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Social Media Glossary

Learn the language of social media marketing

Are you confused by all the social media marketing lingo and terms? We're here to help with this glossary of terms. Master these and you'll be a social media know-it-all.

Social Media Definitions

Aggregator
A web-based tool or application that collects syndicated content.
Angie's List
A site, founded by Angie Hicks, where users can rate and review service companies in their area.
API
Short for Application Programming Interface, this is a programming format that a website or piece of software uses to allow other websites to interact with it. For example, Constant Contact's Join My Mailing List app for Facebook (http://apps.facebook.com/ctctjmml) was created using an API that integrates Facebook and Constant Contact.
App
Short for Application, this is a program or add-on, usually for Facebook or for a mobile device (i.e., an iPhone or Blackberry). Its purpose is to deepen user interaction and provide greater depth of functionality and engagement. An example is the Constant Contact Join My Mailing List app for Facebook (http://apps.facebook.com/ctctjmml), or the Facebook app for the iPhone and Android phone.
Avatar
An online picture that's associated with your social media accounts. Business people typically use a headshot for personal accounts, while companies and organizations use their logo.
Bit.ly
One of many sites that generate shorter URLs that can be used for posting links on Twitter, and other sites where users are limited to specific character lengths. Users paste the long URL into a text box and the site generates one that is shorter. The service is free, but businesses can sign up for an account that will let them create a more personalized short URL. For example, Constant Contact links are shortened to http://conta.cc/. (Other URL shortner websites include tinyurl.com, ow.ly, and is.gd.)
Blog
There are a lot of different definitions for a blog, but put simply, a blog (short for "web log") is a website or part of a website where you can post regular entries of opinion pieces, news, case studies, your email newsletter archive, or anything else you want to share with your customers or prospects. The best blogging platforms provide an indexable content management system that makes it easy for you to categorize and publish content (ie: "posts"). Your blog posts can provide the content you need to fuel your email newsletter and other social media marketing efforts. Blogs can also be distributed outside of a website context by RSS feed.
Blogroll
A list of recommended blogs on a person or business' blog site.

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Comments
Many social media sites encourage readers and viewers to leave comments on what has been posted, whether it's a quick status message, a video, an article, or a picture. Some sites, like Facebook, use the number of comments to determine how a post is included in a person's news feed. On YouTube, video "owners" have the ability to turn off comments for an individual video.
Crowdsource
The practice of asking a collection of individuals online for opinions, suggestions, or submissions. For example, you might not be able to choose between two newsletter articles, so you'd ask the people who Like you on Facebook or are following you on Twitter which one you should include. Or you can simply post both stories to Facebook and Twitter and discover which one resonates most based on the number of Likes, shares, comments, or retweets. Crowdsourcing can also be helpful if you're planning an event and can't decide on a date or location, or if you're looking for suggestions for a vendor.
Embedding
The act of adding code to a website so that a video or photo can be displayed on that site while being hosted by another. For example, YouTube provides a simple snippet of HTML code that can be used to embed a copy of any video on a website or blog. The video will play inside a YouTube-branded player. Owners have the ability to turn embedding off, but that limits the viral potential of a given video.
Engaged
People who interact with a business or organization or an individual (on social networks, in email, etc.) by posting comments and sharing content are said to be engaged. (See also "Lurker.")

