9 Strange Things About Tweets, Retweets And DMs Every Twitter User Must Know

Guest post by Dave Larson @TweetSmarter

Oh Twitter, how can you be so simple and yet so complicated at the same time? When I joined Twitter in 2007, I thought it was an amazing way to connect with cool people around the world. And it was! In fact, I ended up spending so much time on Twitter, that it wasn’t long before I realized I had become an expert—an expert in making Twitter mistakes. This thing was more complicated than I expected!

I soon created a new account, @TweetSmarter, to help people learn from some of the mistakes I had made. And today, over four years later, I can tell you that I’m still making mistakes on Twitter, learning from them, and helping others avoid making them too. So to help you avoid some of my mistakes, here are some of the strangest things I know about Tweets, Retweets and DMs that you should probably know too:

1. Twitter Didn’t Invent Retweets (But Some People Think They Ruined Them) – On Twitter.com if you click the “retweet” link underneath the tweet, you get the “official” version of a retweet, which can’t be edited. However, Twitter users invented what is now sometimes called an “old-style retweet.” It IS editable, meaning you can add your own comments to it. And while the “official” retweet is convenient, it has some problems: They disappear under some circumstances (see #5 below)…and they can’t be edited. So what’s so great about being able to edit a retweet, anyway?

Well, you can add a comment to tell people WHY it’s great, or add an opinion, or thank the person who posted the original tweet. In other words, you can use the retweet to actually connect with people! And isn’t that one of the greatest things about twitter? But now here’s the good news: you can add an old-style “retweet with comment” link right into Twitter.com! (If you don’t want to have to copy, past and write your tweets by hand to add comments to them.) Simply sign up for the free BufferApp service, and just click to install this plug-in into your browser. Buffer also gives you the option to automatically schedule your tweet at a time when more people are likely to see it. If you use Firefox, use this plug-in instead (sorry, does not include any scheduling option).


TweetSmarter article on PodJamTV


2. Why Don’t Some Links In Tweets Work Anymore? – A few weeks ago, Twitter changed the way it displays links in tweets by removing the “http://” but keeping the link clickable. This meant that, for example, http://Google.com would display as Google.com (and when clicked will take you to Google’s website). However, if you copy the link and paste it into a new tweet, losing the http:// portion makes the link unclickable. You should also know that two other things Twitter turns into links are #hashtags and @usernames…and they can accidentally NOT become links too. The #hashtag or @username MUST have a space or punctuation after it (or be the last thing in your tweet) AND have no space after the @ or #—or it will NOT be turned into a link in a tweet.
Tweetsmarter article on PodJamTV
3. Twitter Actually HIDES Some Tweets From You – Every user MUST learn this tip. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing insidious.) If two people are having a conversation, twitter won’t show you their tweets unless you follow both of them. And when I say “conversation tweets,” I mean tweets that start with “@”—for example, if @Sue is talking to @Joe:

@Joe How are you? @Sue Just fine! How are you?

So if you want to write a tweet to let me know about somebody that I DON’T follow do NOT say something like “@user is great—everyone should follow them!” Because only the people that ALREADY follow @user will see it. Instead, use the “.” trick, and say “.@user is great—everyone should follow them!” Then and only then will the people who don’t follow @user see your tweet.
Tweetsmarter article on PodJamTV
4. People Might Not See Your Tweets – Twitter has a kind of “quality score” that they use to decide whose tweets will be shown in Twitter search. But also, Twitter often has problems showing all tweets in search. You should check here or here as well if you’re not seeing all your tweets. But, there is a “hidden” problem you CAN do something about: making sure your tweets go out when people are online to see them. To do this, use a service such as Tweriod or WhenToTweet to find the best time to tweet, and then set up a free BufferApp account to make sure your tweets reach people at the best times.


