Twitter is probably one of the most misunderstood of all the social media tools. It is very different from Facebook, YouTube or blogging, even though it once called itself “microblogging”. With the short updates of 140 characters or less, and a vast information network, It seems to take longer to for most people to grasp how Twitter works and the real value of using it. Many people who use Twitter religiously today, will openly admit to “not getting it” when they first started tweeting.
In an effort to make the muddy waters a bit more clear and minimize frustrations, I have described 20 of the top Twitter terms. Understanding some of the unique functions of Twitter may make jumping in or re-visiting Twitter a bit quicker to learn and more fun.
20 Twitter Terms to Know:
- Engagement – To be engaging is to create conversations (talking, listening, and sharing) and meaningful relationships on Twitter or other social networks. Engagement creates human relationships online that may continue to be nurtured online and/or go offline. Engagement is the essence of what makes a businesses social media presence successful.
- Tweet – “Tweet” can be both a verb or a noun. It is your update typed in the “What’s happening?” status bar to the people who are following you, in 140 characters or less. A person who Tweets can be called a Tweeter.
- Follow / Following – These are all the people that you are following, and whose updates you will see on your home page. To follow someone on Twitter, just hit the “follow” button.
- Followers – These are all the people on Twitter that are following you and are seeing your updates on their homepage. If you are following someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will follow you back. Attracting the right followers is just as important as what you are tweeting.
- Replies – The @ sign is used in the beginning of a tweet to reply to someone. Only the person you are replying to or people that follow both of you will see the reply.
- Mentions – When you mention @ and a person’s Twitter name anywhere else except in the very beginning of a tweet, everyone who follows you will see it. Both replies and mentions become links to that person’s twitter profile.
- Retweet / RT – Since Twitter is about sharing information, a retweet makes it easy for you to share someone else’s tweet to your followers. Retweets give the original tweeter credit for the tweet with “RT @username “, and can be retweeted in it’s original format or with comments from the person retweeting, if space allows.
- # / Hashtag – People use hashtags on Twitter to make them easily searchable on a specific topic. They are often simple keywords but can also be unique phrases or acronyms that allow people to follow a trending conversation.
- URL Shortener – When you want to include website addresses in your tweet, you will probably want to use a URL (website address) shortener so it does not take up your 140 characters. Although Twitter does try to shorten the link for you, it may be better to try a URL shortener like Tiny URL or Bit.ly to give you more space for re-tweets.
- Follow Friday / FF – #FF or #Followfriday is a hashtag used with @mentions to suggest to their followers which other interesting people they should follow.
- Direct Message / DM – This is a private message that only the person you are sending it to can see. It still can only be 140 characters. You can not send a DM to a person who does not follow you but you can reply to them.
- Home / Timeline / Feed – This is where you will see the constant real-time status updates from the people you are following.
- Trends / Trending Topic – Current events or popular topics that are being talked about the most at any given time can be seen in “Trending”.
- Avatar – Your profile picture or image that you use to identify yourself and tie to your twitter account is your avatar. If you don’t upload an picture, it will default as an egg graphic.
- Favorite – You can click the “star” icon next to any tweet to indicate that it is one of your favorites, for easy reference later. Others can view your list of favorite tweets also.
- Username / Handle – “Handle” refers to your specific URL on Twitter, so for instance my Twitter username is @jkaufenberg and my twitter handle is http://twitter.com/jkaufenberg. You can make your username be anything you want, as long as it is not already taken and it is 15 characters or less. A username on Twitter has an @ before it and becomes a link to that persons Twitter profile.
- Listed / Lists – You can create lists and add people on Twitter to group them into categories. You can also see who has placed you on their lists, when you click on “listed” on your profile.
- Searches – If you are searching for a specific topic, username, or hashtag, you can enter the word or phrase in the search bar, and see the most recent tweets with the phrase. From there, you can better define your search or save your search for future reference.
- Tweet Button – Many blogs and websites now have a “Tweet” button that quickly creates and posts a tweet with the blog post or website name and URL to your Twitter account. Adding a tweet button to your blog can encourage sharing (see ours in the upper right hand corner of this post) and there are many different options to choose from including Twitter’s own Tweet button, Tweet Meme, and Share This.
- Klout - Measuring your influence to others via various social media channels including Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, your Klout Score is a number between 0-100 that changes as your influence to others goes up and down.
What other questions do you have about Twitter? Let them fly in the comments below, and we can help clear anything up. If your business wants to start engaging with your customers on Twitter or other social media, but does not have the time, resources, or expertise, please contact Vivid Image. We can provide you a consultation, social media strategy and quote as the first steps.