The Essential Guide To Twitter Vocabulary

When you are first getting started on Twitter, it can seem completely foreign. Between tweets, retweets and hashtags, you can often be left wondering if you’ve landed on the wrong site. Well, either that or you start questioning every English lesson you ever took in school.You’re not alone. When you first sign up, Twitter can seem like a whole other world. In a way, it kind of is but not to worry, think of me as your personal guide. My job is to help you navigate your way through and give you some direction on where to start.

Twitter Talk


Before you begin to understand how you can use Twitter for business, it’s important that you know the essential vocabulary. That’s what you’ll find right here.

Below is a list of Twitter terminology to help you make sense of the different functions within Twitter and what they do.

Please note that if you are still struggling or don’t understand any area of this terminology, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to explain.


Twitter Terminology



Your timeline is located under the Home tab of your Twitter account.  This is where you will find a real time stream of tweets from people you choose to follow.


A tweet is 140 character message. People communicate with one another on Twitter using tweets. These can be public or they can be private (see direct messages).

Twitter Handle:

Your twitter handle refers to your username. It is shown as @username. To tweet someone on Twitter, you include their @username in the tweet and they will receive a notification showing your tweet. If you do not include the Twitter handle of the person(s) that you are trying to communicate with then they will not receive a notification or know that you are trying to speak with them.

Your username should represent your own name or your company name if possible.

Followers / Following:

Your followers are the people within your Twitter community. They have subscribed to your tweet updates. That means they will see them in realtime within their news stream. The same applies when you follow someone else. You will receive all of their tweet updates.

How to Follow / Unfollow

If you choose to follow a person, you are choosing to subscribe to their updates on Twitter. Once you click the ‘Follow’ button on their page, their updates will automatically appear in your news feed in real time. If you no longer wish to receive their updates you can either click the same button to ‘Unfollow’ or you can select Mute. If you select mute you will still be following that person but there updates will no longer appear in your news feed.

You can find out more about the mute button here.

As a business owner, the typical people you may choose to follow include your customer, prospects, influencers and other businesses that share the same target market as you.


You can find all your Twitter interactions under the Notifications tab of your account. This is where you will see all the people who have sent you a public message, replied to one of your tweets, shared your tweets (retweets), favorited your tweets or added you to a Twitter list.


A retweet is the message that is shared via another Twitter user.  This can either be a quote message where you include RT @username. Alternatively you can click the retweet button which places their tweet in your tweet stream for all your followers to see.

Users may also use MT which is a shortcut for @Mention.

This is a great way to share interesting, relevant and valuable content with your audience while providing attribution to the original sender. This pay it forward method when used strategically can also be a great way to build a relationship with the original tweet author.


The favorite button can be used in a number of ways. For the most part people use it to acknowledge a tweet that might not merit a full response. It can also be used to store great content and tweets that you come across.

Direct Messages (DM)

Direct messages are private messages that you can send to another Twitter user. You can only send direct messages to users that follow you. By the same token you can only receive direct messages from people that you choose to follow.

Direct messages can be used when you want to share contact details or ask/ receive queries related to your business that are more suited to a private conversation.

You will receive some spam within direct messages. The best way to combat this is to maintain a highly targeted, relevant community.

Hashtags (#)

Hashtags are added in front of words in your tweet like so #hashtag. By adding a hashtag to the front of a word, it automatically becomes searchable. This means you can click on this word (or search this hashtag) and it will bring up all the tweets that have included this hashtag. Think of hashtags as a way of grouping content that you can then search to bring up relevant conversations. This can be a great way to start a discussion with other Twitter users that you may not know but share this common interest.

You will notice that trending hashtags appear on the sidebar of your Twitter account. These are the most popular, trending hashtags within a geographical area. This is often around big brands or general news that is of interest to the majority of people.

As a business owner, your goal is to find out what hashtags your target market uses then search them to find relevant conversation that your business can be a part of.

Follow Friday (#FF or #FollowFriday)

Follow Friday is an event that is held on Twitter every week. On Fridays, you can recommend other Twitter users that you think your followers would be interested in following. You do this by promoting their @username alongside a message and the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday.

You will notice that some people will simply include the #FollowFriday hashtags with a number of users. If you are going to include a number of Twitter users, be sure to group them around a theme that is relevant to your followers. For example:

“#FollowFriday these great local businesses @username1 @username2 @username3.”

If you want to be really effective include one person and showcase why people should follow them. This way you are showing genuine appreciation for that person and it’s more likely to build up the relationship you have with that person.

Pinned Tweet

You can choose to pin a tweet to the top of your profile on Twitter. By doing this, that pinned tweet will be the first tweet visitors of your profile will regardless of your last sent message. It effectively sticks the tweet to the top of your page.

This is a great place to include a clear call to action that allows your visitors to take the next step in your sales funnel if they are ready. It can also be as simple as a personal note or question.

Tweet Up

A tweet up is an organised offline event between a number of Twitter users. This is an opportunity to get to know one another better. These are often arranged around conferences where like-minded people can come together and build up their relationships.

Did I miss something? Leave a comment and I will add it the terminology in :)

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