The Social Media Glossary: 226 Essential Definitions

At least, that’s what people tell us. Discover A feature on the Twitter platform that has 5 functions: Tweets, Activity, Who to Follow, Find Friends and Popular accounts. Learn more: Social Media Engagement: Are You Doing It Right? Facebook Reach The number of unique people who have seen content from your Facebook Page. Friend A person that you connect with on Facebook or another social network. It’s important that you try and maintain consistent handles on all of your social network profiles, since people who follow you on Twitter might want to find you on Instagram or Pinterest. Notification A message or update sharing new social media activity. You can also target specific messaging to groups based on commonalities like location and shared interests. Learn from these brands how to do it well. Retweet A Tweet that is re-shared to the followers of another user’s Twitter account.

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Social Media Glossary

A lot can change in a year, especially in the world of social
media. It can be difficult to keep up with all of the terms and
slang used with the introduction of new technologies and platforms,
so we decided it was time to update our Social Media Glossary. Like
previous editions of the glossary, this is a living document that
will continue to grow as we add more terms and expand our

+1 button

Similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, the +1 button is
proprietary to Google and is the Internet equivalent of the
thumbs-up. “+1” may also show up in emails or comment threads, as
in the following: “+1 for that idea” with the meaning of “I really
like this idea and I’m showing my support for it.”


This thing is called an octothorpe.

See: hashtag


See: subreddit


Abandonment rate

The percentage of social customer service issues that are
abandoned by customers without a resolution.


Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to intelligence exhibited
by machines. For viable use cases of AI, check out our post

5 Practical (and Unpretentious) Ways AI Will Change Marketing by


A rules-based procedure for making calculations or solving
problems. Algorithms are everywhere in computer science and are
crucial to the software that runs the world. In social media, the
most important algorithms are those that determine which content we
see. For example, your Facebook News Feed doesn’t show every status
update and every photo from every one of your friends. Instead, it
displays an algorithmically curated set of content that Facebook
thinks is most worth seeing. Similarly, Twitter, Facebook, and
Google Plus use algorithms to define which topics and hashtags are
currently trending.

Like the algorithms that power search engines, social media
algorithms have a massive effect on your brand’s online visibility.
One sure-fire way to increase your ranking in an algorithm is to
pay for it with paid social media.


In reference to Reddit, an acronym for “Ask me anything.” In an
AMA post, a user will answer questions posed by the Reddit
community. To-date, the
most popular
AMA of all time took place in 2012 with President
Barack Obama.


Analytics tells you what happened. In general, it involves using
technology to gather data which analysts can study.The goal of
analysts is to examine this data, looking for patterns in behavior.
The most common way of gathering data is using a tracking tag on a
website or software application. The tag registers a “session” when
a user visits and then stores data about what pages they visited,
what actions they completed, and how they interacted with different
elements such as clicking on buttons or performing a search.


The practice of retaining an organization’s social media
messages and associated metadata, often for the purpose of
regulatory compliance.
Archiving has become increasingly important as more and more
business communications occur on social media. Organizations can
save records of social conversations in their own secure databases,
much like they already store email and other documents. This data
can later be retrieved and analyzed to track the effectiveness of
social media activities. It can also be gathered as part of a legal
e-discovery process.

Audience selector

A tool that allows you to choose which audience you want to
share something with on Facebook. To learn more about Facebook’s
privacy settings for sharing content, see this Facebook Help


Some people cover up their identity and don’t really express
themselves on social media. Being open and authentic on social
media means a great deal to your audience who wants to genuinely
engage with you or your business. It’s important to find your own
voice and be personal on social media. We wouldn’t be following you
if we didn’t think you were awesome, so just be yourself!


A visual representation of a user online, though not necessarily
an actual photo of the user. Social media profile pics are an
example of an avatar. Fun trivia fact: “avatar” is Sanskrit for
“incarnation”. Makes sense, right?

Average handling time

The average time required for a company, team, or individual to
resolve customer issues on social media, from beginning to end.

