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Social media lingo

Apr 01, 2021
Artwork by: Christine Simmonds Social media terms

Algorithm: You may notice you look something up online and the next day ads for similar items pop up? Or how is it that a social media platform decides among all the posts from your friends which show up first? The algorithm is generally blamed as the mechanism for determining these things.

Avatar: It’s not just a science fiction film or elemental cartoon show. It’s the photo that represents you on social media. Sometimes, it’s an actual photo of you as a person, or it might be a drawing, cartoon, image from a favorite movie or graphic novel. Anything you choose to represent a personality online.

Clickbait: “Clickbait is content that uses manipulative copy to convince users to click on it. Clickbait tends to rely on exaggeration and withholding information to push people into clicking. ...'Doctors HATE him for using this one WEIRD TRICK…'" It ends up “being thin on actual content. Social networks like Facebook consider clickbait spammy and lower its reach accordingly.” (SOURCE: online).

Crowdsourcing: Getting an audience to vote on the name of a product or send something in for your site. The group online contributes information and content.

Crowdfunding: When people set up Gofundme or similar sites and pages to raise money for a project or cause online.

Direct Message (DM): You can post something publicly on someone’s timeline to communicate with them, or you can often talk to them in a direct message without the world seeing the conversation (but who is listening in, we wonder?). This can be an etiquette issue. Many people on Twitter, for example, state on their profile page they do not want DMs or direct messages. Alternatively, it can also be referred to as a PM (private message.)

Disappearing Content: As in Snapchat and Instagram, these are posts that delete themselves after a set amount of time. Sometimes called ephemeral content.

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. This keeps people checking back over and over.

Influencer: “Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views. Brands love social media influencers because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote.” (Source: The Kardashians were an early form of this.

Listicle: A list-based article. “Five ways to lose weight!” “10 tips for self-publish authors.”

Meme: This is that picture from a movie/show/ad with a caption making it funny and relatable. Memes frequently include a funny-looking cat being yelled at by two women, a blue, fuzzy creature screaming or actor Sean Bean explaining what one does not simply do.

Gif: Fierce arguments remain about whether this is pronounced “Jiff” or “Giff,” but this is like a meme, but it moves like a little minivideo.

Native advertising: According to, “Native advertising on social media is the method of showing paid content to users in a way that looks organic. Promoted Facebook posts and promoted tweets are good examples of native ads, as they appear similar to standard posts in users’ feeds while having their reach extended with an ad budget. A recent study found that consumers looked at native ads 53% more often than display ads.”

Popular Social Media Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat, Goodreads, LinkedIn, iFunny, and on and on.

TikTok: Elizabeth A. Harris of the New York Times described it as “An app known for serving up short videos on everything from dance moves to fashion tips, cooking tutorials and funny skits.” Very popular with teens and young adults currently. Generally features short videos shot on phones. Former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok, citing national security concerns because it is a Chinese company that could share data with other nations.

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