• Jeanine Malan

The Ultimate List of Social Media Terms You Need to Know in 2020

A glossary to help you stay on top of the latest terms & concepts in social media.

It's tough to keep up with all the new terminology and trends in the world of social media. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive list of social media terms and their definitions.

This glossary will help you stay on top of the latest terms and concepts in digital marketing (and understand what the kids are talking about today).



See brand ambassador.


Data, and the patterns found in that data, often used to make marketing or advertising decisions. A website or application gathers data for its analytics using a cookie or other tracking tag that monitors users’ behavior.


Also known as a profile picture, an avatar is a user’s visual representation of themselves, usually a photo, but not always.

Average response time

The amount of time it takes, on average, for a company or individual to reply to a customer’s messages while resolving an issue.



The small portion of any online profile that tells new or prospective followers who you are. All social media platforms offer space to write a bio.


A feature on various social media platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, that allows you to prevent another user from:

  • Following you

  • Sending you a message

  • Tagging you in photos/posts

Brand advocate

A customer who loves your business so much that they essentially become an extension of your marketing team. They evangelize your products or services without being asked, for example.

Brand ambassador

A person, often a celebrity, who is paid to endorse or promote a particular company's products or services and to help increase brand awareness.


Hijacking a person or organisation’s name or likeness to promote an agenda or damage the target’s reputation. Brandjackers don’t hack their targets’ social accounts – instead, they assume a target’s online identity with fake accounts, promoted hashtags, etc.


Call to action (CTA)

A statement designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. It's used in business as part of a marketing strategy to get your target market to respond through action.


A brief description that appears beneath a photo on Instagram or Facebook.


A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. It's often used in messaging apps (such as Facebook Messenger). A chatbot can be used for customer service, data collection, and more.

Click-through rate (CTR)

A common metric for reporting on the number of people who clicked on an online ad after seeing it. It's calculated by dividing the number of people who click after seeing your ad by the total number of impressions your ad received.


A positive action taken on a website, for example a sale, download or newsletter sign-up.

Cover photo

The large, horizontal image at the top of your Facebook profile or page.



A user interface/web page that gives a current summary, usually in graphic, easy-to-read form, of key information relating to progress and performance, especially of a business or website.

Display ad

Typically, small visual ads that are shown on websites. Common formats include images, video, and audio. They can also be text-based.



A small digital image that represents an emotion, thing, concept, etc. Used in text messages, emails and social media.


Interacting with other people on social media. Engagement broadly encompasses many types of actions, from commenting on Instagram posts to sharing LinkedIn posts.

Engagement rate

The percentage of users who saw your social media post and took some type of action (clicked the link, replied, shared, etc.).



A free social networking website that allows registered users to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. Users can create profiles, upload photos and videos, send messages, advertise events and more.

Facebook Live

A Facebook feature that allows you to stream live video to your family, friends, and followers.

Facebook Reactions

Different ways Facebook users can react to posts beyond a simple “like.” Introduced in February 2015, current reactions include: “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry.”


The social media data format that provides users with a steady stream of updates and information on the home pages of the respective social media platforms.


A photographic effect that can be applied to photos, from black-and-white to puppy ears. Many apps with camera integrations allows you to add the effect on the app before publishing the photos, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger.

First response time

The time it takes a company to give its first response to a customer’s comment or inquiry on social media.


An online site, also known as a message board, where people can hold discussions. A forum usually has a specific theme, such as a specific computer game, a sports league or veganism.


A person that you connect with on Facebook or another social network.



Adding a specific location to a social media post or message.


An acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, which refers to a file format that supports both static and animated pictures. GIFs are typically used to portray an emotion or a reaction.

Google Analytics

A web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.



Your online identity, sometimes the same as your username (Nice Touch Media’s Twitter handle is @NiceTouchMedia, for example).


A word/phrase preceded by the “#” sign. Hashtags are a simple way to mark the topic of social media posts and make them discoverable to people with shared interests. On most social networks, clicking a hashtag will reveal recently published posts with that hashtag.

Header image

The banner image at the top of a user’s Twitter profile.


Often, the first page you see when you sign into your social media account. It contains a constantly updating timeline/feed of the user activity and news stories in your network.



The number of times an ad, sponsored update, or promoted post is displayed.


A social media user with a significant audience (not necessarily a celebrity) who can drive awareness about a trend, topic, company, or product.

Influencer marketing

A strategy where a business collaborates with an influential person on social media to promote a product or service.


A free online photo-sharing app that allows for the addition of several filters, editing, and sharing options.


Key performance indicator (KPI)

A measurable value that determines whether a marketing campaign or other initiative is reaching its goals. Examples of KPIs include replies, brand mentions, or click-throughs to a website.


A mobile messaging app. Users connect with others using a username (rather than a cell phone number) to send text, video, images, sketches, and more.



To register one's approval/support of something (such as an social media post or comment) for others to see, by clicking on an icon designed for that purpose.


A social networking website designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow users to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally ("connections").

LinkedIn endorsement

A connection’s recognition of another person’s skill, such as Copy Writing, Programming or Negotiating.

