Twitter Lingo & Tips For New Twitter & Facebook Users

Twitter, the social network which asks its members to answer the famous question “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less, has a language all its own. New users may find themselves wondering what the #tags and RT’s are all about. Facebook users who do not use Twitter may wonder the same thing, since the new update has left them seeing more Twitter messages as Facebook status updates thanks to services such as Ping.fm, Selective Twitter Status, or other applications that turn Twitter updates into Facebook statuses. Here is a rundown of all the common Twitter lingo and updates you will encounter.

Twitter Lingo

Here are some of the things you may see in Twitter updates, or tweets.

@username

This is an update sent to a specific Twitter user, also called Replies (or Mentions). These updates can be sent to followers and non-followers alike. Replies to you can be viewed on your homepage in the right sidebar by clicking the @yourusername under Home.

RT @username

Updates that start with RT @username are called Re-tweets. This is an update where you repeat another user’s tweet. If a user posts a tweet that you want to share with your followers, you would just copy their tweet, and add RT @username. This gives them the credit for the tweet, and lets them know when they are reviewing their replies that you shared their tweet, which is something most users appreciate. It’s a great way to build good relationships with your followers.

The other great thing about RT’s is if you share something valuable, other’s will RT your update. This in turn will give you more credibility as a Twitter user who adds value to the community, and will probably result in more followers. So whenever you are reading a great article, it’s a good thing to take a few extra moments to share that article with your Twitter followers.

#hashtags

#hashtags are great ways to tag your Twitter update on a specific subject. This way, followers and non-followers can find your update using the Twitter search box on the Twitter homepage, or using one of the Trending Topics searches. One of my favorites is the #haiku hash that people add to haikus. You can find more popular #hashtags at hashtags.org.

Another development in the #hashtag world is the WeFollow user powered Twitter directory. You can add yourself to this directory by clicking on the Add yourself to the WeFollow directory button. Once you authorize it to access your tweets, you can enter three words that describe your tweets. I, for example, entered blogging, photography, and social media. It then created a tweet for me to send to Twitter: Just added myself to the http://wefollow.com twitter directory under: #blogging #photography #socialmedia. This added me to their directory, so anyone searching for members who tweet about the above three topics will find me, and I can find other members to follow with the same interests. You can also find celebrities that use Twitter in this directory as well.

#followfriday

Probably one of the most popular #hashtags is #followfriday. Follow Friday is the day when you recommend users to all of your followers, and anyone watching the #followfriday trend, by including @username and #followfriday in the same tweet. There are lots of ways to recommend users: if you are RT’ing someone or replying to someone on Friday, just add #followfriday to the end of your update. If you want to recommend lots of users, just put @username1 @username2 and so on plus #followfriday. If you want, you can include a message why you are recommending someone, such as I recommend @username on #followfriday because they share daily inspirational messages.

URL Shorteners

Another thing that you will commonly see in Twitter updates are short URL’s that start off with http://tinyurl.com/, http://bit.ly/, http://snipr.com/, http://vieurl.com/, and so on. These websites will allow you to enter a long URL and turn it into a short one. The benefit? When you have only 140 characters, the last thing you want is to make your message fit around a 50+ character URL (which Twitter will sometimes shorten using http://tinyurl.com anyway).

I started out using TinyURL, but recently switched over to Bit.ly. I love Bit.ly because of…

The Bookmarklet

Simply drag over the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark toolbar. Whenever you are on a page that you want to shorten the URL and send on Twitter, just click the Bit.ly link on your toolbar, and it will take you to Bit.ly in another window/tab with the shortened URL of the page you were just on.

Twitter Integration

Once you’ve signed up for an account with Bit.ly, you can also link it to your Twitter account. On the same page with the shortened URL you just created is a Twitter update box. So, for example, I was reading the newest post on Problogger for the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. I clicked on my Bit.ly bookmarklet, and it took me to their site with the shortened URL. In the Twitter update box, I created “Reading: Write a Link Post [Day 7 31DBBB] > http://bit.ly/12VSaQ” and clicked Post. Now the shortened URL and my update was posted to my Twitter.

Statistics

If you are like me and share links to your newest posts on Twitter, you will enjoy the statistics feature. Just shorten your post’s URL as described above and send it in a Twitter update. Bit.ly will show a history of your recent shortened URL’s. If you click on Info, it will show you the number of clicks this shortened URL has received, and also additional Bit.ly links that have been created for your article. If you click on the View All by conversations, it will show all the Twitter updates with this URL as well. You can find out the statistics on any Bit.ly URL by adding info into the link like this: http://bit.ly/info/12VSaQ.

Additional Tips

For new Twitter users, here are some other additional tips for starting out right.

Getting Followers

If you are looking to grow your follower base, use the WeFollow directory, or other directories, such as Just Tweet It and Twellow, to find users with similar interests. Likewise, look around websites, blogs, forums and social networks that you generally visit. Website owners, blog authors and commentators, forum members, etc. often share their Twitter user id somewhere on their sites, profiles, or signatures.

