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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Social Media
Tag Archive - Social Media

You Know Your Web Marketer’s a Bozo If…

Putting out-of-town beside your professional business does not automatically deem competence. Marketers and consultants who crown themselves “experts” sometimes sell their clients a yellow brick road that can lead to the outhouse. How do you know if you’re getting good advice or are talking to a bozo?

If you hear the following, run, don’t walk, as fast as you can away from your self-proclaimed expert:

  1. Search is dead. Don’t worry about SEO. We’ll take care of your numbers so you don’t have to think about them.
  2. Break Facebook’s rules and create fake people to administer your Facebook business page.
  3. Blogspot is the best blogging platform around. WordPress is too much trouble.
  4. Don’t promote your local community on your Facebook business page.
  5. If the share buttons for social media on your blog shift my design by an inch, ditch the share buttons. Appearance matters more than functionality.
  6. Don’t go for quality in blog writing. Just use key words.
  7. If we handle your social media, you don’t. Hands off. We do all the work, and you pay the bills.
  8. We will set up your domain name and Facebook business page for you, in our name instead of yours. We own your stuff so you don’t have to.
  9. We will automate your Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook business statuses to share everything at the same time to save time.
  10. We plan your posts a month in advance. Don’t post anything current or timely. It distracts from our long term market strategy.

Unfortunately, I have met businesses who have been told all of the following by their paid professionals. Note – paid does not equal expert. Frankly, paid does not equal competent.

Hiring the wrong web marketer can be one of the most expensive business mistakes you ever make. 

If you have been told any of the above and want to know how they can hurt you, contact me.


Search Your Colleges. Then Search Again.

If you have teens going to colleges, search their social media footprint.

For years, I’ve told my social media classes that colleges and scholarship committees do social media background searches. Now, as the parent of a graduating high school senior, I see the ways they use social media to better communicate.

When we tour a campus, I now tweet about it to see if their college administration is listening. So far, half respond. I want my teens to learn to use social media well. If a college leads by example, monitors their own Twitter presence, and replies to my tweets, that’s a plus in their favor. For the colleges that don’t, it’s a potential red flag.

My most amusing moment was at a college day when I checked in on FourSquare and watched the Admissions reception table. I stood by the side and noted when one of the admissions counselors saw the Tweet on her phone. She immediately tweeted on behalf of her college’s admissions office. Then, she grabbed the counselor next to her, they looked me up, and then I could see their scanning the room to find me. I said nothing but nearly exploded with laughter the moment they saw me. Neither of them said a word. But later that day, one of them asked, “Do you use Twitter?”

Answer: “Yes.”

I was impressed with the school that gave their scholarship weekend a Twitter hashtag to see if any students tweeted about it. And I enjoyed the professors’ banter with that hashtag. About half the colleges she has applied to have made creative use of private Facebook groups to better communicate with students and their parents. (And you know that means they are also screening students and their social media profiles.)

Now, I see it’s also important to flip the search. Last weekend, I started a Hootsuite page to search  my daughter’s top college choices.

What’s being tweeted about my daughter’s prospective college choices? Who is tweeting about them?

Here’s what I’ve found in 3 days:

  • One college is under pressure to drop certain majors because of declining enrollment. I checked my daughter’s department and preferred major, and it’s not on the list.
  • One college has just had student protests because of a professor’s ill-advised, inappropriate use of Facebook.
  • Some colleges tweet links to their research studies.
  • Lots of students love their college’s sports teams and live tweet during games. And they hate it when their teams lose.
  • Some professors require students to tweet and do an excellent job of engaging students in online conversations.
  • Some colleges promote their career fairs via Twitter. (a very good thing)
  • Some college students blog about stupid things their classmates say in class.
  • Some college students hate the cafeteria food. (Imagine that.)

Colleges do social media background searches to see if a student’s test scores, transcript, scholarship essays, and interviews reflect what the students say and do on social media. I think that’s a good thing.

Parents need to do social media background searches on prospective colleges to ensure that the gorgeous brochures and weekend tours match what is happening on campuses.

4 Ways Suzuki Applies to Family Social Media Training

I was a Suzuki mom. My kids started violin lessons at age 3. We later moved beyond Suzuki, but I applied many of the things I learned as a Suzuki mom to later help my son with speech therapy when he was a preschooler.

