Social Networking 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Social Networking 101  

You’ve grown up hearing about tweets, status updates, likes, and friends (the online kind, that is).

You may have even dabbled in social networking yourself. And there’s that now-infamous movie, of course. Whatever your experience or inexperience, we’re here to advise you about what you should and shouldn’t be doing on today’s most-popular social networks.

Just in time to go back to school, PCMag is here to give you a complete rundown on how to become a member of the major social networks, how to use them to your best advantage, mistakes to avoid, and what using these networks means for your future. Think of this primer as part of your coursework—S ocial Networking 101, if you will.

First, let’s be clear: You should join every major social network. Why? Well, while one may dominate now, it may not last forever (Friendster, MySpace anyone?). Oh, and you should reserve your name— your very digital identity— whenever possible.

Now, let’s grab our syllabus and let the lesson begin…


It’s home to 750 million active users (as of July 2011) who create status updates about what they’re doing or thinking, share pictures, videos, messages, and links, play games, and run apps. It’s a jack-of-all-trades so big that, for some, it’s synonymous with the word “Internet.”


Some refer to it as the business version of Facebook, minus the games, of course. It focuses on the kind of networking that helps people get jobs. Your profile on LinkedIn is actually your résumé.


This social network is the new kid on the block and, technically, still in “field testing.” Google+ builds on features we’ve seen previously from Google, such as the status updates we saw in Google Buzz and picture sharing from Picasa, mashes them together within profiles, and integrates them in other incredibly popular Google services like Gmail. Is it a Facebook killer? Time will tell.


Though technically a micro-blogging service, Twitter does play in the social networking space. Tweets are, essentially, the same as status updates or links on Facebook; they’re just limited to 140 characters.

You can follow anyone and anyone can follow you, and you don’t have to do anything to make this happen (unlike Facebook, where making “friends” requires approval from both sides).

By Eric Griffit

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