A-Z of social media – 120 glossary definitions for content marketing and social media

25 August 2015 By Northern Lights

A-Z of social media – 120 glossary definitions for content marketing and social media image

A-Z of social mediaContent marketing, blogging and social media are all now recognised as hugely important tools for businesses looking to acquire new customers, target key individuals and build relationships. However, this new digital marketing landscape is awash with confusing terms, acronyms and jargon.

In this latest blog, I aim to provide some quick and simple explanations to the most common terms you’re likely to see as you work to seize the opportunities social media and content marketing can present.

If you want to learn more about the different social media platforms, you can read about the mainstream platforms in this blog, while the second instalment looks at the rising stars of social

media, the potential next big thing and some of the international contenders.


Algorithm – the mysterious secret formula that search engine providers like Google use to find and rank online content. As it is a closely-guarded secret, most marketers are locked in a continuous battle to outwit the increasingly complex algorithms, but quality content remains the only real way to secure success.

Avatar – Your online persona and not a big blue alien. An avatar is a simple icon or figure that represents you in the online world – from an internet forum to massive multi-player online role playing games.

Analytics – A term used to describe the data being collected about visitors to your website. This can be hugely useful in learning what is attracting people to your business online, what journey they take and what causes them to buy or go elsewhere.

Anchor text – Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. SEO best practices dictate that anchor text be relevant to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text.

blogBlog – Arguably the most powerful weapon in the content marketing arsenal. A multimedia or written piece that addresses a specific topic and is used to drive visitors to your website through keywords, backlinks and calls to action.

Backlink – A link from another website to a piece of content on your website. Google sees backlinks as evidence of quality content and you should also use them in your own content to help substantiate claims or provide supporting evidence.

Bit.ly/bitlink – An online service that shortens URLs (the links to websites) for the purpose of saving space in social media updates. Crucially, it also allows you to track how many people have clicked on the link, providing feedback on the success of your posts.

Bio – Short for biography and is the simple descriptions used on social media to describe yourself and explain why people will want to follow or connect with you.

Block – A feature seen on a number of sites that allows you to prevent troublesome connections from contacting you in the future or seeing the content you are posting. Particularly useful for those determined to criticise your every move.

Connections – Usually seen on LinkedIn but used as a general term across social media for the people you are connected to, are following you or “like” your updates.

Content – Anything uploaded to your online platforms from written text and images to videos, podcasts, infographics etc.

Comment – Comments can be added to a variety of online forums from individual blogs posts to shared content on key social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s an ideal opportunity to share opinions with key targets and develop new relationships.

Characters – A number of social media sites will restrict the number of characters you can use – Twitter’s 140-character limit being the most draconian – and this simply relates to every letter, punctuation mark and space you use.

Clickbait – A sensational headline or phrase designed to send your curiosity into overdrive and entice you to click on a hyperlink to another piece of content. They are almost always a huge letdown and most people have grown very weary of clickbait titles – avoid!

Duplicate content – Perhaps one of the most feared phrases in the content marketing world is the term for when the same material is used repeatedly across a number of websites. If Google suspects you of using duplicate content to dupe its search engine you will be penalised and removed from future searches. You have been warned.

DM – This is primarily a Twitter term and stands for Direct Message. This function allows you to send private messages to another Twitter user but you must follow each other and you are still restricted to 140 characters.

Engagement – A critical phrase in social media which should be exactly that, social! Engagement is about talking to your audience, joining conversations and asking questions. Don’t fall into the trap of just promoting your offer as your audience will quickly switch off.

e-???? – The presence of a small “e” in front of a plethora of words ranging from commerce and books through to learning and possibly even cats is there to explain it is internet-based. Most now use it to scream “look how cutting edge we are!” – it’s getting a bit overused.

followersFollow / Following / Followers – The people who choose to read, view or engage with you in social media platforms and interact with the content you are posting.

#FF – A popular hashtag used on Twitter to recognise people who follow you. Standing for Follow Friday, most simply list the handles of the people they want to recognise and include the #FF hashtag. It began on a Friday but is increasingly been seen on other days of the week for some reason.

Favorite – An option to show your appreciation for a social media post. It will remain in your favourites in Twitter and can be useful for saving key content you want to refer back to later.

Google – The supreme overlord of the internet. Google has a massive array of products and sets the benchmark for others to follow. It’s the most used search engine in the world and owns a number of other key platforms like YouTube.