Now, as I train parents, youth leaders, and teens on social media, basic tenets of Suzuki training apply to teaching teens to use it well.

  1. Learning begins young. Age 13 is the minimum for social media sites like Facebook. I support that minimum and also believe that’s a good time for parents to introduce their kids to limited social media use where they learn to use it well.  It is easier to friend and guide a 13 year old than it is a 15 or 18 year old. Teach them well while they are more likely to listen. As we moved back driving ages, more teens have opted not to do any drivers ed but to simply get their licenses at age 18. And now studies are showing an increase in traffic fatalities among these 18 year olds because they never learned to drive well or with training. The same applies to social media.
  2. Nurture by love. Kids who feel loved and connected are going to be more likely to reflect that in their social media content. Once I heard a teen refer to another mom, “I feel sorry for her kids when they are sick. She complains on Facebook about it so much they must think she hates them.” What is she teaching them?
  3. Good examples inspire greatness. Parents and youth leaders who model using social media for good lead by example. Teach teens by example to promote their communities and encourage others. Kids learn to talk by listening to their parents. They are still listening – and reading – as teens.
  4. Listen. Suzuki parents listen to their kids play and help them improve, a little at a time, with positive encouragement.  Sometimes I tell parents to see what their kids are doing on social media, and they refuse. Their kids might be asking for help or need some encouragement. Other times, parents listen, and we help their kids avoid driving off a cliff. Many parents have no clue what their kids are posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Savvy social media use will matter for teens when they pursue jobs, college entrance, and scholarships. Social media background checks are and will be the norm.  

My kids know I can access their latest Facebook statuses with 2 clicks on my smartphone. In my parenting via social media classes, I tell the story of how I responded and what happened the day my phone joined the wrong teen’s Facebook profile to my daughter’s contact – and the OTHER girl posted an expletive ridden update about her family.

Families invest time and money helping their teens prep for college entrance exams. They often hire tutors if needed and make sure their kids have well-rounded outside activities.

It is now equally imperative that families work with teens on smart social media use that helps – and doesn’t hurt – their future college and career options.  

Teens who use social media well, especially those who are funny, can set themselves above the pack at scholarship time.

How Not to Parent on Facebook

I am absolutely sick.

I just watched that viral Youtube with the angry dad who shoots his daughter’s laptop. I won’t embed it because it embodies on many levels what can go wrong with parents who don’t interact well with their teens on social media.

The mistakes?

  • Don’t humiliate people online. Even if people are out of line, public humiliation never improves a situation.
  • Don’t post when angry. I’ve done it, and I’ve learned from mistakes. When angry, step away from the keyboard and put down the phone.
  • Don’t destroy property. This is hard as a parent – there are times as a parent of teens, I have gotten that angry. Physical violence does not solve problems.
  • Don’t respond to anger with more anger. Anger + anger = more anger, not resolution of a problem.

I teach community classes to youth organizations and church groups – on how to work with young people on social media. I share my own mistakes and experiences as a mother of Facebooking teens.

Like every parent of teens, there are moments I have felt that absolute hit the wall frustration. The best advice I was ever given was by a more experienced mom who advised me to approach discipline issues with a perspective of how to address the problem but not block lines of communication.

Shooting a teen’s laptop and posting it on Youtube will not improve family dynamics.

My older teen will leave home in 6 months for college. With each day, I realize that our time before she leaves is precious; even when we’re angry at each other, I’ve got to find ways to make it better.

We all know our time with kids passes quickly; what happens if a tragedy strikes right now, with this family, before they can make peace and find resolution? This angry video would stand as the tombstone on the grave of their family peace and happiness for lifetimes.

I’ve been at the receiving end of public humiliation. Once when I was a toddler in church, as my parents were musicians, I sat in a pew and decided I had had enough being good in church. So I kicked the pew in front of me with my dress shoes. And I kept kicking and pounding the pew, which echoed so loudly I woke up the guy in choir who always slept through the sermons. The lady who was supposed to watch me did not stop me. As soon as the service ended, my mother marched into the congregation and whipped me in front of everyone. I never kicked a pew again.

Yes, I needed to be taught a better way to behave. Public humiliation was not the way to make that happen. I still remember that Sunday morning over 40 years ago.

Like the dad in the video, I had a tough road and worked my own way through it. Thank God my teens have an easier life and know what it’s like to have the childhood I didn’t.

