Facebook Updates Privacy Controls: Streamlines Inline Privacy Control

“New: Control privacy inline – when you post or after.”

With Google’s new Google+ network Facebook has been forced to look at their privacy setting and tools again. Their reaction has been to update how you can control your privacy settings. Below is a quick pictorial tour of how the new tool works.

Facebook Privacy controls

 

Who you’re  hanging out with:  I suspect this is a reaction to circles and hangouts from Google+

Facebook privacy controls - who you're with

 

Add a location to your posts: This is similar to Twitter as well Google+.

Facebook privacy controls - location

Custom privacy controls: This is not new, but now you can change individual post settings after you post and the wording is changed slightly.

Facebook privacy controls - custom controls

Over all the improvements give you more control and make it easier for the typical user to control who sees their posts.

How do you use Facebook’s  privacy controls?

Does Your Company Need a Social Networking Policy?

Social Media in the Workplace

Do You Need a Social Networking Policy
by Jeannine Hohman, HR Strategist, TriStarr Staffing

Today’s employers are faced with many challenges, including managing a multi-generational workforce. Employees come from many backgrounds, cultures and the generations may span between World War II (born before 1940) and Baby Boomer (born 1941 – 1964) through Millennial (born 1980 – 2000). Managing different personalities, work ethics and conflicts may be challenging, but grasping and reigning in social networking for employees may be a necessity.

Some of the most recognized social media websites are Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. What was once just a personal way to communicate and stay in touch with people has now become a mainstay in both personal and professional communications and networking. The line between personal and professional time is becoming increasingly blurred as more employees bring home their laptop, telecommute or have access to the office after hours via remote access.

With regard to social media, an important message to get across to all employees is that what they say, do and post can be a reflection on your organization – that can be either positive or negative. The negative is usually where the trouble begins.

In today’s business environment, it is highly recommended to have a social media policy in place. A policy serves as a communication tool so that all employees are made aware of what is expected and what is not acceptable. In addition, having a clear, well written policy can help to protect the organization from negative activity and the “darker side” of these websites.

Below are some tips on what to consider when putting together a social media policy:

  • Not having a policy is risky – all it takes is one individual posting something negative or cringe worthy to expose the organization to bad publicity or even legal action.
  • Blocking sites may hurt the organization – by cutting access to certain networking sites, organizations may be turning away business. These sites can also be a valuable recruiting tool.
  • The policy should be clear and specific – Employees should understand the ramifications of not using the social networking media correctly. Some questions to consider: Can employees list the company as their workplace? Can they “friend” clients or vendors?
  • Define private – Many individuals are under the false impression that what they do and post on their personal computer remains private. Remind employees that posting on public forums is never private. Bad mouthing the organization or a fellow employee on the Internet is basically the same as putting the message on a billboard.
  • Give employees the tools needed to use social media effectively – training is essential. Again, the workforce contains multi-generations and not all of these generations are as knowledgeable or comfortable with this technology.

 

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Jeannine Hohman is a Human Resource Stategist at TriStarr Staffing.  She is responsible for providing organizations with strategic HR support through such services as employee handbooks, job descriptions, training, FLSA, policies, procedures and employment compliance issues.

 Disclaimer: TriStarr Staffing is one of our clients.

A Scathing Article About Apple, Google and EBay – But is it Wrong?

apple logoI just read an article over on the Forbes.com site titled: Why Apple, Google And EBay Will Slash And Burn Investors. At first glance you might think it is just a bit of sensationalism intended to get pageviews. OK, maybe the title is, but then again you need a good title to get people interested.  Right?
After reading the article though, the question comes to mind, “Are they wrong?” My gut tells me no.google logo Technology and innovation continue to advance at breakneck speeds and if a companies get caught sleeping and not innovating, they are doomed to fail.

Last week I spoke about social media and woman in the audience asked me, “What is your prediction for the future.” The best answer I could think of was, “without continued innovation the companies that are ebay logobig now will most likely be beaten by someone we’ve never heard of. I mean look at what happened to MySpace.” I had to laugh though, if I could predict the “next big thing,” I’d be a rich man!

In the end my best advice to Apple, Google, EBay, Facebook and all the innovative tech companies is: innovate or die.

How to Schedule Bulk Twitter & Facebook Posts with Hootsuite

I’m definitely not a believer in bots, or that you should solely use a scheduler for your Twitter or Facebook profile, because after all it’s about engaging not spitting out automated updates. However, sometimes automation is a great thing.

I run a website for soccer enthusiasts in Central Pennsylvania called CentralPASoccer.com and every week we there are pickup soccer matches that we want to remind people about via Twitter and Facebook. Originally we were creating a separate post each day there was pickup. Now, with Hootsuite I set up a bulk scheduler file, uploaded it to Hootsuite and chose the profile where I wanted to post the updates. And boom! No more having to remember to post the reminders and I can spend more time actually interacting with our followers.

Hootsuite bulk scheduler

If you’re having trouble reading the image here are the instructions in text:

Schedule multiple messages at once by using the bulk upload tool. Simply select a social profile and upload a correctly formatted .CSV file with up to 50 messages and HootSuite will deliver accordingly.