Keep in mind that Twitter has some way of monitoring whether you are following more people than follow you. They consider it spammy and may suspend your account, so do not follow too many people at a time.

Direct Messages

If someone is following you, you can send them a Direct Message, and if you are following someone, they can send you one. There are programs that allow you to setup automatic Direct Messages to new followers. I like to send a custom message to my new followers, thanking them for following me, inviting them to join me on Facebook, and sending them either a link to a new article on my site or to my 7 Things for New & Dedicated Readers article so they can get to know me better. All of these links, of course, are using shortened URL’s so I can make sure I can get in a proper message as well.

Being a Valuable Twitter User

The best way to keep your followers on Twitter happy is to be a valuable Twitter user. Don’t just send links to your own articles or affiliate programs. Send out things that you know your followers are interested. If it’s photography, send them articles to awesome photography articles. If it’s blogging tips, send them articles on blogging. Read what other people have to say, and send them some @username replies with answers to questions and advice. Be social!

Subscribe via RSS
As I previous mentioned in my comprehensive guide to RSS, if you find yourself following lots of people, but do not want to miss out on certain user’s updates, just go to their Twitter profile, and underneath their list of followers, click on the RSS feed of user’s updates. Then you can have their updates coming right to your RSS feed reader. For example, you can subscribe to @kikolani’s RSS.

Resources

Check out one of my Fetching Friday post for more Twitter resources. Also, in keeping tune with my ways to use Delicious for social bookmarking, look for new articles on Delicious tagged Twitter.

Your Twitters and Tips

Do you have any tips for new Twitter users? Be sure to leave your Twitter tips in the comments, along with your Twitter user name so we can all follow each other! And follow me @kikolani.





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Comments

  1. says

    Great List! I have just started using Twitter and the only one I knew about was the @ command.

    I still haven’t done the FaceBook thing though. Its funny, one of my friends, whom I’ve known forever, always gives me a hard time because he has my sister on his Facebook, but I’m not on there ;)

    Steves last blog post..The Evolution of the Lift Chair

  2. says

    @Sire: Yes, subscribing would be better because tattoos are permanent, and technologies are always changing. :)

    @Brian: I’m a bit wary of Beta’s. The bookmarklet does everything I need, so I’m happy with it for now. :)

    @Harvey: Yes, once I found Bit.ly, I never looked back. Probably the only perk to Tiny is that it seemed to know when a link had been shortened before, and gave you the same tinyurl code. Bit.ly will create multiple new links, but they still all show up in the same info page.

    @Steve: Facebook is more involved. Unlike Twitter where you can easily get followers and communicate back and forth, Facebook users are sometimes pick and choosy about who they will add to their friend list, and then you have to put up with all the apps, status vs. wall postings, etc. Not that it is bad, but Twitter is a lot simpler.

    @YogaforCynics: You’re welcome.

    @Madhur: Me too. I didn’t find my replies or Direct Messages for awhile after I joined.

    @Frank: I’m glad you found some new tricks in this article!

    @Jonathan: Thanks. I have noticed lots of posts on Twitter basics, that are either how to sign up or how to get followers. But not much on the in between that stuff like the lingo. Glad this has been helpful!

    @Celes: Yes, the hashes are odd at first, but very useful when you’re posting on a trending topic. Thanks for the bookmarking!

    @GregR: You’re welcome. :)

  3. says

    I agree with you- twitter is all about building relationships with people. It’s like a giant 24/7 chatroom.
    I can tell you that I truly love twitter. I’ve met some great friends there and found out things that I wouldn’t know if I weren’t on Twitter.
    This is a great post- I’m going to stumble it =)

    All the best,
    Eren (creativeheart on stumbleupon)

    Erens last blog post..Goal Based Ethics — Why is Setting Goals Important?

  4. says

    Hello. My name is @waynejohn, and I’m a twit-a-holic.

    “hey wayne…”

    Wonderful post, I’m going to use this post for something. :) This is explains things perfectly!

    You know I’ve been watching the little things you do here and there, and I must say, wow! You are doing an incredible job, love watching it happen! In fact, I’m working on another theme for my site…on the side side side. It’s down the line in priorities, but it’s on the list.

    As always, loved the post and socialized it like a dirty little … er … well. Like the great post that it is! ;)

    Waynejohns last blog post..BlogSpot Blog – Defining a Web Site Project

  5. says

    Great resource. I’ve been using Twitter for more than 1 year but it’s only in the last few months that things like hashtags and retweets popped out and it’s a good thing you put them together and explained.

    About URL shorteners you can put another one on the list (with a very good tracking system) http://cli.gs

    Stumbled!

