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.
In every business "how to book" and seminar one of the main emphasize is networking, and it is accepted as common sense that to build your business you have to know a range of people. Sometimes these are people you meet at networking groups. Sometimes it is an acquaintance you meet at the grocery store.
And it is a solid practice.
A practice that hold true for your Facebook, Google +, Linkedin, and Twitter interactions. And even Pinterest - "pinning" makes a difference too.
When you "like," "follow," "connect," or "create a circle" another site, or customer, you begin to get their postings in your "newsfeed." Your newsfeed is usually found in your "home" on most of the platforms. However, what you see in your newsfeed is not, at that point, showing up on your public profile. This holds true for either personal, or business, pages; both of which have "home" icons and newsfeeds.
Those postings in your newsfeeds offer a wonderful chance to help out your business associates and clients. As you read through your newsfeeds you can also share or retweet your colleagues' postings, and with this you help broaden their visibility. And remember, if you are pleased with their business - add a comment, or recommend them.
So, when you go out to post, keep your business friends in mind, and help them out. It not only will help strengthen their web presence, but yours' too.
More often than not we take "likes," "friends," "follows," "sharing," "retweets," and "endorsements" for granted; requests for them happen so often that they become background noise. Or an annoyance. For a business page, however, they form part of the life blood of the media interaction, particularly since search engines are more heavily tracking social media traffic.
What most don't realize is how thrilling a "like" or a "follow" can be to a business starting off into the strange world of social media.
And comments of satisfied customers can make a owner's whole day.
In truth, this holds true for most small businesses and their social media accounts. Activity means that people are staying aware of the business and their services.
Yet with the demands of keeping up with their own media platforms businesses sometimes it is easy to forget to return the favor for their customers.
For business to business relations "liking" a customer's page helps build activity for both, and to take that a step further - sharing posts between pages really helps. And it goes beyond that too; by keeping up with clients' pages, personal or business, you learn what is important to them. Plus you learn where you can help - whether as a business or as a person, by supporting their favorite causes.
So when you are out posting to your own social media sites make sure to look in on your clients'.
Like their pages.
Endorse their talents.
And share generously!
Recently I realized that I had been rather spoiled by the quality of service that Microwebb Software provided, and because of that I will unabashedly give them a salute. What brought this realization was hearing how many business owners were not really sure about the companies they had hired to do search engine optimization. With MicroWebb Software I learned about the process, and what I was paying for.
Unfortunately search engine optimization is not the only area where otherwise savvy business owners take a leap of faith. This also holds true when it comes to their websites and social media platforms.
A lot of this stems from the fact that computers and the internet can be intimidating, but indispensable. Business owners have been told that both websites, and social media, is now needed for modern marketing, and so the owners, sometimes reluctantly, have a website built. Then, perhaps, they enter the realm of social media.
Of course, with larger companies they can hire someone to handle all of the intricacies, and the rest of the staff can stay focused on the real work. For the small to mid-sized business owners, however, they first tackle the large investment of hiring someone to create their website, and when the site is done they are willing to let it "do its thing." Then they may turn their attention to Facebook and Twitter, but often they cannot see much purpose to the exercise.
And after a while the owners are approached and told that their website needs something called "search engine optimization." It sounds necessary, and much like was done with the original website, the owners hire someone to deal with the mystery.
Where all of this is leading is a suggestion for a checklist that every business owner should keep. The realm of the internet, and web-based marketing, is speeding up, and this information is becoming indispensable.
1. Keep your web designer's name and contact information handy so they can keep your site updated with social media icons, and links for blogs.
2. The name of the company who did your search engine optimization so that you know what their package included. You will end up having more questions, such as, "Does it include handling social media marketing too?
3. Keep a list of your user names and passwords to your social media sites. What once appeared to be frivolous is now becoming a vital part of your marketing strategy.
Take nothing for granted.
Even if you don't really want to deal with it - keep the information at hand!!
The other afternoon I was reminded why so many think of social media as "fluffy."
Sometimes it is hard to remember that social media is a powerful tool when your personal newsfeed is deluged with others' games updates, and photos of home meals. (And I will apologize in advance to all friends who are sending the above in the name of sharing. I do appreciate the spirit of fellowship behind it; even if I don't understand the result).
However, this is not a rant about "fluffiness," because amongst the games and the dinners were other reminders - reminders of the true power of social media. The power to give voice to those who are normally voiceless.
A year ago one of my friends shared a video about a rescued dog named, Patrick.
The video was heart rending as it showed a horrible emaciated young Pit Bull, which had been saved from a trash bin. Fortunately the dog, named Patrick, since he was found near St. Patrick's Day, was taken to a veterinary hospital, and from there the world began to follow the story of his recovery. Later the feed became known as the Patrick Miracle, and this formed the base for other rescue efforts. And from the updated feed I began following Chance's story from Bark N' Rest, which is a wonderful foster home for aged, and disabled, dogs. Chance is a young dog that was born with severe neurological problems, and who continues to be a inspiration as he continues to be a puppy - despite all of his many disabilities.
Over that year I watched a vast weave of connections form - not only in the U. S., but across the globe - as individuals focused on giving voice to the animals that were in need.
I do realize that this type of rescue work was going on long before I came upon Patrick, and that such social media networks are doing similar work for many other causes. However, this is just a tale of when my eyes were opened to those connections, and even though I am in the social media marketing business I want to acknowledge the people who are making use of social media's power to help those without voices.
I am adding links to some sites I have found that offer suggestions for using social media to help animal resuce:
Animal Shelter Tips.
Social Media 101 for Shelters and Rescue Groups
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.