With so many social media platforms in existence, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different social media terms. This post explains some common terminology that pops up when discussing social media, which you can use as a handy reference tool in 2021 and beyond.
AddThis – AddThis code can be added to your site to allow users to bookmark and share your content.
MA (ask me anything) – Q&A sessions often hosted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with various purposes such as audience engagement and product updates.
Algorithms – social media platforms use algorithms to ensure users are alerted to the most relevant content using certain demographic predictions. This means that new content may be pushed below content which is deemed more relevant to the user.
Application Programming Interface (API) – a set of methods that allows different pieces of software to communicate with each other. For example, social media scheduling and reporting tools such as Hootsuite use API to integrate with social media accounts and publish posts or collect data.
Attribution – the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events” or “touchpoints”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events.
Automation – there are many tools available to automate social media marketing, such as Hootsuite. However, make sure you always take the time to engage directly with your audience and don’t rely too heavily on automation.
Avatar – in social media, an Avatar is a picture or graphic used to represent you. Businesses frequently use a logo as their avatar on company pages and profiles.
Behaviour segmentation – the process where a brand targets their online audience based on behaviours like attitude, knowledge, use frequency and sentiment towards them.
Bitly – Bitly is a URL shortening service frequently used on Twitter. It makes sharing long website addresses quicker and easier. Users can create a Bitly account and then can see statistics on each Bitly link they have created and shared.
Bio – a short description usually at the top of a profile on a social network that offers a short description of the owner of the account.
Bitmoji – a mobile application that allows you to create your own personalised cartoon avatar which can be used on various social networks or messaging services such as Snapchat.
Blogs – a web content publishing platform that allows a user to post content which may include commentaries, news or views. Blogging platforms include Blogger and WordPress, and blogs are indexed promptly by search engines. Read more about blogging for lead generation.
Boosted posts – without paid advertising, only 0.02% of posts are seen. This means that Facebook content from brands is often ‘boosted’ to increase its visibility. This involves a budget, which sends the content to a selected audience based on demographical and behavioural data.
Canvas ads – canvas ads are Facebook’s most immersive form of advertising, designed to help businesses tell stories and show products on mobile devices, in a dynamic way. The full-screen advertising is hosted on Facebook, rather than on an outside page, which lowers the likelihood of user drop-offs.
Caption – a short description of an image on Instagram underneath the image offering more details about the context of the picture and can include tags and hashtags.
Chat – live/real-time text-based communication between two or more people using a service available on the Internet.
Circles – or rather Google Circles, are a feature of Google+. A Circle is a way of categorising or grouping people based on the relationship you have with them. People you add on Google+ can be added as friends, family, acquaintances, or you can add people to follow.
Clickbait – online content created to attract visitors and determine them to click on a link.
Clickthrough rate – the number of users that clicked on a link divided by the number of users that saw the link.
Community management – the management of a brand’s relationship with its community of customers, prospects, fans, advocates and other users that interact with the brand online.
Connections – connections are people you connect with on LinkedIn. Connections are similar to Facebook friends but are more likely to be made with people you have worked with, or would like to do business with, rather than friends or family members.
Content curation – the process of gathering information related to a topic with the intent of publishing it.
Dark posts – dark posts were once an invisible advertising tactic that brands used to target a specific set of people. Facebook announced that it plans to disclose what groups and companies paid for ads on its platform, with any ads running on Facebook being readily viewable by everyone. More on dark posts here and here.
Delicious – a social bookmarking web service for discovering, storing and sharing web bookmarks. It allows you to share bookmarks to make others aware of content that you find interesting. Delicious bookmarks are placed on the Delicious site, and can be a way to increase the reach of your great content.
Digg – Digg is a news aggregator with a curated front page that selects stories with topics that vary widely from trending political issues to science to viral stories and anything in between. It allows you to share content which may include news, videos or pictures. Users rate content by Digging it. Popular content appears on the homepage of the Digg site and can lead to increased visibility of your content. In 2015, the company claimed that it had about 11 million active monthly users.
DM (direct messages) – a private message between social media users.
Ecommerce messenger – Ecommerce Messenger is set to allow social media users to quickly and easily complete transactions within messenger. Learn more about this in our trends for 2018 blog.
Employee advocacy – the process by which a brand uses its employees to authenticate its products. Brands may reach out to their social media savvy staff to become more involved in the promotion of the company, using their own social media accounts.
Engagement – the main purpose of social media is for you to use it as an opportunity to actively engage with customers, potential customers, friends and family. In the simplest terms, engagement is the interaction between people and brands on social networks. For example, on Facebook, engagement includes likes, comments and shares.
Facebook Live – Live lets people, public figures and pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook. According to Facebook, Live allows you to interact with your followers and friends on another level: “Field their burning questions, hear what’s on their mind and check out their live reactions to gauge how your broadcast is going.”
Facebook Messenger – Facebook Messenger (sometimes abbreviated as Messenger) is an instant messaging service and software application, allowing Facebook users to chat with friends both on mobile and the desktop website.
Facebook Spaces – in a bid to take virtual reality mainstream, Facebook introduced Facebook spaces, an interactive virtual environment allowing users to connect with friends and build their own virtual character through their profile photos.
Filter – a photographic effect that can be applied to enhance images on social media, such as offering a vintage look, black and white, sepia, altering saturation levels, and more. Snapchat regularly updates their filter and offers brands the opportunity to sponsor filters as part of their marketing strategy.
Flickr – an image and video hosting website and web services suite. Calls itself the “best online photo management and sharing application in the world”.
Follow/Follower – when you follow someone on Twitter you are essentially subscribing to their updates and tweets – you are a follower. You can also follow a company or person on LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat.
Foursquare – Foursquare allows you to share your location with others. You are shown deals and offers relative to your location that may have also been recommended by your friends.
Friends – people you connect with on Facebook. Friends can see your Facebook profile or elements of your Facebook profile depending on what you have given them access to. On Snapchat, a friend is another user you’ve mutually connected with (both of you have added each other as contacts within Snapchat).
Geofilter – a filter overlay that allows users to add a location illustration specific to where they are to their photos on Snapchat.
Geotag – a tag that indicates the geographical location of a photo/video published on a social network.
Geotargeting – a tactic used by brands to deliver different content to its users based on their geographical location. It also enables brands to create specific messaging and content to exclusively relevant audiences.
Generation Z – Generation Z (also known as iGeneration, Centennials, Post-Millennials, Homeland Generation) is the demographic cohort after Millennials. Targeting this group on social media may involve tactics including authenticity content, social responsibility and geofilters.
GIF – acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, which refers to a file format that supports both static and animated images. Only certain social networks support gifs – check out giphy.com to find gifs to share on social media.
Handle – on Twitter, a handle is the name you choose to represent yourself. It starts with “@” e.g. Ronel’s is @ronelagency.
Hashtag – a single word or phrase preceded by the # symbol to define messages relating to a particular topic. Hashtags first emerged on Twitter but are now used on almost every other social platform too.
Header image – the large banner-like images which are found at the top of both company pages and personal accounts. A recent development by Facebook means that their ‘cover photo’ header image can also be replaced by a cover video – providing further dynamic advertising for brands on the platform.
Hearts – a feature of the Periscope app that measures popularity. Viewers of a stream can “heart” the broadcast an infinite amount of times, which links to the streamer’s popularity ranking and stats.
Hootsuite – a dashboard that allows you to manage all of your social media marketing accounts from a single location, so you can find and schedule effective social content.
Impressions – the number of times a social media post has been seen by users.
Influencer – a social media user who can reach a relevant audience (whether large or small) and create awareness about a trend, topic, company, or product. They have established credibility with their audiences, and marketers work to build relationships with them in order to reach those audiences.
Instagram – purchased by Facebook for a cool $1 billion in 2012, Instagram allows users to share pictures and videos, apply filters to them and also share them on other social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Tumblr.
