Olive & Co

Key Terms for the Modern Marketer: Social Media Edition—Part One

Our Key Terms for the Modern Marketer series defines words every marketer should have in their vocabulary. As relevant terms change and buzzwords are redefined, we offer up the most current definitions so you can maintain your modern marketer status.


Analytics Edition
Content Strategy Edition—Part One
Content Strategy Edition—Part Two
Marketing Automation Edition
Social Media Edition—Part One
Social Media Edition—Part Two
Social Media Edition—Part Three
Strategy Edition
UX/UI Edition
Web Redesign Edition

Social Media

Social media is a beneficial content publishing platform for marketers, consumers, and everyone in between. Every social media action takes place on a social network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.) Social media content is much shorter (e.g., Twitter only allows a maximum of 140 characters) than most content formats and often contains a few sentences and a link, photo, or video. Social media is a hosted platform and a borrowed audience, so it is often used in tandem with a website, blog, and other content formats.

Social Network

Social media networks are hubs for every social media action (e.g., sharing, messaging). Each social network hosts customizable pages for individuals, brands, organizations, etc., to connect and communicate. Brands use social networks to post original or curated content, engage with audiences, and build a brand following. Every new social network offers unique ways to communicate and top social networks have the ability to completely change how we relate to one another through social media. Common social media networks include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the practice of dedicating a portion of your overall marketing strategy to optimizing social media efforts. It often includes posting targeted content, growing and maintaining a following, communicating with leads, and, ideally, maintaining a positive ROI. It’s important to avoid a siloed social media marketing strategy. Marketers should uphold their brand story and voice through all social media efforts. Any disconnect between social media and other sectors of your marketing could cause confusion among prospects, leads, and customers.


Analytics is the practice of analyzing your data to reveal important patterns. It’s gathering numbers through the measurement and testing of your social UX and then making sense out of those numbers. Meaningful data patterns tell you where you’re succeeding and where you can make improvements to your user experience. Social analytics provide insights into leads, audience preferences, and ROI. Top networks, including Facebook and Twitter, offer free analytics insights for their users.


Authenticity is a quality marketers strive to maintain in all of their marketing communications. Authentic brands on social media uphold their identity, voice, mission, values through every social interaction, post, message, communication. When you’re authentic, every element of your social media marketing is consistent with your holistic marketing strategy. Because social media is an engaging, personal marketing platform, customers expect authenticity and are quick to ignore brands that are insincere.

Brand Advocate

Brand advocates support and promote your brand for no compensation. They’re often devoted customers who share their successful brand experiences with their own personal networks, through social media or word of mouth. Brand advocates are earned through quality customer service and content. They often emerge as a result of brand interactions on social.


Social media communities include leads, customers, prospects, or anyone who may have an interest in interacting with your brand. They are earned—a person must choose to interact with your brand on social. Because of the opt-in process, social communities tend to be more receptive and willing to communicate with your brand than other marketing audiences. They are also borrowed—users must already exist on the social network before they can become part of your community.

Community Management

Community management is maintaining, growing, enriching the communities built through social media. Community managers work to build a loyal, attentive audience and ensure they’re met with quality content and communications.


An engagement is any social like, retweet, reply, share, or comment on/about your content. When social users take an extra step to interact with your brand or content, they’re making a point to engage with your brand. They aren’t simply viewing or reading your content, they’re acknowledging that they experienced it.

Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is the ratio of engagements to a specific measured variable. Common engagement rate formulas are engagements per impression, engagements per follower, and engagements per daily reach. Comparing engagement rate with the cost of your social media efforts can help determine if you’re getting an ROI on your social media spend.


Geotargeting is delivering targeted content to customers based on their geographic location. Marketers use geotargeting on website content, PPC ads, and paid social advertisements. Customers in different regions may respond differently to varied content formats, tone of voice, etc., so it’s important for marketers to consider geotargeting when planning out their strategies.


Hashtags are a means to categorize and discover topics and subjects within social media networks. They’re created using the pound sign (#) followed by the word, or group of words without spaces. When someone clicks on your hashtag, they’re brought to a page of other posts using that hashtag. Adding hashtags to your posts helps you join existing conversations and encourage new ones.


