Social Media is Scary? | Status Updates and De-friending

I hear it a lot. “I just removed my Facebook profile.” “I de-friended like 20 people that had statuses I didn’t like seeing.” “Everyone is being mean about my status update.” Here’s the thing; Social media is SOCIAL. Don’t get your panties in a bunch let me explain some things about these ‘major’ complaints.

Stop being upset about Status Updates

 

People are going to post things on Facebook and Twitter that are sometimes viewed as whiny, soapboxing, or a variety of other understandably annoying things. Something to remember is that most people are doing these things not do get a critique or suggestions on solutions. People use social media as an outlet for communicating their feelings and opinions. It isn’t wrong and it isn’t the end of the world. Remember this, if you don’t like it don’t read it, don’t respond to it. I get caught in the whirlwind of social media sometimes and comment on those soapboxing status updates. Most importantly, don’t feel like you have to continue following people if they upset you online. If you don’t want it in your news feed block them or unfriend them.

You know what is even worse then a status complaining about your job? A status complaining about everyone else complaining about their job. People can say and do whatever they please but try to be less judgmental about people using it as an outlet.

Unfriending Fall-outs and Protocol

You can’t expect everyone to like you and you can’t expect to like everyone. I feel like this is one of the things that stress people out the most about social media. They create anxiety surrounding losing and gaining followers as well as unfriending people themselves. When it comes down to it, social media is an extension of communication and socialization, if you don’t want to be socializing with someone then don’t. I hear a lot of fights that ensue with people not following people or unfriending people. Some people seem to use it as a passive aggressive play at power, which is just wrong, don’t get in a fight with someone on-line and instantly block them. Like real life this passive aggressive gesture will just make things worse. Unfriend people that you aren’t actively communicating with sure, but don’t use this as a power play.

Also, if someone messages you about unfriending them, don’t just ignore it. Be honest with them, as in life, honesty is often the best policy.

Edit yourself on-line

One of the most important things you should do on any site, not just social media is to edit yourself. I am not talking about correct spelling and grammar (though it is important), I am talking about editing in terms of personal censorship. If you read something you are about to post and you think it will piss someone off, then reconsider. Something you will notice that is making the news a lot recently is people that aren’t editing themselves on-line. There is this sense of freedom on-line that isn’t limited by typical social morality. It seems like people are letting it all out on-line because they don’t think there will be repercussions. There are almost always repercussions and the media onslaught surrounding people posting racist or sexist comments on-line is proof of this. Not all backlash from an offensive post will be as obvious as this, that is why editing yourself is important.

Final Thoughts

Social Media is meant to increase your connects and social activity with others. It also functions as great conduit to fans, consumers and colleagues. Remember that interaction is public and can easily be read into and misconstrued. It is easy to forget this, you can become emotional and upset be comments and opinions. Just remember one thing, these are just comments and opinions!

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Blog Updates – New Blog

Hello readers and curious internet browsers. I am working on making some changes around here. Don’t be scared! They are for the best!

All my food related posting is moving to a new blog

I am working on splitting up my writing to be more focused. I still love writing about food and I will still be writing about it, it will just be better for my sanity and for this blog to start another one and write about food there. All of the food related posts will be pulled from this blog by the beginning of May.

You can find my new food blog here: http://aliciathefoodie.wordpress.com/

Social Media 101 and Tips

By popular demand I am going to continue the “Scary Social Media” series as well as start a few others. I will be writing about personal branding and marketing yourself as well as small businesses.

Website Reviews – Reviewing the Usability and “Click Ratings” of popular e-commerce sites

I am going to start reviewing the usability of popular e-commerce sites to see how functional it is for the consumer as well as reviewing their social media presence. If you have an idea or suggestion for a site or company I should review please let me know!

See nothing scary…

 

 

Social Media is Scary? – Part One: Facebook Privacy

I recently met a couple woman that despite their careers benefiting social media platform use they are still fearful of it. I don’t blame them, but I also don’t see how.

