Posts tagged Facebook

Facebook: Timeline or Time Warp?

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Remember when profiles were “too boxy”? Well, the new Timeline kind of looks like it’s taking us back there.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v67PFmVvqDs&w=560&h=315]

The first thing you see is startlingly new: the “Cover.” It’s a large photo that stretches across the screen, overwhelming your existing profile photo (which is still there, just smaller).

Following that, you see a quick bullet-point summary of your personal info, along with photo arrays of your friends, photos, and pages you’ve “liked.” Below that, running down the center of the page, is an actual timeline–just like the one in history books–except that in this case, the boxes of information off to each side are about you, and not about the Hundred Years War or the Qing Dynasty. On the right is a shortcut to years and months (mine shows decades for recent years and then, oddly, “1974”–but I can’t figure out why, because nothing appears when I click on that year). And it scrolls on and on and on. And on. PCWorld has an article that provides more explanation of the structure; take a look.

My immediate thought is that it looks like a lot of blog templates I’ve rejected over the years–for being too boxy. The timeline down the center isn’t very obvious, and it took me a couple of looks to figure out how this thing is organized.

But I do think it’s interesting, and if Facebook is going to change, then I’d rather it changed in ways that are interesting. This is a very different way to display information than the previous versions of profiles, and I think it’ll take a bit of time to get used to. But it has the potential to be fun.

It also has the potential to be alarming. I think an awful lot of us are going to re-encounter things we posted long ago, and that we thought were buried and gone (which of course they weren’t, because here they are). But the plus side of that is that it may provide an opportunity to edit your profile in a substantive way. (Josh Catone suggests that this may be generational, and that younger users, who grew up with Facebook, may see it as an opportunity to fill in blanks.)

There are other changes beyond the look of the profile, and Mashable does a good job of introducing them.

Want to try out Timeline ahead of time? Mashable tells you how to do that, too.

How Much Privacy Do You Have?

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You are here

What does privacy mean in an age where so many of us share everything in public? If you don’t want everyone to know everything, here are a few things to take a look at:

Geolocating and photos

First, check your camera. As this Webroot post explains, newer cameras include geolocation info in the metadata. If you don’t want people to know where you are, turn that feature off. And if you’ve got a smartphone, for these purposes I’m including that in the category “camera.”

Privacy settings

You’ve probably seen your Facebook friends (including me, if you’re friends with me) post status updates about changes to privacy settings. Go look at them again and make sure that what you share is going only to those people you want to see it. In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see “Account” with a drop-down arrow. Select “Account Settings” and then go through each of the categories on the left to make sure that you’ve properly limited access to your account. Remember to remove apps you’re not using. Then go back to that drop-down menu and select “Privacy Settings.” If it seems like you’re repeating yourself, that’s okay–it’s good to be thorough. Do this on other sites you use, too. The organization may be a little different, but the overall issue is constant.

Search

One of the circles on Google+ is “Public.” I think it might behoove Google to come up with another label for that circle, because any time you choose “Public” rather than “Friends” or “Acquaintances” or “People who also have lhasa apsos” (or whatever circle names you’ve invented), that post is going to wind up searchable via Google’s main page. What happens in Google+ may not stay in Google+, so don’t select “Public” unless you’re okay with the whole world seeing it. Because they just might.

Your whereabouts

Geolocation games and services like foursquare and SCVNGR can be a lot of fun, but pay attention to who knows where you are. It’s not that hard to track someone’s movements throughout the day. When that’s not just a pattern but real-time, it’s worth thinking about how much of that you really want to share, and with whom. Remember that kid in junior high who you thought was your friend, but turned out to be the jerk who stole things out of your backpack? Chances are good that many of us still have one of those friends–we just haven’t realized it yet. And do you know everyone they know? It’s not paranoid to keep in mind that you don’t actually know everything about everyone–so why does everyone need to know everything about you?

Start with the idea that it’s possible for people to find you and your words and photos. And then consider how much you want to hand to them directly. It’s a personal choice–just make an informed one.

Photo by Quasimondo, via Flickr.

Are You as Real as Vin Diesel?

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Yes, I’m a Vin Diesel fan. Does it mean I love all of his movies? Of course not–I haven’t even seen all of them. Does it mean every one of his roles resonates with me? No, but I can’t say that about any actor (not even you, Daniel Day-Lewis). But for those of you dismissing Diesel based on “The Pacifier” and your dislike of movies about reckless driving, I say this: Have you seen “Find Me Guilty”? No? Well, then, go rent “Find Me Guilty.” Sidney Lumet was onto something: the man’s got range.

Plus he’s been working for years to make a movie about Hannibal of Carthage. As a history geek myself, I can tell you that you have to have paid attention to remember Hannibal of Carthage. I’m not sure why there haven’t already been movies made about him–he took on the Roman Republic. With elephants. But there haven’t been movies made. He’s obscure enough that most people have never heard of him. The fact that Vin Diesel is so committed to this idea tells me that Vin Diesel is interested in things, and that makes him interesting.

But what’s also interesting is the way he uses social media.

A couple of years ago, I became one of the 27 million fans of his Facebook page. And what’s clear about his page is this: The person posting on it? Is actually Vin Diesel. That’s not a publicist or an assistant.

