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The Basics of Social Media

The Basics of Social Media Activity: Communicating with One to One Million People: Blogs and Instant Messaging

Instructions for Your Students

All the e-world’s a stage, from Facebook and Twitter to instant messaging and blogs, and your audience can be anyone from your best friend to millions of strangers. 

Today you'll start in the shallow end of the pool by brushing up on your instant messaging skills. After that, go big with a blog. All the while, keep in mind who will be reading your information online and what you do and don't want to reveal about yourself.

Step 1: You'll start by exploring Google Hangouts or Facebook chat—either through your account or someone else's. Your teacher will help you get started and let you know whether you'll be working individually or with a group. 

Step 2: Using the account you have open, explore the following features:

  1. Signing in. 
  2. Starting a session; choosing messaging or video options. 
  3. How to add/invite a contact. 
  4. Saving chat history. 
    • By the way, why might you want to save your chat history? Can you think of any reasons? 
  5. Turning emoticons on and off. 
  6. Setting an away message. 
    • Here's another question for you: why would you ever want to use an "away message"? 
  7. Status settings. 
    • At some point, everyone wishes they had the power of invisibility. Why might it be a good idea to make your status “invisible” online from time to time?
  8. Sending and receiving messages. 
  9. Adding voice and video to conversations. 
  10. Blocking individuals who bother you.

Step 3: Let's take a class poll. How many of your classmates use instant messenger services anyway? Take a minute to check in and find out who your classmates (and you, of course) communicate with most often this way. Here's another question for you all to discuss: Do you communicate differently in different situations? For instance, how do you communicate when you're: 

  • messaging or texting?
  • using email? 
  • writing a letter?
  • talking to someone on the phone?
  • talking to someone in person?

What's the same in each of these situations?

What's different? Well, for one thing, you may not talk in abbreviations as much as you text with them, right? Go to Abbreviations.com and use it to help you create a dictionary of the 15 most common abbreviations you use when messaging. 

Ahem. Keep it clean, please.

Step 4: Once everyone has made a list, go ahead and share a few of your favorites with the class and discuss the following questions:

  1. How many of these abbreviations do you think your parents know? Your teachers? 
  2. Would you ever use these kinds of abbreviations to communicate with adults? Why or why not?
  3. What does it mean to you to have another language to use with your peers?

Step 5: All right. Now that you've mastered Facebook and instant messaging, you're going to explore one of the most personal forms of social media: blogging.

Take a few minutes to quickly skim through these sample blogs.

Now discuss the following questions:

  1. What is a blog? (Remember: "blog" is short for "web log.") Why do you think people make them? 
  2. Why do you think people read blogs? 
  3. How do you feel about the content posted in the sample blogs you just checked out? Would you share what’s on your mind this way? Why or not?
  4. Are there any blogs that you like to read?
  5. Have you ever considered writing a blog? Why or why not?

Step 6: Ready? Set? Let's figure out how to set up our own blogs. Watch "How to Set Up a Blog Using Blogger." (15:32)

Step 7: Now, if you're old enough (blogger.com requires users to be 13 or over), you can use what you learned to create your own blog on blogger.com. If you're under 13, don't worry, we've got you covered. Open a word processor (MS Word, Pages, Google Drive, etc.) and pretend to create a blog. 

Step 8: When you have your blog (or fake blog) set up, answer the following questions:

  1. What is the topic of your blog? 
  2. What’s the name and URL for it?
  3. Who is your intended audience? The whole world? Family? Friends? How much do you think you can control who sees your blog? 
  4. How will you invite people to your blog? How many people would you like to invite? 
  5. How frequently do you think that you’ll post? 
  6. Will you invite anyone else to participate in posting? 
  7. Will you allow readers to comment on the blog entries?

Step 9: Now that you're a little clearer on your subject, audience, and purpose, go ahead and create the first entry for your blog. If you have a real blog set up online, email (or message) your teacher the URL of your post when you're done. If you're using a fake blog, you can share your document with your teacher.