I think we have moved past the “social media is a waste of time” conversation. Most everyone and their mother (and in my wife’s case, her grandmother) is on Facebook by this point. Twitter continues to grow and has become the first place many go for “Breaking News.” But social media is much more than sharing photos, check-ins and connecting with old high school friends.
Obviously social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to share information with large groups of friends and followers, respectively. You continue the social interaction using comments and likes, as well as retweets and replies. But how else can you make this work for you. What good is social media other than giving you something to do while waiting at the doctor’s office?
Personally, I use these various sites to help me back up my daily life. I have discussed here previously how I am trying to live a near-paperless life, so naturally I have tried to make these sites work for me. Here are some tips on how I use social media to help me “back up” my life.
While many people joke about how few participants Google+ has, there are some great tools within this platform. My favorite is being able to backup the videos and photos from my iPhone using Google+. If you have a Google account (Gmail, Picasa, YouTube, etc.) you have access to a Google+ account. (If not, sign up.) Use the Google+ app on your smartphone and activate “Instant Upload.” You now have a constant backup to your device’s photo gallery, which for me, is every picture I ever take. Key is, you just need to make sure to access Google+ from time to time to make sure the uploads take place.
Dubbed a microblogging site, tumblr allows you to share images, videos, text and audio with your followers. Your site can be accessed without an account, which makes this a great way to share things with friends and family who may not want to create or maintain an account on other networks. They can simply visit your specific tumblr URL and view your latest posts.
I started a tumblr account to keep track of all the hilarious things my oldest son would say. We constantly found ourselves asking “what was it he said the other day that made us laugh?” and I wanted something that I could use to easily log these conversations and statements he would make. Using some built in tools, I have tumblr set up to automatically post to both my Facebook page and my son’s own Twitter page. One day, I hope to hand these over to him and he can continue keeping track of his life. (How neat would it be to be able to look back at a timestamped list of things you said and did as a kid.)
Not to be outdone, our youngest son is becoming quite the comedian himself. To keep things simple, I created him his own Twitter page (that he can take over one day as well) that chronicles parts of his life with some photos and early vocabulary. The more he continues to converse, the more I will share. This is also linked to my personal Facebook page, for family and friends to enjoy.
If you like some of the tips I shared above, you may want to check out ifttt.com (which stands for If This Then That) for endless possibilities. Ifttt takes social networks, cloud back up sites and more and gives you the ability to create “recipes” for linking them together with actions. Using sites like Evernote and Dropbox, you can link photo accounts from Twitter, Instagram and Flickr to create backups. I have a recipe set up that takes any link I share on Facebook and files it in its own notebook in Evernote.
You can even create text and email reminders based on weather forecasts. With new networks and even physical products being added all the time, you can honestly “put the internet to work for you.”
While not everyone may want to link this many accounts and pages to each other, it works for me and my family. Living away from friends and family, it helps that grandparents and great grandparents can see these milestones for themselves.