As technology advances and virtual communication develops, it can be helpful to stay connected with your favorite businesses and even family and friends through social media platforms. Especially now, while COVID makes it harder to connect in-person, adding social media to your forms of communication can keep you updated on the latest information. 

Using social media can seem intimidating and overwhelming. First, there are many platforms and they all seem to have their own language when it comes to how to use them. Second, its hard to know which ones you need, do not need, or if you need all of them. Finally, it is such a fast-paced form of communication, that it can feel impossible to jump in and get started. 

These are only a few of the challenges that many people face when trying to use and interact on social media. Hopefully in this article we can explain the basics of the most popular social media platforms, and build your confidence so you can navigate, interact, and have fun on social media. 

What is Social Media? 

Let us start by breaking down what exactly social media is and what social media platforms are. 

Social Media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. – from Oxford Languages

Social Media Platform: A specific website or application that is considered social media. 

Ex. Facebook is one of the many social media platforms.

How do you Access Social Media?

Each platform is accessible in two ways: 

  • Website: By opening a web browser such as Microsoft Edge, Safari, or Google Chrome and typing in a URL such you can access your social media platform.
  • Application (App): By downloading an app onto your smart device such as a tablet or phone, you can access your preferred social media platform. All social media apps are free to download and use.
  • You can find applications to download on the app store if you have an Apple product or on Google Play if you have an Android product.

You can use social media either through a web browser or through an app, on any smart device you have. 

  • Computer, phone, tablet, etc. 

How do you Use Each Social Media Platform?

To get started, lets establish which platforms we will breakdown: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are a good place to start. They are widely known, used and are easy to get the hang of.

Facebook: This is the largest and most used platform. Many people use this social channel to connect and keep in touch with family and friends. Facebook is a place to post exciting news, updates in your life, and share things that interest you. 

This is an overall casual space to connect and engage with others. You can connect with others by sending friend requests and receiving friend requests. Another way to connect with others on Facebook is through groups. There are Facebook groups created for almost anything you can think of like a group for the community you live in, people who like hiking, people in a book club. By joining groups on Facebook, you can engage with people who have similar interests. 

Instagram: This platform is imaged based, meaning you always add a photo when you create a post. You can add text to your posts, but the photo will be the first thing people notice when it pops up on their screen. You do not have to be a photographer or good with a camera to enjoy Instagram. This platform can be a fun way to keep up with family and friends and post candid shots of your everyday life. This is an easy way to follow your favorite brands, celebrities, political figures, athletes, etc. to keep up with what they are doing. 

You can find users and posts about the things you are most interested in using hashtags. You can do this by searching things that interest you such as #gardening #sports #yoga. You can get as vague or specific as you want with the hashtags when searching for content. 

Twitter: This platform is all about quick and short lines of text, that can be paired with photos, links, and gifs. Twitter is where you can find the latest about news, sports, and entertainment. This platform is where people can share thoughts, opinions, and ideas usually in regard to current events. You can follow your friends, family, businesses, athletes, celebrities, etc. 

YouTube: This social channel is video based. Every post made by users is a video that can have text in a description box below the content. You do not need to make an account to access videos on YouTube but making one can be useful. When you make an account you don’t have to post, but you can subscribe to channels that have content you enjoy, you can like and comment on videos, and you can save videos to watch later. This helps YouTube understand the type of videos you like and suggest similar content that you will enjoy.   

Setting up an Account: Setting up an account is simple and similar across these platforms. Generally, the site or app will prompt you to sign up with an email to verify that you are who you say you are. Then create a username, then a password and you are all set! There are privacy settings on all platforms. You can control how private or public you want your profile to be.  

Though these platforms can differ in some areas, there is a lot of overlap too. In general, these are casual spaces to connect with others in a virtual way. Have fun keeping up with loved ones and friends, finding groups that share your interests, and remember to have fun!

How Does Social Media Help with Staying Updated?

Social media by nature is a fast-paced and immediate environment. When a relative posts about their vacation or a friend posts about their job promotion, you are able to like and comment “congrats” on their post within minutes.

Because you can send and receive information through social media almost immediately, it is a great way for your favorite brands and companies to stay in touch with you as well. Most businesses have accounts on most social media platforms. They can post important news, changes their making, or what they plan to do in the future. 

It can be beneficial to connect with businesses you want to support on social media not only to stay up to date with their activity but also to communicate with them. 

You can use the like and comment functions to share your thoughts on a post, you can like a page and share their content, you can use the direct message feature to directly contact a business.  You can tag a business in the content you share and that others share. 

The more you interact and share your thoughts and feelings about what a brand/business is doing the better they understand how to better meet the needs of their supporters.  


In a world that has a growing virtual presence, staying connected can be easy and fun! 

Social media makes communication and connection much more accessible. Staying in-touch with friends and family or starting a book club while social distancing can happen in just a few clicks. 

We hope to see you connect with us on social media. We love to interact and connect with our members on all our platforms! We post about the latest updates and info about our courses and activities, share helpful information that we believe our members would enjoy, and have fun! 

You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @OLLIatUofA