Dear Trish: I’m new to social media and curious what I should know about each platform. Are there certain things I should keep in mind?
Ask Trish is back again with Social Media 101 — Part 2! As you’ll all recall, last week, we had a question from a new social media user (I’ve included it above!) with a question about the basics of the most popular social media platforms. Last week, we covered Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and this week, we’ll wrap up with a brief lowdown on 3 more: Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube. (Catch the highlights in this week’s TikTok!) While this by no means absolutely everything you need to know about these platforms, having read this series, you should definitely have the basics — and some handy tips — that will put you ahead of most of the rest of the digital universe.
This week, let’s start with Twitter! Twitter is a popular social media platform that enables its users to share very brief (there’s a character limit!) life and news updates onto a digital timeline. As you probably know, these updates are called “Tweets.” Because of its timeline format, Twitter is best known as the platform on which news or new stories break. Indeed, today, many Gen Z-ers get #thetea when they see a new story trending on Twitter. Given the fact that Twitter is this way, my big #TwitterTip to y’all is: be sure to verify everything you see. The combination of fast-paced, in-the-moment updates and short messages (which often eliminate key nuances) mean that everything from hearsay to flat-out false stories can become so-called “news.” By being wary of anything you see, you can ensure you don’t get caught up in the hype around what’s likely a photoshopped image or a dubious story.
Next up is Snapchat! Snapchat, or as it is more commonly referred to by young people — “Snap” — is one of GenZ’s favorite social media platforms (the other big one, as we discussed last week, is Insta). On Snap, you can quickly and impermanently share pictures and videos with connections. What does impermanently mean? Well, much like Insta Stories, Snaps disappear after a set amount of time (in fact, most folks believe Stories was modeled after Snapchat, so that’s a great frame of reference). What’s key to keep in mind when it comes to Snapchat? Well, the fact that those Snaps feel so impermanent — and thus unimportant — can often lead young people to be a little less cautious about what they share on Snap. With that said, I’d suggest that you are especially careful to think before you post. As we’ve discussed before, the concept of something being impermanent online is a flawed one: after all, anyone can screenshot what you send, and there’s always a digital record of what you share/send. Put more simply: don’t let Snap get in the way of your common sense.
Finally, there’s YouTube! Most of us probably don’t think of YouTube as a social media platform, but lots of digital media experts classify it that way. Why? Well, YouTube is a social space to create and watch videos, whether educational or fun. If you’re a serious content creator, you can build a whole community around your videos — these communities are called “channels” — and even if you’re a more casual YouTube watcher, you can join the conversation by commenting on videos. Okay, so what’s my big tip for YouTube? It’s actually pretty simple: turn off AutoPlay. AutoPlay is a YouTube feature that cues up a video for you to watch right after you’ve finished the one you’re currently watching. It keeps people watching more videos, for longer, which is great for YouTube, but can be bad for you as a viewer (especially a young one)! Being addicted to YouTube is not a joke; a lot of people can find it really hard to get off of the platform, and AutoPlay certainly doesn’t make it easier. That’s why I’d suggest turning it off from the start — so YouTube doesn’t start to replace your life.
And that’s it — thank you all so much for tuning into this two-part series! If you found Social Media 101 helpful — or if it’s sparked other questions for you — you can keep the conversation going by sharing any internet-related questions, thoughts, or perspectives here. Your topic might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! It won’t just be a big win for you, it’ll be a big win for our online community: there are so many young people out there with the same experiences and questions, just looking for some advice (trust me, I know!). And on that note, don’t forget that you should always feel empowered to share absolutely whatever’s on your mind: we’re all here for it, no matter what it is. 💙
See you all next Tuesday! Until then,