Facebook and the Never Ending Quest for Privacy

October 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook has changed its privacy policy yet again. It was only a matter of time after the platform rolled out its Graph Search feature; nevertheless, a large percentage of the platform’s users are concerned about how they may be impacted.

As of last week all Facebook profiles are searchable. Previously they could be set so they did not show up in search. That capability has been removed for all except minor users in order to augment graph search’s ability and accuracy.

Importantly, graph search will continue to honor the privacy settings we configure for our timeline posts. And any person we have blocked will still be unable to see our profiles.

Facebook privacy shortcutsFor those who wish to retain as much privacy as possible, the best defense is to be more vigilant than before regarding profile settings. We must set them as we desire, and then check them often. Facebook’s continuous changes commonly cause a shift in those settings. Sometimes they are reset when we share others’ posts that were originally shared publicly.

Facebook post privacy settingsTo be safe, we must get into the habit of looking at the privacy setting of every status update we share before hitting the post button. The setting can be changed after we share, too. But it is best to look beforehand. It takes but a couple of seconds for an unintended reader to save our information if he/she so desires. We lose control over our post if that happens.

How do you feel about your personal Facebook profile being searchable? Will it affect your behavior on the platform? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Like Swaps – A Worthwhile Exercise?

August 26, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                  return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook thumbs up and Twitter follow buttonsFacebook like swaps and Twitter mutual follow invitations often pop up on various social media platform threads.  Born of the desire to swell the number of likes and follows on our business pages, the strategy is simple enough.  You like my page and I’ll like yours.  While the numbers do rise, how effective is this popular strategy?

From where is the like swap invitation originating?

The first thing to consider when weighing whether to partake in like/follow swapping is the origination of the invitation.  It often originates generically; e.g., in a LinkedIn group specifically formed for that purpose.  Other times the invitation is extended through well established social media authorities who do so in a good natured gesture to help followers build their own pages. The value of like or follow swap invitations can vary widely depending on their sources, since their origination is a likely predictor of subsequent behavior after the likes and follows have been swapped.

Will the like continue to add real value to your page?

Facebook like thumbThe answer to this question depends on what happens after the Facebook likes or Twitter follows are exchanged.  Does all activity end there?  Or is an effort made to take an active interest in each other’s page, adding additional value in the form of post likes and comments?  This is where the real value is imparted.

Like/follow swap invitations that are extended by well known social media authorities tend to include folks who realize that adding ongoing value to each other’s pages is weighed much more favorably by ranking algorithms than just having a higher number of page likes/follows.  These folks take the time to follow up at least a couple of times a week, visiting the pages they have liked/followed to take advantage of engagement opportunities.  In return, most see the same effort expended on behalf of their own pages. 

Is like swapping worthwhile?

The answer to this question is yes…and no.  I would advise against joining generic groups unless you know the members engage with each other’s pages afterward.  I have tried a couple myself, with the stipulation that engagement should be as reciprocal as the like or follow itself.  In every case I ultimately left the group due to lack of any activity beyond the physical like/follow.

Twitter follow buttonIf you are interested in partaking, it is best to do so when invited by a reputable professional in the social media field.  Again, these folks tend to have followers who are better versed in how to maximize the benefits of this strategy.  Make a reference list of the pages you like and follow, and visit them throughout each week.  Look for opportunities to engage, and watch for reciprocal behavior on your own page.

Are you considering/already engaging in like/follow swapping?  Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below!

Hootsuite: A Brief Overview of an Amazing Social Media Tool

August 19, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

“What exactly is Hootsuite?”  That is a question I have been fielding lately, particularly from new coaching clients.  Here is an introductory look at the social media tool.

Hootsuite owlHootsuite is a tool that simplifies a user’s social media experience by allowing virtually all duties across a multitude of platforms to be enacted within one easy to use dashboard. When a person signs up for the service he/she configures that dashboard by securely adding user names and passwords for any or all of the following platforms he/she uses: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.  A WordPress blog site can also be added.  After configuration, one user name and password allows the client access to all his/her social media accounts, eliminating the need for continuously signing in and out of them individually.

