10 social media buzzwords…and their buzzy meanings

There are plenty of coined phrases out there that signify different elements of the online world. Things like earned mediaconversionsclick-through-rate, or optimization Those of us that work in the digital space have all used them. In fact, we say them all the time. They become so commonplace that the actual meaning behind such words sometimes gets lost, or we so deeply know what we think they mean that we don’t often look through the lens of those that don’t speak our language.

Getting even more zeroed-in, for businesses utilizing social media as a component to their overall marketing, branding, and communications efforts; this is a list of some of the more common social media buzzwords and what they actually mean, in the very simplest of terms:

 1. Content

This really is the WHAT that your brand puts out there. Anywhere. Anything. There is no perfect formula. Your communities and audiences determine what works. Films? Short-format videos? Photos? Blogs? Songs? Stories? It’s all content.  And it’s all part of your brand’s story. There’s a lot of junk out there, so make it count.  Make it something that actually gives people a real reason to consume and connect with your content.  And please stop saying “content is king.” It’s not 2010.

2. Engagement

This, on some level, seems to be every brand’s goal in one way or another with social media. But it’s so vague, just saying “engagement” could mean so many different things. As with others on this list, the definition here depends on what you’re talking about- which social platform or channels you’re dealing with. It could be actions taken by users such as likes, shares and comments, or clicks, or even just views. Or it could be participating in something offline, driven by something that happened online. It’s one of the more buzzy words on this list of buzzwords.

3. Reach

Depending on what social platform you are looking at, or what analytics tool you’re pulling from, this one can have a few slight variations but when it’s all said and done it means the amount of people that saw your content. Typically it’s unique people. Eyeballs. Without reach, your content is going nowhere fast.

4. User-Generated Content (UGC)

This is when real humans create content relevant to brands, that said brands in turn utilize as part of their own content strategy. This has become a mainstream practice over the last few years, especially on social media. Brands can tell their audience all day why and how they’re amazing, but it’s much more authentic to use the voice and real content from people just like you and me, to help tell that part of the brand’s story.

5. Viral

Viral content, or content that spreads like crazy and is consumed and shared by literally everyone you know, in your email, on Facebook, Twitter, and you see it on the news, fifty times, is something that happens based on how contagious people determine the content to be. Think about the Harlem Shake. OK… now stop thinking about the Harlem Shake. Immediately. Thanks.

6. Social ROI

Brands want to know what their return on investment is from their social media efforts, whether that’s actual spending put into the program, or time, or labor, resources, etc. And as with any element of their brand and the marketing around it, they should care about this. Oftentimes this is only associated with sales generated, which is misguided. Specific goals for social and the brand need to be determined early on so it can be measured, and direct sales is typically not one of these goals driven from social media any longer – because that’s not what it’s good at. Are the goals awareness, conversation generation, loyalty, information? Something else? – it can be a number of things. But it needs to be set and agreed upon.

7. Impressions

Whereas reach is typically unique humans that consumed your content, impressions are the total collective times your content was seen by anyone, regardless if Tommy Tryhard clicked on your post constantly all morning and saw it 89 times. Each one of those would count as an impression. This number is usually much higher than reach.

8. Community

Your people. The ones that have taken a liking to your brand, your content, your voice, or maybe they simply just like your logo. Whatever the reason, they’re in your inner brand circle and who you tailor most of your content around. You know a lot about them. They’re current and past customers, targets, and people that have some similar interests. This often gets mixed up with your audience. See #9.

9. Audience

More vast and broader than your community, this is the eyes and ears of your total content reach across the web, social channels, emails, and beyond. Before you have a community, you start with an audience, and the goal is to turn that audience into a community. Or at least a portion. You will always have both simultaneously in some fashion, so it’s important to realize when you are speaking mainly to your specific community that already has a vested interest in and understanding of your brand, or your audience with short attention spans waiting to be captured anew.

10. Influencer

A common misperception is that this simply means someone that has a large following on a particular social media platform. But, just having 30K followers on Twitter does not automatically make you an influencer. Do you have a big voice? Sure. But do you have a big, relevant, and on-brand voice for our brand? That’s where many often get it twisted. Asking someone to blog about your brand that has zero connection, and a native audience that truly wouldn’t care, is not a smart use of an “influencer.” Research needs to be done. The campaign needs to be very detailed with goals and expectations identified. When that happens, it’s a win-win for everyone (brand, influencer, audience).


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