This blog post was originally posted on June 29, 2011 by Jeni so some things may be simplistic and out of date but it’s a GREAT jargon buster and it has proven very popular with Google so we’ve resurrected it!

Remember, Hash tags are now on Facebook too!

The original post…

Twitter is certainly here to stay, there’s no doubt about that and its terminology and jargon has almost become commonplace in marketing conversations nowadays. However, I still manage to find some jaded faces and eye glaze over as I start talking in Twitter language on occasion and so I thought I’d write a short post on understanding the Twitter jargon.

Firstly, the simplistic stuff.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ service. It allows short messages of up to 140 characters long to be ‘broadcast’ to the public, however, these messages are ‘opt in’ meaning other Twitter users choose to be able to see your messages as you update them by ‘following’ you.

A tweet

A ‘Tweet’ is your 140 character message you send.

Your timeline

This is your Twitter homepage, it shows you all of the messages (Tweets) from the people you have decided to follow with the most recent first.


If you are interested in reading someone’s ‘Tweets’, you ‘follow’ them and then their updates appear in your timeline.


This is the amount of people that have chosen to see your ‘Tweets’ in their timeline.

@ reply

Originally on Twitter there was no way to send a message to anyone, but after a short while it was obvious that people wanted to be able to reply to interesting ‘Tweets’ they had seen so the @ reply was introduced. You use the @ sign followed by the Twitter username of the person you want to reply to. This is a public reply and appears in the user’s timeline even if they don’t follow you (@replies are also known as @messages or @mentions).

RT (Retweets)

‘Retweeting’ is simply the act of reposting someone else’s interesting ‘Tweet’ – if you have found it interesting then it is likely your followers will find it interesting too.


With only 140 characters to say your piece, if you want to add a link into the mix, it can sometimes mean you only have a couple of words remaining to explain it. A short URL is where an extended URL like: becomes:

Both point to the same webpage but the latter has significantly less characters. I use a service called with a personal shortening domain ( but using their domain is just as good.

# Hash tags

‘Hash tags’ are used to >add context to your ‘Tweet’ within a theme or event for example. You may use #wimbledon if talking about Wimbledon or #miltonkeynes if your tweet is relevant to the Milton Keynes area. Using hash tags is important as people use these as search terms and it means that your tweet will appear in more than just your followers timelines.

DM Direct Message

A personal message sent to you or from you to another user. Only the sender and receiver can see this message but it still has the restrictions of 140 characters. You can only send a ‘DM’ to users that are following you. Also known as a Direct Tweet.

Well, that’s a short jargon buster for you! Oh and while you’re at it, come and follow Jeni on Twitter.