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Facebook
The largest of the social networks (it boasts more than 500 million active users), Facebook has become a favorite destination for people, businesses, and organizations to connect and share information because of its easy-to-use interface and interactive features. It's the most multimedia-friendly of the big three networks as members can post text, pictures, audio, and video. It also offers tons of applications and widgets that can make your Facebook Page engaging and fun.
Commenting
Just about everything posted to Facebook has a comment field below it for you, Friends, and fans to post a response and facilitate a conversation. When comments are left on personal profile updates, the owner gets an email notification. However, Page comments do not have email alerts associated with them, so it's vital to check back regularly to see if customers are leaving comments and to respond appropriately. Alternatively, you can sign up for a free NutshellMail account, to receive a daily update of new comments and activity posted to your Facebook Page.
Fan
This is the term that was used for someone who chose to connect with a Page. Facebook no longer uses the term; currently, when someone chooses to connect with a Page, he or she "likes" it, rather than becoming a fan. (See "Like.") While most people will know what you mean when you ask them to "Become a Fan" on Facebook, the preferred terminology is for you to ask someone to "Find" or "Like" you on Facebook.
Friend
When you want to connect with someone on Facebook through a personal profile, you "friend" them. The friend connection is two-way, meaning both parties have to agree before the connection is made. (See also "unfriending.")
Like
The "Like" button is now ubiquitous on Facebook (and off). The Like button provides a simple way for Facebook users to share their approval or endorsement with their network of friends. Users can Like a Page as a way of providing a recommendation or they can simply Like an individual post, picture, or video to provide a virtual thumbs up. You may have noticed Like buttons on non-Facebook websites. This is a great way to get visitors to your website or blog to recommend your business or an individual post with their Facebook network. (You can learn how to add a "Like" button to your website here: http://www.facebook.com/badges). You can also add a "Like" button to your email newsletter to help amplify your voice and extend your message beyond the inbox; but we make it easy for you by automatically adding a Like and Share button to any newsletter you send through Constant Contact.
Message
Messages are private notes sent between users. They're only viewable to the sender and recipients. It's pretty much like sending an email but with an address book that is limited to your Facebook friends. Note: Facebook does not allow you to send a private message to anyone who Likes your Page.
News Feed
What Facebook calls all the items that your friends and the businesses/organizations you Like have posted. Users have two ways to view this content: You can see "Most Recent" items (i.e., everything that's been posted) or "Top News" items (i.e., those that have been most commented on).
Page
A Page (previously referred to as a Fan or Business Page) is the recommend platform for your business or organization to connect with new people and engage with your existing customers in an open dialog. The benefit of a Page is that customers can follow it by hitting the "Like" button without the connection having to be reciprocated. When you post a comment to your Page, it will show up in your fans' news feed, for all their friends to read and share. You can create an incredible network effect by posting interesting and valuable content and promotions to your Page.
Personal profile
Any individual who is on Facebook has a personal profile: it's the focal point for the entire network. Your profile page contains all your pertinent information and is how others find and connect with you on Facebook. Through your profile, you can share status updates, photos, videos, links, and other content. Plus, friends can comment on your posts. Businesses, organizations, and celebrities are recommended to create a Page rather than a personal profile.
Places
Facebook's geo-location feature allows users to check in wherever they are. As opposed to similar services like Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook Places allows users to tag their friends who are also at a location, giving businesses and organization an even better indication of who is visiting their establishment or attending their event. (Note: Facebook users can choose to block themselves from being tagged if they wouldn't want that kind of information to be revealed.)
Privacy Settings
Facebook has a myriad of privacy settings that you can use to control who sees what. Note that Facebook changes the range of settings and their defaults from time to time. It's good to keep an eye on any changes to Facebook's Terms of Service.
Share
Sharing is synonymous with posting or publishing. You can publish text, links, photos, videos, and events on Facebook using the share box at the top of your profile (it says, "What's on your mind?" inside the box). After entering your text, you have the option to upload a photo, video, or insert a link. When sharing a link, Facebook will automatically include the title, description, and an image (if available) from the page you're linking to. If there are multiple images on the page, you have the option to select which image you want to use as the thumbnail. You can also change the specific text that is displayed by clicking on it. In addition, when you share content to your Wall, your fans and friends can then Like, comment on, or share the content with their friends. The share feature is what makes publishing content to Facebook so powerful. By sharing great content, you can encourage your friends and fans to syndicate your message, creating a powerful network effect.
Tabs
Along the top of a Facebook profile or page, tabs separate out areas of content. Customers can add additional tabs using pre-built applications or by building their own. [To find interesting tabs to add to your Page or Profile, check out Appbistro (http://appbistro.com)]
Tag
You can tag friends in pictures, places, videos, and in text, which places a link from the item to their profile. Tagging a person's face in one of your own photos will allow that person's friends to see your photo, depending on the tagged person's privacy settings.
Unfriending
Disconnecting with someone on Facebook. When you unfriend someone, the person does not get notice that you have done so.
Wall
This is your own profile page and the updates it contains. People can write updates on your wall that are viewable by all your friends.
Wall to Wall
Notes written between you and someone else that are viewable to anyone who is connected to you and the other friend. Think of it as being able to eavesdrop on a public conversation; writing on someone else's wall means that anyone you're connected to can read what you wrote.

