The Complete Guide to Mastering Twitter Tags

Wondering how to grab people‘s attention and boost engagement with tags on Twitter? Tags give you an easy way to connect with other users by mentioning them in your tweets and photos.

But to properly utilize tags, you need to understand the ins and outs of how the feature works. From the basics of tagging friends to expert-level engagement tips, this 2000+ word guide teaches you everything you need to know.

Whether you already tag regularly or have never used the feature at all, you’re bound to improve your skills. Let’s dive in!

Why Bother Tagging Other Users on Twitter?

Before we get into the step-by-step instructions, it helps to cover the main reasons for tagging other accounts:

  • Get Attention – Tagging someone will send them a notification, making it more likely they actually see your tweet vs getting lost in their mentions. If you really want certain users to notice your content, tags make that possible.

  • Show Appreciation – When you retweet (RT) or quote tweet someone else’s post, you should tag them to give them public credit for their content. It helps build goodwill with that user.

  • Increase Engagement – Including relevant tags allows you to tap into other users’ follower bases. Some of their followers may interact with your post, leading to more likes, retweets, clicks, potential follows, etc.

  • Notify Participants – If you’re having a Twitter conversation or want certain people to weigh in on a topic, tags keep everyone notified when you mention them. This helps continue the dialogue.

  • Entertain Followers – Your followers may get a kick out of seeing you interact with more popular accounts by including their tags in your tweets. It shows confidence and potentially gives your audience someone new to follow.

Now that you know why tagging matters, let’s get into the step-by-step process of how to do it successfully.

Step 1 – Compose Your Tweet

The first step is the same whether you’re tagging someone on desktop or mobile—launch the Twitter app or navigate to the Twitter site and find the “What’s Happening” compose box to create a brand new tweet.

Twitter Desktop Compose Box

You have 280 characters to work with in composing your tweet, so keep your message clear, concise, and compelling before you start adding additional tags. Ensure you communicate exactly what you intend to – telling a story, asking for help, expressing an opinion, whatever it may be.

Once your initial tweet content looks good, then you can shift your focus to tagging.

💡 Pro Tip: According to research, tweets with around 100 characters receive 17% higher engagement on average. So balance writing enough compelling content with leaving room for tags.

Step 2 – Add the ‘@‘ Symbol to Tag Someone

On both desktop and mobile, you tag another Twitter user by adding ‘@‘ directly in front of their username.

For example, to tag the official Twitter Support account, you would add @TwitterSupport.

💡 The ‘@‘ symbol is what indicates to Twitter someone is being mentioned/tagged. Without it, your tweet text will just show normally and NOT tag or notify any user. So don‘t forget this important symbol!

Twitter only counts ‘@‘ plus the actual username (removing whitespace) towards your character limit. So ‘@‘ plus a 20 character username would count as 21 characters against the 280 total.

Step 3 – Select the Correct User to Tag

As soon as you type the ‘@‘ symbol into your tweet text, a dropdown menu will quickly appear showing potential matching accounts on Twitter. Start entering more of the specific username and this list will rapidly filter down showing closer suggestions.

Twitter Tag User Menu GIF

For example, if you wanted to tag @HistoryComputer to grab our team‘s attention, you‘d:

  1. Type ‘@‘
  2. Start entering ‘his‘
  3. Select the full ‘HistoryComputer‘ option when it appears

And that quickly auto-completes tagging us!

If you‘re not sure of someone‘s exact @ handle, refer to their Twitter profile or even Google it to double check before tagging. Nothing loses goodwill faster than tagging the wrong person or account by accident.

❗ It IS possible for someone to change their username on Twitter. So if your tag isn‘t working or goes to the wrong account, double check whether they updated it. Twitter should redirect outdated tags for some time, but not forever.

Step 4 – Post Your Tweet to Notify Tagged Users

Once you add all the tags you want, the final step is simply posting your tweet normally. Click or tap the "Tweet" button and off it goes along with notifications to the accounts your tagged!

On desktop, your tags will show in colorful highlights:

Twitter Tagged User Highlights

While on mobile, tags display normally as blue, underlined links:

Twitter Mobile Tag Display

And it‘s as easy as that – whether tagging friends, brands, celebrities, politicians, or niche interests, it only takes seconds using this method!

Now let’s dive into some best practices around tagging…

Expert Tips for Mastering Twitter Tags

While the basic mechanics of tagging other accounts are straightforward enough, truly excelling at user engagement via tagging requires following several expert best practices.

Research Tag Limitations

Did you know Twitter actually limits how many accounts you can tag in a single tweet? The following restrictions apply:

  • Only up to 50 unique @ tags per tweet
    • Tagging the same user twice still only counts once
  • Only up to 50 unique @ tags total per thread (series of threaded tweets)

Additionally Twitter states that "…attempting to include an excessive number of mentions in Tweets or Direct Messages may cause issues." So realistically keeping your tags under 10 per tweet is ideal.

💡 Pro Tip: According to Twitter engineers, the database query behind tag notifications gets exponentially more expensive for them with each additional tag. So keeping it ≤ 10 helps their infrastructure!

Obey Tag Etiquette

When is it appropriate vs annoying to tag another user? As with most digital communication, following basic etiquette goes a long way:

  • Only tag users you actually know personally or whose content you regularly engage with
  • Don‘t aggressively tag strangers or brands unless very relevant to drive traffic
  • Always tag users when directly quoting/retweeting their content as a courtesy
  • Ask first before tagging friends who don’t actively use Twitter to avoid bothering them
  • Tag thought leaders in your industry to try and start constructive discussions

Use good judgment, and your tags will come across as genuine vs spammy.

