No doubt you’ve heard lots about Twitter and Facebook in the media. Fact is, you couldn’t have NOT heard about either of these two platforms. But for many, hearing about them, even reading about them, isn’t the same as using them.
There’s no better place to try out social networking than on your iOS device, so I’ve focussed this column on two of the largest social networks, Facebook and Twitter. Both have many members (Facebook has over 500 million) and both have great mobile apps, but there are others with apps, including LinkedIn.
If you’ve heard of Twitter but never used it you may be confused about what it is. And that’s OK. It’s more difficult to understand than Facebook, which is essentially about sharing information with friends.
Twitter, on the other hand, has a stronger focus on sharing information, news articles and links to pictures and videos. If many people are talking about the same thing on Twitter – such as a plane crash – then the topic starts to ‘trend’.
Download the free Twitter app from the app store (there are many other apps, I’ve used most of them and can verify that Twitter is the best) and use it to perform a search for any subject you’re interested in. You don’t even need to sign up.
You can become a Twitter member from within the app. This lets you follow people, so that you will see the tweets (140-character messages) of everyone you are following.
I’ve known many people who turn their nose up when I talk about Twitter, only to discover that it’s a very powerful way of creating a personal news feed. A friend who spent years bagging Twitter is now a convert because he can get early information on many sporting clubs. Using it on your iPhone should make the service more accessible.
While Twitter is about a personal newsfeed, Facebook is about a social newsfeed. To start, download the free app and sign up for an account (you can’t do anything on Facebook without an account).
Once you have an account you’ll need to find some friends. On the iOS app, do this by searching for people. With so many members you’re bound to find someone you know. But before you can add a friend, they’ll need to accept your ‘friend request’.
With a group of friends you can start viewing and sharing comments, messages and photos.
To share a photo, tap on the ‘photo’ button in the top left hand corner of the menu bar and choose to either share an existing photo from your library or take a new photo. If you take a new photo, be aware that the image will exist in Facebook but the photo won’t show up in your camera library; that’s why I recommend taking photos with the camera app and then adding them through Facebook.
Another new feature is called ‘Places’. This uses the GPS built in to your iPhone to work out where you are and match it to a location. Say you go to a cafe regularly – you can ‘check-in’ from there and a comment will be placed on your wall that tells everyone who is following you where you are.
Privacy advocates oppose this, but for the social youth of today it’s pretty convenient to be able to easily let friends know where you are.
Lastly, the Facebook app lets you ‘chat’ with your friends, assuming they are online. Facebook chat is real-time and similar to iChat, but it works across browsers and smartphones. Say you’re chatting to your friend using Safari on your Mac but need to leave the house. You can open the Facebook app and continue the conversation on the go.
Whether you’re into social networking or not, it’s at least worth understanding them. Downloading both of these free apps will help start you down the road.