Twitter Tutorial, Number 2: The @ Symbol

twitter tutorial

In my first twitter tutorial we learnt about hashtags, now we’ll move on to the other sometimes mystifying symbol of twitter – the @ symbol; what does it mean, and when and how should you use it?

The @ Symbol Explained

The @ symbol goes before a twitter user’s chosen twitter name, e.g. I chose the twitter name wrappedbyalice, so I appear as @wrappedbyalice.

Twitter users employ the @ symbol in order to communicate directly with each other (N.B. these are not private communications; they are visible in the same way as all other tweets). For example, someone might tweet, ‘So excited – my goodies from @wrappedbyalice arrived today; can’t wait to get wrapping!’ It would then pop up in my twitter notifications that someone had mentioned me in a tweet, I could then view the tweet, and reply. Mentioning others in tweets like this also provides the added bonus that any other twitter user who sees the tweet will be able to click on my username, and be taken directly to my twitter profile, where they could choose to follow me if they liked!

How To Use The @ Symbol

Shout Outs

As we’ve seen above, one of the ways that we can use the @ symbol is to communicate directly with another user, and perhaps give them a shout out. Publicly supporting other crafters is really important, because twitter is a big community; this is particularly true for small business owners, and even more so for women in business; twitter offers a fabulous way to encourage and support other makers, who will in turn support you, and it’s using the @ symbol that makes all this possible!


It’s also good twitter etiquette to generally interact with other twitter users – comment on their posts; say a friendly thank you, if someone is kind enough to give you a shout out.

When you leave a comment on someone else’s tweet it will automatically add their username to the tweet, likewise if you reply to someone else’s comment on your own tweet.

N.B. do not start your tweet with the person’s username, at least put a fullstop first – e.g. ‘.@wrappedbyalice, your paper arrived today, can’t wait to get wrapping!’ – this is because tweets which begin with a person’s username, i.e. ‘@wrappedbyalice…’ will only be able to be seen by people who follow both the sender and the recipient; no one else will be able to see it!


You can also use the @ symbol to target a specific user(s), for example, to let them know that a certain product is back in stock. N.B. don’t ever spam someone’s account; unsolicited, pushy tweets are the worst! But if someone has shown interest in a product, than it’s perfectly fine to get in touch with a friendly, informative tweet.

You can also use the @ symbol to increase the reach of your tweets, as each networking hour will have a twitter account attached to it – an account which set up the hour and promotes and manages it (for more info on networking hours, see my first tutorial). For example, the twitter account in charge of #handmadehour is (not surprisingly!) @handmadehour (and their sister account @HMNation) and they will retweet other people’s tweets during the networking hour; as they have thousands and thousands of followers it’s great to be retweeted by them…but the only way they’re likely to see your tweet, out of the thousands of other tweets being posted in that hour, is if you tag them directly in it! For example, ‘I hand print beautiful designs onto eco-friendly kraft paper #handmadehour @handmadehour’ (I’d also include a link to my website and image of my work, but we’ll talk about these two things in the next lessons).

To get you started here are a couple of great networking hours, and the accounts that run them; there are so, so many more – get researching find which hours work best for you and start tweeting!

#handmadehour Wed, 19.30-20.30, & Sun, 20.00-21.00. Run by @handmadehour & @HMNation

#crafthour Sun, 19.00-20.00. Run by @Craft_Hour & @crafthourRT.

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