Social Media Acronymns Speak

I still get asked pretty often these days what does KOL or RT stand for, so I guess there’s still a need and demand to break it all down for the layman. So here’s ten popular acronyms thrown around regularly pertaining to social media and how you can use them in the right context to strength your pitch or address clients’ needs and questions and flex some social media know how by explaining it to them.

1. KOL = Key Opinion Leader, in other words an influencer on a social network with a huge following

In the Chinese social sphere, they are called Da ren “达人“  and mostly popular over Weibo the micro blog or Chinese blogs on

What does a KOL do? They all charge a range of fees to publish brand advertorials’ on their social channels, depending on what products

2. RT or in Chinese zhuan fa 转发  = To retweet on twitter or literally to repost

3. CTA = Call To Action

For every post that you put out there on your social channels, especially for businesses, you need a call to action, whether to a website link, a Facebook page or subscribe to a newsletter. Don’t be afraid to say it as it it is, if you want someone to Like the page, or if you’re doing a market survey on whether a product is interesting, ask the question. That’s a call to action for the audience to react.

4. LBS = Location Base Services

There’s Foursquare that’s used Internationally and in China Jiepang is the equivalent of check-in. You can check in on Facebook and do the same on the Chinese twitter counterpart Weibo.

5. SEO =  Search Engine Optimisation.

There are certain tactics to increase the visibility of your website in a search engine’s unpaid (organic) search results where you’ll find yourself ideally within the first 3-4 pages of google search. For this, you’d need a good headline, a focus keyword that follows in the headline, body text and tags.

6. SEM = Search Engine Marketing

This is the paid equivalent of SEO, so SEO is like PR in the offline world – free, and SEM is like advertising, Internet marketing where you’re strategically sprinkling money into ads, links etc to boost  your search and to gain website traffic and in many cases sales conversions too.

7. ROI = Return on Investment

With Social Media, your investment is quantifiable through numbers in reports – but what happens is often times people are so obsessed about numbers growth they focus on quantity over quality. How many of those 100K fans are actually your target audience and can afford to purchase your luxury product?  Brands that are new to the market tend to take at least 3-6 months or longer to establish positioning and marketshare before the next step of sales conversion. From a revenue generating standpoint, it really depends on what your product is, your competitor set and target audience.

8. KPI = Key Performance Indicators


Often times clients will ask how to evaluate if a campaign is successful. There are certain KPIs that inform the success of a social media campaign, this can range from the % of follower growth, the level of engagement, number of retweets and shares across platforms and in cases where there is a CTA to click on a link, the traffic that lands on the website via this link is also an indicator of the campaign success.

9. UGC = User Generated Content

With Social Media, everyone is their own content creator and platforms like Youtube and Instagram encourages people to own their creative content. Brands often work with popular accounts on this channel to endorse their products or generate engagement campaigns. Eg having a thematic photo contest with a specific Hashtag (see #11) and the contest generates some noise with original and often times very creative content that gets awarded a prize.

10. DM/PM = Direct Message or Private Message

Most commonly used on twitter. For you to DM another user, you have to be mutually following each other.

11. Hashtag = # used to make a subject matter  or key word more easily searchable on platforms.

eg Best #beach resorts #2015

The key subject matters are “Beach” and “2015” and in searches for these two key words, the post will come up

Something more informal and how the English language has given way to (sometimes) ridiculous abbreviations here and an interview I did with The Wall Street Journal on that here

12. O2O: online to offline – where campaigns have legs and longevity to work across online to offline channels (conversions at POS – Point of Sale) and with e-commerce leading sales these days, it’s an inversion of the traditional model of a 360 advertising campaign that begins offline (billboards, print advertising that goes through social, it’s now the opposite). Tech Asia gives an in depth explanation here.

Juliana Loh

Juliana is a freelance marketing communications strategist with more than a decade of experience in the field of advertising, journalism and luxury hospitality, with a focus on China and the Asia Pacific region.

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