5. DMs and Retweets Can Actually Disappear Sometimes – For Twitter DMs, one possibility is that it was removed by the person you sent it to. That’s right, people can remove DMs that you have sent from your outbox by deleting them from their inbox! Also, if someone deletes their Twitter account (or if it is permanently suspended) all the DMs they sent to you will disappear as well. So make sure to save important DM information somewhere outside of Twitter. Another thing people don’t like about the “official-style” Twitter retweet is that they do NOT show up on Twitter lists. So, if you follow someone ONLY by placing them on a list, you won’t see ANY of their “official-style” retweets. Even worse, once anyone has retweeted a tweet using the Twitter.com “official” retweet link, it won’t ever be shown in your timeline again! So if you missed the first retweet of it, even if EVERYONE retweets it, you won’t see it, because it won’t be shown in your timeline ever again.


6. Some Tweets Just Can’t Be Retweeted – If you’re following anyone who has protected their tweets, they don’t want their tweets to be shown publicly, so Twitter won’t allow them to be retweeted using the official retweet from Twitter.com. It can be confusing, because once a protected account follows you back, it looks to you just like all other Twitter accounts—you might not realize they have protected their account.


7. Uh-Oh: Private Tweets CAN Be Posted Publicly  – The most common reason this happens sometimes is that you were using “d” or “dm” to create a direct message and you had a typo. (Starting a tweet with “d @user” or “dm @user” turns it into a direct message if that user already follows you.) Most important, you have to be extra careful about replying to DMs that you receive by text/SMS. See Twitter’s explanations for other common public DM problems here.


8. I’m Getting DMs That I Can’t Reply To! – If you follow someone, that is the same as giving them permission to DM you. But only if they follow you can you send them direct messages back. Sometimes people intend to follow you but forgot or had an error. If you’re pretty sure they meant to be following you, just send them a tweet something like this: “Hey @user will you follow me so I can reply to your DM?”


9. I Received A Repulsive Tweet—Why Can’t I Delete It? – With DMs, you can delete them (and unfollow the person). But if someone sends you a public tweet, you can’t delete it. You can only delete tweets that you created. But you can hide tweets you don’t want to see on some interfaces by creating a search that filters out what you don’t want to see. The best example of this is TweetDeck’s global filter.


Tweetsmarter article on PodJamTV

10. Bonus! How Do Tweets Become Pictures, Videos or Documents? – Some interfaces make it appear that a Tweet has become a picture or video. But what you need to know is that you can only put a link IN a tweet to a picture, video or document (or anything else that can be linked to). But first, the picture, video or document has to be posted somewhere on the web. See this list of services that make it easy to take something from your computer and post it via Twitter. What did we miss? Do you have retweet questions, or info to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! Just add your question, advice or comment in the box below.


About the Author:

Dave Larson on Twitter    “As @TweetSmarter, Dave Larson have answered thousands of questions for Twitter users worldwide over the past 4+ years. His goal   is to assist and empower everyone he comes into contact with.”


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  1. trudy says

    thanks! I have a question that I hope you can answer: when I click “reply” on a tweet of someone I follow. This particular person does not follow me (don’t know if that is relevant or not). My “reply” shows on his page for a few moments sometimes, sometimes for a few minutes, then inevitably disappears, in MOST (not all) cases. Other’s tweet-replies to him on the same thread DO stay on his page, whether they have come before mine, or after. I’ve noticed that it does not seem correlated with the number of tweets (i thought maybe “overload” was the issue). Does this mean that the person to whom I’m replying does not even get the (now disappeared) tweet, or at least can no longer see it at some point, or does it mean that even though I can’t see it, that he can? or something else? is there a way to prevent this?

  2. FoghornUnicorn says

    So you know when someone follows you, and you go to their page it says “follows you”? Well I’ve noticed sometimes when you click a name of someone who recently followed you, it initially goes to their page where it says follows you and instantly redirects to what appears to be the the same name, only the follows you label is gone. Why is that? Bots?

  3. WhenTweetta says

    On my “Home” page, I get only the retweets of a particular person I’m following. There was one mention for my handle by that and that too disappeared from the “Connect” tab. Someone please tell me what’s causing this.

  4. The Reel Twitic says

    Why do I get suspended for tweeting @ people about their comments on tv shows that I find by searching hash tags? Why use hash tags if you don’t want attention or conversation? Also if I only retweeted them wield I be better off or could that still get me in trouble?

    • says

      I’m sure there’s probably more to the story than just tweeting at people using hashtags that’s causing you to get suspended. A simple reply or retweet shouldn’t get you suspended by itself.

