Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, Part 2

Starting on Facebook and Twitter If You’re Over 60

Tip 1: Get a “Kid Mentor” to Teach You

My Facebook and Twitter Kid Mentor, Corinna West, 37 (Left)

My Facebook and Twitter "Kid Mentor," Corinna West, 37 (Left)

You can create free Facebook and Twitter accounts free on your computer by following directions on your screen.  Get comfortable with one before you start the other.  I ignore Linked-In. I don’t have time for three social media.

Many people over 60, like me, have learned the basics on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t get the full benefit. Others don’t use them at all.  Many are afraid to try.  Others have misconceptions and don’t want to learn.

For people interested in the mental health recovery/empowerment movement, Facebook and Twitter are essential.  That’s where we exchange ideas, information, movement news, research articles, and publications.  You can interact with movement people every day using just a few basics on Facebook and Twitter.

Part 1 of the Series “Learning Social Media for Boomers:  http://wellnesswordworks.com/learning-social-media-for-baby-boomers/

People in my generation, including me, often get scared, stressed, confused, and frustrated trying new Internet technology.  We give up easily.  We’re afraid we’ll do permanent damage to our computers or data if we make a mistake.

Recruiting a “kid mentor” — anyone young enough to be MY kid (under 35) – is the most efficient way to learn Facebook and Twitter.  Corinna West, my kid mentor is 37.

These kids all grew up using the Internet, and use Facebook and Twitter like we use telephones and e-mail. They speak the language, and have no fear.  They can undo, figure out, or correct anything that goes wrong.

Tip 2. Creating Free Facebook and Twitter Accounts

To create free Facebook and Twitter accounts,  Go to http://Facebook.com or https://twitter.com/ and sign up for an account. F  ollow the prompts.

If you get confused or stuck, call your “kid mentor,” who can probably talk you through the process over the phone.

You CANNOT damage or delete anything permanently while creating Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Comparing Facebook and Twitter

Facebook Icon

Facebook Icon

I find Facebook the easiest and most useful.  Twitter’s 140-character limit on Tweets (comments) is confining.  To say anything, you must misspell, spell phonetically, and abbreviate words to save characters.

I opened a Facebook account and learned the basics practically without help.  My kid mentor had to help me with Twitter.

I don’t look at Twitter every day, but I set it to send me an e-mail with a link whenever someone follows or mentions me.  Facebook will do the same, but I look at it twice a day and don’t need that feature.

Choosing Facebook and Twitter Screen Names and Passwords

When the Facebook and Twitter installation procedures ask, choose a screen name (user name) and secure password (a combination of eight letters or numbers and a couple of symbols:  !@#$ %^&).

Including symbols makes your password much harder to guess or steal.

Screen names should be easy for you to remember and for other people to find.

Creating Facebook and Twitter Profiles   

On Facebook, you get a news page, and profile page which is the same thing as “Home” or your “wall”. How much personal information you share on your Profile page is up to you.  You can opt to share your information only with your FB friends, or with everybody who looks.

The more you share, the more friend requests you will get. The less you share, the more privacy you keep. Be careful what you put on your FB profile. Stay in your comfort zone.

In the upper right corner of your Facebook screen, click Profile. A form will appear.  Fill in or leave out whatever you want.

Twitter Icon

Twitter Icon

Your Twitter profile works the same way, but only lets you post a few words.  Imagine introducing yourself to a stranger in 10 seconds riding on an elevator.

I recommend against putting your e-mail address on Facebook and Twitter. Anyone who has Facebook and Twitter can send you a private message that’s as private as e-mail. However, my kid mentor has her contact information on all her internet sites and has had no problems as long as it’s set up to be readable by humans and not robots. For instance, her email online is listed as corinnawest816 at gmail dot com.

Choosing a “Profile Pic” for Facebook and Twitter

My first profile pic on Facebook and Twitter, 2009

My first profile pic on Facebook and Twitter, 2009

Add a photo to your profile by clicking on the profile picture box on the page.

All the electronic photos on your hard drive will appear on your screen.  Choose one, click on it, then click Open at the lower right-hand corner of that screen.  Your “profile pic” will appear on your page, and next to every comment you make, or ever made.

