This is part of our series on Social Media for Churches. If you haven’t already, go back and check out the previous posts on best practices for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as 14 Content Ideas.
The world of social media has a language of its own, and keeping up can be tough. It has its own “industry jargon,” much of which is just ordinary words that suddenly have new meanings. And some terms mean different things on different networks! If you’re a social media newbie, it can be downright overwhelming. Even if you’ve been on social media for years, it can be tough to keep up with the changes.
Here’s a handy list of the social media jargon you need to know, defined. You can reference this list as you implement our social media best practices. To make it easier to follow, we’ll define most terms in relation to fictional user Jane.
Tag: (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) When Jane shares a photo on Facebook or Instagram, she can tag her friend Dante in that photo. Dante is notified about the photo, and the photo may then appear on his profile/timeline. On Facebook and Twitter, Jane can tag friends in text-based posts, too.
- Careful: Remember that when Jane tags Dante, all of Dante’s friends can then see the post. Don’t post things that you wouldn’t want your friend’s friends to see.
Message: (all platforms) Messages are private communications. If Jane wants to ask her friend Rosalee about their plans for later, she doesn’t want all of social media to know, so she sends a private message instead. Twitter calls these direct messages or DMs.
Follow: (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) On Twitter and Instagram you don’t friend people, you follow them—and it’s not limited to “real” friends. Jane follows her friends Dante and Rosalee, and she follows celebrities and news sites, too. On Facebook, you only follow public figures and pages, not friends.
Like: (all platforms; a thumbs up on Facebook and YouTube and a heart on Instagram and Twitter) This is an interaction that shows approval. Jane likes the posts that move her the most, whether that’s good news from Dante or an inspiring post from her church’s page. Posts with more likes tend to get shown to more people (see “algorithm”).
Hashtag: (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) A short phrase after the # sign, usually describing the post’s content. Hashtags are searchable, so Jane can click #puppiesofinsta to see all the posts using that hashtag.
News feed: One of the two main parts of Jane’s Facebook account, the news feed is where she sees posts from her friends and the pages she’s followed. Most people spend the majority of their Facebook time on this page.
Timeline: This is the other main area that every Facebook user has. Jane’s timeline contains her own posts as well as any posts she’s tagged in. (outdated name: wall)
algorithm: Facebook doesn’t show users every post from every friend/page. It curates Jane’s news feed using highly secretive code. People call this the “Facebook algorithm.” Facebook changes the algorithm from time to time, but currently it “rewards” photos, videos, and likes, and it “punishes” links that lead away from Facebook.
- Heads up: Twitter is following Facebook’s lead and moving toward an “algorithmic timeline.”
Profile: All the content belonging to a user is called a profile. Jane’s profile includes her TImeline, her “about me” information, and all the photos and videos she’s posted.
Page: Businesses, nonprofits, and public figures have pages (and followers) rather than profiles (and friends). Jane follows her church’s page, among others.
Group: A place for like-minded people to hang out. Jane is in groups named “Young Professionals of Grace Church” and “Dog Lovers USA.”
- Groups can be open, closed (can request to join), or secret (must be invited to join).
Tweet: Posts on twitter are called tweets. Posting = tweeting.
Retweet: Reposting someone else’s tweet. Jane retweets Rosalee’s awesome joke, showing Rosalee’s tweet to a new audience.
Replies: Responses to other tweets. Replies show up under the replied-to tweet.
Threads: A way to link multiple tweets together (read how).
Trending Topics: Listed on Twitter’s front page, these are the hashtags getting the most tweet traffic at the moment.
Feed: This is a little confusing, but on Instagram your feed is Jane’s entire collection of photos.
Home Page: Similar to Facebook’s News Feed, this is where Jane sees posts from others she follows.
Bio: Jane describes herself in 150 characters or less. This is what people see when they search for her.
Stories: Posts that disappear after 24 hours and can have text, drawings, and emoji drawn onto them.
Filters: Filters are a built-in way to alter your images by applying enhancements. Jane usually likes to use filters that brighten the colors in her photos, but occasionally she likes to apply a black and white filter for that classic look.
Subscribe: Jane subscribes to her church’s YouTube channel to receive notifications when they post new content.
Playlists: Videos grouped together that will play in sequence. Jane creates a playlist of puppy videos to share with her Dog Lovers group.
Bonus Round: Abbreviations
Social media loves abbrevs, lol! To make things easier for you, we’ve gathered a quick list of the most common and widely-used abbreviations:
ama – ask me anything
fintech – companies like us
ftw – for the win (sounds dirty, but isn’t!)
ht (h/t) – hat tip (=kudos, attribution)
icymi – in case you missed it
nsfw – not safe for work (don’t click these – you work at a church!)
qotd – quote of the day
tbh – to be honest
tbt – throwback Thursday (post an old photo)
til – today I learned
tl;dr – too long; didn’t read.
Now you know the best practices AND the lingo and abbreviations. You have the tools; now it’s time to take social media by storm and get posting!