Top Ten Twitter Terms: a conversation to get you Tweeting

Filed in Twitter 54 comments

Follow me on Twitter @sharisax

Sometimes more is more, but often LESS is more.

That’s one of the reasons Twitter is so powerful and popular, and it’s also the reason why this post will include only Ten Twitter vocabulary items.
You can find dozens of twitter words and definitions in the wiki Twictionary, and in my earlier article Twitter Basics — Workshop “Cheat Sheet” where I defined 12 common twitter jargon words. This post, however, is designed to provide a deeper understanding of the terms you really need to “work” Twitter and make Twitter “work” for you.

Here’s your “Annotated” Word Introduction to Twitter

1 – TWEETThe 140-character post on Twitter. It is also called a Microblog, i.e. a condensed and concise statement that often links to blog articles. Live Tweeting is practiced at events — both face-to-face and online — where participants contribute an ongoing report of the proceedings. You can even find Live Tweets at events like actual hospital surgeries.

2 – FOLLOWYou follow people to read their tweets — to keep up with the latest news, trends, entertainment, and happenings of friends, celebrities, and knowledgeable people. Unlike Facebook where you must be accepted — and where there is a limit to how many friends you can have — you can follow anyone you want to. See previous posts for tips on Whom to Follow.

However, you can block someone from seeing your tweets OR, of course, someone can block you. The difference is that you don’t request permission to follow someone. You just do it. And if you are not a scammer, a robot, or in some other way intrusive, you probably won’t be blocked.

3 – TWITTERSTREAM [or Stream of Tweets] – It you access Twitter via the actual site, then you will see a “stream” of posts from the people you follow. These would be the most recent statements they posted in reverse chronological order, i.e., the newest posts are up at the top. If you select PROFILE from the top menu, you will see your Twitterstream, i.e., what you have posted in reverse chronological order.

This stream of posts is what someone else would see if they searched Twitter for your handle [your Twitter name]. For example, click on and you will see my twitterstream. If you liked what you saw, then you would follow me by clicking the FOLLOW button below my photo [your photo is also called your avatar].

As stated in the previous post Tips to become a Twitter Pro BEFORE your first post, I suggested that you plan your Twitter strategy before you write your first post: know Why you are on Twitter and What Twitter image you hope to accomplish. Your Twitterstream will be How you accomplish that image, i.e., your “personal brand.”

4 – FOLLOWERS [those who read your Tweets] –  Influence and/or popularity seems to be measured by how many followers one has. You can find out the 200 most followed Tweeple [a person who Tweets] on a site like as of this writing, celebrity Kevin Smith has 1.7+million followers.

“So What?” That is a common question asked by journalists when any extraordinary statistic is thrown at them. If numbers are your sole objective, there are automatic, robotic means of accruing a slew of followers. My suggestion, however, is that you grow your follower list organically. That means the list of people who follow you develops naturally, i.e., people either follow you because they like reading what you Tweet OR, in many cases, they follow you back automatically when you follow them. [Hint: that is one typical way to gather followers.]

5 – DM or Direct Message – Once you follow someone and he or she follows you back, you may DM the person, e.g. D sharisax [by using a Capital “D” and a space and the person’s twitter handle]. This is NOT a Tweet to everyone, but a private text message to one person. Personally, I do not text very often on my cell phone, but I do DM lots of my Twitter friends — and these relationships have grown faster and deeper than others because of the ease of communication. Engagement and building relationships is what the Social Web is all about. More than a few technology/Internet pundits have predicted that Twitter will replace much, if not most, of email in the future. [Who likes to read all the previous messages and other extraneous verbiage on emails.]

6 – RT or ReTweet – This is the action of re-posting someone else’s Tweet with attribution, e.g. RT @sharisax Sometimes more is more, and sometimes less is more. [Use the “RT” and then a space and then the “@” sign in front of the person’s handle — all this in front of what they tweeted.] When someone RT’s what you have posted, you feel recognized and appreciated. Many people make it a practice of Thanking those who RT them. Of course, once you are so popular that 100’s of people RT you, then you might not have time for much else other than thanking people if you stick to this practice.

