Did you know that if you begin a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle (their Twitter name, e.g. @OnlineAStevens), then only people who are following both you AND the account that you have mentioned will see that tweet?
Nope. Neither did I until I watched this video from Gary Veynerchuk, who refers to this process as the @ System.
So what does this mean for Twitter users?
Well, if you’re making a statement (complaint or compliment) directed at an organisation, in order to share this with the maximum number of people you should make sure that you don’t start your tweet with their Twitter handle. For example, if you had a poor experience as a customer, you would be tempted to tweet something along the lines of:
@WhateverBrand major #fail. Ordered my product 6 weeks ago and still no sign – bad customer service!
However if you want your brand complaints to reach the maximum number of people, then you should word it something like this:
A major #fail from @WhateverBrand. Ordered my product 6 weeks ago and still no sign – bad customer service!
As a consumer, by reaching a larger audience you increase your chances of being seen, retweeted and potentially responded to by your target brand. If you are responsible for a corporate Twitter account, try to make your followers aware of this too and make sure that any competitions that you run are based on RT’s and not simple replies, as the replies will not reach as big of an audience.
This also means that if you’re having a long conversation with someone, or lots of conversations with different people, don’t worry too much about filling other people’s timelines as your tweets will only be appearing in those that are following both of you.
If you knew about the @ System already, then well done. If not, this new information should change the way you tweet – especially if you run business or university accounts!
Tweet me your thoughts [remembering not to put my username at the beginning of the tweet], I’d be interested to hear whether in general people knew about this or whether I’m being slow on the uptake.