Nailing Twitter Jargon: 10 Terms You Need to Know Before You Tweet

A Simple Guide to Twitter Terminology for Beginners

If you want to follow breaking news, stay in touch with far-flung friends, or enter and win Twitter Contests, you'll need to get the hang of the most common Twitter terms. When you first get started, you might feel that you are speaking a new, strangely bird-influenced language. Don't worry, however, it won't be long before you are throwing around retweets and hashtags like a pro.

To get you started, here are 10 important Twitter terms to know before you send your next tweet. 

What Is Twitter?

What Is Twitter?
Did You Know You Can Win Big Prizes through Twitter?. Image (c) Ratsanai / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

Twitter is a social media site that has also grown to become a popular way for companies to offer sweepstakes.

The interesting thing about Twitter is that each post needs to be 280 characters or less, including links. So conversations take place in bite-sized posts.

(If a limit of 280 characters sounds too long to you, that's because the limit used to be a mere 140 characters. Twitter doubled its allowed post length in 2017.)

Who can you talk to on Twitter? Just about everyone, from your family and friends to celebrities and world leaders. If you have an interest, you can most likely find interesting discussions about it. And you can also follow brands and companies that are giving away prizes.

If you'd like to find out more about how to win on Twitter, check out the ​Pros and Cons of Twitter Sweepstakes. Then be sure to read about entering sweepstakes on Twitter.

What Is a Tweet on Twitter?

Do You Know what Tweeting Is?
All About Tweets and Tweeting. Image (c) Zmeel Photography / E+ / Getty Images

Tweeting is the basic method of communication on Twitter. Every post you make there is called a tweet.

Here's what a tweet might look like:

Acme, Inc is giving away a free trip. Click here to find out more: #acmesweepstakes

There are many reasons to Tweet: you might want to spread the word about an interesting post, ask a celebrity or subject matter expert to answer a question, or simply share what's going on with you at any given time.

You might also want to tweet to gain entries or bonus entries for sweepstakes.

When you read sweepstakes' rules, you'll often see sponsors offering additional entries for Tweeting about the giveaway. This simply means making a post about the giveaway, often including a specific ​hashtag.

Other sweepstakes require you to post a Tweet to enter in the first place.

What Is a Twitter Thread?

Image of a person holding thread in their fingers.
What Are Threads on Twitter?.

 Image (c) Westend61 / Getty Images

 As you already know, tweets have a pretty strict character limit, but that doesn't stop some people from wanting to talk about a subject in more depth than 280 characters allow.

In these cases, Twitter users may break up the discussion among several tweets called a thread. To make the thread easier to follow, they may number each tweet sequentially: 1/10, 2/10, etc.

To make reading threads even easier, a bot called the ThreadReaderApp will "unroll" them into one long, blog-like read. Here's an example of an unrolled Twitter thread..

What Is a Retweet on Twitter?

Image of birds tweeting.
What retweets are and how to use them properly. Image (c) Kerry Hyndman Pre / Ikon Images / Getty Images

Retweeting is a way of sharing something that someone else has written, while simultaneously letting them know that you have done so.

If you're on Twitter, you can retweet by pressing the square button with two arrows under a tweet you want to share. You can also start your own tweet with "RT" and then "@username" and the text of the tweet you're sharing.

You can retweet another user's tweet without comment or you can add your own two cents to the conversation.

A simple retweet might look like this: 

RT @ContestsGuide Want to win cash prizes?

Other Twitter users see posts that have been retweeted under their "Notifications" tab. Many Tweeters appreciate retweets because they help spread their message to a broader audience: your followers.

If another Twitter user sees that you are retweeting them, they may be more likely to follow you or to share what you post, broadening your audience as well.

Retweeting is often a requirement for entering Twitter contests because each one helps the company can spread their marketing message effectively.

What Does @ Mean on Twitter?

The @ Symbol Lets You Respond on Twitter
Use an @Reply to Respond on Twitter. Image (c) Peter Booth / E+ / Getty Images

On Twitter, you can use the @ symbol to reply to another user's Tweets. This is called an @reply.

If you want to reply to a tweet that someone else has posted, use an @reply by using the @ symbol followed by the other twitterer's username, followed by whatever you wanted to say. This lets you participate in a conversation with the original poster.

