The Ultimate List of Social Media Marketing Definitions

January 15, 2015

The meaning of every social media marketing term that you’re afraid to ask

social_media_marketing_definitionsSocial media marketing is full of buzzwords and new jargon that it can be hard to keep up with the lingo. To help you stay up-to-date on all things social media we’ve created the ultimate social media marketing glossary.

API (Application Programming Interface)

An API is “a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications” or more simply stated an API enables one application to interact with another application. Content aggregation, posts and user data from social networks like Instagram and Twitter is done by connecting with their API.


Social media activation is the process used to promote and grow awareness for a specific campaign or marketing push. There are many different tactics that can be used for social media activation depending on the campaign.


Social media analytics is the process of measuring and analyzing the social media posts and interactions on a specific topic. This is a useful practice to learn specific insights surrounding that topic and the people who are sharing.


Authenticity in social media is the degree of how true and trusted the content is. Authenticity is a factor of both how trusted the individual sharing the content is and how true the content they’re sharing is. The authenticity in paid adverts is typically found to be much lower than that found in User-Generated Content.


Campaigns are any type of social media marketing push. Some examples of campaign types include but are not limited to contests, sweepstakes and live events. Social media campaigns are often centered around a single hashtag that’s being promoted.


Comments are messages posted on photos and videos which are shared on Instagram. These comments come from other Instagrammers and can be replies to the original photographer. These interactions are a great source of engagement on Instagram.


A community is a collection of individuals who have a common interest linking them. On social media, this can include your followers and the wider range of people who are exposed to your content through your various promotional tactics.


Contests are a form of campaign designed to incentive content sharing from participants through the use of prizes or gifts. Contests differ from sweepstakes in that contests are skill based.

Direct Message

On Twitter, “a direct message (DM) is a private message sent via Twitter to one of your followers. You can only send a direct message to a user who is following you; you can only receive direct messages from users you follow”.

Earned Media

Earned media is promotion that is gained through third parties like your community. This differs from Owned Media and Paid Media in that it is neither promotion from your own accounts nor paid for advertising.

Embedded Media

Embedded media is content from social networks that is integrated onto your website. This sometimes can be the simplest way to display user-generated content on your properties.


Engagement refers to the interactions that are posted on content shared on social networks. Increasing these interactions on posts is always a top priority for marketers to increase their content exposure with their community.


A fan is an individual of your community who is interested in and interacting with the content you’re sharing.


On Twitter, “favorites, represented by a small star icon in a Tweet, are most commonly used when users like a Tweet. Favoriting a Tweet can let the original poster know that you liked their Tweet, or you can save the Tweet for later”. These are an interaction that are factored into a posts’ engagement.


Followers are people on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram that follow your account. Followers will see posts from your account in their feed. The number of followers an account has is typically a popular way to measure that account’s popularity on that social network.


The people you are following on a social network are the people that you will see posts from in your feed. This number is displayed in your profile page next to the Followers Count.


On social networks like Twitter and Instagram users can post their location with the content they’re sharing to place their content on a map and show where it is coming from. For marketers this is helpful to measure where your community is sharing content from.


A hashtag is a word or phrase with a pound sign (#) use to collect content around a specific content. These are the main drivers of content aggregation for many campaigns on Instagram and Twitter.


Hyperlapse is a feature from Instagram that enables members of its community to create fast and simple timelapse videos to share on Instagram.


An influencer is an individual who has the ability to spread a message to others in their community, creating awareness of a specific topic. Influencers on social media are a powerful form of marketing.

Influencer Identification

The process of finding and recruiting influencers to participate in a specific social media marketing campaign.

Influencer Management

The process of directing influencers and their posts around a social media marketing campaign.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a form of social media activation that involves leveraging influencers to promote a marketing campaign. Influencer marketing helps drive earned media from their community so it’s important to identify influencers with a community aligned with yours.


On social media, insights are pieces of knowledge or feedback that is unearthed through social media analytics. The understanding that is gained of your community and the content they’re sharing can improve your future marketing initiatives.

Instagram Direct

Instagram Direct is a feature launched by the social network that gives members of its community the ability to send visual content to other users in a private group chat.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators of social media marketing are any of the metrics that define success for your initiatives. This includes follower growth, engagement, total shares, total reach or any other stat to determine the value of your social media marketing.


