If you’ve never used social media before and wonder what it all is, or how it could be useful to you, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to explain the basic principles behind social media, and then give you a quick summary of some of the most popular social media websites, along with how you can use them to keep in touch with your children and grandchildren.
What is “social media”?
You’ve probably heard the term “social media” at least a few times, given how often it has been mentioned over the past little while. However, you may be a little confused as to what it actually means. Basically, “social media” is a collection of computer programs and Internet websites that allow people to interact with each other in online communities. These communities can be based on many things: people who personally know each other, people who live in the same neighbourhood, people who have certain hobbies, people who cheer for a certain sports team, and so on.
As for what people do to interact with each other over social media, they can share, exchange, discuss, and even sometimes create or change stuff. And by “stuff”, I mean thoughts, ideas, opinions, news, pictures, videos, sounds, Internet links… just about anything! It’s basically a big game of “show and tell”: people create and/or put stuff up on their social media accounts that they find funny, important, interesting, and so on. Then, people in their virtual community can look at that stuff, approve of it, comment on it, show it to a different virtual community, or even change it into something better or different!
What are some examples of social media?
To illustrate what I just described, I’m going to quickly go over some of the neat things that you can do on three well-known social media websites: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Facebook is one of the most versatile social media services around. You can find people you know who use Facebook based on where you live(d), where you went to school, where you work(ed), and people whom you mutually know. You can see what news stories are popular, and get news about people, companies, and brands that you like. Share what you’re thinking or feeling right now, a funny joke that you heard, or just some cute pictures. Then see how many people “like” it or comment on it!
You can use privacy controls, lists, and Facebook’s internal messaging system to share information privately with your loved ones. Or, you can use the “events” function to plan your next family get-together, with no “phone tag” necessary! If you’re interested in learning how to do all this (and more) on Facebook, have a look at these Facebook text and video tutorials.
Twitter is similar to Facebook in some ways, in that it lets you share thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, pictures, videos, sounds, Internet links, and more. You can also keep up-to-date with what people you know or like are sharing, and have your friends re-share what you’ve posted. The unique thing about Twitter, though, is that each post you make can only be 140 characters long, so you have to keep things brief.
Twitter is good for posting short, frequent updates. You can use it, for example, to let your family know about all of the fun things you’re doing while on vacation (and reassure them that you’re okay!). These Twitter tutorials will show you how to get started on Twitter, from signing up to posting a message (“tweet”) to using advanced functions such as pictures and private messages.
Pinterest is a social network with a twist: every piece of information put on it has to be a photo, drawing, animation, or video… or at least accompanied by one. Browse through it with your children or grandchildren for stylish fashion ideas, yummy food to eat, cute animal pictures that will melt your heart, or whatever else you’re into! You can also create your own collections of image-based information (called “boards”), and even collaborate with other people! Have your family help you create a cookbook, a family album, a vacation planner, and more!
Want to give Pinterest a try? These Pinterest tutorials will show you how it’s done!
Well, that’s an introduction to what social media is and how you can use it. Make sure you come back to this blog again soon because we will be adding some more great posts going into more detail about these popular social media websites.
Until next time!