Average response time

How long it takes on average for a company, team, or individual
to reply to a customer’s messages while resolving an issue.


Big data

In short, big data is large sets of unstructured data.
Traditionally, the data that we analyze has already been formatted
into nice rows and columns. Think of a spreadsheet with a list of
customer names and email addresses. The reason why big data is hard
to analyze is that the data sets are massive and complex. They
might contain the messy natural language we find in Tweets and
Facebook updates, so the challenge involves sorting, analyzing, and
processing. But as the data sets are so large and layered with
information, good analysis can reveal surprising insights.


A ‘Bio’, short for biography, is the small portion of your
online profile that explains to new or potential followers who you
are. All social platforms have some version of a Bio as they are
valuable in attracting new followers with similar interests. When
it comes to your Twitter strategy, your Bio is the first thing
users see when they discover your profile and a good Bio can
greatly improve how often you show up in keyword searches.

Learn more: How
to Set up Facebook, Twitter and Every Other Major Social Media


A customized emoji or avatar that can be added to Gmail,
Messenger, Slack, and virtually any online network. With Bitmoji, you can create your
personal avatar and access a sticker library featuring the avatar
in various scenes.


A Twitter feature that enables you to prevent another user

  • following you
  • adding you to their Twitter lists
  • having their mentions and replies appear in your notifications
    or mentions tab
  • tagging you in a photo

Blocking is a useful way to keep a troublesome user out of your
mentions and sends them an explicit signal that you want nothing to
do with them. However, Twitter cannot prevent anybody from seeing
your public Tweets. If you want to keep your Tweets private, then
use a protected account.


See: Pinboard

Brand advocate

In the marketing world, a brand advocate is a customer that is
so satisfied with your product that they go out of their way to
help you market it. They do work on their own, but often become an
even more valuable resource (for spreading news, good will, and
product insight) when you connect with them, engage them and
empower them. Social media is filled with brand advocates. Take the
time to find yours.


The hijacking of a brand to promote an agenda or damage a
reputation. Brandjackers don’t hack the social media accounts of
target individuals and organizations. Instead, they assume a
target’s online identity through indirect means such as fake
accounts, promoted hashtags, and satirical marketing campaigns.


Canoe Tweet


A brief description that appears underneath an Instagram photo.
For more on mastering the Instagram caption, see here.

Center of Excellence

A steering committee or dedicated team of social media leaders
that establishes policies and processes and supports an
organization with best practices, education, and training. A Center
of Excellence may also serve as an operational hub for the
organization’s day-to-day social media activities.

Learn more:
Scaling Social: Establishing Your Center of Excellence


Chatbots are a type of bot that live in messaging apps (like
Facebook Messenger) and use artificial intelligence to perform
tasks via simulated conversation. They can be used for customer
service, data collection, and more. Facebook is one of the leaders
in chatbot integration. Read more in our post
Messenger Bots Are Your New Best Friends on Facebook


A Foursquare and Facebook term, to check-in is to declare when a
user has physically visited a geographical location or event.
Checking-in allows the user to let their friends know where they
are, and the ability to earn badges and points.


Google+ Circles are a method for sorting your Google+ contacts
by social context, location, shared interest, or any other
criteria. They allow you to organize people on Google+ to match the
way you actually know them in real life. With Circles, you can
easily share different content with different categories of people.
You can also filter what other people are sharing that you never
miss an important update from your closest friends and family.


Web content with a misleading or sensationalist headline that
entices readers to click through to the full story, usually with
the goal of generating page views and advertising revenue. This One
Weird Trick works by piquing your curiosity. You click the link,
but You Won’t Believe What Happens Next: the article stinks.
Clickbait has infested social media so thoroughly that Facebook has
actually taken
to exterminate it.

Clickbait headlines are also a prime target for parody and
satire. We recommend Clickhole, an entire site dedicated
to satirizing clickbait. And our own team had to ask,
What if Classic Books Were Given Click-Baity Titles?

