Social media can be useful & fun

betty ming liu Money, Writing how-to's 12 Comments

Facebook and Twitter are notorious time wasters. But they can also be outrageously effective power tools.

If you know how to use them, these websites can connect you with people who might share your passions, offer you job opportunities and, save you money.

The best way to begin is to simply find the courage to register on these free sites. Then, dive in.

But be responsible. I always tell my students to think carefully about becoming part of the online world. Once you put stuff out there, you can’t really take it back.

Oh sure, you can delete that nasty tweet that you wrote or that photo of you looking sloppy drunk. But these things don’t go away. Tech intelligence experts and law enforcement investigators have ways of digging up stuff. Having said that, here are three ideas for getting started with social media.



Mashable is an extraordinary online news resource. It offers daily updates in the following categories: Social Media, Tech & Gadgets, Business & Marketing, Video, Mobile, Dev & Design, Media, Social Good, Startups.

You can follow Mashable on Facebook and or/Twitter. I also subscribe, which means that every morning, Mashable sends me an email filled with all of its latest social media headlines. If an item interests me, I’ll click on it to read more. Otherwise, a quick scan is enough.


Set up your Twitter account effectively

Every semester, I meet students who fall into four groups:

  • They love Twitter (very few).
  • They hate Twitter because it’s a stoopid time-waster (the majority).
  • They hate Twitter because they can’t stand technology (a minority).
  • They’re ambivalent because they don’t know what to tweet about (the majority).

I am happy to say that by the end of the semester, most students realize Twitter’s importance. In fact, many of them get so good at tweeting that it becomes a resume-worthy skill worth mentioning in job and internship interviews. Their social media skills always give them an edge that gets them hired.

To get started on Twitter, read my post on :)

Follow each step. That’s what my students do. They go through the post like it’s a chapter in a textbook.


Explore Facebook pages

On Facebook, you can do so many things. We’ll just deal here with pages. Once you have a personal profile, you can get on the site and start schmoozing.

Facebook pages were originally called fan pages (a very dumb name so they changed it). Who uses Facebook pages? Businesses, organizations, celebrities, bands, artists, authors. The pages are for anyone with a product to sell. And yes, in the 21st century, it’s totally okay to market yourself as a self as a product/brand.

Your favorite retailer, airline and favorite beverage manufacturer all probably have Facebook pages. If you “like” them, you’ll be notified of the latest updates from these sources. Sometimes there are coupons or other types of store discounts; I always love that. The best pages work on a very professional schedule of posting specific types of info on specific days of the week. That way, customers, followers and fans can latch onto a routine.

To understand how to use a Facebook page as part of building an online brand, read my post on  :)

There was a time when the page concept seemed like such a vanity. But I’ve recently attended several social media training sessions where the experts are saying that every journalist and artist should have a page.

Your page lets your audience see you behind-the-scenes; the setting makes you more human. It’s a great place to experiment with ideas. For an example of how this works, consider New York Times superstar Nick Kristof’s Facebook page; it’s quite admired in journalism circles.

If you find pages you like, you can start practicing the art of online conversation. Comment, baby, comment!

I have a little page too. It’s an essential outlet because I don’t friend total strangers, no matter how nice they are. Given my personal boundaries, the page is an essential place to chat with the larger Facebook world. And actually, I actually would rather chat there than on my profile. So maybe you’ll visit the Betty Ming Liu Facebook page.  :)

So…..with this information, we have new dimensions for opening new conversations. If you have advice, ideas or feedback, please give us your comments below.

See you next Tuesday!

Comments 12

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    Welcome to “How-to Tuesdays.” On Tuesdays, my focus will be on super-practical information. Hope you’ll find this new day useful and worth sharing with your friends.

    This post is especially designed for teachers, trainers and instructors. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to teach social media out of a published textbook. Things change too fast. So this might give you the setup you need to get your troops going.

    And of course, this is for my students. I want to see some of you comment below. Don’t be shy. You might even enjoy the experience of having your words read by the world. xo

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  3. My great aunt Agatha was a great user of social media. This was before the internet of course. In her case, the media was her Thursday afternoon Ladies Book Club Tea. No books were discussed but absolutely every bit of gossip that could be dredged out of our small town was marketed. As with Facebook and Twitter, once a vicious rumor had grown legs at one of Agatha’s teas, a nuclear strike could not kill it. The media was not quite as quick as Facebook but really,it wasn’t all that much slower. There was a maxim in the town; “telephone, telegraph, tell Agatha.” One need hardly add, the more outrageous the rumor, the faster it traveled.

  4. Wow Toby. Your great aunt Agatha knew how to get the information out, :)

    I have been tempted (and attempted) to use social media, -mostly Facebook since many of my friends are now scattered everywhere in the world- but I certainly did not think how fun and progressive it could actually be. I am still on the fence about it but I’m sure my friends will convince me soon. Thanks for the post.

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    i love toby’s pre-technology stories too! and penny, i hope you do indeed consider facebook. i have plenty of friends who resisted for a whole bunch of totally valid reasons. but most of them are now facebook addicts. :)

  6. Love this column, Betty. I’ll get around to using Facebook more, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to tweet. Can’t wait to read next week’s how-to.

  7. Linkedin is another great social media/networking site for those who are interested in learning about companies, asking questions, and getting connected to people. The professionals I have contacted actually responded to me and even had phone conversations about the questions I had to become a successful game designer. I got a job using linkedin also.

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    i’m just starting to use linkedin. it’s quite an amazing website. thanks for including the url for us here, melimel. there’s so much you can get out of linkedin when you’re using it for free. if you’re on a serious job hunt, people often say that you should pay for the upgraded version. you can do it on a monthly basis and it has more features.

    one tip for linkedin: to make it useful, fill out your entire profile. or at least get it up to more than 90% complete. the more data the system has on you, the more connections you can make.

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    hey guess what just happened! facebook just helped get my daughter another modeling gig at seventeen mag! she had done one shoot for the april 2011 issue. it was a hairdo piece — and this week, it ran again on both the mag’s website AND facebook page.

    my daughter asked her friends to like it on the page. i asked my friends to like it on the website. page likes went from 40 to 90. website likes jumped from 18 to 102! all this in just a couple of days. and this afternoon, the magazine called. we’re going in on monday for her second seventeen magazine shoot. we’re thrilled!

    if you missed the post i did on the shoot — totally dazzling glamourous experience — here’s the link:

  10. Congrads on the Seventeen Mag photoshoot!!!!!!..I’ll be sure to snag a copy once its hot off the press! I have so many questions in regards to the above post that I will bombard you with in class tomorrow :)

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