Parents do need to monitor and respond to how their teens interact on social media.

This video, however, is a tragic testimony in how not to socially parent.

4 Success Tips for Social Scholarship Hunts

Parents of college students looking for college scholarships must become socially savvy, if they aren’t already.  In the old movie Spencer’s Mountain (Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara starred in this movie by Earl Hamner, writer of the Waltons), they try to find a way for their oldest son Clay Boy to go to college. In order for him to qualify for a scholarship, he has to learn Latin quickly.

Last year, KFC Scholars gave away a $20,000 scholarship in a Twitter contest, to a student who won with a single Tweet.

Colleges and scholarship committees routinely do social media background checks to ensure top applicants’ presence online matches the carefully crafted applications, essays, and interviews.

New century, new skills. If you want an edge up on scholarship hunts, you and your teen need to learn to use social media pronto. And I don’t just mean how to post a status and a picture. It’s knowing what to post and how to post. And knowing what not to post. Social savvy is like the vitamin supplement to a scholarship search.

Basic tips to get started:

  1. Google search news alert is your friend. This lets you receive regular emails for any new online sites that mention a name or phrase.
  2. Makeovers aren’t just for homes or fashion. A teen who has been online since age 13 may need to do some spring cleaning of old information. I help business people package themselves online and sometimes help teens as well. Sometimes, it’s a matter of learning best practices.
  3. Twitter is your ally. With the hash tag #CollegeChat, I have learned countless tips this year to help me better help my daughter with scholarship applications.
  4. Colleges are already here. Colleges are watching what students post and Tweet. They are inviting applicants and incoming freshmen to join Facebook groups. Some are creating parent groups as well. Some are friending incoming freshmen.  This is an opportunity for students and their families to distinguish themselves from the pack with constructive posts and the ability to ask good questions.

In Spencer’s Mountain, Clay Boy learns Latin, wins the scholarship, and goes to college. Of course, he later goes on to become a writer of hit movies and TV series.

For me, my teens are at the beginning of their scholarship and college journeys. I don’t know what the ending will be. But I do know that savvy use of social media is a tool in their college prep arsenal to give them their best chance at a better education.


The Whos and Whats of Facebook Timeline Security

Who and What are the keys to Facebook security with Timeline. How do you work with Whos and Whats to share information but protect yourself from harm?

  • WHO. Your first line of defense is who you share your information with. Check your privacy settings – if you are sharing something with Everyone, Global, or Public, then you are saying that information is available to any of the other 800 million Facebook users on Earth, which is 1 of every 13 people on the planet. Then, think carefully about who you accept as friends. If you need to accept certain people as friends for business reasons but are uncomfortable sharing your information with them, then put them on a restricted status. Another new option for Facebook friends is to put someone in the acquaintance group. Then set your privacy settings to restrict what acquaintances can see. Be sure to do the same with your photo albums. Check your privacy settings every month to make sure they reflect the privacy level you prefer. If you tag people in a photo, are tagged in a photo, or tag or are tagged in a Facebook status, then that photo or information is then available to the friends of everyone who was tagged. If you’re uncomfortable with that, then untag yourself.  Basic rule: Sharing means sharing – if you don’t share information with someone, that person can’t use it against you.
  • WHAT. There is no rule that says you must share everything on Facebook. In the questions in the about section, you don’t have to answer all the questions. Choose carefully what you share. If you don’t share it, it’s less likely to be made public. If you have certain information you use in making password selections, don’t share that information on Facebook. Review your old posts and information. If you don’t want them easily accessible, delete them. Yes, right now you have to delete them one at a time – just like you posted them one at a time over time.

Finally, we need to understand what Subscribe means. Today I’ve seen Facebook posts asking friends to unsubscribe from their feed. If you unsubscribe from someone’s newsfeed, all that means is that person’s status updates will no longer show in your Facebook news feed. If you ask your friends to unsubscribe from your news feed, you are simply asking them to no longer see your status updates in THEIR news feeds.  I have not yet discovered a way this reduces the risks of others hacking into your Facebook page.  If someone unsubscribes to your news feed, that person can still access your Facebook page.

The only way I can see unsubscribing increasing security is with mobile devices. If I lose my phone and someone steals it, the thief could look at my news feed and glean information. If you are unsubscribed, the thief would not see your information in my news feed. However, an enterprising thief could still go through my friends on my phone and glean information one at a time.

