Social media is a great way to share information and get to know like-minded people. It’s not just for youngsters, there are lots of ways that social media can be both useful and entertaining.
Why should I get involved in social media?
With so many people using their mobile phones to connect these days, there are lots of pieces of software you can use to really stay in touch with people. Social media is all about staying connected, getting that sense of ‘being in touch’, communicating with other people and networking – perhaps even with people from around the world.
How and where do I start?
Your local library may run courses in social media, but two of the best ways are to ask a younger person to take you through things step by step… or simply to set up your profile (that’s enter your details and choose a username), and ‘have a go’. You’ll need a computer (or a smartphone) and a connection to the internet, but that’s about it.
Which social media sites should I look at?
There are hundreds to choose from, and there’s usually no obligation to pay for the service. Take a good look around and see what interests you before you open an account. (And remember, everything you put onto the internet, stays on the internet). Here are some of the more well-known and popular social media websites you’re likely to come across:
A great place for sharing family experiences, staying in touch with friends overseas, posting photographs and getting to know ‘friends of friends’. You can ‘post’ almost as much content as you like on Facebook, and it’s easy to share pictures and videos on your ‘wall’. You can also ‘follow’ organisations and people who interest you – just be aware that Facebook’s privacy settings need updating on a regular basis (so that you’re as private as you want to be with your posts).
Another great place to network with friends and family – and more. Twitter sets a 140 character limit on its messages, so users keep things quite snappy – and there’s a ‘shorthand’ to learn if you want to ‘re-tweet’ messages… but it’s all very simple. You can also ‘follow’ a wide range of celebrities and organisations, and stay ‘private’ if you want to – again, just check your privacy settings on a regular basis.
Snapchat allows users to take photos, send messages, even short videos to each other – but then deletes them entirely after a very short period of time.
Instagram enables users to share photos and videos with either friends, or people that ‘follow’ you.
Pinterest is like an electronic pinboard that you can share with other people. When you share something on Pinterest, each image you bookmark is called a 'pin'. When you share someone else’s pin on Pinterest, it’s called a 'repin'.
LinkedIn is a business orientated social network site where users publish their career histories and skill sets and ‘link’ to other colleagues to create networks. It’s different to many other social network sites in that it's designed specifically for professional networking - finding a job, discovering sales leads, connecting with potential business partners - rather than simply making friends or sharing media such as photos, videos and music.
What do they cost?
Most social media sites are free and don’t cost anything to join or use. The biggest exception is LinkedIn where there are some services – such as enhanced search options - that require you to subscribe at a cost. Unless you are intending to set up a business, it might not be worth doing this; however, you can still use many of their services for free.