How to Get Started on Twitter (Part 2)

In this second and final installment of How to Get Started on Twitter, we explain how to interact with people and organizations on Twitter while understanding how your tweets appear to other users.

In How to Get Started on Twitter (Part 1), we covered the five reasons that people are using Twitter, how to sign up, and how to follow accounts based on your interests.

Today we address how to Mention, Reply, Retweet, and Favorite as you communicate and interact on Twitter.

How to mention an account on Twitter

When referring to a Twitter account (whether it’s a person or organization), include the username rather than the actual name of the account. For example, instead of writing “I read this in the New York Times,” write “I read this in @nytimes.” (Or, better still, write “via @nytimes” before or after the link you share in your tweet.)

How to mention a Twitter user
How to mention a Twitter user

Visibility: Your followers will still see your tweets when you mention someone. The followers of the account you mention will only see the tweet if that account chooses to retweet it.

Notifications: The account you mention will be notified that it was mentioned. For this reason, it’s a good idea to mention accounts. It gives them a chance to keep the conversation going and possibly spread it to a larger audience.

Pro Tip: If you would like to mention an account at the beginning of your tweet, be sure to include a period (.) just in front of the Twitter handle you are mentioning, with no space separating them (just to save that character–you only have 140!). If you begin the tweet with another Twitter handle, Twitter will think you are replying to this account, and none of your followers will see it unless they also follow the account you are replying to. (More on replying below.)

To make sure Twitter doesn't mistake a mention for a reply, add a period at the beginning.
To make sure Twitter doesn’t mistake a mention for a reply, add a period at the beginning.

The Three Magic Buttons: Reply, Retweet, & Favorite

At the bottom of each tweet, there are three buttons: Reply, Retweet, & Favorite. Clicking them automatically performs each function.

Reply, Retweet, and Favorite buttons are at the bottom of each tweet.
Reply, Retweet, and Favorite buttons are at the bottom of each tweet.


Clicking Reply will automatically populate your next tweet with the Twitter handle of each account mentioned in that tweet. Because the handle(s) begin the tweet, your followers will not see your tweet unless they follow one of the accounts your replying to. The reason for this is that many replies quickly become irrelevant at best and nonsensical at worst to anyone outside of the conversation. However, if you’d like your followers to see your reply, simply place a period (.) at the beginning of your tweet.

Using the reply function is the best way to directly engage people and organizations in conversation. These conversations will not by any means be private, but they will also not crowd the Twitter feeds of your followers as long as they begin with an account handle, so don’t hesitate to have as many conversations as you like.


Click the Retweet button when you would like to repost a tweet from an account you follow. Everyone who follows you will then be able to see that tweet. They will see the account that originally tweeted it, and they will see that it was you who retweeted it.

Retweeting is a great way to share tweets that you feel deserve a wider audience. The account that posted the original tweet is notified when you retweet it. When you retweet a tweet, it’s now generally understood by the Twitter community that it does not necessarily mean that you espouse the beliefs or views of that tweet.


Clicking the Favorite button is very much like “Liking” a post on Facebook. It’s a way to tell the Twitter user who posted the Tweet that you liked it. When you favorite a tweet, the Twitter user who posted the tweet is notified.

When interacting with people and organizations on Twitter, your toolkit consists of Mention, Reply, Retweet, and Favorite. When you use them, other accounts take notice. Try them out, and you’ll soon find yourself having meaningful conversations, growing your follower count, and discovering more great content on the Internet!

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