All that being said, the practice of RT-ing is one of the reasons that you don’t need to worry about missing much of the good stuff on Twitter. If it truly is “good stuff,” then it is surely likely to be RT’d.

7 – SEARCH.TWITTER.COM – Searching Twitter [now integrated on the Twitter interface] offers “real-time” results, i.e., What people are Tweeting at the moment you input your keywords . . . unless your the terms are obscure, i.e., no one but you is interested. This is one of the best methods for finding people to follow — by inputting topics of interest and finding like-minded people. Read their streams and then follow them if you like what they have to say. You might want to reply or retweet, so they will have an additional incentive to follow you back. And you might even find someone who becomes one of your face-to-face friends. [I have 🙂 ]

You can narrow your search through operators like these two examples [complete list]:

news 🙁 —–  search contains word “news” and with a negative attitude

“happy hour” near:”san francisco” —– search contains exact phrase “happy hour” and was sent near “san francisco”

8 – – This is the desktop application I use to more fully engage with my followers and topics I follow. I will post a complete article explaining how to download and use this valuable tool.

9 – – Twitter can be used for chatting real-time. The way it works is that everyone in the chat is using a certain keyword (called a hashtag) in all their tweets. The applications are then grabbing all the tweets with that hashtag (defined below) from Twitter and displaying them for the people who are part of the chat. Be careful though because your tweets are also going out to all the people who are following you.

10- My own previous “worksheet” for new Tweeters with these terms and more as well as a new site 109 Slang Terms for Tweeters 

PS I just remembered URL shorteners like Most people use a site like to reduce the number of characters in the URL. This site also has functionality to track your shortened URLs to report on how many times people click on them.

PPS How could I forget to define Hashtags? Tweeters use the number symbol # in front of a word [e.g., #journ65] to identify a topic that makes it easy for people to (a) search for and (b) contribute to the discussion — whether the discussion is happening real time or just “over” time. One example of a real time hashtag discussion would be live tweeting during a webinar. The hashtag could be as simple as the name of the moderator; George Kao happens to be one of my mentors, and when he holds one of his Q&A sessions, I would tweet using the @georgekao hashtag, so people can follow the discussion and add to it.

Which terms would you add to this list, and what would you say about them?

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!
Enjoyed reading this post?
Subscribe to the RSS feed or Email and have all new posts delivered straight to you.
Posted by Shari Weiss   @   4 February 2011
Tags : , , , , ,
Feb 4, 2011
3:26 am
#1 Neysa Ordaz Sifuentes :


So much more clear for me, now with more depth explanations. i wasnt getting the whole hashtag and retweeting thing but from this beginners guide again it seems to make it a little more clear. So correct me if im wrong but, you use the hashtag when you are refering to a link or tweetchat?

on another note i was wondering, why i can see other peoples tweets that im not following?

Author Feb 4, 2011
12:33 pm

1) The hashtag is merely a “cataloging” tool. Anyone can make up or use a hashtag to append to a Tweet to make it easily searchable. If we wanted to, we could add #journalism to all of our tweets, and then they would be listed together with everyone else who put a tweet into the journalism category.
2) I, personally, do not use hashtags so liberally. Some people brand their tweets with two or three or even four hastags, so their tweets will appear in many searches. The biggest problem there is that with all the hashtags, you have little room for posting much else.
3) OOOOPs, you reminded me that I had wanted to add the URL shortener to my list of introductory Twitter words. So I just did.
4) Finally, regarding your last question: unless something strange is going on, you can only see the Tweets from people you follow. What you might not realize, though, is that when you sign on initially, Twitter often gives you people to follow [like celebrities, for instance.] You may Unfollow these people if you do not want to read their tweets. Simply go to their Twitter profile page and click where you will see a check in front of the word “Following.” You will then NOT be following that person.