Instagram Stories – Photos and videos shared on your Instagram feed that disappear after 24 hours. Launched in August 2016. Also available on Facebook.
IGTV (Instagram TV) – an application owned by Instagram that allows users to post vertical videos of up to 10 minutes.
Klout – Klout was a site that measures the social influence of individuals on social media platforms such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube, amongst others. Acquired by Lithium Technologies in 2014, the service was closed in May 2018.
LinkedIn – the social network for businesses and professionals. Individuals can make connections with others and create profiles. Company pages can also be created. Read our guide to creating the perfect LinkedIn page.
LinkedIn Talent Solutions – LinkedIn has recently invested heavily in providing easy to use products for recruiters and leveraging its connections database. One of their newest innovations is LinkedIn Talent Solutions, a platform specifically for recruitment.
List – a curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others.
Live Stories – Live Stories are a curated stream of user-submitted Snaps (via Snapchat) from various locations and events. Users who have their location services on at the same event location will be given the option to contribute Snaps to the Live Story. The end result is a Story told from a community perspective with lots of different viewpoints.
Live Streaming – Live broadcasting through social media. This is expected to grow in 2019, especially between social media platforms and television broadcasters. Facebook, it is expected, will announce partnerships with major broadcasters to screen exclusive content.
Lurker – a social media user that observes conversations but doesn’t participate.
Mention – the act of tagging another user’s handle or account name in a social media message. Mentions typically trigger a notification for that user and are a key part of what makes social media “social”. When properly formatted (for example, as an @mention on Twitter), a mention also acts as a link, so your audience can click through to the user’s bio or profile.
Messenger bots/chatbots – chatbots are computer programmes that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. A way of building more personal relationships with customers, brands will increasingly use chatbots to complete simple transactions. This is something eBbay and Shopify are already using. Read more here.
Native advertising – disguised as content, native advertising is a technique which incorporates tactics including in-feed sponsored content. Native advertising generally defines the type of advertising that shows up in the flow of editorial content.
Newsfeed – a list of news posted on a particular platform. Newsfeeds exist on your Facebook profile page, on blogs and on Twitter, for example.
Notification – a message or update sharing new social media activity. For example, if somebody likes one of your Facebook photos you will receive a notification to inform you.
Ow.ly – a URL service which is endorsed by programmes such as Hootsuite. The site allows you to shorten long website addresses for tidier, shortened post lengths.
Paid social media – businesses can pay to advertise on social media – with common types being native advertising such as Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Sponsored Content, and YouTube sponsored videos. Companies can also run standard, display-style ads on some platforms.
Periscope – a live video streaming mobile app that was developed by Joe Bernstein and Kayvon Beykpour in February 2014. It is owned by Twitter – find out more here.
Permalink (permanent link) – a hyperlink to a web page that is intended to remain unchanged for years (static).
Pinned tweet – a tweet that has been pinned to the top of a Twitter profile page. Pinning a tweet is a great way to feature an important announcement or update.
Pinterest – a photo sharing site where users create themed image collections around events, interests or pastimes. Users can browse pinboards, add or “re-pin” images to their own pinboards, or “like” photos.
Podcast – a digital audio file series created by a user and available for download on the internet.
Reach – reach signifies the number of people a brand could target using advertising. It also signifies how many people have had sight of a particular post.
Reddit – a popular entertainment, social news and social networking website. Content is submitted or shared by users then voted on by other visitors.
Regram – re-posting somebody else’s Instagram post. Best practice requires acknowledgment of the original post and the use of the hashtag #regram.
Response time – refers to the time in which a brand takes to respond to engagement from a user. This can alter the brand’s overall online reputation, especially in the response to queries and complaints.
Retargeting – an advertising technique in which you send content to the users who have already visited the website or page once.
Retweet – a tweet that is re-shared to the followers of another user’s Twitter account. Retweeting helps to share news and build relationships with others on Twitter.
Sentiment analysis – the process of analysing user comments or posts with the purpose of identifying the writer’s attitude towards the subject – negative, neutral or positive. More about this technique on Brandwatch.
