Social media is always an interesting conversation. Some people love it, some hate it, and some see it simply as a part of life these days. For this post, we want to speak to the busy moms out there because social media can definitely be useful and fun once you figure out how to manage it. Maybe you want to be more active online but don’t have time to figure it all out. Or maybe you are an expert at Facebook and now you’re ready to venture into another network, but aren’t sure which one. Read on for some basics and tips for five popular social sites, along with some Busy Mom Tips on ways to utilize each one without it taking over your life.
What is it? According to the official Facebook page: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Why use it? For exactly those reasons. Facebook is an easy, efficient way to stay connected. You can check it on your own time and see what’s going on in many peoples’ lives all at once, instead of making individual phone calls or emails. It allows you to stay “caught up” with more distant friends.
Fave Mom Feature: Status updates. Just as you can check in on several friends all at once, you can update your network all at once too. This is especially great when you live far away from grandparents or other family members. It’s the best way for them to see the latest pics of your kids, your latest trip, and generally stay informed of your family’s latest “news.”
Busy Mom Tip: Learn how to use the settings. Customize your feed so that you’re not distracted by Candy Crush or by certain friends’ status updates that bring you down. Use that handy “hide” button so that you’re only seeing what you really want to see.
What is it? Twitter is a platform meant to encourage conversations using short, 140-character messages called “tweets.” You can connect with people you know or would like to know by joining in their conversations or starting your own. Twitter is also meant as a destination for discovering what’s happening within your chosen areas of interest.
Why use it? If you’re using Facebook as a means to update friends and family, then use Twitter solely for you. Yes, you can update and participate or you can simply listen to what’s happening. Think of it as your social media “me time” to catch up on whatever topics you’re interested in.
Fave Mom Feature: Discover tab. Use this tab to find topics you like and discover new users to follow.
Busy mom tip: Start slow. If you’re new to the “Twitterverse” the whole thing can seem overwhelming and maybe turn you off of using it. But once you navigate around and learn how to customize your feed, this platform is extremely useful and efficient in quickly providing you with news you care about. One of the best uses is to follow several of your favorite news outlets – this way when you don’t have time to read the paper or a bunch of different news websites, you can get the short version of what’s happening while only spending a couple of minutes browsing.
What is it? A photo and video sharing app that encourages users to take their own pictures or video, edit and share them across the network. Similar to Twitter in that it is a quick feed, only with visuals instead of words.
Why use it? It’s fun and inspiring. You will see some of the most beautiful images on Instagram and learn ways to make your own photos look like works of art. It’s also a fun way to peek into people’s everyday lives, similar to Facebook but with better images and a cleaner, more organized interface. You can also like and comment on people photos which offers that fun sense of community.
Fave Mom Feature: The filters. Instagram has several different filters you can apply to your photo that will change its look and feel. Filters can take a normal everyday snapshot and transform it into a gallery-worthy piece of photography…or at least a frame-able shot for your home gallery wall.
Busy mom tip: Utilize Instagram to keep a running documentary of your life. It’s a great way to browse through your photos all in one place, remember where you’ve been and re-live the moments. Also, adjust your settings so that when you post to Instagram, it automatically posts to Facebook or whichever other site you want to cover. Great time-saver.
What is it? Think of Pinterest as an online bulletin board where you pin all of your ideas, things that inspire you, or just things you don’t want to forget. Pinterest takes them and organizes everything neatly into “boards” by categories of your choosing. So instead of hoarding magazines or filling up your computer with bookmarked sites, you can keep everything right here in one beautifully organized, easy to find location.
Why use it? The better question is: Why not use it? You can plan projects like a home remodel or home decorating. You can keep a running list of gift ideas. You can create a board dedicated to parenting articles, work ideas or any subject for that matter. You can finally have all of your favorite recipes in one place with no more searching through random books to find them. Pin fashion ideas, hairstyles, exercise tips, home improvement projects, the uses are truly endless.
Fave Mom Feature: Repinning. As you get comfortable using Pinterest, you will start following more people, which fills your feed with their great online finds and ideas. Usually the people you follow have similar interests as you, so when they find something great, all you have to do is repin it. Plus it feels pretty good when you pin something and someone repins it. Kind of like a virtual nod validating that you have good taste.
Busy mom tip: Pinterest is truly addictive. It’s very easy to log in “just to grab a recipe” and then two hours later you’re still there scrolling and repinning. It’s a fun indulgence for sure, but there’s a fine line between this being a useful platform vs. a time-wasting black hole. Tread lightly and recognize when you’re heading into black hole territory.
What is it? Loyal users call GooglePlus the “Un-Facebook” and are very proud of it. Although similar to Facebook, GooglePlus is a richer social networking experience that interlinks people based on their similar interests.
Why use it? Many people have migrated to Google+ from Facebook, or have added Google+ to their most used platforms purely because of the privacy options. You can customize your “circles” and “communities” so you’re sharing and receiving only the information you want instead of reading through countless posts you don’t care about or having to post to your entire network any time you share something. GooglePlus is also very visual and caters to people who like to see and share photos. Lastly, people use GooglePlus to “tune in” to what matters to them. The platform fosters conversations and engagement. So if you’re a person who likes to read more in-depth articles and have meaningful, insightful conversations instead of just passively scrolling through a feed, then G+ may be the social network for you.
Fave Mom Feature: Hangouts. This is an amazing feature that allows you to privately video chat with a small group of people. Hangouts are great for catching up with long distance groups of friends or family all at once. Or you can join Hangouts hosted by your favorite communities or favorite brands. It’s a groundbreaking way for businesses to connect and communicate directly with their customer (you).
Busy mom tip: GooglePlus probably takes a bit more time to learn than some of the other platforms. But with some patience and navigation, the experience is well worth it.
These are only a few of the many social networking and micro-blogging sites out there. We’d love to hear your favorites or any other platforms you have discovered. Tell us how you split your time between networks or how you use each one. With social media there’s always something new happening.