Yes, it’s that simple. This article is going to explain Twitter in its most basic terms. Twitter can be wonderful, a place where news is broken, links are shared and lively discussion created and, or in the eyes of many, but, it is public.

I’m often told by business people that they use LinkedIn every day but don’t tweet because they don’t understand it. There’s the jargon – “tweet”, “impressions”, “engagement” – and that is where we’ll begin:

Know the Lingo

@ – An @, or a mention, is when you include somebody’s @twittername in the tweet. The person will be alerted that you mentioned them. Use it to send a public “hello, over here,” to add somebody on a conversation that’s currently happening or to reply to someone. For example, @trevisansocial.

RT means “retweet.” When you retweet someone, you can either just repost their tweet by itself, or you can add your own commentary. If you do that, when you post your tweet, the tweet you’re commenting on will appear just below your comment.

# – Hashtags are how Twitter users indicate that their Tweets are about a specific topic. A hashtag is made by putting the number symbol in front of a word or combination of words with no spaces between them. For example, if I Tweet about new wealth management software, I might tag it with the #wealthmanagement#fintech hashtags.

Followers are the people who have agreed to receive your Tweets through Twitter. If you add someone else to the list of people you read, 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.

Impressions – Twitter defines impressions as anytime a Twitter user sees your Tweet. You can find the analytics of each tweet by pressing on the chart button under each tweet and the following will appear:

Engagement – The total number of times a user interacted with a Tweet. Clicks anywhere on the Tweet, including Retweets, replies, follows, likes, links, cards, hashtags, embedded media, username or profile photo.

DM – Twitter allows you to Direct Message with people who have that feature turned on. While all regular tweets are public, including @-mentions, a DM is totally private. Only the people included in the DM can see it.

If you’d like to make Twitter a place where you privately interact with friends or colleagues,  you may set your account to private where you will then have to manually give permission to anyone who wants to follow you if you’d like them to be able to see your tweets and communicate with you. (Click your photo – settings – privacy – protect your tweets)

If you find Twitter hard to follow you’re not alone. If people tweet something and you’re not online, you might not see it until later. But the idea of Twitter isn’t to catch every single thing someone tweets, it’s to be on the internet at the same time as other people. Think of it as a giant school common room—an open and rich chat room that’s happening in public.