Day 4: Sending @messages

Today we’ll focus on @messages, which are used to reply to, ‘call out to’ or mention another person on Twitter. Read through the essential information and then complete today’s task. Don’t worry if it feels a little strange at first – with some practice and by looking at other people’s tweets you’ll quickly become familiar with the concept.    


What are @messages?

There are two types of @messages, which are subtly different:

  1. @Reply: where you respond to someone else’s tweet by using the Reply button.  Twitter will automatically begin your tweet response with the @username.  @replies are only visible to those who follow both the sender and recipient of the @reply.
  2. Mentions: where someone mentions you in their tweet by placing your @username anywhere in the body of the tweet.

Why are @messages useful? 

Twitter is a conversation and you can join the conversation by @replying to other people’s tweets and by mentioning them in your own tweets. Sometimes you might want to address a tweet to someone, which will be visible to other followers, but you want to catch a particular person’s attention with it.  This might be because

  • you are replying to or responding to one of their tweets,
  • asking them a question,
  • because you think they might be particularly interested in the information passed on in your tweet and you want to make sure it catches their eye,
  • or because you mention them in the tweet and want them to know, for example, if you are referring to their work/research.

Here are some examples of @messages:

To call someone’s attention to a tweet and let them know that you have mentioned them, you include their @username in your tweet.

How to post @replies:

  1.  Hover over the tweet that you wish to reply to.
  2. Click on the grey ‘Reply’ button.
  3. Twitter will automatically insert the @usernames at the start of your tweet.
  4. Type in the rest of your message (within 140 characters) and click the ‘Tweet’ button.


How to post @mentions:

  1. Type your Tweet as you normally would, but replace any names you include with that person’s @username (i.e. their handle preceded by a @ sign).
  2. Click Tweet to post it.

Important to Note: 

  • The positioning of the @username in your tweet is important:
    • If the very first thing in the tweet is someone’s @username (as is the case when you use the ‘Reply’ button), then only that person and those who follow both of you will be able to see it. 
    • If you want the tweet to have a wider audience, then you either (i) put a full stop in front of the @ sign like this .@aine_galvin OR (ii) you include the @username later on in your tweet as part of the sentence (as per the @mentions example above).
  • @mentions are an important part of Twitter etiquette – its polite to acknowledge other people’s contributions when you are tweeting.
  • Since the @ sign is reserved for marking people’s handles, you can’t use it as an abbreviation for ‘at’ in your tweets, e.g.  – you can’t tweet “let’s meet @6pm @cafe.”
  • Twitter collects your @mentions and @replies, which appear in the Mentions page in the Notification tab.






Direct Messages

Twitter is a very public medium, and whether you @message someone or not, your tweets will be visible to anyone who views your profile (unless they are protected, i.e. private to your followers). If you want to send a private message to one of your followers and don’t want it publicly visible to anyone else, Twitter allows you to send a Direct message (DM).  You can only send a direct message to a user who is following you and you can only receive direct messages from users you follow. If you would like to practise sending a Direct Message, feel free to send one to @UCDTL with any questions, comments or simply to let us know how you are getting along in the course.  

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