Social Media Glossary

This glossary is a collection of terms, definitions and activities designed for anyone seeking an understanding – basic or advanced – of the social media landscape.

General terms

API – Application Programming Interface:  How computer programs “talk” to each other. It’s what allows us to do things like book a flight online through a travel website. API is what takes the information we’ve inputted in the travel website (i.e. dates of travel, number of passengers, baggage etc.), communicates with all the different airline databases to check for availability based on the criteria we input, and comes back to us with options from those airlines that fit our criteria. In the realm of social media, API is what allows advertisers and businesses to interact with social media users through social platforms and collect data from the social networks.

Algorithm – A sequence of instructions (formulas) telling a computer what to do. In the social sphere, algorithms determine things like what content appears in a social media newsfeed and how often. Facebook is well known for frequently changing it’s algorithms in an attempt to tailor the content popping up in people’s newsfeeds and making sure it’s as relevant to the individual as possible. Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites also use algorithms to make sure their users are satisfied with the relevance of the content they see.

Avatar – In a social media context, an icon or figure representing a particular person/user.

Bio – A self-generated public description of the social media user, often  included next to or underneath the user’s name and photo, to help introduce themselves to other users.

Blog – Both a verb and a noun: 1) Noun: A website or page upon which an individual or organization publishes regularly scheduled content on a particular topic or theme, and can include articles, photos, and videos, among other things. 2) Verb: The act of adding new material to a blog.

Blogosphere – Used to describe the overall or total blogging environment on the Internet, along with all the conversations and content connected to that environment.

Blogroll – Found on a blog, a list of hyperlinks to other blogs or websites.

Clickbait – A term to describe headlines, often sensationalist in nature, whose sole purpose is to encourage people to engage and click on a link.

Clickthrough – A common social media metric calculated by looking at the number of people who click a link in a piece of content divided by the number of people who saw the content.

Comments – Typically, user-generated feedback on an online news article or blog/social media post (usually appearing at the foot of the article or post).

Community Manager – An employee at an organization or company that works to build, grow and manage online communities and social media engagement around a brand or issue.

Connection – In the context of a social network, a connection is a link between two users. Depending on the social networking service, a connection can allow a user to view a connected user’s profile, view the user’s content, view the user’s other connections, etc. Each social network has it’s own unique terminology for connections (e.g. Facebook refers to them as friends, LinkedIn refers to them as connections and Twitter refers to them as followers).

Content – Any kind of meaningful information (text, photos, videos, audio, etc.) on the Internet.

Content management system (CMS) – A program designed to allow a user to manage a website’s content creation, modification, and removal without having to write HTML markup. Most commonly used to run websites which require frequent edits, such as blogs or news sites.

Conversation – The back-and-forth exchange of information between users.

Conversion Rate – The number of people who completed a  specific desired action in a social media post. (A ‘desired action’ can include things such as retweeting, commenting, “Liking” etc.)

Crowdsource – Using the collective brainpower, enthusiasm, skills and opinions of large numbers of people in an online setting to solve problems, build solutions, and to source ideas and resources.

Embed – To integrate data into the body of a file or document, in the form of a code. Can be used to share multimedia, sounds, fonts, and (unfortunately) viruses.

Engage – Attracting users’ attention and actively involving them in a conversation.

Engagement Rate  – A social media metric to describe the number of interactions users have had with a piece of content (i.e. “Liking”, retweeting, commenting etc.)

Facebook – Social media platform founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg. Connects friends, family, and acquaintances on a platform that allows them to post and share content (text, photos, videos), status updates (text descriptions of how people are feeling, what they are doing, or a thought they’d like to highlight), and more. Currently the most globally popular social media platform, with

Feed – A news feed of updates and content posted by other social media users, including individuals and businesses. Can include content from other users and businesses/organizations you have chosen to connect with, as well as content and advertisements from those who have paid the social media network to have it appear in your feed. Most social media algorithms use the data they collect on their users to ensure the content appearing in newsfeeds, whether paid or not, is as tailored and relevant to the individual as possible.

Follow – Subscribing to the updates of fellow users. Typically applies to Twitter and Instagram.

Follower – A subscriber of another user’s  feed. Typically applies to Twitter and Instagram.

Following – Users whose feeds you subscribe to. Typically applies to Twitter and Instagram.

Forums – Typically, an online message board on a particular niche topic or subject that features an active user base, but does not include most of the advanced social features of most mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

GIF – A digital image that moves like a very short animation. Acronym for Graphics Interchange Format,

Google+ – Google’s social network. Like Facebook, Google+ connects friends, family, and acquaintances and allows them to share content.

Handle – Unique name applied to each user. Handles are typically prepended with the “@” symbol. Typically applies to Twitter and Instagram users.

