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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: Specifies how software components interact. On the web, APIs allow content to be embedded and shared between locations (it’s a protocol that dictates how one piece of software interacts with another. Most social networks provide APIs so third party clients can interact with or collect data from the network).

Asymmetrical connection – A one-way connection between users. That is, a user may connect with a second without the second user connecting with the first.

Asynchronous communications: Messages are sent back and forth in a situation where communication is not dependent on a time or place (for example: emailing, forums, etc.).

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

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

Blog – Can be either a verb or a noun: 1) A website or page upon which an individual or organization records opinions, articles, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis; 2) 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.

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

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

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. This link can either be symmetrical or asymmetrical (see: Asymmetrical Connection and Symmetrical Connection). 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.

Crowdsource – Using the collective brainpower, enthusiasm, skills and opinions of large numbers of people via social technology to solve problems or build solutions.

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.

Evangelist – In the social media sense, someone (typically with a fair amount of influence or social standing) who champions a particular product, company, process or other consumable item.

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.

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.

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

Linear content – Content that exists within a defined timeline such as movies, books, short stories and television shows.

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.

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.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication.

Second screen – The use of a device (typically a tablet or smartphone) to provide interactive features to enhance “linear content” being viewed on another device, typically a television.

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

SEO – Search Engine Optimization.

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.

Symmetrical Connection – A two-way connection between users. That is, for one user to connect with a second, the second user must reciprocate the connection with the first. While many older social networks required symmetrical connections, many newer networks have allowed for one-way, asymmetrical.

Synchronous communications: Communication that happens in real-time like audio, video, or face-to-face conversations.

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.


Profile – A user’s personal, customizable page.

Feed – A news feed of updates posted by those on your friends list, as well as from groups and pages to which you have subscribed.

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.

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.

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

Like-Gate – Being unable to view content unless the page is “liked.”

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Share (verb) – A one-click way of sharing a status, link, or image with your friends. Users can share content from friends’ pages or from Internet sources.

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.


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

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

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

Modified tweet (MT) – Same as a retweet, but with text that’s been slightly changed, hence the word “modified”.

Follow – Subscribing to the updates of fellow users.

Following – Users whose twitter feeds you subscribe to.

Follower – A subscriber of another user’s Twitter feed.

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

Hashtag – A mechanism in Twitter 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).

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.

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.

Twitter API – The protocol that allows software and third party clients to interact with and collect data from Twitter. The open nature of Twitter’s original API gave rise to a large number of third party Twitter clients, which allowed users to bypass the Twitter website. Twitter has since restricted it’s API, making it more difficult for these clients to operate. Version 1.1 of Twitter’s API was released in 2012.

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


+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 people in your circle’s circles. When choosing this option your content may appear on someone in your circle’s stream, allowing people in their circles can see it.

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 viewable 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.

Share – Allows for other users to share your content on their streams.

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.


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

Channel – A user’s customizable 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.


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

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

2nd degree contact – You are connected to someone who is connected to this person.

3rd degree contact – You are connected to someone who has a connection who is connected to this person.

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

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.  


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 or website “pinned” to a Pinterest Board.

Pinner – The technical term for someone who is pinning images.

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.


Badge – Earned by checking into various venues, based on usage, tags, and amount of check-ins.

Check in – Alerts your friends of where you are, and helps FourSquare tailor future recommendations to your interests.

Mayor – The user who has checked-in more than anyone else at a specific venue in the past sixty days.