20 Common Social Media Terms Explained

These definitions aren't necessarily in the dictionary... Image courtesy of Flickr user greeblie.The first time I heard social media professionals conversing during my first internship, I felt like I had accidentally stepped aboard the Starship Enterprise—social media jargon can sound a lot like alien languages from Star Trek. Over time, I collected definitions of all the phrases that were commonly used so I could join in on the conversation with my coworkers. Hopefully this mini-glossary can define a few social media terms for others like me—people that don’t want to be left out of the next conversation with their social media savvy friends and coworkers.

It’s worth noting that there are a few other social media glossaries online with a lot more terms and technical explanations. However, important concepts can get lost in the hundreds of self-explanatory terms like “comment,” “Facebook,” and “computer.” I’m intentionally skipping similar terms with the assumption that most readers at least have a basic understanding of these concepts. Additionally, even glossaries that are only a year old can be outdated because the social media industry is always changing and professionals constantly add new words to their vocabulary.

Hope this helps!


Aggregator – An aggregator is a system that collects information from different places and platforms and displays the collected content in one place. The web tool Paper.li is a great example of one particular type of aggregator—a news aggregator. It takes different links from online news sources that people share on social networks and aggregates them into one digital “newspaper”.

Analytics – Website analytics is the collection, measurement, analysis, and reporting of Internet data to understand who the website visitors are and how to optimize the site.

Bitly – Bitly is a link shortening tool/service. Before Twitter auto-shortened links, posting URLs could be difficult as they took up a lot of space. Bitly turns a long URL into a shorter one (as seen below) thus saving space.


Blogosphere – The blogosphere is the collective blog universe—all of the blogs and blog communities on the Internet.

Cloud computing – Cloud computing, often called just “the cloud,” refers to the ability of users to access their data from anywhere rather than being tied to a particular machine.

Editorial calendar (sometimes known as a “content calendar”) – Editorial calendars are used by bloggers, publishers, and businesses to plan content creation and publication of that content across different media. They are an efficient way of planning when to publish articles over a period of time.

Geolocation – Geolocation describes a variety of tools that allow users to record their physical location through social media or applications. One common way to use geolocation is to annotate other social media platforms with location-based data to record your location. There are many platforms designed entirely around geolocation, including foursquare.

Hashtag – A hashtag is used on Twitter as a way to annotate a message—a word or phrase preceded by a “#.” It can be used to show that a message is related to a certain topic when that keyword is not in the tweet itself.  Consider the tweet:


The hashtag “#SuperBowl” lets us know that the tweet is related to the Super Bowl, even though the phrase was not mentioned in the normal text of the tweet. Hashtags are searchable using Twitter Search.

HTML – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a programming language for web pages.

Metadata – Metadata is data that provides information about other data. This information can be titles, descriptions, tags or captions—something that describes a media item such as a video, photo or blog post. Metadata is often included in HTML, allowing search engines to read the description of a page to help provide relevant search results.

OG tags – The Open Graph protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph. Simply put, Open Graph (OG) tags are included in the metadata of a webpage. When a user shares that webpage on a social network like Facebook, the OG tags tell Facebook what to display in regards to the title of the page, description of the page, etc.

Permalink – A permalink is a direct link to a blog entry. This link is commonly created with tags like the post year, month, post category, or post name. This page’s permalink is http://andrewgrojean.com/2012/01/20-common-social-media-terms-explained/, made up of the year, month and post name.

This is what a QR code looks like! Some have been known to contain secret messages...

QR codes – A quick response code (QR code) is a two-dimensional matrix barcode readable by QR scanners and smartphones. The codes can contain URLs, contact information or just blocks of text (like seen to the right).

RSS – Really Simple Syndication (RSS), sometimes called web feeds, is a method for the delivery of content including blog entries, news articles, images, and video — enabling readers to stay current with favorite publications without having to browse from site to site. All blogs (including this one) contain an RSS feed, which lets users subscribe to content automatically.

sCRM – Social customer relationship management (sCRM) is just a way of adding  social media to the business strategy known as customer relationship management. CRM is a complex concept that has many goals including retaining existing customers and attracting new ones. Some professionals aren’t fond of using the term social CRM, but it has become a buzzword in the digital marketing field. See the entry for CRM on Wikipedia for more detailed information.

Search Engine Optimization – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines like Google using “natural” methods like crafting key words or tags for a blog post. The goal for companies using SEO is to have the top search result when key terms or phrases are searched without paying for it through advertising.

Troll – The term troll is Internet slang for a person who posts false, inflammatory, or idiotic comments with the goal of disrupting the online experience of other users or attempting to cause trouble for corporations. The term can be used as a noun or a verb. (ie. There are many reasons people troll online—none of them are justified.)

Web 2.0 – Web 2.0 is the second generation of the World Wide Web. This era is defined by the ease of content creation by the everyman. Platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Blogger enable the average consumer to broadcast their thoughts, and reach a potentially wide audience.

Widget – A widget is a small block of content, typically displayed in a small box, with a specific purpose like providing weather forecasts or displaying recent Tweets, that is constantly updating itself. Widgets make it easy to add dynamic content to a website or blog.

Vlog – Vlog simply means video blog—a blog that contains video entries. Some people call it video podcasting or vodcasting.


Do you have a counter-interpretation to any of these terms? As always, I welcome any feedback and comments!


About Andrew Grojean

Andrew is a Social Media Manager at a digital marketing agency in KC, interested in all things social media, pop culture, sports, and technology.

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  1. Did you add QR codes because I asked about them? I feel special.

    • Hi Drew, thanks for the comment! Yes, you and a few others inspired me to add a few terms (like QR codes, bitly, and permalinks) because I had been asked about them within the last week. Thanks for the inspiration, and I hope I was able to answer your question!

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