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How to: Become social media savvy

Ah, social media. It's fun, ever-changing and rapidly become a phenomena that's embedded itself into the very fabric of our daily lives. However, with this rapid migration of people to new web platforms and media outlets comes a lot of questions, experimentation and even some bad habits that in time "netiquette" works to inform and correct. So, we thought we'd cover some basic social media tips to keep you as savvy as possible. Now, we're not the social media police, but rather trying to illuminate some practices that have become more and more accepted as part of the "clear, concise and courteous" digital canon. Whether all of these are news to you or maybe you're familiar and practicing them all, it always bears review. Savvy use of social media is a skill that can be learned and honed through a few simple, common-sense foundational points.


1. Quality, not quantity We find that it can pay in spades in terms of responses, engagement with friends and followers and overall good cheer when we take the time to craft compelling posts as opposed to carpet-bombing our community's social media feed (irrespective of whether we're talking about Twitter, Facebook or any other platform). So, taking the time to do this means fewer posts overall, but wouldn't you rather have a bigger impact with fewer words? After all, nobody really enjoys getting tweets from the same person every 10 seconds. Take a breath. Remember: It's quality, not quantity after all!

2.'re it! If you're using a platform like Facebook or Twitter, don't forget to tag our sponsor brands, us and your friends for that matter, when you're posting. Simply use the "@" symbol on Twitter or type the same in a Facebook post and select the name you want to include in your post from the drop-down menu that pops up. Not only does this give the person you're talking about a heads-up that you're talking about them, but it also makes it really easy for observers of your posts to simply click on their name to know a bit more about what makes them such a cool person that you're including them in your post!

Secret Tip: Don't want to awkwardly tag your friend middle name-and-all on Facebook? Not to worry! Once you've selected them to tag, you can delete last names, middle names and middle initials so that only their first name appears - which is generally a bit more appropriate in casual conversation. Like so...




3. NOT SO LOUD (please)! This one's pretty straightforward: All caps can be pretty overbearing. It's the social media equivalent of walking up to a close friend and screaming in their ear. There's no need to do it. While there's certainly a lot of other messages and clutter out there in social media, the way to beat it is not using all caps...rather, that just begins to join all the clutter and can annoy friends and followers. So, use that shift key and capitalize where necessary, but not every letter. Your friends and followers will thank you for it!

4. Live to post another day It's never fun to receive a mean or slighting social media post or see that someone's made a grating or maybe just downright rude comment on something you've posted. However much you feel like you want to defend yourself or a friend openly and aggressively, remember two things: 1) Digital actually is permanent 2) Is getting involved actually going to defuse the situation? While there's no excuse for bad behavior digital or otherwise, some folks aren't looking for an actual dialogue or discussion, they'd rather just bully. Given the fact that friends and now even employers may review your social media profiles for conduct, more often than not it's better to simply ignore these messages or delete them without acknowledging them. It may get your blood boiling and your reaction might be to fight, but it's almost always a better idea to live to post another day.

5. Spelling, punctuation and grammar I know, I know...this may sound like you're heading back to high school english class, but it actually is important in helping the reader understand the idea you're talking about. (Yes, even if you're typing on-the-move with a smartphone.) After all, for example, on a platform like Twitter, you've only got 140 characters to really convey an idea and make it count. So, be sure and give yourself the best shot by going the extra mile and ensuring that your post is clear, readable and contextualized!

6. A picture's worth a thousand words In a world of character-limited posts and "feeds," sometimes the best way to capitalize on the minimal space (and possibly the minimal attention of your audience) is to use an image. (Here's some evidence of this for those in the audience that really want the nitty-gritty!)

7. Hashtags: They're your friend! Always remember to use the party hashtag. This way everyone who's looking for content about the Who-Knows-What Widget House Party can see it all chronologically by searching using that hashtag. It started with Twitter, but hashtags are now a feature on Facebook and Instagram, too. So, have at it! Also consider in other social media discourse what hashtags you're using and their purpose before adding them. Hashtags are a great way to catalog conversation, but can be overdone, too. Case in point...

social media

8. Knowing the native tongue Are you a bit hesitant or confused by some of the terminology? Perhaps it's the abbreviated language that you hear Millennials using all the time that's got you thinking social media's not for you. Wrong. Answers are abundant and you have just as much right to post, tweet and share to your heart's content.

For example: Not sure what the difference is between an MT, a new retweet and old RT? Have no fear, sites like Mashable, TheNextWeb and even the social media platforms/sites themselves have great resources for any questions you might have. And, this is only an example with Twitter. Whether it's Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Linkedin, Reddit, or any number of others - all it takes is a simple Google search to get the ball rolling on answers to your "whys and hows".

What are your top tips for becoming "social media savvy"?

This is our fourth "How to" post in the series and we've got more fun "How to" posts to help you out. Be sure to visit our three previous posts on "How to: Make the strongest application possible", "How to: Take great photos" and "How to: Take awesome videos". Equipped with these, you'll be sure to have mastered some of the skills necessary to be a top House Party community member. We're always looking for tips from you, as well - so be sure to let us know about any suggestions for "How to" posts in comments below!

Image courtesy of Jason Howie

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