Facebook and Twitter: Tips and Tricks
Kurt Wagner '12
The internet is full of social networks and pseudo-social networks that occupy your time and a small piece of real estate on your smartphone’s home screen. My livelihood comes from writing about the ins and outs of these platforms, and even I have a tough time knowing where to spend my time. For some, the idea of building and then maintaining an online identity in multiple places is just too confusing, too invasive, or simply too much work.
But it can be done. You just need to prioritize and understand what you’re getting into. The way I see it, there are a small handful of networks out there truly worth your time, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, and a few others. Wondering where to begin? I’ve compiled some tips and tricks for each network to help you enhance your social media experience.
We’ll kick off Part 1 of this ongoing series with the basics: Facebook and Twitter. Whether you’re new to social media, or simply want a refresher, here’s what you need to know:
Why you should use it: Everybody is on Facebook. I’m not kidding—1.7 billion people use the site every month, which makes it the world's largest social network by a wide margin. Facebook is the best place on the internet to stay in contact with friends and family members you don’t see on a regular basis.
What you’ll find here: Lots of photos, and more recently, videos. The company has made a big push to get people, publishers, and brands sharing things online that are visual. As a result, Facebook is now full of videos that play automatically as you scroll through your feed. Even with all that video, Facebook is still the go-to place for most baby pictures, wedding shots, and major life updates.
Tips and tricks: When it comes to Facebook, personalizing your feed is the name of the game. The company uses a computer algorithm to determine what posts, pictures, and videos you see every time you open the site, but you can provide feedback so Facebook knows what you like or don’t like. The general rule of thumb is to “Like” and comment on the stuff you want to see more of, and hide the stuff you want to see less of. The algorithm will learn your preferences and (hopefully) do a better job the next time you log in. Not everything you share has to be public, either. You can easily create and join private groups on Facebook, and share updates with specific people in a more intimate setting.
Pages to check out: Santa Clara University Alumni Association, Santa Clara University, Recode
Why you should use it: I get most of my news from Twitter and have it open on my computer or smartphone most of the day. Part of that comes with my job (I’m a journalist so I follow the news closer than most), but it is usually the fastest way to find out what’s happening in times of crisis, or when you just need to know the score of the game. Facebook wants to be your go-to news place, too, but Twitter is usually much faster.
What you’ll find here: A lot of news and links to news, but fewer videos than Facebook. Plus a lot of jargon. Twitter has traditionally limited the length of posts to 140 characters, so there are lots of ways people go about abbreviating and shortening their thoughts to fit them within the restraint. Worth noting: Twitter recently announced that certain things, like photos, will not count against this limit, which means users will soon have more space than they used to. Still, the traditional restraint means you’ll often see some familiar symbols being used in some unfamiliar ways. Most notably: The @ symbol (called your at-handle) is used to distinguish a person’s username, and a # (called a hashtag) is used to help people find tweets about specific topics.
Tips and tricks: You do not have to tweet to get value out of Twitter. There’s a perception that if you have a Twitter account, you must say something. Not true. Simply consuming information is enough of a reason to sign up and start following news outlets, athletes, or celebrities you care about. You can also set up lists on Twitter, which help you organize the people you follow into more manageable streams. So instead of sifting through hundreds of accounts of all different types, you could group the people you follow into categories like technology, business, or even something specific, like the San Francisco Giants.
Suggestions of accounts to follow: @SCUalumni, @SantaClaraUniv, @Recode, @TheEllenShow, @KurtWagner8
You might be wondering about other networks like Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, and more—not to mention more details on this push into live video we’re seeing from Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned for more about these channels and how social media is changing the way we get news and stay entertained.