OR… Twitter Symbols… Explained!
Why am I posting this… well, frankly – I was Twitter-confused, and now, I’m Twitter-enlightened, so I thought I’d share my insights with you! First – a definition: il·Twit·ter·ate/iˈltwitərit/ Adjective: Unable to use Twitter effectively. Noun: A person who is unable to Tweet using symbols. (source: Cena Block) If you’re trying to do Twitter on your own and are confused by: #, RT, DM, and @, here’s a cheat sheet for you!
I use Twitter as a way to keep my business (#sanespaces) connected and up to speed. Twitter links me to others with like interests and is centered around staying current and in touch. People use Twitter to post anything from breaking news, to opinions, to ‘causes’, to what’s current and happening for them.
I have used the tool successfully and have managed to set up a presence and even a small following of people interested in what I have to share. The problem is – I’ve gone through all the motions to look “Twitter-literate” but, alas… I still struggle with those darn abbreviations and symbols much of the time… (guess I should’a read the instructions huh?) SO – I decided to compile this list of cheats to help myself.
What Is Twitter?
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) via SMS, instant messaging, email, to the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific.
Twitter was founded in March 2006 by San Francisco start-up company Obvious Corp. In April 2007, Obvious, LLC spun off the service as a separate entity under the name Twitter, Inc. with Jack Dorsey as CEO. Source: Twitter on Freebase, licensed under CC-BY
What does “following” someone mean?
Users may subscribe to other users’ tweets – this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers or tweeps (short for Twitter + peeps). One’s Tweeps can be compared to Facebook Friends or Followers.
Why is the @ Symbol Used?
The “@” is used to signify when a particular post is addressed to or references someone. For example, to reply to something that I said, one would preface their post with “@sanespaces” (“sanespaces” is my Twitter username). The “@” symbol could also be used later in the post to reference someone or thing that you’re excited to share (ie: “I’m attending an awesome Managing Time Teleclass @sanespaces”).
What Does RT Mean?
“RT” is short for “ReTweet”. I use “RT” to pass along anything one of my tweeps has already said or posted. The typical syntax is “RT @username: [original post]” where the @username is that of the person who originally made the statement. An example of this would be: “RT @storables: Thanks for the mention! Love your product!“.
What Are Hashtags (a.k.a. Using “#” Symbol)?
According to Twitter Help, a Hashtag is: The # symbol used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages and started with users beginning around February of 2008. People use the hashtag symbol (#) before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and allow them to show more easily in Twitter Search to search for posts on given topics. Or, people can use chat sites to “chat” with others by all using the same hashtag. For example, while attending a recent conference, I followed and responded to any post that included #NAPO2011.
Tweeter’s typically tag for conversational, rather than organizational purposes, but a hashtag serves the purpose of filtering and directing information so that it can appear in information streams. Here are some other hashtag hints:
- Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.
- Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.
- Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics or might be micro-meme’s.
- Hashtags can precede multiple words concatenated, such as those in: #ProductivityIdeas are the best #OrganizingTips – and allow a person to search for the hashtag string and find results in a number of websites. Such tags are case-insensitive, but often displayed with capital letters to increase readability.
Go here to see Twitter’s live definition stream of current hashtags.
(n. – rhymes with beam) The word was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a concept for discussing evolutionary principles while explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included: melodies, catch-phrases, fashion and the technology of building arches.
According to information on many online sites such as UrbanDictionary.com, MiriamWebster.com, thefreedictionary.com and commentary on Wikipedia.com, a meme can be generally described as any of the following:
- A cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation); “memes are the cultural counterpart of genes”
- An idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture
- A unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices
- Like a gene, it can replicate and evolve and be subjected to mutation, crossover and adaptation.
Like hashtags, Twitter memes categorize tweets, which makes them more findable in a sea of approximately 200 million tweets posted each day on Twitter (Tweets per day as of April 2011). One phenomenon specific to the Twitter ecosystem are micro-memes, which are emergent topics for which a hashtag is created, used widely for a few days, then disappears. (Source: www.mendeley.com) Such is the case with a meme like #irene – currently for all tweets that have anything to do with Hurricane Irene.
A popular meme now is #FF or #FollowFriday, introduced in March 2009 by Micah Baldwin. Mykl Roventine suggested adding the hashtag # to and with the help of a few friends to promote it, there were almost two #followfriday tweets per second at its peak on that on that first #FollowFriday. These days many people used the shortened #FF hashtag to save precious character space. According to tagdef.com/ff – Using #ff or (#followfriday) in a tweet along with 1 or more @names means you recommend those people as worthwhile to follow! (Read more). #FF (by the way is the reason for this post is because #sanespaces was included in a list after a #FF meme… And I had NO idea what #FF meant, so I had to look all this up once an for all – Thanks@LindaSamuels.) And finally, for a great beginners guide to Twitter – go here.
If (RT=Retweet, TY + YW=?)- HUH?
And one other thing… because Twitter only allows 140 character messages, most users tend to use 2-letter abbreviations or acronyms for popular word combinations to minimize their message length. TY=Thank You, YW= You’re Welcome, BTW=By The Way, BFF=Best Friend Forever… I’ve found these abbreviations are endless, (although here are some popular ones) and depending on your Twitter groups, will change according to the ‘in-group’ speak generally used and understood. When all else fails – either RT, DM or @TheSender and ask them to clarify!
What does all this have to do with Sane Spaces and productivity coaching? Well, since I spent 4 hours researching and writing this post, in order to make that time productive, I thought I’d share it with you. After all, knowledge is power… and now I (and you too) can be much more productive with your Twittertime. 😉
What tweet cheats do you recommend? I’d love to know in the comments below! PLEASE SHARE!