Social Media – What is it and what do you do?

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. No  these aren’t the latest celebrity baby names, they’re the most popular forms of social media!  Keep reading to find out what they’re all about!


 What is Facebook?

Well, to start off with, it’s arguably the biggest thing that is happening on the Internet right now. In short, Facebook is a social network device and website.  It launched in 2004 and was created by a guy called Mark Zuckerberg. According to statistics, as of April 2012 it has 900 million active users.

How do I use it?

Facebook has undergone a number of changes since it was launched. The basic premise, however, remains the same. You must register before using the site. You generally need your first name, surname, email address gender and date of birth. From this your personal profile is created! You can now add other users as friends simply by typing their name into the search bar and (if it’s the right person you were looking for) add him or her as a friend. You can exchange messages and receive notifications about most recent activity. You are updated as to the activity of those on your friends’ list by the ‘News Feed’. This is the homepage of your personal Facebook and it constantly displays the recent updates and activities of your friends.

Additionally, you can join common-interest user groups, organise your friend list by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorise your friends into lists such as “People From Work” or “Close Friends”.


Facebook allows you to choose your own privacy settings. For example you can choose who can see which specific parts of your profile. You can also choose who can add you as a friend, who can find you via search on Facebook OR web search and who (if anyone) can write on your wall or send you private messages.


  • Good for staying in touch with old school friends
  • Makes organising events and parties easier: you can create events on Facebook and invite others to attend. They can RSVP straight away
  • Words you need to know:

– ‘Tag: Not graffiti. A tag links a person or place to something you post. (you can choose if people are allowed to ‘tag’ you somewhere or in a photo)

– ‘Like’: If you ‘like’ a comment, photo, businesses Facebook page or Facebook group you simply click the ‘like’ button. It allows others to know you like that notification or if it’s a group it allows you to interact with that particular group

– ‘Status’: This is the space at the top of your profile (called your ‘wall’) where you can write where you are, what you’re going, what’s on your mind or upload a funny picture or video you’d like to share.


What is Twitter?

 The oxford dictionary defines Twitter ‘a bird call consisting of repeated light tremulous sounds’. For everyone else, Twitter is a social media platform that allows you to convey messages, see messages from others and discover the latest news and stories. Twitter sounds quite vague but many describe it simply like this: Twitter allows you to answer the question “what are you doing” in a simple and easy way. The twist is that you are limited to 140 characters per post.

How do I use it?

Signing up to Twitter is simple. All you need is your full name, email address and password. Now you can start tweeting (i.e. posting). You can talk about what you’re doing, ask a question and follow others. An important thing to do is to “follow” others. Messages from whoever you follow will show up on your home page for you to read. You’ll have real time information about what’s happening and who’s doing what!


You can make your tweets private. You can also change your privacy settings so that people must ask your permission before following you.


  • Simple. No need to create a specific profile page
  • Great for receiving breaking news in real time (you don’t necessarily even have to be following a news corporation)
  • 140 characters can get annoying however it keeps people from rambling (well MOST people)
  • Words you need to know:

–    ‘@’: not technically a word however this is important for Twitter. This symbol allows you to mention another user in your tweet. For example ‘can’t wait to go shopping with @maryjones’. When the sign is placed before a user name it acts like a link to that person’s profile

–    ‘hashtag’:  hashtag refers to this symbol: ‘#’. People use the symbol before using relevant keywords in their tweet. This helps categorise tweets and makes the tweet easily found in a Twitter search. For example ‘I think I’ve found the perfect ghost cosume! #halloweencostumeideas’

–    ‘Trending’: when something is trending is determined to be one of the most popular topics on Twitter. In the corner of your homepage will be a list of what is trending on Twitter. You can click on each topic to see what people are saying about it.


Now you can connect with almost everyone you know!


 What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a pinboard-style social media website that allows you to create your own ‘board’ and link images based on different collections such as hobbies, inspiration, events and more. You can browse other peoples’ boards and ‘repin’ images from other users’ boards. Pinterest also allows users to use Twitter and Facebook to share their ‘pins’.

How do I use it?

In order to sign up to Pinterest, you simply submit your email address and Pinterest will send you can email confirming your account to be set up. You can request an invite from Pinterest or you can be invited by someone who is already a part of Pinterest. Then you can start pinning! You can upload photos, recipes, inspiring quotes, pictures and products. You can install a ‘pin it’ tab on your bookmarks bar and if you’re on a website with something you would like to share you can simply press ‘pin it’ and it will automatically upload it onto your board.


Pinterest itself is quite a private platform. You don’t have to include your age, real name or any other personal details about yourself except for your email address, which is hidden from other users.


  • Simple concept! Simply share stuff you like.
  • Popular categories on Pinterest include: food & drink, DIY & crafts and women’s apparel. Lots of delicious desert recipes juxtaposed with fitness inspiration
  • Words you need to know:

–          ‘pin’: A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website or you can upload images from your computer. Each pin added using the  ‘pin it’ bookmark, links the image back to the site it came from

–          ‘board’: A board is a set of pins. A board can be created on any topic, such as, Recipes For Dinner, Inspiration, Decoration, Kitchen Ideas or Wishlist. You can add as many pins to a board as you want.



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