Twitter announced on March 24, 2016, (here) that the infamous ‘dot’ rule in front of an ‘@’ sign to broadcast a ‘Tweet to’ everyone who follows you was being thrown away. To use an example, the old rule was if I (@jasoneg3) Tweeted:
@katyperry love your music! (would show ONLY to @katyperry)
.@katyperry love your music! (would show to @katyperry AND to my followers)
So putting a “dot” in front of an @sign at the beginning – when you are Tweeting “to” someone was how you ensured it showed to your followers. Twitter announced a change, and claimed to have changed this feature… However…
Among Twitter’s problems is that its usage is very arcane and confusing to the non-initiated, and those that truly know and do Twitter are often obnoxious about all this. The hard-to-use user interface has to be improved if Twitter is going to grow outside of its core audiences of news, pop culture, what-am-I-doing-now, and coupons or special deals. Twitter has problems, and Twitter is trying to fix them.
Sort of. So, in updating my upcoming Social Media Marketing Course in the Bay Area (to be taught at Stanford in February), I thought I had better double-check what Twitter is doing. Guess what? It does NOT work the way that they say it does, or not exactly. I set up some Tweet experiments to Katy Perry @katyperry as follows by tweeting via @jasoneg3 and my corporate account @jmgrp (which follows me).
Here are my Tweets and where they were visible –
@katyperry checking out the ‘.’ in Twitter – thanks for letting me try!
– does NOT show on your account, EXCEPT under Tweets and replies.
– VISIBLE on Twitter search (not secret!)
– does NOT seem to show to people who follow you (in their newsfeed) (despite the official statement)!
.@katyperry checking out the ‘.’ in Twitter – thanks for letting me try!
– DOES show on your account feed (@jasoneg3)
– DOES show on your account feed to people who follow you.
In summary, DESPITE what Twitter says, if you want a Tweet “to” someone to also show to “everyone” who follows you, I still recommend putting a “dot” in front of the @ sign. It can’t hurt and it certainly ensures that that Tweet goes to your follows. If you do NOT put the “dot” in front of the @ sign, then it isn’t exactly secret but few followers will see it as they have to look at your acccount, under Tweets and replies to see it. You can read a TechCrunch article, here, but in my humble opinion they take Twitter at their word when what I am seeing is not exactly that way.