Hashtag – A mechanism used to group posts under the same topic, by including a specific word preceded by the # symbol (a word, or tag, denoted with a hash: hashtag). Hashtags are used commonly on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Impressions – Otherwise known as “views”. Refers to the point that a piece of content has been viewed once by a user. Often used as a metric by advertisers when looking at the performance of a digital advertisement.

Influencer – An individual user who has a significant following on a social media network based on their knowledge, expertise, or opinions in a particular topic or field. Influencers typically have the power to affect the opinions and purchasing decisions of their followers.

Instagram – A photo-sharing social media platform, targeted towards mobile users, which allows users to take photos, alter them with filters and other effects, and post them to be viewed publicly (available to all Instagram users), or privately (available only to a user’s followers).

Instant Messaging – Form of digital real-time, direct, text-based messaging between two or more people.

Klout: Is an online and mobile application that ranks users according to their social influence.

LinkedIn – Business-focused social media platform which allows users to network and share professional skills and experience, relevant business content, and professional updates and musings.

Listening – Monitoring how a specific company, brand, product, or person is being discussed and/or perceived on the Internet. Also referred to as social media monitoring.

Live-blogging – To blog about a particular event as it is happening, in real-time.

Live-Streaming – Delivering video content over the internet in real-time. Many social media platforms allow for live-streaming or live-streaming mechanisms and apps.

Lurker – A user of a social media site or message board who consumes information readily but does not regularly or actively contribute via posts, conversations or other means.

Meme – Typically an image with text overlay to describe a thought, joke, idea, or concept.

Microblogging – Refers to blogs that focus on smaller updates. Often facilitated by a social network platform, examples including Twitter and Tumblr. Some focus on video or picture updates, while others restrict posts to a certain number of characters.

Newsjacking  – Capitalizing on a news story to increase engagement with a piece of content, brand, or product. Often a strategy employed by marketers to increase sales and brand awareness.

Outlink – A link found on your website pointing to another website.

Pinterest – Photo sharing social media platform where users can upload, save, and categorize posts (known as “pins”) in themed collections (known as “boards”). Users can search other people’s pins and boards in order to explore content and add to their own boards.

Reddit – A social news aggregation website where users can upload, rate, comment and discuss content. Content (including comments) that have better ratings are more visible to other users. Content is organized into forums (reddits) and sub-forums (subreddits) based on topic.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication. Allows users to access regularly published content from a single location (other than the website the content is originally published on). RSS feeds publish content that is frequently updated (i.e. blogs, videos, podcasts etc.) in a standardized format.

Sentiment – The attitude or opinion of the writer and their work.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization is used to increase the amount and quality of traffic to a website from search engines (such as Google or Yahoo!).

Share (verb) – A one-click way of sharing a status, link, or image with other users.

Snapchat – Social media mobile app that allows users to send and receive photos and videos that are visible for a pre-determined amount of time. Once the allotted time-frame ends, the receiver can no longer see the video or photo.

Thread – An individual conversational trail within a social media platform, forum or bulletin board, typically beginning with an original post and continuing with comments and conversation attached to that original post.

Trending – The most popular topics and hashtags on a social media site. These often become clickable links that users can select to view or join the larger conversation.

Troll – A user who is known for purposely posting inflammatory content with the intent of  creating controversy on a social media platform.

Tumblr – A micro-blogging platform that allows users to post multi-media content to their blog. Users can also follow other Tumblr blogs.

Twitter – A micro-blogging platform where users can post thoughts, links, photos, and updates, in 280 characters or less. Users can also engage with other user’s posts and content.

User-Generated Content – Content that is created by consumers/customers.

Viral – Used to describe content that has attained significant, wide-spread attention online.

Vlogging – Content that uses video as it’s main medium to convey thoughts, updates, and experiences of the user.

Webinar – A live seminar hosted over the internet. Allows interaction between the presenter and the audience.

Wiki – A website combining the ongoing work of many authors, allowing users to modify the content of previous authors.

YouTube – A video sharing website where users can upload, comment, and share videos with other users and across other social media networks.


Apps – Mini-programs, such as games, made by third-parties to run within the Facebook system.

Cover Photo – The large, horizontal photo at the top of a Facebook profile.

Fan – A user who follows and receives updates from a particular Facebook page. The user must “like” the page in order to become a fan of it.

Fan/company/brand/group page – A bounded collection of individuals sharing something in common, be it fandom of a particular band, musician or brand, interests, hobbies, values or other identifiable differentiator. Some groups are private, but most are public and can be joined by any users on the site. Individuals can also be invited to these pages by current members.

Friend – A member of your Facebook contact list.

Friend/unfriend (verb) – To add or remove someone from your Facebook contact list.

Like – A one-click option allowing people to denote their enjoyment of a post.

Organic Reach – The number of people who saw your post without paying to promote it.

Paid Reach – The number of people who saw your post due to paid promotion.

Places – Geographic locations a user has visited, based on geolocation/geotagging.