I understand a desire for privacy and there are ways to achieve it online. You know what the best way is? Don’t post ANYTHING you don’t want people to know or see. There are other ways to control who sees what and actually if anything Facebook has started giving you more control with this. I left my posting settings on “close friends” for three weeks once by accident and I was wondering why my Klout score was dipping. That was why! Those new posting settings do work… if anyone is fearful that their privacy is still compromised, it is… sort of.

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Yes, there are targeted ads, and yes you really really need to pay attention to allowing an app to access your information. I think this is the big one. Once you allow an app to see your information I highly doubt there is a lot Facebook can do about that. Its like anything else, read the fine print, better yet READ ALL OF THE PRINT.

facebook-privacy (1)

This is something that seems to be plaguing society right now; an inability to read something entirely. I have witnessed people sign agreements with no understanding of what they are signing. Once you do that there is no recovery, that signature relinquishes any power you may have had to protect your privacy, your belongings, you intellectual property, etc. It scares me that people sign things willy-nilly now, even more so when money is involved. You have the power to understand how to protect yourself on-line you just need to read it!  Facebook posts everything that has to do with their privacy agreement, you can access it at anytime here. If you have any questions about allowed access then you should really read this and ask questions! Facebook does have a support, they have a help section that will guide you. There is no gray area here to my knowledge. There are no secret Facebook dark agents that sell your information to the highest bidder, there are no secret government agencies that have access to everything, they can get access… but that just it, they have to get it.

What The Kardashians Can Teach You About Social Media

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to better communicate what to do and not to do in Social Media to small business owners. Some have more experience then others, some don’t even have a person Facebook page (I have experienced that first hand and it was kind of frightening). I was thinking recently about how to explain the difference between maintaining a personal page and business page but to be honest those lines are slowly beginning to blur because people are starting to market themselves through social media. You are, whether you like it or not, slowly becoming your own brand. Case in point the Kardashians; I started to browse their social media presence and what I found is a handful of things that I can point of and easily say do this, or don’t do this to a small business owner. I also find that the Kardashians are a great medium to use to explain this because of their pop culture weight, even if you don’t love them you still know who they are and you can easily digest analogies.

Shall we? Alright, prepare yourself!

http://www.djvibeinc.com/ – credit

1) Stay on trend with new social media outlets, but don’t jump on them too quickly:
Firstly and foremost they are on top of social media trends. I am ashamed to say it but until I started looking into the presence I didn’t even know that Keek existed. Now I am not saying Keek is the next big thing, matter of fact I find it clunky. Regardless, their entire family is on the top of the most subscribed users list on the site. They are on top of their game, and while I tell most companies to find at the very most five social media sites they like a focus on just those I do think there is a lesson here. Stay on top of which social media sites are rising and which are falling so you can see fit to jump on a new one if its a match to your needs.

2. DO NOT, post the same information on all your profiles, sites, etc.:
What every single Kardashian does that I just can’t get behind is the fact that the share the same links and updates on every site they are on. Also is I see a link about a sale at their store DASH on one of their twitters I know its on all of them. There is such thing as over saturation and there is such a thing as what I like to call “white noise” content. Half of their pages seem to be devoted to store promotions without any interesting additional content. Its great they are using their profiles to promote their stores, makeup, clothing, etc. but it gets to be spammy and unreal after a while. I always tell companies to consider what content they like to read before they publish something. If you would click the link due to a boring promo text before it then think of something else. Yeah it’s great that DASH is having a trunk sale on awesome socks, how about a picture of Kim wearing her favorite pair? How about a little personality?

kim

3. DO NOT over link with no additional content:
Following the previous tip pretty closely is their rampant over linking. I think evey post that they share on twitter is linked. Which yeah I get it everyone has more to say then the 140 characters will allow. Still, a link on 85% of your page? The truth is that not a lot of twitter links get clicked on. If you think about your own social media use as I did mine, and I even asked some of my friends as well, you rarely click on a link on twitter. Sure it does happen, but for me it happens even less with the celebrities I follow especially when the only incentive I have is “Our gorgeous new bedding! http://bit.ly/1jEsJsdfe”*  If you really wanted me to click then say “Check out me and Kayne lounging on our new bedding”. Give me more, your trying to sell me on something, give me incentive to click that link, if its your name attached to that bedding then I am most likely purchasing it for that reason.