Groups – Groups are featured on a number of sites and are forums for like-minded individuals to come together to discuss shared interests.

# Hashtag – By using the # symbol you can tag your online content with a specific keyword or phrase. It then becomes active and allows you to instantly search for all other content with the same hashtag. Very useful for linking your content to trending topics or events.

Hootsuite – One if the most popular social media management tools. This tool allows you to manage multiple accounts from a single platform and have key features like scheduling, which allow you to pre-load content that is then sent out automatically at a specific time and date.

Handle – Your handle is your online name. Whatever you plan to use as your identity – whether it’s your name (eg @BenPindar) or something unique (eg @crazycatlady – this is taken) – your handle is what is used to contact you or link you to key pieces of content online.

Hangout – Another of Google’s multitude of products, but a very useful video calling tool. It is free and features more functionality than most, allowing you to speak to multiple people simultaneously and show presentations, items on your desktop etc.

Infographic – An image that breaks down the facts or messages around a key subject into simple graphics. They are one of the most shared pieces of content on social media and can be invaluable in supporting your campaigns.

internet accessIM – IM stands for instant messaging and features in a number of platforms, allowing you to send private messages to other members of that social media site.

Impressions – The number of times your online content, advert or promotion is seen by an online viewer.

Join – Usually seen as a button on social media groups and communities and is used to request memberships to these closed sections.

Klout – Klout is a useful site for measuring your social media impact. Using a simple scoring system, it’s useful for analysing performance and identifying what works and fails.

Key Influencer – A key influencer is someone with a significant reach on social media platforms. By engaging with key influencers and encouraging them to share your content you can greatly expanding your own reach by using their networks.

Keywords – These are the words and phrases that unlock your online potential. Keywords are the terms people use in search terms and by including them in your profiles and all online content, ensure you are found for the services and products you offer.

Like – When you like a comment someone posted on a social media site without leaving a comment it could mean you find the comment funny, agree with what is being said or appreciate the comment in some way alias you like it. This way people you are connected to can also read the post you ‘liked‘.

Link – A link is when you are linking (hyperlink)to another document or location on the web through highlighting visible characters and words in a post (anchor text).

Longtail – Long-tail search terms are valuable for businesses who want their content to rank in organic Google searches. The way people use search engines has evolved because the huge amounts of data now online. Before people would use a single word, but that now returns too many results. Now people use multiple words or questions that feature a number of keywords to refine the results into something more suitable. These long sentences are longtail searches.

Lurker – A lurker is typically a member of an online community who observes, but does not actively participate. Most people are actually lurkers online; they are happy to be consuming content without actively participating, interacting and responding.

Lists – A list is a curated group of Twitter users. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the users on that list.

Messsage/s Sending messages to connections and contacts online is a way to privately communicate with one person or multiple recipients. A message is a targeted form of communicating and will not be seen by the rest of the world or even your followers – unless it is shared publicly by someone on the list!

meerkat-729400_640Meerkat Meerkat is a mobile app that enables users to broadcast live video online and also enables people viewing the content to share comments and “like” what they see.

Modified Tweet MT – It is like a retweet, but the author wants to let you know it’s not a faithful reproduction of the original tweet. What could be a reason for changing a tweet?

  • Changing a Hashtag in order to share the content with another Twitter chat community
  • Indicating that you have added or deleted an element of the tweet
  • Correcting a typo or factual error
  • As part of a broader exercise in content curation

Meme – Meme comes from the Greek word “mimema” (meaning “something imitated). It is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. A meme (captioned photo/ video) behaves like a flu or a cold virus, travelling from person to person quickly, transmitting an idea.

Mention – The phrase for when someone uses your handle in a social media post. Mentions are very useful when trying to engage with a target or key influencer.

Newsfeed – A news feed is a list of content posted by people you connected to in order of time. You can get the latest headlines, photos and video in one place, as soon as it’s published, without having to visit the websites or friend pages you have taken the feed from.

Notifications – This is an alert telling you that you have been mentioned or tagged in a piece of content online or it could also provide updates on who is following you or commenting on your posts. Simply an alert about anything relevant to your online activities.

Online – Indicates a state of connectivity, while “offline” indicates a disconnected state (ie the real world – remember that, it had daylight and real people?)

owlyOwly – This is a URL shortener and sharing tool. The ow.ly toolbar allows users to instantly share or retweet links. HootSuite users can track the success of their ow.ly links.