He posts photos from the sets and from his travels. He shares memories from his childhood. He puts up photos and art created about him by his fans. And he clearly values those fans and their support. In Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen (CEO of Likeable Media) writes:

Why is Vin so popular on Facebook? In a word, it’s his authenticity. . . . Vin is real with people.

When it comes to public figures, we spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone’s always lying to us. So if you think about it, there’s something nice about the fact that Vin Diesel does his own Facebook stunts.

Google+: A Guide to Guides

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So you’ve gotten an invitation to Google+ and you’re not sure what to do next. Is it the new Facebook? The new Twitter? The new LinkedIn? You can find people using it like all of these, as well as people who seem to be using it in a way all their own. But where to start? Here are a few primers produced by early adopters, with tips you may find useful.

Chris Brogan has some suggestions and some how-to videos to offer. He recommends starting with security settings, to make sure that you’re sharing in the way you intend.

The Huffington Post has tips about circles, who to follow, and more. They’ve also got suggestions about “sparks” and “hangouts.”

Already active on Google+? You might be interested in Jeff Bullas‘s ideas about how to increase your followers.

Christina Trapolino encourages you to look at Google+ as its own service, rather than a new Facebook. She’s got some interesting points to make about how interaction on Google+ is different than on Facebook, and what that means to her.

And if you’re wondering how Google+ will change as people use and respond to the service, well, right now only Google knows. But a Geek.com post by Matthew Humphries points to some possibilities.

So go forth, +1 to your heart’s content, and build your Google+ world in a way that makes sense to you. It’s an odyssey of discovery.

Google+ Is the New Kid on the Block

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So, do we like this kid? I’ve gotten an invitation, and am trying it out. So far I’m not sure if I’m posting anything, but I do like the ability to choose my audience–it’s nice to know that I can separate my contacts and target materials to specific “circles.”

Right now I’m finding it a little lonely; I don’t know that many people who have gotten invitations, so I’m not finding a lot of interaction yet. Then again, I had the same “problem” when I first joined Facebook in 2007–and that certainly has solved itself.

One of the things I think is really appealing is the fresh start. I like the history I have on Facebook, but I’m intrigued by the idea of getting to reconceive how I post, organize, and share photos, for example.

Even if Google+ isn’t ready for businesses, there seems to be a lot of potential here. I say we hang out with this kid and see how things shake out.

 

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Keep It To Yourself: Share Your Opinions, Not Your Data

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You’ve probably seen more and more of your favorite sites moving to HTTPS. Sure, you’ve been careful to buy only from commercial sites that use the secure protocol, but why worry about it when you’re on Facebook?

Mashable has a great illustration of this–ignoring HTTPS is just like handing your laptop over to a random stranger and walking away. And more and more sites are recognizing this, and giving users the option to use HTTPS. foursquare recently moved everyone to HTTPS; they seem to be very aware that their service, while “opt-in,” does raise privacy and security concerns for some of their users.

Facebook provides an example of why making the switch isn’t always that simple a decision. While you can switch to HTTPS for your profile and pages, some of your apps (including those all-important games!) may not work afterward.

It’s not foolproof, and there are new tactics in the works–but it’s an important start. Have you made the switch?

Photo by Digiart 2001 | jason.kuffer, via Flickr.

Why Every Organization Needs a Social Media Plan

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Urban Outfitters is in the middle of a controversy, and it’s trending on Twitter. The company is accused of copying an independent jewelry designer’s creations, and people have taken to the Interwebs about it.

Urban Outfitters is also on Twitter, but so far they haven’t responded to the issue there. And they should.

There are plenty of examples of companies who responded well and poorly to crises playing out over social media. At this point, there’s really no excuse for failing to respond. If there’s a conversation going on, you need to be part of it. And you need to be part of it where it’s happening.

Do you work for an organization? Does your organization have a social media plan? If not, start working on one now. And remember, just because you’re not on a social media site doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. You need to be looking as broadly as possible.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your plan:

1) Who is our audience?
2) How do they use social media?
3) What monitoring tools are available to us?
4) How do we respond to common topics and issues that arise in our existing communications?
5) How can we adapt those to different kinds of social media sites?

Just as your approach to each site should be different, your method of responding to criticism or praise should depend on what site you’re using. Twitter is not Facebook is not YouTube is not Foursquare.

Learn. Think. Prepare.

You can’t anticipate everything, but the more you’ve done in advance, the better off you’ll be when the surprise comes. What’s stopping you?

Social Media, Social Change?

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT-3I5jg1xg&w=560&h=349]

Lately, we’ve heard a lot about the power of Twitter during revolutions. But what about the effect of social media on other kinds of change?

Manal al-Sherif, a Saudi woman, is counting on the power of social media to change the culture of her country. Simply put, she wants to be able to drive a car–something that religious edicts prohibit women from doing in Saudi Arabia. Al-Sherif and fellow organizers have set up a Facebook page to support their cause, and posted the above video on Facebook and YouTube.

“We have a saying,” she told CNN. “The rain starts with a single drop. This is a symbolic thing.”

So what do you think? Can social media change social mores?

50 Inspiring Custom Facebook Pages

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Wondering how major brands are using Facebook? Check out these samples.

Are there others you’d add to this list?

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