Social Media Terms Demystified

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1 min read
What does a hashtag mean?

Confused by social media buzzwords and jargon? Want to know your hashtags from your @mentions? Your reach from your impressions? 

In this guide, I’ll break down what the following terms actually mean, and how they can help you use social media more effectively. 

  • Hashtag

  • @Mention

  • Retweet

  • Reach

  • Impressions

  • Engagement Rate

  • Social Share of Voice (SSoV)



Quick definition: 

A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, to identify digital content on a specific topic.

Full definition: 

A hashtag acts like a bridge between your social post, and the community of other users posting about the same topic. 

Essentially, if you were to put #UKManufacturing at the end of your social post, you can then click on that hashtag as it becomes an active link. Here you’ll find lots of other social posts which have used the same hashtag, so you can engage and connect with like-minded people. 

Hashtags also make your posts more discoverable. Just like you can click on the hashtag and see other people’s posts, they can do the same with yours. 

The optimal number of hashtags for each platform is as follows:


Hashtags (per post)


1 - 2 


3 - 9


5 - 11








Quick definition: 

A mention (also known as @replies or tagging) is a means by which a social post references or links to a user's profile or page.

Full definition: 

@mentions are very similar to hashtags, in that they create a bridge between your post and the community. The difference here is by using an @mention, you are specifically bringing a certain person/people or page into the conversation. 

For example, let’s say I wanted tennis icon Novak Djokovic to see my post. I would @mention his account (@DjokerNole) and once published, he would receive a notification that he had been mentioned by me. He’d probably ignore it. Rude.

It’s important to remember that sometimes people or companies have different social media account names than their actual name. This is the case with Novak. His real name (Novak Djokovic), and his account name (@DjokerNole) are different. 

Keep this in mind as you want to ensure that when you use an @mention, you are communicating with the right person/people or page.



Quick definition: 

A Retweet is the re-posting of a Tweet on Twitter.

Full definition: 

Essentially a retweet is Twitter’s name for a share. That’s it. They just like to be edgy.

It means when you post on the platform, another user can choose to directly share it onto their profile, or apply their own commentary to your post before sharing with their audience. 

A direct share is called a retweet. A share with added commentary is called a quote tweet.



Quick definition: 

The total number of unique people who see your social post.

Full definition: 

Reach is the way social media platforms show your posts to your audience. As a rule of thumb, around 10% of your followers/connections will see your post. 

So, if you have 500 connections on LinkedIn, approximately 50 of them will see your latest post. This seems low I know, but there’s a reason for it. 

If LinkedIn showed everyone’s posts to all of their connections all of the time, the site would be totally unusable. The servers would simply implode. It’s all down to how much data can be processed at any given time, and considering how many people upload onto social media every minute, it doesn’t take long for it to seriously stack up.

To make the most of your reach percentage, I suggest going through your followers/connections on your platform of choice and removing those who you don’t frequently interact with, or those who don’t regularly post themselves. 

What this means is when you come to post, the platform will distribute it to a better, more engaged percentage of people in your network. 

It’s also good practice – particularly on LinkedIn and Instagram – to not post more than once per day. This is because the more you post within a short period of time, the more you shrink that percentage distribution. 

Without getting too technical, you want to ensure what you post performs as well as it can. By posting too much in quick succession, you damage your chances of this as the algorithm (another mumbo-jumbo word for a set of rules) gets confused. 

There are different types of reach depending on the activity.

Let’s explore them:

Type of reach


Post reach

The total number of unique people who see your post – normally from a profile.

Page reach

The total number of unique people who see any post from your page.

Organic reach

The total number of unique people who see your post without the use of any advertising spend or budget.

Paid/Promoted reach

The total number of unique people who see your post after any advertising spend or budget has been applied.

Reach is often confused with impressions (which I’ll cover next) – the two are similar, but there’s a fundamental difference.  



Quick definition: 

The total number of times your social post is shown to users.

Full definition: 

Pretty easy to see why people confuse reach and impressions, right? They are very similar, and are often displayed alongside each other, but whilst reach is all about the number of people who see your social post, impressions are all about frequency. 

For example, if Novak Djovokic’s latest video appears in my newsfeed, that would count as one reach. If I chose to watch that video 30 times, that would count as 30 impressions. 

Once seen, you cannot reach again on the same social post. It’s a one-and-done deal. But the same user can generate multiple impressions on the same post. This is often reflected in the data, with reach almost always being lower than impressions.

Both of these terms (or metrics as we refer to them on Planet Social) can be measured on all types of social posts. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Video
  • Images
  • Text Posts
  • Blogs 
  • Carousel posts
  • Stories 
  • Live



Quick definition: 

The formula that measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to reach or other audience figures.

Full definition: 

Alright here’s where it gets a bit technical. So essentially, the engagement rate on a social post is the combination of its reach, impressions and other engagements/figures which is then spat out as a percentage. 

Engagement rates are important as they give you indication of what posts your audience is more receptive to. This knowledge allows you to prioritise creating posts that generate higher engagement, which means better results for you and more attention on your posts.

You might be wondering what qualifies as an engagement? Allow me to explain. 

It’s basically anything a user can do on the platform to interact with your post. These typically include liking (or reacting), leaving a comment, or sharing.

It’s possible to work out your overall engagement rate for your profile or page if you’d prefer. A good rule of thumb to follow for this would be:Engagement Rate Formula: Total Engagement / Total Followers x100

That’s the end of the maths lesson, I promise.



Quick definition: 

The unique number of times social users mention a specific brand or page name.

Full definition: 

This one essentially boils down to visibility. Social share of voice (or SSoV) is really important for businesses, as it indicates how often users are talking about them on the platform. 

SSoV mentions include direct @mentions which I covered above, but also indirect (which basically means the name is just typed, rather than the page itself being tagged). 

For example, both of these posts would contribute to Nike’s SSoV

  • I love my new @Nike trainers! (Direct)
  • I love my new Nike trainers! (Indirect)

Whilst SSoV certainly applies more to company pages than personal profiles, your profile can play a huge role in boosting the visibility of your business. 

By posting regularly, and @mentioning the company you work for, you will help increase the SSoV – meaning more people will be able to see and interact with the business. 

It’s good practice to educate your workforce on how they can act as brand ambassadors for your business. This would include regular posting, encouraging communication amongst employees and, where applicable, sharing relevant posts from profiles to the company page.



  • Hashtag the link between your social post and the community. 
  • @Mention the link between your social post and a specific person. 
  • Retweet Twitter’s name for a share.
  • Reach the unique number of people who see your social post.
  • Impressions the number of times people see your social post.
  • Engagement rate the combination of reach, impressions and engagements (such as likes and comments).
  • Social share of voice (SSoV) how often social users are talking about you.




Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn – I post lots of social media tips and tricks on my profile which I hope you’ll find helpful. Be sure to get in touch with us at FINALLY for any further assistance, too; we’re happy to help!



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