Saturday morning someone asked me why some of my tweets start with a period. I was participating in the New Teacher to Twitter (#nt2t) chat. A twitter chat is an hour long conversation on a particular topic. This means that I am replying quite a bit. When you reply to a tweet it starts the tweet with the @symbol. Twitter assumes that when you are replying that you are talking to that person and not all of your followers. A tweet that starts with the @ symbol does not go to the Twitter stream of your followers. It can still be publicly seen through the hashtag or on your profile, so it is not private, but it does not get as much exposure as a regular tweet does.
The Twitter stream is the stream of tweets from the people you follow that you first see when you are logged into Twitter.com. In theory the stream shows the tweets of people you follow. UNLESS the tweet starts with the @ symbol.
Follows Both of You
If a tweet starts with the @ symbol it only goes to the Twitter stream of followers that follow both of you. If you follow me and @HollyClarkEDU then you would see in your Twitter stream a tweet that says
If you do not follow Holly you would only see that tweet if you looked at my profile.
If a tweet starts with the @ symbol and includes a hashtag, that tweet IS visible to anyone searching the hashtag. (Note, if you have a new account, Twitter requires you have a certain number of followers before your tweets appear on a hashtag search.)
Start with a Period
When you reply in a Twitter chat oftentimes you are sharing information not just to the person you are replying to, but for everyone in the chat to see. Probably that reply is good for all of your followers to see. Insert your cursor at the front of the tweet and place a period so that the first character is not the @ symbol. This will allow the tweet to show up in the Twitter stream of everyone who follows you.
If you are new to Twitter here is a getting started guide: CLICK HERE
If you are new to Twitter chats here is a guide: CLICK HERE