Let’s Get Social

social mediaWe live in an age of social media and with it there are a few pros and cons. As of January 2014, 74% of all internet users in the world use some form of social media. In fact, if you have an account with any of the sites I’m going to mention, a quick search on your name will take me to your profile.

I think I’m somewhere in the middle of social media users. I’m sure there are many people out there who are working multiple social media profiles with ease, but I’m also aware that many people limit themselves to one social media site mainly because they’re not aware of the differences.

This post represents my opinion and analysis on the following top social media sites. Your experience may be different than mine.

Facebook facebook

Facebook is the undisputed king of social media. It’s a social network, but it also allows for media sharing, bookmarking, and social news. Started by Mark Zuckerberg when he was 19 years old, it was initially intended as a type of dating site for Harvard students. By 2005 it was in use by over 2,000 colleges and $25,000 high schools as it was quickly adopted as a way to plan events and share media. In 2007, Facebook started allowing business pages, allowing companies to attract potential customers. By 2011, it had become the largest photo host, and over 350 million users were accessing Facebook through their mobile phones. As of January 2014, approximately 71% of all internet users use Facebook.


  • Keep up with close social ties, especially those in more remote or rural areas.
  • Re-connect with childhood friends, schoolmates, and past colleagues.


  • It’s become the medium of choice for many online bullies.
  • Many people are seemingly oblivious to the fact that the people they are speaking to (or about) on Facebook are real people.
  • Companies will sometimes terminate employees based on comments made on Facebook that they feel reflects poorly on them.


  • If you want to act like an idiot behind a keyboard, be prepared to be treated like an idiot when you meet people in person.

LinkedIn iconLinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media site that is more business-oriented. It was founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman and launched in 2003 and is primarily used for professional networking. As of 2015, LinkedIn has more than 400 million users in more than 200 countries and territories. The main purpose of LinkedIn is to allow its users (employees, employers, and entrepreneurs) to create profiles and build a network of connections, similar to professional relationships in real life. If you’re looking for a professional in a specific field, you may want to look and see what recommendations some of your connections have given. LinkedIn also supports special interests groups, most of which are employment related. From Toastmasters to Grammar Geeks, there’s a group you can join for information or discussion. There are currently 128,000 groups.


  • Extremely useful when looking for or listing jobs and business opportunities. A well-built profile highlights a person’s areas of expertise and lets you see their recommendations.
  • For businesses, they’re able to tap into a wealth of candidates – even if they’re not looking for a job or not suitable for a job, they might know someone and pass the information along.
  • Candidates can find out more information on companies and even interact with other employees at the company, through 2nd or 3rd degree connections, to find out what the culture is.
  • TechRepublic, an online trade publication, describes LinkedIn as the “defacto tool for professional networking”.


  • There’s also a tendency for people to want to “mine” your connections. You have to pay attention to what information you’re sharing publicly, and even within your network of connections.


  • Pay attention to your privacy settings and don’t just accept every connection request you receive.
  • Pay attention also to your LinkedIn account and keep it up to date, sharing information and updates with groups of connections, and keep yourself relevant in your field.
  • Remember that it’s not Facebook, and forget about sharing political rantings and cat videos. Seriously – is that what you want people to think you do all day?


Twitter is a way for people to stay connected and communicate through the exchange of short frequent messages called “tweets” through their website, SMS or mobile app. Tweets can contain photos, videos, links, and up to 140 characters of text. These tweets are sent to your followers and are searchable. Twitter was created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass and currently has more than 100 million users posting 340 million tweets a day (as of 2012).  While I have a Twitter account, I’ll admit I haven’t been a big user as I personally feel there are better, more efficient ways for me to stay informed on subjects of interests. Twitter hasn’t been doing very well lately and recently posted a net loss of $90 million US in their fourth quarter of 2015.


  • Twitter has played a very instrumental role during the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. With the emergence of Twitter, no country can operate in a silo anymore; Twitter has helped to spread the word and raise social awareness during times of political unrest, government corruption and oppression. Even when the media is silenced, all it takes is one person with a mobile phone and Twitter and the whole world knows what’s happening. The revolution has become digital.
  • Twitter has also been beneficial in improving communications between businesses and their consumer base. Many people use twitter to express their opinions about companies and products, forcing companies to respond in a much quicker manner.
  • Companies can quickly tweet about breaking new developments and opportunities.


  • You may need to be careful about what you tweet as there is no taking it back. I didn’t even know who Justine Sacco was until she tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” As a PR executive, she should have known better. Yes, you may want people to know who you are, but for the right reasons.


  • Take the time to learn how to use Twitter effectively, including the use of hashtags.
  • Decide your purpose and define your brand. Focus on your passion.
  • In doing some research on Twitter (as previously stated, I don’t use it very much), I came across this quote from a Forbes article; “Don’t be a jack of all Twitter subjects and a master of none.” That’s me. From media outlets, e-Learning, technical writing and Toastmasters, I am all over the board and completely lacking in Twitter-focus. If you want to be an effective Tweeter, don’t be me.


While Facebook is known for their photo sharing, Instagram is a social media site completely dedicated to mobile photo / video sharing. Started in 2010, tens of millions of users share their photos through Instagram, which also lets you customize your images with filters. You can share your Instagram photos with several social media sites as well, including almost all of the ones mentioned here. In 2013, Instagram was listed in Time Magazine as one of the top 40 apps for android, and is recognized as one of the fastest growing social networks.


