Social media can be confusing, but more confusing than the sites themselves is the terminology that people throw around. Here are a handful of common and useful terms to help you navigate your social networks.

  1. AddThis: a service that you can add to your site (via HTML code) so that visitors have the option of sharing your content via various social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It also provides analytics for your content.
  2. Aggregation: the process of finding, remixing, and combining information from news sources with RSS feeds, displayed in RSS reader websites or software, such as Feedly.
  3. API: “Application Programming Interface,” the interface that allows applications to respond to each other.
  4. Avatar: a symbol, logo, or persona used to represent oneself on a social network.
  5. Bitly: an online service that shortens URLs (if you want to Tweet a link, for example) and provides statistics for links that people are sharing.
  6. Blog: from “web log,” a virtual journal. Blogs are presented in reverse chronological order, and organized by tags and keywords, with some hyperlinks and linked pages for other content. There are microblogs, like Twitter, community blogs, like LiveJournal, and self-hosted blogs, such as ours (hosted by WordPress.)
  7. Blogosphere: the universe of blogs, an online community of bloggers
  8. Blogroll: a published list of blogs/bloggers that a person follows. They show where the person gets their information or inspiration, and direct readers to other relevant bloggers.
  9. Collective Intelligence: a sharing of intelligence to produce wisdom of a higher order.
  10. Feeds: tools of reading aggregated news sources through an RSS reader. Feeds are useful as tailored news sources created by the readers themselves.
  11. #ff: “Follow Friday,” a hashtag trend on Twitter. Every Friday, people include the names of other people on Twitter that they follow and want to recommend to their own followers.
  12. Hashtag: denoted by the pound symbol (#), these are tags that you can make on social networks. They started with Twitter, but Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and other sites use them, and Facebook has mentioned adding them, as well.
  13. Lurkers: Though it sounds sinister, this term means “people who read but do not comment on content found online.” The One Percent Rule states roughly that 1% of readers contribute content, 9% comment, and the rest lurk. However, content that lurkers read may show up elsewhere, so even without commenting, they still contribute to the community.
  14. Meme: like a building block of culture, a meme is a concept (usually a joke) shared online. These are commonly photos with captions, such as those made famous by I Can Has Cheezburger?
  15. Permalink: the URL of a specific piece of content, such as a single blog post, as opposed to the address of a website with various content.
  16. RSS: “Really Simple Syndication,” a means of subscribing to content online and having it aggregated through a feed or reader for you.
  17. Tags: keywords/categories attached to content to help organize it for you, and to make aggregating easier. Different sites have different means of tagging or categorizing content. These are usually freely chosen/created.
  18. Threads: strands of conversation. Eg., a Facebook thread is a conversation in a private message or on a wall post.
  19. Trackback: a calling card or link that someone can leave on a site that leads back to their own.
  20. Troll: Unlike lurkers, trolls are actually sinister (and common on most sites, and annoying, but sometimes hard to detect.) A troll is someone who posts irrelevant, offensive, or inflammatory content on a site, for the purpose of being disruptive or causing a reaction.
  21. Widgets: applications that you can embed on a site.
  22. Wiki: a web page that can be edited collaboratively by people with appropriate permissions. Wikipedia is an example.