Understanding social networking
As the Internet gets more popular with people of all generations, families and friends around the world are looking for easier ways to stay in touch and share their experiences with one another. In recent years, there has been a huge rise in popularity of social networking sites.
These websites or platforms make it easy to connect with others you know and share pictures, updates, videos and websites with your network of acquaintances in a casual way. While in the early days social networking sites were used primarily by teenagers and university-age students, today there are sites of all kinds that are popular with people in different age groups.
Popular social networking sites
There are lots of social networks to choose from, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be on all of them at once – if you want to join a social network choose one that suits your interests or is popular with your friends and family members. This will make it easier to get started once you have set up a profile.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a professional networking tool and is used primarily to help users stay in touch with contacts they’ve met at work and to keep up on what’s happening in your industry. Your LinkedIn profile functions as your resume or CV online and can be a useful tool if you are looking for work or mentoring others.
Facebook – With more than a billion users worldwide, it’s no surprise that Facebook is one of the most popular social networking tools on the globe. To sign up, all you need is an email address and your real name. Once you’re signed up you can post photos and updates of what you’re doing and connect with other people from the networks you identify – such as your location, interests or university. At the heart of Facebook is your News Feed, which updates regularly with the posts your friends and family members are sharing with one another.
Twitter – Twitter has gained notoriety since it was first launched for helping people share news as it happens. It’s known as a ‘microblogging’ platform because users can only post short updates of 140 characters or less – roughly one sentence at a time. This social network has been designed to be more open – other users with similar interests can follow your profile, and similarly you can choose to follow as many different profiles as you like, for example of sports stars, writers, politicians and journalists.
Google+ – Very similar to Facebook, Google+ is the social networking site made by the same company who developed the Google search engine. If you are already using Gmail as your primary email provider, Google+ is a simple way to make the most of the many features offered by the company. With this tool you can share videos, photos and updates, and separate the people you know into distinct groups, giving you full control over who sees what you are posting. This can be particularly useful if you are connected to friends, family members and co-workers but don’t necessarily want to share everything you are doing with every group at the same time.
YouTube – YouTube is a video-sharing website that lets you upload videos and share them with others. With YouTube you can discover videos on a nearly endless range of subjects and interact with others who share the same interests as you do.
Instagram – This photo-based social network is a little different from the others on the list because it is used exclusively on smartphones. With your Instagram account you can take pictures using your phone, and then edit and upload them. A central photo feed shows all the images people you are following have posted, along with any you post yourself. These can be viewed from your home computer, however to use it you will need to have a smartphone with Internet access.
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