Hootsuite dashboard screen shot

Hootsuite allows users to monitor activity on their social media platforms, and to post to them. Posts may be shared immediately, or they can be scheduled for release at a future time and/or date.  They can be easily edited and even deleted from the scheduled streams.

Another great feature of Hootsuite is its built in URL shortening service.  When sharing links to Twitter we can’t afford to have our 140 character maximum be taken up by long URLs. Furthermore, they are unsightly even on platforms that allow unlimited characters for posting.  We need only paste our long form links into Hootsuite’s status box, click “Shrink,” and a much more manageable version is generated and inserted into our posts.  As an added bonus, Hootsuite tracks the short links it creates. This puts the analytics for what we share right at our fingertips.

Hootsuite link shortener feature screen shot

Two features that help keep Hootsuite close by for easy use are its mobile app for our smart phones, and its Hootlet plug-in for our desktop/laptop browsers.  Both are straightforward, fully functional and very easy to use.

Hootsuite mobile app and Hootlet browser plug in screen shots

Hootsuite offers three levels of service.  Its basic level is free for use by one client, who can add up to five social media accounts.  Its Pro level allows the integration of up to 50 social media platforms, and one “team member” to assist in management duties.  The entry Pro level costs $8.99/month, but add-ons are available if a user needs to handle more for expansion of his/her social media business presence.  The final level is Enterprise, which is for big businesses with large staffs and much to oversee.

As users grow their social media presences they may find useful the more advanced features Hootsuite offers.  They may, for example, wish to configure platform streams to allow for monitoring of specific groups or keywords, including mentions of their companies.  Undoubtedly they will also want to take advantage of the tool’s integrated analytics for research and reporting.

Have you tried Hootsuite yet?  What is your impression?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

How to Run a Facebook Business Chat

August 12, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                  return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Business owners have been experimenting with chats on Facebook since the platform unveiled a “reply directly to comments” feature earlier this year.  Facebook is rumored to be testing a group chat element as well as a formal chat room; in the meantime, business owners have been organizing them right on their page timelines, using the reply feature as the vehicle to drive the chat conversations.

How does one organize a Facebook business chat?

The most efficient method of setting up and executing a successful business chat on Facebook entails the following steps:

1. Pick a compelling topic.  It can be a trending issue; how to accomplish an objective; advice on completing a given task; a crowd sourcing exercise; a troubleshooting session.  We might even crowd source for a topic!  Whatever we choose should be something about which many people would be motivated to chat.

2. Keep in mind our specific goal(s) while choosing our topic. Do we wish to promote a new campaign? Increase engagement on our pages? Grow our reach? Add their contact information to our mailing lists?  Our chat sessions should be guided in a manner that leads to or incorporates our goal(s).  That may well mean designing a special landing page to which our participants can be directed.

3. If our chosen topic will require an expert’s participation, line up that person to be sure he/she is available for the chat.

megaphone amplifying sound4. Give LOTS of advance notice, and share it widely.  Spread the word across Facebook personal profiles and business pages; other social media platforms on which we maintain presences; and even email messages.  The earlier we advertise our upcoming chats and the farther we spread the word, the greater the turnout we are likely to see.

HubSpot Facebook chat advance notice5. Create large, eye-catching graphics to use in advance notice postings.  Be sure to incorporate the chat’s specifics in text right on the picture, including topic; hosting page and its URL; day, date and time; and featured expert guests, if any. Check out this example of an advance notice announcement HubSpot shared for one of its Facebook chats!

6. If possible, enlist another person to help watch the comment stream for both our guest experts and ourselves.  Anyone who uses Facebook’s comment reply function understands that tracking those replies as well as new comments can become confusing.  Some may be accidentally overlooked if we fail to scour the whole thread constantly. Also, monitoring the streams helps us to keep track of questions/comments we may not have time to answer. We may wish to follow up on those afterward with links to additional resources.

