(5 minute read)
The phrase “social media” is used non-stop. You hear it on TV, on the radio, and if you don’t participate in it, you can almost guarantee that you know somebody who does. In 2018, 86%of adults between the ages of 18-29 have some kind of social media account. With a percentage that high, you might think that social media is strictly for the younger generation, but 37%of those 65 and older currently use social media which is a gain of7% from 2013. Clearly seniors are getting in on the game as well. If you are one of the 67% that don’t currently utilize this means of mass communication, but want to give it a try, there are a few things that you’ll want to know before you get started.
What is Social Media?
Social media is any sort of website or application that enables users to share content like pictures or written comments with other people on the internet. If you are an artist who wants to share a recent painting, a writer who wants to share the details of their latest trip toFrance, or a grandparent who want to stay connected to your kids or grandkids, social media is often the easiest way to do it. Every platform gives each specific user their own feed of information. Your feed is your personalized content that is aggregated for you to see. (Check out this handy guide of other terms you might need to know to get around social media.) If this sounds like something that you might want to do, it’s important to know the difference between each social media platform so that you can use the one that suits your needs the best.
Facebook is by far the most popular platform with 1.59billion monthly users worldwide. So, chances are that you’ve probably heard of it, but may find wading into a platform with so many users and so much content a little daunting. The thing about Facebook is that it’s the one where you have the most control over who sees your content and whose content you can see. All you need is an email address to sign up and like every other popular platform, it is free.
Once you have an account, you can do a search for your friends and family in order to connect and send them either direct private messages or write on their wall, which is something that everyone can see. To have even more control over your privacy, click on the upside-down triangle on the top right of the screen, click settings, then on the left click “Privacy.”This will allow you to control who can see your information as well as who can find you on Facebook.
After you’ve found your friend or family member, you can use the “@” symbol to write a public message to a specific friend, who will then receive a notification that they have been “tagged” in your post. So if you know that your friend Mary Smith is going on a trip and want to send them a bon voyage, you can simply type “@” then start typing her name. When you type @M, a list of all your friends whose name start with “M” will appear. Select your friend and then your message should look something like this: Bon voyage Mary Smith! It might be worth exploring your homepage for a while before posting to familiarize yourself a little bit with the website.
Twitter has the same underlying concepts as Facebook, but there are a few things that make a huge difference. The biggest difference is how Twitter is used. It’s a bit more public than Facebook as you have to block individual people that you don’t want seeing your posts with normal settings, though you can choose to make your account private so only people you authorize can view your tweets.
Most people primarily use it to follow the news, pop culture, and see what’s going on in their fields of interest. If your favorite author is on Twitter, you can follow them and find out what they are up to on a day today basis. You can also follow news sites to get some of the most up-to-date news you can find on the internet.
As far as personal posting goes, the biggest difference is that every post is limited to 280 characters, so you have to keep each tweet(what a post on Twitter is called) short. The same idea applies to Twitter as it did to Facebook regarding using the @ symbol to tweet to specific people.Twitter also utilizes the # (now referred to as a hashtag instead of a pound sign) to categorize each tweet you send out. If you are a big NFL fan and have something you want to share with the NFL community on Twitter, simply end your post with #NFL and your comment will be added in with all the other posts about the NFL.
If you see a post you find interesting or hilarious, you can hit the “heart” button to tell the poster you liked it, and then hit the button with the two square arrows to retweet it which shares it with all the people who follow you.
This is basically the same as Twitter, except that you can exclusively post pictures instead of text, save for the captions you choose to add. Otherwise, it works much the same way as Twitter; you can @mention your friends, you can add #hashtags to categorize your content, and you can choose to make a private or public account. Instagram is perfect for people looking to share their photography and daily experiences—especially if you’re a big traveler, cook, or visual artist.
Some Things to Think About
Like any other public social space there are a few things you need to be aware of in order to navigate the social media space efficiently. One common mistake that people make when using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (and other platforms) is confusing that platform’s internal search bar for your Google search bar. Doing this may cause you to post your private searches to the public. Make sure to double-check that you are using the right search bar for the kind of search you want to perform.
It’s also worth noting that the reason why these services are free is because Facebook, like any other social media platform, harvests your data so that companies can send you targeted advertisements. So, if you say you like vintage cars on Facebook, there is good chance that you could see an ad for a vintage car magazine, for example, on your feed.
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