Reply and Retweet are two features that aid the usage of social networking and microblogging site Twitter. Twitter is a social medium where people all over the world communicate through "tweets" or messages up to 140 characters long. A Reply on twitter means responding to a message or tweet from a person while to retweet is to broadcast (like forwarding an email) a tweet or message posted by a person to others.

Comparison chart

Reply versus ReTweet comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartReplyReTweet
Meaning Reply is response to something written by someone on Twitter. Retweet is the way you forward another user's tweet to your followers.
Types There are two options, a @Reply or DM (direct message reply). There are two options - the Twitter ReTweet without adding your comments, or tweeting with RT with the option to include your comments.

Different ways to Reply and Retweet


Replying to tweets is the way to remain friendly and have conversations on Twitter. There are two ways to reply to tweets. There is an @ reply where you use "@username" in your message. Such replies are public i.e. visible on your Twitter page. If you want to reply privately, you can send a DM (direct message) which is sent only to the recipient like a private e-mail.

Reply using "@"

Using "@username" in your tweet is a way to mention or reference someone on Twitter. For example, if you tweet "@diffen What is the difference between Reply and RT?" then you are addressing your question to the user @diffen. When @diffen logs in, either on the Twitter website or through one of the Twitter clients, they can check the "Replies" or "Mentions" they have received i.e. easily see the tweets that reference them using "@username" ("@diffen" in this example.)

If you begin your tweet with "@username" then it means you are addressing that user. It is a special case of a reply or mention. The reason it is different from using "@username" anywhere else on your tweet can be explained through an example. Let's say you have 2 followers: @abc and @123. (Their usernames are abc and 123 but the way they are referenced on Twitter is using '@' before their username so that it's clear we are talking about users.) While @abc is following both you and @diffen, @123 is only following you and not @diffen. Now consider the ways in which you can reply to @diffen:

  1. "@diffen What is the difference between affect and effect?" (addressed to @diffen)
  2. "What is the difference between reply and RT? @diffen" (references @diffen)

In both examples, your tweets are technically public. So if someone visits they will see this tweet on that page. But in the first example, you begin your tweet with "@diffen". So this tweet will not automatically appear in the timeline for your follower @123 because @123 is not following @diffen. The message is addressed to @diffen so it is presumably not of wider interest to all your followers. So, even though the tweet is public, it doesn't automatically get pushed to all your followers. To see it they have to see your Twitter page. On the other hand, @abc is following both you and @diffen. So @abc will presumably be interested in following any conversation that you and @diffen have. So any public messages you send to @diffen will automatically be pushed to @abc just like any regular tweet you send that is not addressed to any user in particular.

In the second example, "@diffen" is not in the beginning of the tweet. So this is a reference to @diffen (a reference is type of reply because it appears as a mention in @diffen's timeline). Even though it's a reference to @diffen, all your followers will see this tweet because it's not specifically addressed to @diffen.

Reply with a DM (direct message)

A direct message is a type of reply that can only be sent to one of your followers. A DM is like private e-mail. It does not appear publicly on your Twitter page. Continuing from the above example, where @abc is following you, you can send a direct message to @abc as follows: "d abc This is a secret meant only for you." Note the syntax - direct messages begin with the letter d followed by space followed by the username (without the "@" sign infront). Use DM if your tweet contains private information like phone numbers.


There are two types of retweet (RT) to forward a tweet on to your followers - the original RT where a user can add their own comments when retweeting, and a new "native" retweet that Twitter implemented as a 1-click mechanism for retweeting.

When retweeting the regular way you should first use a label, like "Retweet" or "RT". The next step is crediting original poster by using @ syntax - @username-of-original-tweeter. Then you should add the tweet you want to share. You can also add your comment either in the beginning of the message before the "RT" or at the end. For example, Very helpful article! RT @diffen Difference between reply and RT

Icons for Reply and RT

Icons for @-reply (top left), direct message (top right) and Retweet (bottom left) in TweetDeck for easier management of tweets
Icons for @-reply (top left), direct message (top right) and Retweet (bottom left) in TweetDeck for easier management of tweets

Twitter can be accessed using TweetDeck and other computer applications like Tweetfon. These applications make it easier to organize tweets and manage them. The Reply button opens the tweetbox with @recipient inserted and ready for the tweet. The same applies for the DM button too. Retweet button inserts necessary information in Tweetbox for editing. Thus these features make using Twitter very convenient. Both Twitter and client applications like TweetDeck offer different icons to denote replies, direct messages and retweets.

Advantages of Replies and Retweets

Replies are responses posted in specific purpose to someone's Twitter post. Thus you can respond to posts to be in touch with followers as well as follow someone on Twitter. Replying is a good and comfortable way to have conversations with many people and share ideas as well as information. For example for a tweet which reads – "Great article on diamonds: link", you can reply back with "@username nice article on diamonds, here's one more (link)." Thus your reply provides information as well as appreciates tweet received as well.

Retweeting is one of the ways to add value to your Twitter. If relevant and beneficial sources and information are shared trust will increase and so will your personal brand. Thus interesting content can increase loyalty of followers if retweeted. Moreover retweeting will build relationships with original posters.

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