4. If you pride yourself in being a certain type of brand then be that brand EVERYWHERE!
One thing I will say about the Karadashians is that their everywhere but what I can’t seem to fathom is how they don’t seem to have that great of a handle on the distribution of their image. Kim is slowly becoming a fashion icon to some, her marriage to Kayne has propelled her further up the food chain whether we like to admit it or not. Kim will often post articles on her celebbuzz site about how to style things. That sounds exiting right? Getting tips from someone famous, getting fashion tips from them directly. While I don’t know if that is the case, the writing is dry and short, they pictures a good but not great and half of the stuff she is wearing is linked to more short and dry articles that include that piece of clothing. For someone who takes great pride in being everywhere and doing everything she is not giving it her all online. If you really want to imbue more brand loyalty and your brand is a fashionista model business woman then be that everywhere. Kim Karadashians celebbuzz is one big ad, I am not getting any better content then I would from an US Weekly article about her coat, matter of fact I might get more pleasure from reading that then I would her site. Despite what some people may say YOU have the control over your presence online, you shape and mold it.

5. If it has your name on it doesn’t mean everyone will immediately buy it:
This is something that may be harder to understand because out of everything this point is a little more B2B then anything else. Just because you have a loyal customer or fan base that already exists for one item it doesn’t mean you can expect the next one to be just as successful with little to no market research. My point being is that the Karadashians seem to produce whatever the like and put their name on it. While that’s all good and dandy it really does them a disservice. Why, because each market they try to corner has different rules and needs. Bedding is different from makeup is different from a retail store. If you start a business selling shoes your next obvious retail venture would not be steak knives. While that is more of a starling difference what you need to consider is the only thing that these products really has in common is the Karadashian name. The branding isn’t even the same and the design can differ greatly. My point is that is if you are a bakery that prides themselves in decadent deserts don’t try to have a full restaurant menu overnight. We are over eager these days and we want to have full far reaching brands very very quickly. You have to remember that some of the most successful brands today, i.e. Apple originally only sold one or two products and built their lines over a series of decades. If you want to flat line as a company then stretching yourself thin too quickly would be the way to do it.

http://kardashianasamediacommodidty.files.wordpress.com – credit
http://www.missvinc.com/ – credit
http://lh3.ggpht.com/ – credit

The Karadashians despite all of these failings are actually, in contrast to their how they became famous, quite successful. Let’s look at their net worth:

Kim Karadashian: 40 Million **

Khole Karadashian: 11 Million **

Kourtney Karadashian: 12 Million **

Kris Jenner: 30 Million  ***

Though if you look at their net worth calculations most of them are based on their endorsement contracts and their reality TV contracts. The more you know the more you understand that their brands aren’t really big money makers, and seem to be just more or less hobbies for these girls. They can afford that, but can you?

* Kim Karadashian’s Twitter Feed on Dec 9th
** Forbes and Celebrity Net Worth
http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/models/kim-kardashian-net-worth/ http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/khloe-kardashian-net-worth/ http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/models/kourtney-kardashian-net-worth/

*** Hollywood Life
http://hollywoodlife.com/interstitial/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fhollywoodlife.com%2F2013%2F10%2F09%2Fkris-jenner-divorce-prenup-bruce-jenner%2F

Internet Culture is Seeping Into Print

Yesterday I was going through my Red Plum mailer to see if there were any coupons I could use. So while flipping the pages I was surprised to see a cat food ad and coupon featuring grumpy cat in a meme. Low and behold Grumpy Cat is a Friskies cat, and is featured all over their site, ads, and Facebook.

