Social Media Jargon – Creating Confusion in the Workplace Daily

Sometimes I yearn for the days of St. Mark’s High School, where my mind was slightly more agile and getting an A on a psychology/philosophy/history/science test meant creating a list of important terms for each lesson and looking up their definition in the textbook’s glossary.  My oldest sister Theresa currently has the highest level of education of my immediate family (Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Washington University of St. Louis) and would swear her life by flashcards.  No offense to them, but such subjects have been in existence for at least a few hundred years and certain theories, definitions, and jargon are the norm of their field – you are sure to lose an argument if you disagree a term actually means something else.  However, myself and everyone else in the field of digital marketing and social media would agree that with such a new field of “study” (speaking of Twitter that launched in 2007 and Facebook in 2004) less than 10 years old, figuring out exactly what the proper jargon is leads to more confusion in the workplace on a daily basis.

The fact is that we are seeing new and innovative “stuff” created on a regular basis and it’s a fact that the terms we use keep changing or have to be invented, simply because something has never been done before.  Using a blanket term such as “blog” doesn’t work anymore (whether the use of “blog” is as a verb or noun) – there’s “blog”, “micro-blog[ging]”, “tumblelog” – each is not quite the same as another.  In order to communicate and explain to one another, we have had to create basic terms in order for everyone to be on the same page.  That’s why a word such as “tweet” is now more accepted as a noun. (Can some one confirm if “tweet” or “Twitter” is now an accepted term in the dictionary? I recall hearing of such a story, maybe it was just a rumor, maybe it was a paranoid fear in my subconscious.)

In the past month I have had the same discussion about three times at work about the actual definition of terms we used on a regular basis.  Here is my best attempt at a miniature glossary of Twitter and Facebook terms.


@mentions – when some one, anyone, in the world (on Twitter) mentions your Twitter handle.

@reply – when some one not only mentions you, but actually replies to you.  Sometimes this reply is accompanied by a retweet (RT).

retweet (RT) – when some one mentions you by repeating whatever clever thing you said, usually follows “RT @your Twitter handle”. There is what I call the “manual retweet” and “direct retweet”.

direct retweet – when some directly retweets your tweet.  it doesn’t always show up in your @mentions, you need to check out “retweets” in the right sidebar.

manual retweet – some one manually types out your retweet.  usually starts as “RT @your handle”.

There is confusion on the differences between a retweet, mention, and reply and the differences between them.  As of now, I feel it’s still very subjective and if you have a lot of all three, you are doing well on your Twitter outreach.

Facebook (I will say Facebook is much easier to nail down a common jargon, mostly the words already exist and are verbs)

Like – when some one “likes” something (that was a toughie)

Share – when some one “shares” something with all their friends and it gets posted on their wall and news feed

Post – when some one posts on a wall.

Comment – when some one comments on a post. A post comes first, comment secondary.

Interactions – posts and comments are interactions, clicks as well if you post links.  If I post a link to my blog on Facebook and I get 15 likes, 23 comments, and 728 clicks, that’s 766 total interactions.

For another great list of social media terms or if you just want to see more explanation, CRT/tanaka posted their social media glossary (this is from 2009 and therefore “old”, but still wouldn’t hurt to read)

For your own amusement and if you either work in social media or like to make fun of your friends in social media, in case you missed it, the site What the F*** is My Social Media “Strategy”? will create a new “strategy” for you each time you refresh the page by randomly combining “buzz words”.  It’s nothing but humbling to see that indeed, randomly mixing buzz words around always makes what sounds like an awesome strategy.

Ex: “Harness social currency to drive buzz”

2 thoughts on “Social Media Jargon – Creating Confusion in the Workplace Daily

  1. Wouldn’t life be much easier if Twitter could just release an official Twitionary (get it? haha) so everyone would be on the same page? Most terms are pretty clear to me, but I still can’t decide if a retweet with commentary would count as a retweet or an @mention. I count a tweet that was retweeted with commentary as a retweet, but if a person went out of their way to respond to what you had to say along with your tweet, I guess it is more of a reply. Decisions, decisions.

  2. Dude. I feel you. I’m doing a twitter “lunch and learn” at my job for everyone next week…I have my own little dictionary going as well!

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