The Anatomy of a Tweet

As the Branding Manager for Sisarina, one of the fun things I get to do is social media training. Over my tenure and my four years on the Twitters, I've noticed that many folks don't understand the anatomy of a tweet. I get lots of "What's that thing with the '#' sign?" or "What's my username, again?"

But, that's ok. I'm going to jot down a few items here for you Twitter newbies to reference later on. 

Here we go!

Here's an example of a tweet sent by Sisarina:

From @Sisarina: It's #cupofinspiration time at Sisarina HQ. First day back & we get to inspire each other. Bagels & coffee are being consumed.

Ok, let's dissect this tweet:

  • This tweet simply states that we're having our Cup of Inspiration at Sisarina HQ, inspiring each other, and noshing on bagels and coffee.
  • The "@" symbol indicates the beginning of a handle or, in other words, a Twitter username. Sisarina's handle is @Sisarina.
  • You see that phrase beginning with a pound (#) sign? That's a hashtag, used to make tweets search-friendly or to make a statement. Don't get carried away with hashtags. It's suggested to use less than three per tweet: use more than that and it gets super hard to read the tweet. That, and you also look like a search-hungry Twitterina. You don't want that, do you?

Next up, let's say you want to reply to @Sisarina (<- that's us!) and say, perhaps, that you'll be coming to our Cup of Inspiration. Here's what you do. Hit reply and type:

From @CamieRodan: @Sisarina see you there!

This tweet is known as a reply: only you, the recipient, and anyone following both you and the recipient can see it. Come to think of it, this is the case whenever you start a tweet with a handle. Bottom-line: if you're not replying to someone, then don't start your tweet with a handle!

But, what if you can't think of another way to write your tweet: you just have to start with the person or company's twitter handle? There is a way: just put a "." in front of the handle. For example, I might tweet:

From @CamieRodan: .@Sisarina's #cupofinspiration is tomorrow at 8:30am!

In layman's terms, all I'm saying here is that Sisarina's Cup of Inspiration is starting tomorrow morning.

So, to sum things up, here are 4 takeaways from this post:

  • The word directly after "@" is a handle.
  • The word directly after "#" is a hashtag - don't use more than 3 hashtags!
  • To send a tweet directly to someone, start the tweet with that person's handle.
  • To start a tweet with a handle, start with a "." immediately followed by their handle so all your followers see the tweet.

That's it! If you're just getting started on Twitter and you follow these takeaways, the Twitterverse will be a happy place.