A grasp of Twitter terminology is vital to anyone using the service. There are a lot of terms unique to Twitter, and it can get very confusing, very fast if you don’t have some idea of what others are talking about. Here’s a quick guide to the most common terms you’ll likely hear.
DM or Direct Message: This is a private message sent to another Twitter user. It’s preceeded by a “D” and can only be sent to a user who is following you.
Hashtag: Hashtags are single-word phrases used to organize different topics, chats, and events on Twitter, and are preceeded by a hash mark “#”.
Lists: Lists are a fairly new Twitter feature, and are just what they sound like: lists of Twitter users created and categorized by other Twitter users. You can follow entire lists rather than having to follow each individual user.
Reply or @reply: To reply to another Twitter user, or include them in a tweet, you put an @ symbol before their username. If the @symbol is the first character in the tweet, the reply will be shown to them and anyone following both of you. If the @ symbol is not the first character, then the tweet will be shown to all of your followers, plus the person whose username follows the @.
RT or Retweet: Retweets are re-broadcasts of another user’s tweet. This is traditionally done by including an “RT” before the original poster’s @username. This has long been an unofficial feature of Twitter, though Twitter has recently added official support for it. Some users use other characters (such as a full stop “.”) for brevity’s sake.
Trending Topics: These are the most popular terms appearing on Twitter at any given time and may include hashtags.
There is no official etiquette for Twitter, though there are some guidelines and rules within their terms of service. Most of the official rules regard spam and inappropriate content. A few don’ts in the world of Twitter:
Don’t crash hashtags. If what you’re saying isn’t directly related to the hashtag, don’t include it. Don’t ignore those trying to have a conversation with you. Reply to people who take the time to converse with you whenever possible. Don’t update too often. Of course, what constitutes “too often” is completely subjective. Don’t send out nothing but self-promotional messages to your followers.
Don’t indiscriminately follow others in the hope of gaining more followers. Don’t post fifteen tweets in a row to tell a story that can’t be conveyed in one or two tweets. The point of Twitter is brevity. If you need more space, post it on a blog and link to it from Twitter. Don’t send promotional tweets directly to other users, or you’ll risk being tagged as a spammer.