Poke – A one-click option sending a notification to a friend or friend of a friend that they’ve been “poked”.

Post – A post made in the social networking site, Facebook.

Privacy settings – Settings allowing a user to decide what content other users are able to view, and who is able to contact them.

Profile – A user’s personal, custom page.

Reach – The total number of people who saw your post (includes organic and paid reach).

Recommended pages – A list of pages a user may be interested in, based on previous page views, check-ins, likes, and friends. Generated by Facebook’s algorithms.

Sponsored/Boosted content – Paid advertisements targeted towards specific audiences, based on demographics chosen by the advertisers.

Status update – Users can say what’s on their mind, check-in, tag who they’re with, and/or upload photos. The status update will appear on the newsfeed of their friends.

Tag – A link to a user’s profile. Users can be “tagged” in photos or status updates.

Wall – The space on a profile or fan page where users can share posts, photos and links.


Direct message (DM) – An instant, direct and private message from one Twitter user to another that appears in a user’s “messages” box. Not to be confused with a tweet, which appears on users’ timelines and is usually public.

Header Image – The large, horizontal photo at the top of a Twitter profile.

Lists – A grouping mechanism where users can group other users into identifiable batches based on pre-defined criteria (for example: Journalist/media lists, PR practitioner lists, analyst lists, etc.).

Live-tweeting – The same as “live blogging”, but using tweets to tell the story in real-time instead of blog posts.

Mention – Whenever a Twitter user includes another user’s handle (@username) in their post in order to draw the attention of that person to content and or start a conversation.

Promoted – Paid advertisements targeted towards specific audiences, based on demographics chosen by the advertisers.

Protected tweets – When a Twitter user restricts viewing of their tweets only to followers they have personally approved.

Retweet (RT) – When other Twitter users re-post a post made by another user.

Timeline – Similar to Facebook, a news feed of updates posted or retweeted by those a user follows.

Tweet – A post on popular micro-blogging site Twitter.


+1 Button – Allows users to appreciate your content, much like a Facebook like. If a user +1’s your content, it also makes it more relevant in Google searches and improves your content’s SEO.

Circles – These are categories that you can create to organize your followers and who you follow. You can name them whatever you like, and when sharing content you can choose to share with people in specific circles, with people in your extended circles, or publicly.

Communities – A forum created by brands or individuals to discuss certain topics, services, or to share information in general.

Extended Circles – When sharing with your extended circles, you’re sharing with not only the people you’ve chosen to include in your circles, but the people they’ve chosen to include in their own circles as well. This exponentially increases the number of people who can see your content, many of whom the user may not know.

Google+ Streams – Like a Newsfeed on Facebook, a Google+ stream shows content that has either been posted publicly, or by people in your circles.

Hangout – A video chat. A Google Hangout can host up to 10 participants.

Hangout on Air (HOA) – A broadcasted Google Hangout and can be watched live from a user’s Google Plus page. After the Hangout has finished, it can be found both on the user’s Google Plus page or their YouTube page.

Local – This allows for you company’s contact information to be found in search engines when searched.

Page – A Google+ profile for a brand or business.

Profile – This page displays your information, profile picture, and the content that you’ve shared on Google Plus. It’s similar to a Facebook profile.

Tag – Similar to Facebook, you can tag someone in a Google+ post by typing “+” and finding their name from the dropdown menu. This sends the user a notification letting them know you’ve mentioned them.


Channel – A user’s custom homepage for their account. Includes account information, subscribers, and shared videos.

Like – A one-click option allowing people to denote their enjoyment of a video.

Views – The number of times a YouTube video has been watched.


1st degree contact – You are connected to this person directly.

2nd degree contact – This person knows one of your 1st degree contacts (two degrees of separation).

3rd degree contact – This person knows one of your 2nd degree contacts (three degrees of separation).

Banner Image – The large, horizontal photo at the top of a LinkedIn profile.

Companies – Pages providing information on a company, what they do, job opportunities, and present and past employees.

Connections – A list of contacts who have been added to your personal network.

Endorsements – A list of skills fellow users have suggested you possess.

Groups – A place for users to connect with others in related fields or with similar interests.

Recommendations – A written reference by a LinkedIn member, usually recognizing a colleague, student, or manager.

SlideShare – LinkedIn-hosted social network meant for sharing presentations and documents.


Board – A category that you create in order to organize your pins. For example, a board titled, “my dream wedding” could host pins related to weddings.

Pin – Any image, website, or piece of content included on a Pinterest Board.

Pinner – The technical term for someone who is pinning content to a board.

Repin – Like a Retweet, Repinning is the act of sharing something that someone else has already pinned.


AMA – Ask me anything. A particular style of reddit post, in which the poster opens themselves up to questions and answers them in the comments.

TL;DR – Too long, didn’t read. Used when someone summarizes a post they consider too long to read.