Social networking and social media are all the rage. It seems you can’t go anywhere these days without someone asking if you are on Facebook. “Hey, Facebook me,” we say, treating the social network as a verb. Even our moms are on Facebook, which can be a cool thing–or rather weird for some of us.
But social networking and the use of social media goes far beyond just Facebook. Not very long ago, I was an anti-social media girl. I refused to use Facebook, Twitter, and the like, but here I now am, using them daily and for good reason.
So what are some of those good reasons to use social media beyond the obvious? There are a variety of areas where social networking and media can have great impact on you, the things you care about, and your profession. Today, I will be talking about the first of those three—your personal use of social media. Here are 5 creative ways to use social networking and media in your personal life…
1. Stay in touch.
We have all seen how Facebook, for instance, allows us to stay in touch with friends, or even reconnect with long lost acquaintances. It’s a wonderful communication tool and lets us talk with people we otherwise may not have, which can be good if it’s your best friend from 1st grade, or not-so-good if it’s your creepy, stalker, ex-boyfriend from college. Beware who you friend!
You can use Facebook’s friend search to find people you already know and want to stay in touch with more regularly. You can also conduct an advanced search on Facebook to help you re-connect with people from your past schools, work places, or communities.
2. Meet new people.
Social networking sites allow us to meet many new people, thus expanding our network of friends. So-and-so introduces you to so-and-so and, before you know it, you have 355 new people to call friends. It is the equivalent of an online party… and who doesn’t like a good party?
If you aren’t already using Twitter, you should try it out. Once you do, a great way to discover new friendships and relationships is to notice who your own friends are @mentioning on Twitter. Follow the links, read those folks’ bios, and start following their tweets, as well. Twitter also has a fairly new feature called Who to Follow, which makes recommendations for you based on who you currently follow. It’s a quick way to virtually high five and start talking.
It may seem strange, but going through your own friends’ Facebook friend lists can be another great way to meet new people. If you love your friends, chances are you will love their other friends, as well.
Meetup.com has also been around for many years. It’s a fairly well established social media outlet for meeting people within your area. Want to start a moms’ play group that meets weekly, or join a working moms’ hangout night? Try using Meetup.com to promote your meetups, as well as meet other people in your local area.
3. Share what’s going on with you.
For women, social media can be priceless. Women love to share how they are feeling with other women. We are able to process our day, download, de-stress, and unwind, all by sharing a bit about how we feel. It seems counter-intuitive, but technology, at least in this regard, really is our friend.
iPhone and Android apps are a great way to update people about what is going on with you, while you’re on-the-go. Us moms are busy and apps can help cut down on needing to visit numerous Internet sites. Try Twitter and Facebook apps to start. They are easy-to-use and quick to update.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the updates you already have to make, though, maybe it’s time to save time in the social networking realm with something like Ping.fm. It allows you to broadcast to multiple social media spots all at once. Easy peasy.
It also seems we can’t help but share photos of our kids with other moms and family members. Media-sharing sites such as Twitpic, yfrog, and a host of others allow you to quickly and seamlessly share and update media via your Twitter account. Now everyone can see your kids’ adorable pics and videos, mutually enjoying their cuteness. Here for example, is a picture of my daughter’s “morning hair.” She me hate me for it in the future, but I just had to share it!
Last but not least, we all know women love shopping (tell me I’m not alone). With social media, you can even tell your friends what you’re buying (Blippy), where you’re shopping (Foursquare), or even ask for advice on what to buy (Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you can share your status). Yes, social media can even make shopping more fun. Who knew?
4. Learn more about your own friends.
You ever had this experience? Someone you would call a friend posts something on Facebook or tweets something on Twitter, only for you to find that you had no idea they were going through X, or liked Y, or were thinking about Z? Social networking and media allows us to gain more insight into our friends, which can provide greater connection and be a conversation-starter the next time you spend time together.
Try using your personal Twitter, Facebook, and blog to ask thoughtful questions of your network. Ask about their goals, dreams, hopes for the future and watch as their heartfelt answers roll in. It may even deepen your friendships with them.
If you want to go a step further, once you see something your friend tweets out, go do some research about that particular item of interest, then get their thoughts on something related. If, for instance, they tweet out a link about choosing the right school for your child, find another resource or link to share with them via Twitter. You may even learn something along the way.
5. Encourage others.
Using your own personal social outlets as an opportunity to do good and be positive is a great benefit. You can be the person sending out an encouraging message or a helpful reminder. It doesn’t have to be all unicorns and rainbows, but, sometimes, just letting people know we are thinking about them is enough.
Try sharing a verse, proverb, or inspiring quote. Say more than just “Happy Birthday” on Facebook when you see their special day pop up. Be the friend who sends a personal and thoughtful birthday wish. Don’t let technology replace relationship, but allow it to foster greater friendship.
Bonus Points: Meet people IRL.
Getting to meet online friends in real life (IRL) can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, as well. For you extra savvy out there, try using social media sites like Foursquare and Facebook’s new Places feature to help facilitate offline hangouts with online friends. Meetup.com, as mentioned earlier, is also another way of meeting up with online friends. Be courageous and take those virtual friendships to the next level—reality. Don’t forget about Scottsdale Moms Blog’s Momsgroup and Moms Night Out events!
If you love Twitter or are interested in gaining new Twitter followers, try organizing a Twitter meetup (a.k.a. tweetup). PostUp has information on how to get started.
And of course, you could always be old school and just schedule a lunch or coffee with someone you’ve only met online if they happen to be in your area. I can personally attest: I made a great friend that way!
To be continued…
Well, there you have it. I hope you learned a thing or two, or were at least encouraged in the ways you might already be using social media. Tomorrow I’ll be back with 5 ways to use media in your specific area of interest, be it a non-profit, hobby, or community group. If you love meeting new people, connecting around an issue, and promoting causes you care about, you won’t want to miss it!
Nicole Cottrell is a daily blogger, mom of two little munchkins, and married to her soul mate (so cheesy). She lives in Scottsdale and confesses to once hating Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Now she uses them daily, thanks to her blog, Modern Reject, where she writes about culture, dying daily, love, and the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She promises to be your BFF.