social media guide

Hashtag What? Your Guide to Social Media

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I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA. However, not everyone does. In fact, many simply don’t know how to use it. Do you consider yourself a social media neophyte? Maybe you haven’t logged into your Facebook in months (you may have even forgotten how?). You might find yourself thinking, Since when did the pound sign become a hashtag? And that thing called Instagram? What is that? As intimidating and stressful social media may seem, there are many benefits to holding accounts on these sites, from hearing about traffic updates before the commute home to seeing photos of that family reunion you “couldn’t make it to.”

Another issue with social media is that some think it is impossible to separate work and play. Thankfully, that is not true. With plenty of privacy settings, social media sites make it easy to set private profiles so that only the people YOU want to view your posts can actually see them. Your personal life and your work do not have to intertwine over social media unless you want them to.

Here are a few basic tips and explanations on how to really utilize this powerful trend we call social media via three commonly used outlets: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Let’s start with Facebook, the mother ship of social media. I’m guessing this one is going to be the most familiar to you. Equipped with many tools, you can use this site to connect with friends (and maybe, errrr, stalk your children and their whereabouts). Here, I’ll explain some of Facebook’s most important features.

  • Status: Want to share something exciting that happened to you? Maybe you attended a fun concert, scored a promotion, or finally reached your weight goal? Post it as a status. You can even add a photo to spice it up a bit. I recommend not posting more than once or twice a day because too many statuses clutter your friends’ newsfeeds.

    uw facebook

    UW and The Whole U use Facebook to let you know about fun contests that you can compete in!

  • Friend: Friends are what create the content on your newsfeed. You can “add” a friend by searching for their name in the search box on the top left (just make sure it’s the right person!). Once you’re “friends,” you can see their statuses, photos, etc.
  • Page: Pages are usually brands, organizations, stores, etc. (Pages are only people when that person is famous.) The Whole U is a page. We post updates on articles, events, contests, etc. so everyone who “likes” our page sees what we’re up to. But don’t worry- admins of pages cannot see what YOU post to your private profile!
  • Like: You can “like” something on Facebook by clicking the little thumbs up image on a status or page. Think it’s cool that your friend ran a half-marathon? Like their status. Basically if you like something you see on Facebook, press that little blue thumbs up. “Likes” are not limited, so like away!!
  • Share: If you REALLY love something, you can share it. Next to the “like” and “comment” options, you‘ll see the share button. This means that it will appear on your own profile. People usually share articles, photos, or videos.
  • Notification: It is what it sounds like. Any time someone likes your status, comments on your photo, adds you to a group, invites you to an event, etc., you’ll get a notification. DEFINITELY check these often.


Twitter. This outlet can be a little intimidating, but so fun. When I asked my dad if he had a Twitter account, he said “Yeah, but how am I supposed to read all that stuff in one day?!” (referring to how Twitter basically refreshes with new content by the millisecond). The great thing is, you don’t have to read it all. Trust me, I (a social media QUEEN) can’t even keep up. Here’s the lowdown.


UW uses Twitter to share adorable pictures of everyone’s favorite pup: Dubs!

  • Tweet: Like a Facebook status, but MUCH shorter. Note: There is a character limit. Tweets are supposed to be short and to the point. The awesome thing is that since twitter refreshes so often, you can post more often (I wouldn’t recommend more than once an hour, though).
  • Follower: Basically the same thing as a Facebook friend. But you know how with Facebook you have to approve or deny a friend request? On Twitter, anyone can follow you unless you make your profile private. You can follow people by going to their profile and simply clicking “Follow.”

    uw coffee shops

    And hey, you might just get retweeted if you share something insightful!

  • Handle:  The username you create when you make a profile, preceded by the @ sign. For example, The Whole U’s looks like this: @UWWholeU. You can make it literally whatever you want, as long as it’s not taken already. If you want to tweet at another Twitter user, use the @, i.e. “Hey, @UWWholeU, great article on how to use social media!”
  • Hashtag: This symbol: #. These are used to emphasize important or relevant words in your tweet. Users can search certain words and twitter will show other users who have “hashtagged” that word. For example, you could tweet: “Can’t wait for Free Photo Day on Seattle’s campus! #uwphotoday #iloveuw #excited”
  • Favorite: The exact same thing as “liking” something on Facebook.
  • Retweet: The Twitter version of “sharing.”


Alright now Instagram is new-ish and trendy in the social media scene. It’s a LOT more simple than Facebook or Twitter and it’s all about photos and videos. If you don’t already have an account, I encourage you to download the app on your smartphone (if you have one, of course) and create one, especially if you love to take pictures. Plus, it makes you look like a pretty good photographer. There really isn’t much more to learn than what I explained about Twitter.

the ellen show at uw

UW’s Instagram lets you see events that you might not have been able to attend.

  • Heart: The exact same thing as “liking” something on Facebook or “favoriting” a Tweet. You can either click the red heart symbol below the photo or double tap the pic!
  • Filter: Arguably the most important Instagram feature. Maybe the lighting wasn’t great in the park? Add a filter. You want it black and white? Add a filter.
  • Handles & Hashtags: Instagram also incorporates handles for names of people/companies and is VERY hashtag heavy. Instagram doesn’t have a word limit so people go crazy on those hashtags. You can also make your profile private to avoid random followers.
  • Final note about Instagram: It’s a great app for posting progress about your fitness goals or healthy eating habits. Feel free to post the gorgeous picture you took on your walk, the yummy and healthy salad you made for lunch, or that inspirational quote you found on the Internet.

For those of you still on the fence about social media, hear me out. I haven’t always loved social media. I actually didn’t have a Facebook until the 11th grade (Millennials who are reading this, DON’T JUDGE ME). While my friends were AOL messaging in 3rd grade, creating MySpace profiles in 5th grade, and moving onto Facebook by 8th grade, I was social media-less. I was against every aspect of social media. I thought, I don’t want to share my everyday life on the internet, that’s weird. Things changed when I went to Mt. Baker Leadership Camp, a week-long camp in the middle of nowhere. I made friends from all over the state and I wanted to stay in touch. What better way to do so than social media? I could see what all my friends were up to via pictures, updates, and messages. Then I, the social media rookie, became a pro. Nowadays, I could tweet with my eyes closed, compose a Facebook status while on a pogo stick, maybe even post a photo on Instagram while walking a tight rope. So if I can make a social media change, I think you can too.

Wow, that was a lot of information. I promise it’ll be helpful. If you’re inspired to use what you’ve learned, like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and check out our Instagram!




Jessica HallJessica Hall is the Marketing & Communications Intern for The Whole U. She stays busy as Chapter President of Alpha Xi Delta, a member of the Red Bull Wings Team, and a student in the Foster School of Business. She’s also a diehard Husky football fan and lover of anything purple, gold, and sparkly.