Over the past few years, social media—and consequently social media marketing—has grown rapidly out of its infancy, jumping unceremoniously to the confused-and-defiant-adolescent stage in its life. Like with any awkward teenager, this stage comes with the creation of its own language—one that even the trendiest kids struggle to keep up with.
Luckily we’re here to help you decode what those young whippersnappers are jiving about.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a few key social media marketing terms and what they really mean for you:
Social Media (noun):
1. A nebulous place, such as a web app or platform, in which individuals and organizations communicate and share content.
2. Here is Wikipedia’s list of 211 current social networks, not including defunct networks, dating websites, or Wikipedia itself.
While “social media” feels like a logical place to start, it’s also perhaps the hardest term on this list to actually define.
In an increasingly interconnected world, both online and offline, the lines between social and other forms of media are rapidly blurring. Need proof? Think of three social media platforms. Got em? Good. Did Twitter make your list? Because Twitter would say you’re wrong.
See? It’s tricky, and ultimately a distinction you’ll have to make for yourself.
Stuff. Synonyms: pictures, videos, tweets, blog posts, snaps, infographics, editorials, etc., etc., etc.
Social media goes hand in hand with the creation and sharing of content. Modern consumers have largely shunned traditional sales and advertising messages, instead demanding something more substantive—something that provides some benefit, entertainment, value, or utility. This is the backbone of content marketing.
Content can come in any form and should hold your audience’s needs at the same level of importance as your organization’s business goals.
Meme (mēm, noun):
1. Cultural phenomenon.
2. A vehicle to communicate an idea or concept, oftentimes humorously, through the use of a symbolic image or other media.
One of the most popular manifestations of content on social media is that of the meme. Memes are essentially familiar content templates, images, or phrases that allow for messages and ideas to be communicated, absorbed, and shared quickly. While memes can be a great way for brands to stay relevant in pop culture, pronounce the word “meme” wrong or use a popular meme incorrectly, and prepare to experience the wrath of your fans.
A clever way for social networks to make brands pay for impressions.
Facebook, Twitter, and now even Instagram have rolled out algorithms in which the content a user sees in their feed is dependent on a number of factors, including: the type of media being shared, the relationship between the person posting and the audience, the user’s interests/preferences/past behaviors, and a bunch of other secret criteria.
Really this just means that these big social networks have become a pay-to-play platform. If you’re still holding on to hope that your exceptionally incredible piece of content will go viral based on merit alone, it’s time to face a different reality—if you want your content seen, it will require some budget to support your content.
The attention and/or interaction gained from your content. Adj: Engaging
Here’s a term that makes social media folks grimace, because it’s often used as a catch-all buzzword. Its real meaning is open for broad interpretation and dependent on the real goals at hand. Ultimately, engagement can be any metric of activity, such as liking, commenting, sharing, retweeting, time spent in view, or hover rate—but it’s up to you, the social media marketer, to determine what engagement actually means for your content, and then using those words instead of engagement.