Legal, Policies and Ethics: Secure Your Social Media Presence

Your Online Presence

Social media has given humans another venue to express opinions, share ideas and show where you are on the map.  With all of these great tools literally at our figer tips, do many people think about their privacy? Or do many people simply not care who sees what they are doing online?  These questions have become relevant within the past year, so relevant that Congress is talking about it.  Mobile apps have been scrutinized recently over privacy settings.  Information on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare can tell others about your location and what you are doing.  Does big brother need to take charge and monitor what is said online, or can we take care of our own online privacy?

Who’s Reading

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) paid more that 11 million dollars to General Dynamics for a system to monitor Facebook and Twitter.   This system primarily searches for content that “adversely reflect” on the government.  Lawmakers feel that this system is necessary for government and law enforcement agencies to prevent potential threats.  Other lawmakers feel that this system infringes on First Amendment rights.  The real question is whether the government is monitoring the what, instead of the who.  Many criminal organizations have moved to social media to recruit and spread the word.  There is a need to monitor what is happening online, but does it need to be policed?

What Other Can See

Facebook, Google and Twitter all contain information about you, your name, birthday, contact information and location.  Many of these social media sites sync with mobile devices that update address books.   Users are not aware of what others can see about them.  Most users are not aware of how to change privacy settings, so they can limit what is seen about them online and on mobile contact lists.  Avi Charkham has created a website that contains a link to Facebook which will block mobile devices from accessing your information, thus helping those in the dark.  The only way to be completely invisible is to revoke all apps from Facebook and hide all contact information.  Doing so would be counter intuitive to what Facebook is for, if you ask me.

What You Can Do

Maintain your online presence before someone else does!  Be smart and be savvy.  Limit what can be seen about you and be familiar with the privacy settings on all of the social media sites you use.  Make sure you are not posting questionable content that could get you in a bad situation.  Most of all, treat social media as if you were talking to somebody face-to-face.  Have fun and most of all be safe while using social media.

Sources

Apps: Are consumer based apps the way to go?

The App

Most of us by now are familiar with apps, and probably use them on a regular basis.  The term “App”, is short for application.  These nifty little icons on our phones and tablets connect us to the web and do some awesome functions.  Most everyone prefers to use a specific app versus going to a webpage.  This is true for most apps, however when it comes to purchasing goods and services online, the scale is tilted the other way.

Online Shopping

If you have not bought anything online, chances are you know somebody who has.  According to Zmags, a social media marketing firm, 87% of online purchases are done through good ol’ fashioned web browsing from a computer.  This is not a good sign for app developers.  What could be going on, why dont people trust shopping apps?  In this study, consumers are prone to buy online through a browser over an app due to privacy concerns.  Many consumers feel like their personal and financial information is not secure through apps.  App privacy is a big concern, so big that the U.S. government is looking into it.  Not all hope is lost for the smartphone or tablet yet.  Many purchases are being done through mobile browsers and consumers are being directed to sites also, through mobile apps.  This seems to be a growing demographic too when it comes to web browsing.

Takeaway

Whatever method one chooses to purchase goods online is their own choice and preference.  However, online purchases via shopping apps for tablets are on the rise, and do seem to be a safe way to purchase online.  Hopefully app privacy will increase and help consumers feel safe when purchasing online.

Sources


Search Engine Optimization: +1 Me Bro

The Mythical SEO

Most everyone who is anxiously engaged in some form of social media has heard of Search Engine Optimization or, SEO.  What is SEO and what can it do for you?  The name of the game when it comes to SEO, is getting your website higher on search engine result pages, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Well written content, captivating images and a well outlined purpose should be enough to get your site on the first page of a search result, right?  Unfortunately (and maybe fortunately) there isn’t a magic formula to get your site ranked on top.  However, there are tools that help you track what is going on with your page, and even some helpful aides.  For all intent and purposes I will be talking solely about Google and Google Analytics.

