The term “social media” is a concept having roots in the late 1970s with the Usenet and electronic bulletin board systems (BBS). A few other synonyms have emerged, but according to Google Trends, none of the primary alternatives are mentioned quite as often.
There are three primary social media synonyms. An “online community” refers to individuals or companies connected over one or more interests. A “social platform” concerns the technologies and systems used to connect on the internet. A “social network” maps the connections between people and groups.
Let’s go through each of these synonymous terms and dig deeper into their meaning. We’ve included a reference table of terms from 13 social media companies showing functionally related words along with some social media slang words you should know.
Table of Contents
Each synonym for “social media” has the same loose definition with subtle differences.
Social media refers specifically to the content shared between users. The types of social media sent between linked accounts includes:
- Audio clips
- Interactive games
This media is electronically shared over an online connection and mostly via a browser or mobile app.
A social platform is the combination of technologies that allow users to communicate and share media. Everything from the smartphone app and the website to the servers and third-party vendors comprises the social platform.
As large companies acquire rival or complimentary internet services or companies, they link the data and offerings, expanding their platform. For example, Facebook bought and combined data and capabilities from Whatsapp, Instagram, Oculus, and Onavo to expand its platform of tools.
This video (4m36s@2x) from The Hated One YouTube channel digs deeper into the impetus and goals of Facebook’s growing social platform.
Before there were online communities, there were just communities—people who were geographically nearby or would gather around certain activities or common goals.
In the internet age, communities expanded past their locality. Members can now communicate and collaborate:
- without being tied to real-world meeting locations
- across time zones consuming and producing media asynchronously
- using a growing number of tools making the experience as good or better than before
Social platform technologies facilitate, record, and maintain the connection of online community participants.
The term social network is the primary synonym for social media. However, the word “network” refers to the mapping or relationship between two or more accounts, users, companies, etc.
Social networks also measure the strength of the connection between any two points in the graph or social web through
- Distance: the number of nodes or hops between two measured points
- Interactivity: such as likes, shares, comments, and return visits
Social networking is using a social network to get to know and expand your social graph.
Each company uses different terminology to describe the interaction with their services. The following table gives you the branded jargon or vocabulary for popular social media services.
Digital marketing includes coining new terms or naming tool parts on their social media platform. Companies ensure brand awareness and guide the average user to engaging with the social networking site.
The following table gives you a good cross-reference of terminology relating similar words together.
|Brand||Added Piece of Media||Reaction to Media||Account Connection||Notes|
|Mastodon||Toot||Favourite||Follower||Facebook & Twitter alternative|
As you use some of the above social platforms, you’ll inevitably come across internet terms, slang, or a phrase or two that are unfamiliar. You’ll need some translation.
Let’s arm you with a dictionary of commonly-used internet, social media acronyms, and some must-know jargon.
- afaik: as far as I know
- ama: ask me anything
- bbl: be back later
- brb: be right back
- btw: by the way
- cu: see you
- dm: direct message
- fb: Facebook
- ftw: for the win
- fwiw: for what it’s worth
- g2g/gtg: got to go
- gg: good game
- idk: i don’t know
- ig: i guess or Instagram
- ikr: i know, right?
- imho: in my humble opinion
- imo: in my opinion
- irl: in real life
- jk: just kidding
- l8r: (see you) later
- lmk: let me know
- lol: laughing out loud
- np: no problem
- nsfw: not safe for work
- nvm: never mind
- omg: oh my gosh
- omw: on my way
- OTL: desperation; ASCII art/emoji person on all fours on the floor
- pm: private message
- rofl: rolling on floor laughing
- srs: serious
- tbh: to be honest
- tldr: too long didn’t read
- tmi: too much information
- ttyl: talk to you later
- tw: Twitter
- ty: thank you
- wfh: working from home
- yolo: you only live once
- yt: YouTube
- yw: you’re welcome
- Bae: really close friend or mate; babe or before anyone else
- Epic fail: easily-avoided or overly-complex mistake or event
- Facepalm: reaction to something obvious or stupid 🤦♀️
- Friendversary: friendship anniversary
- Here for it: expressing pleasure or support
- I can’t even: when something causes several emotions or reactions at once
- Lit: when something exceeds expectation
- Lurker: someone who browses an online community without interacting
- Meme: text, image, video copied, modified, and passed around
- Noob: a newcomer to an online community
- Noice: more than just nice, excellent
- On fleek: when something is executed perfectly
- Photobomb: as a prank, moving quickly into the frame of a photo being taken
- Pwned: expression of complete victory over an opponent; misspelling of “owned
- Slay: executed perfectly; “killed it”
- Spamming: sending a lot of messages to the point of annoyance
- Trending: when a topic is popular on a social network
- Troll: a person who deliberately annoys others online
Do some of these terms sound concerning? We’ve listed some of the safest social networks.