Outlook – (Microsoft Outlook) software installed on most computers to manage your emails, contacts and calendar.

ORM – An acronym for Online Reputation Management which is the ongoing battle to protect your image or brand across all online platforms. Your online reputation has become so important that an entire industry had sprung up to service this need.

Periscope – Periscope is a live video streaming app from the good people at Twitter. Unlike YouTube, which is rarely a live event, Periscope makes us feel like we are right there in the room with you, watching you swim, do your job or walk your dog. It is the most popular of the live video streaming apps.

Pinned – An option to “pin” your favourite tweet or post to the top of your newsfeed in social media. Useful for keeping key pieces of content at the top of the list of content you are producing.

Publish Post When you have written a blog post or informational update about a certain topic or talking point and you share this with your connections. This is also the content that will be delivered to the people that subscribe to your blog.

Profile Your personal and/or professional profile presents information about you as a person; your work, interests, skills and ambitions with an added photo. Only present information which you like to share publicly.

Phishing This is the attempt to get sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Pinit – The Pin It button is the best way for your business to get discovered on Pinterest, which is a visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas for all your projects and interests. When you add the Pin It button to your website’s pages, you let your customers save things they like onto Pinterest, which means even more people can find it.

Podcast A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player. Podcasting is a form of audio broadcasting on the Internet.

Post – is an entry made by someone on their blog or social media profiles.

Platform – Used to describe the home upon all social media sites are built.Social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.

privacy Privacy – Social networking sites vary in the levels of privacy offered. Users are being warned continuously about displaying far too much information on social networking sites which may have serious implications on their privacy. Potential dangers are identity theft, sexual predators, stalking, unintentional fame, employment, crime, online victimisation and surveillance.

Plugin A plug-in is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application. When an application supports plug-ins, it enables customisation. The common examples are the plug-ins used in web browsers to add new features such as search-engines and virus scanners.

Question? – Ask a question on your social media posts/updates with a call to action to encourage responses and engage with your audience.

Quote (Retweet – RT) – is a retweet with a difference. While many just retweet a post they like, with this feature you can also add your own comments while still showing the original content. Very useful for sharing opinions, your own experiences, links to your own content or further insights.

Reach – is a data metric that determines the potential size of audience any given message could reach. It does not mean that that entire audience will see your social media post, but rather tells you the maximum amount of people your post could potentially reach.

Reply – when using Twitter this is to send a message responding to one you have seen on another person’s Twitter stream. It will appear with their @address at the start of the message. If you want it to be completely public add a space or “.” before the handle or only those who follow both of you will see the reply.

ROI (Social Media Return on Investment) – A measurement of the effectiveness of investment in social media. Like any metric for “return on investment”, social media ROI is calculated by dividing the total benefits of an investment by the sum of its costs. This can be a minefield in social media, but is best achieved by setting out clear business objectives before embarking on any campaign.

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) – is a format for syndicating web content. Readers can subscribe to RSS feeds without providing personal information, and then automatically receive updates about the content they are interested in.

Ripple (Google+) – is a feature of Google+ that allows you to see who has been re-sharing the posts you’ve shared on Google+, along with who they’ve been sharing the posts with. It’s a very simple way to quickly identify who the key influencers in your network are.

Share – to share your content and thoughts with others. Sharing options can also be added to your website to allow people to like, +1, email, tweet or many other methods of endorsing or forwarding your content to others.

Search Engine – is designed to search for information on the world wide web (www). Search results are usually presented as a list of results and are commonly called hits. The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other types of files. Google is the most popular.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – This is the process used to make sure you appear at the top of Google when someone searches for the products or services you offer. By identifying keywords associated with your business and optimising every aspect of your website, you create natural or un-paid search results as opposed to paid for results.

SoLoMo – A phrase that is becoming increasingly popular in the digital world to describe the three key channels customers use to access online information. So = social media, Lo = using the internet to find local services and products and, Mo = the increasing use of mobile apps by customers.

Scheduling – Planning social media updates and content ahead of time, using a social relationship platform (SRP) or another publishing tool. It also enables content to reach audiences in different time zones and organize extended marketing campaigns.

Social Networks – is a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who share similar interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. A social network service consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his or her social links, and a variety of additional services.

streamStream (Hootsuite) – Streams of content can be added to the Hootsuite dashboard after the corresponding social network has been connected. Streams are grouped under tabs.

