Essential social media marketing terms for digital marketers

Brush up on your knowledge of social impressions, engagement rates and dark social with this social media glossary, compiled by Liliana Osorio, EMEA marketing manager at Crimson Hexagon.

Social media: Crimson Hexagon's Liliana Osorio demystifies the terminology
Social media: Crimson Hexagon's Liliana Osorio demystifies the terminology

Social media has become an important part of consumers' day-to-day lives. As a result marketers have had to master the tools, services and strategies in order to successfully reach online audiences.

Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all warrant different approaches, meaning digital campaigns could either thrive or bomb depending on the social media platform they are executed on.

This social media glossary aims to help marketers that have started making headway and are looking for help with the next layer of social media terminology.

Social media terms

Social media monitoring tools can analyse not just what users say on social media but also what else interests them, or put another way, what they have an affinity to.

Affinities measure the interests of an audience and gives brands valuable insight into what else concerns their customers.

API (application programming interface)
An API allows brands to set up a feed directly into their own sites, providing continually updated, streaming data (such as text, images and video) for display.

For example, Twitter’s API can display tweets from the site on your blog. When sites like Twitter and Facebook open up their APIs, it means that developers can create applications that build new functionality on top of the underlying service.

Conversion rate
This measures the results of the call to action (CTA) in social posts. Common CTAs include "follow us", "sign up for..." and "register for..."

Dark social
While social media by definition is social and therefore open, there is still an extremely active side of social media that analytics tools are unable to tap into. These tools have more rigorous privacy setting such as WeChat and SnapChat.

Engagement rate
Engagement rate is a measure of how much social media users are interacting with your owned media. It measures activity across the social media networks you have a presence on. If you publish social posts on Twitter, for example, your engagement rate will measure retweets and replies.

Firehose access
When you can access the firehose of a social network it means you have full access to all public posts and data shared on that network in real time.

Geo tagging
A feature that social media networks offer for location based sharing. Users can "check in" at given locations or include where they are posting from.

Historical data
Social media is not the new kid on the block anymore. Twitter was founded in 2009. Facebook celebrated its 11th anniversary in February 2015. This means there’s a huge volume of historical data on social networks and past conversations, which brands use to evaluate patterns and predict future trends.

Impressions represent the number of times a specific post has been displayed, regardless of whether someone has clicked it or not. It is the number of times a post could have potentially been read and it is possible for one person to see multiple impressions of the same post.

There are many factors when it comes to defining someone as a social media influencer. It's best to start by thinking about what gives an individual the power to influence others in their social media circle. The three attributes that are most important for marketers to factor are relevance, reach and resonance.

Klout score
Klout is a widely used website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the Klout score, a numerical value between one and 100.

The company defines influence as "the ability to drive action" and measures hundreds of signals from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Wikipedia and its own network.

NLP (Natural Language Processing)
The ability of computer systems to analyse human language, and the way in which some social media analytics tools provide sentiment metrics. NLP puts keywords being monitored in the context of phrases – a sentence like "This restaurant is no good" would be marked as being negative even though it contains the word "good". The drawback of NLP is that it ignores context such as humour, sarcasm, abbreviations and all those things that require a degree of human input.

Machine learning
Leading social analytics platforms have become more sophisticated to help marketers make sense of all the conversation out there.

They do this by incorporating tools that can effectively and automatically process large volumes of data, in an accurate way. Machine learning, leveraging a small degree of human input, is a strong alternative to NLP systems.

Paid, owned and earned
Most digital marketers look at social media conversion based on these three metrics:

  • Paid media: The social ads you invest in so that they are displayed to predefined audiences.
  • Owned media: Content posted on a brand's social channels, your Twitter profile or corporate LinkedIn page. Marketers measuring the success of owned media will often look at the engagement rate.
  • Earned media: User generated content involving a brand, but which the brand has no control over. More often than not, earned media is the result of carefully planned paid and owned media campaigns.

Reach is defined as the total number of people who have received impressions of a post. The same person reading a post multiple times will create further impressions, but will not impact reach.

How people feel about a given topic or brand on social media. Traditionally sentiment was measured in terms of positive, neutral and negative, but it has now evolved into business related categories relevant to brands and their campaigns.

Examples include intent to purchase and people saying they like the ad.

Share of eye
Most social networks started off as text-based platforms but video and image has rapidly become the preferred type of content shared among users.

Thus it is important to measure brand presence in these images, to identify brand mentions that do not occur through text. Image analysis technology which can recognize logos allows brands to track share of eye, enabling them to quantify brand value and measure campaign ROI of, for example, sponsorship of a concert stadium, or logo sponsorship of an event.

Share of voice
Percentage of relevant social media posts in a given category. Brand’s often use this to ascertain their popularity against competitors in relation to a particular online conversation.

Social media optimisation (SMO)
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.

Social listening
The process of identifying, monitoring and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand.

Social media analytics
Social media analytics is the practice of gathering data from blogs and social media websites and analysing that data to make business decisions.

The most common use of social media analytics is to mine customer sentiment in order to support marketing and customer service activities.

Social media audit
A social media audit is an examination of a person or organisation's social media presence, evaluating online activity to develop insights into how you can make better use of social media.

An audit researches and analyses a brand’s current position in social media, competitor activity and audience data to develop recommendations on who they should be targeting, where they should be active, and what to say, do and share.

Social retargeting
Because social media audiences represent some of your most engaged prospects online, having the ability to keep your brand in front of them, even after they leave your social networks, can help you generate potential customers.

With social retargeting, you can use the links shared through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels to create retargeting pools.

When prospective customers click on a shared link, a cookie is placed on their browsers, putting them into a retargeting pool so that you can now keep your brand and messages in front of them.

Social ROI
A measurement of the effectiveness of an organisation’s investment in social media. Like any metric for return on investment, social media ROI is calculated by dividing the total benefits of an investment by the sum of its costs.

Therefore, it is completely dependent on which costs and benefits are factored into the calculation. It’s tempting to look at vanity metrics but this won’t resonate with execs and will always leave social media at a tactical level in your company.

To get meaningful value from an ROI calculation, the metric should be fully aligned with the business objectives behind a social media activity.

Total potential impressions
Total Potential Impressions is the number of times a tweet about your topic could have been read. If every follower of every author read every one of their tweets about your topic, that would be the total potential impressions.

The number is calculated in two steps using Twitter data. The first part of the calculation is when an account tweets. The initial tweet generates a potential impression number equal to the amount of followers they have.

The second part is when someone retweets the original tweet, which generates a potential impression number equal to the amount of followers the second individual has.

So if @exampleuser has 50,000 followers and tweets something, they will generate 50,000 potential impressions for that Tweet. If @averagejoe retweets this and has 75 followers, then the new total for potential impressions is now 50,075.

In short, potential impressions equal the sender's followers plus the followers of all users who have retweeted the post.

Trending topic
A topic that is being rapidly shared on social media and has achieved a strong level of popularity. Trending topics tend to be temporary but some give origin to viral posts.

These can either be spontaneous, due to external factors (breaking news, PR incidents for example) or planned (a new ad campaign that is widely accepted).

Vanity metrics
Very much a thing of the past but still worth mentioning. Metrics that focus mostly on owned and paid for media such as the number of likes on a post, number of retweets, shares etc.

Content, generally videos, which get shared across social platforms at a rapid rate. It’s important to note that viral videos are not a choice. No matter how much you plan, the internet will always have the final say.

Visualisations of topics or words in the social media conversations you are monitoring can help to bring the most important trends into focus.

Types of visualisations include topic wheels and word clouds.