The Top 100 words & phrases in the social media dictionary
The social media landscape is fast changing and filled with strange terms to the uninitiated. Don’t feel intimidated! Here’s a quick guide to some of the terms you may encounter. Please add other terms in the Comments below and we’ll incorporate them and credit you.
Social media glossary
What is an API?
An API (a techie term for application programming interface) allows users to get a data feed directly into their own sites, providing continually updated, streaming data — text, images, video — for display. For example, Flickr
‘s API might allow you to display photos from the site on your blog. When sites like Twitter and Facebook “open up” their APIs, it means that developers can build applications that build new functionality on top of the underlying service. (See Wikipedia entry
What is an app?
Popularized in the general lexicon by the iPhone, an app is simply an application that performs a specific function on your computer or handheld device. Apps run the gamut from Web browsers and games to specialized programs like digital recorders, online chat or music players. (See Wikipedia entry
What is astroturfing?
Astroturfing is a fake grassroots campaign that seeks to create the impression of legitimate buzz or interest in a product, service or idea. Often this movement is motivated by a payment or gift to the writer of a post or comment or may be written under a pseudonym. (For more details, see Wikipedia
What is a B corporation?
A B corporation is a designation for a socially responsible company that takes not just profits into account but also employees, communities and the environment. (For more details, see Wikipedia
What is a blog?
A blog is an online journal that’s updated on a regular basis with entries that appear in reverse chronological order. Blogs can be about any subject. They typically contain comments by other readers, links to other sites and permalinks. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a campaign?
An online campaign is a set of coordinated marketing messages, delivered at intervals, with a specific goal, such as raising funds for a cause or candidate or increasing sales of a product.
What is cause marketing?
Cause marketing is a business relationship in which a for-profit and a nonprofit form a partnership that results in increased business for the for-profit and a financial return for the nonprofit.
What is civic media?
Civic media is any form of communication that strengthens the social bonds within a community or creates a strong sense of civic engagement among its residents.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing (also called “the cloud”) refers to the growing phenomenon of users who can access their data from anywhere rather than being tied to a particular machine.
What is copyleft?
A play on the word copyright, copyleft is the practice of using copyright law to remove restrictions on distributing copies and modified versions of a work for others and requiring that the same freedoms be preserved in modified versions. (See Wikipedia entry
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organization and licensing system that offers creators the ability to fine-tune their copyright, spelling out the ways in which others may use their works. See full entry on Socialbrite
or on Wikipedia
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding refers to the act of soliciting donations or investments from online users outside your organization who collectively raise money to support a cause or to underwrite a project. (See Wikipedia entry
What is crowdsourcing?
Crowdsourcing refers to the act of soliciting content, ideas or skills from online users outside your organization who collectively help you solve a problem. (See Wikipedia entry
What is CSR?
CSR is short for corporate social responsibility, a concept whereby businesses and organizations perform a social good or take responsibility for the impact of their activities. (See Wikipedia entry
What is Digg?
is a popular social news site that lets people discover and share content from anywhere on the Web. Users submit links and stories and the community votes them up or down and comments on them. Users can “digg” stories they like or “bury” others they don’t. (Wikipedia offers a somewhat different definition
What is digital inclusion?
Digital inclusion, or e-inclusion, is an effort to help people who are not online gain access with affordable hardware, software, tech support/information and broadband Internet service, so they can begin to use this technology to improve their lives. (Wikipedia offers a somewhat different definition
What is a digital story?
A digital story is a short personal nonfiction narrative that is composed on a computer, often for publishing online or publishing to a DVD. They are told from the narrator’s point of view and the subject is generally about something the maker experienced personally. Digital stories typically range from 2-5 minutes in length (though there are no strict rules) and can include music, art, photos, voiceover and video clips. They are also typically created by one person with little technical training, rather than by a team of professionals. (See Wikipedia entry
.) You can see digital stories at these sites:
• Center for Digital Storytelling
• Creative Narrations
double bottom line
What is the double bottom line?
