Social Media Guru to English phrasebook

There are all manner of self-styled social media gurus out there, but look closely and you'll see there's also a bit of a divide within the industry.

'Social media gurus' are almost always called that because they choose to be - it's not really a title you can get from anywhere, you just decide to write it on your LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter profile.

The problem is, the other half of the social media marketing industry know that 'guru' is a total misnomer in a rapidly evolving environment with so many variables at play - including many that depend on the unpredictable, chaotic elements of human interaction.

So, how should you approach tweets from these social media gurus...?

The A to Z of Social Media Guru Guff

As with any foreign language, it helps to have a few familiar phrases in your vocabulary.

Look out for the below coming from so-called social media gurus, and you're halfway to spotting the ones who might not know what they're really talking about. Unless it's me, in which case I'm probably being ironic.

If you're feeling ambitious, try slipping one of the below into your tweet the next time you link to something great, amazing or hilarious, and watch as more people retweet it than otherwise would.

Amazing!: I'm guilty of this one myself, I know it's hyperbole but when Arizona police are issuing public statements to say there are no rogue pandas about, sometimes it seems justified.

Brilliant piece: This is a slightly more high-brow sounding variation on Great post! and is intended to convey a critical, rather than emotional, response to the article, blog post or review to which the social media guru has linked. It doesn't mean they've actually read it, though, or that they think it's brilliant - it just means they think they might pick up some followers or retweets for sharing it.

Chips: The centre of the Mmm! phenomenon, Chips are a surefire conversation starter. People will talk at length about their love for Chips and how they're a guilty indulgence. Probe further and you'll generally find this 'guilty indulgence' consists of about four oven chips per month, served without salt or vinegar as that would be unhealthy. Deep-fried, salty and steaming with evaporated acetic acid - that's the way Chips should be. Get it right, gurus!

Droll: One of the terms we need to reclaim for online use, this is very rarely used indeed. Partly because sarcasm can be so hard to detect online, and partly because most web humour is so puerile that it would be crazy to suggest anything as being intelligent witticism. Take a tip from TV subtitles - if your statement is sarcasm, punctuate it like this(!) - but beware, because some people will think that's an emoticon of a bumhole.

Exciting: Never means 'exciting'. Instead, this is almost certainly an attempt to build some artificial 'buzz' around some marketing activity taking place elsewhere - if it's online, it's probably the blandest ad campaign you've ever seen, or a variation on Punch the Monkey. If it's offline, this is probably a desperate attempt to raise a campaign's awareness level from 50 people to 500 million people. Either way, don't get your hopes up.

Fabulous: Rarely used, but if you see it, beware. It probably means the linked opinion piece was written by a self-important moron whose social skills stretch as far as being the 'life of the party'. Which in turn means the social media 'guru' in question is the sort of person who likes that sort of person.

Great post!: Great post! is used by some as short-hand for "I can't be bothered to say anything specific about this." It may also mean "I haven't read this," or "I think this will get someone to buy my service."

Hilarious: Defined as meaning extremely funny or 'boisterously merry', this is now almost never linked with a YouTube clip so genuinely funny that you couldn't watch it at your desk without laughing. The genuinely Hilarious pranks and fails are almost always would-be viral ads.

Interesting: Sometimes used genuinely, but be wary. This may also mean a lengthy, overly analytical blog post with nothing particularly groundbreaking or amusing to say - like this one, for instance. Worryingly, it is also sometimes used by social media gurus to share something they think other people will find Interesting, but which they really didn't understand themselves.

Jokes: Never (well, rarely) written by the person who tweets them. Legit social media practitioners will name-drop the person they heard it from. Those who want to be seen as a fountain of Hilarious information will claim the joke as their own. The more they do this, the less funny - and therefore creative/interesting - they probably are in their own right.

Klout: Likely to appear in any would-be social media guru's timeline or status updates, Klout is a way of assessing your performance on a variety of social networks. Like any such ratings service, it's a bit hit and miss - scores plummet over the weekend or if you have the audacity to take a holiday. Because of this short-termism, it's worth giving something of a wide berth to social media gurus who pin their whole 'experience' on having a decent Klout score. They've probably only been at it for the past week.

