Social Media Nomenclature, Then and Now


As we draw towards the end of 2010, I’ve been thinking about what this year has meant for social media marketing and how things have changed. Looking back at my archive of WebWorkerDaily posts, I came across one from June 2008 where I tried to find overarching category names for several different types of social media marketing tools. In Broadcasting to Your Social Networks, I was prepping for a presentation at BizJam Seattle where I spoke to creative freelancers about using social networks for marketing, but more importantly, managing more than a single social network.

At the time, I was using the term “satellite sites” to frame the use of things like a Twitter account or Facebook Page in addition to one’s own website or blog. I later started using the term “gateways” to suggest that Twitter and Facebook Pages weren’t necessarily meant to be destinations in and of themselves, and I used that term after struggling with the word “presences” to refer to one’s social media accounts. Today, I’m mostly using the terms “networks” or “channels,” as in “social media channels.” Better, but still not perfect.

For my 2008 presentation, I wanted to come up with terms to describe the various tools that we were starting to use to share posts and updates to our different channels. I came up with the following terms:

  • Social Aggregation Broadcast Tools (SABTs): This referred to the tools that let you add your multiple social media accounts to a single account then post to all or some of them at once. I further classified these as Active SABTs. Today, I’ve heard these tools — such as HelloTxt and — referred to as social media dashboards or social dashboards.
  • Passive SABTs: This referred to tools, such as ShareThis and AddThis, where you can install a widget in your site or blog and then let the applications work for you by empowering others to share your content with their networks. Today, these applications are often referred to as sharing platforms or sharing widgets, however, if you check out these company’s sites — including a newer competitor — none of them seem to refer to themselves with a singular umbrella term that sums up what they do.
  • Niche SABTs: I used this term for tools that were specific to just one service, such as Tweetburner and Twhirl. Back in 2008, the idea of open APIs for web applications and the development of tools for a single network was still pretty new. Today, entire businesses are founded on leveraging another network’s API to create a new applications. Businesses are even built on aggregating those tools (see
  • Integrated SABTs: This referred to sites and services that were just starting to integrate social sharing tools into their functionality. Remember: This was before the prevalence of applications developed with social media sharing functions as a given, and certainly before Facebook Connect and the like. At this point, we seem to call this social media integration or sharing functionality.

I also used another acronym to refer to monitoring tools that pulled together streams from various networks so you could “listen.” These were Social Aggregation Listening Tools (SALTs). At the time, FriendFeed was the only real example of this. There were also Passive SALTs which included tools like Google Alerts as well as Integrated SALTs which were networks like Facebook that let you pull in other feeds. Today, most popular social media dashboards, such as TweetDeck, Seesmic, and HootSuite cover both listening and broadcasting, not to mention the many enterprise solutions, such as Conversation Miner from Converseon and Cisco’s SocialMiner, which take listening and broadcasting even further and let you route messages and track actions.

What are the terms that come to mind most often when you describe the social media marketing tools you use?

stock xchng image by user guitargoa

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