Facebook seems to be one of the most active sites for staying in contact with people. It's like an email that can be read by a lot of people, that includes a biography. Privacy in communication is available by means of a direct message. Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
Signing up is pretty easy. Go to http://www.facebook.com and click on Sign Up. It's free and anyone can join. You need your name, email, password, gender and birthday. Those are the essentials.
You then create a Profile that gives some of the basics about your interests, education, job, and you can even say why you're on Facebook. You should put up a Profile picture as soon as you can. Select a photo you want to use of yourself that is on your computer. Generally, the Facebook software does a good job of reducing a photo to tiny size, but you should start with a photo that is mostly - you guessed it - your face. A picture of you in the woods with you being a small part of the picture will look like a bunch of trees when the photo is reduced in size. Facebook does allow you to do some cropping as you place your Profile picture, but you should start with something that is largely your face.
Your Profile can be as in-depth as you want it to be. When people see this section, it gives them a chance to catch up on what you've been doing. It's likely that someone who hasn't seen you in years will stumble across your Profile and realize that they haven't caught up with you since High School. The Profile gives the opportunity to fill in the blanks.
Grow Your Profile
Usually a Profile is a work-in-progress. You can get started with little to no information and tweak it as you start to realize the value of Facebook. Get your picture up first so that people know who you are. You can change that picture as often as you want, so if your first one isn't the best, don't worry about it.
This is where it gets to be amazing. Once you've entered your school and company information, it can suggest people you may know that are already on Facebook. As a quick example, there are 159 classmates in the Loyola Maryland, 1985 Graduating Class network. Facebook will automatically generate suggestions of your classmates already using Facebook. If you see any of your old classmates, click into them and send them a friend request. You can either click on their picture or on the name under their picture. A little window will pop-up and then you can click "Add as Friend". You can even add a personal message if you like.
It's pretty easy to find friends. There are lots of places to look. In the upper right-hand corner is the "Search" window. Enter in a name, press the magnifying glass icon and watch what happens. There are over 500 John Smith's on Facebook, so a less common name will have less responses. For example, search for Marlena Towson. When you do the search, you'll find a page full of Marlena's, but only one Marlena Towson. Go ahead and add her as a friend. She's on the ChoosePA.com website in a number of places. She will be glad to add you as a friend, too. The process is based on reciprocity. You request a friendship, then they reciprocate and confirm you as a friend. When people send you a friend request, you accept the friendship.
The New York Times calls Twitter "one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet." TIME Magazine says, "Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app," and Newsweek noted that "Suddenly, it seems as though all the world's a-twitter." It's the next big thing. It's a micro-blog. Blog is short for Web Log. For several years, blogs have been very popular. Since twitter is a micro-blog, you can only enter 140 characters. It's like internet haiku. You can only have very short entries, but you can have lots of them throughout the day.
Followers and Following
The system for getting involved with twitter is similar to Facebook. You go to http://www.twitter.com and sign up. It's very fast and easy. Instead of being based on "friends", twitter is based on "follows". When you go to search for someone, it's called "Find People". To become a follower, you click on a large amount of people to follow, hoping that a large percentage of them will follow you. That's how you build your following. The more people who follow you, the more are reading your mico-blog posts. So the object of the game is to get a lot of followers.
A Follower Shortcut
Once you are signed onto twitter, go to http://www.twitter.com/kentcourtney. On the right side is a bunch of small pictures. Those are the people I am following. Below the pictures is "View All..." Click on that. You will see the first page of people I am following. Click on the "Follow" button for the things that interest you. Click on a lot - it's free. The more you click on, the better. Go to the next page by clicking on the "next" button. Continuing to follow people will cause some of those people to reciprocate and follow you. Now's the time to do this. As twitter builds, the following phenomenon will skyrocket. Twitter is particularly good for raising awareness of your business, your town, your hobby, your candidate or your cause.
With only 140 characters for your micro-blog, it might be hard to fit in a link to a webpage, if it has a long URL or web address. Twitter automatically converts a long URL to a tinyurl for a link in your twit (that's an individual entry in your micro-blog). If you step up to TweetDeck, (when you become a serious tweeter (user), than the tinyurl can be created prior to your post. That could become important if you post a lot of links.