Organic Social Media 101

Terminology for Media Novices

There’s a big difference between casual social media users and those trying to run accounts for their brand. One of the most significant barriers to organic social media marketing is the vocab. If you’re new to this, you’ve likely seen some terminology that doesn’t sound like plain English. And that’s okay. We can assure you that you’re not the only one.

Most people will never need to make these terms part of their everyday vocabulary. But that’s not the case for someone who’s using organic social media as a growth tool. With a growing list of terms, it can feel overwhelming for newbies trying to find their footing in the social world.

We’re here to make social media terminology a little more approachable for beginners. Take a deep breath and jot down some notes as we get these basics out of the way.

Social Media Icons on Smart Phone


Organic social media includes any activity without paid promotion. It uses free social media tools to publish photos, videos, links, and other types of content.


A platform is a social media network or app. For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all platforms.


A social media bio is a short description found in your profile. Both people and brands can have bios, but options may change based on the type of account.


A feed is the stream of content you see from other users. On most social media platforms, the news feed serves as the homepage. Both organic social media content and paid advertisements appear in the news feed.


A post refers to any update published to the news feed, including written text, photos, and videos. It also describes the action of publishing content on social media, i.e., “We regularly post on Instagram.”


A story is a time-sensitive post separate from the news feed. It can consist of photos, videos, music, and interactive elements like polls. This format was popularized by Snapchat and has since been adopted by many social platforms.

Stories are compiled into one album but are only visible for 24 hours unless the user chooses to “highlight” them. Highlighting an Instagram story, for example, makes it visible on a user’s profile until they manually remove the highlighted status.


A follower refers to a person who has opted in to receive your updates. Both personal accounts and brands can have followers. Your follower count is often used to measure growth on social media.

Smartphone Displaying Social Media App Icons


A reaction is an instant way to show approval or disapproval of a post. Some social media platforms, including Instagram, only allow users to Like a post. Facebook has expanded its reaction types to include Love, Sad, Angry, and several other options. LinkedIn has followed suit with a lineup of more professional reactions. Regardless of the platform, the original poster will be notified of this reaction.


Users can “share” posts from other accounts on their own newsfeeds. This action republishes content while giving credit to the original poster. Not every post is shareable. The original poster’s privacy settings must allow it.

Platform-specific Terms

  • Facebook: Share
  • Instagram: Regram
  • Twitter: Retweet


A user can create a link to another person’s profile by labeling them in a picture or adding their username to a written update.


The term initially referred to Twitter usernames but has since become the standard for other social media platforms. You can use a handle to mention a person or brand in a social media post. Type the “at” symbol (@) followed by their username or display name. The account’s owner will be notified of this mention.


Hashtags categorize information and connect posts to popular topics. Using the hashtag symbol within a post turns a word into a clickable, searchable term. When users click the hashtag, related posts are shown. They can also search hashtags to find public posts with related content. Users can follow hashtags to see these posts directly in their news feed on some platforms, like Instagram.


An algorithm is a mathematical formula used to solve a data-related problem. All social media platforms use algorithms to prioritize content. In this case, algorithms determine which posts users see first.


These terms all refer to the data tracked by social media platforms. Interactions like pageviews and comments are quantified and recorded. Brands can also use external tools to track their performance. However, many of these tools require a paid subscription. In general, built-in analytics programs are free.

In many cases, platforms deliver both raw data via spreadsheet and premade charts directly within the platform. Datasets can often be compared to one another on a weekly or monthly basis. Typically, users can also adjust the date range when generating these spreadsheets.


Reach reflects how many users have seen your post, ultimately measuring brand awareness. Although users may see your content multiple times, accounts are only counted once with this metric.


An engagement is any type of action taken by users on your social media page. For example, engagements include interactions such as Likes, Comments, and Shares.


An engagement rate is a social media metric used to assess the average number of interactions on a post. Essentially, your engagement rate measures how well your content performs. The higher the engagement rate, the better.

Calculating an Engagement Rate:

(Number of Interactions) / (Number of Followers) x 100%

Average Engagement Rate for Brands

  • Facebook: 0.27%
  • Instagram: 1.16%
  • Twitter: 0.07%


Impressions are the total number of times your post has been seen on social media. A single post can receive multiple impressions from one user if they have looked at your post more than once.

Analytics Reports on Laptop Screen


Popular topics on social media are often shown on a “trending page” or sidebar of the platform. These trends encourage discussion and engagement among users. Hashtags usually accompany trending topics.


Viral is a term used to describe organic social media content that spreads quickly, especially videos and photos. Viral content relies on word of mouth and sharing. Although there is no specific threshold for virality, many media professionals agree that “going viral” means receiving over a million views in a matter of a few days. Rapid popularity is the only current defining marker for viral content.


This metric is specific to Facebook. It measures the total number of people who have seen your organic social media post but do not follow your account. Non-followers can see your content after it is shared, liked, or commented on by a friend.


This content is created by consumers—videos, photos, graphics, quotes, etc.—and reposted or shared on the brand’s account. Brands often rely on user-generated content to build trust with their followers and increase engagement.


An influencer is a social media user with a large audience who can drive awareness about brands and products. In general, they have the power to affect purchasing decisions because of their popularity, knowledge, or trustworthiness.

Influencers are broken up into subcategories based on their follower count:

  • Mega-influencers: More than 1 million followers
  • Macro-influencers: Up to 1 million followers
  • Micro-influencers: Up to 40,000 followers
  • Nano-influencers: Fewer than 1,000 followers


Our best tip is to be realistic about your understanding of social media. We’ve only scratched the surface here, and there’s a vast list of terms we didn’t cover. Remember, social media is a complex study, and people seek out college degrees in it. Don’t feel discouraged if you’re unsure about more complex concepts and vocab, and don’t overwhelm yourself by becoming a social media expert. That’s why we’re here.

We want to introduce you to one last vocabulary term: Community Manager

A community manager is a person responsible for managing the social media accounts of a business. They focus on growing your following, maintaining your reputation, and creating engaging content. When you work with 20Twenty, you will be assigned a community manager from our social media team. They will help get your social brand on track and will guide you through the growth process.