March 11

Twitter Clinic: #FF, DM and RT explained

Social Media


By Linda Cheung

In the last Twitter Clinic I explained what hashtags are and how they can increase the reach of conversations. Some readers then asked me about the “mystifying acronyms” that often litter tweets: #FF, DM and RT were the top three…

#FF: Follow Friday

Follow Friday is a way to recommend interesting people to your followers. If Twitter is a global cocktail party, think about which people you “must introduce” to each other and why. While many people use all 140 characters of a tweet to fit in as many usernames as possible, including a reason helps the conversation to flow, e.g. “#FF @RedStarKim for her marketing wisdom, London food reviews and wry views” is much better than “#FF @JoannaMG22 @aligeary @chrisdaleoxford @janeslaws @social_sardine @dcd_barrister @AjeetMinhasGTB @GavWard @jillney @KeepingBizLocal” (All excellent tweeps that I’ve been chatting to this week by the way).

DM: Direct Message

Direct Messages are private messages sent to people who follow you (you cannot send DMs to people who do not follow you). To DM someone, start your message with the letter “d”, e.g. to send me a private message, you would start your tweet “d LindaCheungUK”.

Be careful not to exceed 140 characters – when tweets are longer, if Twitter receives it intact they will send your DM in two parts, but if your phone service provider (say) sends the message in two parts before sending to Twitter, the first part will be sent privately and the second part will post onto your public timeline.

RT: ReTweet

RT is an abbreviation of ReTweet, which some people think of as Repeat. If you see something in your stream that you’d like to share with your followers, you can RT it for them to see. One of the best things about Twitter is how quickly information can be shared – because Twitter is a one-to-many communications platform and because it allows content to be easily repeated.

When you send a ReTweet the text RT @<username> is added to the start of the tweet, so, if you want your tweets to be ReTweeted try to keep them below 120 characters. This minimises the rewording of your tweet that others will have to do and allows room for your username and a brief comment. For example,
Original tweet: “@BrettTechLawyer Soon… need to make sure quality is right. Folk on the Beta list will be first know. Signup at
RT by @connectegrity: “Re timing: RT @markbower: Need to make sure quality is right. Folk on #beta list will be first know. Signup at

Go on… give it a go… Happy #FF’ing, DM’ing and RT’ing!

About the author 

Linda Cheung

Advising innovative companies on marketing and growth strategies. Founder at CubeSocial, Advisor at Oxford Innovation, Board member at Enterprise M3, Mentor at SETsquared.

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