Of any social network, Twitter can seem most confusing (and intimidating!) to newbies, simply because it has its own language. And I’ll admit, even as a marketer it took me a while to catch on to hashtags, retweets and condensing all my thoughts into less than 140 characters.

If you’ve been avoiding Twitter simply because of the unfamiliarity, or want to get started but need a quick guide, look no further than the following Twitter dictionary. 

Twitter handle: This is your identifier on Twitter – an @ symbol followed by your chosen user name. For instance, my handle is @olsenaj.

Tweet: This is when you post to Twitter. Tweets are limited to 140 characters. This may not seem like a lot, but browsing through Twitter can give you an idea of how people abbreviate and condense their content (plus it forces you to make your point quickly!).

Link shorteners: A link shortener lets you paste URLs in your tweets without taking up too many characters. One popular example is https://bitly.com/. You can sign up for a bit.ly or other link shortener account and sync that with your Twitter account for easy link shortening.

Follow: When you follow someone, you can see everything they tweet, included in your Twitter stream (Home). However, they must also follow you back to see what you tweet.

@mention: If someone wants to speak directly to you, they will send you an @mention. For instance, someone might ask me: @olsenaj how was your day today?

Retweet (RT): When someone wants to share something you tweeted, they will retweet it, possibly with a comment attached. For example, if my original tweet was What are you doing this weekend? a retweet would look like I’m going hiking! RT @olsenaj: What are you doing this weekend? When someone retweets your tweet to their followers, it is common Twitter courtesy to thank them.

Hashtag (#): A hashtag is a keyword, combined with the pound symbol (#). Use hashtags to help people looking for particular topics find your post. For instance, if you tag a post about detoxes with #detox, and someone is interested in a detox, they may search for that hashtag in Twitter and find your post. Using hashtags helps your content get found by a much larger audience than just those who follow you. Hashtags are also a great way to find relevant people to follow, or interesting content in your niche.

Reply: Under every tweet, you have the option to reply to the person who originally posted. This will not retweet but will allow you to send an @mention reply to that person.

Direct message: For private conversations, you have the option to send someone a direct message (DM). You must be following the person AND the person must be following you in order to send a DM. You are still limited to 140 characters for DMs.

Favorite: Under every tweet, you have the option to favorite it (marked by the star on mobile devices). This will save in your Favorites section to easily go back to later. This is a great option when you see an article you’re interested in that you’d like to go back to, or someone you want to check out later. Find your Favorites on your profile page.

Interactions: Found under @Connect, interactions include anyone who has followed you, retweeted you, favorited one of your tweets or mentioned you.

Mentions: Also found under @Connect, mentions only include retweets and mentions. Keep an eye on your Interactions and Mentions sections, so you know who is interacting with you and you can engage with them as well.

Follow Friday (#FF): You will see the hashtag #FF a lot of Fridays – it stands for “Follow Friday.” Use this hashtag, followed by the Twitter handles of some of your followers, to recommend valuable people for others to follow. For instance, if you have power users, people who interact with you frequently, or people whose content you particularly enjoy, you may want to include them in your #FF list. Some people also use this as a way to thank people who interacted with them throughout the week – i.e., #FF @example1 @example2 @example3 @example4 @example5 – TY for recent RTs!

I hope you found this Twitter dictionary helpful! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments – and let me know if I missed anything!

© 2014 Alicia Olsen.