Here’s how to prepare your updates:
• – Format: DD/MM/YYYY HH:MM,”MESSAGE”,”URL”
• – All dates/times are relative to currently selected time zone
• – URLs must contain “http://”

Example message: 16/11/2010 17:35,”Your message here”,”http://website.com”
• – Schedule messages at least 10 minutes from upload time
• – Assign times in 5 minute increments
• – Only one messages per time slot
• – Duplicate messages are not allowed

 

Like I said; I am definitely not an advocate for complete automation, but for mundane repetitive posts such as reminders, it automation is a great time saver.

Facebook Company Profile Not Visible to Public When Using Country Restrictions

Last week one of my clients Protocall Staffing (A staffing company serving southern and central NJ as well as southeast PA) discovered that their Facebook Company Profile was not visible to the public anymore. In order to view their company page you needed to be signed into Facebook. Previously it didn’t matter if you were logged in or not, you could still view the page. When I did some digging I discovered that the reason was the country restriction. Presumably this restriction was put in place because they are using people’s profile information to restrict access.

facebook-page-restrictions

When we originally set up the company profile, we decided to set a restriction so that only people from the USA could see the page, as the company only operates in the USA. The restriction was definitely the culprit and now without it people can now view the page whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

www.facebook.com/Protocall.Staffing

I’m not sure when Facebook made the change, but I’m positive that this wasn’t the case when we originally set up the profile. Anyone else have some info on this?

How To: Set a Customized URL for Your Facebook Business Profile

I had a few people ask me recently how to get a personalized URL for their company page on Facebook, so I thought a I’d do a quick post about how to do it. So here goes.

Before you start, some words of warning. You need to have at least 25 likes to claim your URL and you can’t change it once you set it.

First head over to http://www.facebook.com/username/ In this example you’ll see I’m setting up the URL for Central PA Soccer, a site about soccer in the Central PA area. You can also set your personal profile URL here.
Facebook Custom URL Setup

If you have more than one business page, use the drop down to choose the correct page. Then enter the URL you would like in the box below the page name. Then hit the button to “Check Availability.

Facebook custom url availability

Then you will get a confirmation notification like the one below.

facebook custom url confirmation

 

That’s it, your done! You now have a brand spanking new URL, that you can start using for your companies Facebook page.

Want to know more info or do you need some help? Try Facebook’s Username Help Center

 

Wondering About the Cost of Social Media? Think: “Time is Money”

Their is a misconception among a lot of businesses and business owners that Social Media is free. When I come across people that believe this, I try to explain to them that even though many of the tools and platforms are free, using the free tools correctly is not. The old adage always comes to mind:  “Time is Money.”  Here’s some data to back up that up.

Social Media Examiner recently published their annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report (<– Get the full report). Some of the most interesting data to come out of the report is the amount of time that marketers spend on Social Media:

A significant 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 34% for 11 or more hours weekly. It’s interesting to note that 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

Those with more years of social media experience spend more time each week conducting social media activities. For example, 63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activities. Only 41% of those with 1 to 3 years experience spend that much time.

time commitment for social media

I typically estimate that companies need to invest at least 5 hours a week in Social Media in order to see a real benefit. In my opinion this is an absolute minimum! This includes, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, video, social bookmarking as well as others.

How much time do you spend on your Social Media activities?

Some other useful reading:

Social Media ROI – What’s Your Plan?
How much do you need to budget for Social Media in 2011?

How To: Five Things You Can do With Social Media Marketing

Google +1 and the Social Graph

First there was Google Wave. Then there was Google Buzz. Now we have Google +1. Google’s attempts to break into the social space have been less than extraordinary. But, out of the 3 I believe this one has the best chance to make it.

Many people are comparing Google’s +1 to the Facebook Like Button.  This is probably a valid comparison, but +1 still needs some work to challenge the Like Button.

google +1One of the biggest advantages the Like Button has is quite simply the Facebook network. When you “like” something, it posts it to your profile. That way all your friends know that you “like” it, which gives them a chance to click-through to the page and maybe “like” it as well. Google’s +1 is more of a passive solution. You only see that people +1’ed something for a site/page when you use search.

Part of the reason that both Wave and Buzz failed was because you had to create a new profile on a new network to be able to use them. Currently it’s planned that you can only use +1 if you are logged into your Google account. This may prove again to be a barrier for people to start using it. Coming late to the party and trying to be a closed system is a recipe for disaster.

Social search already incorporates some of the social graph when you use Google search. For example when you do a search and one of the results was shared by a Twitter connection, you will see this under the result. But, again it is relying on another network.

So, how can Google make +1 socially proactive?

  1. Promote Google profiles More:Currently the only way to use +1 is to be logged into your Google account, but only a small percentage of people that have Google profiles really maintain them.

    One way to lower the pain of switching to a new platform would be to allow people to login with credentials from other platforms.  Although, I know this can be slippery slope.

