This morning, when I scanned my Twitter feed, I did a few MTs and PRTs, asked a follower to TMB, and was left SMH at some trolls I found, so I said BFN to Twitter.
Didn't understand what I just said? Don’t worry -- that used to be gobbledygook to me, too.
Twitter’s been busy since its first tweet in March 2006, as it recently filed for an IPO and has boasted over 50 million tweets per day. In the last seven years, Twitter has become a social network with its own unique language -- and rightfully so. After all, when you only have 140 characters to say what you mean, every word counts.
This, my friends, is why marketers need to be well-versed in the language of Twitter.
When I found myself heading for Google every time I checked out my Twitter feed, I knew it was time to start writing some definitions down so I could learn the language myself ... so that's exactly I did. And what kind of inbound marketer would I be if I didn’t share this great content with you too?
Twitter Terminology Defined
When you want to “tag” someone in a tweet or direct message on Twitter, you can do so by mentioning them using their Twitter username (like @MaggieHibma). Add this mention in and they’ll get a notification that you’ve done so in the “Mentions” section of their account. Essentially, this is used to have conversations with people on Twitter.
While known as the pound key on your phone, on Twitter, this symbol is a hashtag, and it’s used in front of other words in a tweet to provide context or to make it easy for users to search for specific topics on Twitter. But be careful not to over-hashtag your tweets -- one or two is probably enough.
If you're having a Twitter conversation, one polite way to sign off is to say this, which stands for “bye for now.” It lets the other person know you're signing off and that any further tweets may go unanswered for a period of time.
Forbes defines bots as “a social networking account powered by artificial intelligence.” Bots are different than trolls because they aren’t people -- they’re scripts written by people, waiting to pounce. But every once in a while, you’ll stumble across bots that are created to do some pretty cool stuff.
Just like in email, there’s something to be said for social media etiquette, and “best regards” is another nice, commonly used sign-off when leaving a conversation on Twitter.
Remember when you used to make prank phone calls? (C’mon, don’t be shy -- everyone's done so at one point or another.) Well, crank tweets are the new prank calls, except in written form. They’re misleading tweets, tweeted on purpose.
A "DM," or "direct message," is a private message between two Twitter users. It’s different than a public @mention because in order to send a DM, the recipient must follow you.
This one's simple enough: It's short for “email me.”
Your twitter “feed” (HubSpot customers know it as their “Timeline”) is any list of tweets that constantly updates when new tweets that fit the specificed criteria pop up. Your home feed updates every time someone you follow tweets.
FF or #FF
#FollowFriday started in January 2009 as a way to recommend other Twitter users to your followers. It happens on Fridays, and you can search Twitter for the hashtag on Fridays to watch the kudos pour in. (Cool tip for HubSpot customers: You can create a “#FollowFriday” stream in Social Inbox of a Contact list and see who your Contacts are recommending to follow.)
A “follower” is someone who follows you on Twitter and sees your updates on their home feed. Just because someone follows you doesn't mean you have to follow them back, the way some other social networks work. But if you want to find some insightful marketers to follow, here’s a helpful list to get you going.
You should smile if you see this tweeted at you. Why? Because someone on Twitter if telling you to "have a nice day!"
A “hat tip” is usually followed by someone’s Twitter username. Using HT means you aren’t quoting or retweeting them directly, but instead acknowledging that the user gave you the idea for the content you’re tweeting.
This acronym for “in case you missed it” can be used when someone is tweeting about big news or a trending topic a few days after the fact, or they’ve already tweeted about it. Searching “ICYMI” on Twitter is a great way to catch up on what you’ve missed if you’ve been off the Twitter radar for a few days.
When 140 characters is your limit, shortening words is a must. Thus, typing “I don’t know” is sometimes too long to include in a tweet, believe it or not.
IMO or IMHO
You’ll usually see “in my opinion” or “in my humble opinion” when someone wants to agree or disagree with a piece of content they’re sharing. That way, the reader knows it’s opinion, not fact.
This means “modified tweet,” which is a retweet that you had to clip to save space. However, it should still hold the meaning of the original tweet.
“Note to self” is a good way to mark tweets that you want to go back to later. It’s also used when someone is trying to be sarcastic or funny. For instance, I might tweet: "NTS: Pizza is way better cold -- especially when it's for breakfast." (Which we all know is true, of course.)
Period before @mention
This is the one mistake almost everyone makes on Twitter. If you tweet @username without a period, only your mutual followers (in other words, people who follow both you and @username) and the person your tweeting to will see it in their streams. Add a period before @username, though, and all of your followers will see your tweet in their streams.
A "partial retweet" is similar to a modified tweet, but it lets the reader know you’ve taken out some of the original idea of the tweet, either to save space or to add your own two cents.
When you reply on Twitter, you’re responding to a particular tweet someone has tagged you in with a @mention. Unless it’s a direct message (DM), a reply can be seen by anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they follow you or not.
A retweet is the basic form of currency on Twitter. When you see “RT” in front of a tweet, it means the person found the content valuable enough to share with their followers. If the original tweet is yours, way to go!
“Shaking my head” usually accompanies a tweet when someone can’t believe or doesn’t understand the content they’re sharing. It’s a total mimic of real-life body language.
TBH or TBQH
This is shorthand for “to be honest.” You may see a “Q” pop in there, for “to be quite honest.” (Fancy, we know.)
You always want to say thank you, so “thanks for the follow” is a nice way to recognize that someone has decided to add you to their Twitter feed.
If you see “tweet me back” when someone mentions you on Twitter, they want you to literally tweet them back with an answer to or your opinion of their tweet.
Beware! Trolls are people on Twitter who abuse the service by spamming users with off-topic tweets and other erratic behavior. Trolling is a form of internet harassment, so if you think someone is trolling you on Twitter, you can learn how to take action here.
Tweeps are Twitter folks that follow each other from one social network to another. It's not uncommon for the people you're friends with on Facebook to also follow you on Twitter -- they would be your Tweep. It's a Twitter-ized version of "peeps."
Arguably the most common Twitter term. Every update you post to your followers on Twitter is called a tweet. Every tweet has a 140-character limit, and remember: Your tweets are public and searchable by anyone on Twitter, even if they don’t follow you. Heck, even CEOs may be listening to your tweets.
Trends or Trending Topic
Any person, place, thing, or idea that a lot of people are tweeting about at once is considered a trend. You can find trends on the left side of your Twitter homepage, and you can even tailor what trends you see based on your location and who you follow.
Tip: Are you a local business? Connecting with users who are in your same geographic location is a great way to get more business value out of Twitter.
Tweeple, Twerson, and Twitterverse
Literally, the people (or person, in the singular) that make up the vast Twitterverse (universe!) of Twitter users.
The “Twitterati” is a group of A-list Twitter users that have a big number of followers and are famous in Twitter circles (and sometimes outside too). Marketing legend Guy Kawasaki is a good example of a an influential Twitter user with accolades outside of the social network as well.
Just like someone can unfriend you on Facebook, people can choose to unfollow you on Twitter so your tweets stop showing up in their feed. Be careful about aggressively following or unfollowing users, though -- it's a great way to get yourself banned from Twitter.
This term is sometimes used in place of “RT” as a way to let people know where your content is from and to give credit to the original content creator.
What other Twitter terms do you see often? Add them (and their definition) in the comments!
Originally published Oct 30, 2013 1:00:00 PM, updated January 21 2020