You can also retweet by clicking on the icon under the original tweet that looks like a speech balloon.

Here's what an @reply might look like:

@ContestsGuide, thank you for posting about today's new sweepstakes!

When you use an @reply, the other Twitter user will see your post under their notifications, even if they don't follow you.

On Twitter, you can follow an entire conversation carried out through @Replies by clicking on the "follow conversation" link.

You can enter some Twitter sweepstakes by sending an @Reply to a Tweet about the sweepstakes.

You can also use the @ symbol to refer to another Twitter user; for example, if you wanted to let them know about a conversation that might interest them, you can add @ and their name to your post to notify them. This is called an @ mention.

What Is a Hashtag on Twitter?

Image of a cell phone showing a hashtag symbol.
Hashtags make it easier to find the conversations you want to follow. Hashtag Image © Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images.

Hashtags are a way that Twitter users indicate that their Tweets are about a specific topic. People can search for that hashtag to find all of the posts related to that topic.

For example, when a company tweets about a new giveaway, they might tag it with the #sweepstakes hashtag. That lets people who are interested in sweepstakes find their tweet easily.

A hashtag is made by putting the number symbol in front of a word or combination of words with no spaces between them.

A tweet with a hashtag might look something like this:

To enter, follow @AcmeInc and send a Tweet using the hashtag #IWannaWin!

Using a specific hashtag is a requirement to enter many Twitter sweepstakes because it's how the sponsors track who is entering.

If you want a more in-depth look at hashtags, check out What Hashtags Are and How to Use Them.

What Are Followers on Twitter?

Followers are listening to hear what you have to Tweet.
Followers Are Waiting to Hear What You Have to Tweet. Image (c) Myillo / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

Followers are the people who want to be notified whenever you make a new tweet. If you add someone else to the list of people you read regularly, you "follow" them. If they do the same to you, they become your followers.

Popularity on Twitter is often measured by the number of followers a person has. Celebrities, big companies, and public figures can have tens of millions of followers.

In order to enter Twitter contests, you often need to follow the sponsor. One of the benefits of running Twitter sweepstakes for companies is that they can build their followers. They can then reach out to their followers to let them know about new giveaways or to market their products and services.

What Are Tweeple on Twitter?

Tweeple: The People Who Follow You, and Whom You Follow
Tweeple: The People Who Follow You, and Whom You Follow. Image (c) Roy Scott / Ikon Images / Getty Images

Tweeple are the people who make up your "tribe" on Twitter: the people who follow your tweets, retweet your posts, and spread the word about subjects that interest you.

The word Tweeple comes from combining "Twitter" with "people." Some people also use the term "tweeps" which combines "Twitter" with the less-formal "peeps."

Here's an example of a way you might use the term tweeple in conversation:

I have to let all of my Tweeple know about this great new contest!

What Are Twitter Parties?

Join Twitter parties from your own computer for chances to win. Image (c) Stockbyte / Getty Images

Twitter parties are conversations that are hosted by companies, usually with a topic that is related to their business.

For example, a diaper company might host a Twitter party about dealing with diaper rash. A rental car company might offer a Twitter party focusing on safer driving tips.

You might see the term Twitter parties used like this:

Join our Twitter party at 8 pm EST to chat about your best travel tips and win great prizes! #travelsmart

To encourage people to participate and to build excitement, prizes are usually given away throughout the party. Prizes may be offered for spreading the word before the party, for Tweeting using a specific hashtag during the party, and so on.

For more information, check out how to participate in Twitter parties and win prizes

What's a DM on Twitter?

Image of one girl whispering to another
What Are DMs on Twitter?.

 Image (c) ZenShui/Eric Audras / Getty Images

 DM is a Twitter term that stands for "Direct Message." It's a way of sending a private message to another Twitter user.

In order to send a DM to someone else, that Twitter user must be one of your followers.

You can send a DM by starting a tweet with DM and then @mentioning the user you want to message. No one else can see the message you send.

When it comes to Twitter sweepstakes, it's important to keep an eye out for DMs; this is how most companies notify you when you've won a Twitter prize. This is also why most companies say that you have to follow them to be eligible for prizes.