Social media marketing is all about being on the cutting edge, and part of that requires mastering terminology that can sometimes feel like a foreign language. But don’t worry, because we’ve compiled a complete glossary of social media terms and definitions to help you out.
This is a living document, too, so make sure to bookmark this page in order to stay on top of the latest trends in social media.
An A/B test is a method of comparing two versions of something to see which performs better. In digital marketing, this is often done using different photos, headlines, or calls to action in order to get the best results.
Advertising is a message that’s sent for the purpose of selling or promoting a product, service, or company. Digital ads are common throughout social media and can be a very effective way for brands to reach their target audience.
Advertising related topics:
An algorithm is the process or steps a computer follows in order to complete a task. In digital marketing, an algorithm is often referred to in terms of how a social media platform determines what content to display to a specific user at any given time. In general, social networks are very private about the specifics of their algorithms.
Analytics in social media may refer to tools or the information that those tools provide. Social networks provide their own analytics to help users see how their posts are doing – number of followers, engagement, reach, etc. – but platforms like Socialbakers go even deeper for a fuller, more in-depth picture of social media metrics and ROI.
Analytics related topics:
Application programming interface (API)
An application programming interface (API) is a system that allows and defines interactions between platforms. Social network APIs allow other platforms, like Socialbakers, to integrate with the social network.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is the ability of machines or programs to learn and adapt similar to human thinking. For example, Socialbakers’ platform uses AI in myriad ways, from developing marketing personas to instantly sorting through a large image content database based on specific keywords.
AI related topics:
Ask me anything (AMA)
AMA is a question and answer format popularized on Reddit as an open forum to ask any kind of question to a subject, usually someone famous or with a unique life experience.
An audience on social media refers to either the current people seeing/hearing your message (e.g. your followers) or the target audience, which is the group that a business has determined is the key group that is likely interested in or open to their message.
Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality is an interactive experience combining computer-generated objects or elements with the real world around them.
An online avatar is an image or icon used to represent a person on a social media account or forum. For example, new users on Twitter are given a generic egg avatar until they upload their own image.
Bio, an abbreviation for biography, is used by all social media platforms to introduce digital profiles to prospective followers. It is often the first thing users view when discovering a profile and can be customized to reflect user personality and affiliations.
A Bitmoji is a customizable avatar that can be linked to several different platforms, including Messenger, Snapchat, and Slack. Users can download the Bitmoji app to start creating a cartoon representation of themselves using a photo. Once an avatar is created, users receive a full library of their avatar in many different situations. This makes it fun and simple to respond to messages using only a Bitmoji.
Nearly every social media platform allows users to block one another from viewing their profile and posts. When a user is blocked, they will no longer be able to visit your profile or contact you via the platform. However, social media platforms, such as Instagram, allow users to partially block others from viewing their stories without restricting access to anything else.
A blog refers to a digital publication that is characterized by one or more authors consistently publishing articles that oftentimes pertain to a certain topic. The term blog originated from the merger of web log and is commonly used by many brands to boost engagement and share industry expertise. Explore Socialbakers’ social media blog and read interesting topics or discover social media trends.
Blogger may refer to someone who contributes to writing an article online, or to the Google-owned company Blogger, a free platform that allows users to host and publish blogs using either a subdomain or a privately owned domain.
Many social media platforms allow users to bookmark posts or profiles, which follows the same idea as bookmarking a page in a book. A post that is bookmarked will be saved to a library so that the user can easily find the post in the future.
Oftentimes brands rely on boosted posts to reach an audience that does not already follow their page. This can be done by paying a social media platform to promote, or boost, a particular post.
A bot, which is short for robot, is a social media user that’s run by an algorithm. Bots are often used to help spread misinformation and are considered fake followers.
A brand advocate is someone who shares positive posts, reviews, or otherwise supports your brand or products on social media, free of charge. Brand advocates can become even more useful if brands reach out to empower them online.
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Brand awareness can best be described as a social media metric that measures awareness through the number of mentions and engagement a brand receives online. The more amount of attention, the greater the brand awareness.
