Social Media For the Social Awkward

So here's the deal kids … I'm not a techie or a web guru. I do not have a subscription to Wired and you will not find me roaming the floors of Macworld. I'm simply a PR guy who has spent way too much time online.

Yes, it's true. I've spent much of the past two years exploring the brave new world of social media (think of me as the Aldous Huxley of Web 2.0). Judge me however you'd like, but I must admit that this addiction has proved itself to be an invaluable educational experience. Not only have I learned how to use social media as a promotional tool, but I've discovered a vernacular I never knew exhausted. I've also found amazing tools and websites that rocked my world. Now I want to share my discoveries with you. I guess you could say I'm paying it forward. Remember that Haley Joel Osment flick?

Just a couple of caveats before you get started. While the glossary may be a revelation to some, others will regard it as yesterday's news. That's just the way it goes. It all depends on where you're at in your journey. Please think of the glossary as a work in progress. In fact, I encourage you to send your suggestions for the next edition. Who knows? I may add your idea. I'll even credit you with a link to your website. How 'bout them apples?

For those of you who doubt the power of social media, I'm here to tell you that the revolution is happening with or without you, my friends. You just have to decide if and how you want to participate. As a wise man once said, "Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."

For those of you who do decide to take the leap, I suggest you take the time to observe the cultural nuances of this medium before engaging. In other words, watch and learn from trendsetters like Chris Brogan and Seth Godin to see how it's done. These trailblazers understand the art and science of creating conversation. Because that's what social media is – one big cocktail party. I'll have a Manhattan please.

The same rules apply when engaging in social media as they do at a cocktail party. In other words, this is not the time or the place to be hitting people over the head with your sales pitch. You will immediately lose credibility and people will run the other way. Relationships are culturally organically grown. Just remember that social media is a two-way conversation and everyone will get along just fine. Now go online, make friends and play nice.

The Basics

Aggregator web site: A website or blog which collects and presents content from a variety of news sources (ie, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Drudge Report).

A Software based aggregator: An application that collects content from other websites of the users choosing and displaying it in a single location (ie, an RSS News Reader).

Blogs: Personal websites authored by citizen journalists.

Crowdsourcing: Tapping into the collective intelligence of the public to complete business-related tasks that a company would normally either perform itself or outsource.

Dashboard: A user interface that organizes and presents information in an easy to read format (ie, igoogle).

Findability: Measurement of how easy it is to locate content on the web and social media.

Folksonomy: The collaborative use of tags, labels or keywords by users of online content to organize information online.

Gadget: Google's version of the widget (see Widget).

Hashtag: Used on Twitter to communicate with specific groups. A hashtag is literally a pound symbol followed by a name.

Lifestreaming: An online diary or journal.

Listservs: An application which allows for easy maintenance of email distribution lists, eliminating the need to manually add and delete recipients.

Mashup: A mashup integrates elements from two or more sources into one application. Mash-ups are often created by using a development approach called Ajax. HousingMaps is an example of a mashup. It combines Google Maps and Craigslist rental ads to display geographic information on rental properties. Meta tag: A line of HTML coding that tells a search engine (ie, Google, Bing) about the contents of your website.

Microblogging: Allows users to post and publish brief updates to their followers. Twitter is a form of microblogging.

Podcast: An audio recording that can be downloaded and played on the web or a mobile device.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), aka Search Engine Optimization: A form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs).

SMS: An acronym for Short Message Service, ie, texting.

SMS Gateway: A device that allows you to text, send and read email. A Blackberry is an SMS Gateway. Social bookmarking: The practice of saving bookmarks to a public website and 'tagging' them with keywords.

Social Networking: Allows individuals to create and communicate with a chosen community. Facebook and Twitter are popular examples.

Social Media: Original content created for the web.

Tags: A label attached to an item of content used to enhance search functionality (ie, a label attached to a picture).

Thumbstream: A series of web pages which have been positively rated by someone on a social bookmarking website.

Webinar (short for web based seminar): A seminar, lecture or workshop delivered online. Often, the participants listened to the presenter over the phone while viewing the presentation on their individual computer screen. Participants can ask questions, swap stories and share advice.

Widget (short for window gadget): A useful application that can be embedded on a webpage, blog or social media page. Widgets may include weather forecasts, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, stock market reports and news headlines.

Wikis: Allows a group of people to collaboratively develop a Website. Anyone can add to or edit wiki pages.