Updated: Mar 18
It seems like every year, social media becomes a bigger part of daily life. You can easily get left behind on trends and the latest news if you don’t stay on top of what’s going on in the virtual world, but that keeps getting harder. For some people, that can cause them to feel out of the loop with their friends, for others, it is a real detriment to careers.
Whether you are an aspiring social media influencer that needs to keep up with trends, or if you are just trying to catch back up on some things so you don’t look like you’ve been living under a rock, don’t waste your time scanning all over the internet to figure out all the relevant terminology. Instead, check out this quick overview of some of the most important acronyms and slang to keep up on social media in 2021.
First up a few of the most common platforms and how they are often shortened:
1. IG — Instagram
2. FB — Facebook
3. YT — Youtube
4. TW — This used to just refer to Twitter, but as the streaming platform Twitch gains popularity, the two are having some awkward tension over this acronym.
Next are a few that you probably already have heard and might know, but it’s never a bad idea for a refresher.
5. DM — Direct Message. Odds are you’ve heard the infamous phrase “slide into their DMs.”
A direct message is just like texting someone over a social media platform instead of with your phone number.
6. PM — Private Message. A private message is the same thing as a direct message, just called something different. Which term someone uses often depends on what platform they use the most.
7. RT — Retweet. Unique to Twitter, though sometimes people will say this outside of Twitter in response to something they agree with.
8. AMA — Ask Me Anything. People will sometimes host AMAs on their socials for a pre-set time to let people come and freely ask questions with the expectation the host will respond.
9. BRB — Be Right Back. A relic of old texting slang, you don’t see it used too often outside of live-stream situations since social media has such a dip-in, dip-out structure.
10. BTS — Behind the Scenes. Adopted from movie culture, this usually refers to clips of or pictures of things going on that weren’t an official part of the production — also the name for a wildly popular K-Pop band, so keep that in mind.
11. BTW — By the Way. Another holdover from texting lingo, but this one has a much more general use.
12. DYK — Did You Know? You’ll see this often as a precursor to fun facts posts, so if that is your thing then this would be a good acronym to search for.
13. FYI — For Your Information. FYI is like DYK’s much more serious relative. They both prelude lesser-known information, but FYI is usually reserved for useful things or sometimes as a way to inject some sass into a post.
14. FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out. This refers to that bad feeling of missing out on something cool that everyone else is talking about.
15. JOMO — Joy Of Missing Out. This is not commonly used but made too much sense to put it after FOMO. Punks, Indie folk, and similar contrarian identities turned FOMO into JOMO t express that they both don’t care what everyone else is talking about, and that they take great joy in not being part of the hype.
16. FTW — For The Win. Pretty self-explanatory, though you’ll sometimes see this used ironically.
17. IMHO/ IMO — In My Humble Opinion / In My Opinion. People use this to prelude advice, most often as a way to soften something that might be hard for someone to hear.
18. IRL — In Real Life. This phrase got popularized in the gaming community where it mostly stays, but people occasionally whip IRL out when calling people out on dumb internet bragging.
19. LMK — Let Me Know. Sort of the opposite of AMA, in that the poster often expects a response from the followers about an idea or question the poster sent out.
20. NBD — No Big Deal. Definitely a good way to humblebrag or make fun of a silly thing you did.
21. TBH — To Be Honest. Kinda like NBD since it is used to prefix humble bragging, but it also often pads the front of a post that takes shots at someone else.
22. SMH — Shaking My Head. Use this when you need to let people know you are disappointed or ashamed of something.
23. TFW — That Face / Feeling When. More often than not, you’ll see this accompanied by a meme as a funny way to express a relatable feeling.
24. TGIF — Thank God It’s Friday. This slang is nowhere near as popular as it used to be since more people are starting to break away from the standard Monday-Friday work week, but it is still used by older people and teenagers because of school.
Now for some slightly more obscure acronyms. These aren’t as common so the average person may have only seen them in passing and not have a great idea of what they mean, but more savvy internet travelers are likely to have encountered them
25. ELI5 — Explain Like I’m Five. People use this to indicate they are curious about something that’s usually quite complicated and want it in the easiest wording possible. There is a whole subreddit full of these inquiries.
26. FBF — Flash Back Friday. This is an acronym you often see as a hashtag people put on a reposting of something they like from their past.
27. TBT — Throw Back Thursday. More or less the same thing as FBF.
28. WBW — Way Back Wednesday. Another FBF clone, though this one doesn’t have the express expectation the post is about your past.
29. H/T — Hat Tip. Probably the least common of the generic acronyms on this list. It’s kind of a nod or way to point out something as a source.
30. ICYMI — In Case You Missed It. People with large or loyal followings on social media will often repost content from earlier to unsure more of their followers get a chance to see it.
31. NSFW — Not Safe For Work. Just a good shorthand to let people know they should not look at something at work, or anywhere else with prying eyes. It doesn’t explicitly mean the content is erotic, but that’s probably 99% of the use it sees.
32. WFH — Work From Home. This one didn’t exist before 2020 when the world went into quarantine. It might end up dying back out once quarantines finally come to an end.
33. TL;DR — Too Long; Didn’t Read. People either use this on its own as a way to inform someone that they chose not to read something because they didn’t feel like reading it all or as a preface to a summary of a much longer text.
“New Fangled Slang”
These next few terms/acronyms aren’t all that important to the world of social media, but they have entered the lexicon of the younger generations who spend more time on social media. Odds are, you are gonna run into people using these as just part of their speech, so it will be good to know them.
34. 411 — Information. Admittedly, this one is a bit antiquated and doesn’t see much use out of being goofy and ironic.
35. AF — As F***. An intensifier, if something is really cold it is cold AF.
36. BAE — Before Anyone Else. This started as a way to indicate a significant other, but people have started using it just as anyone they are particularly close with.
37. BC — Because. Not much else to it.
38. FFS — For F***’s Sake. An expression of frustration or rage, sometimes at the beginning of an angry post.
39. FML — F*** My Life. Another way to demonstrate being mad about something, often related to an unfortunate thing that has happened to a person.
40. FWIW — For What It’s Worth. A cousin of IMO/IMHO, but a touch less sassy.
41. HMU — Hit Me Up. This is like a weird business card for the social media world, it works like permission to DM you later.
42. IDK — I Don’t Know. A classic shorthand that’s gone down in popularity.
43. ILY — I Love You. Just a good old fashioned way to show love and appreciation.
44. ISO — In Search Of. Social media is a great way to find contacts or even items that you might have never known existed otherwise.
45. JK — Just Kidding. Interactions on the internet are mostly text, so it can be difficult to decipher if someone is being serious without codes like these.
46. /S — Sarcasm. Similar to JK, this little code will follow a phrase when someone is intending it to be sarcastic.
47. JTM — Just The Messenger. A reference to the phrase “Don’t Shoot the Messenger,” people say this when they are delivering unpleasant news and don’t want to get yelled at for it.
48. LOL — Laughing Out Loud. This is such a known phrase that people have started saying “LOL” in verbal conversation.
49. LMAO — Laughing My Ass Off. The next step up from LOL.
50. ROFL — Rolling On Floor Laughing. The next step up from LMAO, reserved only for the funniest of things (not really).
51. NVM — Nevermind. Probably wouldn’t have been shortened if it wasn’t for character limits from things like texting and Twitter in times past.
52. NYT — Name Your Trade. Used in spaces where people are making exchanges on the internet. Also, inconveniently, an abbreviation for The New York Times.
53. Obv — Obviously/Obvious. Should be Obv.
54. Pls — Please. People sometimes say this one in person too, pronouncing it like “pulls.”
55. PSA — Public Service Announcement. Not literally a PSA, just usually someone announcing something important to know.
56. OH — Overheard. A good way to share some drama without giving up your source.
57. OMG — Oh My God/Goodness. A classic exclamation everyone should be aware of by now.
58. RN — Right Now. A way to indicate something is happening at the moment, pretty commonly tagged onto posts of people being bored or hungry.
59. WTF — What The F***. Both an exclamation of disbelief and sometimes an intensifier such as “WTF happened here?”
60. SRSLY — Seriously. Again, a word no one would have bothered to shorten if it wasn’t for character limits.
61. TMI — Too Much Info. Commonly used when someone shares something with you that you would have rather never known.
62. TIL — Today I learned. A close relative to DYK, as people love sharing cool things as they learn about them. Again, as the saying goes, there is a Reddit for that.
