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Inklings Blog

AP Stylebook Goes Social with Social Media Guidelines for Retweet, Unfollow, Website

July 14, 2011 Steve Vittorioso

According to the Associated Press, social media refers to “tools that allow the sharing of information and creation of communities through online networks of people.” These often include blogs, social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace and microblogging sites such as Twitter.

Social media activities are more popular than ever and are providing more opportunities to join conversations – and even participate in some discussions that didn’t rise until the world of 140 characters. As seen with major news events such as WikiLeaks, trends can not only make headlines, but also punctuate proper style and usage.

Last year, the AP Stylebook released its social media guidelines with 42 new terms. It’s no surprise AP expanded its list for 2011 as more journalists turn to social media for breaking news, cultivating sources and sniffing tips.

Following are some of the stylebook’s more interesting social media entries:

  • app – Short for application, a program that runs inside a service. App is acceptable on second reference.
  • click-throughs – A way of measuring how many people click a link online to see its destination site.
  • e-book – Unlike email, there’s a hyphen. An e-book is the electronic, nonpaper version of a book or publication, sold digitally and commonly used on an e-book reader or an e-reader.
  • End user; end-user – End user as a noun, The end user is the consumer; and end-user as an adjective, The end-user experience was good.
  • IM – Abbreviation for instant message and acceptable on second reference for instant messaging.
  • iPad – A touch-screen computer that can be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or cellular data networks. Use IPad when the word starts a sentence or headline.
  • retweet – Forwarding a message or link from someone else to your followers on Twitter. Spelled out in all references, but commonly seen on Twitter as RT.
  • smartphone – One word for an advanced mobile device that can be used to check email, browse the Web and download applications.
  • text messaging – Some of the more popular abbreviations:
    • BFF – Best friend forever (often used sarcastically).
    • G2G – Got to go.
    • IDK – I don’t know.
    • IMO/IMHO – In my opinion, in my humble opinion.
    • LOL – Laugh out loud; ROFL – Roll on the floor laughing (one step beyond LOL).
    • NSFW – Not safe for work.
    • POS – Parents over shoulder.
    • thx – thanks.
  • unfollow – To remove an account from the lists of accounts that populate a feed, usually on Twitter.
  • unfriend – To remove someone from a list of friends, usually on Facebook. Defriend is acceptable, but less common to use.
  • website – One word, as for webcam, webcast and webmaster. In short form and in terms with separate words, the Web, Web page and Web feed.

While working to master these social media terms, be sure to also brush up on the latest additions to the 2011 AP Stylebook as well as some common errors – IMHO.

Tags: Public Relations, Journalism, Social Media