7. End with a specific call to action. Perhaps we would like our participants to download a discount coupon. Or we may wish to send them to a specific blog post for more information. Maybe we have invited them to download an ebook. Whatever our intentions, we need to wrap up our chats by directing participants to take a specific action. Remember the special landing page we discussed in step #2?  This is where it will be put to use.

Facebook business chat recap example8. Share our chats after they conclude so others who couldn’t participate may benefit from the information that was disseminated.  The more important and relevant the value received, the more likely those folks will make the time to attend our future chat events!

Here is a great example of a graphic announcing a Facebook chat recap for sharing, and here is the link to the actual post!

Have you hosted a Facebook chat?  If not, are you considering doing so?  Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section below!

Facebook Insights – New and Improved

July 29, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli           return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook recently announced that it is rolling out new, more detailed insights for business pages.  The new layout should greatly assist us in our analyses of what is or is not working on our pages.

For starters, the “People Talking About This” (PTAT) metric will be broken down into more specific readings.  The number used to reflect a generic whole in a more overview fashion. We will now be able to see details, including how many people liked our pages, the number who clicked on and/or liked particular posts and who commented and/or shared them.  Also, page interactions such as mentions, check-ins and tags will be noted in the new Insights.

Facebook new insights general overview screen shot

The “Virality” metric has been changed to “engagement rate” in the new version of Insights.  This moniker reflects Facebook’s move to include post clicks in the measurement.  Surprisingly, they were not factored in previously, even though the virality metric was considered a reading of overall quality of page posts.

Another very useful improvement in Facebook’s new Insights is the more comprehensive level of per-post analytics.   Each one will now feature a score card type of layout, obtainable when we click on the name of a post we wish to examine more closely.  The number of people reached will be listed, as well as the exact numbers of likes, comments and shares.  Precise numbers of views and link clicks will also be enumerated.  Additionally, negative activity will be included in the new Insight metrics.  We will now see how many times specific posts were hidden, reported as spam, or even resulted in page unlikes.  These improvements will allow us to determine better than ever before which of our posts generate the most positive activity.  Armed with this knowledge we will be able to produce more of a similar type to grow our followings and engagement.

Facebook new insights post score card screen shot

The final change – for now – to Facebook’s page Insights has to do with the demographics metric.  It currently breaks down by gender, age and geographic location who among the population we reached with our posts.  With the update we will also get to see who among all those folks we have engaged with those posts.  What a wonderful way to see which types of content resonate with what segments of the population, so we may be better able to target our messages!

Facebook new insights demographic reach screen shot

Are you looking forward to using the new Facebook Page Insights?  Which part of the new metrics do you feel will benefit you the most?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

See also:  Facebook Studio’s Updating Page Insights

Keeping the Social in Social Media

July 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

100 dollar bill with twitter and facebook logos“How many Facebook fans will you promise me?”  “Can you get me 3,000 Twitter followers by next month?”  Questions like these illustrate two issues: 1. business owners who don’t understand how social media works; and 2. an invitation to be hoodwinked by the less ethical in the field.  Let’s examine the first issue in order to prevent falling for the second:

What do I want from my social media platforms?

Businesses maintain social media profiles for several reasons:

1. to build followings – Yes, numbers do matter.  But the way we build those numbers, and more importantly, the quality of those followers, matter more than the mere numbers.  Ask any business owner with a successful social media presence what he/she prefers: a large number of fans who are invisible on the page except for their places in the fan count; or a smaller number of fans who spend lots of time on the page, interacting, asking and answering questions and being brand advocates.  Hint: ranking systems take much more notice of page activity than of fan counts.  In fact, high fan counts with little or no activity can actually work against rankings.

face with x over mouth2. to foster client relationships – I shudder when I see business profile pages configured to prevent fans from posting to them.  That defeats the entire purpose of social media!  Businesses build loyal followings and strong referrals by interacting in a social manner with their clients and prospects.  That means more than just one way posting of news and product/service pitches.  Businesses that maintain consistent presences, actively listening, engaging in dialogues, welcoming and promptly addressing customer service issues show the online world how attentive and concerned they are for the satisfaction of their clients.  There is no purpose for having profiles if this activity is prevented.

