One complaint I hear when I’m teaching business owners about Twitter is that they can’t understand the slang. As people venture out into the great world of Twitter, they learn very quickly that there’s a whole new language to learn. It can be confusing and intimidating to just jump right in, so here’s a quick translation key to common Twitter terms and vocabulary.

@username If you put this symbol before someone’s username, you are speaking to them specifically. It is still a public tweet, but it’s calling them out, personally. It’s one way to hold a conversation on Twitter and is usually used as a reply to something someone else has said. Anyone who follows you will be able to see each tweet that includes the @ and your username. If you’re on Twitter’s site, you can also show or hide entire conversations, and @username is how Twitter understands that a given post belongs to that conversation.
RT @username This is a retweet. It means you are sharing a tweet that someone else created with your followers. RT is followed by @username to identify the original poster. In the example below, the original message was created by @energinemarketing. Brand Constructors retweeted my tweet because it was relevant to their followers. They gave me credit by including my user name in the tweet.
#hashtag The # symbol denotes a hashtag and assigns keywords or themes to your tweets. It allows people to search Twitter by specific subjects that interest them. You can assign any word to a hashtag, but some words are more likely to be searched for than others.
d @username By putting a d in front of someone’s @username, you can send them a private message. They will see this message, but no one else on Twitter will. That being said, it’s probably wise to double check that you typed correctly before posting anything sensitive!
#FF This stands for Follow Friday, and after this hashtag, you list usernames (each with @ in front of it) as a way to tell your followers “Here are some great people I think you should follow.” You can either do this as a #FF followed by a list of usernames, or you can do multiple #FF posts, each with just one username and a description of why you think people should follow that user. It’s a good way to acknowledge people you enjoy following and ask your followers to follow them. An added advantage is that when you #FF other people, they may do the same for you, and you would get exposure to all of their followers as well.
MT @username This is a retweet that has been modified for length or content. For example, if you retweet something and add your own insight, that would be a MT.

Of course, this is just some of the most commonly used Twitter jargon. You may see a tweet that looks nothing at all like English but doesn’t use any of these. Try adding a few vowels to see if you can make sense of it. Because Twitter only allows you 140 characters, people will sometimes take any steps necessary to shorten their tweets!

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