A B2B company focuses on selling products or services directly to other businesses, such as a consulting firm or software company. On social media, B2B businesses often strive to be thought leaders in their industry and provide advice for followers.
A B2C company concentrates on selling products or services directly to consumers, such as apparel brands or gaming companies. On social media, B2C brands often use the platform to promote their products and connect with potential customers.
Canvas advertisements are a specific type of full-screen ad placement offered through the Facebook Ads Manager, where the advertiser is allowed to build a microsite on Facebook. What this means is that the user is not required to leave the Facebook Platform to view the ad – it’s a streamlined, mobile-first experience.
A caption is a written explanation of the image on a social media site. A caption is usually written in the comment section of the post. An Instagram caption, for example, has a limit of 2,200 characters, and it can include tags, emojis, and hashtags.
Carousel posts on Facebook and Instagram refer to the type of posts that contains a series of images or videos that the user can scroll through. Brands can also use carousel posts for ads, and this type of format is extremely effective for ecommerce advertisers, as it presents an opportunity for the advertiser to link directly to each item page from each carousel image.
Chat may refer to messaging applications that can be used between two or more users to exchange messages. For example, in the Facebook ecosystem of apps, Messenger and WhatsApp could both be considered chats.
A chatbot is a program designed to interact with the user of the online chat as another person would through text-to-text or text-to-speech conversations. Chatbots are becoming an increasingly integral part of online customer care and today can seem near indistinguishable from their human counterparts.
Click-through rate (CTR)
Click through rate refers to the number of clicks you receive on social media posts, a website, or an advertisement. A click through rate is often an indicator if your content is working, or if it’s at least enticing enough to encourage the reader to click through to learn more on your website.
Clickbait refers to a type of online content that is designed primarily to attract the attention of the users to a particular web page, often with a sensational headline that is often misleading. Clickbait usually has a negative connotation and is used in relation to false information or emotionally-charged content.
A comment on social media refers to a written response to a social media post by a user. It is considered to be a form of social media engagement or interaction. The comment section usually appears right under a post, and often has a limited character count depending on the platform. As social media has become more prominent in customer care, comments on social media have too, and addressing comments is becoming a routine task for any business.
Community management refers to a process through which a business or an influencer are responding to their online community messages or comments. A community manager usually will use a set of community management tools to carry out this task effectively. Community management is considered to be an integral part of effective customer care.
Content marketing refers to a marketing practice that’s built on the needs of the audience in order to provide value to that audience through content. That content can be distributed through any number of channels in order to build an audience and later monetize it.
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In digital marketing a conversion refers to a specific desired action a user takes as intended to be taken by the advertiser. A conversion can imply a sign up, a download, or a purchase.
A conversion rate refers to the success rate of the number of users who have taken a specific action desired by the advertiser vs. the number of users who have seen the advertisement.
Cost per click (CPC)
In digital marketing, cost per click refers to the price an advertiser pays for every click it receives from their advertisement. The latest advertising benchmarks that include cost per click can be found in the Emplifi quarterly industry reports.
Crowdsourcing is a term used to describe the initiative to create or raise money for a cause, project, campaign, or purchase that requires publicly asking for contributions from people to commit their time, know-how, or finances to attain that goal.
Dark social is shared content that can’t be tracked back to the original source. Analytics programs usually count dark social in direct traffic.
A dashboard is a tool that allows marketers and social media managers to manage all of their social media operations across all their channels from one screen. You can schedule and post content as well as measure, analyze, and report on its performance.
Direct message (DM)
Direct messages, or DMs, are private messages sent through a social platform’s messaging system. Depending on the platform, DMs from non-followers may be blocked or filtered into a secondary inbox by default, but you can change your settings to receive DMs from anyone (e.g. “My DMs are open”).
See Private message
Ebook is short for electronic book, and it’s a book that is available in digital form and consists of text and images. The content is readable on computers and other electronic devices.
Electronic commerce, or ecommerce, is the activity of buying and selling goods, products, or services over the Internet. Many companies now sell exclusively online with no traditional brick-and-mortar store, and even brands that do have physical stores make almost everything available to purchase online, too.
