How to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Read any good tweets recently, posted a selfie on Instagram or shared a meme on Facebook? Sometimes it can seem like the world out there is speaking a foreign language. 

Technology has most definitely transformed the way we communicate, connect and socialise. If you feel out of touch but curious about what all the fuss is about, then read on – we have some tips to help you find your way around this brave new world. It’s easier than you think and you’re never too old to learn.

If you thought you were too old for social media, this 114-year-old woman will make you think again!


Social media use on the rise for adults 65 and over
A new Pew Research Centre study shows that 43 per cent of Internet users age 65 and over are now using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter – that’s up from 13 per cent in 2009. Those numbers suggest that it really is time to get on the bandwagon if you haven’t done so already. 

So what are your options for getting involved in social media and how do you get started? Let’s take a look at the more popular platforms.

Connect with friends and family on Facebook 
Facebook has become a global meeting place to connect and share with others. It’s an easy and quick way to check in with family or friends to find out what they’re up to by looking at their “posts”. Posts allow the opportunity to share what you’ve been doing with others and vice versa. You can also post uploaded photos or videos, jokes, memes, website links, thoughts, opinions – anything. 

It’s also a great tool for keeping in touch with family and friends who live quite far or perhaps even overseas. You can search for old schoolmates, long lost relatives or business colleagues if you want to reconnect with them.

You can do this by searching for their name on Facebook. If they’re using Facebook too, you can “send” them an invitation to be your “friend” on Facebook. If they accept your request, you can start communicating with them via Facebook or simply read each other’s posts. 

How do you get started if you are a completely new to the Facebook phenomenon? Check out this easy tutorial on how to sign up and set your account to the level of privacy that you want: Facebook for seniors.

Twitter keeps you informed on what interests you
Twitter is an online social networking tool based around short text-based messages of 140 characters or less. 

Unlike the person-to-person nature of an email or posting messages on Facebook for your friends to see on, Twitter is more like a broadcast messaging service that lets you express your news, thoughts and opinions to anyone interested in the subject. Conversely, it lets you follow the messages of other Twitter users or see ‘tweets’ on news and issues that interest you. 

The focus of Twitter is the speed with which it can report an event – from the extraneous to the extraordinary – and its power to broadcast to a worldwide audience. No wonder it has revolutionised the way the world gets its news.

Twitter lets you see what is happening in the world in real time, follow what your favourite movie or sports star is up to, see news breaking as it happens or stay across the latest information on any area of interest you might want to follow.

This GCFLearnFree.org explains Twitter well and how to get started. And here’s a tutorial to get you in the picture with how Twitter works. You can pause the video if you need to.

The get the most out of Twitter it’s good to get an understanding of the hashtag concept. A hashtag is basically a way of allowing you to label a tweet message in a way that will maximise its reach to people interested in a particular topic. On the flip side, it allows you to search and stay across subjects that interest you. For a quick introduction to what a hashtag is and how they work, take a look at this video. You can pause this video if you need to.


Instagram is a photo-based social network
Just like Facebook, Instagram is a social networking service, but with a particular focus on sharing and connecting with friends through photographs. It allows you to post your own photos and see the photos of others who you choose to connect with. You can make your account public or limit it to who you’ve allowed to see your images.

Instagram has been designed to make it super-easy to upload photos from your smartphone or tablet. You can even embellish your image instantly using some in-built artistic filters that let you put some personality into whatever you post. Some simulate the look of a Polaroid snap and some publish your pic in black and white.

The real fun of Instagram is seeing photos uploaded by people in your network. Imagine seeing your grandchildren’s latest antics just after they have happened or the fish your brother has just caught on his interstate holiday. The more people you accept in your network of contacts, the more photos you will get to see. You can then interact with whoever is uploading by “liking” them or leaving a comment. 

To get started on Instagram, take a look at the “Getting started” instructions here. Or the GCFLearnFree.org site is also quite helpful.

And to learn more about how to use it check out this tutorial video. You can pause this video if you need to. 

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Managing privacy 
Privacy is a big concern for anyone starting out on social media. Fortunately, making your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account limited to the level you want is simply done. When you create your account and set up your profile you can specify the level of privacy you want, so that your posts are limited to the family, friends and acquaintances that you are connected with. 

Here are some videos to show you how it’s done for TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

5 top tips for social media etiquette 
When it comes to deciding what to say in your posts and comments you can make on social media, there are a few ground rules to abide by to avoid social media faux pas, inadvertently offending someone or giving out too much information.

1. Before you post, ask yourself: "Would I say this face-to-face to all my friends?"

2. Don’t rush – stop and think about what you are posting before you post.

3. If it is a personal one-on-one message, don’t post it for everyone else to see. Make it a private message or just email or call them.

4. Don’t just talk about yourself and don’t treat social media just as a soapbox for your opinions.

5. Be polite and respect others and always ask permission before posting photos or sharing other’s posts.

Did you know
More than 500000 Australians aged 60 years and over have a Facebook page.
In fact, 60 per cent of Australians aged 55 to 64 use the internet, with more than 30 per cent of those over 65 spending time online. Read more in How social media can change your life.

Comment below and let us know: Did you find social media useful or a struggle?