Quite a lot of the entrepreneurs I follow on Twitter make mention/reply mistakes.

And you know what, I understand.

Because, though I love Twitter, it can be hard to understand the difference between the two.

That is why I decided to explain it below.

The (difficult) difference between a mention and a reply

Let’s start out by figuring what you want to achieve. Who do you want to reach?

Do you want everyone to see your message? If so, make sure there is no handle (that is the @name part) at the beginning of the tweet. This way, everyone that follows you will see the tweet. If you want to talk about someone you can MENTION them of course, just make sure it is somewhere after the first character. The person you mention will get a notification, others can just see it in their timeline.

If you don’t want everyone to see your message it is important to decide if noone except yourself and the recipient should be able to see it or if it is just not necessary for everyone to see it. If noone else except you and the receiver must see, don’t use a tweet, use a direct message.

Otherwise, start your tweet with the @name. This way the @name will get a notification and see the tweet. Others that follow you both will see the tweet but not everyone that follows you. This option is called MENTION except for when you do it REPLY (and so you have clicked the reply button) to a message sent.

I have made a flowchart of it. Maybe it will help you:


So to be clear: a reply is a specific form of a mention. Depending on how you write the tweet everyone or some people can see it. If you want noone expect you and the receiver to see it, don’t use tweets, use Direct Message instead.

I hope this helps.