Basic Twitter Terms You Must Know

June 21, 2012
When you've created a Twitter account, the next step is to understand the corresponding jargon that comes alongside your seamless operation of the platform. Posting and reading messages on your Twitter timeline is easy, but not knowing the top basic terms below will have you feeling lost. Here are the basic terms to help you ease into the micro-blogging universe smoothly.


The message you post and send out to your followers is called a 'tweet'. You can also use this word as a verb, as with 'tweeting a message'. Twitter has limited the length of tweets to under 140 characters, so the best tweets are those that are concise and direct to the point. Also, tweets are on a public domain, so they are searchable.


A follower is a Twitter user who has subscribed to your account so he or she can see all your posts and updates on your own page. Generally, if you 'follow' another user, that user follows you back. This is not symmetrical, however, as that user may also choose not to follow back. The more followers you have, the wider audience your tweets will get and the greater influence you will likely have in the micro-blogging community.


Also used as either a noun or a verb, a retweet simply is a sharing of your original post by another user in his or her own page. Some retweet manually by typing 'RT @username' before adding comments to the post. The 'username' is the original source of the post. A retweet is used when a user thinks that your post is interesting or entertaining enough to share with his or her own followers.


You don't want this to happen to you on Twitter. Used as a verb, 'unfollow' happens when one of your followers decides he or she doesn't want to be updated with your posts anymore and gets out of your network. Usual reasons for being unfollowed include poor Twitter Etiquette, uninteresting or crass posts, too much spamming, and basically, too much 'noise'.


To communicate with another Twitter use, you can either send a direct message (privately) or mention the user in your public post so others can also see. To mention, simply insert an '@' sign before the username. For example, '@CaptainCook I agree with what you're saying!' Using the mention automatically drives the tweet into the '@Mentions' section of the targets Twitter account.


Short for "direct message", the DM is a tweet-like message that is sent privately and can only be seen by the sender and the receiver. You can only send a DM to somebody who is following you. The limit for DMs is still under 140 characters. Read 'What Is a Direct Message?"


A hashtag is a keyword or phrase that is preceded by a pound (#) sign, as with #improvesmysmartquota or #BEInformed. Anybody who clicks the hashtag will be led to a page that lists all Twitter users who have applied the hashtag in their own posts. Read 'What Are Hashtags?' for better insight.


When you 'engage' with another user, you are making conversation on Twitterverse with a string of responses and exchanges. Engagement is important to keeping Twitter followers because it shows that you are human and are capable of having meaningful online connections. Businesses often make engagement a priority in their Twitter marketing strategies to reach out to clients and their target markets.


A 'feed' is a list of updates or tweets that are constantly being updated. They are usually arranged in chronological order, with the most recently updated ones at the top for easier viewing. Your home page, for instance, is a feed of tweets of accounts you follow; your own profile page presents a feed of your own tweets, while the search results on Twitter shows a feed of tweets that contain the word/s you are searching for.

URL Shortener

Sometimes, aside from posts, you will want to share URLs or websites to your followers. Because tweets are limited to under 140 characters, online marketers have thought of a way to shorten URLs into clickable tags that will allow your posts to be within length restrictions, i.e. URLs that start with bit.l.y, tinyurl or ow.ly. A URL shortener creates the micro version of the address that automatically transfers anybody who clicks it to the longer address of the page you want to share.


When a hashtag is particularly popular on Twitter, it becomes a trend or a trending topic. The Twitter homepage presents a list of the most popular hashtags at a certain time. Your homepage also shows a list of trends at the left side, although these trends are tailored according to who you are following. Read more about trends in 'What Do Trends Mean?'.

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