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Flickr
An online photo sharing site owned by Yahoo!, Flickr lets individual users upload photos and short videos to their account and share them in photo groups based on a certain subject. Free accounts have monthly upload limits and other usage restrictions.
Groups
Areas in Flickr where people with similar interests can share their photos with other like-minded people. Groups also have a discussion thread function for sharing ideas, tips, and more.
Foursquare
A geo-location service that allows users to check in at businesses and other locations, earning badges and other virtual rewards along the way. Users can share their check ins with fellow Foursquare friends as well as through their social media networks if they choose. Businesses can use Foursquare to see who their regular customers are and offer special deals to them. Foursquare is a competitor of Gowalla.
Badge
A fun virtual "token" that Foursquare awards its users for certain behaviors, or for attending certain events. For example, users can unlock the "Bender" badge if they check in four nights in a row. Businesses can also sponsor badges for those attending special events.
Check in
The act of saying "I'm here" on geo-location services like Foursquare and Gowalla
Mayor
The person who checks in at a given location the most on Foursquare is deemed the "Mayor." This can entitle the person to special deals and discounts, if the business has established them. Other Foursquare users can "oust" the Mayor and claim the title simply by checking in one more time.

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Geo-location
Term used to track the physical location of people or objects. Typically used in mobile applications and services such as Foursquare and Gowalla.
Geo-tagging
When you add location-based data to a photo, video, or tweet to identify where the content was posted.
Google Alert
A service offered by Google that allows users to save specific searches and receive an update whenever a new result appears on the Internet for that particular search, typically delivered by email or RSS. This is particularly useful for businesses or organizations that wish to monitor mentions of their brands on blogs and websites.
Gowalla
A geo-location service that allows users to check in at various businesses and locations, while sharing their adventures with friends and earning badges and rewards in the process. Business can use Gowalla to see who their regular customers are and offer special deals to them. Gowalla is a competitor of Foursquare.

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HootSuite
A service that allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to monitor, manage, and schedule their social media marketing activity.
LinkedIn
Often described as the more professional of the big three social media networks, LinkedIn lets you connect with friends, colleagues, and other people you've worked or done business with. Your profile on the network is akin to an online resume, complete with the ability for others to write recommendations for you. Like with Facebook, connections made on LinkedIn must be verified by both parties. Companies can have their own profile pages on the site, and there are group features available to build discussion areas around a central topic.
Companies
Pages designed for businesses that want a presence on LinkedIn. Company pages can be used to list all employees of an organization with accounts on LinkedIn.
Connections
There are three degrees of connections on LinkedIn. 1st-degree connections are people that you have mutually agreed to connect with on the network. 2nd- and 3rd-degree connections are people that are connected to your 1st-degree connections, but not directly with you. One of the benefits of LinkedIn is that 1st-degree connections can be used to introduce you to 2nd- and 3rd-degree connections.
Groups
Groups connect people with a similar interest and include shared discussion threads and other tools. Some groups require verification to join, but you do not have to be connected to everyone in the group.
Job Posts
LinkedIn runs its own job board. Users can post or search for jobs on the site. When searching for jobs, LinkedIn will automatically show you any connections you might have in common with the company looking to hire.
Q&A
Allows users to post questions to their network of connections. You can also answer questions posted by friends and colleagues on the site. Answering questions is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in a given area.
Status Update
Like with Twitter and Facebook, you can write a quick post to update your network of connections on what is happening. LinkedIn users can also set their Twitter updates to feed their LinkedIn status updates.
Live-blogging
Term used to describe when someone reports "live" from an event by posting short entries to a blog during the event. (See also "live-tweeting.")
Lurker
Someone on social networks who simply listens and watches, but doesn't participate in conversations or the activity on the site.