Feb 4, 2011
7:09 am

Excellent and informative series, Shari. Thanks for this.

Author Feb 4, 2011
12:08 pm

Gregory, first off, tell be one thing you like and one thing that bothers you about Twitter . . . and, secondly, may I submit your recent post “On Being a Student of Social Media” to my Facebook group for the class. Better yet, would you like to join the group and post the article?

Feb 4, 2011
11:53 am

This post answered some of the questions I had about gaining Twitter following. And, it also brought up new questions as well, regarding Tweetdeck, so I’m glad there will be an article on that.

As far as RT – ing someone. I think I may have done it incorrectly- I just hit the Re-Tweet button I did not attribute it to the person with an ‘@’

Going forward I will remember to do that.

Author Feb 4, 2011
12:02 pm

Suzzanna, you did NOT do anything incorrectly if you hit the RETWEET button. That action will automatically place the RT and the “@” sign.

Feb 4, 2011
12:14 pm
#7 Suzzanna Matthews :

@Shari- hasty post! I just logged back in to Twitter and saw that! I think I’m trying to make this more complicated than it is.

Feb 5, 2011
2:04 am

Thanks Shari! I’d love to join the group, and you may post the blog if you like, or I can, your call.

Thing I like about Twitter: It’s a well-spring of data on almost any subject you’d like to research. Taking another eCommerce class this term, and we’ve been discussing what businesses one wouldn’t think to avail themselves of online marketing efforts; I was surprised to find two industries that seem to thrive on Twitter, real estate and insurance. I’ve noticed an upswing from these two over the past months.
Something I don’t – followbacks have become a competition. If I go a day without checking which new followers I have, they’ve already bailed. Of course, I’ve been adopting your philosophy of following only those that are specific to my interests, e.g. eBusiness, Social Media and Internet marketing, and commercial Web design (SEO/SEM/PPC). It’s amazing how many “Internet marketers” there are, who also at the same time are health care providers, car mechanics, sports buffs, ad nauseum. That old saw about every man, woman, child, and family pet with FB accounts are suddenly Social Media consultants is fulfilling itself on Twitter.

Author Feb 5, 2011
8:36 pm

Gregory, would you mind republishing your “On Being a Student of Social Media” as a post on the Facebook group Journalism 65. THX 🙂

Feb 5, 2011
9:39 pm
#10 Gregory Stringer :

Shari, will happily do so, but can’t seem to find the group on FB. Tried Jounalism 65, 65, Journalism, student, etc. without luck. Could you send a link? Thx.

Author Feb 6, 2011
12:22 am
#11 Shari Weiss :

OOOOPS, I hadn’t added you yet. I had thought you had commented but it must have been just on my blog post on Facebook 🙂
You are now One of Us 🙂

Feb 6, 2011
6:34 am
#12 Roland :

Hi Shari,
I enjoyed this post. Hard for me to believe but I know s0 many people who are still afraid to tweet. I will send this tutorial to them and do whatever I can to get them involved because like it or not Twitter is a major player in the social media environment.
Have a great day!

Author Feb 6, 2011
4:18 pm
#13 Shari Weiss :

Roland, better NOW than later. I’ve been on Twitter for two years and have built up quite a following, but if I’d joined earlier I’d have more influence now. That being said, there is still time to Beat the Late Adopters.
Thanks for sharing the tutorial. I’m working on one for Tweetdeck, which makes Twitter so much more valuable to me and lots of others I know [and teach] 🙂

Feb 7, 2011
5:22 pm
#14 Susana :

I have a question, is the Direct Message only for people who have signed up for twitter on their cells? Or is it simply a personal message to that person?

Author Feb 7, 2011
5:24 pm
#15 Shari Weiss :

DMs are text messages between ANY two Tweeters who follow one another — whether on a phone, desktop, browser, etc.

