As an example, on the Science Friday radio show and podcast, the host says every week "tweet your questions and comments to us." The same phrase is used on the show's website at http://www.sciencefriday.com/about/contact/. I don't understand how to do that. How do I direct a tweet so that someone who is not following me receives it and my followers do not receive it?

As another example, a company I do business with is asking that technical support questions be directed to their Twitter handle.

It does not seem like Twitter is designed for this. Am I missing something? Or are they asking for something else?


4 Answers 4


I think you are thinking about it differently.

These companies rely on your promotion. So when the host says every week

tweet your questions and comments to us.

They are asking for you to

1) Follow them / Place them a list - They want to know that you are looking at their timeline and that your followers see that you are following the company

2) Mention {@username} them / Reply. Here you are promoting communication to the Radio Show, depending on how their twitter client is set up, these "mentions" will be received by the user/company in a better format than

Science Friday Rocks

which then all tweets on Science Friday will need to be searched by hand. They could have used a #hashtag (e.g. #scifri instead ,thus clumping the event messages) to achieve the same objective.

On inspecting the site you have linked it seems directions are given as to what to do to ensure your message is received

Use Twitter? follow @scifri to get our updates, and tweet your questions and comments to us during the program.

I have hyperlinked the relevant portion of their message. So there are three ways I know that you could have found their account on twitter.

1) http://twitter.com/#!/@scifri 2) http://twitter.com/@scifri 3) http://twitter.com/scifri

Any would lead to their twitter account. Now I do not know much about scifri but it does not seem like they acknowledge receipt of your mentions via their account. Maybe during their podcast (Fridays, 2-4 pm Eastern time), the interesting comments/questions are selected for the rest of the audience to see.

In your next example with support requests, I think you should look at


who are representatives for Twitter Support Team, as said on the support account page

Make sure you are following us if you'd like a response to your DM

I would hope that the company you are working with executes this in a similar manner

  • Ensure whatever needs to be sent in private will be done as a direct message
  • If the information can benefit the customers at large then it shall be broadcasted in public

Companies also tend to use Twitter to try to persuade users into writing shorter questions (getting content into 140 characters) so that they can read and respond as quickly as it was sent.


There are two ways to do this. A public "mention" and a "direct message".

To tweet to them publicly, you type

@scifri Here is my question or comment for you.

To direct message someone, you type

d scifri Here is my question or comment for you.

These methods work from your phone or a Twitter client. If you use twitter.com, you click the Messages button and type the name of the person you want to message. And you can only direct message someone who follows you.

  • 1
    it sounds like the answer to this part: "How do I direct a tweet so that someone who is not following me receives it and my followers do not receive it?" is "you can't."
    – bmb
    Feb 1, 2011 at 2:08
  • 2
    @bmb You are correct, there is no way to send a message to someone who isn't following you without others seeing it. Feb 1, 2011 at 21:18

All you have to do is to start your tweet with the username of someone that you want to send a direct message to with an @ in front.

For example to send to Science Friday a question you can tweet something like this:

@scifri What is the fastest way to cool a beer?

This tweet will appear in scifri's timeline but not in the timeline of your followers (unless they are also following scifri). They will be able to see that tweet though, if they will visit your personal twitter account.


I'm pretty sure it's either @username for a "mention" & d username for a direct message which no-one else can see.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.