Sunday, March 20, 2016

Social Media Safety Tips for Teens and Parents

Source: Woman Online Magazine
Once in a while I get asked to talk to a mixed group of high school students and their parents about social media and the possible consequences when it is misused. So given the broad use of social media by teens (see graphic) it seems like a good excuse to encapsulate some of the things I say. 

For Students: 
• Anything posted on social media can (and will) be shared by others regardless of your privacy settings. There really is no such thing as "private" in social media so if you don’t want others to see it DON’T POST IT. 
• Social media can be a good thing, but if you (teens) ever feel uncomfortable by something you see or read on social, trust those feelings and talk to someone you trust – a parent, a teacher, some other adult you trust. Bullying, threats and cruelty on social media are all signs that the person doing those things needs help. 
• For high school juniors and seniors: Clean up your social media. If you don’t think those colleges you’d like to attend aren’t looking at what you post, think again. If social media is the place you must vent go analog … write your "vent" on paper chew it and swallow it … it’s the only 100 percent way you can be sure no one else will ever see it….. 
• Understand that collectively what you post online adds up to your personal brand. What people find out about you in a Google search is what they believe to be a picture of you. Make sure that is a flattering picture. If you need help managing your online reputation use tools such as brandyourself.com and reputation.com 
• And last, but no least: Have fun on social media (but never at someone else’s expense) because if you’re not enjoying it why are you using it? 

For Parents: 
• You cannot control social media – accept that fact and work on developing your students’ life skills: self-esteem, good judgment and knowing where to turn when things get uncomfortable unkind and, yes, unthinkable…. 
• Have such a good relationship with your teen that they are OK with you being their "friend" on social networks. I know, much easier said than done – but well, well worth the effort. 
• Always be open to your teen’s concerns. Even the most innocuous question from a teen can sometimes be rooted in something they’ve been exposed to on social media. 
• Ensure that any teen under 18 using a smartphone has to get your permission to download an app (this is a setting on most smartphones) and do your research before agreeing to the download. 
• Parents hosting drinking parties think they’re being smart by taking cellphones from kids at the party, but those neighborhood kids who weren’t invited or adults who don’t appreciate what’s going on? They’ll share their photos and thoughts on social media and you can’t control that…. 

Two Good Resources: 
• The American Academy of Pediatrics says: "While today’s tweens and teens may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and life experience can quickly get them into trouble with these new social venues." It offers a series of practical tips in Talking to Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting 
WebMD says: "It's a parent's responsibility to parent around the technology" before offering guidance in such areas as Getting Started, Setting Guidelines and Checking In in the article Social Media: What Parents Must Know 

Related Post: Talking to Kids About Social Media and Other Online Activities

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Power of 'Thank You' in Social Media

Recently I was reminded of the power of the words "thank you" on social media.

One of my favorite apps – Buffer – publicly thanked me for tweeting about them with a GIF.

It was a fun and surprising day brightener. And it got me to thinking: What has happened to the thank yous that used to be all over social media?

I think there was a big push a couple of years ago to cut down on the endless stream of "thank you for sharing" and "thank you for retweeting" etc. messages on social media. But that was never supposed to mean you never say thank you.

Part of the "social" in social media is being courteous and thankful. The real question is how to say "thank you" in a different and meaningful way – just as Buffer did.

3 Sources for Ways to Say "Thank You" on Social Media

The post Creative Ways to Say 'Thank You' on Social Media by Brittany Berger (@bberg1010 on Twitter) suggests a thank you on social media is seen by many so it must be "unique and genuine." Berger, before offering great tips also offers that writing distinct 'thank yous' can save your sanity. "Typing the same thing over and over gets boring." 

I love the Six Ways to Say Thank You on Social Media post in The Alley Blog from design company Vital. It offers basic, but sound advice that some of us may forget from time to time.

