Internet Speak: Part 2

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I now present to you Part Two of my ongoing series, “Silly Stories that I Hope Will Help You Unlock Some of the Vast Mysteries of Twitter and the Interwebs.”  Or something like that.

But really, I’m only kidding (a little). The truth is, the secrets only seem vast when you encounter certain Twitter-isms for the first time. Trust me. I had some pretty interesting and random thoughts when I first saw the following shortcuts and acronyms scroll across my computer screen! Some may even call my blunders “comical.”  I hope to help you avoid all of that!

1. The Hashtag

“What is the point of all the poundy-signs?”

Oh Twitter. Why you gotta be so intricate?? Really… what the heck IS a “hashtag”?

A hashtag looks like this: #. If you are new to Twitter, you may be thinking the same thing I was when I first saw this. “Why the f$%k are people attaching the number sign to words?!? Am I supposed to be randomly be doing that when like something??”

At this point, most normal people would have Googled “# sign on Twitter” but oh no, not Maggie. I asked Fayza, the Internet know-it-all, the above question. I got a really loud laugh before she sweetly explained to me that this “poundy-sign” was in fact called a “hashtag.”

So here we go. Hashtags are simply Twitter tags (or meta tags) that you add inline to your tweets by affixing a pound sign to the front of a word.  It functions by making that word stand out. Think of your hashtagged-word like a bookmark. You are putting that bookmark on a specific post. When people are tracking topics or conversations on Twitter that are related to your bookmark, your tweet will appear.

For example, during Hurricane Ike, many people attached a “#ike” to the end of their tweets. You can then see what everyone is saying about Ike when you search #ike on twitter!

There is an actual hashtag site that was created to track real-time conversations within the micro-blogging community, but it is no longer operating. If you try to search anything there, you invariably get a “504 Network Timeout.”  This is sad, because it used to provide users with some really cool reports and indexing features. Until it is back up again, stick with search.twitter.com.

Real tweet using a hashtag:

2. Tiny URLs

“How do people fit million-character posts in this tiny box?!”

My first day on Twitter, I tried to follow the sage advice of Monica , and be useful to my followers. Except every time I tried to post a useful link, it was too flippin’ long! Since I didn’t want to provide comic relief to anyone this early in my Twitter journey, I decided to obsessively click refresh on my browser until someone else tweeted a link  (I know, I know…I should have Googled it).

After a few people tweeted, I noticed they were almost identical, and lo and behold, they were TINY URLS! Tiny URLs?  Yes!  A place to make your URLs tiny!!! All you have to do is cut and paste your million-character URL into a box, click “Make TinyURL!! and it spits this cute little link back at you.

Need something even smaller? You can use is.gd! With both TinyURL and is.gd, the links are unbreakable and never expire. Perfect for tweeting!

Real Tweet using a TinyURL:

3. The Retweet

“RT your what?”

The simplest explanation of a retweet can be compared to using a quote in a high school term paper. If you use someone else’s words, you have to attribute them right? Well, with the “retweet,” or RT, if you liked what someone tweeted, you can post their tweet for your own followers to take advantage of, with clear attribution to the original tweeter.

On a more complex level, the RT really touches the base of what makes Twitter so amazing. For example, let’s say I tweet something that I think is super important, and I really want to get the word out about it; my followers will all catch that tweet. Chris Brogan happens to follow me, and he has a bajillion followers.  If he thought my tweet was interesting enough to retweet, then I have the ears of a TON of people I never would have been able to reach before. How cool is that?

Here’s how you do it: You type RT + @the tweeter’s name, and then cut and paste their tweet.

Real Tweet using a RT:

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10 Responses

  1. Fayza says:

    I would like a glitter portrait, thank you.

  2. magsmac says:

    That is what I'm going to get you for Christmas, how did you know!?

  3. Brandi says:

    May favorite part: "Oh Twitter. Why you gotta be so intricate??"

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  5. Plumworld says:

    Thanks for the Twit cheat sheet. It was all about the stuff I had been noticing but was too afraid to Wiki.

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