A Guide to Twitter

If you're a Millennial, you really don't need to read this — you're welcome to, but TBQH, you'll probably roll your eyes at least half a dozen times before you even get through the first few terms. But if you're a GenX'r or Boomer looking to dive into the vast Twitterverse, you may want to brush up on your Social Media terminology before you take the plunge.

Below are a few basic Twitter terms to get you started tweeting with the cool kids:


Your twitter “feed” is any list of tweets that constantly updates with new tweets that fit your criteria. Your home feed updates every time someone you follow tweets something.


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, like with other social networks.


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.


The re-purposed pound key on your phone is now called a hashtag, and it’s used in front of other words or letters in a post to provide context or to make it easy for users to search for specific topics. But be careful not to over-hashtag your posts – one or two is more than enough.


When you want to “tag” someone or direct message them on Twitter, you can use their Twitter username (like @JonniDawg). They’ll get a notification that you’ve done so in their account “Mentions”. Great for having conversations with people on Twitter.

Also, you should not START the tweet with an @ symbol if you want the world to see it. Twitter now recognizes this as a reply. As such, these tweets are hidden by default in a number of places, including profiles.

Period before @mention

Add a period before @username, so all of your followers will see your tweet. If you tweet @username and happen to drop the period, only your mutual followers (people who follow both of you) and the person you're tweeting to will see it in their stream.


A “DM,” or “direct message,” is a PM, or private message between two users. It’s different than a public @mention because in order to send a DM or PM, the recipient must follow you.


Let's Share!


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, you rock!

Note: Via 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.


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.


This means “modified tweet,” which is a retweet that you had to clip to save space – be sure it still holds the meaning of the original tweet.


A “hat tip” is an HT followed by the Twittter user name. It acknowledges that user gave you the idea for your tweet content. Different than a direct quote or retweet.

Crank Tweet

Remember when you used to make prank phone calls (before caller ID)? Well, crank tweets are the new prank calls, except in written form. They’re purposefully misleading tweets.

Crank Tweet



Basically AI in the social media world. Bots are different than trolls because they aren’t people — they’re scripts written by people. Some are intended to deceive, while some are created to do some pretty cool stuff, and some are just experiments gone bad like in the case of the Microsoft chat bot, Tay.


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.”

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. A good example is marketing legend Guy Kawasaki who is an influential user on Twitter, as well as on other social networks like LinkedIn.


Someone can unfriend you on Facebook, or unfollow you on Twitter so your status or tweets stop showing up in their feed. Be careful about aggressively following or un-following users though — it’s a great way to get yourself banned from Twitter.

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.

A few bonus Acronyms:


"bye for now" is a polite way to sign off from a conversation. It lets the other person know you’re signing off for a bit and that any further tweets may go unanswered.


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 typing out “I don’t know” is too many characters, or you're simply feeling lazy.


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.


“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” (true, of course).



BR and have a Pawsitively Tail Waggin’ Good Day!


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.



Thanks for the follow!


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.


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.


This is shorthand for “to be honest.” You may see a “Q” pop in there, for “to be quite honest.”


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.

P.S. Ruff Haus Design is a results focused brand consulting company located in San Diego, CA. Let us help unleash your brand image, connect with your customers and gain their loyalty.

More Tasty Treats: