Cover story: The best social media for you

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We at Campus News debated this a good deal – which are the best social media platforms for our readership – and which are time wasters? The results of our conversation, in order:

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No. 1: Instagram – While now owned by boring Facebook, and having ripped off some features from Snapchat, Instagram is still growing in excitement, to over 77 million US users this year, according to eMarketer, more than Twitter.

Instagram seems like the perfect app for our demo – it’s not stiff and rife with political diatribes and fake news, like Facebook, as there are no hyperlinks. There are few ads on the service, still, as well. The flow of Instagram’s feed is fresh – with a good mix of video and stills – and the design is clean. The app also displays videos quickly.

Instagram has more features than Snapchat and less features than Facebook; kind of a happy medium. The age range right now seems to be people in their teens and 20s, though with some older moms and dads checking it out. Statistics suggest half of all users are 18-34, though these trends change all the time. About two thirds are women.

The service was invented for America’s shift from desktop computers to smart phones, and Instagram has gotten better as smart phones have added better cameras and faster speeds. People can use various filters to make their work shine. While the site doesn’t allow hyperlinks, it did steal the idea of hashtags from Twitter – and now when people think of hashtagging, they think of Instagram first. We predict this platform will grow faster than others in the months ahead.

For a college student, the site is fun, but classy and mainstream enough not to be embarrassing, should you go seeking serious employment some day (depending on what you post, of course).

Digital Overload

No. 2: LinkedIn – What???!!! OK, yes, this site is extremely boring. One of our writers described going on there akin to having to do a homework assignment. And the site was recently purchased by Microsoft. You know, the people who make boring programs like Word, Excel and Access (OK, PowerPoint is kind of fun). But LinkedIn makes No. 2 on our list because it’s the site most likely to make you money. Let’s face it, your posts on social media are not going to go viral like PewDiePie’s. But if you create a professional profile on LinkedIn (get a decent headshot taken) and link to your professors, college’s top alumni and people in businesses where you may want to work, you very well can find great work. No working at Starbucks upon graduation; land an office job! Just be active there. Share your thoughts on trends in your major and industry. (Proofread before posting there, though – the 500 million users are mostly bright.) Try Groups pertaining to your field of interest. List in your “title” that you are “a _____ major looking for an opportunity in the industry.” Start your profile now, before you graduate. Another word of advice – create everything on a desktop computer, not your smartphone. LinkedIn’s users are professionals, often sitting at desktops. That way you’ll see the site the way they see it – as well, the desktop site has more features, and it’s easier to edit your profile that way.

No. 3: Snapchat – While losing ground to Facebook, Snapchat may be the easiest platform to use, and its Stories feature can be addictively fun. Seventy million US users still are on the app, though usage is down. As well, the demo is changing. Last year, Snapchat was mostly aimed at 14-18 year olds. Now it’s a little older and a little younger, too. You can Geotarget specific areas, as well, with Snapchat; say a shopping mall or the campus student union. We find it’s hard to maintain relationships on the site, it being so transient (Snaps expire in a day), and competitors may put this app out of business someday soon.

No. 4: Facebook – Our student writers say 2016 was when they finally had enough of this site. The political nature of Facebook, exacerbated by the Presidential Election, clickbait, fake news and long stream of scammy ads have detoxed the college crowd from their previous addiction to this site. They may still check it now and again, as mom and dad and grandparents are on there, though. The site has gotten older and crabbier. Only 20 percent of users are under age 25, according to Statistica. But with 1 billion active users worldwide, Facebook isn’t going to die any time soon (besides, they own Instagram). Facebook Pages are excellent – small businesses and entrepreneurs can really make a name for themselves through them. Also, sometimes it’s good to be on a platform that allows hyperlinking. In that regard, Facebook is more like a Google, with its access to the whole World Wide Web. That said, our feeds usually seem totally random – there’s a cat, there’s a cupcake, there’s a person with no shirt on – and the fake news, still prevalent, is a downer.

No. 5: Twitter – Twitter is great for people who like to post random thoughts or follow celebrities. It has gotten better, with a nice visual presentation, but we feel most people’s Tweets are just that tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it. It’s whispering “fire” in a crowded theater. The site has over 300 million active users, though limited to 140 characters per post. The platform has had trouble monetizing – its ads don’t work well – so who knows what the future holds? They should have sold their site to Facebook or Google, when it was still a hot property a few years ago.

Well, that wraps up Part I of our “Top 10 social media platforms” article. Hope you enjoyed. Find Nos. 6 through 10 on our web site, www.campus-news.org soon. Let us know how right or wrong we are by posting there, at the end of this article, or emailing us at editor@cccn.us. See you in cyberspace!

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