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So Much Social Media, So Little Time

Social Media Logo

If you were asked to name a social media website, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps LinkedIn immediately come to mind.  Ah, but there are so many other social media sites!  So what if you don’t have the time to use them all?   

With so much social media availability on desktop and mobile it can be confusing, so here is a small glossary of some of the more popular social media websites (ordered by launch date) which also have their mobile app counterparts.  A few here are only mobile.  If you’d like to see a demo of a website or mobile app, check out YouTube, where you can likely find a tutorial.  Note that website and mobile app navigation will be a bit different for a particular company (for instance Facebook), but you can access your data using either.

Also note that these social media platforms share common functions, yet each has it’s niche and plethora of loyal users. Social beings that we are, we seem to love and can’t stop sharing, following, subscribing, commenting, liking, and hashtagging.  

LinkedIn –  launched in 2003, yes it really has been around for over 10 years.  It is used for professional networking.  Your profile contains your work history. You can give and receive recommendations, as well as job hunt and join professional groups.

Facebook – launched in 2004, it is now the world’s most popular social media site, used for sharing posts, pictures, videos, and interests. Both individuals and businesses have Timelines.  Note that you don’t need an account to visit a business page on Facebook which is why you often see facebook.com/username in advertising.

Flickr – launched in 2004, and is now owned by Yahoo.  Flickr (yes the e is absent) is great to use to store, organize, and share your photos and videos. You can share your content with friends, family, make it public or keep it private.  You can tag to categorize and easily retrieve your items.   A free account gives you a whopping 1 terabyte of storage.  Flickr users are quite passionate about their love of this application.

YouTube – launched in 2005 and now owned by Google is where we watch a lot of cute pet videos, but you can also use YouTube to research and find solutions on almost any topic, as well as view movies, tv, music, and even view college courses.

Twitter – launched in 2006, Twitter is the world’s second most popular social media site.  Tweets (posts) are limited to 140 characters.  Twitter now also supports photos and short videos.  You don’t need an account to view content using a web browser. Go to twitter.com/twitter and then use search to view celebrity, company, or anyone’s tweets.

Tumblr – launched in 2007, and yes another site name where the “e’ is not there.  Tumblr is considered a micro-blogging site, currently owned by Yahoo, where users follow one another.  Users primarily post pics or other content and short posts.  If you have something to say or something to show and you want quick and easy, you may want to express yourself on Tumblr.

Foursquare – launched in 2009, Foursquare is location based.  You check in to a location, (restaurant or store for example).  You can find friends who have also checked in.  Venues may offer discounts or specials for checking in.  The website provides suggestions of places to visit and discounts offered.

Pinterest –   launched in 2010, Pinterest allows you to pin (save) web pages on bulletin boards.  It’s great for projects like bathroom makeovers (save web pages with pics of bathroom vanities for instance), or wedding planning (save pages of flowers, dresses, shoes, etc).  You can follow other pinners and be followed.

Instagram – launched in 2010, Instagram is used to share photos and short videos taken with your mobile phone.  Users follow one another.  You can use a filter to change the image. Images are square, similar to the old Kodak Instamatic pics us baby boomers used to have.  Instagram was acquired by Facebook. Content can be shared on other sites.

Google + – launched in 2011, similar to Facebook, Google + allows you to share content with others.  You create circles of people who you share content with. Hangouts is a video chat feature for up to 10 people.

Snapchat – was launched in 2011  for mobile devices.  Snapchat enables you to send a picture or 10 second video which automatically deletes.  New functionality allows you to string photos and videos together to create a story. Stories don’t disappear, but each piece of the story is only available for 24 hours.

Vine – a mobile app, was recently launched in 2013, and is now owned by Twitter.  You can create short 6.5 second videos which can be posted on both Twitter and Facebook.

There are always new social media apps popping up, new ways to use them, and companies buying them out.  If you’ve read this post quickly it may just be up to date!

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Untangle Your Charging – More Juice For Your Smartphone

tangled
The more time we spend on our smart phones, the more battery life we need. Do you find yourself  worrying about that dwindling battery percentage or need to charge your phone more than once a day? Or perhaps you didn’t charge your phone overnight and you are running out of the house with a low battery.  We’ve become so dependent upon being connected,  it’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan for those unexpected times when we need more juice.

There are ways you can extend smart phone phone battery life, and when you’ve exhausted those options,  you can use an on the go charger so you never have to be without power.

First, what can you do to extend your mobile phone’s battery life?

