Twitter is a broadcast service, and everyone who follows you can read your updates. You follow people who you think twitter about interesting stuff, whose tweets amuse you or who post interesting links. If you use an @username, you are referring to someone on twitter, but still everyone can read this update. Look at the following problematic screenshot from @the_gman, this is also a nice example how to design a twitter ppearance… but thats not the point here:
Here you can see a successful twitterer (in terms of followers) broadcast private messages all the day. This makes him have an incredible number of updates, but it seems that he didn’t understand the @username-command.
Again, the @username is only to be used if you want to refer to somebody, but only if you want to world to read that update too. If you tweet “Nice blogpost by @ithoughts_de, go and read it everyone http://tinyurl/somechars”, you tell the world about my nice blogpost and that you recommend it. If you tweet “@AustinPrime You’re welcome”, you tell all of your 14,150 followers … guess what? Nothing! You spam their timeline! Listen @the_gman and all other spammers out there: I’m following you because you sometimes have interesting stuff to say or you tweet interesting links. But I’m not following you to read your public conversations, and I guess no one does that.
Twitter has a feature thats specific for you. This is called direct messages. You can tweet “d AustinPrime You’re welcome”, and AustinPrime will read your answer and maybe reply. This is a email or IM-like feature, and it should be used MUCH MORE to make twitter useful. In fact @guykawasaki used to twitter his direct messages via @username for a week or so and I thought about unfollowing him for cluttering my timeline.
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