New to Twitter? Our Top Picks from the Twitter Glossary


With all the focus on how social sites like Twitter are playing a vital role in breaking and spreading critical world news, people across the globe are signing up to see all the activity firsthand. In fact, did you know that in early 2011, there was an average of 460,000 new Twitter accounts created each day?

If you’re new to the service, learning your way around can be challenging. There are many unspoken “rules of engagement” to learn, interesting traditions like Follow Friday, and countless terms to master. So, here’s a rundown of some of our favorite terms from the official Twitter glossary and how they’ll help you as you establish your presence on the site:

Getting Started on Twitter

Avatar: “The personal image uploaded to your Twitter profile in the Settings tab of your account.” Don’t make the newbie mistake of not uploading an account picture. Most people view accounts without an avatar as spam.

Tweet: “A message posted via Twitter containing 140 characters or fewer.” Once you get your account set up, you’ll need to start posting content! Otherwise, why would anyone follow you?

Follow: “To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their Tweets or updates on the site.” If you don’t “get” Twitter, chances are, you need to follow more people! You get to cultivate your very own experience by selecting whose tweets you will see, plus, this helps you grow your network and encourages other users to follow you.

Retweet: “To retweet, retweeting, retweeted. The act of forwarding another user’s Tweet to all of your followers.” Retweets are a great way to share information, but they also can help you build relationships, as most users view retweets as a virtual pat on the back.

Direct Message (DM): “Also called a DM and most recently called simply a “message,” these Tweets are private between only the sender and recipient.” Using DMs can help you connect individually with other users, but use them sparingly, and avoid signing up for auto-DM services, as most people view these as unsolicited spam. Instead, use DMs like you would personal emails.

Mention: Mentioning another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a ‘mention.’ Also refers to Tweets in which your username was included.” Most people check their mentions on a regular basis, so mentioning other users in your tweets helps create engagement and build relationships.

Reply: “A Tweet posted in reply to another user’s message, usually posted by clicking the “reply” button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Always begins with @username.” Closely related to mentions, replies are a way you can interact with users based on their tweets and are the foundation of conversations on the site.

Getting More Out of Twitter

Search: “A box on your Twitter homepage that allows you to search all public Tweets for keywords, usernames, hashtags, or subject.” Want to find something on Twitter? Search is a great tool to help you, and you can even use the Advanced Twitter Search to find results near you geographically, from specific people, or within a specific date range.

Third Party Application: A third-party application is a product created by a company other than Twitter and used to access Tweets and other Twitter data.” There are countless tools and applications to help you maximize your Twitter experience.

URL Shortener: “URL shorteners are used to turn long URLs into shorter URLs. Shortening services can be found online.” Links are one of the primary things shared on Twitter, and to avoid issues with the 140 character limit, a variety of link shortening tools can help you more easily share content on the site, and some even enable tracking and other helpful features.

Hashtag: “The # symbol is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet.” You can put hashtags in your tweets to share your tweets in topics and trends or participate in Twitter chats by using hashtags. View the tweets categorized under a hashtag simply by clicking on the hyperlink or conducting a search.

FF: #FF stands for ‘Follow Friday.’ Twitter users often suggest who others should follow on Fridays by tweeting with the hashtag #FF.”  Recommending people on #FF is another great way to give a virtual “high five” to your favorite followers and can help generate engagement.

Your Twitter Security

Geolocation / Geotagging: “The use of location data in Tweets to tell us where you are in real time.” This is an opt-in feature you can enable to add location information to your Tweets, but sharing location information is a safety and privacy concern for some. So think carefully about whether you want to share location information online, and if so, when and how you’ll do it.

Phishing: “Tricking a user to give up their username and password. This can happen by sending the user to fake login page, a page promising to get you more followers, or just simply asking for the username and password via a DM or email.” If you are concern your account has been phished, there are some steps you can take, like changing your password and removing apps.

Hacking: “Gaining unauthorized access to an account via phishing, password guessing, or session stealing. Usually this is followed by unauthorized posts from the account.” It’s important to make sure you are protecting yourself from scams by knowing the basics about account security and creating secure passwords.

OAuth: “A method to allow a user to grant a 3rd party access to their account without giving up their password.” This is the most secure way to connect to Twitter apps, because you’re not sharing your password information with them directly.

Get Started!
So, there you have it! A quick rundown of some of the terms you need to know about the “twittersphere.” Check out the full Twitter glossary for more terms, and happy tweeting!

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Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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