How to Use the @ Sign on Twitter for Marketing

Twitter is open, very open. In fact, using the “@” sign or “handle” on Twitter you can reach out to anyone who has a Twitter account.
In this video, I’ll explain how the @ sign works on Twitter, and using the @handle how you can tweet to anyone. In terms of marketing, I call this the @someonefamousmarketing strategy. Let’s get started!

Watch the Video

Twitter Handles or the @ Sign

Anyone who has an account on Twitter has an @ sign. For example, I am @jasoneg3 on Twitter, Katy Perry is @katyperry, and Kai Ryssdal (one of my favorite journalists) is @kairyssdal. The “@” sign is commonly referred to as your Twitter handle, and it designates your account an Twitter. The @ sign is very important in terms of how people communicate on Twitter, and how you – as a marketer – can leverage the openness of Twitter for marketing purposes. Twitter, after all, is very open so you can tweet to literally anyone.

Here are some of the properties of the @ sign.

  • It’s “clickable” in a Tweet. So if I mention @kairyssdal in a Tweet and you are following me on Twitter, then it’s clickable. In this way, you can be following me (@jasoneg3) and then learn about @kairyssdal and then follow him. Twitter marketing
  • If I mention you using your handle, then – generally speaking – that generates a notification by email and via Twitter that you’ve been mentioned.  This is called (wait for it): a mention. Similarly, if @kairyssdal started tweeting to me, and I replied to him called – wait for it, a ‘reply‘ – this is also clickable.
  • You can tweetto” a person by putting the @sign in the very front of their tweet, or just find their account, and click on the “tweet to” blue button on the left. Note: in this scenario, your followers do NOT see this message unless they are following BOTH you and @kairyssdal. The solution – if you want to make it public – is to put a “.” in front. So .@kairysdall “hey Kai!” is seen by everyone who follows me (but not people who follow Kai), and @kairysdall “hey Kai” is seen by only people who follow me AND Kai (and Kai himself if he’s paying attention). If Kai replies back, then he and I are having a public conversation and then everyone see everything.

Using the @Someonefamous Strategy for Twitter Marketing

As a marketer, you want to use Twitter to promote your message. You can do this by using the @ sign to reach out to people in your industry to talk directly to them (sort of like sending an unsolicited email), and/or even better having a reason to talk with them, and hopefully having someone “more famous” than you, engage with you in a public conversation. When their followers see how cool you are, how interesting your product or service is, or just how incredibly witty your commentary is, they’ll want to follow you. So you “use” someone more famous than you to grow your own follower base.

Your steps are:

  • Identify a reason why you are reaching out to them. For example, as an author, I can reach out to people offering them “free” review copies of my books on SEO and Social Media Marketing.
  • Research people you want to reach out to – such as journalists, bloggers, influencers on Twitter, etc.
  • Messaging or mentioning them in tweets, in the hope that they respond back.

To find people to reach out to, you can use a few different methods

  • Search for them. Simply go to Twitter, type in your keywords or topics, and find accounts. You’re looking for people who are interested in your themes, and who have more followers than you, but not so many as to probably be “too important” to talk with you.
  • Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find “influencers” on your topics, and then reach out to them. A really cool tool is Twitonomy, which can find and analyze the importance of people on Twitter for free. Another tool is Onalytica, which analyzes your website or a document to identify related or relevant accounts on Twitter.
  • Use LinkedIn to find people, and then locate them on Twitter. For example, login to LinkedIn, and search for “business journalist.” Then look at their contact information (or Google them) to find them on Twitter.
  • Use Google’s search.

Remember that just because Twitter is very open, and you can technically reach out to anyone, that doesn’t mean that they will respond! You need to “offer” them something useful, interesting, meaningful. So brainstorm content that they will find interesting or that they will realize is interesting to their audience. Content marketing is a very important part of using the @someonefamous strategy for Twitter marketing.


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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.