The difference between a Twitter: Reply, Retweet, and Direct Message

Twitter is like a river of confetti.  Tweets are the confetti which are individual messages floating down the river.  If your audience is standing on the bank of the river and paying attention then they will see your message or Tweet.  But Twitter has created some tools to allow users to communicate with each other in a more direct manner; Replies, Retweets and Direct Messages. This post is designed to help take the mystery out of these three communication tools.  Your Twitter marketing success depends on your ability to use each of these as effectively as possible to create ongoing conversation with your followers.

Direct Message (DM) is a private conversation you have with only individuals who are following you.  To send a DM all you need to do start your Tweet with the letter “@” followed by the users twitter name and then type your message. If you attempt to send a DM to a person who is not following you Twitter will let you know there is a problem with an error message.  This is a wonderful limitation because you will only receive a DM from someone who you are following.

Replies. If you want to direct your comments to one specific person but would like everyone else to see it then use the “Reply” function. You address the person by using their Twitter user name preceded by the “@” symbol. For example:

@johndoe I like to eat at Joe’s Diner in Pueblo.

Everyone who is following John and me will see the message, but I am specifically directing it to John. (Those who are not following either of us will not see the message.)

You can also use the Reply function to refer to someone by name. For example:

I’m headed to dinner at Joe’s Diner with @janedoe and @jimdoe. I am looking forward to trying the new menu.

Another advantage to using Twitter names in messages is that it creates clickable links.  The link will take a user to the Twitter page of that person.  They will then have the opportunity to follow that person if they wish.

Retweets are a way of re-broadcasting one of your followers messages to everyone that follows you. This is a simple way to share content that you find valuable or interesting with your followers.

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