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“What is it to be social?” ask a lot of people these days, including my students. Social media are various interactive technologies which permit the generation or sharing/ exchange of ideas, careers, passion interests, other types of expression, and even other types of interaction through social networks and online communities. It’s the new thing, it’s the new media, and it is here to stay.
In the firstimester of our social media marketing studie, we were discussing this at length with one another. Ultimately, we agreed that while Facebook was the leader in social media, Google+ was close second, and Twitter was not far behind. Google+ allows users to create their personal spaces on which they invite others to join. Think of it as a social bookmarking site, but instead of bookmarks being left behind on your computer screen, these are delivered straight to your social media channels (such as your Facebook page, or your Twitter stream).
In summary, the point of this article isn’t to list ALL the social media sites. Instead, we wanted to begin by briefly describing a couple of the more important ones, and then give you a brief explanation of why we felt that they were worth studying further, as well as a suggestion of where to find more information on them if you were interested in further learning. We started out discussing Facebook. If you’re new to Facebook, we encourage you to take advantage of its “flat interface” – its flat design means that every feature available can be found and used no matter what version of Facebook you use. This is extremely helpful, and you’ll want to take full advantage of all that Facebook has to offer.
In addition to its flat interface, we also strongly recommended reading Facebook’s official documentation for each service, which offers a wealth of information about using each of their services together. In particular, if you’re wondering how to “pin” a photo, the documentation tells you exactly how you do that. Additionally, we highly recommended you take a look at the Facebook application “Social Media Metrics” (which is Facebook’s own aggregation platform), as it will help you analyze all of your different social-media-strategy efforts. It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of information out there, so this was an excellent quick guide to help get you on your way.
Next up is Twitter, which has a few unique aspects compared to Facebook. To start with, while Facebook gives you access to an infinite number of people and groups to interact with, Twitter limits you to a certain number per day, per geographic location, per Twitter account, etc. On top of that, you can only post up to 140 characters. It’s important to keep this in mind if you plan on doing a lot of direct networking via Twitter, as the character limitations really cut down the effectiveness. However, if you just want to follow along with folks you already know on Twitter, you won’t have much of a problem using Twitter to do that.
Last but not least, as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter, we recommend Google Reader. Google Reader is a free service that allows you to read the news from various newspapers all around the world every single day, absolutely free. We recommend taking advantage of the free trial, as the service is very solid. The first time you use Google Reader, it will prompt you to sign up for an account. You’ll be taken through a quick tutorial (ignoring the fact that you can skip right to the “sign up button”) where you choose which countries you’d like to read from. From there, all you have to do is follow the prompts to get started.
The reason why we recommend Google Reader is that it’s much easier to manage than Facebook or Twitter. You don’t have to go crazy signing up for every single news website and blocking all of your friends on request. With Google Reader, you simply click “add as” to add your favorite news sources to your reader. You can also change the headlines and even the images from time to time. That’s about it!
Now, to be fair, there are some things that Facebook and Twitter cannot compare to. They each allow you to interact with far more people for far less money than Google Reader. On the other hand, both Facebook and Twitter give you a chance to see which of your friends’ recent activities grabbed your attention. We can’t say that Facebook and Twitter are better than Google Reader, but they are certainly close enough in comparison. For most people, there’s no reason not to use either one, whether you are part of the Instafeed community or not. So what are you waiting for?