And in what only seems like a contrarian point of view Stop Saying “Thank You!” on Social Media ... And Start the Conversation! by Jennifer Gardella (@DrJennyLynn on Twitter) the author argues that she is "sick and tired of watching so many small business owners, authors and personalities just say thank you when I share something on social media." 

She says a thank you is an opportunity to "let their network know a bit more about you!" And adds that "As you and your social partners get in the groove of sharing and commenting it will become second-hand and your social footprint will grow exponentially."

Will you start saying thank you a little more now? Was this a useful guide to social media and social niceties?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to spot a social media scam - and 5 tips to avoid them

Social media scams have always been around, but it seems that each year they get a little more sophisticated and a bit more targeted. 

This week on Facebook a lot of folks in Rochester, N.Y. (where I’m based) opened Facebook and there in their news feed was a post seemingly offering a "free $200 grocery coupon" (see image) to Wegmans supermarkets – the biggest and by-far-the-most-popular chain in the area. The posts were accompanied by poster’s comments such as “Wow” and “Can you believe this?”
The widely shared scam post

Well … no. There were a couple of clues right in the post that it was a scam.
  • The URL (web address) at the bottom of the public post does not look like it belongs to Wegmans’s official page
  • The English is fractured – typical in scams since they are often posted overseas by non-native English speakers 
Then, if an offer seems too good to be true, well it likely is. So don’t ever click on the headline or any link before going to Wegmans (or any supposed posting company’s) official social media page.

In this case a quick visit to Wegmans’ official Facebook page shows that this "offer" is not posted there and instead there’s a warning about the scam.
The warning on the Wegmans Facebook page

If you do click through to the offer (not recommended as this can be the way the scammers download malicious software onto your computer) there will be abundant evidence that this is a scam. For example: In the case of the Wegmans "offer" it was a digital counter counting down how many coupons supposedly remained. Every time the page refreshed it went back to 360 and started counting down again… 

And, if you are a business that has been spoofed and your organization’s name associated with a scam you should quickly do two things:

  • Post something on your own social accounts warning about the scam so people will find the information there.
  • Contact the affected social networks and ask for the malicious scam material to be taken down and the poster banned.

Both of which Wegmans did very quickly after the coupon scam surfaced …. 

So, in general what are the best ways anyone can avoid falling for a scam?

Top 5 Tips to Avoid a Social Media Scam

1. Does this news/post sound too good to be true? If it does it likely is. Headlines screaming unbelievably exciting or tragic news. Or offers of cash or goods that seem like they would make your life a lot better. Or words such as “Unbelievable,” “Shocking” and “Disturbing.” All are often related to an attempt to get your attention and get you to click.

As mentioned above, the first thing to do is seek verification by going to an official social network site to see if the post exists there. Or go to Snopes.com and enter a few key words from the item – Snopes is the best online debunker of fake news/information (and, in fact, had an item posted about the Wegmans coupon scam within a few hours). Even a general Google search might turn up warnings that something is a scam.

2. Think before acting: Typically scammers want to make you feel you have to act quickly. Nothing on social media is a matter of life or death. For example, those urgent appeals from a friend who lost their wallet overseas? Think about it: Why are they using Facebook or Twitter to reach out to all their friends?

3. Ask yourself: Is this a chain letter? The old chain letter used to ask people to forward a letter to a number of friends to bring good luck or cash. Today, by way of examples, the chain letter takes the form of "Tweet this image and Bill Gates will donate $100 to help premature babies" or "Share this post with your Facebook friends and Mark Zuckerberg will randomly pick 1,000 people to each receive $1 million in Facebook stock." These appeals almost always tap into a grain of truth, but would these very rich men really do what is proposed?

4. Watch for phishing attacks: You innocently click on a link you find on a Facebook or Twitter post and you are asked to log in using your Facebook or Twitter credentials – don’t. Yes there may be a legitimate reason some sites want you to do this, but before you do check out the URL of the page you are now on. Is it still a Facebook page or some other legitimate site? If not this site is wanting you to sign in so it can grab your credentials and hijack your account.

