Twitter Tip: Email Notifications for @replies

Ever get one of those out-of-the-blue @replies? Someone off-handedly mentions you in a Tweet, but because you’re out-and-about, you don’t actually see it until you got back to your computer and fire up your favourite Twitter client. Wish you could find out instantly when someone @replies you?

I wish I could I could say I that I was announcing an awesome new webapp to help you do just that (I made sketches for it and everything!) but turns out that Google (indirectly) beat me to it. (I guess their deal to buy Tweets is slowly paying off for users.)

Enter Google Alerts.

Setting up email alerts for @replies using Google Alerts

Setting up email alerts for @replies using Google Alerts is easy

If you’re already using Google Alerts to monitor keywords, this should be familiar territory.

To set up an alert:

  1. Go to Google Alerts.
  2. For “Search terms” enter your username, e.g. @God_Damn_Batman
  3. Set “Type” to “Updates”.
  4. Set “How often” to “as-it-happens”.
  5. Set “Volume” to “All results”.
  6. If you’re signed in, your email should be populated. If not, enter your email address.
  7. Click “Create Alert”.

…and that’s it.

Google will now email you anytime you get an @reply, typically within a few seconds to a couple of minutes. (In most cases, it might even be faster than your Twitter client if it’s not Real-Time APIed yet and set to poll every 5+ minutes.)

Google Alerts Email

Google Alerts Updates Email are clean, fast, and useful

Google adds the user’s profile pic, linkifies usernames and hashtags in the Tweet, and includes a permalink to the it. They’re even nice enough to expand shortened URLs from some of the popular services (e.g. bit.ly).

Note: this likely won’t work for official retweets, only unofficial “RT”-style retweets (which are way cooler anyway). (2010-10-19: Turns out, the notifications work for official retweets as well!

Bonus Tip: you can technically set up alerts for any term(s) you like. Try to be very specific though because if you pick an actively-talked-about topic you’re likely to get a constant barrage of emails.

Extra Bonus Tip: If you want to stalk follow someone else’s tweets via email just set up an alert for their name (without the @ symbol), e.g. mjangda. Set up another one for @username and now you’re following everything that user is doing on Twitter. Yes, it’s creepy, so don’t actually do it.