Storify – is a social network service that lets the user create stories or timelines using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Storify is the easiest way to find, collect, and share what people are saying all over the web.

Storytelling – The phrase use to describe best practice in social media. Your content should take people on a journey and interest them every step of the way rather than offer commands and directions. Storytelling is about grabbing people’s attention and then holding it.

Settings – Usually an icon like this appears on the home page of the social media websites/apps and is used to control every aspect of your profile from privacy and security through to how you receive updates.

Subscribe – Subscriptions are an important part of social media platfoms. If there are specific channels that you like, subscribe to them. Once you do, you’ll receive updates whenever they upload new content, making it simple to keep up with the content you care about.

Trend – is a topic or hashtag that is popular on social media at a given moment. Trends are highlighted by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to encourage discussion and engagement among their users. They are useful for getting your content talked about, but only link to trending topics that are relevant to your content. If you’re talking about financial investments, don’t be tempted to add a hashtag about One Direction just because everyone is talking about the boy band.

Tag – Ultimately, tags and hashtags have the same purpose – to make you findable on websites loaded with content and to draw people’s attention to whatever it is you want them to see. Keywords with the right tags will ensure you attract people interested in that content.

Tweet – is a message posted on the Twitter social media platform. Tweets are micro blog messages that are up to 140 characters in length.

Timeline – This is the stream of updates that appear on the homepage of your social media site. It includes all of the content created by the people you are following or connected to.

Troll – a “troll”, in internet slang, is someone who deliberately upsets or bullies others by starting arguments or posting unnecessarily inflammatory messages on blogs, chatrooms, forums & social media sites.

Tweetdeck – is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts.

Thread – is a strand of messages which represent a conversation or part of a conversation. Threads are essential to most forms of online communication, including social media, web forums, and email. Threads begin with an initial message and then continue as a series of replies or comments.

URL – The location of a page or other resource on the World Wide Web. The acronym stands for Uniform Resource Locator.

Unfollow To cease to subscribe to a feed of another user’s activity eg to stop following another Twitter user. Their tweets no longer show up in your timeline.

Updates New post on your timeline. You are updating people with a new story/message.

Upload – Posting a new message to your timeline with a photo or video. A photo and video will load from your computer, tablet or phone – even your watch now…

Vlog A video blog or video log, shortened to vlog is a form of blog recorded in video format and then posted online.

Video Content video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media.

Vimeo is a video-sharing website in which users can upload, share and view videos.

Virtual World A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with others

Viral When a message quickly attains global popularity through the use of social networks.

Virus is a malware program that, when executed, replicates by inserting copies of itself (possibly modified) into other computer programs, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive; when this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be “infected”.

Webinar is a web-based seminar, it is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the web using video conferencing software. A key feature of a webinar is its interactive elements, the ability to give, receive and discuss information.

wordpressWordPress – is web software you can use to create a website or blog

Word Cloud is a visual depiction of a document in terms of the words frequency in that document, the more a word is frequent, the bigger it gets in size. This helps in quickly visualizing the important words in a document.

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

XXX – Inappropriate adult content is outlawed across most social media platforms and users are removed if it is spotted. Adult humour and inappropriate images should be avoided at all costs in social media as it will turn users away and could see you lose all the work you’ve put in to build your online profiles.

Yolo This is a hugely popular acronym for ‘you only live once’ and quickly spread among teen culture around the world, manifesting itself in everything from t-shirts to tattoos. While this is now starting to drop in popularity a little, phrases like this should be tracked as they are hugely important for engaging with key audiences.

Zealots – Word of mouth is crucial in social media and every business should be aiming to create a small army of zealots who will not only shout passionately about your brand, but will also lep to your defence every time a troll dares to question you.

Zoella Arguably the first true YouTube superstar, Brighton-based Zoe Elizabeth Sugg is known on YouTube as Zoella and has turned a popular vlog into a lucrative real world career. After starting out as a teenager sharing fashion and beauty tips alongside her unique take on life, Zoella is now a successful celebrity blogger, author & beauty guru.


This has been a team effort here at Northern Lights but, undoubtedly, we’ll have missed a phrase that still continues to baffle you, so if you have any other suggestions, let us know in the comments below and we’ll update this glossary accordingly.


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Written by Northern Lights

1 Comment

  • Great blog – useful reminder of a rich digital glossary. What about ZMOT or Zero Moment of Truth? Google’s definition of how online has changed our decision making about products and brands.

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