Posts Tagged 'flickr'

Protecting Children from Social Media

How can you protect your children from social media?

One might say, “Do we really need to”? and another would say “We have to”.. and still another will say, “We’re all overreacting”.. and you know what? All three opinions are in a certain way, correct.

Do some of the following questions and comments sound familiar?

“I’m on top of it, I know what this social networking thing is all about”, “My child doesn’t really use it”, “Does it really matter? It hasn’t been a problem yet”, “My kids are good, they’re responsible and know what they are doing, nothing has happened, nothing ever will”.  “Facebook seems harmless”, and besides, all they do is text”.

Your children, and for the sake of this post I will keep it to those children that are under 18, are exposed to so many different forms of media and channels of communication, that one has to wonder…

How do you shield them from the dark side and at the same time allow them to explore, absorb and learn without acting or being perceived as the enemy?

Right?

Before we dig into the what to do, let’s review something real quick that may help you to understand the landscape a little bit.

Though the above graphic refers to adults, children are not too far off from this model.  This graphic by Forrester Research, refers to the types of people that hang out in communities and what they do in those communities. Your children hang out in communities, both online and offline, and all of those communities have their own sets of things to do, their own sub cultures and their own cliques; and within those groups there is as well, unwritten rules and what not.

But more importantly, aside from the breakdown of percentages in that graphic above-look at the number of ways that people can consume and create content. It’s just the tip of the iceberg in ways that a child can communicate with their peers and others. We are, and they are, consumers of media and creators of it.  We are, and even more importantly they are, in the digital age.

They can:

  • Text with their phone
  • Online Chat via AIM
  • Create video on YouTube
  • Comment on YouTube
  • Create a blog on WordPress
  • Comment on any blog anywhere
  • Create a song
  • Create a network via Ning
  • Upload music and comment on the music
  • Upload an audio podcast
  • Tweet on Twitter
  • Create hundreds of profiles on hundreds on networks
  • Update their status on Facebook
  • Share images on Flickr
  • Share music
  • Share audio
  • Share content
  • They can use a desktop computer
  • They can use a laptop, ipad or itouch
  • They can use a smartphone
  • They can use a mobile device
  • They can use someone Else’s device or phone
  • They can use someone Else’s account
  • They can rate someone
  • They can vote for someone
  • They can create a poll or survey
  • They can use a Webcam
  • They can build a website from scratch

All of these forms of communication are just that, forms of communicating-with context and without. And… the majority of these activities have incredible SEO ( search engine optimization) ramifications. Simply put, when this content is created and uploaded or shared, if it was not done in the ever dissolving walled in garden of Facebook- then it is essentially waiting to be found by someone. Good context and bad.

I repeat, Good context and bad. Simply put, If I create or write something about Thomas Jones being a jerk-There is a high likelihood that it will be found in search. The problem? Thomas Jones might be a great guy, but you don’t know that. You just read that TJ is a jerk and so you decide to tell someone else…and so it begins. It goes viral in a social network and people get hurt.

Your digital footprint has never been more impactful than it is now, here in 2010.

So how, as a parent, do we deal with the firehose that is electronic communication, that is social media? How can we at least protect, shield and monitor our children from this new media evolution but still allow them to enjoy all that is has to offer in a positive way?

The first determination is the degree of involvement if any. If there is none, and they say there is none, don’t assume that. If it’s not happening in your house, don’t assume that it is not occurring next door, or in the school library or on the playground.

Assuming participation in social networks is going to happen and or is happening, then you need to take an active vital role in education, in creating policies, and creating ground rules for participation.

Believe it or not, even at the small business level as well as the corporate level, two things that we implore companies and businesses to do from the outset is to:  1) Start listening and monitoring to what is being said about you, your company and your industry and 2) set up and create policies, rules and guidelines for participation in social media. If they didn’t do #1, they won’t know what is going on and, #2, just like children, adults will take advantage of the  zero social media policy and the situation and zero work would get done. So the same applies to children.

So I mentioned education. Do you know who needs the most education? You the parent. That’s right. You need to educate yourself on what the social networking landscape looks like and the texting landscape looks like.

u ned 2 kno what asl is as much as idk, wtf and omg…

The more you know, the more you will be able to understand. What do you know and how much do you know will be critical; but more importantly, how much of what you think you know and is it accurate, might be crucial.