My caution with the lists of friends is to be careful what you post in the first place. Someone may be placed in the wrong group. You may share your information with the wrong set of friends. The former Congressman Weiner learned last year what happens when you confuse private postings in social media with public ones.

My blog How to Lock Down Your Facebook Privacy Settings will take you step by step through protecting your Facebook privacy.

Bottom line: be careful who your friends are and what you share. It’s the same on Facebook as it is in real life. There is no quick one click fix to social security – on Facebook or real life.  Just think before you share.


Social Media Safety 4-H Success Story

Social Media Safety workshop in Evansville, Indiana.

Because of Twitter, Facebook, and 4-H, I got to meet some great people to help spread the message of social media safety to a larger audience. As a mother of teens who have been on social media for the past 4 years, the topic is a passion of mine. I’ve presented talks to church groups and youth groups on do’s and don’ts for social media.

Last spring, as I lobbied for 4-H funding at the state and national level, I met a 4-H leader in Massachusetts on Twitter. That became a friendship on Facebook. From there, we began discussing social safety for our communities.

Tonight, that culminates in a Skyped workshop, with my giving half of it in Evansville, Indiana and a Massachusetts speaker giving the other half. If all the technical details work out, our 4-H leaders and youth who participate will get to enjoy the same workshop, at the same time, in different states and different time zones. We’ve never tried this before and hope the technical details work.

We’ve shared information and ideas, regardless of how the tech part goes.

Our 4-H pledge talks about building our club, our community, our country and our world. Tonight, Facebook and Twitter helped us take that pledge to a new level.

The workshop in Evansville is at McCullough Library, 6 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Top 5 Words Needed in Online Marketing

If you interview a web designer or social media strategist to help develop your business’s online marketing strategy, ask them about 5 words: enjoy, search, mobilize, share and measure. If they scoff at any of them, run the other direction as quickly as you can.

What are they?

  • Enjoy. Fun content is read, revisited, and shared. That counts for websites, Facebook business pages, Tweets, blogs, videos, and more. If your content creators aren’t having fun on the job, their products will be boring, nonsharable, and the biggest thing they will impact is your budget on what you paid for overpriced and underutilized marketing. Your content should be fun and updated early and often with even more fun stuff. Enjoying of course also includes engaging.
  • Search. It will not matter how great your website or blog looks if no one can find it. The purpose of a business website is to grow visibility to boost sales which means people need to find you. That’s why businesses on major highways get more traffic than those who are on one-way gravel roads by the county dump. Good SEO wins search.
  • Mobilize. Everything you post on the web should be mobile. Apps can be a great back door to reach your customers if you can provide valuable content or promotions.
  • Share. When you post great stuff – on social media, your blog, your website – the hope is your friends and customers will share it. Modern customers prefer referrals from people they trust. Make your information shareable across social media platforms – not just the Facebook like.
  • Measure. Clicks, shares, likes, and more can be measured. Repeat: Social engagement CAN be measured. Evaluate what times and campaigns are most effective. Are your customers telling you which products or services most interest them? Listen to them.

If your online marketing strategists or designers can’t discuss how they implement all of the above, run, don’t walk in the other direction.

Your website or Facebook wall may be the best designed of the year. It could be gorgeous. But if these 5 areas aren’t addressed, your gorgeous website might as well be a pretty post card you send to the customers you don’t have with a single message:

Wish you were here.


Beating Depression in an Online Fishbowl

When you’re known as the encourager, the one who empowers others, what do you do when you’re discouraged and need help yourself? If you’re highly visible with a voice upon which others rely, how do you beat depression?

This was hammered home this weekend when a great man, one who often inspired me, lost his battle with depression and shocked many who thought of him as a dear friend.

I don’t know what it’s like to be followed by over 100,000 people on Twitter. But I do know what it’s like to face personal crises while living in a transparent fishbowl. Ten years ago, our home and business burned. The business was only a year old. Most new businesses fold within 5 years. I wager businesses that burn a year after opening have a higher failure rate.

We survived.

At a personal cost. In the months and years it took us to rebuild our home, business, and customer base, the pressure got to me. At the same time, in those dark days of email, I had a nickname – EmailMary. My job was to send informational emails to a homeschool community that grew to cover a Tri-State area, with hundreds of families. I was the lifeline, the encourager.

