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What are they talking about? Social media jargon buster – Part One

Social Media Jargon BusterJoin in the conversation

Are you helpless when it comes to hashtags? Lacklustre about likes? Riled about reach? Many businesses know they probably should use to social media to promote their products and services and connect with customers but feel more than a bit flummoxed about where to start, especially when every social media platform seems to come with its own language.

To help you feel more confident about using social media and cutting through the jargon to find the best tools and options for your business, we’ve put together this handy social media jargon buster:


Twitter: Twitter defines itself as: “a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages”.

Handle: This is your Twitter username, which will appear as @username every time you tweet, retweet or reply to a tweet.

Tweet: People can post short updates of 140 characters or fewer – these Tweets are posted to your profile, sent to your followers and searchable using Twitter search. It’s a good idea to keep to fewer than 140 characters so that there’s room for people to add a comment if they retweet.

RT or Retweet: A bit like forwarding an email, a retweet is when people re-send a tweet to their followers that was originally posted by somebody else. When you retweet, the name of the original poster will appear as @username but, if for some reason it doesn’t, it’s always a courtesy to say who authored the tweet.

Twitter retweet

TwitterStream: Like a newsfeed, the TwitterStream is a collection of tweets in chronological order sent by everyone you follow. It can also refer to the public timeline of all tweets.

Following: If there is a person or organisation that you want to hear more from, i.e. read their Tweets, then you can click on the small ‘Follow’ button at the top of their profile; once you follow someone, their Tweets will appear in your TwitterStream

Followers: In the same way, people who want to follow what you have to say will choose to follow you and you will be able to see your followers at the top of your profile page. Your followers will be able to see your Tweets in their TwitterStream

@reply / @name: You can use @username to have a conversation with someone on Twitter. @username either directs a Tweet to someone or indicates in your TwitterStream that there is a reply to a Tweet that someone has sent. You can reply to a Tweet by clicking on the left-pointing arrow below the Tweet.

Twitter reply

DM: This stands for ‘direct message’ – on Twitter, this means a private (direct) tweet you send to another account. DMs do not appear in the public Twitterstream.

Favorite: Under every tweet you’ll see a little star icon, which lets you ‘favorite’ the tweet. This is a great way of bookmarking content you want to read again and ideal for storing testimonials. You can find all the tweets you’ve ‘favorited’ at the top of your profile page under ‘Favorites’

Twitter favourite

#hashtags: Hashtags are one of the most important features on Twitter and often what confuses users at first. You’ve probably noticed that lots of television programmes and films these days publicise a specific hashtag for people who want to tweet about them. Hashtags are also used for events, news, tweets about celebrities, industries, charities and much more.

By using a specific hashtag in your tweet, it’s a way of telling people what it is about. If someone would like to know what other people are saying about the same topic, they can click on the hashtag and see a list of the most recent public tweets (even from people they’re not following).

Twitter hashtag

Trending: You’ll often hear people talking about what’s trending on Twitter – this means the most popular topics being talked about on Twitter at that time. At the time of writing, #iPhone6, #heforshe and #2030NOW are three of the big news stories trending but Twitter is fast moving and it will be different tomorrow!

Discover: You can use the Discover tab to see what’s trending, who to follow and view your recent activity.

Lists: You can group the people you follow on Twitter into lists. For example, you may follow your competitors, journalists, industry influencers, copywriters, designers, virtual assistants. By grouping these into a list, you can then pull together similar tweets into one place.

Twitter hours / Twitter chats: Twitter hours or Twitter chats are a fantastic way to connect with a compatible audience. Essentially, a Twitter hour is a real-time discussion that takes place on the same day and time each week or month.

Each Twitter hour focuses on a particular industry or interest. You’ll find Twitter hours for regional networking, wedding industry professionals, mumpreneurs, dog lovers, wine lovers, business lunch groups, baby and toddler groups, coaches, charities, car traders and vegetarians, plus many, many more.

To participate in a Twitter hour, you need to use the chat’s designated hashtags in your Tweets. You can also search for the hashtag to see and respond to what everyone else in the Twitter hour is posting.

Twitter hours are very much about online networking and connecting with like-minded people. A search in Google for ‘Twitter hours’ will bring up blog posts featuring some fantastic Twitter hour lists.

Verified accounts: Twitter seems to be the one social media platform embraced by celebrities. But how do you know you’re following the real deal? Verified accounts are Twitter’s way of showing that the authenticity of the account has been checked and the celebrity or business is who it says it is.


Profile: Your Facebook profile is for personal use only. Facebook can and frequently does shut down personal profiles that are being used to promote businesses.

Friend: A friend is someone you have connected with via Facebook, giving them permission to view your profile.

Privacy: You can lockdown your Facebook privacy settings on your personal profile to various levels across all the features of the platform letting your close friends and family see everything you post while restricting what your acquaintances see. How you set your privacy is entirely up to you.

Page: If you run a business, you can create a Facebook page. It looks very similar to a profile but has different features and capabilities designed to help you connect with your existing and potential customers. Each page has an administrator or administrators to whom you can give permission to be able to add updates.

Status: At the top of your personal profile or business page, there is a ‘Status’ section where you can add text, a photo, video, event or offer. Your status is essentially a micro-blogging feature where you can inform your friends or ‘likers’ of your current whereabouts, actions or thoughts. People often use their Facebook page to post advice, product or service information, inspirational quotes, news and memes (pronounced ‘meems’ – a meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads from person to person via the internet).

