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Social Media – An A-Z glossary – Updated December 2014

blur Content | December 3, 2014 | blur Group

It’s time to update this much-loved social media glossary. Rather like the dictionaries which introduce words that have become common parlance, we’re also ready to showcase the selfie, talk about why vine is vital and cover the increasing use of social media advertising channels like promoted tweets.


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This list is far from exhaustive, but it’s certainly a good starting point and keep reading blur blogs here to find our views on the latest social trends.

5 social media platforms your business can’t live without

Facebook: This is the most popular social networking site in the world. Staggeringly there are now 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users, and 757 million daily users. With its takeover of Instagram, its acquisition of Whatsapp and perhaps most importantly, its domination of mobile (another rapid growth since this blog was first published in 2011) Facebook continues to dominate.

Such is its widespread adoption that it generates some unrest amongst its original 16-25 audience, which partly explains the Whatsapp purchase, and means that whereas in the early days this may have been prime marketing territory, it is now becoming increasingly valuable to the b2b market as its audience covers every demographic.

Twitter: As of December 2014, there are now over 284 million monthly users. When we first created this glossary, Twitter fitted in the world of microblogging. Now we barely use this term, such is the acceptance of the 140-character communication, beloved of business as much as of Kim Kardashian. And when we first wrote this we talked about how it wasn’t really about networking with friends, whereas now it really does get everyone involved making it the most social of all social channels.

YouTube:  Video is everything. It’s loved by advertisers, by consumers and is increasingly the cornerstone of content marketing strategies. In case you’re in any doubt, you can upload, view, share and comment on videos, and you can embed YouTube videos for free in your blogs. The viral video may no longer be the holy grail as the realization that it’s not as easy as it sounds comes home, but video really is a key component in the marketer’s toolkit and Youtube remains the first destination for most. t is seeing some competition from Vimeo but as part of Google, it’s another one which as well as your social media plans, influences your SEO plans.

LinkedIn: is a business-oriented social networking site. Since its launch in May 2003, it has mainly been used for professional networking. Today, there are 332 million registered users spread across 200 countries and territories worldwide it has become invaluable for marketers and sales teams as well as talent teams and job hunters. . In 2011 it had a hugely successful IPO and continues to gain users although in our opinion, there are still some ‘clunky’ areas of its usage – its mobile app isn’t as advanced as some of the other networks and although its company pages continue to improve, it’s not quite a good at profiling as you’d expect a business social network to be.

Unlike many social networks it has a clear monetization model: with subscriptions, advertising and job-board revenue streams: enhancing its ‘professional, corporate’ status. As a network that really gets monetization it is also getting stricter with the tricks that use to come for free.

Google+: the late arrival at the social media ball and if we’re really honest  it still seems to be Cinderella after midnight  in terms of social acceptance. There are constant rumours that google will lose it as it has with many a product, but it remains a valuable part of not just your social strategy but your SEO strategy as it seems that a G+ share can up page views considerably (3.5 times).

An A-Z of social-media speak


Alerts: There are Google News Alerts, Blog Alerts, Web Alerts, Video Alerts and Discussion Alerts which – not surprisingly – alert you whenever a new page is published online that includes a keyword or set of keywords of your choice. Companies often use alerts to monitor mentions of their brand across the web. In most social networks building searches often gives a better realtime experience than alerts.

Avatar: A graphic that represents the author of a piece of online content, usually in place of the author’s real photo.


Back channel: Whilst social media is all about ‘open’ and ‘public’, there is often a need for private communications (e.g. emails or direct messaging) to be exchanged between key people in a social networking interaction. This is known as a back channel.

Blog: A blog is a portmanteau of the words ‘web’ and ‘log’, and are used by individuals and/or companies to commentate on anything of their choosing. Corporate blogs are typically used to communicate key information and analysis with customers, employees and other partners.

Blogosphere: A generic term to describe all blogs online…of which there are millions.