I find most businesses that configure their pages to prevent interaction do so to avoid negative postings.  But dealing quickly with such issues turns negatives into huge positives.  Here’s another point to consider: there really isn’t a way to prevent irate folks from complaining about companies on the internet.  There are plenty of other outlets available for them to use. Wouldn’t it be better to have these folks bring their issues directly to those companies – where other fans can see them resolved quickly by business owners who really care for their clients?

3. to drive sales – Businesses ultimately maintain social media presences to achieve their unified goal:  driving sales.  The quickest way to stifle this goal is to broadcast constant pitches.  People use social media to be social, not to be sold to.  Hence, this goal is accomplished by sharing great value that benefits fans and followers, and again, by encouraging and participating in conversations, listening attentively and showing genuine concern for their satisfaction.  Getting to know prospects and clients in this manner yields the benefit of identifying their readiness to make purchases.  Messages and activities can be fine tuned to each level of preparedness.  All these undertakings unleash the power of social media to guide clients and prospects down sales funnels to successful transactions.

Gaming the system

Open trenchcoat with Wanna Buy a Like sign insideThe power of social media marketing is unleashed when it is done correctly.  Business owners who comprehend all that needs to be undertaken also understand the fact that it is a slow, steady process.  It takes much time and effort to build solid relationships that yield trust, loyalty and brand evangelism.  Anyone who comprehends these facts also realizes promises of 3,000 Twitter followers or 1,000 Facebook fans in one month are pure folly.  At best falling for these claims won’t improve business at all; at worst a sudden swell in numbers without accompanying interaction will work against the business’ page ranking.  It’s always best to remember the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race.”  Think marathon, not sprint.

person hawking bought likes is vanquishedAre you harnessing the true power of social media marketing?  Which best practices are you employing to build trust and loyalty among your fans and followers?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Hashtags: 3 Reasons Why They Are Good for Facebook

June 24, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli         return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook and Hashtag figures shaking handsHashtags have finally arrived on Facebook.  They were greeted with fanfare from devotees of the feature, chagrin from a number of others, and renewed worry over how they might affect privacy settings.  So are they a good or a bad addition to Facebook?

Originally created for Twitter, many purists claim hashtags should not have come to that platform’s main competitor.  But they are widely used across many sites these days, including Pinterest, Google Plus, Vine and even Facebook’s own Instagram.  It was just a matter of time, as well as a dose of good reasoning. Here is why I believe hashtags on Facebook are a good thing:

1. functionality

hashtag under microscope

Hashtags make conversations searchable.  They categorize topics of discussion, making them more easily visible to people who wish to follow and/or participate in them.  On Facebook, specific hashtags may be found using the search bar.  Those who wish to add their voices to the conversation can do so directly from the search result page.  Hashtags also give brands an edge by making it easy for them to track activity related to their businesses.  And engaging in the broader forum allowed by hashtags may attract new fans and followers to those brands.

2. cross-platform compatibility

hashtag surrounded by social media platforms

Hashtagged topics and posts can be accessed on a profile even if they originated on another platform that supports the feature.  What a great way to pull in and contribute to a conversation that is trending throughout the social media world!  This cross-platform compatibility is another reason brands love that hashtags have expanded to Facebook.  The move completes the circle of major social networks businesses use, and hence must monitor.  And again, the ability of those brands to reach a broader audience across a multitude of social media platforms increases the opportunity to be liked and followed by new people, who may become customers.

3. Facebook privacy

Facebook’s admins have promised that the platform’s hashtags will respect users’ privacy settings.  That said, those settings need to be checked REGULARLY.  Facebook seems to like changing them.  So be vigilant and confirm your desired settings are in force before sending EVERY post!  As long as they are in effect, hashtags will respect them.

