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Anyone who interacts with teenagers or maybe you, yourself is young enough to have experienced it first hand, knows there’s a different language out there. Some call it the “text message” language where it is perfectly okay to abbreviate, misspell or swap words with acronyms in order to text faster or hide things from parents. 

We all know why this new language came to be but as someone who recently was categorized in the older demographic, I am “SMH” or Shaking My Head. Even how you type messages and whether or not to use punctuation means something these days. FYI: typing in ALL CAPS means you are yelling. Even stranger, you don’t necessarily need to end your sentences with any periods. Using a period at the end of the last sentence, apparently, gives finality to any statement. In other words; “I’m done talking about this subject.”

We old-school users still struggle to purposely use poor grammar and punctuation in our posts, tweets and texts – it’s just unnatural to us. As adults, understanding this new language isn’t just for the text messages you send. Social media acronyms are finding their way into your conference rooms, marketing and sales reports and especially your IT departments. To succeed these days, you will need to know the most common abbreviations of acronyms that you might come across during your regular work day. I found this list at It’s a long list, but by the end of it, you’ll be a social media acronym master and ready to DM and RT like a pro. LOL!

To start, it’s probably most helpful to review some of the common acronyms that are tied to specific social media networks. They’re generally intuitive, but you should be sure they’re locked in your brain.
  1. FB: Facebook.
  2. G+: Google+.
  3. IG: Instagram.
  4. LI: LinkedIn.
  5. YT: YouTube.
There are also a few regularly used acronyms that describe features on those networks. If you’re on Twitter in particular, these are a must-know for improving your communications among team members and with your online audience.
  1. DM: A “Direct Message” is a one-on-one message sent on Twitter that is only visible to the two individuals exchanging them.
  2. MT: Sometimes when you’re resharing a Tweet, you’ll alter the text. That makes it a “Modified Tweet.” That may mean shortening it to fit within the character limit or removing the poster’s handle if they have a private account.
  3. PM: “Private message” is the more general term for any one-on-one communication that’s not visible to the public. It includes DMs.
  4. RT: A “Retweet” is when you publish somebody else’s Tweet, in its entirety, to your own feed.


For Business

Business experts have always had a unique set of terminology. Many of the general terms that would come up in marketing meetings are equally useful in a social media context.
  1. B2B: This “business to business” label refers to companies that are selling to other companies.
  2. B2C: On the other hand, “business to consumer” designates a company that is selling to individuals.
  3. CMGR: This is the abbreviation for “community manager.”
  4. CMS: A “content management system” is the tool you use for editing, scheduling and publishing any written material for the web.
  5. CPC: The “cost per click” is the dollar amount an advertiser pays for every person who clicks on an ad.
  6. CPM: “Cost per thousand” measures an ad’s impressions rather than its clicks (as in CPC).
  7. CR: The “conversion rate” is a simple equation: the number of people who take an action divided by the number who could have.
  8. CTA: A “call to action” is a statement that asks the reader to do something. This is usually a specific action related to building the company’s social presence or to getting involved in a marketing push.
  9. CTR: The “clickthrough rate” is a particular type of conversion rate where the action in question is clicking on a link.
  10. KPI: A “key performance indicator” is a metric your team or business uses to measure success in achieving goals. For social media, this could be a measurement of engagement, conversions, shares or clicks, depending on your purpose in being on those networks.
  11. PPC: “Pay per click” is a metric for advertising costs that’s the same as CPC.
  12. PV: This stands for “page views.”
  13. ROI: “Return on investment” measures the money you make in relation to the money you spent to make it. It’s a way of assessing the success of certain promotional or advertising efforts.
  14. UGC: The term “user generated content” encompasses any written or visual material that the individuals using a platform create, from comments or blog posts, to photos or video clips.


The Technical Terms

These may not come up frequently in your regular water-cooler chats, but it’s useful for anybody working in social to understand some of the most relevant technical abbreviations. These cover a range of acronyms related to online business that could come up in a chat with the IT team or when dealing with a customer support ticket. In either case, you don’t want to be nodding along without knowing what’s being discussed.
  1. API: An “application programming interface” is a set of rules for how pieces of software interact. Your social media management tools use the APIs of Facebook, Twitter and the other networks to post and schedule.
  2. ESP: Your “email service provider” is the software used for sending emails. This can be an outside service used for email blasts to your audience or for powering your internal team communications.
  3. HTML: You see these letters all the time, and they stand for “hyper text markup language.” It’s the coding language used to build all webpages.
  4. ISP: Just as the ESP is the business supplying your email needs, your “Internet service provider” is the company powering your Internet service.
  5. RSS: A “really simple syndication” is a feed of all posted content from a source, usually a blog.
  6. SaaS: This is an abbreviation for “software as a service,” which is a subset of companies that are in the business of providing software programs.
  7. SEM: “Search engine marketing” is how businesses leverage search engines for marketing purposes.
  8. SEO: “Search engine optimization” is a form of SEM. It refers to the choices you make in your written content that are designed to make sure that your creations appear high in the rankings of the correct search terms.
  9. TOS: “Terms of service.” Just about any online service, including social networks, has a Terms of Service that you must agree to in order to use it. Marketers will want to keep an eye out for any limitations on business activity and details about ownership, both of your content and your data.
  10. UI: The “user interface” is the display that a person uses to control a tool.
  11. UX: The “user experience” is a person’s response and reaction to taking actions within a tool.