Buzzfeed: Possibly the best example of viral content marketing to date, buzzfeed is driven by social and has a slavish following. It courted controversy this year as the world realised that in answering those ‘fun’ quizzes, Buzzfeed was creating a massive dataset of profiles and information.


Categories: These are normally used in social media to arrange content into subject areas. These can help users identify key blog posts from within their area of interest.

Chat: A chat is pretty much any online conversation, and normally involves users adding text and other media in a linear fashion into the same space in real-time. For example, a group Twitter chat.

Circles: One of the better features of Google Plus, a circle groups people based around your relationships, and this feature can then tie in to other parts of the google ecosystem

Comments: Most blogs allow users to add comments under posts. Comments help facilitate interaction with customers and the public in general, and businesses should monitor comments and respond accordingly.

Content: A general term for any piece of online media, including images, graphics, text, videos, animations, sound-clips and anything else that could conceivably fall under the ‘media’ or ‘information’ remit. Without content, social doesn’t really have much of a purpose.

Discover the power of world class content with blur’s Service Providers >>

Crowdsourcing: blur was one of the original Crowdsourcing proponents and crowdsourcing continues to gain traction with many a social network effectively using the power of the crowd to test ideas, products and gain feedback.


Delicious: Now owned by Yahoo!, Delicious (formerly is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks.

Digg: This is a social news website. Prior to Digg v4 – launched in late 2010, Digg’s main function consisted of letting people vote stories up or down, called digging and burying, respectively

DoocedDooced is a slang term for someone who is fired from their job because of controversial content they published online.


Ecosystem: An online community or group of communities, and how they interact with their digital environment. The blogosphere is one example of an ecosystem.

Embedding: This is when a small piece of code is added to a blog or website to display a video or photo hosted elsewhere. A typical use of this would be when YouTube videos are embedded on blogs.

Engagement: Counts of followers are now in the ‘so what’ camp; everyone is after engagement with their audiences, showing that they are genuinely interested in the content you’re creating on social, and ipso facto, interested in your business.


Fans: The collection of those who follow your social content across channels

Feed: This refers to any content delivered at regular intervals, for example the latest blog posts or social activity from an individual/company you sign-up to.

Flickr: Flickr is a photo-sharing site that has diminished in popularity compared to Instagram, particularly post the Facebook takeover.

Follow: The act of monitoring (‘Following’) someone’s online activity, for example through Twitter and leading on to…

Follower: Someone who is following your updates. The count of followers is most businesses’ first social media metric. In time this has to extend to the ‘value’ of each follower.

Friend (noun): Not necessarily someone you’ve met in real-life, a ‘friend’ is anyone you’ve had some sort of interaction with and have agreed to ‘connect’ with through a social platform, such as Facebook.

Friend (verb): This is now entering common parlance, it’s the act of adding someone to a social network. For example, “I’ll ‘friend’ you on Facebook”


Hangout: A video collaboration feature within Google+ enabling live video chat with a limited number of friends in a circle. Its simplicity has meant that it’s taken over from Skype and Webex for mant a business.

Hashtag: Tag your content by including one or more hashtags (#): words or phrases prefixed with a hash symbol (#), can then be searched by other users to help the flow of information and online conversations. Apart from the search capabilities it’s often the identification of a trending topic.

Hootsuite: One of the most successful and widespread platforms to manage your social content and publishing, allowing you to post to multiple networks at once as well as integrating with CRM systems to make social part of your lead generation activities.


Images – all the main social networks make image sharing an integral part and tweets with pictures are more likely to be retweeted than those without. There are 1.8 billion images uploaded every day – a figure that makes all the desire to buy photo sharing networks instantly understandable.

Instagram – a combination of photo tools and social networking that has been one of the most successful apps since its launch, making a network of its own and now part of the Facebook family.

Instant messaging (IM): This is typically real-time text conversations using a tool such as Facebook Messenger, Skype Chat, Blackberry Messenger, AOL Messenger or Microsoft Live Messenger. It can be one-on-one or group-based. With mobile increasingly important, FB messenger has become the norm for many a user.


