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?
Hi there, new social media user! Thank you for such a great question. We often deal with very complex — sometimes difficult — topics here at Ask Trish, but the basics remain crucial too, especially when you’re new to the digital universe. With that said, I applaud you for hunting for more information. You’re in luck, because this week’s TikTok and blog post is all about #SocialMedia101. Class is now in session! (That wasn’t too corny, right?) In this post, I’ll give you a brief lowdown on 3 popular platforms: Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, and next week, I’ll do Part 2 (with another 3 platforms!).
Let’s start with Instagram, often referred to by my fellow GenZers as “Insta” or “the gram.” Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform, which means that it’s all about sharing those #vacay pics, or that hilarious video of you pie-ing your friend. There are a ton of ways you can share content, but the 3 most common ways are: 1) posts — images that appear on your profile/remain there permanently, 2) reels — videos that appear on your profile/remain there permanently, and 3) stories — vertical photos or videos that you can share throughout your day, but then ultimately disappear (after 24 hours, to be specific). When it comes to Insta, there are two key things for new users to keep in mind: 1) keeping their location secure, and 2) avoiding buying into unreasonable expectations. Insta offers users the option to share their location with every post, reel, or story; use your common sense to think about if/when you should. For example, if you’re at home, be cautious about sharing your address publicly. Insta is also notorious for featuring lots of “unreasonable expectations”: expensive trips, photoshopped bodies, and more. Remember, that’s not real! If you’re intentional about not buying these narratives, you can ensure that you don’t blur the line between what’s digitally altered and what’s reality.
Next up is TikTok (Ask Trish’s platform of choice!). TikTok is, as you may know, all about videos. Creators make short — anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute videos — about anything and everything (food, relationships, travel, etc.) to share with TikTok’s large community. Often, these videos feature fun (and potentially hard!) dances — and indeed, some of TikTok’s most popular creators are also TikTok dance trendsetters. So, what should you know about TikTok? I have two important tips for new users: 1) keep your videos from sharing more than you intend, and 2) be choosy about followers! Many users just film in their home — their bedroom, perhaps — but forget that there’s a lot of sensitive content that could appear in the background, from passwords to addresses to photos of other people (who haven’t agreed to be in your video!). With that said, be sure to choose your background carefully. Finally, be choosy about followers! From what I’ve seen, it’s more the norm to have your profile be public on TikTok than it is say Insta. If you do have a public profile, ensure that your followers are folks you know and trust — especially because you’re opening up your world to them.
Finally, there’s Facebook(/Meta)! I know what you’re thinking…Facebook isn’t cool with the kids nowadays, right? Maybe not, but most young people still have a Facebook account anyway, either because they use one of its subsidiaries (like Insta!) or because the platform is so wildly popular (remember — there are an astonishing 3 billion folks on Facebook). As a social media platform, Facebook is pretty easy, because you can post (and indeed, it’s common to post) almost anything — text, images, videos, etc. People also run organizational “pages,” request event RSVPs, and host fundraisers on the platform. In other words, there’s a LOT going on! What should you keep in mind on FB? 1) Because there’s so much floating around, it’s hard to know whether what you’re seeing is authentic — so keep an eye out for “fake news,” and read and evaluate any sources very carefully. In addition, 2) monitor the time you spend on the platform! Because Facebook is often folks’ first social media platform (though that may be changing), the habits you establish on Facebook will likely carry over elsewhere. Don’t spend too much time on FB (or any social media platform) — it’s not healthy!
Thank you, once again, for tuning in to another week of Ask Trish! Maybe this social media lesson has sparked some other questions you’ve been thinking about, or there are other topics — whether current events or a personal experience — that you want to get some perspective on. Whether it’s either (or something else!), don’t hesitate to share any Internet-related questions, thoughts, or perspectives here (and your topic might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post!). Remember, anything you’re feeling or want some thoughts on is valid, and this community and I are here to support you. 💙 And on the topic of support — don’t forget that any time you see an Ask Trish video you like, you should give it a like and share it on your social media. Let’s go for that #AskTrish hype!
Wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving! See you all next week,