Every time a user views your social media content, it is counted as an impression. Impressions are sometimes referred to as reach. Facebook and Twitter reveal impressions in their free analytics reports. But, marketers should be careful when drawing insights from this data. Though impressions gauge how many people viewed your content, they aren’t a strong indicator of actual ROI.


An influencer is a well-known person who’s trusted in their industry. Their ideas can shape popular opinion, actions, trends, etc. Connecting and conversing with influencers on social media is a key way to grow your brand’s reach. If an influencer shares your content, they’ll introduce your brand to an audience who already trusts the source. Some brand advocates have enough reach to be considered influencers.


Social media interactions include any instance someone communicates with your brand via social. This includes all engagements (like, share, comment, etc.), messages, and any communication unique to a social network (pins, mentions, etc.).


Newsfeeds, also referred to as feeds, are the streams of information on social networks. Feed content forms vary by social network, but often consist of text-only posts, videos, photos, or a combination. While Twitter and Instagram feeds contain all posted content from your followers, Facebook newsfeeds only feature a selection of posts, curated using their own algorithm. Some social network feeds feature content published by profiles you do not follow, which appear as paid or sponsored ads. Some social networks also have discovery feeds where you can view feeds based on topic—you do not have to follow the profiles within these feeds to view the content.


Your social media profile is where social media users can go, on each individual social network, to find your brand’s information and social content. It’s essentially your brand’s social media activity hub. Profiles on each social network contain unique features but most profiles include a: profile photo, description, and feed of your posts and interactions.

Social Media Automation

Social media automation requires using a social network or external tool to automate social media posting. This includes writing and scheduling posts. After publishing new content on a blog, for example, a social media automation tool can automatically compose and schedule social media posts featuring the new content. You can also schedule days, weeks, months worth of social posts in advance to simplify the posting process. It’s key to use social automation sparingly, however. Social media is about personal connections and social media automation can detract from the authentic nature of your social presence, if used too often.

Social Media Listening

Social media listening, also referred to as social media monitoring, is keeping tabs on the greater social landscape and your own social profiles. Monitoring each social network for any mentions, interactions, engagements with your brand is key to ensuring you’re communicating with anyone attempting to reach out to you. Listening to the buzz on social networks will also help you optimize your social posts and stay relevant. Monitoring what your competitors are doing on social media and using your findings as learning opportunities is another way to use social media listening to improve your social efforts.

Social Media Optimization

Social Media Optimization is the SEO of social media—it’s optimizing social for search. This practice continues to develop as the relationship between social and SEO evolves. Right now we know that social media networks and profiles appear in search results. Optimize your profiles with your brand name, a clear brand description featuring keywords, and a profile photo, which is usually your brand’s logo (or a simplified logo). Another reason SMO exists despite a lack of proven connection to search rank, is linking’s connection to search rank. Social Sharing increases the number of links to your content and the number of people talking about your content. Number of links is an indicator of quality content to search engines. Marketers optimize their content for social sharing to increase the likelihood your content is passed around.

Social Sharing

Social sharing is the act of sharing content from an external source—website, blog, etc.—on social media. Brands should share informative content, both original and curated, on their social profiles to become a valuable resource for their followers. It’s common to include social sharing buttons on your original content to make it easier for people to feature your work on their social media profiles.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is word-of-mouth marketing that spreads quickly. Viral marketing was made much easier through social media due to the instantaneous shareability and sheer number of people on social networks. While some brands try to create viral opportunities, it’s usually not a planned marketing strategy. It’s impossible to predict which social posts or campaigns will catch on with the masses. The best chance of creating content that goes viral is to publish unique, high-quality content. If audiences enjoy what you publish, they’re more likely to share the content with their networks. High-profile examples of brand viral marketing include the Old Spice Man and Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark Super Bowl tweet.

For more marketing terms, check out Content Strategy Edition—Part TwoContent Strategy Edition—Part One, and UX/UI Edition.

Katie Yohn
Katie Yohn
Forever a student of marketing and the written word, Katie is always on the lookout for new ways to connect with audiences. She enjoys learning about emerging trends and sharing what she's learned. She also has an affinity for alliteration.