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

This is a common metric for reporting on the number of people
who viewed a message or piece of content and then actually
performed the action required such as clicking on the ad or link in
an email marketing campaign. The actual metric is calculated by
comparing the number of clicks to impressions. For example, if 100
people saw your ad in Google and one person clicked on the ad, you
would have a click-through-rate of 1.0%. Clickthrough rate (CTR) is
most commonly used for search engine marketing and other
performance-driven channels as the general philosophy is that the
higher your CTR, the more effective your marketing is.

Community management

The practice of developing relationships around a common
interest. This is done by monitoring and engaging with those who
engage with the common interest. The goal is to nurture
relationships so that the community acts as advocates on behalf of
the common interest.

Competitor sentiment

To provide context, it can be useful to measure your sentiment
alongside that of your competitors through social media monitoring.
This kind of intel—whether positive or negative—will allow you to
make strategic business decisions to stay ahead of your


Conformance with rules, regulations, or laws. Social media
compliance is particularly relevant to organizations in regulated
industries, such as healthcare, banking, and insurance. These
businesses face strict rules governing what they can communicate to
the public, and numerous regulatory agencies have confirmed that
these rules extend to social media. Among other requirements,
regulated organizations must be able to demonstrate that they are
archiving social communications and supervising the use of social
media by their employees.

Learn more:
New Technology for Regulated Industries to Deal with the Complexity
of Social Media Compliance


On LinkedIn, there are several types of connections you can
make. The basic type of connection is a 1st degree connection—a
contact that you know personally or professionally and that has
accepted your invitation to connect. Other degrees of connections
are dependant on your extended network and how closely they are
connected to other individuals you know.

Content curation

Content curation is the process of sifting through the web to
find the best and most relevant content for an audience and then
presenting it to them in a meaningful way. Unlike content
marketing, content curation doesn’t involve publishing new content.
Instead, it’s about creating value for your audience by saving them
time and effort. There’s no shortage of content out there, but not
all of it is worth reading. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the
best articles, videos, and infographics will show up on the first
page of a Google search. Organizing related content into pinboards,
newsletters, or weekly blog posts can help you build a regular
audience and also demonstrate your subject expertise.

Learn more: A
Beginner’s Guide to Content Curation

Content discovery

A process used by marketers to uncover valuable content and
trends relevant to their audience. Content discovery helps shape a
successful content marketing strategy and can be executed in
numerous ways.

Learn more: 5 Ways to
Find Trending Topics (Other than Twitter)

Content management system (CMS)

Whether you’re running a blog, marketing website, or a social
media presence, a content management system (CMS) is the backbone
of your content marketing strategy. A web CMS is an online
application that allows you to draft, share, edit, schedule, and
index your content. Popular web content management systems make use
of simple editors that allow you to create publish content without
demanding a knowledge of code.

Content marketing

A marketing strategy based on attracting and retaining customers
through the creation and distribution of valuable content, such as
videos, white papers, guides, and infographics. Content marketers
look to earn customer loyalty and influence decisions by providing
useful, entertaining, or educational media. A famous example of
content marketing is the Michelin Guide, first published by the
tire company Michelin in 1900. Rather than telling people to buy
their tires, Michelin provided maps, advice on car repairs, lists
of hotels, and other valuable information that would encourage car
ownership. Over time the Michelin Guide evolved into the world’s
most influential guide to restaurants—driving massive brand
awareness and loyalty for Michelin. With the rise of social media
and search engines, content marketing is now a vital technique for
businesses of all sizes.

Learn more:
What Not to Do, Part 2: Social Media Content Marketing

Content rate

The amount of content produced in a designated time period.


In social media marketing, a conversion is a positive action
that is taken on a website by a visitor from social media. The
action demonstrates that the visitor is “converting” into a
customer. Sales aren’t the only type of conversion; many websites
measure webinar registrations, newsletter signups, content
downloads, and other important outcomes that ultimately lead to a
sale. Tracking conversions is crucial to properly attributing
revenue to social media.

Learn more:
How To Convert Traffic From Social Media Into Sales
; The Unbounce
Conversion Glossary

Conversation map

A visualization of the terms that are most commonly associated
with a chosen keyword on social media. Usually delivered as a
percentage of total mentions, a Conversation Map is a feature in
Hootsuite Analytics that collects data from over 25 sources across
the web.

Learn more:
Map It Out! What You Can Learn From Your Conversation Map

Cover photo

The large, horizontal image at the top of your Facebook profile
or page. Similar to a profile photo, a cover photo is public and
can be seen by anyone. This is a great place for individuals,
brands and organizations to use an unique image to represent who
they are, what their business is or what they care about.

Learn more: How
to Set up Facebook, Twitter and Every Other Major Social Media

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a public copyright license that gives you
the ability to use and share otherwise copyrighted material. For
social media users, Creative Commons often comes into play when we
are looking for images and photos to accompany a social media
message or blog post. In both of these cases, unless you are using
your own images or have express permission, you can only share
Creative Commons images. Sites like Google Image Search and Flickr
have filters so you can easily search for Creative Commons photos.
Just be careful, as there are different level of Creative Commons
which could restrict whether an image could be used commercially,
whether it can be modified, and what kind of attribution is


To creep is to spend an extended period of time looking through
someone’s profiles, photos, and videos on social media. The term is
generally used in the context of dating, where social networks such
as Facebook give users the ability to check out potential dates or
ex-partners. At least, that’s what people tell us. We’ve never,
ever done it. Ever.

Crisis management

The social media governance measures a company has in place to
manage social media risk and react in the event of a crisis. A
crisis can include a wide range of possibilities, from security
hacks to mis-Tweets and even external events that result in an
influx in social mentions (ex. a natural disaster’s impact on the
Red Cross). Crisis management is vital to large organizations that
seek to manage social media risk and respond effectively.

Learn more:
Mapping Organizational Roles & responsibilities for Social Media


Crowdsourcing refers to the process of leveraging your online
community to assist in services, content and ideas for your
business. Business examples include getting your audience to
volunteer in helping translate your product or by asking your
community to contribute content for your blog.


Dark Social

Any social media content that is shared outside of what can be
measured by analytics—it has no known source For example, if you
copy and pasted this blog post’s URL and shared it via email or
text message, that would be dark social. To learn more about this
area of the social media landscape, read our guide on
Everything You Need to Know About Dark Social

Deflection rate

The percentage of social customer service issues which are
transferred to another communications channel, such as email, the
phone, or live chat.

Direct Message

A direct message (DM) is a private Twitter message sent
to one of your followers. Direct messages can only be sent to a
Twitter user who is already following you, and you can only receive
direct messages from users you follow.

Disappearing Content

Content such as Snaps and Instagram Stories that vanish after a
set amount of time.


A feature on the Twitter platform that has 5 functions: Tweets,
Activity, Who to Follow, Find Friends and Popular accounts.

  • The Tweets option shows the most popular Tweets across
    Twitter; some are tailored to you individually and some are
    globally trending.
  • The Activity tab shows notable engagements of the people
    you follow, including the latest Retweets, replies and favorites of
    your friends.
  • Who to Follow helps you find new and interesting
  • Find Friends allows you to import contacts from your
    contact book and find them on Twitter.
  • Popular Accounts provides a list of some
    engaging and well-liked accounts on Twitter and is delivered to you
    based on your interests.

Discover (Snapchat)

A feature on Snapchat that consists of a collection of
hand-picked videos provided by partners and regions.

Display Ad

Display ads are typically small visual banners that are shown on
websites. Common formats include images, flash, video, and audio.
They can also be text-based (for example, Google AdWords lets you
build text-based display ads). In general, display ads are used for
large audience-based media buys or retargeting.


Electronic discovery (e-discovery)

The gathering an exchange of relevant electronic records (such
as social media communications) during a legal case or government
investigation. Many organizations are required to securely and
consistently archive all digital communications so that they can be
produced in e-discovery.

Embedded media

Digital media that is displayed within another piece of content,
outside of its native setting.

Employee advocate

An employee that is willing to promote and defend a company both
online and off. Like other brand advocates, passionate employees
can influence the purchasing decisions of their friends, family,
and other social contacts.

Employee amplification

The re-sharing of a company’s social content by its employees.
Organized and coordinated amplification programs leverage employee
advocates at scale to greatly increase the social reach of a

Empowerment model

An organizational approach to social media which emphasizes
participation and initiative from all departments, teams, and


Social media engagement refers to the acts of talking to,
messaging or otherwise interacting with other people on social
networks. This broad term encompasses a several different types of
actions on social media, from commenting on Facebook posts to
participating in Twitter chats. At its simplest, social media
engagement is any interaction you have with other users. For that
reason, it’s a core part of every social media strategy. Your
followers expect your to interact with them. Being social is core
to social media, after all.

Learn more:
Social Media Engagement: Are You Doing It Right?

Engagement rate

Engagement rate is the percentage of people who saw your social
media post and actively engaged with it (clicked the link, expanded
the image attached, replied, liked, favorited, shared, Retweeted,
etc). Engagement rate is a valuable metric to help determine the
quality and success of your social media messaging, as it provides
an indicator as to how interesting or useful the message was to
your audience. Twitter Analytics provides in-depth engagement rate
data for every Tweet you send.

Learn more:
How to Use the New Twitter Analytics for Business

Extended circles

On Google+, your extended circles include all the people in your
circles, plus all the people in your circles’ circles. In other
words, everyone within two degrees of separation.

When you share something on Google+, you can choose to share it
with your extended circles. That post could then appear on the Home
page of somebody in one of your circles, where it would be visible
to people in their circles.



Meaning “Follow for follow”, this is an invitation to follow a
user on Twitter or Instagram with the assurance that they will
follow back.

Facebook Fans

The people who like your Facebook Page.

Facebook Group

A space on Facebook where you can communicate and share content
within a select group of people. There are three types of groups:
public, closed, and secret. Make sure you understand the privacy
settings of any group that you’re a member of (here’s a useful
table for reference
). You can join a maximum of 6000 Facebook
groups. If that ever becomes a problem for you, we’d love to hear
your story.

Facebook Live

A Facebook feature that allows you to stream live video to your
family, friends, and followers. You can interact with viewers in
real-time, and get live reactions to your broadcast.

Facebook Network

Your Facebook Network is the web of people whom you are friends
with on Facebook. The term expresses the inherent sense of
connectivity users experience on the Facebook platform, where a web
of updates and information are delivered to you from all the people
in your life.

Facebook Notes

A Facebook feature that enables users to publish longer content
in a blog format. A 2015 update brought Notes back into the social
media lexicon, and allows users to add a large header image, resize
pictures, and add links and hashtags within a post.

Facebook Offers

A feature that allows brands to share special offers with their
audience and customers. Businesses can create online or offline
(in-store) offers, and can share these in an Offers ad or a post on
their Page.

Facebook Reach

The number of unique people who have seen content from
your Facebook Page. Reach is not the same as impressions,
which is the total number of times your content is viewed
(including multiple views from the same user). Facebook provides
two different reach metrics: total reach and post reach.

  • Total reach is the number of unique people who
    have seen any content associated with your Page during the
    last 7 days. This includes people who view your Page posts, people
    who visit your Page after searching for it, and people who see ads
    that are associated with your Page.
  • Post reach is the number of unique people who
    have seen a particular Facebook Page post in their News Feed.

If you have ever added up the post reach from of all your posts
and wondered why the sum didn’t match your total reach, you’re not
alone. The main reason for this apparent discrepancy is that total
reach only counts people once, no matter how many posts they have
viewed in the past 7 days. Total reach also includes people who
have seen your ads and those who have visited your Page directly
from search or an external link.

The two primary categories of Facebook reach can be broken down
further into organic and paid reach.

