your tweet. The article also includes a link to another article of mine where I show you an increase by almost 24,000% obtained by using an appropriate hashtag.

      In terms of tweet reach, if you compare

      – the dot and an emoji, there’s no difference
      – the dot and a hashtag, the hashtag will always get you an equal or a higher reach (depending on what hashtag you use).

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