It seems like there are A TON of social networks out there, and if you’re not constantly staying ahead of the social media game, you may have a hard time knowing your Foursquare from your Flickr.

The following social media tips for beginners are a small breakdown of the seven most popular social media sites to help you gain a better understanding of what each one has to offer.

Facebook

Facebook allows you to connect with other people, known as “friends”. In order to become friends, you need to request being a person’s friend, and they will have to accept you. Others can also friend request you, and you have the option of accepting or declining.

With Facebook, you create a profile that contains as little or as much information as you want to share, including family members, your birthdate, special dates, education and job. You can post a status update to share information, photos or videos with your friends. You can private message or private chat with your friends, and you can also post a message on their “wall”, which can be seen by their friends. On your homepage, you will have a news feed, and this will show you all the status updates from your friends.

You can also “like” a brand or a company on Facebook, thus becoming their “fan”. This connection works like a friend connection, in which you can comment on their wall, check out their page, and see their status updates in your news feed.

Twitter

Twitter also allows you to create a small profile and share updates, known as tweets, with your connections, known as followers. Your tweet can contain text, video or photos, but if you use text, you have to stay under 140 characters or less. The purpose of Twitter is to respond to the question, “what are you doing?”, but people use it to share more than that.

Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to be accepted in order to follow someone, you just do it. It works the other way around too, so anyone can follow you. This means that they can see your profile and your tweets.

Twitter is popular for using hashtags, a word or phrase found after a # symbol. When used, a hashtag becomes a link, and when clicked on, will transfer you to a feed that contains every tweet that used the same hashtag. This is a great way to find and join conversations that people are having about topics that interest you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is basically an online corkboard. You create your own boards, and when you find something you like, whether on Pinterest or on the Internet, you can “pin” it to your respective board. For example, if you enjoy cooking, you can create a recipe board and pin all of your favorite recipes to it. Now, when you feel like cooking, you can locate all of your recipes in one location.

You can follow other people on Pinterest and they can follow you, which allows you to see what each other pin to your respective boards. You can also like and comment on someone’s pins, and you can even repin it to your own board.

YouTube

YouTube is known for videos. You can create your own videos and have them uploaded to your YouTube account. You can either keep the videos private so that they can only be seen by those you invite, or you can make them public, which means they can be seen by anyone. Your viewers can then comment on your videos.

Foursquare

Foursquare’s main component is for you to “check in” to establishments. When you check in, a message will be sent to your followers to let them know where you are. Some companies have marketing campaigns on Foursquare, so for every so many check ins you make at their establishment, you will earn a reward, such as a badge or a coupon or discount.

You can also use Foursquare to read reviews on places in the area or locate a certain establishment. And you can even check to see if any of your friends are in the area.

Instagram

Instagram is a photo sharing social network. With Instagram, you take photos (or use photos you already have), add a fun or vintage filter, and post it to your page. This photo can now be seen by your followers, and they can like your photo or comment on it. This works for you too. You can see the photos posted by the people you follow, and you can also like or comment on their photos.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network that centres around the professional community. Your LinkedIn profile is all about your professional accomplishments, such as which job titles you’ve held, what your responsibilities were and what companies you worked for. You can make connections, known as connections, with people you know, and like Facebook, these connections need to be accepted.

You can also look at the profiles of your connections to learn more about them, and you can write a recommendation for people you worked with in the past. If you’re looking for a job, you can use LinkedIn to search for open positions. You can also start discussions and post information that can be seen by your connections.

These are seven of the most popular social networks out there today. If you’re interested in one, or more than one, create an account and try them out. Though they may be different, there’s one great thing about them all that is the same—they’re all free.

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