@, #, + = New Social Symbols?

By Renee Revetta | Jun 30, 2011
More Articles by Renee

This morning I saw a post on Facebook – a friend was confused about all of the “#” (hashtags) he was seeing in Facebook statuses. I remember a few years ago, when TweetDeck first allowed users to share the same update to Twitter and Facebook, I was sure to not send a status update to Facebook that included a “#”. But now, are users incorporating hashtags into their Facebook status as a new social norm? Is “#WINNING” in your Facebook status no longer a #FAIL? …Heh.

These social symbols are taking over, but whether it’s because of their convenience or cool factor is yet to be known.

@ – the nameless “at” symbol

The “@” was introduced by Twitter, and then Facebook adopted the trend by allowing users to use the symbol to “tag” their friends and Pages in status updates. Twitter uses the symbol in front of user names to direct a message to that person. Twitter and Facebook now use the symbol in a very similar fashion.


The hashtag was also introduced by Twitter, and now is spreading into pop culture. Originally the hashtag on Twitter was meant to “tag” events, topics or ideas with a label, making following certain topics and topical searches easier for users. Facebook users are starting to warm up to seeing hashtags within their various social networks. They’ve also crossed over into pop culture with Charlie Sheen’s infamous #WINNING example but can also be used for helpful, real-life business use on Twitter with hashtags such as #SEO, #jobs, #marketing etc. Certain TV networks like Fox, have started incorporating hashtags into their TV shows, displaying a hashtag of the show name or topic on the bottom of the screen. This alerts viewers of the proper hashtag to use if they’d like to participate in Twitter commentary about the show. Many events and webinars have started providing an “official” hashtag to use on Twitter (ex. #SXSW).

The newbie: The “+”

First Google’s +1 then Klout’s K+ and now Google+. Google +1 is a way to give “cred” to search results and the same goes for +K – you give people a +K in the topics you think they dominate on social networks. Recently released, Google+ will apparently make “Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests.” So the same common thread runs through all of the “+” products – they make things better or are notating a positive trait.

Other noteworthy social shortcuts (that are especially useful on Twitter):


= hat tip

Use when you’re giving someone props for passing along the story or link to you.


= carbon copy

Long live E-MAIL!  This simple “carbon copy” convention is used now on Twitter. I use when I want to get people’s attention in a tweet regarding a link or story, but they didn’t necessarily pass the link along to me or write the article.


= re-tweet

Use on Twitter when “re-tweeting” someone’s tweet – similar to a Share on Facebook.


= overheard

At Search Mojo, we like to use this for “special” statements made by coworkers. You know – those one liners that strike you as hilarious at the time, that are increasingly funny when taken out of context. Use your imagination.


= reply, regarding

Another golden email shortcut I still use on Twitter. Typically I use this when bringing people into a conversation and referring to a post.


= by the way


= for the win!


= for what it’s worth


= in my opinion


= shaking my head


= by way of, through

On Twitter I use when pointing out the publication of a post. Ex: “New post on the Search Marketing Sage via @SearchMojo”


It’s incredible to me how social networks like Twitter and Facebook are impacting culture in general. Do you think these are turning into social customs and shortcuts?  Any others that need added? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @ReneeRevetta.



MT (From Jane Kulow)

This one means Modified Tweet, to be used when you’re re-tweeting and editing. Necessary when the tweet is too long to re-tweet and you need to cut down characters or make slight edits to RT .


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