Okay, so let’s be frank – if you have no idea what social media is, or even what terms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, selfies, hashtags are, then don’t be alarmed…help is on the way.

What is social media? Or Facebook? Or why are people sending ridiculous images of themselves with flower crowns or doggy overlays over their faces. Where did it come from? When did it start? Well, brace yourselves – social media and those ridiculous SnapChats or emoticons are going nowhere, and the sooner you accept it, the better.

According to Wikipedia, social media is “an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos, and audio.” The most well-recognised social platforms are Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube. These social media websites combined have more than 100 000 000 registered users.

What does that mean in relation to the South African population – there are 54 978 907 people in South Africa. According to the South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study conducted by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, in South Africa there are:

• 13 million Facebook users
• 7,4 million Twitter users
• 8,28 million YouTube users
• 2,68 million Instagram users
But if you’re really keen on social media jargon, here are some useful terms thanks to the guys at HubSpot who put this list together:
• An avatar is an image or username that represents a person online, most often within forums and social networks.
• A bio on social media refers to a short bit of explainer text that explains who the user is.
• Blog is a word that was created from two words: “web log.” Blogs are usually maintained by an individual or a business with regular entries of content on a specific topic, descriptions of events, or other resources such as graphics or video. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
• Blogger is a free blogging platform owned by Google that allows individuals and companies to host and publish a blog typically on a subdomain. It is one of many blogging platforms.
• Chat can refer to any kind of communication over the internet but traditionally refers to one-to-one communication through a text-based chat application, commonly referred to as instant messaging (IM) applications.
• A comment is a response that is often provided as an answer or reaction to a blog post or message on a social network.
• Direct messages – also referred to as “DMs” – are private conversations that occur on Twitter. Both parties must be following one another to send a message.
• Facebook is a social media platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. The site connects people with friends, family, acquaintances, and businesses from all over the world and enables them to post, share, and engage with a variety of content such as photos and status updates. The platform currently boasts around 1.49 billion active users.
• Fans is the term used to describe people who like your Facebook Page.
• In a social media setting, a follower refers to a person who subscribes to your account in order to receive your updates.
• Friends is the term used on Facebook to represent the connections you make and the people you follow. These are individuals you consider to be friendly enough with you to see your Facebook profile and engage with you.
• A hashtag is a tag used on a variety of social networks as a way to annotate a message. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#” (for example, #InboundMarketing). Social networks use hashtags to categorise information and make it easily searchable for users.
• Instagram is a photo sharing application that lets users take photos, apply filters to their images, and share the photos instantly on the Instagram network and other social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare. The app is targeted toward mobile social sharing, and has gained more than 300 million users. • Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time, direct text-based communication between two or more people. More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling.
• A Like is an action that can be made by a Facebook or Instagram user. Instead of writing a comment or sharing a post, a user can click the Like button as a quick way to show approval or simply to indicate that they definitely saw the post.
• LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site with over 380 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking.
• A meme on the internet is used to describe a thought, idea, joke, or concept that’s widely shared online. It is typically an image with text above and below it, but can also come in video and link form.
• A mention is a Twitter term used to describe an instance in which a user includes someone else’s @username in their tweet to attribute a piece of content or start a discussion.
• Pinterest is a photo sharing social network that provides users with a platform for uploading, saving, and categorizing “pins” through collections called “boards.” Boards are typically organized by theme, such as: Food & Drink, Women’s Fashion, Gardening, and so on. Users have the ability to “pin” and “repin” content that they like to their respective boards.
• A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually audio, that are released episodically and often downloaded through an RSS feed.
• A reply is a Twitter action that allows a user to respond to a tweet through a separate tweet that begins with the other user’s @username. This differs from a mention, because tweets that start with an @username only appears in the timelines of users who follow both parties.
• A retweet is when someone on Twitter sees your message and decides to re-share it with his or her followers. A retweet button allows them to quickly resend the message with attribution to the original sharer’s name.
• A selfie is a self-portrait that is typically taken using the reverse camera screen on a smartphone or by using a selfie stick (a pole that attaches to your camera). Selfies are commonly shared on social media networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook using the hashtag #selfie.
• Snapchat is a social app that allows users to send and receive time-sensitive photos and videos known as “snaps,” which are hidden from the recipients once the time limit expires (images and videos still remain on the Snapchat server). Users can add text and drawings to their snaps and control the list of recipients which they send them to.
• Tagging is a social media functionality commonly used on Facebook and Instagram that allows users to create a link back to the profile of the person shown in the picture or targeted by the update.
• Trending topics refer to the most talked about topics and hashtags on a social media network. These commonly appear on networks like Twitter and Facebook and serve as clickable links in which users can either click through to join the conversation or simply browse the related content.
• Twitter is a real-time social network that allows users to share 140-character updates with their following. Users can favourite and retweet the posts of other users, as well as engage in conversations using @ mentions, replies, and hashtags for categorising their content. However, like all things in life, there are rules that need to be adhered to. Here is some insightful information on social media etiquette. It will actually make you think twice before you go ahead and just post something:

Your future employer will check your social media account

Human Resource managers will check your social media account. HR managers are very keen to see who their future recruiters are after-hours, since sometimes a CV doesn’t give an employer the full picture of the employee that they are about to employ. With social media so readily and easily available, more and more employers are doing this type of research – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn account; and the reality of it is that the one inappropriate post or photo can cost you the job of your dreams.

To be tagged or not to be tagged, that is the question

Don’t you just hate it when your friend tags you in an unflattering or an inappropriate photo? Well as much as you dislike it, so do they. Always remember to ask for permission first, or caption the photo “tag yourself” to encourage them to tag. A good idea is also to ensure that when you are updating your profile pictures, keep it professional. This is especially important on business social sites like LinkedIn. If it’s not a crisp, high-resolution headshot, do not use it. Always try to keep a level of appropriateness. Offensive content is also a big no-no. Not only will you be banned, but to future employers you come across as an offensive arrogant person.

Is it really all about you? Really?

Ah selfies, the vain of our existence. But before you post, tweet, or share anything, take a second and think about how others might interpret it – will it be perceived as insightful and informative, or crass and boring? When you post something that’s all about you, create your next post to share insightful pieces by someone else or about someone else.

Your sense of humor may not be appreciated by all

Remember that funny meme you saw and thought you had to share. Well, reality is that not everyone will share your sense of humour. People have different mindsets, views and stances on what’s funny and what isn’t – and it is really easy to offend someone by posting a simple image that you thought was hilarious.

Oversharing is not caring

Everyone loves to share, but over-sharing can be overkill. No one likes to follow someone who does a minute by minute post. It’s the quickest way to get unfollowed. What is considered over-sharing you ask? Unless you are a celebrity, posting the cereal you eat every morning and then what’s next, in other words, giving a minute-by-minute update, is the quickest way to lose your friends and followers. Always remember, your social presence is a big part of your personal brand. You want your brand to be interesting, engaging, and representative of your best characteristics.

Most importantly, understand all the platforms you are on and how they work

Know what each platform is for and how they are used. Practise and learn from people you like to follow. Don’t ever over-hashtag as no one ever speaks like this #I #just #had #coffee #now. Remember to stay current on social practices.

But most of all, have fun!