"A picture is worth a thousand words," is a truism that we have heard time and again, and for many of us photos not only catch a moment in time but a wealth of emotions. All evoked when we look upon a photograph. We love those memories - of a moment's beauty, or a moment's fun, caught. And even more precious are the photos that catch friends and loved ones. Once all we could do was safely file in them in a album, or if not that organized - a shoebox. Then the internet came along, and soon you had digital sites were you could save those pictures.
Then came social media, and the opportunity to share those pictures in nearly an instant.
Which brings me to my discussion topic of the week - about the "over-sharing" of photographs. This was born of a recent trend I noted where my newsfeed was suddenly being swamped with other people's family photos.
I fully understand the desire to share.
We want to share the excitement of sharing trip photos, or the wonderful discovery of family photos - oft of people long gone. And there is nothing wrong with that, but in the excitement people forget that posting each photo individually floods friends' newsfeeds. Then it does become a babel of photos.
A much better way to handle a large quantity of pictures is to go to Facebook Photos, and click on "Albums." There you can create an album for a set; preferably labeling the album.
So when you post the album only one photo shows up in the newsfeed, and friends can click on it to see the whole set.
A hoax warning on Facebook tied nicely into a workshop I've been working on regarding internet safety. The warning came from one of the pet rescue pages, and was a warning about a nasty Halloween hoax regarding Pitt Bulls - a "Kill Pitt Bull Day." The pet rescue site administrator wisely referred to Snopes.com, which is one of the best places to check out the accuracy of internet stories. The warning in question can be found at http://www.snopes.com/critters/cruelty/pitbull.asp.
Hoaxes have been around since the beginning of communication, with many of them forming the base of urban legends, which are now studied as part of folklore. Of course the speed that hoaxes spread has increased from months to hours with email, and now minutes with social media. Nor is it just hoaxes, but information that has been scrambled in the transmission or context.
Some of these stories make it to the news, radio or TV, and make it seem that the internet is a frightening place; bogged in misinformation and pit falls for the unwary. This leads to many individuals being terrified to use social media, or even the internet.
And yet, hoaxes and misinformation does get spread, and it is not all done by malicious individuals. The one true statement that can be made of the internet, and particularly social media, is that people mainly skim text. They only read in depth if the material is of great interest.
Of course, when you skim material you don't always catch the full meaning. This holds true for photos and the partial context of Facebook, or Twitter. We see something that looks "neat" and go sharing it on.
This also holds true for email. Lately there have been many emails that come through appearing to be from Facebook and Linked, or financial institutions. Granted internet users are savvy about such spam, but many people aren't. Then they get burned, and in turn, frightened.
What all of this comes down to is being internet "savvy."
Take that extra second to see what a post is really about, or if a email doesn't look right, and if you still are questioning its validity - check on http://www.snopes.com. They are still one of the best sources about the truth of internet stories.
Some days it doesn't take much to get my brain off on strange wanderings. In this case I spotted a pretty book on the Barnes and Noble bargain table, the title of which was The Blind Contessa's New Machine, by Carey Wallace. This turned out to be a novel based on a historical truth; it was about the relationship between Italian inventor, Pellegrino Turri, and Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, who was blind. In 1808 he invented a typing machine. According to The Classic Typewriter Page there are still samples of the Contessa's letters in existence.
Now what does this have to do with social media marketing?
Probably not a whole lot, though they both share a few commonalities. The most obvious is that they both are a means of communication, but even more powerfully, they both are inventions that have radically shaped communications. And they both started out as a frippery - a novelty.
We have always been looking for easier ways to communicate, and so efforts had been made since before 1714 to create some form of typing machine, but it wasn't until 1873 that the the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer typewriter began production. The machine came to America in 1874, and Christopher L. Sholes invented the QWERTY keyboard for them.
The early machines, not surprisingly, were expensive for the day - $100.00.
And that is another difference with social media, since it is for the most part free. The main expense is the device to access it, and that can be everything for a computer to your cell phone.
When you think about it, the typewriter, even the expensive ones, opened up personal printing for people. They didn't have to go to a printer to have basic items done, and the material was more easily read, as opposed to handwritten. In the twentieth century the typewriter became the tool of the office. Social media has expanded the reach for people around the globe; it is not as limited as a email list, and more interactive than a website. So it is now, too, a tool that businesses are beginning to turn to, since it gives them a much broader audience.
These are but two cases in the history of inventions, but history's hindsight allows us to smile at the reactions people had to new inventions. Inventions that become part of our everyday lives.
I'm sure most remember playing "Telephone" (or "Chinese Whispers"). What was said at the beginning never was what heard at the end. And the same can be said of quotes on the internet.
To be truthful it wasn't until I became a social media specialist that I had really thought about quotes. Occasionally one might catch my attention, but usually they slide right on past me.
And even after I started White Fox Social Media my main interaction with these pearls of wisdom was to find appropriate ones for my clients' Twitter accounts. While they get used sparingly they are handy to enhance clients' Twitter presence by having a quote that ties into their philosophy.
Recently, though, I came across a book edited by Nick Mamatas, entitled, Quotes Every Man Should Know, which raises the question about quotes from the internet. Via the internet you can find a quote for just about every topic, but are they attributed to the correct person? Or, is the quote even accurate anymore?
Despite having copy and paste tools popular quotes become distorted with re-typing, or a too-quick reading, and over time become changed. Or attributed to someone else. And while it doesn't sound like a big issue - there are many people who love to catch these little "opps" of the internet, and you don't want your business to be the one that gets the finger pointed at them.
Needless to say I came home with both Quotes Every Man Should Know, and The Harper Book of Quotes.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.