SEO and Google +1

Google Analytic’s project manager Phil Mui stated, “If content is king, then context is queen”.  This is an extremely profound statement, stating that above all, your website needs to have great content, but also needs to be marketed well.  Knowing whether or not a website will be a hit is like predicting when a tornado will touch down.  Google +1 gives web users the ability to recommend a site above other sites of similar interest.  It is believed that +1’s will help your site in search rankings.  A user is more likely take a recommendation from a friend before they will take one from a stranger, this is the essence of Google +1.  But remember, it is only believed to help with rankings, other SEO strategies need to be done along with getting +1’s.

The Takeaway

Content, content, and content are what make a website good.  Finding out where people are coming from, why they are leaving, and what page they left on.  This will help in narrowing down what needs to be added or taken away from your website, basically finding out what your Click Through Rate is (CTR).  Remember that Google is biased when it comes to SEO, so the more Google products you use, the better chance you have at getting a good page ranking.  Making mistakes and learning from them will help with your SEO strategy. Have fun out there and remember to +1.

Sources

http://mashable.com/2012/02/21/google-plus-1-seo/

http://mashable.com/2012/01/04/google-analytics-guide/

Collaborative and Distance Communication Tools: Getting your music out has never been so easy.

What it is

Collaborative and Distance Communication tools are exactly what they sound like: online tools that connect people and enable them to share ideas.  The most popular forms of these services are Skype, Ustream and Facetime (for you Apple people).  These services enable the user to communicate with other people and organizations in real-time, without using the telephone or email.  What I really want to touch on is how musicians have used these services to spread and promote their music.

Skype and Ustream

Although similar in nature, these two services offer the user completely different things.  Skype is like a video phone and Ustream is used for watching live events that are spread to many viewers.  Both of these services offer the user a unique experience when it comes to viewing their favorite artists.  The band 3 Doors Down used Ustream’s service to promote their album: Time Of My Life.  They used Ustream and Twitter to get listeners involved with the release.  The more people that used their hashtag, the more songs the band released from the new album.  Fans could also chat with the band for a period of time.  Denison Witmer is another artist who uses Distance Communication to get his music out to his fans.  He will do a private concert via Skype for $25, all one has to do is schedule a time and he will do the show.  Dension started doing this when his first child was born, thus making it difficult to be on the road performing.  Not every artist is going to be jumping at the chance to play private shows, but there are artists who are willing to do it, and there fans who are willing to pay.

Game Changer?

Will Skype and Ustream be the end of live concerts?  I personally don’t think so, but I do think more artists will take advantage of these services to promote their music.  Social Media has become a main component in everyday life on both ends of the spectrum.  Artists want to get their music out to as many people as possible, and fans want to hear their music.  Why not have a little fun and make a little money along the way.  I wish more artists would use Distant Communication services, I definitely would pay.

Location Based Programs: Yelp! and Foursquare

What do location based programs do?

Location based social media has become all the rage these days.  These programs give the user the ability to “check-in” to locations via their smartphones.  Users can interact with other users by befriending them and starting communication.  Almost all social media platforms use some kind of location integration in their user face.  You can use a location setting to track where you’ve tweeted, or you can show your location on Facebook and tell the world who you’re with.  For this post I will focus on Yelp! and Foursquare.  These two sites are built around location, whereas, Twitter and Facebook have simply added it to their many features.

Why join a location based program?

At first glance these program seem stupid, that’s what I thought until I actually tried one.  Foursquare and Yelp! are all about hooking the community up.  Businesses and organizations will put special deals on these programs that can only be accessed by their users and no one else.  They also have added fun little things that make the users experience more enjoyable and even competitive.  On both programs the user can become ruler of his or her domain.  Foursquare will make you a “mayor” if you check-in to a location a certain amount of times and Yelp! makes you a King or Duke depending on how many check-in’s one has.  Location based social media is a must for any business looking to grow and interact with it’s customers, besides, isn’t that the name of the game anyway?

