Many people find social media bewildering - is it safe? Should I use Twitter or Facebook or Instagram? How does it work? Today's blog will help you fnid your way through the maze.
Social media is basically about connecting with people in an internet environment. Each one works in a slightly different way. The one(s) you choose will depend on what you want to do and who you'd like to connect with.
Creating an account:
All of these accounts are free. You will need a photo (it doesn't have to be of you) and will need to create a profile (your personal information - enter as little as you can. Tip - I never use my real date of birth on social media, and I don't allow anyone to see it)
You can often use your Facebook account to log in to other services without creating a new profile on each one, but I would advise caution in doing this.
Facebook has been in the media a lot for data breaches, and is working hard to clean up its act. It remains an excellent way of connecting with friends and family, sharing photos, what's happening in your life, and keeping up with your friends and family (called posts). Once you have your profile, search for people you know, and send a 'friend' request asking them to accept you. This give you access to the information they share with their 'friends'. Likewise, you accept 'friend' requests from people you know (NEVER accept one from someone you don't know) You can also 'undfriend' people if circumstances change. On your feed (first page, listing posts) you will see the posts of your friends.
Twitter is very different to Facebook. You are limited to 150 characters in your posts. Anyone on Twitter can see your posts, but your profile can, and should be private) Twitter tends to have short updates, and is often the first place news stories break - people tweet (a post on twitter is called a tweet) about events long before the news is there. If you want to know why you're in a traffic jam, Twitter can usually tell you. You can follow people on Twitter, and they can follow you - this allows you to see posts regularly. Unlike Facebook, you don't accept or agree to your followers, but you can block someone who is abusive. I like to follow local traffic news.
You can also be completely anonymous on Twitter, and have multiple accounts, which is why there are sometimes issues with Trolls (people who post nasty, abusive comments)
Your Twitter username starts with the @ symbol. If you want to follow a thread (theme) then people use a hashtag (#) in their posts - you can search for these, and use them to keep your own Tweets grouped. Twitter also shows you trending tweets - so you can see what people are saying about a world event. #Florence currently has incredible images and posts from those in the path of the storm. Twitter tends to be about influence - the more followers you have, the more people influenced by your opinions and comments. It is a powerful tool for dealing with complaints, especially where the company has failed to respond.
Linkedin is designed more for workplace connections, and for career building. Posts tend to be linked to work, and you can post your CV, and search for jobs. If you do use LinkedIn, make sure you don't make too much personal information available to those you connect with - not everyone you know should be able to see your whole CV, which can be posted in LinkedIn. You can share updates and articles as well, and connect with organisations and groups that you work with.
if you prefer images to words, then Instagram is likely to suit your needs, as it is designed to be a photo sharing site. I'm not on Instagram, so can't comment much on using it.
Choosing the right social media platform for you
- what is your intention or purpose? Do you want to keep up with friends and family, or is it to further your career? I tend to use Facebook for friends and family (and I don't usually connect to people I work with) LinkedIn professionally, where I will connect with people I work with or deal with. I have a Twitter account for my business@penrose_ent and for myself as a writer @denicepenrose. I also manage multiple twitter accounts for various projects, conferences and organisations.
- Which service are the people you want to connect with using - if they are all on Facebook, then sign up to Facebook.
In my next blog, I will take about tools you can use to manage multiple social media accounts.
Protecting yourself on social media
- Read the terms and conditions, and know what you are signing up to. In most cases, you are giving permission to see targeted advertising.
- Don't post information which is not true, or illegal. People have been successfully prosecuted for libel, and for posting false information online.
- Check your profile carefully, and only list information you are happy to be seen by other people
- Check your privacy settings - generally, I only allow people I have accepted as friends / aquaintances to see all of the information I post. I can be found, but very little information is available until I have linked with someone.
- Use secure passwords, and don't post too much information about your schedule.
- be polite, even when you disagree with someone.
- Your online profile is how the 'world' sees you - make sure you're happy with the views it represents. Some people have lost jobs over Social Media posts!
Social media is a powerful tool, and a useful way of keeping up with friends, family, colleagues and world events.