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Microblogging
The act of broadcasting very short messages to an audience, such as on Twitter, where posts are limited to 140 characters each. Other microblogging services include Plurk and Jaiku.
MySpace
One of the first big social media networks, it's now mainly used by music acts and other entertainers. MySpace uses many of the same conventions as Facebook. It's not recommended for businesses outside the entertainment industry.
Network
This can refer to a social network like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or the people you are connected to on those sites.
Ning
A fee-based online community site that lets customers create their own social networks. Customers can create blogs, video sharing sites, show photos, create user forums, hold group chats, and more with Ning.
NutshellMail
A free Constant Contact service that is a like a digital video recorder (DVR) for your social media networks. NutshellMail keeps track of all the happenings on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts and emails you a digest of updates on a schedule that you choose. For example, it eliminates the need to keep checking into Facebook 20 times a day. All the latest updates are right there in your inbox to read on your time.
Digest
The scheduled NutshellMail email that contains all the recent updates from your social media networks.
Quitters
Nutshellmail lets you know when people unfollow you on Twitter.

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Podcast
Audio programs or recordings that are syndicated online. They can be streamed or downloaded. Many are posted on and downloadable from iTunes.
Poke
A very low-impact touch on a social network, often used when two people aren't officially connected, but one of them wants to be.
RSS
Literally, this stands for Really Simple Syndication. An RSS feed allows the content from regularly updated websites (like blogs or podcasts) to be aggregated and posted to one website (often called a "reader") or mobile device. Choosing to follow an RSS feed is often referred to as "subscribing" to it.

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Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
A marketing tactic that, when combined with SEO, helps a business or organization attract customers, generate brand awareness, and build trust by increasing its website's visibility. This is done through the purchase of pay-per-click advertisements and paid inclusion in search engine results.
Sentiment
A level of assessment that determines whether the tone of an article, blog post, tweet, or other content is positive, neutral, or negative.
SEO
Search Engine Optimization. This is the process for improving the chance that a webpage will rank high in the results for a specific search query. Different search engines use different algorithms for how they rank results, but some ways to improve results include using qualified keywords (i.e., frequently searched-for keywords) in headlines and first paragraphs of blog posts, and naming photos and videos with those same keywords. There are also many on- and off-page technical considerations.
Share
To post or re-post content on a social media site is to share it. Facebook specifically has a Share option, which allows you to post someone else's content on your page. On Twitter, this is called re-tweeting.
Share Button/Bar
A feature that people can add to their website or an email that will allow the content to be easily shared on a variety of social media sites. Popular, free share buttons/bars have been created by Addthis (http://addthis.com).
Slideshare
An online community for sharing presentations. You can upload PowerPoint and Keynote presentations, Word and PDF documents, and video to the site for sharing publicly or privately.
Social Bookmarks
Websites where users can store, search, organize, and share web-based content. Some examples are Delicious (http://delicious.com), Digg (http://digg.com), Posterous (http://posterous.com), and StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com).
Social Media Marketing
Building your social network fans, followers, and connections using relevant and interesting content that is shared, allowing you to reach and engage more people and drive more business.
Social Media
Tools that allow the sharing of information and creation of communities through online networks of people.
Social Networks
The social media sites (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) where people connect and interact with friends, colleagues, businesses, and organizations.