Now there really isn’t anything particularly wrong with me seeing grumpy cat in this light, but what was odd to me was the use of a internet focused cultural reference in something we refer to as dying, print media.  Now one could argue that its use in print is a way to try to bring in the king of the day, internet culture, into print to try to “save” it. While I think that has something to do with it I don’t think its the whole story. Why? Well, because I see it not just in print but elsewhere as well; sandwich boards, grocery signs over meat, etc.

grumpycat

Has internet culture, memes, references, hashtags become something that we also have invited to our real lives? Why? One could argue that with how much our lives have been spent online that it was the obvious conclusion that people start using these references in an attempt to stay relevant. I think its less sinister than that, I think its a natural progression just like anything cultural.  “In real life” is the last stop on cultural relevance these days and possibly shows that this reference is near death.

Meme’s are something in particular that I have noticed really hold a half life or an expiration date in terms of the influencers that create them deeming them as being relevant and current.  Those who consider themselves as being internet literate and up to date will tell you if a meme is old, and therefore no longer a significant piece to the culture. When a meme passes on to being used on Facebook I have noticed it really hits a wall and then becomes shortly there after, acceptable to use in print or IRL. In a sense it becomes “mainstream” and well as my husband would put it “that has been around for forever, meh”.

So I guess my real question is, or really the point of me bring this up is… does this help the company or user or does it hurt them? I think it shows an attempt to be conformist and referential, but if you really want to be current then you have to find a meme that hasn’t expired in terms of its pertinence. This takes a lot more work though and I have noticed that in protest of this some companies have actually just attempted to create their own memes instead. Which works for some but very very few actually find it to be successful. So is there a point to its use that denotes a sort of movement towards our online lives being just as important as our “real lives”? Or is its use a bit more of a nod of obedience towards our ruler in terms of communication? I think we may have just accepted that the internet has truly become a force to be reckoned with.

What do you think? How do you respond to the use of internet culture in print and in real life?

Are Consumers New Rule Setters?

So in my many journeys in the work place I have experienced different levels of this new retail landscape. Something that seems to be really prevalent is consumers are setting new rules. What I mean by this is that consumers aren’t following the rules that are in place by a business or service. They are circumventing the system with threats and bad attitudes, following an unwritten rule of the internet in real life, if I bitch loud enough I get my way.

When did this happen? Why did this happen? Is it hurting us and disconnecting us from one another? The short answer to the last question is: yes. But lets touch on the first few questions first.

When did this happen:
Plenty of sites and articles probably have answered this with some sense of certainty that I cannot provide to you. All I know is that when I was growing up in the 1990’s this attitude did exist but it was a lot less prevalent, vocal, often even violent. I remember seeing angry people in the return line at Target but I don’t remember seeing people go off on employees as much as I do now. What I will say though is that people often don’t abuse these new systems of getting their way as often in large businesses as they do small, in person at least.

The internet birthed another way to air complaints about companies. Though it seemed that people started to realize that in larger business you could never reach a high enough person in real life to truly get your way.  So, they turned to twitter, yelp, and blogging. If you scream loud enough and enough people hear you sometimes you get a response/ your “way”.  With small companies it is much easier to get up the ladder in person, people are starting to learn from their experience online and are utilizing it in real life.

Why did this happen:

Now I don’t think it’s because we are bad at customer service in general. I don’t think this whining to get your way attitude comes from a lack of good customer service to start. I have witnessed and been in plenty of situations where people just start of angry and belligerent  for no good reason. I think its because we have created a system of marketing that now relies on customer word of mouth, support and loyalty.

We are running on a social system now, where a lot of perception relies on what is said about your business online and in person. Before companies could control the message a lot easier and now it truly has a life of its own.  We are learning from what is happening online and for better or for worse we are adapting to the new rules. In this generation more then ever the customer is always  ALWAYS right. I have witnessed business owners in a tizzy about a comment on Yelp that was totally false, and they give away free goods just to right a foreseen wrong. Apologizing and tripping over themselves, they end up training their customers in a way that they will regret.

People are learning with companies and small businesses are caving to the pressure and are abusing it. I have told some companies that often it is better to apologize and try to speak the person over the phone or in person then giving things away right off the bat. But for a lot of companies this is their solution and it is really a sloppy band-aid for a bigger problem.

