A source for digital literacy


Welcome to Social Media for the Common Man!

Why Social Media for the Common Man?

Social Media helpYou’re not a brand. You’re not a business. You’re a person. It’s time to start acting like one.

If you are afraid to dip your toe in the waters of social media, I want you to stop and take a breath.

Here’s a little haven on the web to help guide you through the social media process.

Whether you want to get started on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or blogging, I will help you out as best I can.

The number one rule of social media?

If you aren’t having fun, stop doing it.


Using: Twitter – The @reply (with apologies to Tina Turner)

I’m talking about Twitter again today and the @reply. I usually verbalize this by calling it the “at reply.” It seems to be the normal way to refer to it. People won’t look at you funny when you say it, unless they don’t know much about social media.

In the context of emails, the @ (at) symbol is what separates the user name from the domain name.

In the context of social platforms, the @ symbol is used to mean you are talking at someone. To use this, you start your Tweet with @[username]. For example, if you wanted to ask me something, you would type:

@KateCornell Why can’t I do anything before my morning coffee?

In the Tweet box.

Here are some things you should know about the @reply

Using the @reply

This is a fake tweet composed on a fake tweet builder. I would never say this to Tina Turner


1. It will autofill into your Tweet box if you hit the reply button on the Tweet you are currently reading.

Using the @reply

By @replying from a specific Tweet, it is considered a response to what the initial Tweet said. This allows Twitter to give you a conversation thread later to refer to. I will talk more about these later. A Tweet beginning with an @reply does not have to be from another box. You can simply type @ and add a username and your Tweet will be directed accordingly.

2. A Tweet beginning with an @reply is not visible in other people’s feed unless they follow both you and the person you @replied to.

Let me make this clear.

If I say,

@Tina_Turner What’s love ‘scott to do, ‘scott to do with it?

You will not see this on your feed unless you follow both @Tina_Turner and @KateCornell.

However, if you click on my user name, you will go to my personal page on Twitter and you will see all of my Tweets.

I suggest right now that you go take a look at someone’s personal page you are following and see this in action for yourself. There are things in their feed that never showed up in yours for the very reason I just said.

3. In order for you to make the @reply visible to everyone following you on your feed, whether or not they follow the person you @reply to, you must put something solid before the @ symbol.

For example,

Using the @reply

Again, Tina Turner, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you.

The period before the @ makes all the difference in the world. Now, this Tweet draws @Tina_Turner’s attention while at the same time being visible to everyone following me. I will use the party metaphor again.

You’re standing in a room with all the people you follow. You have information about one of them that you would like to share with the people following you.

If you say this:

@rclementmoore has a book signing this week.

That is the equivalent of telling @rclementmoore and only @rclementmoore about her own book signing.

So, an alternative would be to say:

.@rclementmoore has a book signing this week.


I’m going to @rclementmoore’s book signing this week.


Book signing with @rclementmoore this week

Really, the alternatives are many, as long as you don’t put the @ symbol at the very beginning of your Tweet. Myself? I prefer to phrase it in such a way that embeds the @reply. Or, if its something lots of people will be interested in, but I don’t want someone to miss, I’ll tack their name on the end.

There’s your introduction to the @reply. If you have any questions, leave a comment or, if you’re up to it, @reply me on Twitter.

Burning Questions: How do I get more followers?

Maybe you’ve been going at this social media stuff for awhile and your follower numbers aren’t where you would like them to be. I’m sorry. I understand you want to be influential. You want everyone to read your funny tweets. You want to be loved, which is a basic human desire.

Before you get upset, check on your own behavior.

How often do you post?

If you don’t post much, people are less likely to want to keep up with your updates. On the other hand, if you post every fifteen minutes, people don’t want to have their feed full of you. This is not to say there is a set number of posts you should be averaging a day. There is no magic number. Honestly, it should be flexible. Some days, I tweet very rarely. Some days, I’ll tweet ten times or more. It depends on what’s happening (when I was at ComicCon [#sdcc] it was sporadic, but targeted).

While number of tweets won’t necessarily gain you followers, it will help keep them.

How many people are you following?

Again, there is not set number. You should follow as many people as you can pay attention to. This can fluctuate between platform to platform. I’ve found it’s difficult to keep up with more than three hundred people on Twitter. So, I created some lists to help streamline that. If I’m looking for news under a certain topic, I’ll look at my list. If I want posts from my closest friends, I’ll look at my list. If I have time, I’ll look through my entire feed.

On Tumblr I find it easier to keep up with the people I’m following, but I only check it once a day. Granted, that once a day may be me scrolling through it for an hour… If I find something I like, I favorite or reblog. This is a part of the interaction.

If you’re following over 1,000 people, I would stop and make sure you’re actually paying attention to these people. Social media is about interaction. If you’re not going to interact with someone to the point where you aren’t even listening to what they say, you don’t need to hang around them. Let go.

Which, finally, leads us to:

How do I get more followers?

This will be rather soapbox of me, but I believe in supporting the spirit of social media to get more followers. Social media is not a competition. It’s a party. Some people come in late, some leave early. Try to get the most out of the relationships you already have.

On Twitter, use your @replies and #hashtags to communicate with people you don’t normally interact with. Build relationships, build followers. You’re not a celebrity. You’re not a company. Offer your uniquely you perspective. Share, retweet, favorite, and post original content.

On Tumblr, reblog, favorite, and reply, but don’t forget to post additional and unique content.

Content will often drive your followers. If you only talk about Doritos, you will most likely attract other people who are interested in Doritos. Personally, I talk about a lot of geeky or nerdy things, a lot of writing things, and a lot of television and movie things. This gives me a broad base to work with. At the time of this post, I have 319 followers, and I’m fine with that.

