A Twitter glossary

A Twitter glossary

Whether or not you post on Twitter, knowing the basics can be quite useful, especially as you follow trends and topics relevant to your business. Here, we include terms for new users as well as techniques that can help experienced tweeters take greater advantage of Twitter features.

A 140 character (or less, including spaces) message sent out through Twitter. Important: All tweets are public and searchable.

Twitter handle
A username selected by a Twitter user. Upon joining Twitter, you create your own unique handle. Putnam Investments’ Twitter handle is @PutnamToday. Robert Reynolds, Putnam CEO, uses the Twitter handle @RobertLReynolds.

A constantly updating list of tweets or other updates, sorted in chronological order. Your Twitter home page features a feed of tweets from the people you follow.


Your Twitter profile page is a feed of tweets you have sent. If you search for something on Twitter, the results populate a feed of tweets containing the searched-for terms.

A Twitter user who follows you to receive updates from you on their Twitter home page. You become a follower when you choose to receive updates from users of interest to you. The more followers you have, the greater reach your updates have, potentially influencing more people. Remember, just because you follow someone does not mean he or she may choose to follow you back.

Retweet or RT
Reposting a tweet on your own feed while giving credit to the original poster. When you stumble upon a tweet you think is of interest to your followers, you can click the “retweet” button to make that tweet appear in your followers’ home feeds.


You can also manually retweet by typing “RT@username” before pasting in the tweet’s contents (in this case, “@username” = the original author’s Twitter handle.) Manually retweeting allows you to provide your own thoughts as well as the original tweet.



The term “via” can also be used in place of RT:

Complete table of 2012 #tax rates (PDF): bit.ly/Z0vF2t via @PutnamToday

@Mention or @Reply

Used to reply to or mention a Twitter user in a tweet. Beginning a tweet with a Twitter handle will send a direct, public message to that specific user. This tweet will only appear on the home pages of the user you reference as well as your followers who also follow that person.


@RobertLReynolds what are your thoughts on retirement reform?

If you place the “@username” later in your tweet, or precede it with a period, it will appear to everyone who’s following you.


Hi there, @RobertLReynolds, what are your thoughts on retirement reform?

.@RobertLReynolds – what are your thoughts on retirement reform?

Direct Message or DM

A tweet sent in private between two Twitter users. DMs do not appear in the public Twitter stream but go directly to the receiver’s inbox. You can only send a DM to someone who is following you. The DM option can be found in the “following” section of the Twitter app.