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TweetDeck
A service that allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to monitor, manage, and schedule their social media marketing activity.
Twitter
The social media network based on 140-character micro-blog posts. Users post short updates that can be seen by anyone, even if they are not logged into the site. Posts can only include text and links; any multimedia content (photos, video, audio) must be linked to. The people who follow you will see your updates in their timeline when they log in. Unlike with Facebook, you do not have to confirm or reciprocate the follower connection, meaning people can follow your updates without you have to see theirs.
DM/Direct Message
A private note between two users on Twitter. The person receiving the message must follow the person sending it and the message is bound by the 140-character limit.
Follow
The act of connecting with someone on Twitter. People who have elected to follow you will see your tweets in their timeline. You are not obligated to follow people back and you have the ability to block followers (usually used only for spammers) from seeing your posts.
Following
Electing to see someone's tweets in your own timeline. Follow people and companies that you're interested in hearing from.
Handle
Your Twitter username is referred to as your handle, and is identified with the @ symbol. For example, Constant Contact's handle is @constantcontact. The @ is used to refer to a specific person and link to that account on Twitter within a tweet. If you want to reference Constant Contact within a tweet, you would use our handle in your post. (Advanced tip: When you use an @ reference as the first word in a tweet, only those of your followers who follow you and the user you're referencing will see the tweet. If you want all of your followers to see a Tweet that references another user, use another word prior to the @ reference.)
Hashtag
Words preceded by a # sign (i.e., #ctctsocial) can be used to tie various tweets together and relate them to a topic, be it a conference, TV show, sporting event, or any happening or trend of your choosing. Twitter automatically links all hashtags so users can search for other tweets using the same tag.
Lists
A way to combine select people you follow on Twitter into a smaller feed. A list can be made up of friends, competitors, people in the same state: anything you want. Lists let you view a slice of your followers at a time and are a great way to focus on specific folks when you're following a large number of people.
Live-tweeting
The practice of documenting an event through tweets that are posted while an event is in progress. (See also "live-blogging.")
Photo sites
In order to share photos on Twitter, you have to upload them somewhere and link to them. Sites like twitpic.com, tweetphoto.com, and yfrog.com are all popular for quickly uploading and sharing pictures on Twitter. You can use the links to these photos on sites other than Twitter.
RT/Retweet
This is the Twitter equivalent of forward-to-a-friend. When someone posts something you find interesting, you can retweet it and share it with all the people who follow you.
Since the majority of tweets are public, you can use Twitter's search feature to look for tweets containing a keyword or phrase. The search results will update in real time with any new tweets that contain the word or phrase searched on.
Timeline
The chronological listing of all tweets in a given feed, be it your own, in a list, or another user's.
Trending Topics
Along the right side of the main web interface, Twitter lists 10 topics that are "hot" on Twitter at the given moment based on certain algorithms. You can see trending topics for all of Twitter or for certain geographic areas. Beware: trending topics are sometimes gamed by people trying to promote pop culture references that aren't truly trending topics. And some businesses now pay for their product to be a trending topic (Disney was one of the first, for Toy Story 3.)
Tweet
What posts are called on Twitter.
Tweetup
A term for events (i.e., meetups) that spring from Twitter connections. Tweetups are typically informal gatherings that let Twitter followers meet in real life, and coordinators often use a hashtag to unite tweets related to the event.
Twitterverse
A fun term used to describe the world of Twitter
Unfollow
By unfollowing someone, you no longer receive their updates in your own timeline.

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Unconference
A collaborative learning event that is organized and created by and for its participants.
URL
The technical term for a web address, e.g.: www.constantcontact.com. (URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.)
Vlog
A blog that contains videos instead of text entries.
Viral
When a piece of content on the Internet is shared organically, without prodding or encouragement from the business, organization, or person who created it, it is said to have "gone viral." This means it has been shared on social networks, posted and reposted, tweeted and retweeted multiple times.
Webinar
A web-based seminar, where the presentation, lecture, or workshop is transmitted over the Internet instead of in person.
Widget
Similar to an app, a widget is a small block of content that one provider can offer to another, for use on another blog or website. Widgets have a specific purpose such as showing weather forecasts, stock quotes, or news updates and are constantly updated by the creator of the widget, not someone who hosts it on his site.
Wiki
A type of user-generated and -edited website where multiple people can write and manage the content. A great example of this concept is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia.
Yelp
An online directory that lets customers review local businesses, including restaurants, dentists, mechanics, and more. The site is free to join for users and business owners.
YouTube
A video sharing site owned by Google. Users can freely upload their own video content to the site (you must have the rights to the content), as long as it is less than 10 minutes in length and the file is less than 100MB is size. YouTube makes it easy for people to embed videos on their own site or blogs, which helps with viral marketing efforts. Google results include YouTube videos as well.
Channel
The home page for each account's own video collection (e.g., http://www.youtube.com/constantcontact). You can customize a channel with your own logo, description, and colors. YouTube does have premium options for greater channel branding, customization, and promotion.

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