The double bottom line refers to a business’s attention to both conventional profit and loss as well as to the social good. An increasing number of companies and organizations now seek a second bottom line look to measure their performance. (Also see: the triple bottom line
What is Drupal?
Drupal is a free, open-source platform and content management system written in php. It is often used as a “back end” system that powers community features on many different types of sites, ranging from personal blogs to large corporate and political sites. (See Wikipedia entry
What is an ebook?
An ebook (or e-book) is an electronic version of a traditional printed book that can be downloaded from the Internet and read on your computer or handheld device. Something as simple as a PDF document can be considered an ebook — and anyone can create one. (See Wikipedia entry
What is embedding?
The act of adding code to a website so that a video or photo can be displayed while it’s being hosed at another site. Many users now watch embedded YouTube videos or see Flickr photos on blogs rather than on the original site.
What is Facebook?
is the most popular social networking site in the world, with more than 200 million members. Members’ home page streams can now be seen in a wide range of applications and devices. (See Wikipedia entry
What is fair trade?
Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers and adherence to social, labor and environmental standards. (See Wikipedia entry
What is fair use?
Fair use is a doctrine in U.S. law that permits limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining the permission of the copyright holder, such as use for scholarship or review. Fair use is delineated in Section 107
of the U.S. Copyright Code. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a feed?
A Web feed or RSS
feed is a format that provides users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate
a Web feed, enabling users to subscribe
to a site’s latest content. By using a news reader
to subscribe to a feed, you can read the latest posts or watch the newest videos on your computer or portable device on your own schedule. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a flash mob?
A flash mob is a group of individuals who gather and disperse with little notice for a specific purpose through text messages, social media or viral emails. It’s now generally considered a somewhat dated term (already!). (See Wikipedia entry
What is Flickr?
Founded by two entrepreneurs and purchased by Yahoo! in 2005, Flickr
is the world’s premier photo sharing and hosting site. Its members have uploaded more than 3 billion photos. (See Wikipedia entry
What is geotagging?
Geotagging is the process of adding location-based metadata to media such as photos, video or online maps. Geotagging can help users find a wide variety of businesses and services based on location. (See Wikipedia entry
What is Government 2.0?
Government 2.0 is the term for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0
to the practice of government.
What is GPS?
GPS is shorthand for Global Positioning System, a global navigation satellite system. GPS-enabled devices — most commonly mobile handhelds or a car’s navigation system — enable precise pinpointing of the location of people, buildings and objects. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag (or hash tag) is a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata
to your tweets
. Similar to tags on Flickr
, you add them in-line to your Twitter posts by prefixing a word with a hash symbol (or number sign). Twitter users often use a hashtag like #followfriday
to aggregate, organize and discover relevant posts.
What is hosting?
A blog, video or podcast needs a hosting service before it can appear online. Companies sometimes host their blogs on their own servers, but a better choice for video or audio is to use a host such as YouTube
for video and a host such as Libsyn
for podcasts. (See Wikipedia
for different kinds of hosting.)
What is an Internet newsroom?
An Internet newsroom (sometimes called Internet pressroom or online media center) is an area of a corporate website that communicates corporate messages and makes content available to the news media and the public. Rather than just feature little-read press releases, a true Internet newsroom incorporates features such as videos, podcasts, high-resolution image galleries, surveys, forums, blogs and other online marketing communications materials. See an example
What is lifecasting?
Lifecasting is an around-the-clock broadcast of events in a person’s life through digital media. Typically, lifecasting is transmitted over the Internet and can involve wearable technology. (See Wikipedia entry
What is lifestreaming?
Lifestreaming is the practice of collecting an online user’s disjointed online presence in one central location or site. Lifestreaming services bring photos, videos, bookmarks, microblog
posts and blog posts from a single user into one place using RSS. Friendfeed
are examples of lifestreaming services.
