In the world of social media, there are so many terms that get thrown around that, if you’re honest, you don’t quite understand. You know that things like analytics, click-through rate, and reach are important, but you aren’t quite sure why. We want to help you understand!
Here, we want to give you a handy glossary of terms that you can refer to for a better understanding of the major terms used in social media marketing. Our hope is that you can refer back to these terms when you need to brush up on your vocabulary, explain these terms to your church leadership, and to give you a well-rounded view of social media as a whole!
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An A/B test is a method of comparing two variations of an ad, piece of content, or other material, so you can see which version performs better. Also known as split testing, A/B testing involves changing one small element at a time (like a headline or graphic) to refine your results. During A/B testing, only a portion of your audience sees each test. This allows you to create the most effective content before you release it to your entire following.
An algorithm is basically a set of steps a computer uses to accomplish a task. In the context of social media, an algorithm is how a social platform determines which content to display at any given time to a particular user. Social networks are notoriously secretive about how their algorithms work, but they generally use clues based on a user’s social relationships and interactions to determine which content that user will find most appealing.
Analytics is an umbrella term used to describe both social analysis tools and the information those tools provide. Most social networks include their own analytics tools to help businesses analyze how well their posts are doing for metrics such as reach, engagement, and follower growth. Specialized analytics programs like Hootsuite Analytics can provide more in-depth information and reports that include metrics such as team performance and social ROI.
Boost, boosted post
A boosted post is a form of social media advertising in which a brand pays to show a social post to people who do not already follow the brand’s social accounts.
Brand awareness is a social media metric that captures how likely people are to be aware of your brand. You can measure brand awareness for any given period by tracking the amount of attention your brand gets online in the form of mentions and engagement. The more people are talking about you online, the greater your brand awareness.
A caption is a description that accompanies a photo on social media. Captions can include text, hashtags, @ mentions, and emojis. Captions are an important part of telling your photo’s story on social media and a key driver of engagement.
Click-through rate (CTR)
Click-through rate, abbreviated CTR, is a measure of how many people who view a social post, ad, or other piece of content click through to read more, buy, or take some other action. It’s a useful metric because it measures how effectively your social content drives people to your owned web properties. The formula to calculate CTR is the number of clicks divided by total impressions. CTR is usually expressed as a percentage.
Content marketing is attracting and retaining customers through the creation and distribution of original, valuable content such as videos, whitepapers, guides, and infographics. Consistently providing valuable content gives followers a reason to stay tuned to your social channels while building rapport and establishing your industry expertise.
A conversion occurs when a social media user or visitor to your website takes a specific, desired action. Making a purchase is often the desired conversion, but it is not the only one. Other conversion examples include lead-generation actions like opting into a newsletter, registering for a webinar, or downloading a whitepaper.
Conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by the number of visitors. It’s a social media metric that allows you to measure how well your social media efforts are working to achieve specific business goals.
Cost per click (CPC)
Cost per click (CPC) is a metric for how much each click costs in a pay-per-click advertising campaign. Cost-per-click and pay-per-click are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re actually two sides of the same coin. Pay-per-click is the type of ad model, and cost-per-click is the fee per click.
Engagement is any form of interaction with your brand on social media. Likes, comments, and shares are all forms of engagement.
Engagement rate is a measure of how many people interact with your social media content. There are several ways to calculate engagement rate, but all aim to calculate what percentage of people who were exposed to a post chose to engage with it in some way.
Evergreen content is content designed to last for the long term. It’s not tied to any specific event or promotion, and can bring traffic to your website for years to come.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the “#” sign. Hashtags are used on social media to tag posts as part of a larger conversation (such as #HootChat) or topic (such as #Superbowl). Clicking a hashtag reveals the latest posts that include the tag. Hashtags are searchable, and serve a similar role to keywords.
Impressions is a metric that counts how many times an ad or promoted posts is fetched from the server and displayed on a social network. It is not a measure of how many people have seen the ad. For example, one social media user might have the same ad appear in their newsfeed multiple times over a certain period. Each of these instances is counted as one impression.
Key performance indicator (KPI)
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric tracked over time to determine progress towards a valuable business goal. Social media KPIs might include audience growth rate, amplification rate, and customer satisfaction score.
Organic reach is the number of unique users who view your content without paid promotion. People find social content organically through their own feeds — either from companies whose accounts they’ve liked themselves or through content shared by friends or connections. If someone visits your social profile based on a search or any other non-paid referral, this is also organic reach.
Reach refers to the total number of people who have been exposed to a social post or ad. This metric does not necessarily indicate that all of these people have actually seen your content. They could have scrolled right past it, for instance. Reach simply indicates that the content appeared in the user’s social feed at least once.
Social media analytics tools usually report organic reach and paid reach as two separate metrics.
Social media ROI
Social media ROI (return on investment) is a measure of how much you get out of the time, money, and effort you put into your social media strategy. It’s a way of evaluating which strategies provide the most value, and which areas of your strategy may not be delivering enough return.
Targeting is the practice of selecting a specific audience for social ads to maximize conversions. Social networks offer many targeting options based on factors like demographics, location, and interests.
URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator. It means the address of a website page or other resource on the Internet. URLs can contain codes called UTMs that help with tracking and analytics.
A vanity metric is an analytics item that can be measured but is not a signifier of real return on investment. Examples include the number of followers, likes, or comments. These metrics are best contextualized by more concrete numbers such as click-through rate or visitor-to-lead conversions.
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