Share – the main focus of all social media platforms is to share your content, thoughts and company voice with others. Sharing options can also be added to your site, allowing people to like, +1, email or tweet you, as a method of endorsing or forwarding your content to others.
Share of voice – the number of times your brand has been mentioned in comparison with the total number of times your competitors have been mentioned online or on social media
ShareThis – ShareThis code can be added to your site to allow visitors to more easily share your content on their favourite social media channels. You can build a simple bar that allows people to instantly share your webpage or latest blog to their favourite social channels.
Shopping tags – Instagram shopping tags offer business pages the option to put information and price tags on their images.
Snapchat – an image messaging app that has been around since 2011, and has grown to around 186 million daily active users worldwide, with 10 billion mobile video views every day! (Statista)
Snap – a photo or video sent on Snapchat. You can add filters, text, emojis and drawings before sending to your recipient. Individual messages only last up to 10 seconds, then they are completely erased (although Snapchat has introduced a replay feature that allows you to have one more view).
Snapchat story – the “My Story” section allows users to post a replayable Snap for up to 24 hours to their friends and followers.
Social mention – a social networking search engine that allows you to search the internet for social content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos. Google also allows you to search blog, video and image content.
Sproutsocial – a platform for social media management and optimisation that allows marketers to publish content, access analytics and interact with users across social profiles.
Subreddit – a subreddit is a smaller forum within the social website Reddit that is dedicated to a specific topic or theme. These are signified by the symbol “/r/” which precedes the unique Reddit URL of that particular subreddit e.g. www.reddit.com/r/gifs/.
Tiktok – an up and coming app that acts as a video sharing platform. What makes it different is that users can add music and special effects to their 15 seconds videos before they share them. Tiktok was 2018’s most downloaded mobile apps for Apple and Android devices in the US and Europe.
Trending – refers to a topic that is especially popular on social media at a given moment. Originating with Twitter, users add hashtags to particular words to join the discussion surrounding a topic. This can improve engagement with posts.
Troll – a word that is used to describe someone who deliberately tries to offend others on social media, often posting abusive messages to a particular individual or group in order to get a reaction.
Tumblr – a popular microblogging platform used to broadcast messages, mostly used by millennials.
Twitter – Twitter at its most basic level, is a platform for posting short messages of between 140 – 280 characters. There are around 326 million active Twitter users.
Tweet – the name given to messages posted on Twitter. Tweets are microblog messages that can be a maximum of 280 characters in length.
TweetDeck – TweetDeck is a platform for managing Twitter activity. Tweets can be created and scheduled along with many other advanced features.
Tone of voice – playful, educational, satirical. The tone of voice is the persona a brand portrays on social media to their audience.
User-generated content – using uploads by customers on their own social media platforms, UGC is the process in which brands repost pictures onto their main social pages. This provides an authentic endorsement, whilst adding volume to content already in place.
Vimeo – similar to YouTube, Vimeo is a platform for storing, sharing and uploading video content.
Viral marketing – a marketing technique where information is passed electronically from one internet user to another, leading to wide coverage and high-interest levels.
Virtual reality – 360 photos launched on Facebook in June 2016, and are seen as a first step towards offering virtual reality on social media. The next logical step would be to offer 360 video content. Twitter has already announced that they will be launching something similar in the new year.
Visual first – the idea that video, images and other visual content dominates social media (over text-based content).
Visual search – a feature on Pinterest that allows brands to join the dots between photos and products – improving the search function beyond hashtags towards image content.
Vlogging – the practice of regularly posting vlogs (video blogs) online.
Webinar – online seminars or presentations held by an individual or team to teach or inform about a topic to an audience. These are available pre-recorded or live streamed. However, anyone looking to take part may have to sign up to gain access.
WhatsApp – a free to download messenger app for smartphones. WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages, images, audio or video.
YouTube – Google-owned YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. It is a good platform for placing how to guides, testimonials and information about your products and services.
Are there any other social media terms that you think are missing from this list? Leave your suggestions below and we will add them to our glossary.
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