What is a mashup?
Mashups (or mash-ups) have several meanings. A music mashup is a combination of two or more songs, generally the vocals of one song overlaid on top of the melody of another. A video mashup is the result of combining two or more pieces of video, such as news footage with original commentary. A Web mashup result when a programmer overlays information from a database or another source on top of an existing website, such as homes for sale taken from Craigslist plotted on a Google Map. (See Wikipedia entry
What is metadata?
Metadata refers to information — including titles, descriptions, tags and captions — that describes a media item such as a video, photo or blog post. Some kinds of metadata — for example, camera settings such as exposure, aperture, focal length and ISO speed — can be captured automatically from the device without needing a human to enter the data. (See Wikipedia entry
What is microblogging?
Microblogging is the act of broadcasting short messages to other subscribers of a Web service. On Twitter
, entries are limited to 140 characters, and applications like Plurk
take a similar approach with sharing bite-size media. Probably a more apt term for this activity is “microsharing.” (See Wikipedia entry
What is a moblog?
A moblog is a blog published directly to the Web from a phone or other mobile device. Mobloggers may update their sites more frequently than other bloggers because they don’t need to be at their computers to post. (See Wikipedia entry
What is MySpace?
An online social network similar to Facebook
. MySpace caters to artists and bands, who enjoy the flexibility of creating an individual “look” for their page. As with Facebook, MySpace allows users to “friend” each other and create groups. (See Wikipedia entry
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle requiring Internet providers to act as common carriers and not discriminate among content or users — for example, by providing degraded service to rich-media sites, by throttling file-sharing services, by penalizing customers who watch or download a lot of videos or by blocking Internet applications and content from competitors. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a news reader?
A news reader (sometimes called a feed reader, RSS reader or news aggregator) gathers the news from multiple blogs or news sites via RSS
feeds selected by the user, allowing her to access all her news from a single site or program. Popular examples include Google Reader
(all accessed through a Web browser) and FeedDemon
(applications that runs on one machine). For a directory of news readers, see NewsReaders.com
. (See Wikipedia entry
What is an NGO?
NGO stands for nongovernmental organization, an entity apart from the business and government sectors. (See Wikipedia entry
What is nptech?
nptech is shorthand for nonprofit technology. nptech encompasses a wide range of technologies that support the goals of nonprofit, NGO, grassroots and other cause organizations.
What is open media?
In its most common usage, open media refers to video, audio, text and other media that can be freely shared, often by using Creative Commons
licenses. More narrowly, open media refers to content that is both shareable and created with a free format, such as Theora
(audio, lossy), FLAC
(audio, lossless), Speex
(audio, voice), XSPF
(vector image), PNG
(raster image, lossless), OpenDocument
(media presentations) and others.
What is an open platform?
Open platform refers to a software system that permits any device or application to connect to and operate on its network. See platform
What is open source?
In its strict sense, open source refers to software code that is free to build upon. But open source has taken on a broader meaning — such as open source journalism and open source politics — to refer to the practice of collaboration and free sharing of media and information to advance the public good. Well-known open-source projects include the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server and the Firefox browser. (See Wikipedia entry
What is open video?
Open video refers to the movement to promote free expression and innovation in online video. With the release of HTML5
, publishers will be able to publish video that can be viewed directly in Web browsers rather than through a proprietary player.
What is OpenID?
is a single sign-on system that allows Internet users to log on to many different sites using a single digital identity, eliminating the need for a different user name and password for each site. (See Wikipedia entry
paid search marketing
What is paid search marketing?
Paid search marketing is the placement of paid ads for a business or service on a search engine results page. An advertiser pays the search engine if the visitor clicks on the ad (pay-per-click or PPC).
What is a permalink?
What is personal media?
Personal media — user-created material — refers to grassroots works such as video, audio and text. When the works are shared in a social space, the works are more commonly referred to as social media
. See UGC
What is a platform?