  5. Kshitij says

    I see some user profiles wherein they are able to hide tweets about any conversations they have with anybody from their own timeline (even if I visit their twitter page I cannot see the conversation tweets, but all other tweets which the user has ‘normally’ tweeted are visible. How can I achieve this?

  6. Billy Kravitz says

    now how can we make people comment on our blogs and compel a whole lot a talent/lit agents to fight over us/ …figured you’d know.

  7. Billy Kravitz says

    I have no idea what’s in my feed reader. I have no idea what it means to subscribe to an RSS. Think I MIGHT have done so in past but can’t recall how.. Web is basically TOO detailed and cumbersome… at least for the digitally dumb like me.

  8. AggieWife says

    If you RT by mistake, can you delete it and if you can, will the person who originally tweeted be notified anyway that you RT their tweet?

  9. chantelle says

    I have a question pls I set my Twitter account to private but now I want to make it public because my followers can retweet me.pls how do I set da account to public

  10. Monica F. Pratt says

    Hi, I had just joined twitter. My question is, how do I know if I am being blocked? I am following this person and when I tweet to the person, I can see the tweet in my tweets. How do I know if the person is actually getting my tweets or blocking them? I haven’t gotten a response from this person yet…I see the person’s tweets and reply to them but then I don’t get anything back…Thanks!

  11. Susan says

    Hello Dave I really like your blog.

    You see due to strict working policies I’ve made my twitter account a protected one.

    So, I have a couple of questions. If I @ mention someone directly and such person is not following me back, will this person be able to read my tweet at his/her mentions feed?

    I’m really confused. Hope you can help me out. And give a conclusive answer. because there’s a lot of divided opinions on the matter. And the weird thing is that sometimes I get the clear feeling that they are getting my tweets, regardless.

    Also does it changes anything if the person in question for instance has a verified account?

    Thanks a lot.

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  14. June says

    What’s annoying me the most about twitter is that if you’re getting a lot of RT’s, you won’t be able to see who all of them are.
    Not everyone comes on the list 😛

  15. anonymous says


  16. trudy says

    yes, that’s my point: they “should,” but often, they don’t. Sometimes, as I described, they show for a minute or two, and then disappear. I have seen that others have asked this question online, but I (and they) have so far not found any answers.
    I am a “follower” of the two people whose timeline sometimes disappears my tweet, so it’s clear I’m not blocked. they have in fact replied to a couple of my tweets since then…and also since then, some of my tweets have continued to not show up at all.

  17. Anonnymouse says

    This happens to me, too. As I understand it, the person you reply to *can* see your tweet under their ‘interactions’ tab.

    Where the real problem lies, in my mind, is that if anyone clicks ‘expand’ underneath the original tweet, your reply does not appear – even if other replies do. (And yeah, it’s not related to ‘tweet overload’ – there might be ONLY two replies, both showing, you make your reply, and as soon as you refresh the page (or even view the page logged out), your reply vanishes – yet the other two remain. Sometimes others will reply after you – and those replies will also stick, while yours does not.)

    Most bloggers that people have reached out to for help on this issue, don’t seem to understand that there are TWO frustrations. 1) yeah, people worry that the ‘recipient’ of the reply isn’t seeing the tweet – this is not the case, they still can through ‘interactions’, as far as I know. 2) the bigger problem in my mind is that RANDOM OTHER LURKING PEOPLE who like to click the ‘expand’ button in order to see whole conversations and responses to an original tweet, will NEVER see your reply within the context of that conversation. (And it’s debatable whether they see it in a search, either.)

    What this does, is give the effect that you are tweeting/replying out into empty space – people who might otherwise enjoy your witty reply, and therefore follow you, are NEVER EVEN SEEING YOU.

    It feels like a Twitter shunning, like Twitter doesn’t want anyone to play with you – and there’s no rhyme or reason that anyone can figure out.

    Marty, does that help you to understand the issue?

  18. trudy says

    yeah, i would much prefer to be able to read all responses to an interesting conversation starter. so far, i’ve seen no rhyme, reason, or consistency in what gets “disappeared” and what stays.

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