Demystifying Social Media


As the number of people and organisations on social media continues to grow, it’s no longer acceptable to think of it as a novelty or treat it as an afterthought. Here, we aim to highlight the growing relevance of social media to your organisation in times of crisis or ‘business as usual’ before introducing you to some of the most basic terms to help you navigate the brave new world of social media.

People know what social media is. If Facebook was a country, it would be the biggest in the world, followed by China, India and two more social networks, Tencent and Google+. We’re also familiar with the potential of social media to amplify news stories, making them go ‘viral’ and its unique power to hold our attention through initiatives like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which gained worldwide popularity in July-August 2014.

Yet, the vast majority of businesses still treat social media as a form of marketing, a sales tool or an afterthought; a ‘thing’ rather than a way of ‘doing things’. Heads start to spin uncontrollably when terms like ‘tweets’, ‘reach’ and ‘share’ get thrown around on a daily basis.

It helps to use the term social technologies – to call it social media risks confusing the product with the potential. Social technology encompasses the means of communicating, collaborating and sharing ideas across networks of people – totally independent of time, geography and proximity.

This is why it’s vital that your organisation engages with social technology. By understanding and engaging with social technologies you can harness there massive economic and cultural potential to the benefit of your business.

You need to know what is being said about you and participate in these conversations, every day, and especially in times of crisis. It all starts with knowing what to say online, and where to say it, get yourself a social media strategy if you don’t have one, to guide your efforts.

For the complete beginner, it helps to be familiar with some of the most common terms before taking the leap into social media, as follows:

Term Explanation
Blog A discussion or informational website, typically displayed in order of newest to oldest posts and covering any subject matter. Blogs provide commentary on a particular subject and are updated frequently.
Buzz A general term for the activity around a social media post or campaign, particularly when it amplifies the original message.
Following Also known as ‘connecting’ or subscribing, following refers to the act of electing to subscribe to a particular person or organisations social media updates. The more followers, connections or subscribers someone has, the bigger their audience on social media is, and therefore the bigger their perceived influence (or reach) will be.
Like A way of signalling approval or preference for a person or an organisations post.
Post Something that has been published to social media, which can be original content from a user, such as a tweet, blog, status, photo or video. Posts can also be non-original such as sharing something from another user on social media, or anything from the internet, such as a link to a story or another users post.
Reach The total potential audience who could have seen a post, status or tweet.
Re-tweet Specific to Twitter, this refers to reposting or forwarding a Tweet (post).
Share When content is reposted on social media through another users’ channel.
Status An update from users typically discussing their thoughts, location or other information in the form of words, pictures and/or videos.
Tweet The term given to a status update on Twitter, which is limited to a maximum of 140 characters in length.
Viral The name given a post/status/tweet which is circulated rapidly and widely on social media.

Here at MTI Network, we can help you to improve, understand or even establish your organisations social media presence – read more here or contact dave.harding@mtinetwork.com or ‘tweet’ us @MTINetwork for more details.

For all the latest blog posts, and more, sign up to our monthly email newsletter: