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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
“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.”