Some Twitter tips & tricks you might be missing – part one

Posted by Jen Ochej on September 17, 2013

If you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume you’re already a Twitter user. You might use it personally, whether to keep in touch with friends, stay on top of news, or follow celebrities you admire; or you might use it for your business or non-profit, to build a community and increase your customer base.

Many of us understand the usefulness of Twitter, and maybe you’re one of those folks who was convinced that the microblogging service could be a great tool for your brand and jumped in with both feet.

One of the nice things about Twitter is that it makes it really easy to do just that; there’s not a painfully steep learning curve to deal with. At the same time though, at some point you may have thought that while you sort of ‘get’ Twitter, you might also be missing a thing or two as well. If that’s the case, I’ve begun compiling this list for you. I’ll continue to add to it in future posts so keep an eye out!

RT and MT

They stand for Retweet and Modified Tweet, and they each exist for a different reason. Back when Twitter first began, there was no official “retweet” function. However, users often wanted to re-post something they had read, so they would do this by copying the entire tweet and adding an “RT” before the original poster’s username. It resulted in something like this:

RT @username This is a really awesome tweet you definitely want to re-post to all your followers.

However, copying the entire tweet, plus username, plus adding an “RT” at the beginning, often meant that you would surpass the character limit and be unable to re-post the tweet in question. Thus, “MT”, or Modified Tweet, was born. Adding this instead of “RT” allows you to make utilitarian edits to the original tweet, generally for length and/or clarity. When “MT” prefaces a tweet, your followers know that it’s more of a paraphrase than a direct quote. So the above tweet, were it over 140 characters, might get modified like this:

MT @username This is an awesome tweet you want to re-post to your followers.

Same basic message, just shorter.

@username ← Why this means that most of your followers aren’t seeing your tweet.

Let’s say you’re advertising a show that’s happening at your bar next week, so you tweet, “@musician will be at [name of your bar] next Friday! Tickets are on sale now!” Congratulations, you’ve just made sure that a good chunk of your followers didn’t see your tweet (and that none of your followers who don’t already know @musician saw it)!

See, in Twitter-land, when a tweet begins with a username it’s automatically categorized as a reply. Because tweet conversations are generally only applicable/interesting to people who follow both users (if that), Twitter kindly filters out conversations happening between people when you don’t follow both of them. So if your friend Joe is having a conversation with his friend Bob, but you don’t know or follow Bob, their conversation won’t be visible in (or cluttering up) your timeline.

The problem comes up when people are in fact trying to advertise something applicable to the username with which they begin their tweet, rather than having a conversation with that person. Unfortunately, Twitter has no way of differentiating between the two, so it’s up to you to remember not to begin your tweet with a username. The quickest workaround, rather than re-phrasing your post? Simply put a period before the username, like this:

.@musician will be at [name of your bar] next Friday! Tickets are on sale now!

And with that, 100% of your followers have now seen your tweet. Easy as pie!

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See, now don’t you already feel better prepared to succeed at Twitter? Simple steps that can help you get to the next level. As I mentioned above, I’ll continue to add to this list in future posts – so check back again for the next installments!