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company brand or organization through its employees. An employee will advocate for their employer and actively engage with their audience through their social media networks. This type of promotion is used for marketing brand awareness and as a lead-generation strategy. Employee advocacy is also used for recruiting purposes to attract top talent and experienced candidates.
An endorsement is a public declaration of support for a product or service from a person or organization. The endorser promotes the brand, features, quality, and/or benefits of a product or service.
Engagement rate is a marketing metric that measures the level of audience engagement of a post, content, or campaign.
Content that is evergreen is not tied to any specific event, but rather it’s important or impactful at any time, not just when it is published.
Facebook, which launched in 2004, is arguably the most prominent social media platform ever created. Originally available only to students with college email addresses, Facebook boasts more than 2.6 billion monthly active users and it has become a conglomerate that owns other platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Someone who likes a public Facebook page is referred to as a fan.
Favoriting a tweet signals to a creator that you’ve liked their content. Favorites do not add a tweet to your personal feed (like a retweet), however favorited tweets still may appear in the feed of your followers based on Twitter’s algorithm.
A feed is an updating list of new content posted by pages or accounts a user follows on social media. Whereas in the early days most feeds were purely chronological, most social media platforms now use algorithms to order content.
Filters are effects that can be added to an image in post-processing, including sepia tone or black and white. Filters can also refer to post-processing overlays provided by applications like Snapchat that are interactive and often sponsored or branded.
A follower is someone who follows an account on social media. The vast majority of social media accounts have a mixture of follows – the accounts they follow – and followers – accounts that follow them.
A forum is an online discussion board – more specifically, a format where users post in threads within different posts.
A geotag is the ability to add a geographical location to digital material. When used on social media users have the ability to tag specific coordinates, sharing them publicly with their followers or audience.
GIF (pronounced gif or jif) is a shortened version of the term graphics interchange format. It is a format used for both images and video clips that are popular to share on social media.
Google Ads is the ability to advertise through the Google search engine. The ads appear in Google's search results and work by allowing marketers to bid on keywords so people click through to the desired landing page.
A group is a digital gathering of people. Usually there is a theme or commonality that members of the group share so they can discuss, ask questions, and receive answers from the community. Groups can be private, which means access must be requested, or public, which means anyone can join.
Handle is a synonym for username on social media.
A hangout is a call completed via Google Hangouts.
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase that is typed with no spaces after a # sign on social media to more easily identify topics and conversations.
# Hashtag-related topics:
A header image, or cover image, is the landscape image placed on top of a social media profile.
Impressions are a measurement of how often an ad or promoted posts is shown to a user on a social network. A user may be shown the same ad or promoted post multiple times, so this measures how many times it was shown, but not how many times it was seen.
Inbound marketing is the creation of content and other resources that help potential customers find your business on their own, as opposed to you reaching out directly with a sales pitch.
An inbox is the main screen you use to read and respond to messages. Common examples include email or social media messaging inboxes.
An influencer is a social media user who has an audience that pays attention to them and is more likely to try something based on their recommendation. Influencers vary from micro (less than 10,000 followers) to macro (more than one million followers).
Influencer marketing is a strategy that involves partnering with an influencer in order to promote something through social media. This could be for a specific campaign, or an influencer could be a long-term brand advocate for a company.
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Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing social media platform that launched in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook in 2012. It’s an incredibly popular channel to share visual messages, either organically or through paid campaigns.
An instant message (IM) is a text message sent in real time, such as a text, Slack message, or direct message on a social media platform.
Key performance indicator (KPI)
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a social media metric that measures progress towards specific business goals. These KPI goals often include tracking audience growth rate, amplification rate, or customer satisfaction score.
Like is one form of interaction on social media that is used to express a user’s positive sentiment towards a post. On most social media platforms, a like is shown as a thumbs-up icon. For businesses on social media, likes are a metric that allows them to understand how well the content is resonating with their audience. There are multiple strategies for how marketers can build more engagement and likes on social media.
