Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Quick (& Fun) Guide To Twitter Lingo

On April 17, 2009, Oprah Winfrey uttered her first words in the Twitterverse. They read like this: HI TWITTERS. THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOME. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY.

It was the only time the big ‘O’ sounded more like Sarah Palin. Just like ‘refudiate’ is not a word (and Palin is no Shakespeare,) the correct term to use is Tweeters, Tweeps, Twitterers or maybe even Tweeple, but not TWITTERS.

Oprah's first tweet
If you’re a Twitter newbie who feels like a twit for lack of the right Twitter vocab, you can avoid such gaffes by reading this quick guide to Twitter lingo. It will have you winning followers and tweeting with confidence in no time. Read, comment, share, retweet and then go forth and conquer the Twitterverse.

1) Twitterverse: The Twitter Universe or virtual world of Twitter. Populated largely by social media gurus, social media companies, social media enthusiasts and such. Oh and, of course, there are the celebrities and losers others who love to share every minute detail of their mundane ordinary lives every minute of the day.

Twit Tip: Robert Scoble used to be the king of Twitter till he was dethroned by Ashton Kutcher, proving that just like in the real world, good looks get you far in the Twitterverse as well. If you don’t believe me, ask Pete Cashmore.

Pete Cashmore
2) Tweet: Messages/updates that are 140-characters long. You can tweet about anything from the weather to your pet cat to what you just devoured for dinner. But it’s best to stick to tweets that would really be of value and interest to your followers to avoid boring them to death.

Twit Tip: Think Before You Tweet. Careless tweeting has landed many tweeters in a hot unappetizing soup or even gotten them fired from their job.

3) Follow: When you follow someone, their tweets appear on your Twitter home page. Most people follow someone because they’re hoping that person will follow them back and increase their follower count interested in what that person may have to say or share. When someone follows you or becomes your follower, you achieve a cult-like status and thus boost your ego, they can view your tweets. The more the followers you have on Twitter, the bigger your ego influence. To ‘unfollow’ someone means that they were too dull/stupid/annoying for you you will stop seeing the person’s tweets in your timeline.

Twit Tip: Choose your followers based on your personal and professional interests. Use the follow feature meaningfully to connect, learn and schmooze network with others.

4) Twitter Handle/Username: This is your own unique identity on Twitter @ followed by your user-name. The @username automatically becomes a link to your account and helps your followers or other tweeps to identify and discover you.

Twit Tip: Choose your twitter handle wisely. While choosing something cute like littlebunnyrabbit or narcissistic like KingOfTheWorld may seem like a good idea to you, your potential employers may not be impressed when they look for you online.

5) Mentions/Replies: To reply or direct a Tweet to someone specific, use the @username followed by your tweet. When the @username appears at the beginning of the tweet, it is considered a reply, when it appears anywhere else within the tweet, it is considered a mention. You can view both from the ‘replies’ tab on your Twitter homepage.

Twit Tip: If you don’t have any @ mentions or replies in your Twitter stream, then you are like Tom Hanks conversing with Wilson the volleyball in Cast Away. In other words, you are simply talking to yourself.

6) DM: Though DM also stands for Dispersion Measure, Diabetes Mellitus and Doctorate in Medicine, in the Twitterverse, it is short for a Direct Message. DMs are private messages sent by one Twitter user directly to another and are only visible to the sender and the recipient. DMs cannot exceed more than 140 characters and you can only DM people who follow you.

7) Retweet: Retweeting is a good way to suck up to someone you follow repost an interesting tweet by someone you follow, to your own followers. You can retweet by directly hitting the retweet button at the bottom right of each tweet or by adding the letters RT before the message to give proper credit to the tweet’s original author.

This list is by no means an exhaustive one, so please feel free to add your own Twitter lingo in the comments section below. And last but not the least, connect with me on Twitter.


  1. boi I needed this one. I'm such a newbie to twitter. And even though I somewhat know most of above, its good to read and clarify some the doubts I had. And there something wrong with me. Guess what? I write all smart ass things on Facebook and enjoy writing dumb embarrassing things on Twitter. Can you break that down for me Farida :)) WHY!

  2. @Kulsum Glad you found the post somewhat useful! I follow you on Twitter and I don't think you tweet dumb embarrassing things at all! Personally, I tend to reveal more about myself on Facebook since it is a private network and consists of people I know well. I am a little more guarded on Twitter because, as you know, it is a public network and anything you say remains in the virtual space forever. So I tend to use Twitter more to share professional-related information or content. That said, I think it's best to be yourself - whether it's on Facebook or Twitter. As long as you're being yourself, people will be interested in what you have to say. In the end, it's our personalities that differentiate us and make us memorable. And who doesn't say something dumb or embarrassing every once-in-a-while? I think it makes us more authentic :)

  3. Another useful bog Farida - waiting for more of these - you should soon start a social network tutorial for a fee thru webinars

    2 observations -

    point # 5 is Mentions - the n is missing ;-)

    And I love the concept of cutting out the obvious in and still letting them be there - unique

  4. @Amith Thanks for the feedback. Yes, looking to start something of my own soon so all ideas are welcome. Thanks for pointing out the missing 'n' - I missed that completely. I need to edit more carefully!


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