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25 Social Media Buzzwords! Explained (Part I of II)

Jim Tobin.
By: Jim Tobin  |   March 19, 2008  |   View Comments

In December, as part of a tongue-in-cheek print ad, we listed 25 social media buzzwords that make you feel cool if you say them. Surprisingly, that post still gets a fair amount of traffic, and with so many people new to social media, we still get questions about, "What do these all mean?" The most recent request for definitions was just last night. So, without further adieu, here are my brief definitions in layman's terms.

We'll make this like a quiz in reverse. How did I do? Think I missed the point on any of them? Let me know in the comments.


1. Social graph: The social graph is a diagram of the interconnections between people, with the peoplechalkboard shot serving as nodes, and the lines between them showing the connections. But hey, it sounds much cooler if you now refer to it like this. Thus, it's a buzzword. Well respected blogger (actually, some say inventor of blogging), Dave Winer says that social graph and social network are the same thing, and you sound like a monkey if you use the term social graph.

2. Twitter: This one is easy. Twitter is either a "presence app" or a "microblogging tool" depending on whom you ask. In English that means, it's a place where you send short updates to say what you're up to (thus the word "presence") and/or it's a place where you can do very short (140 characters or less, like a text message) posts that might share good articles, etc. It's a great tool for keeping in touch with a group, believe it or not. You can see my "Tweets", as they're called, here.

3. LinkedIn: Often called Facebook for grown-ups, but I think that's wrong. Linked-In, in my view, is your resume online plus the ability to connect with a wide array of folks. Good place to find jobs, connect with people for new business, ask a question and get a good answer, etc. Maybe it's Facebook for work. I could live with that explanation. If you're reading this, and you're not on LinkedIn, join right now. I don't know why you wouldn't.

4. Semantic Web: Ok, you're really cool if you casually work this one into conversation. Picture that all the data on the web was sort of tagged and defined so that computers themselves could know what those pieces were. If so, then the Internet itself (or actually the computers connected to it) could analyze that data and do some of the "thinking" for us. Cool, huh?

5. Wiki: Wikis are collaboration tools. They allow multiple people to work in the same document, and that document lives online. Plus, it saves all the old versions, keeps a history of who changed what, etc. So it's way better than Word in that respect, particular for groups that aren't on a shared server. But, besides Wikipedia, these haven't taken off like people thought they would, in part because you need to know a few wiki codes to make things bold, etc.

6. Widget: I define widgets as mini-applications that can live away from their parents. Probably not the definition that you'll see in a dictionary, but it works for me. These might be desktop widgets that update the weather for you automatically, for example. (Vista and Mac OS both have widget capability.) Or they live in Facebook, Open Social, or many other places. A lot of folks are using widgets to drive traffic to their sites, which is sort of counter-intuitive.

7. KickApps: This one is just fun to say, because everyone thought you cursed there for a second. But KickApps is a very cool tool for building your own social networks. And they'll give it to you free if you let them run ads on your network. (Or you can buy out the ads. If you do, you can have no ads or you can sell your own ads and make money.)

8. Tumblr: I've only played a little with Tumblr, but it's a way to post really short blog posts. Some people call it the blogging platform for busy people. You can also pull in feeds from your other posts, share pictures, etc. Think of it as in-between super-short Twitter and super robust WordPress (which this site uses).

9. del.icio.us: Ah, it's fun to say delicious seemingly out of context, too. Del.icio.us is (a) very hard to remember when you type it the first few times and (b) a better way to save your bookmarks. Say you like a page and want to hang on to it. You can CTRL-D and save it as a bookmark on your computer (and only that computer) or you can save it to del.icio.us. If you do the latter, you can get it on any computer. More than that, there's a social component to del.icio.us. For example, if you are the one who always bookmarks stuff I like, I can follow your tagged entries. Poof, look at all the time you saved me!

10. Enterprise 2.0: In my mind Enterprise 2.0 is simply this: Using all this social media stuff to change the way we work within an organization. How we collaborate. How we use the wisdom of crowds. That sort of thing. And again, think of how cool you sound when you say this. w00t!

11. Social Media Optimization: Ok, you've got content. You put it out in press releases, white papers, yada yada. Social Media Optimization is about making that data portable. Can it be subscribed to through RSS? Can someone submit it to Digg? Can someone take your video and embed it on their site? That sort of thing. A social media newsroom is a great example of SMO for press content.

12. Meme: First of all, how do you say this? It rhymes with dream. To me, memes are ideas that catch on, and a variety of people run with them, build on them, expand on them. The definitions for this one are somewhat varied, but I just sort of think of them in the simplest terms as an idea that spreads.

13. Mash-ups: Mash-ups are great. Take two pieces of content and mash them together to make something new. One very, very common one is a custom Google map, for example. Here's one that Gene in our office did a while back. But mash-ups are limited only by your imagination and computer skills, so don't just think they are Google maps.

That's it for today. I've got some work to do, and this is taking a bit longer than I expected. Look for Part II tomorrow or Friday. I'll link to it here when it's up.

How am I doing so far? Any that you think I missed the boat on? Let me know in the comments.


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