A platform is the framework or content management system that runs software and presents content. WordPress, for example, is a service that serves as a platform for a community of blogs. In a larger context, the Internet is becoming a platform for applications and capabilities, using cloud computing
. See open platform
. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a digital file (usually audio but sometimes video) made available for download to a portable device or personal computer for later playback. A podcast also refers to the show that comprises several episodes. A podcast uses a feed that lets you subscribe to it so that when a new audio clip is published online, it arrives on your digital doorstep right away. (See Wikipedia entry
What is podsafe?
Podsafe is a term created in the podcasting community to refer to any work that allows the legal use of the work in podcasting, regardless of restrictions the same work might have in other realms, such as radio or television use. (See Wikipedia entry
What is the public domain?
A work enters the public domain when it is donated by its creator or when its copyright expires. A work in the public domain can be freely used in any way, including commercial uses. (See Wikipedia entry
What is public media?
Public media refers to any form of media that increase civic engagement and enhance the public good. The term often brings to mind public broadcasting such as PBS
, but many initiatives and organizations that receive no public funding fall within the scope of public media. (The Wikipedia entry
is confused and, in our judgment, off the mark.)
What is a remix?
A remix is any work that takes elements from two or more media files and mashes them together to create a new piece of media. Often, these are called mashups
What is RSS?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) — sometimes called web feeds — is a Web standard for the delivery of content — blog entries, news stories, headlines, images, video — enabling readers to stay current with favorite publications or producers without having to browse from site to site. blogs and news content using a news reader
. All blogs, podcasts and videoblogs contain an RSS feed, which lets users subscribe to content automatically and read or listen to the material on a computer or a portable device. Most people use an RSS reader, or news aggregator, to monitor updates. Socialbrite founder JD Lasica coined the term “news that comes to you” to refer to RSS. See more detailed article
What is a screencast?
A screencast is a video that captures what takes place on a computer screen, usually accompanied by audio narration. A screencast is often created to explain how a website or piece of software works, but it can be any piece of explanatory video that strings together images or visual elements. (See Wikipedia entry
search engine marketing
What is search engine marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a series of online tactics that, when combined with SEO
, helps to attract customers, generate brand awareness and build trust. SEM (sometimes called search marketing) seeks to increase websites’ visibility chiefly through the purchase of pay-per-click ads and paid inclusion. (See Wikipedia entry
search engine optimization
What is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of arranging your website to give it the best chance of appearing near the top of search engine rankings. As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work and what people search for. Optimizing a website primarily involves editing its content, identifying high-traffic keywords and improving the site’s layout and design. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a short code?
A short code is a mobile shortcut — a telephone number consisting of four to six digits that makes it easier for subscribers to vote, subscribe to a service, order ringtones and the like via SMS
(eg., text HAITI to 90999 in order to contribute to the Red Cross’s relief efforts). See Wikipedia entry
What is a smart phone?
A smart phone (or “smartphone”) is a handheld device capable of advanced tasks beyond those of a standard mobile phone. Capabilities might include email, chat, taking photos or video or hundreds of other tasks. See Wikipedia entry
What is SMS?
SMS stands for Short Message Service, a system that allows the exchange of short text-based messages between mobile devices. See Wikipedia entry
What is social bookmarking?
Social bookmarking is a method by which users locate, store, organize, share and manage bookmarks of Web pages without being tied to a particular machine. Users store lists of personally interesting Internet resources and usually make these lists publicly accessible. Delicious
is the best-known social bookmark site. See Wikipedia entry
What is social capital?
Social capital is a concept used in business, nonprofits and other arenas that refers to the good will and positive reputation that flows to a person through his or her relationships with others in social networks. See Wikipedia entry
What is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is a social mission driven organization that trades in goods or services for a social purpose. See Wikipedia entry
What is social entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is the practice of simultaneously pursuing both a financial and a social return on investment
(the “double bottom line”). A social entrepreneur is someone who runs a social enterprise
(sometimes called a social purpose business venture), pursuing both a financial and social return on investment. Often, social entrepreneurs offer system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems.
