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October 27, 2014

Staying Social with Social Media: A Glossary of Terms

Social media can be a useful tool in staying social as you get older, yet many older adults do not use social media. Their hesitation often stems from a lack of understanding not only with how the different platforms work but also from the unique lingo social media users employ. (You hear loved ones use words like “tweet,” “hashtag,” and “hangout,” and you think they may as well be speaking another language.)

To help you reap the benefits of social media usage, we’ve compiled a few terms associated with three of the most widely used social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Use these to make getting started with social media easier.


  • Friend request: When another user asks to connect with you. 

  • Like: A way of giving a “thumbs up” to something posted.  Newsfeed: A collection of your friends’ recent activity that you can scroll through to see what’s new. 

  • Status update: Where you can tell your friends what’s new with you, share an interesting article, or post a photograph. 

  • Notification: What you’ll receive when someone sends a friend request or interacts with something you’ve posted. 

  • Timeline: A place where your friends can write messages. Your wall also shows your recent status posts and activity. 


  • Followers: The term given to people who elect to have your tweets sent to their feed. 

  • Tweets: 140-character messages you can write and share with your followers. 

  • Twitter feed: A scrolling, constantly updating list of tweets from the people you follow. 

  • Retweet: The act of sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers. 

  • Hashtags: Words or phrases that are preceded by a hash sign (#) become links that are searchable throughout the Twitter world. Including hashtags with your tweets allows you to join the conversation on trending topics. 


  • Circles: Where you can organize your followers into categories or groups.

  • Stream: Like the Facebook newsfeed, this is where you’ll see updates from the people in your circles. 

  • Hangouts: The ability to connect with your Google+ followers in a video chat (with up to 10 people!) 

  • +1: A button that allows you to share another person’s post with your followers. 

Social media might seem confusing and overwhelming at first, but it can quickly become a positive part of your everyday routine. All it takes is a little patience and practice.

Need additional help getting started with social media. Check out this eBook!

Social Media for Older Adults


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