A Crash Course on the Finer Points of Social Media

You may have profiles on all the major social networks, but do you know how to do the little things? We’re here to help you become a social media pro when it comes to sophisticated formatting tricks.


So you’ve set up a Facebook business page, Twitter handle and Google+ profile – that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using all those resources to their fullest. All those social networks have small tricks that can help you take your usage from basic to expert. A couple of keystrokes are all you need to turn yourself into the belle of the social media ball. It’s not difficult, either – just a few simple tutorials can point you in the right direction towards social success.



Your Facebook page may already be an eye-catching success, but did you know that there are little ways to make your Facebook comments stand out as well? If you don’t want to get buried among all the users posting alongside you, there are a couple tricks you can use:


Tagging other users/businesses: If you want to make sure the right person notices what you’re talking about, tag them! Type an @ symbol before the name of the Facebook friend or business page you’re referring to, and a drop-down menu of choices will appear.

Facebook name tag 1

Click the appropriate one and you’ll see their full name in the post or comment box. If you’ve tagged a person, you can simplify things by calling them by their first name only – just hit delete once to remove their last name.

Facebook name tag 2

Facebook name tag 3

If you’re tagging a business page, you can’t shorten their name (but chances are, you wouldn’t want to do that in the first place). If you’re tagging a business that has a common name, it’s best to make sure you’ve “liked” them first, as Facebook friends and “liked” pages will appear first in your drop-down list of suggestions.


Posting links: Make your link sharing clean and simple by deleting the URL in the caption of your post. It’s easy; just insert your link into the status box as usual.

Facebook link 1

Once the link preview (title, thumbnail image, and article snippet) has populated below the box, you can delete the actual URL and the preview – including clickable title link – will remain below.

Facebook link 2

At this point, feel free to edit your original link caption, thumbnail choice (click the little arrows near “choose a thumbnail”), title link in the preview, or snippet in the preview (all you have to do is click and type over). The link to the original URL you posted will still work.

Facebook link 3


Emoticons: This isn’t necessarily a hardcore business tool, but it’s a fun one. Did you realize that you can post tons of different emoticons in Facebook comments? They go way beyond smiley faces and hearts (though those are always classics). You can make a Pac-Man, shark, robot, and more. While emoticons don’t show up in status updates or any other newsfeed posts (yet), they’re a fun and attention-grabbing way to jazz up your comment on another user’s post.

Facebook emoticon example comment

 Facebook emoticon example comment 2

For a full Facebook emoticon cheatsheet, check out this handy guide from Tech News Daily.



Twitter is pretty cut-and-dry. 140 characters, not too many options unless you want to attach a photo or video. You might have noticed a few little Twitter-isms popping up in other users’ Tweets that you’re not familiar with, though. Here’s a guide to cramming more meaning into those little 140 characters, saving you time and space.


RT: The most common and familiar shorthand, RT stands for Retweet, as in: I am Tweeting something that another user originally Tweeted. It’s a good way to give another user credit for an interesting or funny thought that you’d like to share with your audience.

Twitter RT example

If you don’t want to make any comments or modifications to a Tweet, instead of typing out a RT you can simply hit the Retweet button at the bottom of any Tweet to resend the whole thing, the user’s original Twitter icon and all, into your feed:

Twitter RT Full 2


MT: This is one you don’t see as often as RT, but you’ll come across it every now and then. It stands for Modified Tweet, as in: I am RTing something someone posted, but I’m making some changes to its content. If you want to share a Tweet from another user but have to modify the original Tweet to make everything fit, that’s a good time to use MT, just to clear up any confusion. Consider it a little bit of old fashioned Twitter etiquette.


HT: The rarest of the three, HT can stand for “Hat Tip” or “Heard Through.” You’re basically giving another user credit for something you’re Tweeting about – probably not something you read through one of their Tweets, but something you learned from them. It’s kind of like using “via” at the end of a Tweet.

For example, if you read a cool fact on our new infographic and wanted to share it with your followers, you could say:

Twitter HT 1



There are some simple things you can do when formatting a post to really make it stand out.


Tagging: Similar to Facebook, you can tag other Google+ users in your posts and comments to make sure you grab their attention. Just type a plus sign (+) before their G+ page’s name. And yes, just like Facebook, G+ will create a drop-down menu of suggested users for you to tag.


Hashtags: You already knew hashtags were a big part of Twitter, but did you realize they work in G+ as well? If you’re posting about a subject a lot of users would find interesting, feel free to hashtag it and it will become a clickable search item.


Font Formatting: Unlike Facebook or Twitter, G+ gives you a bit of freedom to format your text.

  • *bold* will make your text bold.
  • _italic_ will make you text italic.
  • *_bold italic_* so logically, that will make your text bold and italic.

Let’s put it all together:

Google Plus starting post

That post will turn into this once it’s published:

Google Plus finished post

With only a few little tricks, you can turn your social media posts and comments from “blah” to “wow!”. As an added bonus, the more you look like you’re totally owning it on your social channels, the more your visitors will view you as an internet-savvy powerhouse, which will benefit your online store and its credibility.

Happy selling!
-Emily Teachout,  Volusion


Emily Teachout was a Social Media writer and professional. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Communications and a specialization in Technology & Society, and has managed social media campaigns for brands across multiple industries. In her spare time, Emily blogs about Austin’s culinary and entertainment scenes – in fact, she attends over 100 concerts per year.

2 Responses to “A Crash Course on the Finer Points of Social Media”

  1. Barb

    Thank you for this! It has helped me prepare for my social media presentation to my fellow trustees on our Alpha Sigma Alpha Foundation Board!

    • Emily Teachout

      You’re so welcome, Barb! I’m glad you found it useful. Good luck on your presentation!


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