5. Be cautious of shortened URLs: Don’t blindly click on shortened URLs. You'll see them everywhere on Twitter, for example. But because they are shortened and consist of a garbled collection of characters you can’t tell where the link will take you. The best practice is only click on shortened links from social media posters you highly trust. This is not foolproof, but offers a degree of protection.

Hopefully these tips will spare some of you the grief of having been fooled by a scam or, worse, having your social media accounts compromised.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Collected knowledge: 5 Useful Posts About Snapchat for Business

Snapchat is apparently the social media platform to pay attention to in 2016 – for users and for business. 
Snapchat for business

According to an article in Business Insider Why Snapchat is 'the one to watch in 2016' - has offered many new features for users and has made it a more advertising-friendly place for business.

With 86 percent of Snapchat’s 100 million active daily users falling into the 13-37 age range it’s clearly a place to reach a younger audience.

If you’re still not understanding Snapchat or how to get into it for the sake of your business here are a few resources that may help.

5 Useful Posts About Snapchat for Business

But first, if you literally know little to nothing about Snapchat you might start with the basics at Snapchat Support 

Small businesses may find the list of tips from Brian Solomon (@Brian_Solomon) at Forbes useful: How To Use Snapchat: A Small Business Guide.

Kristi Hines (@kikolani) writing for Social Media Examiner offers a comprehensive guide to Snapchat for marketing purposes in Snapchat for Business: A Guide for Marketers

An AdWeek article by Lauren Johnson (@LaurenJohnson) has tips for all businesses using Snapchat with examples of brands who are already doing it very well. Read 5 Ways Brands Are Standing Out and Building Audiences on Snapchat

And for an update on features added recently see Snapchat Adds New Features, Allows Users to Re-View Snaps (for a Price) by Andrew Hutchinson (@adhutchinson) writing for Social Media Today.

And last, but not least, for a look at how Snapchat will become even more advertiser-friendly in 2016 see Snapchat is building an ad technology platform by Garett Sloane (@GarettSloane) of DigiDay.

So, if you haven’t explored Snapchat for business will you? In 2016 it seems like it will be the social media platform to work with.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Personal Branding With Social Media: 4 Links

I’m honored to be part the very first Upstate Social Sessions conference Oct. 31 in Rochester, N.Y.

The panel I’m on – Brand Yourself: Advancing Your Career Through Social Media – looks to be a lot of fun. My co-panelists are Alex Fitzpatrick, a Deputy Tech Editor at Time magazine, and Rachel Barnhart, a news anchor and reporter at WROC-TV in Rochester.

Since I’m assuming the focus will mostly be on more advanced techniques for using social media for personal branding I thought it might be helpful to offer a collection of blog posts on some of the basics of personal branding. Here goes:


Quality SM connections for personal branding Making connections is what social media is all about. When it comes to personal branding however, the quality of those connections is important. For example, imagine a recruiter looking through your Twitter Followers and finding a spammy “Buy 5,000 Twitter followers” account or, worse, a porn account. What does that say about you that you didn't block such accounts? Read more … 


Blogging for personal branding Building or improving your personal brand can seem like facing a massive mountain. But some strategic use of social media can help anyone improve their personal brand – or the collective impression online search results speak about who you are. One of the best places to start? A blog. To read more … 


Personal branding – don’t leave it to chance Like it or not a personal brand is something that follows you wherever you go from your personal life to the work world and beyond. It’s the combined information (Internet postings, social media updates etc.) about you that shows up when someone searches online. Don't leave it to chance. To read more …


6 Overlooked SM Personal Branding Must-Dos Personal branding – it’s all the rage. Working hard to make sure that everything that shows up online – social media and everything else – reflects well on you and paints an accurate picture of who you are. But there a few things that often get overlooked when considering working on a personal brand. To read more …