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The Terms of Twitter

Friday, December 03, 2010 View Comments Comments (0)
Twitter is a free social media service now being used worldwide by 175 million people. If you’re new to Twitter, however, the terms and signs can be confusing at first. So let’s start with the basics:

Tweet – This is a Twitter user’s post. A tweet has a limit of 140 characters, is text-based and is displayed on the user’s profile page. Tweets are public and searchable by anyone on Twitter unless the user restricts access. Tweets can be sent and received through the Twitter Web site, as well as through other applications such as smartphones.

Followers – These are Twitter users who subscribe to receive someone’s tweets. To follow is as easy as clicking the follow button on the person’s profile page.

Retweet – Some users retweet the tweets of other people. A retweet looks like a routine post, plus, “RT @tweeterusername”. Tip: If you want others to be able to retweet your post unedited, keep it short enough to allow for someone to stay within the 140-character limit while posting your content, plus the characters needed to identify you as the source (RT @yourusername)

The @ sign in front of a username is also used for replies or references to particular people. You might see that as, “@mypastorsname great sermon today”. A reply to someone is also known as a “mention”.

Hashtags – The hashtag is a number sign (#) plus a word or phrase to help categorize your tweet for searches – examples could be #disaster assistance, #food collection, #Christmas music, etc.

URL Shorterners – Twitter can be used to link to additional information; however, your actual URL could take up most of your 140 character allotment. That’s why you see the use of so many URL shorteners. These are services such as Bit.ly and tinyurl. You paste your long URL in a box at their site, and they return with a shorter version for your use on Twitter (or elsewhere).


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