Link building is a part of an SEO strategy that’s used to create more authority and gain more referral traffic for a website. It involves employing a number of strategies that aim to have links placed on third-party web properties that point back to your website. Guest blogging, influencer marketing, and social media can all be used for link building.
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LinkedIn is a business-focused social media platform that launched in 2003. It’s generally considered a more professional audience than other social media channels, and it can be great for thought leadership and lead generation.
Listed is a term used on Twitter to describe when someone is added to a Twitter list. Twitter introduced this functionality to help Twitter users better organize their follower lists.
See Social listening
A livestream on social media is a video broadcast on a social media channel that’s occurring in real time. First introduced as Periscope on Twitter, this format has now been introduced to most of the social media channels and, according to Socialbakers data, it is one of the most engaging content formats.
The term is used to describe social media users who rarely post or engage with content on social media but who rather watch social media feeds without partaking in interaction.
A meme (pronounced meem) is an online joke meant for sharing. Memes often start organically from one random photo or GIF, but sometimes memes are generated for the purpose of trying to create a viral trend.
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To mention (v) is the act of tagging another account on social media, either to engage in conversation or just to shout someone out. Your mentions (n) are the collection of posts that have tagged your account.
Messenger is Facebook’s instant messaging service, which is both incorporated in the Facebook platform and has its own standalone app. Users must have a Facebook account in order to use either the mobile or desktop versions.
Mute is a social media feature that allows you to remove other accounts from your feed without having to unfollow or unfriend them. The account can still interact with you but you won’t see any of their activity unless you go specifically to their account. As a result, many muted users don’t know that they’ve been muted, which is part of the point because many trolls enjoy being blocked on social media.
News Feed is Facebook’s main page of updates, which shows users posts by the people they follow in an order determined by Facebook’s algorithm.
A notification is an alert sent to your phone or computer about new activities on social media. This could be an engagement metric (e.g. User X liked your post) or a new follower.
In the context of social media marketing, objectives are the goals of any initiative or campaign, paid or otherwise. For example, an objective for a paid advertising campaign on Facebook could be awareness or conversions, and the campaign strategy for each objective would be very different.
The number of unique users who viewed your content without being directed to via paid promotion.
Outbound marketing refers to a marketing strategy where the business reaches out to potential customers through things like email marketing or paid ads. This is the opposite of inbound marketing, where customers find the business on their own.
A paid partnership is a transactional relationship with a brand, influencer, or other entity. When you see "Paid Partnership with... " on an Instagram post, it means that person was compensated for the post and its message.
Pay per click (PPC)
Pay per click is a model of digital advertising that has a business pay for each time a user clicks on an ad. The amount paid for each of those clicks will vary, and it’s tracked as cost per click (CPC).
A post is a piece of social media content that is published from a page. Posts can exist in many content formats such as images, videos, polls, links, etc.
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To pin (v) something means to add a piece of content to a Pinterest board. A piece of content on Pinterest can also be called a pin (n).
A pinned post stays at the top of your profile’s feed. This will be the first post people coming to your page will see even if it was posted earlier than your most recent post. It is useful to promote campaigns, events, or relevant topics you don't want to get lost.
Pinterest, which launched in 2010, is a social media platform that caters to content revolving around fashion, DIY, home, and beauty. It is often referred to as a visual search engine.
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Private message (PM)
When messages are sent to an inbox on social media they are considered private. This is because they are not publicly displayed on a brand or person's wall/profile. A private message is synonymous with a direct message (DM).
To promote a post means to invest money behind it to accomplish a social media objective. This can be to increase awareness, page likes, reach, etc. This is the opposite of an organic post.
When you publish something, you post it publicly on your social media channels or blog.
Reach is a metric that describes how many people saw a post or ad, without the guarantee of them actually paying attention to it. Reach can be measured by paid, organic, or both.
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Reactions are most often referred to as the types of engagement of Facebook and LinkedIn. Instead of the traditional like button, users have a chance to react to posts using one of the predetermined emojis – Like, Love, Care, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry on Facebook, and Like, Celebrate, Love, Insightful, and Curious on LinkedIn.