Once you have a firm footing it’s time to create policies, rules and guidelines for usage. It starts simply with no computers in the bedrooms. Having the computer in a medium traffic area can be a game changer. Next as part of your rules, policies and guidelines, you will want to know, have or have done the following:

20 point checklist for letting your child engage in social networking

  • Know all social sites that your child is a part of it
  • Have access to all content pages that your child has created
  • Know all user names, passwords and profiles that your child has created
  • Know all email accounts with user names and passwords that your child has created
  • Create rules of engagement on social sites that are built on being “accountable” to you for their actions-A 3 strikes rule is not a bad idea.
  • Create your own accounts in these networks
  • Explain that though you will have all this information, you will only access it, should there be a need to.
  • Establish Trust.
  • Understand that that trust may be breached
  • Review the privacy settings in your child’s social networks and map it to their profiles and then review their profiles
  • See who is following of “friending” your child and vice-versa
  • No adult, unless it’s a family member should be in any network that your child is part of.
  • Explain the dark side of social networks to your child, there’s nothing wrong with being scared straight.
  • Periodically evaluate the content they are sharing and consuming.
  • Know what they are searching for
  • Don’t forget or ignore texting and email. Establish usage guidelines for those as well. Never assume they are harmless or easy to manage.
  • If you feel the need to establish time constraints for computer and phone usage, do it.
  • You’re not trying to be a friend here- we’re trying to be parents.
  • If you have to shut it down-don’t feel guilty. Do it without remorse.
  • The computer is not a babysitter. Talk to them.

In closing here are some things that you need to know that I told a group last week and it’s something that I have seen first hand. For the most part  young children could take or leave using social networks and in my honest opinion-the usage of them, from a learning and sharing and creating standpoint in high school can have great value. But the usage of social networks for those below the age of high school freshman and possibly sophomores, I see no need.

For parents, knowing what your child is doing on a day to day basis is normal, but adding the dynamic of social media and social networks to the mix is definitely a challenge. especially without a road map.

Understanding social media, becoming educated about it and learning how to use it and monitor it are things that companies of all sizes are currently wrestling with. Take heart parents, you’re not alone.  It does get better though once we all are on the same page. Just remember that you need to be controlling the technology, not the other way around and certainly not by your children; and though we call  it a fire-hose, that fire-hose can be turned off.

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The Humanity of Online Social Networks Offline.

universal

Call it the missing link, no pun intended, but after spending 2 days at Universal Studios in Orlando, and watching the mass of humanity at play, I was able to see a cross section of society that one is not afforded in the online world no matter how deep one is into it.

But one tends to think (or rather I start to think) how this crowd source spends its time online and in social networks-if at all. Yet, there were so many similarities between what occurs in an online social network and what I saw, that I just had to share 10 of them with you.

#1 What recession? With waits ranging from 2 hours to 15 minutes, The 2 theme parks we attended were not hurting for customers. $12 dollars to park and no less than $60-$75 per person to get in. Think of Universal Studios as this massive social network, and in a sense it is. But no walls and no silos. The point being- If people want it, they will pay for it and they will wait for it, they will walk miles for it, and they will suffer in the heat for it.

#2  People of all ethnic backgrounds, shapes, sizes, ages and color can some and be welcomed without judgment. Truly a melting pot, both literally and figuratively. A social network where anyone could come in and be themselves with others…Hmmm…

#3 People like to show their individuality, their uniqueness and their affinity to products, teams, people, brands, looks and passions. Their “niche” was in attendance and the park was their platform. This included tattoos, team jerseys, devotion to designers, bands and brands from head to toe, and everything in between. I could have easily segmented everyone there into specific groups, all with healthy memberships.

#4 Everyone was in a fishbowl. I watched, they watched, we watched. From people eating like pigs, parents shouting at children, couples young and old making out, people in wheelchairs, people in scooters, people who didn’t need to be in scooters, folks trying to scam to the front of lines, people not understanding directions, rules or each other, people helping each other with pictures, others letting others in front of them in lines, extreme acts of kindness and of course mean people. What’s my point? Everything and anything was there to be seen. I didn’t have to look too hard. Sound familiar?

#5 I saw zero tie in anywhere with any type of  current social network-which led me to wondering…

#6 How much of this demographic was engaged online via a social network? My initial thought was less than 30% of the total attendees. They just didn’t seem to be the types. Maybe I am way off on this. I did see the potential, just based on the number of digital cameras present, that photo sharing would seem to make the most sense in tying in the activities within the theme parks into sites like Flickr or Facebook. Kodak are you reading this?

