Tuesday, March 3, 2009

@replies vs mentions on Twitter; why you need to be watching both)

I joined Twitter in October of 2007. A lot has changed since then. As someone who doesn't sit in front of a computer all day, it took me a while to realize I needed to be clicking on the "Replies" tab.
Twitter is kind enough to sort all messages begining with @roneyii (my handle) (known as an @reply) into a nice little bunch. It keeps me from having to sort through hundreds of tweets.
There's a problem though, not every message to me *starts* with "@roneyii" and sometimes a message isn't *to* me, but *about* me.
For example, my friend says the following, "@ex1 @roneyii Are there plans tonight?"
Twitter considers this an @reply to @ex1, and since I don't follow @ex1, I'll never see it unless I go to my friend's profile.
Or, "Had a great time with @roneyii today!". I'll see this one in my stream, but once again, not in my @replies.

Where are these messages?
Well, nowhere special. Chances are, you're missing out.
According to Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com), these are called "mentions".
And at the moment, Twitter doesn't have a "mentions" tab.

There are a few ways to work around this.

(Twitter /used to/ have a feature called "tracking". It would send you an SMS EVERY time a tweet contained a keyword. So, if I tracked @roneyii, I'd ensure all of those messages made it to my phone. Sadly, tracking is no more.)

One, you can setup an RSS feed from Twitter Search.
Search for @roneyii (well, *your* name) and you'll see every occurance, @reply AND mention.
Click on the link for the RSS feed for these results.
Then do what you would normally do with an RSS feed.
Or, you can setup a dummy Twitter account have a service such as TwitterFeed forward the RSS directly to that dummy account. (It's best to set that account to 'private'.)

This has the drawback of only processing 5 tweets per 30 minutes.

Your second option, is to join TweetLater. Their "@replies Digest" is very useful.
I have an hourly e-mail delivered to my in-box with every occurance of @roneyii. Even if I'm not on twitter, I don't miss out.

Third, I haven't had much expierience with the various Twitter clients, but I've recently started using Tweetstats Mobile. From the name, I at first thought it was one of those "ranking sites", but it turns out to be what m.twitter.com /should/ be.
One of the tabs is labled "ego". This includes all occurances of "@roneyii" that aren't considered @replies AND all occurances of "roneyii".
I have noticed quite a few RTs without the "@".
This works fine if you have an odd handle, my wife, @dalyn, however, had a bunch of tweets about Dalyn Rugs.

I use all of these options, and I hope that at least one of them will work for you.
If you have any others, please pass them on.

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