I feel like a twit. No, that’s not it. I feel like a tweet. Much better! After much longing, lurking and learning, I’ve finally taken the leap and joined twitter. At first I found the jargon mystifying, so to help potential twitterers I’ve created a list of commonly used terms and symbols. Feel free to add to them in the comments section!
This symbol precedes a twitterer’s username or handle. For instance, mine is @StellaTarakson. And, yes, twitterer is the correct term!
Direct message (DM)
It’s possible to send a private message to someone on twitter – but only if you follow each other. To send someone a DM, click the envelope symbol that appears on your ‘Me’ page (your profile summary) then click on ‘New message’. Alternatively, go to their page, click on the little head symbol (don’t you love my technical language!) then select ‘Send a direct message’.
You can mark a tweet as a favourite, simply by viewing the tweet and clicking on the appropriate option. It is automatically pinned to your account so you can find it again later.
Someone who subscribes to another person’s tweets. You need to create an account to follow people. It’s kind of Twitter etiquette to follow back people who follow you, unless they are one of the Twitterati (celebrity or star tweeters). People can also ‘unfollow’ or stop their subscription.
Topics on twitter are categorised using the hashtag symbol. Placed before a keyword or phrase, it enables users to find information on a particular topic. For example, #amwriting is a common one for writers. You can search for existing topics or you can create your own.
You can organise those you follow into lists, making it easier to keep track. Your lists can be private or viewable to the public. To create a list, click on ‘Lists’ and ‘Create list’. You can add or remove someone from a list by clicking on that little head symbol again and selecting ‘add or remove from list’.
You can reply to other people’s tweets by viewing their tweet and clicking ‘Reply’. The message you enter will be preceded with @(their username). You can also enter that manually at any part of your tweet. The person you are replying to will see your tweet when they look at their @Connect tab.
You can re-send or forward on a tweet, known as retweeting. This is considered a compliment! It’s important to acknowledge the original twitterer, so the RT symbol is used to show this. You can also put ‘via @….’
A conversation on twitter at a specific time. You can join in if you know the hashtag and time of the chat.
The whole universe of twitter. It truly is its own world! The twittosphere refers to all the people who tweet.
Each tweet has a 140 character limit. This can be problematic if you want to send a link to a website. To shorten the URL, or the website’s address, you can use a shortener service. The best known is tinyurl. Go to their site, paste your long URL in the box and click ‘shorten’. You then copy it into your tweet, leaving more characters for your message.