The Language of Twitter – Explained

Are you new to Twitter and finding yourself overwhelmed with all the acronyms and symbols? You are not alone! We are here to explain it to you so you can jump in and start interacting with the world in 140 characters.

Twitter is a way to broadcast concise, succinct, topical statements to the world at large and especially to your network.

What You Need To Know:

140 Chars = The amount of characters, including spaces and punctuation, for each “tweet”.

Tweet = What each statement sent through Twitter is called.

Tweeters, Tweeties, Tweeps = Various names given to describe Twitter users.

@ = Each Twitter user is assigned an “@” username which is their unique identifier. Whenever a tweet is sent with someone’s @username, they are notified in a section in their account called “Mentions”. This is a way of publicly acknowledging someone or getting someone’s attention. In Twitter if you are looking at a tweet there is a “Reply To” button which will automatically create a tweet with that tweeter’s username.

For example: This is the “Mentions” section for @AntennaSocial. In the above tweet you can see that we were mentioned along with @eWomenNetwork, @PamelaChatry, and @PinkPom. All of these users will receive the same notification.

Followers = For every Twitter user, there is a button called “Follow” where you can choose to subscribe to a specific user’s twitter feed. The term “Follower” is the label for those in your twitter network who are subscribed to you. If someone is subscribed to you, you are not automatically subscribed back – to reciprocate, you have to click their follow button.

DM = Within Twitter you can also send private messages to other users called “Direct Messages”. You can only send DM’s to someone who is following you. Here are a few examples of how this might be used in a tweet: “DM me to set up an appointment” or “I’ll DM you with my email address.”

# = This is also known as a “hash tag”. It is used to label or categorize a tweet without having to repeat the word since there are only 140 chars. It originated as a way to search for topics in Twitter but has evolved to have its own meaning – like a witty retort or saying something under your breath for comedic value or for putting emphasis on part of the tweet.

The # tag in this example was used to categorize the tweet. The tags #SuperStorm and #Frankenstorm were used by millions of other people around the world so anyone searching those tags might see this tweet.
The # tag in this instance is used to put emphasis on particular phrases without having to make grammatically correct sentences that would take up more than 140 chars.

RT = This means “Retweet” which is when you like someone’s tweet and want to share it along to your followers. The format is usually a repetition of the tweet with “RT @username” added at either the beginning or end of the tweet. You can do this easily and automatically in Twitter by clicking the “RT” button on someone’s tweet OR you can copy and paste it and add the @username yourself.

Other Interesting Things To Know:

#FF = Hash tag Follow Friday. Every Friday tweeters around the globe will post a tweet with this tag plus several @usernames indicating tweeters that they recommend.

An example of a #FF tweet. The tweeter is: @kerrybrowncoach and the people she recommends are @JulieMorgenstrn @ericapinskyinc @realtyteacher @JaenyB @ChenLizra @LifeWriterCoach @suz_oswegohotel.

Trending = Twitter generates a real-time list of the top 10 most tweeted topics. This is a great way to see what is happening in the world at any given moment. Sometimes it is all about a political event (such as the recent #Election2012) or sometimes it focuses on silly statements.

The “Trends” box to the left indicates the top ten trending topics at the moment I type this. I clicked on “Canada” to show you the types of tweets that are creating the trend. Twitter allows you to change the Trends from worldwide to local.

MT = This means “Modified Tweet” and is when you share the meaning of someone’s tweet but not using the same words. Instead of adding the RT @username, you would use MT @username. Not a lot of people are using this as it is understood that when sharing a tweet it may be modified to a certain degree.

Via = When you want to share an idea from someone’s tweet but re-phrase it completely… or perhaps just sharing a link from a tweet you can use “via” to indicate where the thread of thought originated.

This = Sometimes you will see a tweet that is something like “This. “. It is a way of sharing something and indicating that it is very interesting for the tweeter and simply needs to be seen rather than talked about. Often used for funny posts or topics the user is passionate about.

BTW = By The Way

FTW = For The Win (this is from gaming’s language leetspeak).

w00t = A hoot of joy, also from leetspeak.

squee = A squeal of joy.

There are many more, of course! Whenever I find an acronym I don’t understand, I simply google it.

Also check out Twitter’s own Glossary.