Hashtags and other terms you should know

By Laura Haight

Originally published in the Upstate Business Journal on June 21, 2013 

Dictionaries in some form or another have been around since 2300 BC (the Summerian-Akkadian) with the first English language dictionary published in 1604. There are dictionaries in every language and for hundreds of disciplines - there’s Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, architectural dictionaries and dictionaries for drugs and diseases.

For centuries, we’ve been struggling to understand each other by creating language and the reference to understand it. But language is a living thing and every year new words make it into our reference materials. In 2012, for example, we added sexting and cloud computing, among others.

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And yet in the fast-paced world of social media the common lexicon remains a mystery to many small business owners. When confronted with our marketing reports on hashtags, click thrus, memes, content marketing, meta tagging and taxonomies, you may get that look on your face that your pet has when you talk to them (the quizzical, but loyal - I am listening to you, honest - head tilt!).

This week, Facebook implemented support for hashtags (#). I see that head tilt again. Actually, it’s a pretty big step that brings rich content searches to Facebook and starts to make meaningful content connections between Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - and other social platforms that support hashtags.

Facebook users will be able to search for and click on hashtags — as represented by the traditional # symbol — to see a stream of images, posts, and links all tagged with a given phrase. Aggregators like Flipboard, Storify, paperli and others will be able to pull content from across platforms that match the #. And, your own company’s posts, when using #’s to enable searching and analytic tracking, will be able to be posted to more than one service using an aggregator. Write once, post to many. That was less feasible before since the # really didn’t translate on Facebook.

Of course, # - their meaning and usefulness - are not the only mystery. Here are a few others to learn so you can wow your social media team.

Content Marketing: This is the word of the year. It appears everywhere and is used by everyone and yet few can really explain it. It’s simple: we used to call this blogging. It is the act of creating informative content that provides information to readers while at the same time elevating you - and by extension your company - as an expert. Blogging, video blogging, mobblog (blogging on a mobile device), microblogging (posting on Facebook or Twitter) are all content marketing. Note that it is not content marketing if your posts are about this week’s sale or any other naked sales pitch.

Meme:  (rhymes with “team”) originally coined to describe a self-replicating unit, an internet meme refers to something such as an idea or concept that has gone viral for no apparent reason being spread from person to person through social, email, or other technologies. A lot of memes are grunge humor or cultural curiosities, but there are deeper ones as well. The internet, social media, mobile communications have the ability to identify and spread cultural shifts in near-real time.

Squeeze Page: While I haven’t heard this term used too much, it describes  a common data-capture technique: It’s an intervening web page where a user is required to submit some information before they are allowed to access additional content. Like giving up your name and email address before you can download a white paper or view a video. I have actually used this many times - for Portfolio and for clients - I just didn’t know it had a name. I guess we are squeezing information out of people.

Crowdsourcing: Using collective intelligence to gather data, solve a problem or contribute content. This is what news media are doing when they ask people who rescued their pets to contact them to be interviewed for a story. Not to be confused with crowdfunding like Kickstarter that uses small contributions from everyday Joe’s to fund start-up products and businesses.

Twitter-specific: #FF is Follow Friday - the day when your Tweeps massively push out recommendations to their followers. This is one way to get a lot more followers and, you are generally expected to respond in kind. HT or h/t is the social media equivalent of tipping your hat to someone: A Twitter acknowledgement of a good post or expert info. Handle, c’mon good buddy, you know this one.

Follow me @portfoliosc - that’s my handle - and don’t forget me on #FF.