63. TY — Thank you. Always good to thank someone for their help. Pairs great with…
64. YW — You’re Welcome.
65. FTFY — Fixed That For You. Probably the sassiest way to respond to someone while correcting a mistake they made.
Social media is no longer just for posting pictures of your cats and keeping in touch with your relatives. Serious business happens on and because of platforms like Twitter and Instagram. If you happen to be part of the business side of social media, make sure you are aware of these shorthands:
66. B2B — Business to Business. This is an easy way for a company to signal that its accounts primarily deal with other businesses.
67. B2C — Business to Consumer. Businesses that want to sell directly to their target audience indicate so with this acronym.
68. CMGR — Community Manager. You’ll see this most often in someone’s bio; not to be confused with a social media manager.
69. CTA — Call To Action. These show up on promoted posts pretty often; these are the phrases that encourage you to perform your next course of action, such as “Sign up,” or “Call now.”
70. KPI — Key Performance Indicator. This refers to a particular success metric that a company is paying the most attention to at a given time.
71. ROI — Return on Investment. A common success metric referring to how much money a company earned in regards to how much they spent on something.
72. SEM — Search Engine Marketing. Do you know those ads that show up at the top of Google search results? Yeah, that.
73. SEO — Search Engine Optimized. Closely related to SEM, this is a content creation process that prioritizes making content appear higher on search engine results.
74. SERP — Search Engine Results Page. Just the stuff that comes up whenever you plug a phrase into a search engine.
75. SMB — Small and Midsize Business. Shopping small is all the rage these days, so being able to claim you are a small or midsize business can get you some big brownie points.
76. SMP — Social Media Platform. From Twitter to LinkedIn, Tik Tok to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
77. SMM — Social Media Marketing. Increasing brand awareness and visibility on social media platforms as a form of advertising.
78. SMO — Social Media Optimized. Content that is created to be as appealing as possible on specific social media platforms.
79. SoLoMo — Social, Local, Mobile. Refers to how marketing has evolved in response to the improvements of geolocating technology in things like smartphones.
80. SRP — Social Relationship Platform. Kind of the step up from SMP, this is a centralized software that allows companies to post to multiple places all at once.
81. TOS — Terms of Service. These are the rules and regulations associated most often with SMP
82. UGC — User Generated Content. A straightforward name, basically any content on an SMP that is made by the user base.
83. WOM — Word of Mouth. One of the oldest and most effective ways for a company’s consumer base to increase.
Some acronyms you’ll see on social media refers to the tech and data side of it. Not everyone needs to know this kind of stuff, but the people that can benefit from it stand to benefit quite a bit.
84. API — Application Programming Interface. This is the “back-end” side of a program that developers see and use to change the user side.
85. CMS — Content Management System. This is a generic content creation and publication software that lets users do impressive things like building websites with it.
86. CPC — Cost Per Click. Another common success metric is measured by the number of clicks an ad got and how much it cost.
87. CR — Conversion Rate. The number of followers that have taken action on an ad campaign and bought the product.
88. CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization. A principle of content creation is meant to create the highest conversion rates possible.
89. CTR — Click Through Rate. The percentage of users that follow a link when presented with one.
90. CX — Customer Experience. The relationship a consumer has with a company or brand.
91. ESP — Email Service Provider. One of the many ways to get an email account.
92. ISP — Internet Service Provider. Whicher company provides you with your internet access.
93. GA — Google Analytics. An analytics tracker and metrics viewing platform for websites, or the data found here itself.
94. PV — Page Views. The number of different times your page has been viewed.
95. UV — Unique Views. This is like a Page View count, but it keeps track of the unique people that view a page, so one person can’t reload a page a bunch to bump the numbers.
96. URL — Uniform Research Indicator. The name of the website you see at the top of the screen.
97. UI — User Interface. The side of a piece of software that a consumer interacts with.
98. UX — User Experience. This is how a consumer interacts with the UI and the product in general.
99. SOV — Share of Voice. SOV tries to determine how much of the digital traffic and mentions of something are held by who, most commonly focusing on consumers or brands.
100. SaaS — Software as a Service. Normally cloud-based services which are readily available to most people with an internet connection without a ton of extra hoops to jump through.