At the height of that visibility, when I met new homeschoolers, I only told them my first name because if they knew I was “Email Mary,” I would be treated differently. I just wanted to be Mary, the wife and mom of 2 kids I adored.

It grew harder after we rebuilt and recovered, when I sank into depression born of months and years of keeping myself together to take care of everyone else. Highly visible people don’t get time or space to be vulnerable.

Fishbowl visibility made the pressure of depression worse. At my worst moment, I ended up overwhelmed by stress, sobbing in a parking lot. My husband and a few trusted friends found me and got me through those darkest moments.

I didn’t realize I was experiencing early pressure in the Online Fishbowl we now call social media.  If bad things happen and you’re visible, how can you beat depression? These are things that helped me:

  1. Get help. Talk to a professional.
  2. Select the right friends to talk to. Confide in trusted friends and develop a short list of people to call if you get overwhelmed. If you can’t reach one person, go to the next on the list.
  3. Seek a higher purpose. It is only by the grace of God I made it to the light at the end of the depression tunnel.
  4. Reduce negative relationships. Limit contact with those who are negative takers. As a highly visible person, I get an annual poison keyboard email hate letter from a woman. Nevertheless, I occasionally need to see what else she needs to tell me. So we made an email rule that when she writes her annual diatribe, it’s automatically forwarded to my husband and deleted from my inbox before I see it. She gets her anger off her chest, my husband tells me what I need to know, and I can smile cheerfully at her when we meet in public because I’ve never read her destructive, venomous words.
  5. Set small, short term goals. Then set bigger ones. When you meet a small goal, it can give you a feeling of control over your situation, or at least your response to it.
  6. Get out of the fishbowl. Spend a little less time in the online fishbowl and a little more time in real life with people who love you and make you laugh. Make time for yourself. You deserve to be a priority.
  7. It’s ok to mention it’s a tough day. It isn’t human to have to pretend all the time that life is wonderful. Doing so on social media will make your heart a pressure cooker that will one day blow. Maybe you don’t need to post everything bad, but it’s ok to sometimes tweet or note that milk got spilled or things weren’t perfect.

And for those of us who engage and converse with people all over the planet on a regular basis, we can all use a reminder that there’s a person behind every keyboard. Tell people every day that they matter and how they matter to you. A little compassion goes a long way when someone is hurting.

Please, please remember that no matter how dark today is, we’re never alone, and we can have hope for a better tomorrow.


Wedding Cakes and Niches

'wedding cake by mum' photo (c) 2007, Julie Pi - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Twenty years ago, I took a cake decorating course and had visions of one day decorating my daughter’s wedding cake. I didn’t have a daughter -yet – but oh it would be wonderful to do that for her one day.

Then my younger sister asked me to make her wedding cake. Sure, I said eagerly. By this time, I had a 5-year-old daughter.  Then came the stress. I cried when icing didn’t look right. I cried when the largest cake split when I removed it from the pan. After 3 days of baking and decorating, I had the layers done.

Then I had to transport the cake across state lines, to the wedding. So I lined my car trunk with wet towels, drove 30 miles an hour for the 40 mile trip, and prayed a lot. The cake ended up looking well.

All my daughter remembers from the adventures in wedding cake making are my tears.

If/when she one day gets married – and it had better be a long time from now – I will find a cake decorator. Yes, I can cook.  Yes, I made my kids’ First Communion cakes and birthday cakes.  But I learned wedding cakes aren’t my niche, and my time is better spent elsewhere. Just because I can decorate a wedding cake doesn’t mean I should.

I don’t want my daughter’s memory of her wedding to be my tears of stressing the cake.

Which sounds like the business coach I spoke to 3 weeks ago who told me: narrow your focus. Do what you do best and others will know when to hire you. Today, I remembered that when I turned down a job outside my niche and referred it to a friend who would do a faster, better, job than I could.

I can teach you how to use your PC better and how to better leverage social media. My circle of friends and business colleagues includes a dream team of media players who can help you make the most of your marketing dollars. If you want a website that wins search and would like to integrate it with a phone app, blog, video, and social media, along with programming so you can directly target your market, I know some pros who do what they do best, do it very well, and grow your business in the process.

Be who you are. Do what you do best. Make it better. Find others who do the same. Great things will happen.

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