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22 Twitter definitions you need to know

The key terms to get you started on Twitter...or a helpful refresher if you’re already in the know.

Twitter is by far my favourite social network. I’ve been a Twitter ‘power user’ since 2009 and have spent hours connecting with users all over the world.

However, one challenge many people face is keeping track of the various terms specific to this social network. This makes sense as Twitter, perhaps more than any other social network, uses specific words, phrases and abbreviations which are generally exclusive to the platform, making it difficult to understand at times.

Whether you’re a seasoned Twitter veteran or about to sign up for the first time, keep reading to learn some ‘must know’ Twitter terms that you may have been too embarrassed to ask about.

1. Twitter Profile: This is your profile on Twitter. Your profile includes your username, short biography, photo, tweets, replies, media (photos and videos you’ve shared), how many people follow you and how many you follow.

2. Twitter Feed: Your feed is the main timeline you see when you log into Twitter. Your feed consists of people who you follow and is a (somewhat) chronological history of users' updates.

3. Follow: The action of subscribing to a user’s updates and vice versa.

4. Unfollow: If you no longer wish to subscribe to another user’s Tweets, you can unfollow them to remove their posts from your Twitter feed.

5. Follower: The people who follow you on Twitter and subscribe to your tweets.

6. Username: Your username on Twitter, which is always preceded by an @ symbol. For example, MTS is @MTSTalks on Twitter.

7. Tweet: How you communicate on Twitter. A tweet is limited to 140 characters, excluding images, links and @ mentions at the beginning of your tweet.

8. Reply: Responding to a tweet is called ‘replying.’

9. @ Mention: You can tweet at other users by including an @ symbol before their username. For example, to tweet at MTS your post would look like, “I think @MTSTalks has some great content on their blog!” 😉

When you @ reply to another user, it will only display in your feed and the feed of the person you’re mentioning. Tweets and @ mentions can both be found under the ‘Tweets & replies’ tab of your Twitter profile.

10. Period before @ Mention: Using this technique allows your conversation to be seen publicly, as opposed to being relegated to your 'Tweets & replies' feed.

11. Retweet (RT): When a user quotes someone else’s tweet and shares it verbatim on their own timeline.

12. Quoted Tweet: This action allows you to retweet another user’s tweet, but allows you to add your own commentary as well.

13. Modified Tweet (MT): When you re-share a user’s tweet, but change the text slightly to suit your message or tone.

14. Direct Message (DM): If you'd like to message another user without posting a public message for all to see, you can send them a private message. Be warned: this only works if you both follow each other.

15. Hashtag (#): Hashtags are a filtering system which started as a trend on Twitter and has since been adopted by other social networks. You can search for hashtags relating to specific events or topics, and find tweets including that hashtag.

For example, some users will tweet inspirational quotes on Wednesdays and use the hashtag #WednesdayWisdom to share their tweets with a larger audience than just their follower base.

16. Like: You can show another user that you like their content by clicking the heart-shaped ‘Like’ icon on their tweet. Your Twitter profile includes a list of all your likes.

17. Search: Twitter’s search function is a powerful aspect of this social network because it allows you to discover specific words or phrases, and then find users who are tweeting about those topics and sentiments.

18. Lists: Following many users on Twitter can get overwhelming very quickly, so it’s helpful to sort your followers into 'Lists' to keep track of who falls into which category (like “friends,” “local foodies,” etc.) so that you can easily follow their updates.

19. News and Trends: Twitter is considered the go-to resource for breaking news and real-time reporting, since trending topics and hashtags are displayed on the 'Trends' bar on the left-hand side of your desktop view.

20. Twitter Chat: A Twitter chat is a conversation hosted on Twitter which occurs at a specific and usually recurring time. Users participating in a Twitter chat must include the chat-specific hashtag (for example, #BufferChat) for their tweets to be shown to other participants.

21. Twitter Bot: A Twitter bot is a program used to create automated tweets and automatically follows other users. These updates and actions are usually triggered by a Twitter user typing a specific word, hashtag or phrase that activates the bot.

22. Follow Friday (#FF): A popular weekly hashtag used to encourage followers to also follow other people. For example: “#FF @MTSTalks for the latest updates from the Business Hub.”

Have we missed any Twitter terms that you think should be included in this list? Tell us in the comments.

Up Next: Take your social media strategy to the next level.

Alyson Shane

Alyson Shane is a writer and business owner from Winnipeg, Manitoba who has been publishing content online for 16+ years. She runs Starling Social, an agency which develops digital marketing strategies that combine social media, paid advertising and content strategy to keep businesses growing and engaged with their customers. Outside the office, Alyson is a passionate urbanist who loves gardening, riding her bike and thinking about the public spaces that bring us together. She can be reached on social media at @alysonshane.

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