A Beginners’ Guide to Twitter Jargon

Social Media juggernaut Twitter is one of the top ten most visited sites on the internet. The social media service boasts over 500m active users; 340m new tweets are posted, worldwide, each day; and the site also handles over 1.6bn search queries, in each 24hr period.

However, through our work at BF Internet, we still come across people and businesses that are reluctant to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. Our research suggests that one of the biggest barriers, between user and service, is the daunting jargon of the website.

In order to get the most out of Twitter, it’s important that a user is familiar with terms such as “hashtags”, “retweets” and “direct messages”. With that in mind, we have put together this helpful guide to the most important examples of Twitter terminology.


Twitter, as a platform, is like a collective stream of consciousness. In this service’s never-ending Great Conversation, anyone and everyone in the world can, theoretically, be within earshot of your comments.

It is, however, possible to direct a tweet at just one person.

There are two main ways in which you can do this:
1) If starting a conversation, you can manually type in the “@” symbol, followed by the user’s Twitter name.
2) If replying to a Tweet that you’ve received, simply clicking the REPLY button (underneath the Tweet) will automatically signal who the message is for.

When using the @namehere feature of Twitter, please be aware that your Tweet is still publicly visible. However, the benefit of directing a Tweet at a particular person is that it will show up in their “@Connect” feed and indicate to them that they are wanted.


If you’d prefer to send a user a message that can’t be seen in public, Twitter provides a direct messaging system.

Often referred to as DM’s, amongst the Twitter community, Direct Messages are a private form of communication. It is reminiscent of traditional Instant Messaging. This kind of messaging is quickly eating into conventional mobile phone text messaging’s equity in the communications industry.

DMs are a fantastic way to send any personal or sensitive information, including business phone numbers and email addresses.


On Twitter, the “#” symbol affords the user the opportunity to tag tweets with a relevant category listing. Known as a “hashtag”, this particular piece of jargon was created organically by Twitter users, before becoming an officially recognised feature.

Hashtags allow users to see an exhaustive list of Tweets that have been tagged with the same term. You can access this list by, simply, clicking on the hashtag itself. Or by searching for a particular tag, using Twitter’s search box.

New users should be aware that there are no set hashtags. You can tag a tweet with anything that you want. The only limitation is the restriction of the use of punctuation and spaces in tags – all tags must consist of letters and numbers only.

In business, it’s now becoming increasingly common for companies to create and publicise a specific hashtag, as part of an advertising campaign. One recent example would be the, hugely successful, Domino’s Pizza #letsdolunch campaign.


Commonly abbreviated to “RT”, a retweet allows you to repeat a tweet that has been sent out by another user. Effectively this bounces that user’s signal off your, metaphorical, satellite dish.

This feature opens up the opportunity to share another user’s content with your own unique set of followers. Undoubtedly, there will be individuals that follow your account that don’t follow the users that you have chosen to follow.


Speaking of following, one of the fastest growing new terms is “#FF”. This hashtag is an abbreviation of “Follow Friday”.

Fridays have become the time for Twitter users to recommend their favourite accounts to others. #FFs are a great way to spread the word about a friend’s business or a newcomers account, for example.

For users that elect to employ the use of an organisational program such as HootSuite, #FFs can be an appropriate use of the software’s scheduling feature. Many businesses schedule #FFs to be tweeted for weeks into the future.

Thanks for reading, hopefully this blog will go some way towards breaking down one of the most common barriers between a prospective user and the Twitter service. However if you want additional help with your social media marketing, give our team a call to discuss our packages.

While we’re on the subject, don’t forget to follow our official account @wearebfi, for more exclusive tips, project updates and industry news.