The Rundown

Whether you think location based social media programs are for kids, you can’t deny the numbers.  With over 10 million users on Foursquare and 4 million on Yelp! as of 2011, these programs are making more of a wave in social media than a splash.  If you’re hesitant about them and think they are silly, try one.

Articles

Traditional Media Views: Old Meets New

Old and New Media

Media has taken many shapes and forms throughout history.  From the printing press to blogs, media’s purpose has always been designed to inform.  So what’s the difference between Old Media and New Media?  Old Media in today’s standards would be considered television, radio, newspapers and magazines.  These forms of media come from a main source that is designed to inform the masses.  New Media is considered to be things like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube.  New Media does not necessarily have to come from a main source.  Its creators are individuals located all over the globe.   These two forms of media are often used in conjunction to increase the audience size and interaction, like a form of “Hybridmedia”.

Media Mergers

Media mergers are a common thing with modern news companies.  It seems like every “Old Media” news company is merging with a “New Media” company, because they are.  Aol and Time-Warner, NBC and Microsoft and ABC and Yahoo are some of the biggest mergers.  Because of these mergers, media outlets are now able to get their message out to a broader and diverse audience, that they normally would not have been able to reach.  Even though many news companies have bought or merged with smaller companies, there are still many small companies that are not owned by these media giants.  Niche websites that give media consumers specific information about what they want to know, are ever present and have hundreds of thousands of readers. There are still many options out there.

The Reality

New media is no longer a force to be reckoned with; it is the force to be reckoned with.  Media consumers want fresh and instant information.  People can no longer wait to hear the news at night, they need it now!  Can Old Media keep up with this addicting demand?  I think it can, but only through New Media or Social Media.  People want to interact with each other and to share their opinions, people want to be heard.  The future is bright for New Media, people from all walks of life are getting on board to share what they know and what they want to know.

Source Articles

Organizational Uses: Social Media and Small Businesses

What can social media do for your small business?

When it comes to marketing for your small business, online presence is a must!  Whether your business is new or old, utilizing social media websites is crucial to your marketing campaign. Two articles I found online help describe good tactics and uses of social media for small businesses.  In How To Use Social Media To Promote Your Small Business, Forbes author, Kym McNicholas talks about social media tactics and its uses for small businesses.  In Social Media for Small Businesses: 6 Effective Strategies, Mashable Business author, Nellie Akalp covers six quick social media tips for small businesses.

What you need to know

The number one thing everyone needs to know when starting a social media campaign, is that you do not need to be an expert!  Doing is always the best way to learn.  Social media websites are free to use and offer a wide array of options for your small business.  A strong web presence does not happen overnight.  Your time is valuable, so make sure you have a plan before starting your campaign.   Do not focus all of your efforts on you and your company, focus on your customers needs and wants.  Have sustainable content before you seek friends or followers.  Content is the most important aspect of your social media campaign.  People need to see the value of what you are doing and generally like free advise.  Manage your company’s message, if you do not, somebody else will. Show your customers that you are behind your company 100% and have invested yourself in their needs.

Quality > Quantity

Focus your efforts on who is engaging and not just following.  Do not get caught up in the numbers game.  Quality followers will always outweigh the quantity of followers.  Engaging your followers is imperative to your social media campaigns success. Build a relationship with your customers/followers will only help your success. Reply to every message, email and mention.  People want to feel connected to something, similar to a tribe.  If someone receives a reply from your organization, they will automatically feel connected and more likely to engage in future conversations.  Respond quickly to people who are trying to engage with your business, this will ensure that the quality of your followers will stay consistent.  It is simple, treat your customers as if they were friends and family.

Conclusion

The most important aspect to the eventual success of your social media campaign is building strong relationships.  Know what you are promoting and who you are promoting to.  Share what you know to others and share what others know.  Remember a good social media campaign is a long term activity.  Good luck out there.