What Is Social Media and Other Key Terms To Know

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Heidi Lang

Instagram 101 | Feb 16, 2024

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Social networking sites like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more have taken over everyone’s lives. Admit it—for at least a few hours of your day, these social media apps have a chokehold on you. But just because we use these sites every day doesn’t mean we fully grasp their purpose. So, what is social media?

Social platforms let people connect with others online through messages, photos, videos, and other types of engaging content. Being active on such platforms is a terrific way to stay in touch with people.

But today, social networking isn’t just for people to see what their friends are up to. It’s also an avenue for brands and influencers to reach their niche audience. Social media users also use their favorite apps to keep track of news and current events. In short, social sites have become so much more than just places to be social. It’s terrific for business and marketing, too.

Today, we’ll go through some of the basic terms people use when talking about digital marketing. If you’re a brand that wants to make it big on social apps, keep reading!

A phone screen showing icons of popular social apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Its Role in Product Promotion: What Is Social Media Marketing?

Brands love to use social platforms to promote their goods and services. But what is social media marketing, and how effective is it for businesses?

Today, marketers consider social websites a mass media channel for marketing. Using social platforms to connect with your customers is a great way to generate brand awareness and drive sales.

These channels allow you to engage with your loyal patrons, hear their feedback, and introduce them to new products. It also lets you address your customers’ concerns in real-time through personalized messages, strengthening your relationship with them.

You can even set up your posts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to reach your specific target audience. That way, you’ll be reaching the right audience online and achieve all your business goals.

A work desk with a computer screen with the words “Digital Marketing” on it.

What Is the Most Popular Social Media Platform Right Now?

If you’re a new digital marketer, you may be asking—what is the most popular social media platform right now? Where should brands be present to reach as many people as possible online?

According to Statista, Facebook is the most popular platform as of October 2023. The Meta-owned app has a whopping 3.03 million active users every month. YouTube is the second most popular, with 2.49 million monthly active users. Meanwhile, WhatsApp and Instagram are tied for third with two million users every month.

The People (and Entities) Behind the Platforms

Aside from social website users, plenty of other people “run” this side of the internet. Without them, digital marketing wouldn’t exist. Here are a few of those people and entities:

The Modern Online Celebrity: What Is a Social Media Influencer?

You might have heard that influencers run the show on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Whatever they say goes, and the products and lifestyles they promote become the hottest new trend online. But what is a social media influencer to begin with?

Influencers are social networking personalities who have amassed a sizeable following on their platforms. Because of this, they’re highly influential and impactful, especially if they have a good relationship with their audience.

Brands love to tap influencers for their digital campaigns because their posts seem more authentic than traditional ads. These influencers promote a brand on their page and put in a good word for them to their followers. This is terrific if you want to boost brand awareness, generate sales, and drive traffic to your website. It’s even more of a must for brands in the lifestyle space, in niches like fashion, fitness, travel, and more.

A female influencer eating a slice of pizza while filming a vertical video with her iPhone and tripod.

What Is a Social Media Manager and What Do They Do?

Some of the most popular jobs in the digital marketing realm include copywriters, graphic designers, and SEO blog editors. But in recent years, community managers have become a popular career, too. What is a social media manager, and what are their responsibilities?

These specialists are exactly what they sound like—they manage social accounts for brands. They plan content calendars and brainstorm ideas for new, interesting posts.

They’re also commonly in charge of publishing the content and replying to followers who engage with the posts. Some managers double as customer service reps and help address people’s concerns with the brand through direct messages.

After certain digital campaigns, they might also create reports on how certain posts performed. Basically, they run the show and daily operations behind a brand’s social platforms.

A female social manager checking her phone and seeing social networking notifications, like Instagram likes and WhatsApp messages.

The Power of Automation: What Is a Bot on Social Media?

Online bots often get a bad rap. People immediately think of malicious bots, like those that spam your page with comments or spread misinformation. But not all bots are bad. So, what is a bot on social media that is beneficial for brands?

While hiring a community manager is common for businesses, sometimes, it isn’t sustainable. Big brands get thousands of messages from customers and need to come up with multiple posts per day. This kind of workload isn’t good for just one digital marketing manager. Enter online automation bots.

Through automation, online bots or software can automatically do social networking tasks for brands. These include replying to DMs and posting previously scheduled content. Using automation tools makes things way easier for big businesses with a lot on their plate. These tools are readily available online (but make sure you only work with legitimate ones!).

