Social Media in Public Works 101 - Introduction/Email
Welcome to the first in a series of Social Media in Public Works 101. We've
got a great lineup of regular posts highlighting the most popular online
communication tools. And we'll be rolling these out to you over the next few
months. This first post starts out at the beginning by covering what's become a
tried-and-true method of online communication: email.
Our use of email
has evolved over the last few decades from elation at hearing AOL's cheery "You've got
mail!" to groans of "not another email!" Yet how many of us could stop using
email at this point? Probably not many if we want to keep our jobs, because in
the workplace email has become the digital thread that binds. Even as social
media has taken over the Internet, email has remained our primary means of
staying in touch — at least so far.
And as you travel along your social
media journey, you'll find yourself continuing to rely on email as a type of
home base or foundation for your online activity. This is because many social
media sites require you to have an email address to sign up for an account with
them. These sites depend on email for verification, password resets, and for
sending general announcements to their members. Some sites will even push your
social media activity to your email. So, if you thought your inbox was busy
before, it's about to become more popular than a commuter station at rush hour.
All this leads to the first decision you will need to make before
jumping on the social media bandwagon: which email account will support your use
of social media? While your first thought might be to use a home or work email
address, I would highly suggest thinking about using a new email account or at
least not using a work email. Your employer might not be too happy about your
use of their resources for a nonwork-related activity, and if you ever end up
going to work elsewhere, you'll spend a lot of time and effort switching
everything over to a new email.
Another reason to pick a new email is to
make sure this new account is easily accessible no matter where you are at. It's
also a good idea not to depend on an email provided by an Internet provider
company. This is because you could lose access to that email if you move to an
area not served by that provider. Taking both of these issues into
consideration, the best email ends up being one you would reach and manage
through a browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. My browser-based email of
choice has been Gmail, an online email service offered for free by Google. There
are other email providers out there like Yahoo or Windows Hotmail. There's even
a Wikipedia entry comparing all the providers, although the warning at the top
of the page indicates it might need updating.
In this article, I am going
to focus on Gmail and explain how to get your very own Gmail account.
Signing up for your Gmail account will be one of the easiest steps we take
in our exploration of social media. You begin at the main Google site — a page
we are probably all very familiar with: http://www.google.com./ Click on over to the site (you might
want to print out this post so you can follow along or you can keep this article
open in a different window). Now, look up at the top of the Google page. You
should see a ribbon of words representing services offered by Google. One of
these will be "Gmail." Go ahead and click that word. You should find yourself at
Google's Gmail screen. Look at the top right corner of the page for a red button
with the words, "Create an Account." You can go ahead and click that button.
(There's also little "Create an Account" words buried in the middle of the page
that can be clicked too.)
The screen you are now looking at should look something like the one
in the image here. This is the a form where you can fill out all the details
about yourself and the account you want to create.
First put in your first and last name. Then choose your username, remembering
that now is not the time to try out a crazy nickname your friends would pick out
for you. You might end up using social media for work-related purposes, and
names like "rockyourworld" or "darth.vader" are probably not wise choices for
someone working in our field (unless you own a quarry or hire yourself out for
Star Wars-themed parties). Using your real name or a derivative of your real
name is acceptable. If you are simply that fun type person who likes a little
flair, using a safe, industry-related term like ready.mix, civile.dan, or
pwmanager.dan would probably be OK too. Use your best judgment.
If you choose a name that someone has already used, the screen will let you
know that name is already in use and will suggest other similar names. Keep
trying until you have chosen a name that is available.
Next, pick out a
good password. Please do not use one that is easy for others to figure out.
Google tries to help you as you try out different passwords by showing a red bar
for weak ones and a green bar for strong ones.
Once you have a great username and password, you can go on to fill out your
birthday, gender (which, by the way, does offer the choices of
Male/Female/Other), phone number, and current email address. Yes, it does seem
strange, but you need an email address to get another email address. Then,
Google wants to make sure you are not a robot; I guess because robots are not
yet allowed to have passwords. After you check the boxes to indicate you agree
to Google's terms of service and other policies, you'll want to click the "Next
Now you should be at step two in the process: creating your profile.
At this point, Google gives you the chance to upload a profile photo. If this is
the first time you have created a profile online, you might want to wait — you
can always update your profile later. And we'll cover creating profiles in the
next post. However, if setting up your profile is nothing new to you, then go
ahead and click the button that says "Add Profile Photo." Meanwhile, the rest of
us will continue on by clicking the other button that says "Next step."
Google should now have taken you to step three, the welcome page. And
now you can happily move on to explore your new Google account. Let's quickly
check out our new Gmail. Go ahead and click the Gmail button in the ribbon at
the top. Google will step you through another welcome and give you the chance to
announce your new Gmail account to the world. I went ahead and clicked "No
thanks" so I could get right into Gmail. If you did the same, your screen should
look very similar to the image below.
Well, that's it for the email segment of this series. Stop back next
time to check out our tips and hints for setting up profiles. In the meantime,
feel free to check out all the other Google services listed across the top of