SparkNotes: Your Social Media Glossary

January 27, 2014

The first dispatch in our SparkNotes blog series on social media.

One of the most confusing parts of understanding social media is much like trying to understand policy—it's brimming with jargon. From tweeting to tagging to trending, the language that has come out of widespread social media use is often what intimidates newbies to social media platforms.

But do not fear! For your reference, we've created a quick glossary of popular social media language to help even the least savvy of new users get ahold of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other popular sites now playing big roles in organizations over the whole spectrum of causes.

Social Media Lingo Glossary, T.Co, &  You’ll often see these links in Tweets and Facebook posts. They are simply shortened links, shortened to 20 characters in order to fit into posts.  Shortened links do not modify content at all—they will turn to the original URL when it opens in your browser.

#FF:  Stands for “Follow Friday”, which is a universal Twitter event of sorts.  On Fridays, many Twitter users will send out a tweet starting or ending with “#FF” that mentions other accounts that they recommend to others. It’s a nice compliment and great exposure to be get a #FF shout-out. Wondering what that # thingy is? See “Hashtag."

Handle: An individual Twitter username.  A username is identified by the @.  For example, SparkAction’s handle is @sparkaction.

Hashtag: Putting # in front of a word or phrase creates a Twitter link and an “on-the-fly” Twitter category. If you click on a #hashtag on Twitter, it will bring up any other Tweets in the Twitterosphere that used that #hashtag.  Creating and using hashtags takes no extra steps: just use it.  #itcanbeanything.

HT: Similar to "MT" and "RT" (see below). At the beginning of a tweet, followed by a handle, it indicates that you got the information or link you're tweeting from another user.  It stands for "heard through", or, as we like to think of it, the slightly more classy "Hat Tip."

InMail:  Internal messages sent to contacts on Linked In.

Meme: (pronounced meem) “An idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” In this case, via social networks. (Check out KnowYourMeme for some examples.)

MT: Similar to “RT” (see below), “MT” in front of a tweet stands for “modified tweet”, which means the user has Retweeted an original tweet but modified it slightly (usually in order to fit it in the 140 character limit).

RT: Ever see “RT” in front of tweets? That stands for “Retweet.” Retweeting, which means simply re-posting someone else’s tweet under your username while crediting them, is one of the best ways to get attention from other Twitter users, a.k.a. create connections and engage with others.  If you see something you like come up on Twitter from another user, retweet it.

Here's what a RT looks like:

Tagging: A function on both Facebook and Twitter.  It means mentioning and crediting another user in one of your posts, and linking to that user’s page when you mention them. Everyone loves being tagged, so don’t be shy!

Trending: Words, phrases, and #hashtags that are most popular on Twitter.  Recent Twitter trends: #OccupyWallStreet, Steve Jobs, and #Election2012.  Keeping an eye on trends helps stay abreast of what’s going on in the field and in the news.

Tweeps, Twitterverse: Peeps on Twitter, the Twitter universe -- add a “tw” before most words to denote Twitter-centricity. It can get twidiculous.

More SparkNotes

Did we miss something? Email Jazmine (jazmineat] with other language you or others get tripped up on, and we'll add it to the list.


Alison Beth Waldman is a freelance dancer, photographer and writer and the former Editorial Assistant at SparkAction.



This piece was originally published in 2012 and vetted and updated in 2014.

Alison Beth Waldman