Web jargon busted: what these digital terms really mean

In aid of Professional Beauty's Software Week, taking place June 8–14, PB's social media editor Chris Halpin explains what some of the most common online marketing acronyms and social media terms really mean, and how to use them to your advantage. 

While there are plenty of great resources out there to learn how to get ahead on social media, it can be easy to forget about the basics. With so many terms that are only perhaps clear to a “social guru”, someone just starting out can be overwhelmed. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key phrases used in social media and online advertising that you need to know about.

Social media terms

Reach: The reach of a piece of content refers to the number of unique people who have viewed it. You may also see reference to “organic reach”; this is the number of unique people who have seen the content without it being promoted (e.g. through Facebook Ads).

Impressions: Impressions on a piece of content refers to the number of times that content has been seen. This can include the same person seeing that content on more than one occasion.

Engagement: Broadly speaking, engagement is the number of interactions that a piece of content receives. That interaction will tend to be a reaction (such as “Like” or “Love” on Facebook), a click (through to a website or to read more of a longer post), and “sharing” the content or leaving a comment. The scope of interactions depends on the platform.

Engagement rate: The percentage of engagements to potential audience. This can be done against one of two measures. The first is against the total followers of a page (engagement ÷ total followers = engagement rate %). The second would be against the total reach of the content (engagement ÷ reach = engagement rate %). This allows you to see relative engagement more easliy: you may find you get a better engagement rate on a piece of content with a lower reach than one with a higher reach.

Views: What counts as a “view” on a video differs depending on the platform. For Facebook and Instagram (including IGTV), a person is counted as “viewing” a video if they have watched at least three seconds. On YouTube, a person must have watched at least 30 seconds to count as a view.

Advertising Acronyms

PPC: Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is the catch-all term for platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Ads, along with Google Ads. This is where people pay to promote their content, with the spend coming when people click on the content.

CPC & CPM: Cost per click (CPC) and cost per mille (CPM) are used when working out the benefits of a PPC advertising campaign. CPC is fairly straightforward, referring to the actual spend to get one click on your campaign. CPM, on the other hand, is the cost per 1,000 impressions, and does not take into account any clicks or interactions with the advert.

SEO: Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to how well your website is set up to rank highly on Google or other search engines. Ideally, you want to have a high SEO ranking – that is, your website naturally appears at the top of a search result for a particular phrase.

Read more from Halpin about creating engaging content while your salon is shutdown due to coronavirus and top tips for using Instagram Stories.