Twitter Tag Etiquette

Research Ideal Tweet Length

Earlier we covered keeping tweets around 100 characters for higher engagement. But where do tags fit into that recommendation?

Multiple studies have shown engagement drops significantly when tweeting:

  • 250 characters

  • < 60 characters

So given tags take up 10+ characters, balance keeping tweets brief with leaving room for a few concise tags. Tweets from 120–200 characters tend to perform best with tags included.

💡 The character counter below the compose box displays how close you are to the 280 limit. Use this to gauge tweet length as you insert tags.

Tweet LengthRecommendation
60-120 CharactersLeave room for 5+ tags
120-200 CharactersIdeal room for 2-3 tags
200-250 CharactersOnly 1 tag recommended
> 250 CharactersAvoid tags

Create Tag Lists

Manually selecting each user to tag every time you compose a tweet becomes tedious fast. That’s why Twitter lets you curate Lists containing groups of relevant accounts.

For example, you could create a list just for your close Friends and Family to quickly tag them all at once. Or one for Favorite Brands you like to engage with.

Twitter List Example:

Twitter List Example

To tag an entire list rather than individual users, simply enter the list name preceded by ‘@‘ in your tweet text:

  • @FavoriteBrands – Would tag all accounts on your Favorite Brands list

This saves you tons of time vs picking each individual brand handle manually!

💡 Pro Tip: Lists also help you categorize who you follow into topics for easier reading. So they provide multiple benefits beyond tagging.

How to Tag Someone in a Photo on Twitter

So far we’ve covered tagging text-based tweets. But Twitter also allows you to easily tag other users shown in photos you tweet out:

Step 1: Compose Tweet & Insert Photo

As usual, start by drafting your accompanying tweet text and insert a photo using the media icon:

Twitter Upload Photo

Tweets with images tend to perform better, so adding a quality, relevant photo can boost engagement.

Step 2: Click ‘Tag People‘ Link

After inserting your image, a “Tag people” link appears below it. Click this to bring up the photo tagging interface.

Twitter Tag People Link

Step 3: Type Usernames to Tag

Just like in tweets, start typing to search for accounts and select the correct ones to tag. You can add multiple tags to a single photo.

⚠️ Remember – Photos have a fixed limit of 10 tags each to avoid overloading the manual interface.

Step 4: Finalize Tags & Post Tweet

Once you finish selecting all photo tags, click “Done” to officially add them. Then tweet as normal and those accounts will get notifications of being tagged.

The main reasons to tag users in photos come down to:

  • Credit other accounts included in the image
  • Raise awareness of brands featured
  • Notify friends/family they‘re shown
  • Increase visibility by engaging followers of those tagged

Whenever relevant, take advantage of photo tagging to maximize the reach and engagement on your tweeted images.

Common Twitter Tag Issues & Troubleshooting

Like any software feature, you may occasionally run into frustrations and limitations trying to tag other users on Twitter. Let’s cover some common issues and how to troubleshoot them:

Problem: Tagged User Doesn‘t See Your Mention

If someone tells you they didn’t receive notification of your Twitter tag, there are a few possible explanations:

  • They have tag notifications disabled in settings
  • Too many tags overloaded the notifications system
  • There‘s a delay in notifications sending

First, double check if your message failed to send by looking in sent tweets. If it looks posted, give it several hours and ask them to refresh notifications before worrying.

To avoid overload issues, stick to that 10 tag recommendation we mentioned earlier. And if they have notifications off, you unfortunately can’t force a tag through.

💡 On Android devices, disabling "Allow contacts to find me by my phone number" also disables ALL Twitter notifications. So mobile OS configurations can interfere with tags.

Problem: Can‘t Tag Certain Users

Frustratingly, some Twitter accounts simply don‘t allow anyone to tag them in tweets or photos. How come?

Twitter allows three tag settings:

  • Allow tag from anyone (Default)
  • Allow tags only from people you follow
  • Disable tags

Checking an account’s tagging preferences requires mutual following and navigating to their profile from your Following feed.

Since most users never change defaults, missing tag ability usually signals they disabled it completely. Respect their preferences and find other ways to interact.

Problem: Tagged Brand/Celebrity Doesn‘t Respond

It‘s important to set proper expectations before tagging huge brands, celebrities, athletes and other public figures.

Due to extremely high notification volumes, there is very little chance a tag will actually catch their attention – even if relevant and well-intentioned. They simply can‘t realistically read all mentions flooding in constantly.

So view big name tags more as entertaining your followers rather than expecting a response. Focus tags on accounts more likely to provide actual discussion.

💡 Twitter Verified accounts (blue checkmarks) see exponentially more notifications than normal users. For example, @NBA stars see 25K+ mentions daily according to Twitter. Governments and global superstars are even higher volume. Don‘t feel ignored if they don‘t respond.

Allowing Yourself to Be Tagged on Twitter

Now that you know how to tag other accounts, it’s equally important to enable tagging on your own Twitter profile. That allows others to successfully notify you when mentioning your handle.

By default, anyone can tag you in both tweets and photos. But users can change this via Privacy Settings:

To Enable Tagging on Your Account:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy and Safety > Audience and Tagging
  2. Click Photo Tagging > Allow Everyone
  3. Click Tweet Tagging > Allow Everyone

And you’re all set! Keep this activated so people can easily call out your @ handle.

Next Steps for Continued Twitter Success

Hopefully this complete guide gave you extensive knowledge on getting the most from Twitter tags – who, when and how to tag effectively.

Here are some recommended articles to level up even more:

The more you engage with the right people in the right way, the more value you’ll get from Twitter!

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