How do you feel about Facebook’s rollout of hashtags?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

See also:  “Hashtags Are Our Friends

Phishing for Trouble

May 13, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Staying safe online is becoming a more daunting task with each passing day.  Reports of malicious activities are steadily increasing, and perpetrators are becoming more resourceful in their efforts to part us from our sensitive personal information.  Every one of us can likely count multiple examples we’ve witnessed recently among some of the most popular vehicles for malicious activity:

Posts that pique curiosity or play on emotion

malicious Facebook post

We see them all the time.  Direct messages on Twitter that say things like “What are you doing in this picture??  LOL” or “Hey people are saying some really nasty things about you.  Terrible.”  These statements are followed, of course, by short links that virtually scream to be clicked.  Then there are the ad-type messages we see on Facebook, bearing such enticing messages as “Do YOU have Facebook stalkers?  Click here to see who is checking out YOUR profile now!”  Taking the bait on any one of these posts will land us in a world of trouble, ranging from replicating the malicious messages and sending them to everyone in our contact lists to stealing our identities and other private information.

The number one way to avoid becoming victims of scams such as these is to remember that the messages are not true. They are fabrications meant to entice us to click their accompanying links. If we harbor any doubts at all, instead of clicking we should use a link expander such as LongURL. Pasting the message’s link into such a tool enables us to see its long form version.  In most cases that should offer all the convincing we need.

malicious Twitter direct message exposed

Spoofing

Much of the malicious mischief taking place recently has been in the form of spoofing.  This tactic entails taking names from our contact lists, using them to open up bogus email accounts, and then sending messages with malicious links to us and others in our contact lists.  Obviously, the thinking is we are more likely to trust links/attachments contained in email messages we think are from friends.  Unfortunately, the perpetrators of this nastiness are exactly right in their assumptions.

Do know that even if our names are taken for spoofing it doesn’t necessarily mean that our accounts were hacked.  If the email addresses attached to malicious messages are not ours, chances are the perpetrators just took our names to mask their dirty work.

The only way to protect ourselves against spoofing attacks is to treat every message attachment, regardless of from whom it appears to come, as though it was coming from strangers.  Unless we are expecting to receive one, we need to message our contacts to confirm they did indeed send us an attachment.

Phishing

We all have been “phished” at least once in our online lives.  My most recent experience was a few weeks ago.  I received an email, supposedly from Paypal, informing me that there was a problem (undisclosed, of course) with my account.  I needed to sign in via the link provided and update my information to resolve the issue.  These emails can look indistinguishable from the real things, and clicking on their links will take us to phony sites that look identical to the real ones.  The only way to tell they are fakes is to try all links on the “sites.”  This is not foolproof, but usually the only link that will work is the one they need us to click in order to deliver our personal information.  So the only way to ensure safety is to remember the golden rules:

1. No reputable business will ask us to reply to its email messages or click links contained within them to supply personal information.  If the messages request such info in that manner DO NOT RESPOND.  Report/forward the messages to the actual business sites that are being impersonated, then delete them.

2. For confirmation and peace of mind, it is advisable to check any of our sites we suspect may be victims of impersonation.  This needs to be done by opening a new tab in our browsers and manually typing in the URL for these sites.  Never, NEVER attempt to visit them by clicking links provided in suspicious emails.  Chances are excellent they will take us somewhere we do not want to go.

phishing attempt exposed

What form of suspicious communication have you received most recently?  How did you handle it?  Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Facebook Home: Where Your Heart Is?

April 22, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook’s Home app suite began its official rollout last week, finally putting to rest the escalating rumors that an actual Facebook phone was being introduced. Home is currently available for certain Android phones; the app for tablets will be rolled out soon.  Talks are underway to deliver it to iOS users as well.  So what’s it all about?