#7 Zero tie in with SMS-This was glaring and seemed to have a huge upside as well as potential for either integrating with buying food or a Fast Pass or perhaps park, ride, wait, and show information. 95% of the people there had mobile devices. How was that leveraged?

#8 Tremendous potential to make the experience better for its most important asset, the people that shell out hundreds of dollars per day to attend. It can be even better but I think a certain aspect of smugness permeates the overall park experience for the sake of printing money. In other words,  “We have a hot property, so though the experience could be better, we don’t need to really worry about it…”

#9 Some attractions had zero intuitiveness and thus getting lost even with the map was an issue. Directions were an issue.  Assumptions in the capabilities of the attendees were perhaps over estimated. Hard to change? hard to upgrade? Hard to improve upon?

#10 Technology played a part in the design of each and every ride there to enhance the experience and the destination, but technology could be used even more effectively to enhance the journey all along the way.

My thoughts are this. What makes online social networks work is the individuality, yet the common thread that all people possess. This is obviously the key, or can be the key offline too. The struggle in both scenarios for marketers is trying to tap into that. The struggle for managers is how to deftly address the wants, needs and desires of every segment. The key might be right in the middle of the crowd. The crowd…It’ s in the crowd.

Note* Perhaps one way for us to reduce healthcare costs might be for Universal Studios to quit serving up the Western Diet to so many who obviously  indulge in this far too often. More than 40% if not more who were at the park, were overweight..

10 Blended Social Media Marketing Strategies A Company Might Want To Consider

prism

We have been talking a lot lately about… talking. When we should be doing a lot more… doing. So the thought for this post, interestingly enough, bubbled up from a client request, that I should supply a document that mapped out the ways that you can blend social media into your marketing mix. So what I’ve done is supplied the tool or the platform, how I used it, what was the time suck and what were the results. Hopefully this will shed a little light on what the heck we’re doing and why we talk about it so much. Keep in mind one thing though- I do not get into the number of hours I put into meetings, documents, strategy docs, client objectives, client objections, proposals, pitches, the number of clients I pitched, the number of proposals rejected, the number of times I’ve been told that it doesn’t work, the number of times there is no response and the number of times I’ve educated the client and then have had them put into action on their own, what I have told them they need to do and why they should use us…So this is also for them. If you’re going to do it, at least do it with some knowledge of what you’re doing!

1)      Twitter. You’ve heard of Twitter but why use it? Twitter helps you monitor conversations about anything that might be relevant to you and your company. You don’t even have to actively participate to monitor it.

Time suck rating: Depending on how much you want to monitor and participate. Give it a rating of 5/10

Use case: Created structured conversations around hashtag to create community, market under the radar, build credibility and lead source. Monitor clients,products,industry,city,state,region. Ex: hashtagsocialmedia.com

2)      Search is not going away soon. Universal search is looming larger and larger by the day. Universal search blends listings from news, video, images, local and book search engines as well as social media elements compiled from Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube. By understanding the value of Search and it how it plays into the overall strategy of your company and it’s goals and objectives, the better you will understand the importance of having more than just a “cup of coffee” type of presence with each of the above listed elements and sites. There is such a direct correlation between search and everything that people do on a day to day basis that to underestimate or devalue it is a grave mistake.

Time suck rating: Extensive. 9/10

Use case: Created reputation management program built on all elements of search using Flickr micro-websites, robust white hat SEO tactics and product specific blog sites. Results were reduction in negative websites and mentions. Increase in traffic and visibility.

3)      Social Bookmarking- In recent years, social bookmarking has become more sophisticated, somewhat diminished and yet no less important. Important to what? Social bookmarking adds a great deal of efficiency to your searches-That’s right, SEARCH, for useful information on the web. That information will be about you and your company. Not only are resources easier to find, but your company is easier to find as well. This means additional promotional opportunities for you and your brand by being able to better target people who will be interested in what your company is about. Example sites of Social bookmarking are Digg and StumbleUpon and Delcio.us

Time suck rating: Not bad 3/10

Use case: Created corporate profiles on the top social bookmarking sites, seeded each site every day with a new blog post or link revolving around relevant product, service, company, or industry. Resulting in hundreds of links, tags and bookmarks relating back to corporate and product. Results were seen in less than 6 months in the SERPS.

