Get the 411 on Social Networks

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Facebook is ubiquitous -- it reported 1.7 billion active users monthly in the second quarter of 2016. It's different things to different people. You make a profile and include whatever you want to share about yourself -- a little or a lot. You connect with others, called "friends" and then whatever those friends post shows up in your news feed. Whatever you post shows up in theirs. You can post photos of your vacation, your children, your garden, your grandkids, you pets, you name it. You can also post your thoughts, ideas or no-good-very-bad days. Most every news outlet and commercial entity have a Facebook profile page, and if you "like" that page, you'll see posts in your news feed from them. You can share these with your own friends and then discuss in the comments. You can also comment and discuss with others you don't know on postings from sources like CNN, et al. Bottom line: It keeps you in the know about whatever you choose to keep up with and lets you help others keep up with you.

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LinkedIn profiles
LinkedIn profile page, 2012. ©LinkedIn

 LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool, with hundreds of millions of users. It's not really a social network in the personal sense, but it does connect you to others in your field who you do or do not know. You can connect via groups, such as your college or university, your workplace or your former workplace, where you can join discussions and meet new people. But it's really all about your profile page. That's what prospective employers look it, so it's of prime importance to make it shine. Think of it as branding yourself: Put a light on your strong points, your best ​work and professional experience.

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Google +

Google Plus logo
Google Plus logo. Google

Google + is the social wing of Google. It is somewhat like Facebook, but not exactly. It is structured around circles -- you designate who's in which circle -- communities based on shared interests and hangouts where you can chat up a storm. It's totally connected to the rest of Google, and you must have a Google account to join, but you can have a Google account without having a ​Gmail account. Got that? 

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Twitter logo
Twitter logo. ©Twitter

The word on the street is that Facebook is for connecting with who you know and Twitter is connecting with who you'd like to know. Once you set up a Twitter account, you can follow anyone who is on Twitter. People like politicians, celebs, news media types, musicians, past movers and shakers -- any or all of the above. When you post, you must say it all in 280 characters or less. This is called tweeting. You can "retweet," or repost, someone else's tweet that you like that shows up in your news feed. Twitter is prime real estate for news and comments going viral. You can also follow various news outlets, as you can on Facebook, to stay in the know, instantly.

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Pinterest board
Pinterest board. © Pinterest board

Pinterest can be social -- if you interact with others with shared interests. Or it can be a solo gig in which you benefit from the finds of others you don't know. You join the site and then add pages of interest that hold photos related to that interest that you want to save. Travel. fashion, cars, decor, you name it. You can follow others who you find to have interests and taste similar to yours, and if you do you will see their additions regularly. You can also share pages with friends. And when you are cruising the web for patio ideas, for instance, and you find a photo you want to save, you can nearly always clink on a link in the photo that will take you to your Pinterest list of pages, and you can save the photo to the appropriate page even though you did not find it on Pinterest.

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Vine app
Vine app. ©Twitter

Vine is a newish addition to the social network landscape. It's owned by Twitter and picks up your Twitter info when you sign up. It's all about video sharing -- 6-second video-sharing. Vine is an app for IOS and Android devices. On the home screen you'll see a feed of your friends' vines. The app will take you through the steps of how to film your first vine. Then you'll be in like Flynn on one of the edgiest social networks out there.

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Instagram Logo
Using Instagram on a Computer.

Instagram lets you snap a photo with your phone and immediately post that photo on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr.  What's special about Instagram is the filters: You can change up your photo to look better, cooler, weirder .. whatever. Just for fun. You can follow people on Instagram, and you will see their photos pop up on your stream, where you can "like" or comment on them.  

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tumblr logo
© Tumblr logo.

Tumblr is coming on bigtime, with more than 200 million blogs and 400 million users. It makes it super easy to share anything -- photos, links, videos and music -- from wherever you are. The posts are usually shorter and so it's often referred to as a microblogging site. It holds appeal for teenagers, and reports that it makes creative expression easier than big networking sites like Facebook and has attracted those with a more artistic bent.

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Snapchat Logo
Snapchat Logo. Snapchat Logo

 Snapchat is a mainly a photo- and video-sharing site -- but the images only are visible for a few seconds unless you post them as stories. If you post as a story the image or video will stay visible for 24 hours and then disappear. You can interact with friends on Snapchat in a similar way to Facebook Messenger. You can also see content that's provided to Snapchat exclusively by channels partnered with Snapchat by clicking on "Discover." 

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MySpace Website
MySpace Website.

MySpace, founded in 2003, was one of the pioneering social networks, and at one time was the largest in the world. It's still there, though it has been eclipsed by Facebook to a great extent. MySpace puts a strong focus on music and entertainment, with music streaming on the webpage, streaming radio stations and personally curated radio stations. Users can connect with others who share similar interests.