Just for Fun

Many of these acronyms crossed over into social media from texting or from online shorthand used in forums. Some of them have been bandied around the Internet for years, but others are more modern inventions. You’ll most likely find these in the public posts made and shared by your followers or in their comments on your social content. Some of them also get turned into popular hashtags that individuals and brands alike can take advantage of.
  1. AFAIK: Stands for “as far as I know.”
  2. AMA: Stands for “ask me anything.” Often used to signal an open Q&A opportunity on a social channel.
  3. BAE: This abbreviation means “before anyone else,” and is one of the more recent creations. Typically it refers to a person’s significant other, but could be a very close friend as well.
  4. BFF: A throwback to childhood in the 80’s and 90’s, this still stands for “best friends forever.”
  5. BRB: “Be right back.” This comes up most often in the context of real-time messaging or chat services.
  6. BTW: Stands for “by the way.”
  7. FBO: Stands for “Facebook official.” This most often refers to making a public announcement of a life development, such as a new job or new relationship, on Facebook to your entire social audience.
  8. FF: The “follow Friday” trend began as a Twitter hashtag for recommending people who merit attention on social. These days, most users don’t make this a weekly update, but save it for giving a signal boost to especially interesting or important social profiles.
  9. FOMO: Stands for “fear of missing out.”
  10. FTW: This acronym of “for the win” initiated in the gaming world, but has become a cry of victory or success for all.
  11. FYI: “For your information.” Another classic that’s still in frequent rotation.
  12. GTG: “Got to go” can end a conversation.
  13. ICYMI: “In case you missed it” most frequently is used when sharing content that is not current. That could be a news item from a few days prior or an evergreen blog post that you want to return to circulation.
  14. IDC: Stands for “I don’t care.”
  15. IDK: Stands for “I don’t know.”
  16. ILY: Stands for “I love you.”
  17. IMHO: This acronym means “in my humble opinion.”
  18. IMO: A slightly different take, this means simply “in my opinion.”
  19. IRL: This acronym means “in real life,” and is meant to distinguish between people’s online and offline lives.
  20. JK: This phrase is “just kidding,” and can be helpful in conveying a light-hearted tone when there’s a possibility for a statement to be misconstrued.
  21. LMAO: Stands for “laughing my a** off.” Not always the right phrase for a business context, but makes it just as necessary to know this acronym when you see it.
  22. LMK: Stands for “let me know.”
  23. LOL: A well-used phrase from the beginning of online chat culture, this means “laughing out loud.”
  24. NBD: Stands for “no big deal.”
  25. NM: Stands for “not much.”
  26. NVM: Stands for “never mind.”
  27. NSFW: The label “not safe for work” usually designates material that is violent, sexual or otherwise inappropriate for a professional setting.
  28. OH: Stands for “overheard.” Generally used as context for quotes.
  29. OMG: Stands for “oh my god” or “oh my gosh.”
  30. OMW: Stands for “on my way.”
  31. PODT: Commonly used as a hashtag on image-centric networks, this stands for “photo of the day.”
  32. PPL: This is shorthand for “people.”
  33. QOTD: Another frequent hashtag, this one means “quote of the day.”
  34. ROFL: A close relative of LOL and LMAO, this acronym is “rolling on the floor laughing.”
  35. SMH: This stands for “shaking my head” and is most frequently used to express shock or dismay.
  36. TBH: Stands for “to be honest.”
  37. TBT: If you’re sharing an old photo, you’ll most likely want to use the hashtag for “throwback Thursday.” Just make sure you post on the right day of the week!
  38. TIL: Stands for “today I learned.”
  39. TL;DR: This unusual acronym means “too long; didn’t read.”
  40. WTF: Another salty shorthand, this stands for “what the f***.”
  41. YOLO: The phrase originated in a song by rapper Drake, but the acronym of “you only live once” has also caught on in social communication.
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