  • Organic reach is free reach. It refers to the number of
    unique people who saw your content without your having to
    pay for it. The vast majority of organic reach occurs when
    Facebook’s algorithm places your posts in the News Feeds of your
  • Paid reach is not free reach. It refers to the number of
    unique people who saw your content because you paid for promoted
    posts or display ads.

Facebook Reactions

Facebook Reactions
, introduced in February 2015, allow Facebook
users to react to posts beyond a simple “Like.”. Reactions
currently include: “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry.”


An indication that someone likes your Tweet, given by clicking
the star icon.


The social media data format that provides users with a steady
stream of updates and information.


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, or countless other visual
modifications. The most popular use is on Instagram, where users
can currently choose from over 20 different filters. The popularity
of filters has resulted in the hashtag #nofilter being applied to
photos where no photographic affect has been applied. Snapchat
users can also apply filters to their Snaps, to add colored
effects, the current time, weather, speed, or Geofilters, when

First response time

A measurement how long it takes a company to give its first
response to a customer’s comment or inquiry on social media. This
can be a key performance indicator for social customer service,
because even if the issue is not resolved immediately, a quick
first response demonstrates that the company is listening and
willing to help.


A Twitter user who has subscribed to your Twitter account so
they can receive your Tweets in their Home feed. If you want to
send them a direct message, you need to follow them back.

Followers to following ratio

The ratio of your social media followers to those you are
following. In an ideal world, you have more followers than users
you are following.


The number of accounts that a Twitter handle is following.


The number of accounts that are following a Twitter handle.


An online site, also known as a message board, where people can
hold discussions

Check out this resource:


A location-based discovery service that helps people find local
places and experiences that are relevant to their interests and
tastes. Foursquare pioneered the “check-in” back in 2009, putting
the idea of real-time location sharing on the map. The company has
since launched a separate app called Swarm that is exclusively
dedicated to checking in and keeping up with your friends’

Learn more:
Foursquare vs. the Swarm app: What’s the Difference?


A person that you connect with on Facebook or another social
network. Unlike a fan or follower, a friend is a two-way
connection; both you and your friend have to endorse the

Friend Emojis

On Snapchat, the “Friend Emojis” reflect a user’s relationship
with another user. For example, the sunglass-wearing cool guy emoji
means that the Snapchatters share a best friend on the app.

Friendship page

Facebook Friendship pages show the story of a friendship between
two people connected on Facebook. They display a variety of
content, including photos that both people are tagged in, public
messages that they have exchanged, and their their mutual friends
and interests.



Special overlays for Snapchat
users that reflect the geographic location they are in. Geofilters
have also been created by branded partners as well as Snapchat
users themselves. For more information on submitting your own
Geofilter for Snapchat’s consideration, see

Geolocation, geotagging

The practice of tagging a photo, video, or message with a
specific location. The ubiquity of GPS-enabled smartphones has made
geotagging a core aspect of social media.


Geostickers are location-specific Snapchat Stickers. You will
need to have location services enabled to take advantage of this


A feature on many social media platforms that allows users to
share their content with geographically defined audiences. Instead
of sending a generic message for the whole world to see, you can
refine the messaging and language of your content to better connect
with people in specific cities, countries, and regions. You can
also filter your audience by language.


Gif (pronounced jif, apparently) is the acronym for Graphics
Interchange Format, which refers to a file format that supports
both static and animated images. Gifs rose to popularity as they
allow you to essentially present a short video clip in a far more
condensed image format, leading to such joyous gifs as the

Only certain social networks support gifs, including Google+ and
Twitter. For all your gif needs, we suggest



Handle is another way of saying your account name. Hootsuite’s
Twitter handle is @Hootsuite, for example. It’s important that you
try and maintain consistent handles on all of your social network
profiles, since people who follow you on Twitter might want to find
you on Instagram or Pinterest. A consistent handle helps with


The hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the “#” sign.
#Hashtags are a simple way to mark the topic (or topics) of social
media messages and make them discoverable to people with shared
interests. On most social networks, clicking a…