Look, no one appreciates looking cool online more than us. Status updates and check-ins from interesting places and working with fascinating people certainly ratchet up the “cool” factor of anyone’s online presence. But sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what might seem like a good way to increase your online cred but in the end, backfires. It’s OK, we’re here to help. Not that we think we are the definitive source for all things cool online but when we’ve had people describe our work as “lick-able”, we suspect we just might be onto something.

So, here’s the question: have you been swept away by the “at symbol name reference” rip-tide? Be honest. Have you used an “@” right in front of someone’s name when you are directing a comment at them? Have you done it on Facebook, or more simply put, outside of Twitter? Yea? Well it’s time to through you a lifesaver from shore.

What’s important to understand is this…online, the @ is a very appropriate way to direct a comment at another person in social media…as long as that social media is Twitter. Using the @ when referencing someone on Facebook or in a response to some comment stream somewhere else provides very little value. You see, placing the @ in front of a user’s name in Twitter alerts the user of the comment and helps organize and thread the conversation. In Facebook (and most other places) it does, well, nothing.

We know, you might not be on Twitter and you’ve seen the @ used before in front of people’s names and it might look cool or seem smart. And to your credit, it did look cool and smart back in 2009 when Facebook toyed with the idea of using it. Ultimately, though, Facebook dropped the need to use the @ to reference users and you should too. Facebook has done a great job of doing all the referencing heavy-lifting for you. Just type a person’s Facebook profile name, save the @ keystroke and watch the Internet magic automatically highlight the person’s name and send them an alert about your comment.

So, for this week’s How To Tuesday, let’s get you looking smarter online instantly by sunsetting that @ when referencing someone on Facebook. See that? Instant online IQ points. If you’d like to thank us, you can send a Tweet to @ninetwice.