What is social media?
Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog, podcast, forum, wiki or video hosting site. More broadly, social media refers to any online technology that lets people publish, converse and share content online. (See Wikipedia entry
social media optimization
What is social media optimization?
Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a set of practices for generating publicity through social media, online communities and social networks. The focus is on driving traffic from sources other than search engines, though improved search ranking is also a benefit of successful SMO. (See Wikipedia entry
What is social networking?
Social networking is the act of socializing in an online community. A typical social network such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or Bebo allows you to create a profile, add friends, communicate with other members and add your own media. (See Wikipedia entry
What is social news?
Sometimes called social sites, social news sites encourage users to submit and vote on news stories or other links, thus determining which links are showcased. Social news was pioneered by community sites like Slashdot
. It became more popular with the advent of Digg
and similar sites such as Reddit
social return on investment
What is a social return on investment?
What are social tools?
Social tools (sometimes called social software) are software and platforms that enable participatory culture — for example, blogs, podcasts, forums, wikis and shared videos and presentations. (See Wikipedia entry
What are splogs?
Splogs is short for spam blogs — blogs not providing their own or real content. Unscrupulous publishers use automated tools to create fake blogs full of links or scraped content from other sites in order to boost search engine results. See Wikipedia entry
What is streaming media?
Unlike downloadable podcasts or video, streaming media refers to video or audio that can be watched or listened to online but not stored permanently. Streamed audio is often called Webcasting
. Traditional media companies like to stream their programs so that they can’t be distributed freely onto file-sharing networks. (See Wikipedia entry
What is sustainability?
In the nonprofit sector, sustainability is the ability is to fund the future of a nonprofit through a combination of earned income, charitable contributions and public sector subsidies. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a tag cloud?
A tag cloud is a visual representation of the popularity of the tags
or descriptions that people are using on a blog or website. Popular tags are often shown in a large type and less popular tags in smaller type. (See Wikipedia entry
What are tags?
Tags are keywords added to a blog post, photo or video to help users find related topics or media, either through browsing on the site or as a term to make your entry more relevant to search engines. (See hashtag
and Wikipedia entry
What is a technology steward?
A technology steward is someone who can facilitate community and network development. Nancy White offers the definition: “Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewardship typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community.” (Source: Social media wiki
terms of service
What are terms of service?
Terms of service (TOS) are the legal basis upon which you agree to use a website, video hosting site or other place for creating or sharing content. Check before agreeing to concede the rights the site owners may claim over your content. (See Wikipedia entry
triple bottom line
What is the triple bottom line?
The triple bottom line (sometimes abbreviated as “TBL” or “3BL”) is rapidly gaining recognition as a framework for measuring business performance. It captures the values that some organizations embrace: people, planet, profit — that is, social, environmental and economic factors. (Also see the Wikipedia entry
What is a troll?
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a tweet?
A post on Twitter
, a real-time social messaging system. While all agree on usage of tweet as a noun, people disagree on whether you “tweet” or “twitter” as a verb. RT stands for retweet: Users add RT in a tweet if they are reposting something from another person’s tweet.
What is a tweetup?
An organized or impromptu gathering of people who use Twitter
. Users often include a hashtag, such as #tweetup or #sftweetup, when publicizing a local tweetup.
What is Twitter?
is a popular social network, unveiled to the public in July 2006, that lets members post updates of no more than 140 characters. People have begun using Twitter in interesting ways to point to news stories, to raise funds for charity, and other unexpected uses.
What is the Twitterverse?
Akin to blogs and the blogosphere, the Twitterverse is simply the universe of people who use Twitter
and the conversations taking place within that sphere.
What is UGC?