  2. Get a +1 button on websites:The only way people will really use it, is if they have it right in front of them when they decide they want to share something. Clicking back to the search results to +1 a result just isn’t going to happen. Create an easy way for webmasters to add the tool to their sites. Offer an API for third party plugins like SexyBookmarks for WordPress.
  3. Find a way for people share their +1 with connections:This sort of goes back to the first point. Let’s face it, unless more people start using Google Profiles the effect will be similar to Buzz: Sharing in a vacuum. So, allow people to Tweet, post to Facebook, Stumble, or post to any other network, that they just Google +1’ed a page. Then figure out a way to drive people back to Google Profiles. Maybe with more functionality for +1 if they are logged in, but only allowing people to use/see it when they are logged in is dangerous.

Google’s strength is search, so they need to leverage that to drive their platform to be more social. +1 is a step in the right direction.

Facebook Personal Profiles vs. Business Pages – You’re Doing it Wrong

You’ve Been Warned!

There has been a lot of talk recently about personal profiles versus public or business profiles. I’ve noticed a lot discussions popping up about converting personal profiles that people set up for a business to a business page. The buzz was presumably started by the fact that Facebook has been going through and shutting down personal profiles that are being used for business, and the release of a new tool to convert your Facebook Profile to a Facebook Page. Some of you are undoubtedly wondering why Facebook is shutting down accounts.  Well, guess what, using a personal profile for a business is against the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

So who cares? Nobody reads those things anyway, right? Well maybe, but Facebook does have the right to enforce them and they are making some noise about it too.

Below are two critical points, with number 4 under section 4, the most important.

4. Registration and Account Security

  • 2.  You will not create more than one personal profile.
  • 4.  You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

If that sounds too vague to you, Facebook makes it very clear in the help center section for the migration tool.

Why should I convert my profile to a Page?
Since profiles are for meant individual people, they aren’t suited to meet your business needs. Pages offer more robust features for organizations, businesses, brands, and public figures, which you can learn more about here.

Further, maintaining a profile for anything other than an individual person is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you don’t convert your profile to a Page, you risk permanently losing access to the profile and all of your content.”

The reasoning behind the restriction comes down to functionality. Personal profiles and public profiles now look very similar and much of the functionality is similar as well. However, the biggest difference is a business page / public profile can’t actively “friend” or “like” people. Not allowing this cuts down on some of the spam friend requests. They can however “like” other pages. On the flip side one of the advantages of using a business page is likes are not capped the way friends are. Personal profiles are capped at 5,000 friends.

Now, before you run out and convert your profile here’s a couple of things you should know.  As stated on the migration tool:

“At this time only your profile photo and friends will be moved to your new Page.  No other content will be moved.”

Facebook Profile Migration Tool
So make sure you save any content that you have on your current profile.

You may have noticed that even if you convert you will lose most of your data. Your friends will be converted to likes, which is the most important thing. But, wall posts and the such will not transfer. Will that change? I guess time will tell.

But in the long run, it would be better to convert so that your business name does not get banned from Facebook all together. Right?

Need help with your company’s page? Contact us for a free quote. For more info. view our Facebook Public Profiles page

What do you think about reciprocal “likes” on Facebook pages. Good practice or spam?

Facebook Logo

So, I recently came across a discussion on LinkedIn where people were sharing their Facebook Pages with the hopes that people would like them. Now, in theory this is a good thing, and a good way to get more exposure to your Facebook Page.

This question that I have though is with reciprocal likes. Does this bring any value to have some like your page just so you’ll like them back? If that is the only reason that they like your page then there is a very high probability that they don’t plan any other interaction with the page after you exchange likes.

This reminds me of all the requests I get to add a link to our site from people promoting websites that I’ve never heard of and really have no interest in linking to. If I accepted all these exchanges we would have a lot of low quality links that wouldn’t help with SEO. In fact they might even hurt. Yes link building is important for search placement and likes are important to social networking, but I tend to think that gaining 1 true fan that will actually interact it with your page and share with their friends is worth far more than a bunch of “like exchanges”

What do you think. Are “reciprocal likes” a good practice? Do you do it?

Update July 21, 2011:

So, I made the mistake of sharing my company’s Facebook Page in a LinkedIn group. Let me explain why I say “mistake.”

I am getting new ‘likes’ from the group, but what is the value? People are liking my page and then posting links to their page on my wall saying things like, “I liked you, now like me back”,  “Please return the like” or “We just liked your page! Please like us too!.”  The best one was “Based on your request.” The thing is I never requested them to ‘like’ it, I simply put it out there for people to see. Plus, to make it worse they started going to my client pages and doing the same!

Obviously some people disagree, but this is spam. A Facebook page is intended to be used by customers or potential customers to interact with the company. Most of us receive tons of emails requesting links or telling me about a service for which I never requested information. Where do those emails end up? In spam box.

If you have a real interested in my business, then please engage me. If you just want a like for the sake of having more likes, don’t bother. Many of you may find this harsh, but social media is not a popularity contest it is about engagement.

Opinions? Comments?