Social Media Glossary: 34 Terms to Know

Social Media

Social Media. We all hear about, talk about, and interact with it nearly every day. It’s what makes our world go round, right? The social media landscape is ever-changing, so remembering what’s what is no easy feat. Maybe you’re setting up a Facebook campaign for the first time, or maybe you just can’t remember the difference between a meme and a GIF. Bookmark this handy glossary and have no fear. What you’re looking for, you’ll find here! 

2020 Social Media Glossary

# (hashtag) 

A word or phrase preceded by the “#” sign. Marks the topic/s of social media messages and makes them discoverable to users with shared interests. 

#nowyouwillneverforgetwhatahashtagis #hashtagsforlife #schittscreek #isthattwowords

@ (mention) 

@-ing someone is akin to tagging them, which sends them a notification that you’ve done so. For instance, you’d do this if you wanted to give credit to that true friend who took that photo of you from all your best angles.

A/B test 

Testing one idea against another amongst split audiences, learning, and implementing the best one into your regular campaign strategy. This is super useful for social media advertising, so the platform algorithm can optimize for whichever version of your ad is performing better. You can test copy length, images, tone, and so much more. A/B tests happen in real life too. We are always A/B testing ourselves. Does sleeping 6 hours or 8 hours make me more productive during the day? Shameless plug for my cat’s Instagram:


A user’s visual identity in the form of a photo on their account or a cartoon of themselves in a message. Not to be confused with James Cameron’s famously blue avatars.


A play on words of the infamous emoji; these are customized avatars (see how we learn as we go along?!). Have you seen those mini cartoon versions of people? Well, you can have one too using the Bitmoji app


When you don’t like someone and you no longer want to see their messages on your feed. Don’t worry, you can unblock them when you’re over it. More “properly” defined as denying access to certain users, stopping them from following or tagging you in the future.


When we talk about boards, we’re talking about Pinterest. You may have heard someone say, “I pinned it to my board,” and you might be thinking, “Where is this board? At your desk? On the wall?” While some people may be talking about literal boards, most are referring to their Pinterest boards.


A bot that lives in messaging apps, it uses AI to communicate with users. You may have seen this when you’re visiting a site and a little messaging box pops up to ask you if you need any help. Chatbot is also very prevalent on Facebook Messenger. It could be a useful tool for your organization depending on the products you might offer or other frequent questions that your audience may have. 

Click-through rate (CTR) 

A common metric for reporting on the number of people who viewed a piece of content and proceeded to click on an ad or link. You want a high CTR! This is calculated by comparing the number of clicks to overall impressions and is expressed as a percentage.

Community management 

Monitoring and engaging with those who interacted with your content or with similar content. You may reach out to someone who liked a competitor’s post or to someone who wrote something positive or negative on your channel. This is your reminder to read the comments users leave on your posts!


When a user performs the desired next step from your social media campaign and responds to your call to action 

e.g. email signup, donation, event registration.

Cost per click (CPC) 

How much it costs for a user to click on your ad.

Direct message (DM)

A private message sent to your account usually between two people. Originally a phrase associated with Twitter, but each social channel has some type of private messaging. 


A small digital image or icon used to express an idea or an emotion. Ever try having a full conversation using only emojis? It gets interesting! 😜🐳🌊🗽❤️

Engagement rate 

The percentage of users who viewed your social post and took some type of action such as a click, share, or retweet.


A steady stream of updates and information from everyone you’ve ever met and every brand you’ve ever liked. Feed me, Seymour!


A photographic effect that can be applied to images. Essentially a short and quick way to Photoshop yourself. Filter trends come and go and the types of filters users respond positively to change, so it’s worth testing out on your own channel. 


Adding a specific location to your content. Users search by location so adding yours could be useful. 


A feature that allows you to share content with geographically-defined audiences. If you’re asking for volunteers for your weekend event, you may only want to target nearby areas vs. the entire country.


An acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, a computer file format for the compression of visual digital information. Using a GIF is a great way to respond to content and to add a bit of humor. Ahem, have you noticed our GIF filled article?


Sometimes the same as your username, your handle is your @name on Twitter, Instagram, and others. 


The number of times your content is displayed on social media, regardless of clicks. 


A social media user with a significant audience, relative to the type of industry, who can drive awareness about your organization and your cause.

whole whale university social media course

Online Course

Social Media for Social Impact

Become your own social media marketing expert!

Key performance indicator (KPI) 

a metric that defines whether a marketing campaign has succeeded or failed. KPIs should be decided on before a campaign starts, and your company should have general KPIs that coordinate with your overarching marketing goals


A humorous image, video, or piece of text that is copied (typically with variations) and spread rapidly online. 

Created by Dee Wisne

Pinned Tweet 

A previously posted tweet that has been pinned to the top of your profile on Twitter. They are typically important messages like a response to a current event or promoting an upcoming event.


The total number of people who saw your content.


Reposting another user’s content on Instagram.


An online advertising technique that intends to re-engage your existing audience (whether that’s website visitors, your email list, etc.) to get them to take further action with your organization.

Social Listening 

Similar to community management, the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what users are saying about your industry or brand. A number of social listening tools have developed specifically to help organizations understand trends in their cause landscape.

Social Media Marketing 

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

Sponsored Posts 

Content on social media that has been paid for by an organization.


Content that lives on a user’s profile for only 24 hours. It’s best practice to add your regular post to your story post (with some variation) to help reach more users. Try adding a GIF or drawing arrows towards CTA buttons.


A keyword added to a post to categorize the content OR the way you add a user’s name to a piece of content so they’ll receive a notification.

You can keep swimming up the social media learning curve with Whole Whale University, — explore our Social Media for Social Impact course to become your own nonprofit social media expert!