How to Contact Twitter Users Who Are NOT Already Following You

The difference between message types at Twitter is not immediately obvious. I am certain I am not the first new Twitter user to think only those who follow you can receive messages from you – especially when they receive a direct message they can’t answer because the sender is not following you.

Debbie had the same confusion: “It’s true that lots of people are confused about @replies. It hasn’t always been clear to me who can see what and why sometimes people don’t seem to see my replies to them if they aren’t following me. I personally really like seeing all of them, kind of like eavesdropping and finding interesting conversationalists, i.e. good people to follow, that are friends of my friends. ”

I tracked down the answer in the Twitter Blog and here it is: you CAN send a message to someone who is NOT following you by using an @ sign in front of their user name. There is a setting that determines which @ messages anyone can normally see. The options are no @ messages, only their followers @ messages, and all @ messages.

Here is the key though:

@Replies To You – If someone @replies you—note, this means they start a tweet with @yourusername—you will see that in your main timeline if you follow the person. But you’ll see it in your replies tab, whether you follow them or not (unless you’ve blocked them)”

The Twitter Settings Help file confirms that:

“…you’ll still see replies in your replies tab if you have your settings set to “no @replies.” These settings allow you to control the replies that appear in your timeline that are posted by others, to someone other than you.”

So, anyone can send you a message at Twitter and that message will at least appear in your Replies Tab. If there is a particular Twitter user you would really like to “meet” now you have a way to contact them. You may want to give some thought to what you’ll say so you make a good impression.

Remember that while they CAN see your message they may not ever look at the Replies Tab – or they may be too busy or not interested in answering. Try not to take it personally.


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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. Im having a problem with this too..i dont want to follow them i just want to inquire something,.,it was a real inconvenient for me that time

  2. DM’s or PM are so tedious at times coz there are so many spammer on twitter..

  3. Hi, thanks for this. I know it’s a very old post but for some reason I decided to google and find out how people communicate on twitter.

    Without the ability to communicate it’s just a place for people to say what they are doing every minute and if your a business using it for promotion it can be good but if your just someone who thinks people care what you are doing it’s kinda useless if know one can communicate with you.

    The lack of ability to communicate is the reason I lost interest in twitter but now that I know how to communicate I might start using my old account.

    Thanks! :-)

  4. i think many people are looking for this functionality since its really hard to find people who are not following you. this post solves my problem of searching friends. keep it up

  5. well i think its really nice way to invite friends and also the promotion of website is also done by this method.

  6. Twitter is a great way to promote a website or to make some money. But I think there are another one important thing, which is you can build trust. When you have a large number of followers and you’re posting good articles with valuable information, tips&tricks or latest news from your niche/domain, they will read them and will appreciate it.

  7. Amy Waterman says:

    I personally like using twitter but never have time to read the @ comments or private comments as I receive too many of them. I use it more to keep people updated who read my stuff.

  8. thanks for the heads up; was planning to get back in to the twitter game 😉
    .-= Don@ automated websites´s last blog ..Free Blog Commenter =-.

  9. So essentially it has an inbuilt spamming system, all they need to do is scrape follower lists and Bam yet more junk to deal with!

  10. this is a great way to select users that you want to have specific tweets.

  11. The auto DM are over whelming sometimes.

    • Hi Anthony,

      Yes they are. I saw an option in a third party app to block auto-DMs and when I come across it again I think I’ll do that. It is nearly impossible to tell real DMs from auto-DMs which means I am missing real messages when I am compelled to ignore the automated messages. Blocking them would make the most sense.

      InternetStrategist’s last blog post..Intelligent Bloggers to Consider Reading

  12. One Source Talent says:

    The problem with twitter is the ease of use. And with that ease you get tons of spammers!

    One Source Talent’s last blog post..Simon Callow – Acting Tips

    • Welcome to GrowMap One Source,

      Yes, the spammers are an issue. Twitter could probably control them better if that were a priority. Lately the obscene user names and nude photos have become a more serious problem than the spammers.

      InternetStrategist’s last blog post..Do YOUR Blogging Goals Include Monetization: Benefits Our Readers Receive

  13. Rachael Geller says:

    Bugging others who really don’t want to be bugged; this gonna irritate me a lot.

    • Hi Rachael,

      If they have never contacted you before how would they know you don’t want to be “bugged” and how do you know you wouldn’t want to meet someone new?

      I wrote this post primarily because Twitter’s usability is seriously lacking. It is extremely confusing when someone DMs you asking you to reply but they aren’t following you so you can’t DM them back. THAT is why those new to Twitter need this information.

      InternetStrategist’s last blog post..Watch Out for Recent WordPress Gumblar PHP Exploit

  14. @TwitFast Thank you. I hope you’ll be back often. We just added the Twitter comment field so not only do your comments provide dofollow links – you can also grow your Twitter account at the same time.

    @JD We usually delete comments that are just links; however, since yours IS related to THIS post we will leave it. Some may be interested in your service.

    @Ottawa Golf Blog – Thanks for stopping by. Have you read our posts about our new golf-related Joint Venture blog? Those might be valuable posts to add your comments. I used one of them as the CommentLuv featured post for this comment.

    InternetStrategist’s last blog post..Do YOUR Blogging Goals Include Monetization: Benefits Our Readers Receive

  15. Helpful tips. Thanks

    Ottawa Golf Blog’s last blog post..Where is Tiger’s Ball?

  16. says:

    Good post here for the Twitter Newbies.
    Nice Blog Too!

    JD – Admin

    Short Fast Twitter Redirect Links

  17. @Office Mate – Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Twitter has some growing to do and some usability issues to improve on, but it is still very useful.

    Did you see my latest post Twitter and FriendFeed Quick Start? Lots of great links and lists of people to follow.

  18. Great tips for twitter. Very helpful and it is true that Twitter is not obvious as to how it works at first.

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