Social media can be more than a bit overwhelming at times.
For a start, there’s so much of it about that coming up with a definitive list is pretty much impossible.
What this blog aims to be is a guide to the biggest Social Media, ideas for how to use them, and suggestions for which ones are right for you.
Take five minutes to read it and if you decide to stick with Facebook then that’s fine. At least you’ll know you have thought about it. But you might just find that there’s another one out there with your name on it. So let’s get started…
The biggest beast of them all. Even if you’re not on it, chances are most of your friends are. Think of it as a friendly coffee house where you can get together with your friends, family and old school mates and show them your holiday snaps. Tell them how happy you’re feeling and chances are they’ll join in and make you feel even better. Tell them you’re feeling sad and they’ll try to cheer you up. But be warned: don’t invite people you don’t know or haven’t known for years to sit at your table – only accept friend requests from people you actually know and make sure your privacy settings are set up properly.
The first thing to understand is that joining Twitter does not mean you have to tweet. Ever.
Think of it instead as a news channel, one catered specifically to the subjects you’re interested in. Once you’ve joined, you need to “follow” other people – which means that you will see their tweets, often potted news bulletins, in your feed.
Journalists and newspapers are a good place to start, so if you’re a Liverpool FC fan then you might want to follow Liverpool Echo Reds reporter James Pearce. If you like music, then perhaps follow Q magazine, or BBC Music, or the Guardian music page. If there is no obvious journalist or newspaper covering the topic that floats your boat, then type it into the Twitter search engine at the top of the screen.
Lots of tweeters use hashtags – Twitter’s most famous innovation – which means you can search for what people are saying about, for example, David Cameron by typing #Cameron into the same search engine.
Once you’ve followed a few accounts, Twitter will start to prompt you with suggestions of other similar ones to follow and whether you do or not is entirely up to you.
My tip? Unless you’ve got whole days to waste – Twitter can be addictive – keep the number of accounts you follow down to 100-150 in order to stop your feed becoming overcrowded and nigh-on useless.
Just like Twitter, Instagram doesn’t require you to post pictures and it’s very popular with teenagers, who post selfies, memes and amusing videos on it, but it can be fantastic for adults too. It’s lovely to look at, with professional and amateur photographers posting their best shots. Instagram uses hashtags even more than Twitter, and using its search engine you can find great pictures of pretty much anywhere you care to mention.
It can be used to find great places to visit on holiday, or just as a great way to look at really lovely shots.
If you’re so inclined, you can also follow certain celebrities on Instagram which is great if you want to see pictures of Leo Messi celebrating his mum’s birthday or video of Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams interviewing herself.
Think of Pinterest as a pinboard where people stick pictures of things you might want to buy. Let’s say you want a butter dish. Search “butter dish” in Pinterest and you get thousands of pictures of lovely butter dishes, complete with link to buy the one you like. It’s not just for physical items, but it does that better than any other social media out there and for that alone is well worth checking out.
Unless you’re under 26, chances are you’re not on Snapchat. Basically it’s like texting but over wi-fi (thus not using up precious Pay-As-You-Go funds) and with pictures and videos, which disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds. Just like Twitter and Instagram, you can follow celebrities and read their latest news but that doesn’t mean you can message them.
LinkedIn and Google+ have managed the neat trick of being enormous (G+ has 1.6bn users worldwide, LinkedIn a relatively meagre 200m) but neither are even remotely necessary unless you are using Social Media for business or to find a new job. For now rest safe in the knowledge that they’re not worth thinking about.
And that’s about it for the biggies. My advice would be this: stay on Facebook (if you really don’t like it then Instagram is well worth a look), give Twitter a try for a couple of months (you might find you like it more than you thought) and use Pinterest when you need to – for buying presents it’s really helpful. The rest don’t really do anything that the others can’t.