Twitter LogoSo…what’s all this talk about ‘tweets’, and ‘retweets’, and ‘favorites’? And now that you mention it, what’s a ‘hashtag’, and why do I keep seeing number signs, and letters all jumbled together and hard to read? If these questions are quite familiar to you, I’m here to help. Lots of people are talking about how to improve your business on Twitter and why social media is necessary to thrive as a member of the business community. However, you’re still sitting here, scratching your head, and asking yourself, “When did I miss the Twitter train?” Well, I’m here to back it up and teach you the basics.

Twitter Terms You Need to Know

  • Twitter. First of all, you should probably know exactly what Twitter is before you can understand anything else. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing online social media platforms. Second to Facebook, its user base consists of 555 million users. Twitter enables users to send posts for others to see and to read posts from other users. Posts are limited to 140 characters, so you must be concise when sharing content.
  • Follower. On Twitter, you can choose to ‘follow’ other users to see their content, and other users do the same for you. With more followers, you are able to reach more people with your content updates. However, even if you decide to ‘follow’ someone, he or she may choose not to follow you back.
  • Tweet. So what’s this mysterious ‘tweet’ you’ve been hearing about? A ‘tweet’ is basically a post, in which you share content and updates with your followers. Your ‘tweets’ are public and searchable by anyone, even users who do not follow you. You are able to post text, pictures, and videos, but because ‘tweets’ are limited to 140 characters, you must be selective.
  • Retweet. If you are familiar with Facebook, a ‘retweet’ on Twitter is similar to a ‘share’ on Facebook. When you ‘retweet’ other users’ content, you are basically sharing that with your followers. Usually, you will ‘retweet’ content you find particular funny, useful, or amusing, or that you think your followers would be interested in.
  • Hashtag. I’m sure you’ve noticed the number sign followed by words that are all jumbled together. This is a hashtag. A hashtag allows you to provide context to your ‘tweets’ and makes your content searchable for people interested in updates on that topic. For example, if you use the hashtag #icecream in your post, users who search the term ‘ice cream’ will be directed to your post and others that talk about ice cream.
  • birds eating out of a hand@Mention. You can use this feature to direct your message to certain Twitter users. By beginning a ‘tweet’ with “@username,” you are able to direct the message to their home page as well as those who follow that user. By placing the “@username” later on in your message, you allow your followers to see it as well.
  • Direct Message. Direct messages are similar to ‘@mentions’ in that you can send them to specific users. The only difference is that direct messages are private, and you can only send them to users who are following you.
  • Feed. Finally, your Twitter ‘feed’ is the constantly-updating list of ‘tweets’ posted by you and other users. If you’ve had experience using Facebook, it is quite similar to ‘news feed’. The only difference is that Twitter updates its content on a real-time basis.

Now that you have the basic background of Twitter, you can apply what you know to your personal and/or business account. Start ‘tweet’n and comment below if you have any further questions. Let us know how you like Twitter as you start getting the hang of it!   photo credit: ~Ilse via photopin cc

Jamie Bates