4)      YouTube-Video is permeating our lives. It had been for awhile, but we just didn’t call it video, we called it TV or we called it,”the movies”. Today we call it online video. You don’t have to look farther than YouTube, and Hulu to see the value of it. But did you know how much video is tied into search? That’s right we’re back to search again. As another channel to push out content you’ve created, which search engines love, to tag that content, which search engines devour, and to find ways for others to take your content and embed it on their sites perhaps, means that video is a perfect vehicle to take your message further than any other content that you might have, short of a widget. What does it require? A $30 webcam and some creativity.  The payoff? The chance that your content can go viral. Example: Musician hoping to get a million views in one year of his music video appeal to United airlines about his damaged guitar-gets 4.5 million in less than a month.

Time suck rating: Pretty easy 4.5/10

Use case: Created and embedded Youtube videos on client site and blog with relevant  tags and keywords resulting in continuous and steady traffic every day to blog site. Blog site links back to product site resulting in sales growth of 11% directly attributable to video.

5)      Flickr- We all have cameras embedded in our phones now right? Digital cameras are dirt cheap and you have products, employees, conferences, meetings and content just waiting to be tagged and… searched upon. Understand this, “every digitized element that you have in house, now has the potential to be searched upon”!. What makes that point more important and relevant, is that there are now more social sites than ever before to accommodate and house those elements. For what it’s worth, and or until the top SE’s change their algorithm, there is a very strong tie between search and social networks. Which means that your Flickr photos and their associated tags, will show up in image searches as well in some standard searches. What does this mean to you? A chance to push out more content about you and your company…Again.  Requirements? Your ability to understand the upload function of social sites and how to manipulate and tag your pics.

Time suck rating: Nominal 5/10

Use Case: Created  Flickr product accounts for CPG’s with relevant tags and keywords all pointing back to product/e-commerce page as well as to customer forum; and additionally corp. blog site. Results were direct and indirect traffic, as well as image sharing requests with requisite track backs to product and growth in the SERP’s.

6) Facebook- Facebook cannot be ignored. Does this mean that it becomes the primary focus of your organization? Not necessarily. But Facebook fan pages are a great way to market to people that are not registered with Facebook. Which means that fan pages are indexable. i.e. show up in search! The difference between fan pages and group pages are that with fan pages they are, for the most part, better for a long-term engagement with your fans, brand champions, and customers because the barrier for entry is low and the ability to push out information is real time and quick and easy to manage. Group pages are generally better for attracting quick attention but can be tough to sustain, though group members have the potential to become recruiters of the group site and can take it viral quick.. The requirements? Some type of comfort level of the tools, bells, whistles and apps available for the administrators; as well as and this important to note: The Privacy settings. FYI read them and understand them.

Time suck rating: Above average 6.5/10

Use case: Created fan page and group page sites for CPG, and Twitter site, which resulted in ongoing growing list of targeted brand champions, evangelists and new customers, as well as placeholder for announcements, offers and polling and 2-way messaging.

7)      LinkedIn- Personally speaking, not only should each person within yours or any organization have a Linkedin profile, but even from a professional standpoint as well. What can you do with Linkedin? You can, in short order, join thousands of groups and associations, ask and answer questions associated with you and what your company does, create your own group or organization, find people and groups that do what you and your company do, and link to them and research the people or company that you are getting ready to hire or work with. If they are not on Linkedin. It is now an immediate red flag. The requirements: A little time to set up.

Time suck rating: Below average 3/10

Use case: Created interactive Q and A series resulting in  corporate branding exposure, development of database of contacts, companies and potential partners. Also created Linkedin group resulting in over 300+ contacts.

8)      Blogs- Don’t think their importance is diminishing just because of the advent of micro-blogs. They are still very relevant, very link friendly and can be integral to the success of some organizations. As well, they are not just place holders for the written word. They can now hold video, audio, podcasts, images, widgets and more.

Time suck rating: Blogging can be somewhat time intensive if the intent is to create another relevant, visible, and valuable vehicle for your message: 7/10

Use case: Created multiple corporate blogs to create 2 way conversation between customers and company, push down negative press and improve a tarnished corporate image as well as criticism stemming from negative public sentiment. Also created CPG blog to support product launches, latest consumer information as well as provide tips, links and resources to consumers and tire kickers.

9)      Microsite development- Developing small relevant websites that revolve around your products, your company and your keywords is a great way to drive links, push out content and otherwise add to the search results for your product or company. They don’t need to be robust. They can be text heavy, link heavy or even video heavy, but creating content laden sites is a way to not only you’re your main site, but also as a way to amplify your message. If you are adept at HTML or if you prefer to use a CMS to fire up your micro-sites, either way is effective.

