Tweet: a single update of 140 characters or less on Twitter. Also: "to tweet" is the act of tweeting. Often incorrectly called "a twitter" or "a twit" or "twittering."

Ex: "I will send her a tweet to see if she is already at the TribNation event." and "I'm going to tweet this question and see if I can find out more."

Hashtag: a community-driven convention for adding context to your tweets, much like categorizing a blog post or photograph online. To create a hastag, add the "#" symbol as a prefix to a word or term (no spaces). Hashtags are automatically searchable by clicking on them. By clicking on a given hashtag, all tweets using that hashtag will display. A hashtag can be anywhere in a tweet.

Hashtags first became popular during the San Diego forest fires in 2007 when user @NateRitter used the hashtag "#sandiegofire" to identify his updates related to the disaster including: "#sandiegofire 300,000 people evacuated in San Deigo county now."

The Chicago Blackhawks social media team places the "#" symbol before every mention of the word "Blackhawks" to include their tweets in real-time searches of the hashtag "#Blackhawks."

@mentions: The "@" symbol followed by a username, used for mentioning or replying to other Twitter users. Also often called an "at reply." These show up in the public timeline and are seen my anyone who "follows" you on Twitter.

Usage: To tweet either "@ColonelTribune are you at the TribNation event," or "I wonder who tweets from the @ColonelTribune account?" will cause your tweet to show up to the Colonel Tribune account, letting The Colonel know you are talking to or about him.

Direct message: A private message sent between only two Twitter users. Also often called "a DM." To create a direct message, type the letter "d" and skip one space before entering a username.

Ex: "I connected with a potential client on Twitter and he DM¿ed his email address to me so I can follow-up with him."

Retweet: taking a tweet from one user and posting it yourself to share the tweet with your followers. Retweeting automatically credits the source of the tweet. Often abreviated as "RT."

Ex: "I retweeted ColonelTribune, because I liked the link he shared about tourism."

Tweet-up: A social gathering organized through Twitter.

Ex: "I saw Jimmy's tweet about the tweet-up tonight and plan to attend."

Trending topics: a range of subjects which many users across Twitter are talking about around the same general time. Clicking on a topic under the list of trending topics will display all tweets (from all users, not only the people with whom you are connected) mentioning the topic by name.

Ex: "I didn't know snow was expected until I saw `Chicago blizzard' as a trending topic."

Lists: a tool by which users can organize the people they follow on twitter into lists or businesses or people who are related in some manner. It's a good idea to check which lists on which you have been included by other Twitter users, as lists are a great way to find users with common interests and connect with them.

aguth@tribune.com / @amyguth

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