What is the harm? Is this hurting us?

Short answer is yes, it most certainly is.  Though that answer doesn’t really address the issue and solve any problems. We are creating this social wall between the customer and the employee/business. People are not often not treating one another like people based on where they sit in the consumer relationship. We are creating a relationship of hatred and malice by assuming that the relationship must now exist in this manner. Now it is not entirely the consumers fault, the businesses are playing into this attitude as well.

By putting the band-aid on and using an ‘easy’ way out they are creating more problems for themselves further down the line. Just because it is easy to process a couple returns due to complaints when you are a “FINAL SALE” store doesn’t mean that is the best solution. By creating this stigma of, ‘well its better then a bad review’ you are creating a rule for your store. Not only do your employees get confused by what the rules are, it also ‘teaches’ your consumer that rules are hazy. This is not an easy way to run a store or company, in fact it is the hardest way to run one. You are constantly changing your opinion and creating different rules for each situation. It’s tiring and trying to run a store this way.

Here is a great example of this situation which two different results in the same store:

A customer comes in and purchases an item. The store has a policy of all items are final sale. A few weeks later he realizes that not all of the items (being glasses) match and he places a call. He is told that he cannot return them.

A customer comes in and complains that the items she has purchased will not work in her decor. The color is not right. The owner is called and he says to process the return as to not cause further conflict in the store.

By changing policy depending on situation and mood, this creates a difficult situation. The most harm you are doing is not necessarily caving to customers complaints. It is changing policy, this is confusing to your staff and it is creating a “training” opportunity for the consumer.

Well… what can we do?:

There are a few things you can do to handle these situations better:

  • Be firm with your policies. I know this is hard, everyone has different situations. Dealing with angry consumers and having some yell at you makes you want to figure out a way to make it stop. In all seriousness though being firm with policies you have set is better for business. People witnessing you deal with a difficult person while remaining firm and calm whilst still remaining apologetic creates a standard. I have had customers compliment me for standing my ground.
  • Apologize within reason. If someone did not understand a policy you have, say you are sorry for a lack of accurate communication. Never say it is the fault of other staff unless they have been let go for incompetence. Saying “I am sorry that Joe treated you that way” while Joe is still employed there means that person is never shopping with Joe again. It also looks like you are quick to blame and finding fault; that is not good. This is another instance of being firm coming in handy. Don’t throw around names, don’t blame your staff, apologize for inconvenience and lack of communication at most.
  • Do not reward bad behavior. If someone complains online about your company or service then by all means contact them and asses the problem. DO NOT jump the gun and give away discounts and service without further investigating the issue. I myself have complained about getting a very scratched and thus unusable DVD from Redbox. I tweeted them and included a picture. They apologized, asked where I got it, what system I could not use it on and THEN refunded me. If someone complains about your lighting, your prices, your WiFi, or your music. Things that don’t impact your sales on a regular basis, or things that really aren’t something your should apologize for. Then contact those people privately and instead of being apologetic for the problem say: “I am sorry for any issues you have had with my business and I appreciate your candor, do you think changing the music will improve the store?”  Do not air your dirty laundry. Do not apologize to the public for something you cannot change and say “let me give you a discount”.
  • These days people can always find something to complain about, even if it literally is their fault. If someone doesn’t like that your music is too pop and none of your other customers have voiced concern then DO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT. I have witnessed many small business owners try to make EVERYONE happy. You can’t, pure and simple, you can’t make everyone happy. If you tried to do that it would be exhausting. I have seen owners try to accomplish this task and they wear themselves out.

Put simply: Be firm with your policies. Do not apologize for things you cannot change. Do not apologize for actions of your staff if the were within policy. Do not publicly apologize for a situation you know you need to gather more information about. Do not publicly reward complaints with coupons or treats.

It is hard now a days to deal with these instances, I know. But think of this when you are the consumer side of things. Would you want to be treated the way you are treating the person on the other side of the counter?