It’s easiest to use a digital photo that is already in your computer.  If necessary, get someone to take a few digital photos on a cell phone camera, and add them to your hard drive. You can digitize a print photo on a scanner, a separate piece of hardware attached to your hard drive or included in your printer.

A good print shop will scan your paper photos onto a re-usable flash (zip) drive, which costs about $16.  It transfers data from one computer to another, a very handy device that needs no other cables. It’s the size of your thumb, and worth owning. Your print shop probably sells them.

Building Networks on Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are social media. You can see and make friends with your friends’ friends, and they can see and make friends with yours.  You build interlocking networks.  But Facebook (not Twitter) will slap your wrist if they find you are sending Friend requests to people who don’t know you.

Friend requests include lists of mutual friends. When I get one from a stranger, I look at our mutual friends. If we have more than 60, including prominent “usual suspects” in the movement, like Dan Fisher or Robert Whitaker, I’ll accept the new friend.

If someone makes a few interesting comments on my status, I can see his profile page by clicking his name or profile pic.  I look at the information and decide whether to click the green box at the top of the page to send that person a friend request. Facebook notifies me when the request is accepted, says nothing if it is not.

Twitter friends are called “followers.”

I started building my Twitter network by following people who were following my friends and colleagues.  They’re all listed on my friends Twitter pages. Twitter will notify them that you are following, and many people will follow you right back.

Broadcasting on Facebook and Twitter

A Facebook Page

A Facebook Page

On Facebook, you “update your status.” On Twitter, you “Tweet.”

Twitter deletes the 141st  character.  Directly under your Tweet, to the right, Twitter shows exactly how many characters you’ve entered.  If the number is a minus, you’re over the limit, and must cut it back till you’re above zero again.

If you want link to a web address (URL), Twitter will abbreviate it automatically to save characters.

You can say as much as you want on Facebook.

At the top of your Status page, there is a clearly marked rectangle where you write your “status” — comments, photos, photo albums, and videos from your computer, a website, or link to something on the Internet

Facebook will show about four lines of your status, then say “Read More.” To make longer comments completely visible, cut off your status after 3 or 4 lines, then continue in the block below it reserved for comments.

The Write Notes feature in the left margin of your page lets you write all you want, add photos, videos, or photo albums, then send it to your page. Your FB friends see your headline, photo, and lead, with a link to the whole thing.

Your status will appear on the news pages of all your friends, or you can divide your friends into groups and decide each time which group will see each status.

Your friends can comment on your status, or click a button that says “Like.”  You can do the same on your friends’ statuses, on your news page.  Below your status, Facebook will show the comments and how  many people clicked “Like.” You can see their names by clicking the “Likes” number,

You can also comment on other people’s comments on your comments. Sometimes, exchanges run on and include several people.  That’s fun and validation as long as it is civil. You can report abusive comments to Facebook, and shut the person up by saying you’re reporting him.

Once you learn the basics, and build a network, Facebook and Twitter are fun, and essential to our movement.  It’s one of the three online newspapers I read: The NY Times for world and national news, Concord Monitor for hometown and state news, and Facebook for family and movement news.

What your funniest story about being confused on Facebook and Twitter?

 

 

 

Wordworks Blog Author: Ken Braiterman

Ken Braiterman, Wellness Wordworks board chair, has been an activist, news reporter, opinion writer, and columnist since 1968. From 1997 to 2009, he was New Hampshire's leading advocate for recovery-based mental health services. He is an advanced Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator.

2 comments to Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, Part 2

  • Hello Wellnesswordworks,
    Cool Post, Twitter
    In general, the game is to express your message within the scope of 140 characters. You can choose to tweet using the customize Twitter site or you could resort to using the various Twitter desktops. Until now the majority of people engaging in Twitter were more interested in followers. Don’t follow too many people at once, as they can drown your brands message. Take time when choosing who you want to follow, are these people you would like to talk to. If you can create a targeted community of followers who will retweet your message to their community then you are hitting your market place. Its not about volume its about quality. Don’t send spam tweets and remember be courteous, there is no need to be rude about someone on twitter you’ll get blocked.
    All the Best

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