Feb 7, 2011
5:26 pm
#16 Susana :

Got it. Thank you very much.

Feb 10, 2011
2:34 am

Very helpful, specially for someone who has a Twitter only for 10 days. Thanks.

Feb 10, 2011
5:31 pm
#18 Cori Hughes :

Hi Shari-
I am so glad I found this post. I am starting to use Twitter more and more everyday and for some reason I find it so complicated for such an easy concept! But your post has helped me out and I now I will definitely better understand what the heck I am doing on twitter now!!! Thanks
Cori Hughes

Author Feb 11, 2011
12:15 am
#19 Shari Weiss :

Cori, I’m really happy these basic instructions are helpful. Did you check out Tweetdeck. I “wouldn’t leave home without it.”

Feb 11, 2011
1:43 am
#20 Nikolas Zelinski :

This should have been post number ONE. This has somewhat given me insight to how twitter works. Follow someone, post, then they follow you if they want to.

Feb 11, 2011
2:38 am
#21 Kevin Jennings :

@ Shari

I am no newcomer when it comes to Twitter, but this is the first time i have ever heard about the hashtag being called the “TweetChat”, which makes perfect sense because everybidy is chatting about the same topic.

Author Feb 11, 2011
3:01 am
#22 Shari Weiss :

Actually, Kevin, Tweetchat is a site on which people can post to a specific discussion.

Feb 11, 2011
2:45 am
#23 Taniesha R. :

@Ms. Weiss. I feel that this should be read by everyone who wants to start Twitter. This will be helpful to me in so many ways, especially as a student, and also as someone who is pretty internet savvy, but I stayed away from twitter, because i felt it required so much to do. But this breakdown of everything makes it so simple, I’ll definitely be passing this on to friends and family

Author Feb 11, 2011
3:00 am
#24 Shari Weiss :

Taniesha, I’m so happy that this basic info convinced you to give Twitter a new try. It really is going to grow in importance along with everything social media related.

Feb 11, 2011
5:42 am
#25 Terez M. :

Hey Shari, thanks for the vocab. I’m such a newbie that these are like learning basic phrases in a totally new language! Now I feel a bit more comfortable attempting to navigate this twitter universe. (off to read more helpful posts…lol!)

Feb 11, 2011
2:00 pm
#26 Kevin Jennings :

@ shari,
oh your’e right, okay now i have something new to check out, i completely missed the .com after the words “Tweetchat”. so the thing im talking about with the # sign in front of it would be just a topic or trending topic? correct?

Author Feb 11, 2011
6:48 pm
#27 Shari Weiss :

Yup, Kevin, #tweetchat is a topic 🙂

Feb 16, 2011
9:35 pm
#28 cwtts :

I have a liking for twitter, the world is using more technology to comunicate day by day. This is a form of expression with feed back that can be helpful.This is a helpful site because everything is converting to technology, not just jobs, but for schooling and for fun as well.

Feb 16, 2011
9:39 pm
#29 Deandre Johnson :

Twitter is like a follow each other blog and we see how a person’s day went.

Feb 16, 2011
9:40 pm
#30 Linda Lieu :

This is something new to me. I have heard about twitter from everyone but I have never looked into it.

Feb 16, 2011
9:46 pm
#31 Felix Loaiza :

This is an excellent post and it shows you how Twitter works, therefore you will be able to go into Twitter, thank Shari!! 🙂

Feb 16, 2011
9:59 pm
#32 Helena Charles :

Hi Shari. I really like the way you broke everything down about tweeting, but I don’t think I would really follow you or other people. Who is Jack?

Author Feb 16, 2011
10:58 pm
#33 Shari Weiss :

Denise [Helena] :-),
First of all, Jack is my husband.
Second, you won’t learn the cool factor of Twitter until you follow ME and other people

Feb 16, 2011
10:13 pm
#34 milie leung :

Twitter is so new to me. It seems very interesting and fun to tweet. I think I will learn a lot on this blog.