  6. says

    @Eren: Yes, you get to see more about what people are interested in and their personalities on Twitter. Thanks for the Stumble! :)

    @Gennaro: I’ll take a look at that site as well. Although I like more comprehensive!

    @Waynejohn: I’m a Twitterholic as well, so you’re in good company. Glad you enjoyed the post. And I’m glad you like the changes around the site.. it’s evolving. :)

    @Dragos: That’s true… Twitter trends are changing rapidly. I’ll check out that site too. I’m all about the statistics!

  7. says

    If you use tiny url or one of the other url shortening tools, do other twitter users have to have the same account to be able to view the link or is its just the person twittering that needs an account?

  8. says

    Hi Kristi,

    Very simple and clearly explained tips for people who are new to twitter and facebook. Even twitter is sometimes a mystery for me after using it for almost 6 months. I have posted something similar on twitter for newbies but that’s on “12 People To Follow And Go Viral On Twitter”. Please do let me know you comments on whether it would make sense for newbies as per you.

    Cheers
    Krish

    Krishs last blog post..12 People To Follow And Go Viral On Twitter

  9. says

    @Roshan: Twitter can be a great network to use once you get all of the lingo down. :)

    @Blogging for Bucks: I think it’s a combination of the right topic matter for your followers at the right time, and the right Re-tweeter. I’ve noticed I can post an article at one time in the day, and get no response. But then I can post the same article at 11pm, and get one person who has tens of thousands of followers to re-tweet it, and that RT gets another 10 – 15 more. I think the more you tweet good articles, the more people who are likely to pay attention every time they see your name, and the RT’s will follow.

    @Sire: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be the instigator of a fight now. :)

    @Phillip: Thanks!

    @Khaled: You really don’t need an account at all, even to create the tiny URL’s. The account just gives you the option of saving the history of URL’s you’ve shortened, and (with Bit.ly) links to your Twitter so you can send a tweet right after shortening the URL, without having to copy it, and then go to Twitter to create the message.

    @Krish: I bookmarked your article. That is a good one for new Twitter users to find some top tweeters! :)

    @Dennis: Come back and let us know what your new Twitter account is so we can all follow! :)

    @Garret: I do use Chat Catcher… I have mine turned into trackback. I’m still trying to figure out how to edit some stuff in it, as I want the information to look like a regular trackback, without the gravatar and such.

    @Sean: Yes. Since the new Facebook update, the statuses are taking priority in the news feed, and because of all the apps that let Twitter messages convert to Facebook statuses, there are a LOT more of them on Facebook. I have lots of Facebook friends who aren’t on Twitter, so I thought this would be a good article for them as “RT @user #twitter http://bit.ly” messages look nothing like the “I’m out playing with my dog” statuses they were used to seeing.

    @William: Exactly. Giving is what separates the helpful people from the spammers, and many more people want to follow helpful people than the latter.

  10. says

    I always find your posts so informative, I honestly don’t believe there is a time I have come here and not found something on one of the links you include in your articles. This is yet ANOTHER very helpful posts, there were a few things I never wanted to ask about using Twitter that you answered for me in this post, thank you.

    Extreme Johns last blog post..Smackable: Dumby of the Decade

  11. says

    J. Chu, Twitter is a great service but to fully grasp what Twitter is really about is by following the right kind of individuals in your niche or in particular for socializing that can really make the experience really fun as well as interesting. You might become addicted like the rest of the people that use the service.

    almirs last blog post..Vital Tips That Can Aid Any Blogger

  12. says

    Another good post Kristi…I’ll follow this very informative post of yours!
    Thanks for the information about the hashtags, it really make sense now.

  13. Sloane Thompson says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! These tips are very helpful and clear! I’ve subscribed to receive future updates. I truly appreciate your succinct summary, which answered the majority of questions I’ve had with regard to Twitter. I’m a fairly new “tweeter” and I’m also trying to educate myself as much as possible on the various Social Networking sites so I can incorporate ideas and discussions regarding these in career courses I will begin teaching next year for Liberal Arts students at an urban university in Indianapolis. Again, thank you!!

  14. says

    @J.D.: It’s never too late to join in the Twitter fun!

    @Sire: That’s a funny comment, especially with your CommentLuv linked post! :)

    @A Hot Bath: Hope you enjoy it. It has made Re-tweeting a cinch for me.

    @J.Chu: I’m glad it helped. :)

    @Extreme John: Glad you find my site informative. :)

    @Almir: Twitter addiction isn’t a bad thing.

    @Rowenalee: You’re welcome.

    @Sloane: Social networking is going to important in all areas of teaching… I’m glad you will be able to incorporate it!

  15. says

    Nice post! It’s funny it was only about 2 months ago, until I found out what a #hashtags is! And I have 30,000 followers! Thanks for the article :)

  16. says

    Speaking as a new Twitter-er, thanks for the tips. However, I can’t seem to find the time to do much with my new-found twitter information. Guess I might as well just jump in and get busy now that I am better armed.