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Reply vs Mention: Why Some of Your Tweets are Only Seen by a Tiny Pool of Shared Followers

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I’ve mentioned this before along to way to other points, but it’s been happening often enough that it’s time to address this concern with a post of it’s own.

I’m talking about tweets that start with “@”.

But to understand how this works, we need a situation with two accounts – we’ll use @Twitter and @SlopeFillers for this example – and the follower counts of both:

  • Twitter has 49,111,056 followers
  • SlopeFillers has 2,507 followers

Actually, I lied, we need one more number: the number of people who follow BOTH Twitter and SlopeFillers.

  • Twitter & SlopeFillers share 110 followers

Got it?

The Scenario
So let’s imagine for a second that in a moment on resort marketing exuberance and content indiscretion, Twitter tweeted something like this.


The question becomes, which of those three numbers – 49m, 2.5k, 110 – represents the potential, direct reach of this tweet?

The answer: 110.

This happens because a tweet that starts with “@” is considered a reply – something written specifically to that account – not a traditional mention.

And, unlike mentions, replies are only seen by the folks who follow both the mentioner and the mentionee.

It’s why, when Granby Ranch kindly retweeted my tweet about them but started it with an @, it ended up under “Tweets & replies”…


…but not the visible-to-all “Tweets” timeline.


Instead of being visible to their 1,265 followers, it was only visible to the 40 that follow both of us.

What’s the Solution?
Let’s start over with Twitter’s fictitious shoutout to yours truly.

If they had simply put a character – just about any character, really, but a period is probably the most common – before the “@”, it would potentially have been visible to all 49,111,056 of their followers.


Because when a tweet doesn’t start with @, it’s a normal tweet, visible to all of Twitter’s followers.

So when Granby simply put the mention in the middle of the tweet instead of the beginning:

Everyone could now see it.

Don’t Sweat It
It’s an easy mistake to make, so don’t feel too bad even if someone gives you a hard time. I’m sure much larger accounts than yours have done the same thing.

But reach is already tough to get, the number of inactive followers you have doesn’t help that, but you can avoid limiting it even further by remembering this rule.

Best of luck.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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