Defining Basic Social Media Terms

BlogHer Original Post

Social media is how we connect with each other -- and with companies and brands -- online. These days every marketing plan includes social media; to ignore it would be to ignore a significant portion of your audience. But what is social media? How do you use it? Where do you start? The first step is understanding the terms associated with social media. Here are some of the common terms of social media. This list is by no means exhaustive and I would love to have your suggestions or questions about these and other terms in the comments of this post.

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Crowdsource: A combination of the words crowd and outsourcing. To ask a question via social media and collect answers from your various communities and users. Wikipedia explains crowdsourcing as "a distributed problem-solving and production model. Problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users—also known as the crowd—typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions. The crowd also sorts through the solutions, finding the best ones. These best solutions are then owned by the entity that broadcast the problem in the first place..."

Facebook: One of the most popular social networking options, Facebook allows you to connect with current friends and those from your past. You can share links, photos, video, notes (similar to blog posts), and status updates. You can also make a fan page for your business so enthusiastic users can show their support for your product(s). Helpful articles:

Flickr: A popular web-based photo and video storage site owned by Yahoo!. You can tag your photos with keywords, join groups with similar interests and photos, and create slideshows from your own photo pool. Flickr offer features too numerous to list here. I suggest you take a tour of Flickr to see all of the features (and there are many!). Helpful article: Flickr Posts Photos to Your Blog

Friend: (verb) To add someone to your social network; "I friended Denise on Facebook because she shares useful information."

Friend Request: A request from someone to connect via a social network. Some networks require you to accept a friend request (i.e., Facebook), others do not (i.e., Twitter).

Hyper-local: Also referred to as placeblogging. A blog or network about a specific community or location. Examples of hyper-local blogs:

LinkedIn: A professional social networking site that allows you to post your work experience and current projects. Helpful articles:

Social Bookmarking: A means of sharing interesting articles with others. Examples of social bookmarking sites include Kirtsy, StumbleUpon, Delicious, and Digg. Helpful articles:

Social Media: Any form of interactive media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon) that allow people to gather online to share ideas, start conversations, ask questions, or crowdsource.

Social Network: Your contacts within all of your social media outlets.

Status Update: In its simplest form, the status update is a report of what you're doing right now. However, your status update can be a question, a link to a video or blog post, or a photo. On Twitter you're limited to 140 characters for your status update, but in an application like Facebook, you can use more (though brevity is your friend; if you have something longer to write, you may want to consider a Facebook note which is available under the Applications list in your Facebook navigation).

Twitter: A micro-blog tool that allows you to interact with others using up to 140 characters for status updates. (Next week I'll have more about Twitter and common Twitter terms.)

Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions at Blogging Basics 101 and shares daily links to technology articles at the BB101 Tumblr blog. She is also the co-author of TypePad for Dummies.

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