The Social Media Glossary

By Monique Martin

If you’re new to the world of social media, it can feel like people are talking another language. They tweet, follow, unfriend and fan each other. But, what does it all mean? Facebook and Twitter are the top two social networking sites in the world. With hundreds of millions of users, no small business can overlook their potential.

Facebook

Facebook recently took over as the second most popular Web site in the world. With over 400 million users, Facebook is a powerful tool for personal and professional networking. Here are a few of the basic terms you’ll need to know before you get started.

Profile: Individual users create profiles to share pictures and posts and connect with other users.

Friend: Friend is both a verb and a noun on Facebook. You friend someone by sending them a request. If they accept, they become your friend and you can post and share information on each other’s profile pages. To undo the process, you de-friend.

Wall: A wall is the main section of a Facebook page where users share their thoughts by posting. Your friends write on your wall to share their thoughts and comment on yours.

Fan Page: A fan page is the business version of a personal profile. It’s designed for businesses to help promote and network their product or service.

Fan: Instead of becoming friends of a business, you become a fan. Fans can interact with other fans and get direct updates from the company.

Groups: Groups are like clubs. People with common interests (alumni, cycling enthusiasts or cigar aficionados) can post and share their enthusiasm and tips on any given subject. Groups can be formed by individuals or businesses.

Status: This is a microblogging (limited character) feature that allows users to quickly share their current moods and thoughts.

Twitter

According to Yahoo! News, Twitter users are creating 50 million messages a day. Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users post short messages instead of the long traditional blog posts and is the perfect match for today’s attention span-challenged public. Here are a few of the key terms you should know before you join the Twittersphere.

Tweet: A tweet is a post or message on Twitter. They’re limited to just 140 characters.

Retweet: Also known as an “RT”. A retweet is when another user resends your tweet to their followers.

Followers: Followers are people who subscribe to read a feed of your posts. Unlike Facebook, this relationship doesn’t have to be reciprocal. You can have a follower that you don’t follow in return.

Hashtags: Using the number sign or hash (#) before a word is a way of labeling content on Twitter. #poetry will make that term and tweet searchable for other members interested in poetry.

@replies: These are also known as “mentions”. When you reply to someone on Twitter you use the @username. They’re like hashtags for people instead of content.

Tweeple: People who use Twitter.

About the Author

Monique Martin served as chief operating officer for a successful online insurance marketing firm for five years.