Real-time marketing is about leveraging marketing efforts on current trends, like viral topics or events. These campaigns are usually short-lived and tricky to set up without damaging the brand image.
To regram means reposting someone’s Instagram post on your own feed, mentioning the original author.
To repin means adding someone else’s pin to your own board on Pinterest.
To reply (v) means to respond to tweets or comments on social media. A reply (n) is the response.
To repost means to share someone’s post on your timeline or to make the same post again.
Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy where brands try to reach the users who left their website without converting. Information about these users are collected in cookies and then later targeted via ads on social media and other websites.
To retweet (v) is to share someone else’s tweet on your own account. A retweet (n) is a social media engagement metric (likes, retweets, and replies).
A rich pin on Pinterest includes additional information coming from the source website, like information about the product, its price, and availability.
An RSS feed consolidates information sources in one place and provides updates when a site adds new content. With social media, all you see is what people share, while an RSS feed allows you to see everything a website publishes.
RSS readers are apps that access web feeds published by websites, letting you aggregate and curate content you care about.
Scheduling is a planned calendar of social media posts or content like blog posts ahead of time using a unified marketing platform or publishing tool. Scheduling allows marketers to make a plan ahead of time and draft several messages for different platforms. With a tool like Socialbakers, it’s easy to schedule posts with an easy approval workflow and discover the best times to publish based on your audience around the world.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is the method of organically improving the search results for a web page. Using SEO practices, like targeting keywords that users are searching for, is essential for marketers to help their content or brand stand out from the crowd.
A selfie is a self portrait taken by a person, usually on a phone’s front-facing camera, with an outstretched arm or a device like a selfie stick. They are shared commonly on social media.
Sentiment refers to the way that people feel about a brand or product, measured through the content of social media posts.
Sentiment analysis is the study of user feelings about a brand or product through social media posts. With a tool like Socialbakers, AI easily compiles and classifies posts by sentiment (positive vs. negative, as well as deeper insights), allowing marketers to gain deeper insights into their audience.
Snapchat is a photo- and video-messaging app that started in 2011. Users can share direct messages, or snaps, with each other that last only up to 10 seconds before disappearing forever. Snap Stories allow a user to share replayable snaps for up to 24 hours.
Social commerce, which is similar to ecommerce, is the ability to complete online purchases without having to leave the social media platform.
Social listening is a marketing process that is best described as the monitoring of the digital space. It can include both social media and the web. Marketers use social media listening to understand the conversations happening around their brand or industry, and to identify topics relevant to their business and potentially prevent emerging crises from occurring.
Social media management
Social media management is about overseeing a social media account, or more often several accounts, by posting and engaging with the audience. It also involves measuring social media’s effect on the bottom line of the business.
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Social media management platform
A social media management platform is the tool companies use to manage several social media channels across teams. These platforms, like Socialbakers, offer in-depth analysis as well as benefits like scheduling and content inspiration.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is the use of social media channels to achieve marketing goals, including building brand awareness, generating leads, and effectively communicating with your community.
Social media monitoring
Similar to social listening, social media monitoring involves a company paying attention to what’s being said about it on social media. The difference is that social listening usually ends with action, while monitoring is more about just compiling the data.
Spam refers to unwanted or unnecessary content that fills up inboxes or social media feeds. Sometimes referred to as junk mail, spamming often involves overly sharing the same or similar content with someone who didn’t request it.
Sponsored posts are posts on social media from someone who was paid to promote a brand or product. Since it’s a paid agreement, they must be marked as promoted and also include a hashtag like #sp or #ad.
Stickers are a feature on social media stories formats that allow users to add details or interactivity to their posts, such as location or a quiz question.
Stories are an increasingly popular type of post that disappear after 24 hours unless the user specifically saves them. They’re primarily used on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram.
A tag may refer to tagging someone in a post or photo, which establishes a link between the tagged user’s profile and the content. Users have the ability to remove or block any unwanted tags. A tag is also used as the short form of hashtag, which is a keyword added to a social media post in order to categorize the content.