  • Great way for users to connect with each other in real time through visual communication.
  • With their filters, you can easily transform an amateurish photo taken with your mobile phone into a beautiful professional looking, artistic image.


  • A lot of younger people are starting to use Instagram and I’ve often joked it’s because their parents joined Facebook. One of the dangers of young people using Instagram though is their tendency to use location tags, which is starting to become a bit of a problem because of predators that are searching on Instagram.
  • Instagram now has a direct photo messaging feature that allows friends to share private photos to one another which, as I’m sure you can imagine, has led to a rise in sexting.


  • When sharing on any social network, remember to keep yourself and your children safe.
  • If you have children, talk to them about the dangers of sexting and be aware of all their online activity.


Tumbler is a microblogging platform and social networking site founded by David Karp, which has been owned by Yahoo since 2013. Microblogging has been described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr has become known as the “anti-blog”. Apparently the main reason people quit blogging on traditional blogging sites is because it’s difficult to find and develop an audience. Tumblr allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog where users can follow each other. Tumblr has a younger user demographic, although users must be over thirteen. If you are starting to wonder why your kids are no longer actively posting as often on Facebook, it’s probably because you’re there so they’ve moved to Tumblr. It’s become one of the top ten websites in the US, with 20 billion page views monthly. Last year it surpassed WordPress as the most popular blog hosting service in the world, with 77.6 million blogs.


  • Almost appears to be a replacement for Myspace, especially among younger people.
  • Users are encouraged to create their own content and to interact with other like-minded users by following their interests and expressing themselves.
  • Users create a web page where they can post images, music clips, text, etc., and they can customize the look of the personal page to reflect their personality, which has attracted people who which to express their artistic side.
  • Perfect for people with short attention spans.


  • Unlike Facebook and other social media or blogging sites, you cannot comment on someone’s posts, you can only “love” them or re-blog them.
  • Posts are intended to be short – if you want to provide in-depth information, this is not the site for you.
  • Since Tumblr blogs are not screened, filtered, or moderated in any way, it’s becoming a magnet for hard-core pornography and other explicit material.
  • It’s becoming a haven for users to replicate and share copyrighted content.


  • If you have teens that use Tumblr, stay vigilant about what they’re posting and who’s following them.
  • If you have a blog and want to post to Tumblr, remember to keep it short. In fact, some advice I received was to only post a picture from your blog post, and link the picture back to your blog.


Flickr is a popular photo-sharing and hosting service with an engaged community. Created by Ludicorp in 2004, it was acquired by Yahoo in 2005, which closed down Yahoo Photos in 2007. In 2013, Flickr had 87 million registered users and more than 3.5 million images were uploaded daily. Flickr currently stands at the crossroads of photo sharing and social media sites.


  • Many bloggers use Flickr to host the images they use in their blogs.
  • It has a smooth, scrolling interface and it’s easy to upload photos and videos easily. With 1 TB of free storage space, it’s easy to see why.
  • You can also easily share with other social media sites.


  • In 2014, Flickr (Yahoo) announced that it would sell wall-sized prints of users’ photos which were licensed under Creative Common licenses that allowed commercial use. Although legal, many felt it was unfair exploitation of artists’ work, and while Yahoo reversed that decision in 2014 and promised to work closer with artists to design a program, their reputation was damaged. T
  • here are rumours that Yahoo will try to sell Flickr, along with its core internet business, but at the moment it’s a wait and see situation.


Google+ is Google’s social networking project. If you have a Google account, you can activate your Google+ account easily. This is actually Google’s fourth attempt at social networking, following Google Buzz that retired in 2011, Google Friend Connect that retired in 2012, and Orkut, which I wasn’t even aware of. It’s described as a social layer across all of Google’s services. Since signing up on Google+ is usually just a by-product of signing up for other Google services, it’s hard to actually know how many people use it actively. Posts to Google+ are shared with members of your “circles”.


  • Since so many people already have Google accounts, it’s easy to sign up for a Google+ account.
  • There’s a tremendous convenience to having one sign in for all Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Play, etc.
  • Google+ can also be used for webcast broadcasting.
  • It actually has a huge array of powerful tools and features, including SEO.
  • Google+ is also better suited for longer posts than Facebook and other social media sites.


  • I’ve been using Google+ for years, but I wouldn’t consider myself active on it. Because it is so similar to Facebook, many users simply share the same content on both.
  • A drawback for businesses is Google+ prohibits companies from offering contests or promotions on their Google+ pages.  The way around that though is to merely post a link to your contest or promotion.

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! Believe me, I had no idea when I started this that it would be so long. The mere exercise of researching each of these platforms has been a learning experience. In addition to deciding your purpose and defining your brand when using Twitter, another thing I learned is that it isn’t wise to share all content to all platforms, something I’ve only recently learned how to do.

When the same content is shared, you’re giving your readers the option to follow you in one place or the other, when you should be striving to have your readers follow you in both places. As with my Twitter advice, this is best achieved by deciding your purpose and defining your brand. Something I will definitely work on once I have readers!

Creative Commons License
Let’s Get Social by Suzette Seveny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.





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