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Kendal at Oberlin Blog

Terms to Know if You’re New to Social Media

Posted by Molly Kavanaugh on Jan 28, 2015 1:43:01 PM

Social_Media_with_ComputerSocial media platforms are excellent ways to stay social as you grow older, yet there are some older adults that do not use them. Their hesitation often comes from a lack of understanding: not only not knowing how each one works, but also being unfamiliar with the lingo that social media users employ. Hearing words such as “tweet,” “hashtag,” and “hangout” may be like trying to decipher a foreign language.

Terminology Behind Social Media

To help you reap the benefits of social media, we’ve put together a list of terms associated with three of the most-used social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Google+. These should make it easier to get started using social media.


1. Friend Request: This is a request you get when another user requests to connect with you.

2. Like: When you see something posted that you enjoy, you can “Like” it to show your appreciation. It’s a thumbs-up symbol.

3, Newsfeed: This is the main page of Facebook and is a collection of all of your friends’ recent activity. You can scroll through to see everything that is new!

4. Status Update: This is what you can post to update your friends on anything new going on in your life. You can also post an interesting article or picture.

5. Notification: You will receive a notification each time someone sends you a friend requests or interacts with something you have posted. Notifications update you on what is going on.


1. Follower: This is the term given to the people who have voluntarily chosen to “follow you”—meaning they will see all of your updates.

2. Tweet: A tweet is a message that you write and share with your followers. It is limited to 140 characters.

3. Twitter feed: A scrolling, constantly-updating feed that shows the list of tweets from people that you follow.

4. Retweet: When you retweet a message from someone else, you are sharing it on your own feed with your followers.

5. Hashtag: Words or phrases that are preceded by a hashtag (#) become links that are searchable throughout the Twitter world. Including hashtags with your tweets allows you to join the conversation on popular topics.


1. Circles: Used to organize your friends and followers into similar categories or groups.

2. Stream: This is similar to the Facebook Newsfeed and is where you will see updates from people in your circles.

3. Hangouts: These are organized meetings with your Google+ followers in which you can all connect in a video chat (with up to 10 people!).

4. +1: A button that allows you to share someone else’s post with your followers.

Although it may seem confusing at first, social media can quickly become a very positive part of your everyday life. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be interacting within the social media world before you know it!

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Topics: Lifelong Learning

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