Other Common, Key Terms You Need To Know When You Run a Social Account

Aside from knowing the definition of social networking, there are also a lot of related terms you need to know. If you want to be active in digital marketing, you’ll need to get the hang of using related online jargon. Here are some of the key terms you might hear in the online community:

What Is a Social Media Handle or Username?

An online “handle” is similar to a username. It’s your ultimate identifier online and what people will search for on social platforms when they look you up. But what is a social media handle supposed to do for you?

A good handle allows people to remember your brand better. It’s concise but unique and packs a punch, which helps build an image for your brand.

It also makes it easier for people to find your online platforms. You don’t want to choose a handle that has nothing to do with your brand name. Otherwise, you won’t show up on the search results when your customers look for you online. So, you want your handle to be as close to your brand name as possible.

The Social Networking Game Plan: What Is a Social Media Strategy?

Every brand with an online presence has to strategize their game plan to stand out on the platform. But what is a social media strategy, and how do you craft one for your brand?

To create your online game plan for your brand, you first need to know a couple of things. First, ask yourself what your brand goals are. If you’re a new business, focus on brand awareness. If you’re a bigger brand that wants to grow, shift your efforts to sales conversions. Goals are different per brand, so assess your business’s unique situation and go from there.

Then, you need to have your target audience down pat. Are you trying to speak to younger or older customers? Do you want to communicate with males or females? Where are they from?

When you know these things, start thinking of how you want to go about your online presence. Brainstorm strategies that will allow you to reach your business goals. Your strategy should have key performance indicators so you can see if you’re meeting your goals.

Here are some examples of online strategies for brands:

  • Host contests and giveaways with a sharing component to boost awareness.
  • Create a branded hashtag to encourage user-generated content and be more discoverable on the platform.
  • Run Instagram ads that promote bestselling products to encourage your audience to shop for them through your website.

What Is a Social Media Campaign, and What Are Its Benefits?

To keep it short and sweet, a campaign is a set of cohesive posts strategically planned to promote a brand. These can be ads or organic posts lined up by the brand. Usually, they’re focused on one thing, such as a new collection or an upcoming event.

But what is a social media campaign for? Can’t you just have one post promoting a product now and then?

The reality is that no one will care about your project if you post about it just once. Campaigns amplify a specific subject a brand wants to hype up, like a product launch. It’s a terrific way to get people talking about your brand when you’re cooking up something big. In the later stages, it can also help drive sales and brand loyalty.

Basic Metrics 101: What Is a Social Media Impression?

There are plenty of social platform metrics out there, from reach to engagement. They’re some of the most used performance indicators among brands. But what is a social media impression?

Online users see your content through the screen a certain number of times, and these are called impressions. It doesn’t count how many people saw it since some people can see a post twice or more. It simply informs you about how frequently your content is served to your target audience.

This metric is good for measuring how effectively you are pushing your ads to your audience. However, it doesn’t measure how well it’s performing in terms of engagement.

What Is Social Media Listening Through Analytics?

Analytics and online listening tools are all the rage in today’s world of big data. But what is social media listening, and what can it do for your business?

Social listening is the process of using analytics tools to hone in on conversations in the online space. Listening tools are amazing to see how well your brand is going on a grander scale. You can use it to see what people are saying across platforms about your brand to check on public sentiment. You can also use it to look for trends that you can leverage in upcoming projects.

What Is a Social Media Audit and Who Conducts One?

Lastly, we have “What is a social media audit?” Put simply, an audit is an assessment of a brand’s current social platform presence. It’s a comprehensive look at what kind of content they put out and how it’s faring. They use the learnings from this audit to improve their online persona moving forward.

Community managers, digital marketing agencies, and sometimes marketing managers themselves usually conduct audits. It’s a great way to thoroughly see how your brand is performing online and what you can improve on.

Social Networking Plays an Integral Role in Any Company’s Brand Health

If you run a brand and you want it to go big, being active on social platforms is a no-brainer. It’s an excellent way to reach your target audience and promote your products and services to them. You can also use it as a marketing tool to improve your brand image and relationship with your customer base.

Now that we’ve answered your burning question of “What is social media?” it’s time to get down and dirty. Your next task? Going online and growing your page.

When it comes to Instagram pages for your brands, Path Social will be your best friend in quick, organic growth. Our algorithm looks for your target audience and serves your content to their feed. That way, your brand is more discoverable and will reel in heaps of followers. Not only that, but you’ll see tons of engagement on the content you worked hard on. So, what are you waiting for? Start growing your Instagram community with us today!