Klout – a score developed from your social following, influence, reach – predominantly based on Twitter but now with reference to your other social presence. Subject to some controversy as to its accuracy, but without a doubt it is one of those things that people look at when assessing whether to follow and it is often a KPI in measuring business success on social media.


Lead Generation Card (LGC): Twitter created the LGC to provide a way to generate leads from your Twitter account. Simple to implement and for the small business with the winning formula of free to use, it makes your tweets an effective way to garner interest. And with the increasingly improving twitter analytics available to everyone, it’s a powerful tool to measure engagement.

Like: Facebook’s Open Graph API means Internet users can ‘like’ any piece of content they see online (as long as it has been integrated with Facebook’s Open Graph API), and it will be shared with all their friends on Facebook. ‘Like’ is a system where social networkers can show their approval.

: This is someone who reads social media content but rarely contribute or comment.


Metadata:  This refers to any data, such as titles, descriptions, categories and tags and captions, that describe a media item. So, for example, a YouTube video description is part of its metadata.

Microblogging: Twitter or Tumblr are good examples of microblogging. In short, it’s the act of disseminating short messages across the web.

: This was once one of the top social networks in the world, but it has lost the social networking battle to Facebook. MySpace is attempting to reinvent itself as an entertainment hub rather than attempt to compete with Facebook.


Native Content:  A cunning advertising ruse, of which the promoted posts mentioned below are examples, of where it looks like regular content on the channel, but is in fact paid for advertising. It has a bad rap, but in reality we’re all consumers of this stuff and don’t make too big a deal of it.


Open Graph API (Facebook): Facebook’s Open Graph API connects external websites with Facebook through such elements as ‘Like’ functions. It makes the whole Web more ‘social’

P – a way to create your own ‘social’ paper that combines content on topics you find interesting. A great way to ensure your content is re-used although newer approaches of this social content curation are developing.

Pinterest: One of the newest but fastest-growing networks with the ability to ‘pin’ interesting graphic content. Has had some issues on copyright but it remains a visual way to capture and display your brand essence and its simplicity makes it a fascinating network which has become a significant network for consumer brands.

Podcast: A downloadable audio show designed for listening on a mobile device.

Privacy settings: Your personal or business social network setting, enabling you to control what content is visible and to whom.

Promoted Posts: A feature of both Linkedin and Facebook, enabling you to set a budget to make a particular post more visible to your followers and their friends on FB and with a wider reach on LI. It’s a great way to promote once you have engaged with an audience on FB or to extend the reach of your posts on Linkedin. Because you can set a fixed budget you should consider these more as ways to increase engagement rather than lead generation like classic ads.

Promoted Tweets: Twitter’s flavour of promoted posts. Smartly this allows you to put content into the timelines of those who don’t follow you. Initially it was brands with big budgets who could take advantage of this but now it’s more widespread. For whatever reason, it’s viewed as more intrusive than promoted posts on other channels.

Profile: The online representation of an individual’s identity, e.g. your personal Facebook profile or your company’s LinkedIn profile


Quora: This is an online knowledge market that aggregates questions and answers across many topics, and enables users to collaborate on them. It’s one of the more quirky networks.


Real-time: The ability to use social media to take advantage of a live event, planned or otherwise. The ultimate example remains the Oreo ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet during the 2013 Superbowl power outage, probably closely followed by their refusal to indulge in 2014 with their ‘we’re going dark’ tweet. For many brands, real-time is now the social equivalent in 2014 of the viral desire from earlier this decade.


Search engine optimisation (SEO): Social media content can be a significant contributor to your SEO strategy as it drives links to your web pages from external sources. Be careful not to try to force this as google is smart.

Get to the top of search engine results pages with blur’s SEO Service Providers >>

Sentiment: A broad feeling or consensus across the web, normally relating to brand perception (e.g. positive, negative or neutral). Increasingly sentiment monitoring is a vital part of business’s strategies with tools like Radian6 and Klout being used.

Selfie: You know what this is. It’s what mobile phones were invented for: the self image. With over 1 million being taken every day, they make up a significant part of social media content and have formed a part of many a social media campaign competition “Take a selfie showing you and our product”. Not showing any sign of waning.

