Not so long ago the term “social media” wasn’t a topic that my friends and I referred to at all. These days if you are not in step with all of the tools of social media, you miss out on easy connections with family and friends. It has become especially important for seniors to understand and know how to use social media. Let’s start by introducing the social media world to those of you who have not yet ventured into social media, including the various platforms available.
First — that mega-social media network called “Facebook.” Five years ago my children showed me how easy it was to connect on Facebook with old friends and make new ones. You begin by establishing a profile, which might include your hometown, where you went to school, where you worked, etc. Facebook has more than 1.3 million users worldwide, and it is a great way to stay connected to others.
Do you tweet? “Twitter” is a social networking service that allows its users to send short messages called “tweets.” You must be creative in your messages because Twitter allows only 140 characters in each tweet. As of December 2014, this service reported hosting 500 million users.
“Tumblr” is a micro-blogging platform that allows you to post content to a short-form blog. Users can follow others blogs, as well as make private blogs. As of March 2015, Tumblr hosted more than 225 million blogs. “Flickr” is a similar service that allows you to share pictures and is widely used by photo researchers and bloggers. You can view photos without the need to register an account, but you must have an account to upload content.
There is a chance you may not have heard of “Vine.” Senior users are enjoying this service as it allows users to send short video clips to friends or share other posts. “Snapchat” is another fun service for seniors. You snap a photo or video that is only five seconds long and send it to a friend to enjoy, and then the snap disappears from their screen.
If you haven’t tried “Skype” with friends and family you are really missing out. This is a free service that lets you see and talk with friends and family. Skype is also used a great deal in the business world. There are more than 100 million active users on Skype each month. Skype has become very popular with grandparents who have grandchildren living in other states, and it’s the perfect way to keep in touch.
The latest player in the social media game is a service called “Miracast.” You can use this on any smartphone or PC. Miracast lets you bring whatever is on your device’s screen directly to your television. For instance, let’s say you often check your emails on your smartphone. With Miracast, you can forward those same emails to your television for easier viewing.
For me, social media has put me in constant contact with one of my cousins in Georgia and my stepfather in New York. Please share with me your favorite social media platform and why.