Get social media confident

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Social Media Confidence

Guide: Get social media confident

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Let’s face it, social networking isn’t going anywhere. It’s been around in one form or another for many, many years. If you feel like some of it has passed you by, this post is to help you get familiar with basic terminology and best practice.

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Let’s start with some simple definitions. What is social media and is it the same as digital media?

Digital media any digitised information that can be shared over the internet. This covers email, digital radio stations, websites, social networks and many other forms of online communication.

Social Media = a form of communicating to a network of people through a website or app. The social part is what makes it more than just ‘digital’. Social media enables conversation and amplification to many.

So what we’re saying is, while all social media is digital media, not all digital media is social. For example, Skype is a digital media because it let’s you communicate over the internet. It’s not really social because you are communicating one to one.

Timeline / NewsfeedThe main area that shows updates from your network. This can be the people or businesses you follow or updates from groups you’re a member of.

It’s usually the homepage when you log in to a social network

Status updateThis is when you share something with your network which will then appear in their newsfeed. Common things to share are pictures, links to articles or a sentence or two from you describing what you’re up to.

Friend / FollowerOn Facebook we ‘friend’ each other. It involves both sides agreeing to the connection. On LinkedIn it’s a ‘connection’ but again requires both sides to agree. On twitter and Instagram we ‘follow’ each other. You don’t have to approve followers and you don’t have to be mutual; just because someone follows you, you don’t have to follow back.

New social media platforms and apps are being created all the time. You do not have to use them, or be intimidated by them. Much of the functionality and terms we use in this course will be part of any new application.

Apps work better if we can get familiar early. New developers usually build on terms and functions we’re familiar with.

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Facebook is probably the platform you’re most familiar with. It’s by far the most common social network in terms of users and even people who don’t see themselves as social network users often have an account.

In terms of functionality, Facebook and LinkedIn have the most in common (though their tone and content are very different).

Everyone begins with their personal profile. Even if you’ve only joined Facebook for business, you need to have your own profile to get started*.

*this has changed recently with the introduction of but I’m sticking to the simplest options here.

Screenshot 2016-03-28 17.30.56

Let’s talk visibility. If you look at the status box you’ll notice it says ‘public’ next to the ‘post’ button. That is where you can change who can see your status update. Most people will only share with friends but if you want something to be shared across Facebook, you should mark it as ‘public’. If you’re wondering why that’s an option, it’s because people you’re not friends with will be able to see these posts if they click on your profile. It gives them an idea of the kinds of things you share. It also means people can choose to ‘follow’ you and see the things you share publicly.

Being a ‘friend’ on Facebook has to be agreed by both parties. In accepting a ‘friend request’ you’re giving Facebook permission to share your information with that person, and vice versa. Followers don’t get shared information, they only see what you specifically make public.

If you go to a friend’s profile, you can write them a message – this is not private. When you’re prompted to write a happy birthday message this is what you’re doing; leaving a message on their wall. You can do the same thing on a company’s wall. This would also be technically public but wouldn’t be shown to all the Page followers.

I use private as a loose term when it comes to any social network. Always remember that any of your connections could screen grab your updates and share them publicly. However, if you want to send a message directly to a friend or group of friends on Facebook, you can use Facebook chat / messenger. On mobile this is a separate application. On desktop you just need to click the speech bubble symbol at the top right.

You can learn more about Facebook Groups and pages on our free course.

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If you want to learn about social networks, twitter is an excellent training ground. You can set up a profile with very little information and can happily follow some accounts to get you started.

Similar to Facebook, you will spend most of your time on your newsfeed.

twitter newsfeed

If you find your newsfeed is boring or a waste of time, change who you follow! Don’t let twitter become useless just because the accounts you follow aren’t sharing things you value. If you find someone you enjoy, have a look at who they follow. There’s no pressure to keep following people or to follow people back. Be protective of your newsfeed, it’s what makes twitter useful.

In terms of jargon, the thing you’ll hear talked about most often is Retweeting. Here are some examples:

richard herring retweet

This is the old form of retweeting. The text shared after ‘RT’ is the original tweet or status update and the text before has been added by, in this case, Richard Herring. @MikeStoner1 wrote the original tweet which will have been seen by his followers and this message will have been seen by Richard Herring’s followers.

standard retweet

The original poster of this message is brent (@murman5). It will have been seen by his followers. I don’t follow brent but I do follow James Nielsenn and I saw it in my newsfeed because he retweeted it (you can see his name and the retweet symbol just above the original message).

new retweet

This is the newest form of retweeting. It allows you a full 140 characters on top of the original message and you can clearly see the original along with the account that has retweeted the message and their comments. In this case a happy face is enough 🙂

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Tone and posting

So when you get to it, what should you share?

Honestly, sharing is the last step. If you want to feel confident on social media, listen. Follow accounts that inspire and entertain you. At some point, you won’t be able to keep in the things you want to share!

If in doubt, ask yourself:

  • What would you say if you were in the room?
  • Would you share this with someone you just met?

Next steps…

So what now?

  • Set up an account and start following interesting accounts
  • Use the mobile app to check in regularly and listen to your community
  • Learn from the tone and content shared by users you respect

If that’s all a bit too easy, you can also visit our resources page for more advanced learning, join our Facebook Group or check out our online courses.

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