Facebook Home app suite screen shotFacebook software developers created a system that essentially turns an Android user’s cell phone into a Facebook phone. The Home app suite overlays Google’s open source operating system (OS), thereby creating a Facebook-centric user experience for the phone’s owner. Facebook friends’ pictures and activity notifications take the place of the Android device’s default home screen. A movable feature called Chat Heads enables messaging with one or more friends to proceed easily from the home screen even while other activities are undertaken. And of course, Home allows a pass through to access the phone’s other apps and features. So in essence, the Facebook gurus created a Facebook phone without creating the actual physical object.  And they promise monthly updates to the app suite to fine tune its operation. Happily, if a user is dissatisfied with the Facebook Home experience he/she can disable it or even delete it altogether.

To get a better understanding of how Facebook Home operates, you may wish to view this video demonstration, shared courtesy of Matt Kapko of ClickZ. 

Facebook Home Chat Heads screen shotWhere is the appeal in the Facebook Home app suite?  Business benefits and possible adaptations for pages are yet to be seen.  The developers are currently focusing on interactions on the personal front.  On a personal level, initial reviews – and common sense – suggest that it is best received by Facebook “addicts.”  It is a dream come true for those who spend the bulk of their time online interacting on the platform.  A majority of the rest of the online population, however, aren’t too thrilled with Home. Many don’t like giving Facebook – or any other individual platform, for that matter – what appears to be total control over their phones.   A number of reviewers have also expressed concerns about possible privacy issues. Facebook does claim there will be no additional mining of private information via their Home app suite. But considering all the new permission requests it makes one has to truly wonder.

How do YOU feel about the Facebook Home app?  Will you use it if it is available for your phone?  Are there features that especially appeal to you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Does Privacy in Social Media Exist?

April 1, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                      return to JayVee Media Link LLC

magnifying glass over binary codeNews of all the social media platform changes and feature rollouts over the past couple of weeks has caused an uptick of concern once again regarding the privacy issue.  The question is, does it exist, or is it an illusion?  It’s a vexing query, for sure.

Point one:  the use of social media for marketing is positively surging.  These days, if merchants do not have an online presence they are at a clear disadvantage.  It really is out of the question to not have online profiles in our marketing arsenals.

Point two:  successful targeting of potential clients online is dependent upon how well merchants’ platforms and tools are able to gather information about the personal preferences and other pertinent information of online prospects.  Plus, most platforms that offer advertising need to do everything they can to facilitate successful marketing for their business users.  This seems to pose a direct conflict with stated claims of vigilantly guarding users’ privacy.

Point three:  By its nature, the internet is wide open.  There is never a guarantee that confidential information posted ANYWHERE will remain private, regardless of how stringently privacy settings are maintained.  This includes information shared in private messages, and even emails.  The vast majority of us maintain at least one email account on a “free” service.  But free is not free!  These services make money by scanning and selling our personal information, some of which may be garnered from topics we discuss in our email messages, to advertisers so they can custom tailor their pitches to us.  Bottom line:  if we can’t take the chance something confidential will be found by unintended recipients, we should not post the information online.

Facebook privacy shortcutsWith all that said, as 21st century dwellers AND as marketers, eschewing an online presence really isn’t an option.  But we need to vigilantly protect our privacy as best we can.  We must carefully consider the messages we type before hitting “post.”  This is especially true for platforms like Twitter that don’t Facebook post privacy settingshave graduated privacy levels.  For those that do, like Facebook, we need to make sure we set our privacy levels to the degree we desire, and monitor them fastidiously.  To review, start at the top right side of our Timelines, and work with the options presented in the little “lock” drop down (next to the gear icon).  After setting those, proceed to “see more settings.”  Go down the line, setting each option to the level desired.  Finally, do the same thing for each post.  Generally, the privacy levels we set for our posts remain as the defaults until we change them.  But it pays to make sure, just in case.

The best of both worlds must of necessity exist in cyberspace.  We need to put some information out there to be found; but we also need to guard what should not be discoverable by those who are not in our intended circles.  It’s a tough balance to strike.  How do you manage to share information while simultaneously keeping a handle on what you like to keep private?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!