LOL: Like most other expressions of mirth, this one is often meaningless. If something actually does make you laugh out loud, and you respond with LOL, you haven't conveyed the fact that you just laughed out loud. Use it at the end of a message and your recipient is liable to think you've said "lots of love". Probably insincere in its early usage, this is one that's been eroded further by overuse on social networks - not just by the 'gurus', but by all of us.

Mmm!: Mention any food, of any kind, and you're likely to receive this response. Vimto gravy? Mmm! Mustard ice cream? Mmm! Pesto on every goddamn thing you ever make? Mmm! But stay away from bacon. And cake. They're MY influential topics.

Nice: In real life, 'nice' is a rotten thing to say about anyone or anything. It implies that a girl's personality is her best feature, yet lacks any one characteristic worth singling out. Well, that's what it means about anything else, really - for example, Enid Blyton books are 'nice'. Online, where hyperbole rules 24-7, to be called 'nice' actually suggests the critic in question read what you had to say and thought it was succinctly and calmly put. Wear this one like a badge of honour - you probably put considerable effort into the blog post that earned it.

OMG: Used without an exclamation mark, this one's just about common enough to be acceptable. It is, after all, a short way of expressing surprise or shock. The exclamation mark makes OMG! a little less legitimate - and, if anything, makes it less likely that you'll be genuinely shocked by whatever image, video or news article is being linked to.

Probably...: To be found in gurus' replies on social networks. Depending on context, may mean "never", "you're wrong" or any other negative. Also look out for Probably!, which is used to disguise the doubt a bit more and sometimes to imply that what you just said was Hilarious.

Quick post: In social media guru parlance, a 'quick post' or 'quick update' has probably taken them about ten hours to write, rewrite, keyword for SEO benefit, update because Google's algorithm/Twitter's functionality changed overnight, re-keyword for the new features, check one last time for typos and then publish. If there's an infographic, you can add a bit more to that time.

Really?: Everybody knows what this one means. But it still gets used online. Look out for it. Depending on context, it can mean "I don't care," or "That's boring," or "You're an idiot."

So true!: OK, you should probably read the below entry first. While True! implies absolute truth in an opinion piece, So true! implies that the opinion has been expressed in a Hilarious way. You could be forgiven for missing that subtlety, though - some of these social media would-be aphorisms are pernicious indeed.

True!: Social media guru-speak for "I agree". Only, because they're so cocksure in their own opinions, they don't express them as opinions - they express them as Absolute Truths. Be wary of accepting these truths without questioning them - remember, they're coming from the same people who think you can be a 'guru' at using Twitter.

Unbelievable: Usually used when they're about to show you video evidence of the exact same thing on YouTube. The only reason anything captured on film should be 'unbelievable' is because, half the time, it's not true and has been created as part of a viral ad campaign - see below...

Viral ads: Basically, someone's spent a few tens of thousands of dollars making a YouTube video. Instead of demonstrating any genuine talent or achieving anything unexpected, they've got their local special effects shop to animate the thing on a computer. They're hoping to fool you sufficiently that, when you find out it's a Viral ad, you're impressed enough to want to buy their product. This is social media cancer of the worst kind - is there no medium that marketers won't manipulate beyond all recognition?

WTF?: This is the social network equivalent of ITV News at Ten's "and finally..." segment. Expect the link you're about to open to be zany, off-the-wall or otherwise quirky. Don't expect the social media guru who linked you to it to share any of those qualities, though - they just want to look forward-thinking.

xoxo: Sometimes written XoXo or xOxO depending on whether the kisses or the hugs are the important part. They probably don't mean any of it - people who actually would like to hug you at any point will say 'hugs' in full. Besides, online kisses don't count.

Yikes!: OK, this one's one of mine. Compare it with zOMFG! below. Same number of letters, easier to pronounce, well-established meaning. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I truly believe Yikes! should be used much more widely as an exclamation. Come on people, we can reclaim this one...

zOMFG!: Not particularly likely, but there's just the slightest possibility that you might hear this one if your guru de rigueur is taking the 'down with the kids' approach to social networking. If your target demographic is Californian 15-year-olds, they might just be the expert to suit your needs.

For a practical application of terms such as these, read Hayden Sutherland's post on Social Media Bullshit Bingo, and make your days on Twitter a little less dull.