Share: This is when you ‘share’ specific content with friends or ‘followers’, it could be a blog post, YouTube video or other informational tidbit. It’s a mark of the success of the content, as well as a mark of the engagement. Shares extend your reach and mean that your social efforts are hitting the right spot.

Snapchat: One of the top three iPhone Apps in the world’s biggest consumer markets, Snapchat has a phenomenal uptake in the 12-25 year old demographic. Its popularity is driven by the ‘disappearing’ nature of the information being shared, which while ideal for teenagers not wanting to let everyone know what they’re sharing, means it has limitations for brands wanting to create a network effect. Rumoured to be another Facebook acquisition target.

Social CRM: Taking the traditional CRM and adding in more social traits and information – spearheaded by and their ‘social enterprise’ evolution from their original roots in SAAS CRM.

Social media: What you’re here to learn about! It’s essentially any digital platform that facilitates interaction between users online. It’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, Microblogging and much, much more.

Stumbleupon: One of the most popular ways to ‘social bookmark’ and share content you find interesting.


Tag cloud: A tag cloud is a visual representation of tags attributed to certain blog posts. The most commonly used tags are usually shown in a larger typeface.

Tags: Simply put, tags are keywords attached to any blog post, image or video to help users search topics or media. These can help with search both from search engines and within a website itself.

Timeline: The ‘history view’ of your social activity: for example the tweets from those you follow in one view. Since March 30th 2012 the default is to display your brand’s business Facebook page in Timeline format – having been rolled out to individual users in the last few months. While exposing the ‘gaps’ in your brand pages it also provides a great way to build a bigger brand page and really create the alternative web page that many have looked for in their Facebook pages since they launched.

Troll: Anyone who posts controversial or deliberately offensive or irrelevant messages in any online community.

Tweet: A 140-characters-or-less (including spaces) message posted on Twitter

Twitterverse: Similar to the blogosphere, except this specifically refers to all conversations on Twitter.

Tumblr: One of the most social of all blogging platforms, with its ease of posting and its integration with other networks.


User-generated content (UGC):  A phrase that refers to all material created by ‘the public’, it could be comments on a blog post, videos uploaded to YouTube or any form of interaction on a company’s Facebook fan page and is seen as the mark of success on social. People talking about your brand, rather than your brand talking to people.


Vine: A short format video app that’s owned by Twitter and is becoming the epitome of the perfect piece of brand content.

Viral marketing: A marketing campaign that’s so popular it ‘goes viral’. Social media is often used as part of a viral marketing campaign.


Wall: This is any shared discussion board. Each Facebook account has a ‘wall’, where all comments are ‘public’ to those permitted to view.

Whatsapp: Facebook’s recent acquisition with over 700 million monthly users, it’s another example of the messaging phenomenon that has to some extent taken over the social networking world particularly for the 16-25 age group.

WordPress: Is the most popular Content Management System for bloggers. It’s open-source and can be hotsed ( or un-hosted (


Xing: another professional social network with strong traction in Europe.


Yammer: This is an enterprise social network service that was launched in late 2008. Unlike Twitter, which is used for broadcasting messages to the public, Yammer is used for private communication within organisations or between organisational members and pre-designated groups. It’s basically Twitter and Facebook but for users on the same company domain.


Zeebox: Much has been made of ‘social TV': how popular shows are now driving social media comments and vice versa. Zeebox is an app that has taken that trend and provides a social dashboard from mobile and pc to create the interaction between your television watching and social media habits.

It’s almost impossible to keep up with social media trends and once again, shopping at blur can help you out. Whether you’re dipping your toe into the social media water for your business for the first time, or if you really want to hit the real-time trail, why don’t you find out how easy social media is when you shop at blur.

Simply fill in your requirements below to source a social media specialist quickly and cost-effectively. Alternatively, contact a blur Enterprise Solutions Manager to discuss your requirements.

This glossary has been updated in 2012 and 2014.

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