Cover photo: This is the large image (815px by 315px) that runs across the top of your profile or page.

Facebook cover

Profile picture: This is the picture of you (168px by 140px) that sits to the bottom right of your cover photo. It’s a good idea to feature a picture of your or your team even on your business page, rather than a logo, as it lets customers see the human face behind the brand.

Likes: On Facebook, you’ll notice that under each post, people have the opportunity to Like, Comment or Share. Someone clicks ‘Like’ to let the poster know that they appreciated the content. To some extent, likes are the life blood of businesses on Facebook. If someone wants to see more of the content you post, they need to like your page.

Newsfeed: Your newsfeed brings together posts from your friends, groups and the pages you have liked. Facebook won’t show you every post from everyone automatically – there would simply be too much content – so it uses complex algorithms to decide what you probably want to see.

If you want to guarantee that you’ll see every update from a specific page or person, then once you have liked a page, click on the ‘Liked’ pull down menu (which is in the same place as the like button above) and choose ‘Get Notifications’.

Reach: Unfortunately, just because someone likes your business page, it doesn’t mean that they’ll see every post from you. Why is this? Imagine a Facebook user likes 100 different business pages and has 300 Facebook friends. What if each of these posted three times a day? That is potentially 1,200 different statuses, pictures, videos and links the Facebook would need to show on the person’s newsfeed; no-one could get through this mountain of content.

Instead, Facebook has to decide which content each user would most like to see. If someone regularly interacts with your business page – liking, commenting on and sharing your content – then Facebook will show them your posts more frequently than if they hardly ever interact with your page. You might have 1,000 likers but find that your posts are being seen by just 50 people – this is called your ‘Organic reach’. If you can get more people interacting with your content, your organic reach will increase.

Comments: Under most posts on Facebook, there’s space for people to leave a comment. This might be to join in a discussion or leave a compliment. Facebook gives more weight to comments than likes, so get your likers talking and your organic reach should go up.

Shares: Social media is all about forging relationships and being ‘social’. As a business, your challenge is to create unique content and post pre-existing content from other people and companies that gets people talking and spreading the word about you. Shares seem to have the highest traction in terms of organic reach on Facebook at the moment.

Admin: If you create a Facebook page, you will have ‘Admin’ rights to post to the page and like, comment, share and interact as the page itself. You can set up Admin rights for your team members or a couple of friends in case you need someone to maintain the page while you’re busy.

Insights: Facebook offers some great tools to page admins; these are called ‘Insights’ and are the Facebook equivalent of Google Analytics. Keep an eye on your insights to track the number of page views, unique views, total interactions, wall posts, discussion topics, fans, new fans, reviews, photo views, best performing posts, best time to post, the demographics of your fans and much more.

Ads: Over the past year, business owners have noticed the organic reach of their pages dropping significantly. These days, the only sure-fire way to get your page or individual posts seen by potential customers is to pay for Facebook advertising. Various Facebook ad options are available, included ‘Boosted posts’ and they can be remarkably affordable.

Apps / Applications: As on a smartphone or tablet, you can add apps to your Facebook profile, pages and groups. There are hundreds to choose from, some made by Facebook and some by third parties. With the current Facebook page layout, three apps are visible – this is an ideal place to include your newsletter sign up, Trip Advisor reviews, a free ebook, Twitter feed, Pinterest link or one of your flagship services, to name just a few ideas.

Chat: Chat is a feature that lets you have a real-time, private text chats with Facebook friends who are online.

Event: If you are running an event, such as a workshop, webinar or conference, you can create an Event in Facebook and add it to your profile, pages and groups, as well as sending out invitations to attend to your Facebook friends. This calendar-based resource lets you advertise what’s happening; people can say whether or not they plan to attend and even chat with other attendees.

Interest lists: Much like lists on Twitter, you can create an interest list of Facebook and add business pages to specific lists. For example, you might have a list for wedding professionals, bloggers, clothing companies, gift companies, dog-orientated pages; how you structure and name your lists is up to you. This is a great way of keeping content from similar pages in one place.

Friend finder: You can use the Facebook Friend Finder to look for present and former friends, family, co-workers, classmates and acquaintances.

Group: A group is not a page or a profile, instead it provides a space for people with a common interest to come together. Many businesses and charities use groups to promote their activities. Group privacy settings can range from open, which means friends of people in the group can read posts even if they’re not in the group themselves, to secret where the privacy is locked down and people can’t even search for the group.

For businesses running membership clubs and training programmes, groups are a great way of providing a confidential community and giving one-to-one support.

Inbox: This is the Facebook mail application where other Facebook users can send you private messages. Your main inbox is where messages from your friends will be saved but there is also an ‘Other’ inbox for messages from people to whom you’re not connected.

Notes: You can add notes and articles to your profile using Notes.

Photos: Facebook lets you upload albums of photos, tag friends and comment on your own photos and on other people’s images. Photos tend to be well received on Facebook pages.

Wall: Your wall is the space on your profile or page that shows your statuses and allows friends and users to post messages to you for all to see.

Hashtags: Hashtags are a relatively new feature on Facebook but work on the same principle as hashtags on Twitter. You can click on a hashtag in a Facebook post to read other people’s posts about the same thing.

Trending: As on Twitter, Facebook shows us which topics are trending. This information appears to the top right hand side of your newsfeed when you’re viewing on a desktop.

Look out for the second part of our Jargon Buster in a future post which will help you lift the lid on LinkedIn, and put Pinterest in to perspective.


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