The act of targeting can be described as selecting a specific audience to receive social media advertisements. Criteria for targeting often include factors like demographics, location, and interests.
A thread is a collection of messages started by a single post. A thread may refer to a series of posts or messages from one user, or a collective conversation of replies and comments that emerges amongst many users.
Throwback Thursday (#TBT)
Throwback Thursday (#TBT) is a commonly used hashtag on social media platforms to categorize old photos.
TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform that launched in 2016. It’s one of the fastest-growing social media channels in the world, with more than 800 million monthly active users.
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This acronym stands for Too Long; Didn’t Read, and it’s usually used to summarize a long article or piece of content.
Traffic refers to a social media metric that tracks the number of users who visit a given website or page.
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A trending topic or hashtag highlights what users are interested in during a particular time period. What users view as trending is often based on their location, who they follow, and what content they like. This way, platforms like Facebook or Twitter can provide users with new content that they will be more likely to engage with.
A troll is a name given to social media users whose main objective is to provoke or annoy other users. This may be attempted via harassing comments or offensive posts.
A tweet is a post that is made on Twitter. Tweets are short posts, limited to 280 characters, and may include photos, videos, and links.
Twitter, which started in 2006, is a social media platform that allows users to post real-time tweets, retweet other users, and engage in online conversations using @ mentions.
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In social media, to unfollow someone means to unsubscribe from their content and their notifications being visible to you on that particular social media channel. Unfollowing is also sometimes used as a statement against businesses or influencers when their actions cause undesired responses from their audiences.
Unified marketing platform
A unified marketing platform is a marketing solution that connects multiple marketing areas into one software that allows all it’s users to manage their marketing activities from the same interface. It enables more effective data shareability between users, teams, and departments by removing silos and improving processes.
A uniform resource locator (URL) is a web address that is colloquially used to refer to a specific location on any given website. Having a clear and consistent URL structure is crucial to tracking, analytics, and SEO.
A URL shortener is a type of software that turns the full URL of a website into a shorter, easier to share, and sometimes to track, version. URL shorteners are invaluable to social media managers who often are limited to character count limits provided by social media channels. Shortened URLs also usually look less clunky and don’t distract from the rest of the text.
User-generated content (UGC) is a term used to describe content coming from social media users who aren’t affiliated with the business, but that the business benefits from. User-generated content also provides an easy way for businesses to scale content creation outside of their immediate in-house or agency team. The creation of user-generated content can be promoted via contests or branded hashtags and is also a tool to build brand loyalty.
Being verified on social media means that the account has proven its identity and the social media platform has determined that the account provides value. Both people and brands can have verified accounts, which are usually indicated with a checkmark.
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To go viral in digital marketing means to have a post or piece of content garner an unexpected amount of attention. This usually starts from people sharing the post so much that it spreads like a virus.
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual reality (VR) is an immersive experience that shows the user, who’s usually wearing a VR headset, a simulated world. VR experiences can be video games, or they’re often used as part of a training simulation.
Vlogging is a combination of video and blogging, which was created to describe the act of creating and publishing a regular video blog. The person who creates the content may be referred to as a vlogger.
Voice of customer (VOC)
Voice of the customer (VOC) is a customer's experience or expectation of your product/services. VOC is often presented in the form of customer feedback and may include advice on product improvement or describe the level at which their needs and expectations were met by your brand.
A webinar is a seminar or presentation held over the web, hence its name (web + seminar). Webinars are most commonly conducted over social media channels and can be pre-recorded or live.
WhatsApp is a free text and voice messenger application for mobile devices that started in 2009 and was acquired by Facebook in 2014. WhatsApp uses the Internet to send messages, images, video, and audio calls.
YouTube is a video sharing platform that started in 2005 and is now owned by Google. Users can upload, watch, comment, and share videos, and many brands have dedicated YouTube channels for promotion. YouTube can be accessed on PCs, laptops, tablets, game consoles, and mobile devices.
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.