Feb 16, 2011
10:16 pm
#35 eugene aubrey :

i look foward to sharing my views with twitter and getting feedaback about class and our assignments

Feb 16, 2011
10:18 pm
#36 Marie :

This is a informative message for people to learn about how twitter works.

Feb 16, 2011
10:24 pm
#37 emma :

Well I think that I would twitter. It seems that if I post something worth reading, people will read and give me feedback on what I am saying. And I do have a lot say. I will have to get used to using twitter but it seems worthwhile.

Feb 16, 2011
10:31 pm
#38 cwtts ( courtney watts ) :

i am on twitter to expand knowlegde based on other opinions. the image i hope to get on twitter is a good image that says this person is learning facts from others.

Feb 16, 2011
10:39 pm
#39 cwtts ( courtney watts ) :

Twitter is not new to me, but i’ts new in the since of I am getting to know how to use it properly.

Feb 16, 2011
10:39 pm
#40 cwtts ( courtney watts ) :

“A failure is only a failure to try”

Feb 16, 2011
10:46 pm
#41 Earnest Lockhart :

Thanks for the information. Now i will know the lingo for what to say on twitter.

Feb 16, 2011
11:07 pm
#42 jasminepinn :

i like how twitter works this is a great way to see whats on peoples minds

Feb 16, 2011
11:21 pm

i’m new in twitter, and it seems so funny and interesting to me. i hope the stategies of “follow me and i follow you” will help…

Feb 17, 2011
3:06 am

Shari, how many of your followers, and yourself, would consider Twitter a source of entertainment? Considering Twitter to be featured in The Social Media Entertainment Series.

Author Feb 17, 2011
6:12 pm
#45 Shari Weiss :

Honestly, Gregory, when I first became a “Tweety Bird” as my husband called me, I would stay on Twitter for hours . . . because I didn’t want to miss anything. Now I know that the best stuff gets retweeted AND I can do searches to find particularly relevant info.

Apr 15, 2011
5:14 am

Hi Shari
Thanks for explaining the Top Ten Twitter Terms..I had no idea there was a whole new world out there in twitte land. The twit terms used and how to use them… Will definitely come back to your post for a refresher course should I forget them…Thanks again

Author Apr 15, 2011
10:45 am
#47 Shari Weiss :

Hope to see you back again, Irene. Don’t forget to ask more questions. That’s a good way for me to get ideas for future blog articles.

May 23, 2011
6:50 am
#48 Suki :

I just used the link that you posted and looked under the #journ65. I got a nice list the only thing that I didn’t like was the fact that it only showed me like 20 tweets, and we’re a big class, so it wasn’t as comprehensive as I would have liked it to be. If I had made a ScreenName to log in with, would it have given me a long list of tweets?

Jun 22, 2011
11:05 am
#49 Dennis Voong :

WoW. I dont believe. You have shed light on an unknown area for me. I will be sure to DM someone on twitter.

Jun 29, 2011
11:48 am
#50 mynia :

whats so fun about tweeting your only able to use 140 characters and then you have to follow people whats so fun about following people?

Author Jun 29, 2011
1:56 pm
#51 Shari Weiss :

Mynia, if you check out my very first Twitter post, Twitter 101 – part 1, then you may find some answers to explain why Twitter’s popularity will continue to grow . . . even if many people stil “don’t get it.”

Jul 4, 2011
4:17 pm
#52 john :

This is a very helpful post for people new to Twitter. Thanks for posting this!

Dec 14, 2011
2:18 am
#53 Gale Underwood :

I’m such a newbie that these are like learning basic phrases in a totally new language! Now I feel a bit more comfortable attempting to navigate this twitter universe.

Nov 13, 2012
4:53 pm

Love this. Twitter for Dummies.

Leave a Comment




Previous Post
Next Post
EXULT designed by ZENVERSE  |  In conjunction with Reseller Hosting from the #1 Web Hosting Provider - HostNexus.