Time suck rating: Fairly laborious on the front end 7/10

Use case: Able to create multiple micro-sites for multiple clients resulting in positive search results, reputation management success and increased product and customer awareness as well as positive SERP results.

Note: Short of coining a new phrase I decided to call this blurb “macroblogging.” Twitter is called microblogging and the next step up would be these next 2 sites. Tumblr and Posterous. These 2 platforms are redefining what it means to blog. What these 2 sites/platforms are providing is a more, if that is possible, streamlined way to push out content to the masses in lieu of using a traditional blogging platform like wordpress or typepad. The upside? You guess it, search. They are simple to fire up and easy to Market, share and build. I have not yet used them extensively to provide a use case.

10) Community development- A number of years ago I started an online community to support a very popular consumer product at the time. To me it just made sense from a communication standpoint. It also made sense because we had a built in sounding board for new product releases, customer support and polls. Not only was the community an immediate success, it gave us insight into our typical customer’s mindset. We were able to test and float ideas before we took products to market. For the people of the community, all who were very passionate about the product, it gave them a place to hang out and bond. I’m not saying all products have that potential but there are numerous ways to create online communities around your brand champions and evangelists and customer service initiatives. They can be done via Facebook groups, Ning, Groupsite, Google groups and half a dozen template based sites.

Time suck rating: Can get labor intensive 8.5/10

Use case: Built, managed and recruited online community to support CPG. At its peak, it had 5,000 members contributing hundreds of posts and comments per day.

So as you can see from this list, these are only 10 scenarios of what has worked for me. There are other smaller examples that I have employed with a minor degree of marketing and branding success from podcasting, creating a nationally recognized personal blog, co-authoring a book, creating successful email campaigns, and personally building close to a 100 web sites. But let me reiterate This is what has worked and works for me when working with clients. I am comfortable with these 10 activities and their associated tools.  I know there are more, and I’m learning more as I go, but I thought I should share what has worked for me so that others might learn as well. If you want to specifically explain how to do it, let me know and we’ll go from there!

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What’s the deal with widgets?

Ok so I’m going to go out on a limb and here and say that chances are that most of the common masses do not know what a widget is. Even if you use your computer on a daily basis, there is still the slight chance that you might not know what a widget is. No big deal. Yet…

Simply put, a widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate web page by an end user( You or I) without requiring additional work or previous knowledge on the users part.  Other terms used to describe widgets include: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake.

Widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash.  A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Generally widgets are third party originated, though they can be home made. They add a more rich, entertainment, multi-dimensional feel to a site that might be otherwise static.

Widgets are now becoming more commonplace and are used by bloggers, social network users, marketers, advertisers, and owners of personal web sites. They exist on home page sites such as iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, SpringWidgets and yourminis, and hundredes of other sites.

Widgets are used as a distribution method by ad networks such as Google’s AdSense, by media sites such as Flickr, by video sites such as YouTube and by hundreds of other organizations.

Applications can be integrated within a third party website by the placement of a small snippet of code. Which is now becoming a primary distribution or marketing channel for many companies. The code brings in ‘live’ content – advertisements, links, images, and video – from a third party site without the web site owner having to update.

Thus the end users can utilize widgets to enhance a number of web-based hosts, pages or drop targets. Categories of drop targets include social networks, blogs, wikis and personal homepages. Although end users primarily use widgets to enhance their personal web experiences, or the web experiences of visitors to their personal sites, corporations can potentially use widgets to improve their web sites using syndicated content and functionality from third party providers. They are also now using widgets as a carrier of their branding message or product.

So where can you find some widgets? The easiest source would be generally on the page you are currently reading, either on the left or right side of the pages. The widgets are dropped in via a widget managment system. Should you feel compelled, check out KickApps which states: The KickApps hosted, white-label platform puts social media and online video functionality directly into the hands of every web publisher who aspires to be a media mogul and turns every web designer and developer into a social media rockstar! With KickApps, it’s now easier than ever for web publishers to leverage the power of social and rich media experiences on their websites to drive audience growth and engagement.

If you are the casual reader, then hopefully this helps you. If you are a certified blogging fool, then this is nothing that you already don’t know. If you are somewhere in the middle, then now you have been enlightended.


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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