FB Pixel

The ultimate social media glossary for business owners

Published: November 22 2022

Does your business have at least one social media channel? Whether you manage your business’ social media yourself or outsource to a freelancer or agency, chances are you’ve come across a term or two you didn’t understand. 

If you’re looking to better understand social media marketing, or want to impress the experts at your next reporting meeting, this resource is for you! Our ultimate social media glossary gives definitions of common terms and answers the most common questions we get from business owners.

Have questions you don’t see the answer to here? We’d love to answer them. Connect with us on Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter or send us an email at [email protected].

Terms and definitions

What is a handle?

A handle is the tag for your account that people will use to find and engage with you. Across all platforms, it is the username preceded with an @ symbol. Your handle may or may not differ from your username, which can be a different credential you use to log in, or your account name, which is often similar, but written without the @ symbol.

For example:

  • Our handle across platforms is @csekcreative
  • Depending on the platform, our username might be our email: [email protected]
  • Our account name on certain platforms is Csek Creative

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is word or phrase precede by a “hash” sign (#) that is used on social media to categorize content. 

What hashtags do:

  • When used on a post, hashtags become clickable links that direct to a pool of content that uses that particular hashtag.
  • Users can search content by hashtag to make it easy to find what they’re looking for.
  • When a large number of users use the same hashtag, it starts to “trend,” giving content on that topic more exposure.
  • Hashtags can play a role in how different algorithms rank your content. Using appropriate hashtags helps different platforms understand what your content is about and who might like to see it.

What are Instagram highlights?

Instagram highlights are a way to save your Instagram stories past the 24 hours they would normally be visible on your account. Stories can be “highlighted” while they are live or from your “archive” after they expire.

Highlights will show up as bubbles above your profile grid, and can be customized to match any categories of content that are relevant to your business.

What are “impressions” on social media?

“Impressions” on your reports refer to the number of times a person saw your content. The same person may see the content multiple times, and each of those times would be included in your impression count. Therefore, your impressions will be a higher number than your reach, which only counts each person who sees your content once.

What is a social media influencer?

A social media influencer is a person with a large following who businesses pay to promote their product or service. Influencers don’t necessarily have to have hundreds of thousands of followers—many smaller businesses work with “micro-influencers” with smaller but highly relevant audiences. 

What does “organic” mean on social media?

“Organic” social media refers to anything posted to social media channels that is not paid. Likewise, the number of people your content reaches “organically” is the number of people who came across the content naturally—either because they follow your account or are interested in the type of content you post.

This is in contrast to your paid reach, which would be the number of people you paid a platform (e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn) to show your content to.

What does “reach” mean in social media marketing?

When looking at your social media analytics, the “reach” of your content is the number of unique people who saw a post. This number should be lower than your “impressions.”

What is a Reel?

A Reel is a type of Instagram content that features short form video content that can be edited in the Instagram app to take pretty much any form you can imagine. Reels are typically audio-focused, with a vast library of audio clips for users to pull from when creating their content.

Reels are very similar to TikTok videos, and many businesses choose to repurpose their TikTok content on Reels or vice versa.

What is an Instagram story?

An Instagram Story is a form of Instagram content that allows users to tell a story using short, usually unedited clips and/or photos. Stories are generally very lifestyle focused and are meant to give followers a peek into a person or business’ day-to-day. You can also use engaging features on Stories such as polls, Q&As, and more.

What is an Instagram swipe up?

A “swipe up” is a term used to refer to an Instagram Story that includes a link to a webpage. The term derives from an earlier version of Instagram, in which users could literally swipe up on their screen to open the link. Nowadays, links are just buttons that can be tapped, making “swipe up” a bit of an outdated term. However, the term is still used by some social media managers out of habit!

Using links or “swipes ups” on Instagram Stories is especially useful since you can’t include hyperlinks on Instagram posts.

What is trending audio?

Trending audio is used to describe sounds and audio clips available for use on TikTok and Instagram Reels that are currently popular and being used by many different accounts. Using trending audio in your content increases the reach of your Reels/TikToks and is a great opportunity to have fun with your brand.

Frequently asked questions

What are the most used social media platforms for businesses?

According to Statista, these are the most common social media platforms used for marketing and advertising as of 2022:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • TikTok
  • Snapchat

What is the difference between boosting and advertising on social media?

Boosting content on social media is technically a form of advertising, as it involves paying a platform (e.g. Facebook) to show content to more people. The main differences are the complexity and the process.

Boosting content is a way to have the content you're already creating seen by more people. It’s an easy-to-follow process and works well with smaller budgets. To boost a post, all you need to do is find the post you want to boost and follow the instructions that are clearly laid out on every platform.

Advertising usually refers to a more strategic, robust and targeted approach to getting your brand in front of your target audience. Setting up digital ads on social media is a more complex process and requires technical knowledge of each platform, as well as a higher level of expertise in copywriting and graphic design. 

TL;DR: Boosting is something a business owner could experiment with themselves fairly easily. Setting up advertising campaigns is generally something you’ll want to bring experts in to help with.

What is the difference between marketing and advertising?

Marketing is anything that promotes your business or brand. Advertising is a type of marketing that involves paying to have your business or brand seen by a particular audience.

Can I see whether social media is driving sales or leads?

The best part about digital advertising is that everything can be tracked! If you know what you’re doing, you can track how many people clicked on your ad or post, where they landed on your website, how much time they spent on your site and how many other pages they visited, and whether they converted to a lead or sale. 

The process of tracking these details is quite technical and requires knowledge of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and how to properly install tracking Pixels in your website’s code. For more information, see different ways to track conversions on Google’s support site.

Have more questions about social media marketing and advertising?

If you have questions about how to use social media to grow your business, we’re happy to chat with you in a free, zero-obligation consultation. 

Book an appointment with us today

Want to do a little self-learning?

If you’re interested in learning more about social media marketing and advertising, check out our social media myth busting series on The M Bomb and subscribe to our newsletter to get tips, insights and marketing news straight to your inbox.

And make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn!