Social Media: What’s the Difference?

Today it seems like everyone is on social media.   Social media is used for many different things:  staying in touch with family and friends, keeping up-to-date with news and trending topics, and promoting businesses and social causes.  It allows you to connect with people all over the world who have different backgrounds, interests, hobbies, and professions.  With so many different sites, how do you know which one is right for you?  Click here for an quick comparison graphic of the most popular social media sites.

Facebook – Created in 20014 by Mark Zuckerberg as way to keep up with his friends.  It is the world’s largest social media site with more than I.5 billion active users worldwide.  It allows you to send messages, post status updates, and share photos and videos.  Depending on privacy settings, requesting and accepting friend requests will determine what can be seen on your timeline and home page.  It works well on both a computer and mobile device.

Twitter – Another popular social media site, Twitter is designed around short updates.  Each tweet (or post) is limited to a total of 140 characters, spaces and punctuation marks.  You can attach short videos and photographs to a tweet.  Twitter is most popular for inventing the hashtag, which has now been adopted by many other social media sites.  With over 289 million active users, it can be used on a computer but because of its quick real-time messages, it is most often used on mobile devices.  You connect with other users by accepting and requesting to follow other users.

Instagram – Instagram is a photo-sharing app for mobile devices used by over 300 million active users.  The simplest of social media sites, it allows you to upload photos or short videos, write a caption, and add hashtags so your followers will be able to see them.  It is most popular with teens and young adults.

Pinterest – Unlike other media sites that are based on sharing status updates and photos, Pinterest is focused on collecting and sharing things found on the Internet.  You organize the things you collect on Bulletin Boards.  You can follow other Pinners who have similar interests and repin (or save) their items to your boards.  It is available on both the computer and mobile devices.

LinkedIn – While the other social media sites are more for personal use, LinkedIn is more of a professional networking site.  You create an online resume (or profile) of your skills and employment history.  As you add contacts and make connections you build your network.  Your connections can go in and endorse your skills.  Many businesses use LinkedIn to screen and recruit potential employees.

If you are over 50 and interested in learning how to use these popular social media sites, the Richland College Emeritus program will be offering Social Media 1 (Facebook) and Social Media II (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other sites) classes starting in January.  Spring registration begins on November 22 for current students and November 28 for new students.  Contact the Emeritus office at (972) 238-6972 or the Business Office Systems and Support program at (972) 238-6215 to sign up for these popular classes.  FYI—If you are over 65, the classes are FREE to Dallas County residents.