Likes are interactions on photos and videos which are shared on Instagram. These likes come from other Instagrammers to the original photographer. Similar to comments, these interactions are a great source of engagement on Instagram.


On Twitter, “a mention is any Twitter update that contains “@username” anywhere in the body of the Tweet. (Yes, this means that @replies are also considered mentions.)

Moment Marketing

Moment marketing is the act of connecting with your community based on the important experiences they’re sharing on social media. Moment marketing facilitates a stronger relationship between brands and their fans. This can be done with targeted interactions on their posts as well as highlighting the user-generated content they share.


Monitoring on social media is the process of actively listening to conversations across social channels looking for specific mentions. Whether you’re searching for mentions of your brand or a campaign you’re managing, monitoring is a vital piece of maintaining a social media presence.

Organic Reach

Similar to Earned Media, Organic Reach is a measure of the total number of individuals who have been exposed to content without the aid of paid media.

Owned Media

Owned Media is the content that originates from your own social accounts. This includes content that’s shared on social networks like Instagram and Twitter as well as content that’s posted to your blog. This differs from Earned Media  and Paid Media in that it is neither content from your community nor paid for advertising.

Paid Media

Paid Media is the content that has been purchased to be promoted on a specific channel. This includes content such as promoted tweets and other ads on social networks. This differs from Earned Media and Owned Media in that it is neither content from your community nor the content you’re sharing from your accounts.

Paid Reach

Similar to Paid Media, Paid Reach is a measure of the total number of individuals who have been exposed to content with the aid of paid media.


Participants are the individuals who share content with a specific marketing campaign you’re running. These are the members of your community who are typically most involved in your activations.

pIQ Score

pIQ Score is a social media analytics metric used to identify the Instagram content that is more resonating within a community or a marketing campaign. The pIQ Score is used by marketers to sift through mass amounts of visual content and find useful insights from their social media marketing.


With social media marketing, a platform is a collection of tools used by marketers to aid in their marketing programs.

Private / Protected Account

On Instagram and twitter, users have the ability to protect their accounts or take them private. This limits who is able to view the content they’re sharing to just the people that are approved to follow them and restricts aggregation of their content through the social networks’ APIs.

Public Account

Public Accounts on Instagram and Twitter are accounts that are available for anyone to see. Content from these accounts is fully able to be aggregated through the social networks’ APIs.


Reach is the total number of people who have been exposed to content on social media. This is a helpful metric to monitor for marketing campaigns to measure the awareness you’re driving.

Relative Engagement

Relative Engagement is a social media analytics metric used by marketers to understand the interactions that a specific user and post are driving. Relative Engagement puts interactions of a post on an even scale by dividing the total interactions by the user’s following. An average Instagram post gets around 3% Relative Engagement.


On Twitter, “an @reply is any update posted by clicking the Reply button on a Tweet. Any Tweet that is an @reply to you begins with your username and will show up in your Mentions tab on the Notifications page. @replies as also mentions“.


On Twitter, “a retweet is someone else’s Tweet that you choose to share with all of your followers. You can use our built-in Retweet feature or you can manually Retweet content by copying and pasting it into a new Tweet of your own“.


On social media, sentiment analysis “refers to the use of natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials“.


Sweepstakes are a form of campaign designed to incentive content sharing from participants through the use of prizes or gifts. Sweepstakes differ from Contests in that winners of sweepstakes are chosen at random.

User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content or UGC are posts shared on social media that come from users of the social networks. UGC is a form of Earned Media and due to its authenticity it is found to be much more effective in marketing efforts than Paid or Owned Media.

Visual Content

Visual content are photos and videos shared on social networks. Social networks like Instargam focus exclusively on visual content. These posts receive higher engagement rate than similar text-based posts.

Visual Marketing

Visual marketing is the practice of social media marketing focused on visual content. The successes that are seen from visual marketing are credited in part to the increased engagement that visual content drives. Visual marketing continues to grow among marketers as the demand for consuming visual content grows amongst their target consumers.

Getting started with social media marketing? Download our Guide to Visual Marketing and learn the benefits of connecting with your community’s visual content on social media!


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