Having genuine, human interactions with people proves that you aren’t a spammer or someone looking to sell something.

Don’t worry about your followers. They will come, they will go. When you start acting like you want more, they’ll turn away.

Getting started: Twitter

Getting Started: TwitterTwitter is easy to get started with in the sense that you can sign up and start posting right away. With the other platforms, you need to enter some more data. Almost everything can be changed after the initial setup process, so you don’t need to worry about it because you can fix it later.

If you need help with terminology, you can check out the glossary here. It’s a work in progress.


Once you enter your name and email, the next page will ask you to choose your user name (or handle). It will give you suggestions. Decide if you want people to be able to find you by using your name. If you plan on using multiple platforms, you may want to try to have some uniformity between them. You can always change your user name later.

There are some other check marks to look at. If you’re on a public computer, make sure you remove the check mark from “Keep me signed-in on this computer.”

If you want to know more about “Tailor Twitter based on my recent website visits” box, you can click the link next to it. Twitter suggests accounts that you may want to follow based on your interests and wants to incorporate them into your Twitter feed (we’ll get to this soon). You don’t have to take all of Twitter’s suggestions. They are only trying to be helpful. If you’re not ready to have Twitter through the suggestions at you, uncheck the box and you can change the setting later.

When you hit the “Create Account” button, Twitter takes you to a new screen that’s ready to teach you how to get started.

Your Twitter feed is the thing that will show you the updates of the people you follow. At the beginning of your account, your feed will be empty because you aren’t following anyone. So, Twitter suggests some people to follow.

The light blue check mark means that the account is a verified account. That means it is the official Twitter account. Not every official account is verified, so minor celebrities may not have the verification logo.

Twitter wants you to start by following five people. Take your time to browse through the selections. Twitter will keep sending you more suggestions if you don’t find what you want. You can always unfollow them later, so if they aren’t Tweeting what you want to read, you can change your mind.

Click next and you get suggestions based on topic. Again, take your time and pick some people to follow.

Click next and you can import contacts from your email accounts. If you don’t want to do that, you can always skip the step.

Add a picture. It should be something representing you, if it isn’t you. Adding some picture is important, because if you don’t, you have a default picture of an egg and people tend to not follow eggs. Your bio needs to be short and to the point. Pick a few things and separate them by commas.

Now you’re have an account, a Twitter handle, and a feed.

Social Media Buttons

Social media “buttons” or “icons” are a shorthand for navigating the multiple platforms around the web. Each of the buttons are associated with their logos. Here’s a quick cheat sheet of the most frequently used buttons.

The Buttons


Facebook is a good starter platform. Chances are that you already know someone on there and they can be the person you begin interacting with. As long as you are conservative with putting personal details on your social media site, I would say sign up with Facebook and start looking through it. It is a little more new-user friendly than the other platforms.

Twitter Button


Twitter is what’s known as a microblogging site. You’re updates are limited to 140 characters. Here’s an example of what 140 characters looks like:

“I tried to post under 140 characters, but I seem to be the most longwinded tweeter ever. Guess I need to be a little more pithy when I type.”Twitter Button

That’s exactly 140 characters. If you go over Twitter’s limit, they won’t let you post your thought. There is a countdown that keeps track of how many characters you’ve written so you can see just how pithy you need to be in the remaining characters. Sometimes, Twitter will be represented by the bird.

Pinterest ButtonPinterest

Pinterest was only launched in 2010, but was winning awards in 2012. It has quickly risen to the third most popular platform behind those two up there ^^ This site is fun and visual. You can really have a great time sharing what you find on the web with people who share your interests. Personally, I believe this is one of the most honest forms of social media, revealing your interests and likes without asking you to create a personality.

Tumblr Button


This might be a bit confusing, as it is another “T” much like the Twitter one, but Tumblr is a very different platform. Tumblr gives you more of a stream as opposed to the straight feeds of Twitter and Facebook and the boards of Pinterest (I will get into layouts in different posts). The “T”s are different styles and the blue for Tumblr is darker. If you click the “T” thinking it’s Twitter and it doesn’t look like Twitter when you get there, just go back and try the other one.

RSS Feed


The RSS or RSS feed strips away everything that makes the blog look pretty. It is a bare bones version of something that is updated a lot. Go ahead and click on it. It doesn’t look so great on a computer, but for mobile technology, it presents the feed in a cleaner way.

Email Button



This is the button that links to a “Send email” link. It should open up your email application on your computer with a new email to compose. The email address will be filled out in the “To:” field.

If you get to the point where you want to subscribe to something using an RSS reader, the link attached to this button is the one you would use to subscribe. If you think you’re interested in an RSS reader (like something you could put on your iPad or iPhone) I would suggest Googling RSS readers to see what is available.

These (or something similar) are the major buttons you will see. If you come across something you don’t recognize, click it and see where it takes you. You aren’t forced to follow anyone on the first click.

Why buttons?

When these buttons are on the profile side or top of a web page,  it takes you to their profile on whichever social media platform is represented by the button so you can follow them.

If these icons appear at the bottom of a post, a prompt will appear for you to SHARE a post through your profile on whichever social media platform is represented by the button. You can try clicking on the Twitter button at the bottom of this post (you don’t have to go through with it, but it will give you an example). If you don’t have an account, it will ask you to sign in. If you’re already signed in, it will show you a Twitter box with the link and my Twitter handle (as the author) already in there. All you would have to do is hit Tweet.

If you have questions or comments, you can leave them here or contact me by going through the follow buttons. I think you’ve got it down, right?