This month marks Instagram’s five year anniversary, so why not celebrate by brushing up on some key AP terms and practices regarding social media?

You’re comfortable with terms like Facebook, hashtag, and selfie, but here are some newer terms to add to your ever growing vocabulary.

crowdsourcing – The practice of gathering information or producing ideas from a large collection of users online. Twitter is an example of a site used frequently for crowdsourcing (and they just unveiled moments, a new feature that is an excellent use of crowdsourcing).

mashup – Using two or more pieces of content to create something new, such as photos and video.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication. Used to subscribe to and distribute feeds that notify individuals of new entries on blogs, podcasts, or other sources.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO for short. Both informal and algorithmic methods used to ensure that online content appears in search engines like Google in order to increase traffic to the originating site.

Social Media Optimization – Any method(s) used to ensure that content is shared on social networks to increase traffic to the originating site.

trending – Indicates that a topic, issue, or event is garnering a lot of attention on one or more social networks, search engine, or website. Be sure to use only with context, including the location of the trend, such as The World Series is trending in Twitter today.

A few notes about using social media for reporting:

The AP Stylebook’s general rule is that while social media can assist in gathering information for a story, it should not replace traditional reporting tools. In other words, if you can call a source on the phone and get a quote, you should.

Never take content such as a quote, photo, or video from a social media source and simply attribute it to a profile or feed. Most social media networks have a way to message a specific user. Use this to establish direct contact over the phone or email so you can get more information and verify the source.

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