UGC stands for user-generated content, an industry term that refers to all forms of user-created materials such as blog posts, reviews, podcasts, videos, comments and more. (See personal media
or see the Wikipedia entry
What is an unconference?
An unconference is collaborative learning event organized and created for its participants by its participants. BarCamp
is an example of a well-known unconference. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a videoblog?
A videoblog, or vlog, is simply a blog that contains video entries. Some people call it video podcasting, vodcasting or vlogging. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a virtual world?
A virtual world is an online computer-simulated space like Second Life
that mixex aspects of real life with fantasy elements. Typically, you can create a representation of yourself (an avatar) and socialize with other residents for free, though you can also buy currency (using real money) to purchase land and trade with other residents. Second Life is being used by some nonprofits and businesses to run discussions, virtual events and fundraising. (See Wikipedia entry
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the Web, which enables people with no specialized technical knowledge to create their own websites to self-publish, create and upload audio and video files, share photos and information and complete a variety of other tasks. In this new world, the Internet becomes a platform for self-expression, education and advocacy that “regular people” can use on their own without having to go to an expert to do it for them in contrast to the less interactive publishing sites of Web 1.0. Some of the best-known Web 2.0 websites include Wikipedia, MySpace, Digg, Flickr and YouTube. (For more, see Wikipedia
, TechSoup’s What Is Web 2.0 Anyway?
and publisher Tim O’Reilly’s essay, What is Web 2.0
What is web analytics?
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purpose of understanding who your visitors are and optimizing your website. (See Wikipedia entry
What is Web conferencing?
Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings or presentations over the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the Internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees computers or a web-based application where the attendees will simply enter a URL (website address) to enter the conference. (See Wikipedia entry
What is webcasting?
Webcasting refers to the ability to use the Web to deliver live or delayed versions of audio or video broadcasts. The chief distinctions between webcasting and traditional radio broadcasting include the following: Listeners can tune into webcasts from anywhere in the world, whereas radio broadcasting is generally local; webcasts may be “interactive” (for example, users may rewind the show) whereas radio broadcasting generally is not; listeners may receive textual or visual data (artist and song titles, ads, album artwork, etc.) during a webcast; if music is included, a “copy” is stored in the memory of the listener’s computer and thus webcasters are required to obtain a license from and make payments to a licensing agency such as BMI
. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a webinar?
Short for Web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. In general, participants register in advance and access the presentation in real time over the Internet and listen to the presenter either through computer speakers or a telephone connection. Webinars are generally one-way and can involve chat or polls. There are a large number of companies that offer webinar services. (See Wikipedia entry
What is wi-fi?
Wi-fi (or wifi) stands for wireless fidelity, a simple system allowing enabled devices to connect to the Internet within short range of any access point without cables or adaptors. A more powerful wireless technology, WiMAX
, is not yet deployed as widely as wi-fi. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a widget?
A widget, sometimes called a gadget, badge or applet, is a small block of content, typically displayed in a small box, with a specific purpose, such as providing weather forecasts or news, that is constantly updating itself (typically via RSS). Widgets make it easy to add dynamic content to your site or blog. (See Wikipedia entry
What is a wiki?
A wiki is a collaborative website that can be directly edited by anyone with access to it. Small teams often find that they can accomplish a task easier by creating a collaborative online workspace using wiki software such as pbworks
. (See Wikipedia entry
or compare wiki services at WikiMatrix
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a Web-based, multi-language, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers. Sponsored by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, it has editions in about 200 different languages. (See Wikipedia entry
What is word-of-mouth marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing, sometimes called grassroots marketing or conversational marketing, is an umbrella term for dozens of techniques that can be used to engage and energize customers. By building relationships with influencers through WOM, marketers can get people to become so enthusiastic about a cause, product or service that they drive sales through conversations. (See Wikipedia entry
What is WordPress?
What is YouTube?
YouTube is the world’s most popular video hosting site, making up 10 percent of all bits that travel across the entire Internet. (See Wikipedia entry