7 Basic Twitter Terms You Need to Know

Posted on August 17, 2013

If you haven’t jumped aboard the Twitter bandwagon, now is definitely the time to dip your toe in the water.

According to the Global Web Index, there are over 280 million active Twitter users sending out an average of 500 million tweets per day. It’s safe to say people are riding the Twitter train!

Even if you’re a bit reluctant to compress your thoughts into a measly 140 characters, getting to know the platform and it’s benefits is a must for anyone looking to build a solid social media brand.

I’ve put together a glossary of the most basic Twitter terminology to ensure you get started on the right foot:

The Hashtag

Ever wondered what that funky little sign on your keyboard was good for? Well, Twitter has reinvented the #hashtag and catapulted the underrated symbol into everyday use.

Hashtags are a way to associate your tweets with trending topics and categorise them within the Twitter universe. They can be anything from brand names (#Nike), concepts (#socialmedia), emotions (#sohappyrightnow) or events (#election2012)

When people want to find out what’s trending on Twitter, all they have to do is type their chosen hashtag into the search bar and see what people are talking about. Go on, give it a try yourself!

The Handle

Your handle is essentially your Twitter username and also appears in the URL of your Twitter profile. A user’s handle doesn’t necessary have to be the same as the name on their profile. For example, Darren Rowse’s full name appears on his professional Twitter profile but he goes by the handle @problogger.

The @

When an @ sign is placed directly before your handle (e.g: @IntentSocial) it appears as a hyperlink that connects through to your Twitter profile. This is the way in which your Twitter profile is referenced throughout the site.

The Mention

When people use your @handle in a tweet, it is called a mention. Mentions are a great way to give credit for interesting tweets or directly engage with followers and influencers on Twitter.

The Reply

If another user has mentioned you or you just want to put in your two cents, you can reply to a tweet by clicking on the Reply button. This is different from a retweet, as the replies will be listed below the initial tweet as a linked conversation.

The Retweet

A way in which to concisely share other people’s tweets. Just click on the cool multiarrow button to instantly retweet their message to your followers. You can also manually retweet a user’s message by opening the compose box, writing “RT” followed by the users @handle and then pasting the content of their tweet before sending. This will then be posted onto your feed as follows:

RT @IntentSocial: 7 basic #Twitter terms you need to know #socialmediatools

The Direct Message

A direct message (or DM) can be sent to anyone who follows you. This also means that anyone you follow can also DM you. It allows you to send a short private message that will not be visible to anyone except the user. Because these messages are private, they only appear in your Twitter inbox and therefore will not show up in your feed. Think Facebook messages except restricted to just 140 characters (seeing a bit of a trend here?)

photo credit: Shovelling Son via photopin cc

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