Monday, June 6, 2011

Twitter lesson I learned from Carolina (@MissBrazil) : the power of @

One of the greatest Twitter lessons I learned was from Carolina (@MissBrazil), cofounder of The Bloggers School (@BloggersSchool).

Carolina taught me the power of " @ ".

I was just getting started, and really didn't "get" Twitter, having bought into its founders' misguided use of language, calling my stream a "timeline" and my tweets "updates" about "what I'm doing".... and wondering why on earth would anyone want to read my "updates" on "what I was doing".

As if Twitter was a game of solitaire, where I record my random musings, and others mysteriously would find that of interest.

But Carolina disabused me of that. She said "I want you to be a good citizen of Twitter, I want you to be courteous and polite. Many people don't know how to be polite, they don't know how to respond to tweets. But I want you to understand. When people send you a tweet, you must respond to it. That's just good manners."

And then she taught me how to unravel Twitter's mystery and find the mysterious hidden location of the tweets addressed to me, since Twitter had no inbox and was silent on the subject (it has since updated its format to include such a 'place', but at the time offered none).

She taught me that every tweet addressed to me had a " @ " before "raybeckerman", so all I had to do was search for "@raybeckerman" and I would find them.

And then I was able to respond to them.

I have since learned that the " @ " is at the core of all interactivity on Twitter.

Every tweet intended for my eyes has my name preceded by the @; every tweet I send to someone has their name preceded by the " @ "; and every time anyone gives another the honor of a "retweet", the retweeted person's name is preceded by an " @ ".

The other day, I noticed that when I am looking at someone's profile page, to decide whether I wish to follow them or not, the most important thing to me is the incidence of " @ "'s in their timeline. The absence of "@"'s tells me this is someone who is just talking "at" people; their presence tells me this is someone who is engaged in conversation and sharing.

Since sharing and conversation are what Twitter is really all about, for me, the " @ " is what it's all about.

I see many, many twitter accounts -- many of them accounts of people who supposedly are knowledgeable about "social media" -- which have very few tweets that include " @ ". I'm glad I avoided that mistake. In my opinion those people are wasting their time here, in self-promotion, self-adoration, or just plain isolation, and are missing out on the treasure that is here, which is community.

So thank you, Carolina ( @MissBrazil ), for the valuable lesson I learned from you: the power of @.

(Here's a shortened url for this post:


  1. How do RTs figure into the @ interactivity?

  2. When you RT someone you're supposed to do it as

    RT @raybeckerman

    so that the retweeted person will get a copy. So it's highly interactive. You're not only sharing his or her material with your entire network, but you're letting him know that you did. Also sometimes the RT'er will find space to put in a remark of his or her own (e.g. LUV THIS, or MUST READ or LOL, etc.).

    So it's incredibly interactive; it's like throwing a party, in which you're saying to your entire network, "Hey guys, this is from one of my other friends, and I think it's worth your looking at". If people like it, they may wind up following the RT'd person when they weren't before.

    There are probably even more interactive features about it which I'm not mentioning, but you get the idea.

  3. People will often write back to the RT'd person as well. And if they RRT the item, the RT'd person may write to them & thank them.

    Interesting you should ask because my next planned blog post is specifically about retweets.

  4. Ray, thank you for SEVERAL points to ponder...

  5. Thanks Ray for the informative article...I definitely need to learn more about Tweeting effectively! I love the internet "community"..I'll try some of the tips...


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