LinkedIn recommendation

A written compliment from a connection that you can display on your LinkedIn profile to impress recruiters and potential clients.


To post comments and participate in Twitter conversations while an event is happening.

Lookalike audience

In digital advertising, a group of users who are similar to people who already interact with your business online.


Marketing automation

A combination of technologies and software platforms that enable people to market personalised content on multiple online channels and to automate repetitive tasks.


An idea that is transmitted from person to person, particularly through social media. From reaction GIFs to Celine Dion’s epic "My Heart Will Go On", memes evoke an emotional response in us and compel us to share, like, or remix them.


An app that allows Facebook users to send one another instant messages through a smartphone.


Publishing smaller, more frequent quantities of content to platforms such as Twitter or Tumblr.



A message alerting you of new social media activity. For example, if someone follows your account on Instagram you can receive a notification on your phone that lets you know.


Pay per click (PPC)

Also known as cost per click (CPC), it is a type of advertising where an organisation pays each time a user clicks on an advertisement. The costs incurred during a PPC campaign depend on the competitiveness of the keyword phrase an organisation is targeting with its ads.


A livestreaming service that allows users to broadcast videos directly from a smartphone (plus a few other devices).


The URL of an individual piece of content.


An attempt to acquire an user's sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card information by electronic communication, usually email or SMS, that appears to be authentic. Also a method of spreading electronic viruses.


A social media platform that acts as a visual organiser for saving and sharing links to sites and other media you like, also known as Pins. Pins are represented by an image and description of your choosing and organized into collections called Pinboards.


A social media status update, or an item on a blog or forum.



A data metric that determines the maximum potential audience for any given content on social media. There are different types of reach:

  • Post reach: How many unique users who saw your post.

  • Page reach: How many users saw any content you posted on your page.

  • Organic reach: How many users saw your content, of their own accord.

  • Paid reach: How many users saw the content on which you spent money to promote.


A popular social networking site where users upvote (positive) or downvote (negative) user-submitted content, from videos and image-based memes to text posts.


Also referred to as behavioral retargeting or behavioral remarketing, it allows online advertisers to target consumers based on their previous interactions with their website, using display ads, social media, etc.

Response rate

A engagement metric to assess how much you are interacting with your audience on social media.

Return on investment (ROI)

See social media ROI.


A tweet (Twitter post) that is reshared to the followers of another user’s Twitter account.

RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication; neither is an official acronym)

A format for syndicating web content. RSS feeds are created in a standard XML format that makes them compatible with a variety of readers and aggregators.



Planning social media updates and content ahead of time, using a social relationship platform (SRP) or another publishing tool. These updates are then set up to post automatically.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

The practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages. Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google might enter when looking for specific products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Increasing the visibility of a web page in a search engine such as Google. It comprises “free” tactics that enhance the search ranking of a page: adding keywords to the page, improving the copy, adding the location, etc.


A self-portrait photo, usually taken with a smartphone and shared on social media apps/sites like Instagram.

Social listening

The process of finding what is being said about a company, topic, brand, or person on social media channels.

Social media management

Technology and business processes for securely managing social media accounts, engaging audiences, and reporting on the results of social media activities.

Social media marketing

The use of social media by marketers to increase brand awareness, identify audiences, generate leads, and build meaningful relationships with customers.

Social media ROI (Return on investment)

Social media ROI is the sum of all social media actions that create value.

Social networking

Socialising in an online community.


Unnecessary and repetitive content, often ads, that fills up inboxes and clutters social media feeds.


Target market

A particular group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed. Target markets determine what ads on social media need to look like.


A string of messages that make up a conversation. Threads begin with an initial message and then continue as a series of replies or comments, for example on Twitter.


A social media user who leaves intentionally annoying/offensive messages or posts on social media platforms or websites, in order to provoke others.


A Twitter post. Tweets are limited to 280 characters of text (including URLs) and could include embedded photos, videos, and some other forms of media.


A social network where users communicate with 280-character messages along with photos, videos, and other content. Twitter is known for real-time discussions on breaking news stories and trends.



Unsubscribing from another user’s account on Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter.


Removing someone from a list of social media contacts on Facebook.

URL (Uniform resource locator)

The location of a website page or other resource on the internet.

User-generated content (UGC)

Media that has been created and published online by the users of a social platform, typically for non-commercial purposes.



The users who have looked at a particular Story on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. To see who has viewed their story, users simply need to click the eye symbol next to their Story.


A person who creates and shares video blogs, especially on YouTube.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)

The transmission of voice and multimedia content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks.



A cross-platform messaging and VoIP service owned by Facebook. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages; make voice and video calls; and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.


A combination of the words “website” and “seminar,” it is a digital broadcast of a presentation intended to educate or inform. Webinars allow users to watch or listen to a presentation from their own electronic device.



The website on which users upload, share and watch videos. Can also be used as a verb to describe the practice of consuming/creating content from/for the website.

Is there a social media term you'd like us to define that isn't on this list? Leave a comment and we'll get back to you soon as we can.

Source: Hootsuite

#socialmedia #socialmediamarketing #digitalmarketing #marketing #glossary #definitions