The Urban Dictionary of Social Media Marketing
The Urban Dictionary of Social Media Marketing

by Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.

I work with online businesses and ecommerce merchants to create high-performing content and marketing strategies that yield successful results. I am always happy to share my expertise and love discovering new potential collaborators.


For new business owners and executives who are new to the world of social media marketing, one of the more common challenges you’re likely to come across at the start is attempting to digest all the jargon. Social media is a minefield of odd words, phrases and acronyms that make perfect sense to those who are fluent – but are inclined to baffle the new and uninitiated. Nonetheless, as you explore, you will become more confident. Don’t give up on social media just yet, because it could be just what you need to build an online community around your business. And it’s not going anywhere soon. Here is a guide to some of the more common slang words surrounding social media (don’t forget to read up on social media etiquette as well).

At mentions

At mentions (also know as @ mentions) are used on Twitter. They essentially do the same thing as Facebook’s tagging system, enabling you to mention someone in your tweet, which will automatically send them a notification.


Your avatar is much like a profile picture. It’s an image – or sometimes just a username – that represents you online. This could be on social networks, as well as places like online forums. If you set up a Gravatar account, you can set an image to follow you from site to site, so there’s no need to upload one every time.


You’ve heard of a physical bookmark – bookmarking is not much different, except that it’s digital. If you find something online that you enjoyed or would like to save for reading later, you can bookmark it either directly through social media websites (see bookmarking on Facebook) or through an external bookmarking manager like Pocket.

Brand ambassador

Brand ambassadors are very valuable. They are your best customers: the ones who love your brand so much that they will voluntarily share the positive experiences they’ve had with you on social media. Brand ambassadors are essential to building a good online reputation – even in this digital age, we must never underestimate word-of-mouth marketing.


You’ve probably seen clickbait around, you perhaps just didn’t realize it had a name. Any marketing material that relies on an overly hyped or sensational headline to try and entice you to click falls under the category of ‘clickbait’. Clickbait articles are designed to generate revenue and nothing more. They might sound like ‘People are doing something seriously weird with their McFlurrys’ or ‘How old was Rooney Mara when she first ate pie?’.

Facebook advertising

Facebook has its own advertising system that allows businesses to reach a precise audience with relevant, targeted adverts. There are various pricing options available for most marketing budgets, as well as the ability to select your audience by demographics such as age, location, and interests. Arguably, Facebook advertising is one of the more efficient ways to advertise online. Here’s a beginner’s guide.


GIF is shorthand for Graphics Interchange Format, and on social media they act as small animations or video clips – characterized by being rather jerky. They are usually just a few seconds long and played on a loop, often with subtitles (but not always). GIFs can a fun way to illustrate a point and are perfect for young, playful businesses to share.




A hashtag can be a word (or group of words) that starts with this sign (#). The words are grouped together and are usually to categorize information and ideas, making your posts more relevant and visible for other users. Examples of popular hashtags (right now) include #wimbledon, #dontsteponabeeday, #thingsbleachcantclean and #mondaymotivation.


Influencers are social media power users. They have large online followings and with them, the ability to sway the thoughts and opinions of others. Influencers tend to be well-connected, activists, early adopters of new products or technology, and social media savvy. Popular influencers in 2017 include Zoe Sugg (beauty), Lilly Singh (entertainment), and Mark Fischbach (gaming).


An internet meme is a catchphrase, image, concept or other piece of media that spreads. Mostly memes come in the form of an image, but they can also appear as videos, websites or hashtags. Memes commonly take their roots from popular culture, although not exclusively – they can come from almost anywhere. They provide a fun and playful way to express a point on social media. Here are some of the internet’s favorite memes.

New media

‘New media’ is really just another way of describing social media, though in the past it’s been used to describe all kinds of digital media. A more accurate description would be any digital communication channels that promote collaboration between users, rather than that which is static, such as a print magazine.

News feed

On Facebook, your news feed is very simply the central column of your homepage – the one that you will inevitably start to find yourself scrolling through. The news feed is constantly updating with new stories, pictures, events and other media from your friends and the people/businesses you follow.


Newsjacking is when a person, brand or business capitalizes on a popular news story in order to amplify their sales and marketing efforts. Newsjacking can be effective, but it must be done with care and consideration, and only when truly relevant. Here’s a guide to successful newsjacking on social media.


This online advertising technique is used by social media marketers and ecommerce merchants to display ads on social media to users who have previously visited their website. Retargeting campaigns can be highly effective, reminding users of the products they were interested in but perhaps didn’t get round to purchasing the first time round. Retargeting functionality can be added as part of your online store setup using apps and/or plugins.


Similar to ‘at mentions’ but for Facebook, tagging is where you can attach a person’s name to a picture, video, or status update. Tagging has a lot of meanings online, so it can be easy to get confused. So for example, if you were to upload a photo to your page that featured three of your staff members, you could individually tag each staff member and they would receive a notification and be able to see (and display) that photo as desired. Facebook tagging is becoming more sophisticated thanks for facial recognition software.


No, they don’t live under bridges – although who knows, maybe some of them do. An internet troll is an altogether different (though equally unpleasant) type of beast. They go around posting on social media and in the ‘comments’ sections of articles and forums, deliberately inciting arguments with irrelevant, hostile or inflammatory comments. Their primary goal is to make people angry and provoke some kind of response. If you ever encounter an internet troll, here is what you should do.


When something ‘goes viral’ on social media, essentially all that means it that it became very popular and got widely shared – usually in the tens of thousands or millions. So you might say “this Breakaway Graphics blog post has gone viral!” if it were shared and then reshared thousands of times on Facebook or Twitter. But it’s not always an article – equally (perhaps more often) it is a video, meme, infographic, or even a GIF. Virality is highly sought after in the marketing world, but can be difficult to achieve, as there are multiple factors (timing, relevance, shareability) at play.

Although some social media terms can be tricky to understand at first, most of the time they actually relate to something very simple. All it takes is a little getting used to – and just like learning a language, the more you immerse yourself in it, the quicker you will pick it up.

What other social media slang words do you find confusing? Let us know in the comments below (no trolls please) and we’ll see if we can help.


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