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October 2010 archive

Twitter Jargon: Get in the know

Twitter can be a confusing tool if you don’t know what you are doing. The number one reason why people create an account, post once or twice, and just let the account die is the lack of an instructor manual. Thankfully, the twitter community is great and always looking to help their fellow users out, and today you can find a wealth of knowledge that was not available to us early adopters.

That being said, I think one of the things that most people struggle with is the jargon associated with twitter. You hear users and non-users alike struggle when trying to converse. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard someone struggle with how to describe a post on twitter, I would be a rich man. We’ve all heard it…twit, tweet, twitting, twittering.

I understand the confusion. So much of twitter today has come organically from the users. The word ‘tweet’ was user created and driven, and it wasn’t till recently that the company itself embraced it. So to chime in and do my part in helping my fellow users, I created this list of common twitter terms and jargon. I hope it helps.

Hashtag: a way following a topic or term just as you would a person. It is allows you to follow everyone discussing that topic or term, just as you would a person, i.e. #ussoccer. Anyone can create their own hashtag at any time, just be sure to see if there is a previous use of the hashtag before associating yourself or your business with it.

Follow Friday: Typically seen as #FF, each Friday users recommend other users to follow. It was organically created by Twitter user to make the service more usable through knowledge of others. It is a way of recommending other users

Retweet: Seen as RT @username, this is passing a long someone else’s tweet. It is saying ‘Yes I agree’ or ‘I like this.’ If you can’t say it better than they did…retweet it. Remember that twitter is limited to 140 characters, so leave room on your tweets for someone else to retweet. A good rule is to use 120 characters to account for users with long usernames. If you retweet someone, it will appear to others as @yourusername RT @originaluser their message here.

Direct Message (DM): A message sent directly to another use that is not displayed in either of their timelines, and is there for not seen publicly. This is a private message between two users. One thing to remember is that default settings in twitter cause people to get an email notification when someone DMs them. For most new, and less technical users they are not setup to get notification of a Mention. They would have to login and check for mentions to see your message. I know several people that I specifically DM because I know it will trigger a faster response. A Mention to these same people could go unnoticed for quite some time.

Mention…a.k.a. Reply: A message sent to another user (or users…it could include many) that is included in the timelines of all the included users. This will be seen publicly, so consider the message and content and decide whether a DM or Reply is more appropriate.

Avatar: This is, for the lack of a better term, your profile picture. It can be changed at any point, depending on the status of the twitter service (which currently is not allowing you to change your avatar, but I imagine this will be resolved shortly). Often times you will see causes and fundraisers you Twibbons or images added to your avatar to raise awareness of their cause.

URL Shortener: The service allows you to take a link and replace the URL with a much shorter number of characters. Instead of your link being “” the new URL generated by would be something like One of the most popular URL shorteners. You can use tracking parameters within your original URL, as well as the tracking available from within There is also the option to get a vanity URL if it has not already been used, i.e.

Tweetdeck: Probably the most popular desktop application that allows you to manage your twitter account. It also allows you to manage your Facebook account as well from within the same application.

Hootsuite: A web-based application that allows you to manage your social media accounts. You can manage twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. There is support for multiple accounts for the same network, i.e. your personal and business twitter accounts, as well as team functionality and some analytics.

Tweet: A post on twitter. It is the information you are sending out to your followers in a 140-character format. It can include links, as well as photos and videos that will appear in the form of a link that takes the person to a service where that photo or video is hosted.

OH: Stands for ‘Overheard.’ In most cases this is used when commenting or posting remarks heard at conferences or while traveling.

BTW: ‘By the Way.’ This term originated in the texting world, but has found its way into social media and other shorthand.

FTW: Most frequently means ‘For the Win,’ but several less PC and work appropriate meaning are sometimes seen, so look at the connotation before you RT.

IRL: Stands for ‘In Real Life.’ Again, this is another shorthand that found its way from Instant Messaging and other technology-bases shorthand. Often times you see IRL when posting about how great it was to finally meet someone with whom you already have an online relationship.

FTF or F2F: Means ‘Face to Face.’ Most times this can be substituted with the more common IRL.

b/c: Shorthand for ‘Because.’ Again, this is another term that found its way from texting, IM and other forms of online communication.