Read our January 2012 cover story about the changes to communication that social media has brought to local life.
Read about how the Advocate is using social media.
Get ideas about how social media can benefit your neighborhood organization, business or group.

Did you read our January 2012 issue cover story and wonder, What’s a friend and a follow, let alone a tweet and a check-in? Here’s a little help.


Profile (n) A user’s personal presence on Facebook. From here you communicate with Facebook friends, display photos, share favorite news articles and post other actions.

Friend (n) A Facebook user with whom you have connected. Friendships on Facebook are initiated by one party with a friend request and confirmed by the second party.

Page (n) It looks like a personal profile, but pages are the Facebook presence for public figures, organizations or business brands.

Fan (n) A user who has clicked the “like” button on a Facebook page. When you “like” a page, it connects you with entities you find important or enjoy, such as a retail store, politician, media outlet or TV show.

Group (n) Private or public, small or large, groups are spaces where users can gather to communicate about anything specific, such as hobbies, interests or causes.

Status update (n) This is a message that Facebook users can post for their friends to see.


Tweet (n) tweeting, tweeted (v) A tweet is the message you post to share with your followers. Tweets can be only140 characters or shorter. After you’ve posted your tweet, you’ve “tweeted” or “were tweeting.”

Follow (v) The action of clicking the “follow” button on another Twitter user’s profile. This allows you to easily view that user’s tweets in your Twitter timeline.

Follower (n) A Twitter user who is following another’s tweets.

Hashtag (n) This is the # symbol used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. For instance, if you want other Twitter users in the world to find your tweet about the baskteball game you’re watching, you might include “#nba” in your tweet. Followers who click on “#nba” in a tweet will find all the tweets on Twitter that contain the same keyword, including yours.


Foursquare (n) A location-based mobile check-in service. The mobile app uses the GPS on your phone to help you check in at coffee shops, restaurants, bars, libraries, parks, events and other locations. Your Foursquare friends can view the places you’re hanging out, and some businesses offer specials to customers who show on their phone that they’ve checked in on Foursquare. You also can earn points and virtual badges for different check-in adventures.

Check in (v), check-in (n) The act of telling a location-based mobile service like Foursquare, Yelp or Facebook where you are, usually with that service’s smartphone app. Check-ins let your friends and followers see where you are and where you like to hang out. Used in a sentence: “Hang on, I’m going to check in on Facebook before we order drinks.“ “Hey, cool; I earned the Great Outdoors badge with that last Foursquare check-in at the park.”