  1. Lower the brightness – the brighter your phone display the more battery you’re consuming.
  2. Close your running apps – apps running in the background will drain your battery.  You can use a search engine or YouTube to find out how to close running apps on your phone.
  3. Update your apps when available, since newer versions should be more energy efficient.
  4. Shut off your phone when possible, to conserve battery life, or at least turn off Bluetooth and WiFi when they are not in use.
  5. If you are not sure why your battery life is short, there are apps you can use which will monitor your battery usage and provide suggestions to improve battery life.  I use Carat which works on both IOS and Android, but I know there are others out there.

Still need more juice?  Here are 2 options for charging on the go (which also make great gifts).  It is always a good idea to read read reviews before you buy!

  1. Power cases hold an extra charge so when your battery is low you can flip a switch on the case and charge your battery without looking for a charger.   The case and the phone charge together when you recharge the phone by plugging into a wall charger.  It could not be easier.
  2. When you’ve exhausted your power case or haven’t charged up, a portable charger will save you.  When shopping, do your homework.  Find out your battery’s capacity and make sure you purchase a charger which will handle it.   

May the charge be with you!  

Hashtag Mania

hashtag mania

I have to admit I am a bit perplexed by the overuse of hashtags.  If you are perplexed by what a hashtag is, it is the use of the symbol “#’ prior to a  word or phrase (no spaces between words) to label it on a social media site. You can then search for that hashtag or click on the hashtag in a post to see other posts using that hashtag.  Most social media sites now support hashtags – first popular on Twitter but now Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, and others support the use of hashtags.  So that sounds pretty handy.  For instance on Facebook , you can post a picture of your adorable cat and comment on it by adding “look at my cute #cat”.    Then if someone searches for #cat or clicks on #cat in anyone’s post, your post will be included in the search results (if your post is public, otherwise  Facebook shares according to your share settings). I’ll admit there are some pretty cute kitty photos out there.  But if hundreds or thousands of people are also posting with #cat it makes me wonder who will actually see your post?

People are #ing their hearts out.  For what reason?   Perhaps to be heard and be counted and be a part of the collective conversation of social media, or to help make and be a part of a trending hashtag?  A trending hashtag would be one that is the most popular at the moment, what people are “talking” about.  You will often hear the phrase on news shows,  “what’s trending now”.

Business has capitalized upon this concept to create “buzz” about their products.  There are even companies that track hashtags which you can pay to see how well your hashtag is doing .  You can create a hashtag simply by inventing a clever name and using it.

On a smaller scale I understand hashtags can be helpful for events.  A hashtag can create a space where people can connect on the same topic.  There can also be fun and creativity associated with hashtags.  For example Instagram has a Weekend Hashtag Project where you can submit photos  on a weekly topic with a specific hashtag, with the hopes of your photo being chosen to be featured on Instagram’s blog.  You’ll find extremely clever photos there.  Many companies offer contests where using a specific hashtag becomes your contest entry.

And of course for a major event or crisis a hashtag can be a good way to get immediate feedback from people as long as their posts are intelligible and not every word is a hashtag.

In case you were wondering  yes, you’ll find  #hashtagmania posts on Twitter as well as Facebook – people will make up any word they can think of and tag it!   So much for trying to be original (my original title for this post was Hashtag Smashtag and sure enough #smashtag is out there too).

So, happy hashtagging to all those  hashtaggers out there.  As for me, #notalifechanger but #goodtoknow.

 

Big Data is a Big Deal

big data

Have you heard the term big data yet?  Big data involves the collection of data and the relationships that can be drawn from it.   It’s not a new concept, but discussion of big data and its usage has recently become more mainstream.

Data, data, and even more data is being collected on a gigantic enormous  scale.  Technology created it and is collecting it.  Business decisions and policies which affect our lives are being driven by it.  Retail transactions, social media use, search queries, electronic health records,  and our smart phones are just some of the sources feeding data collection (did you know that your  phone’s wifi signal is tracked by some retailers as you shop?).  Analysis of all this big data is a big business which has fortunately created a demand for IT specialists.

As an example, the CDC uses data collection from flu reporting and  flu samples to determine which flu strains are included in annual flu vaccines. With the aid of Google Flu Trends (data collected by Google searches on flu symptoms) current flu activity around the world can be estimated, even earlier than conventional CDC methods.

Another interesting example is predictive policing (forecasting where crime is likely to occur).  Fueled by big data analytics,  predictive policing is aiding in crime prevention.  A further illustration of big data, one which troubles me a bit is targeted marketing.  After searching for dresses online for an upcoming wedding, my Facebook account was suddenly inundated with dress ads.  Although I admit checking out a few of these ads it was a bit creepy seeing those ads pop up on Facebook after my online shopping spree.

Big data was recently added to The Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges.”  So by definition big data is “messy”.   Google Flu Trends  overestimated US flu outbreaks in 2012, whereas its prediction was fairly accurate in past years.   The decisions made from the analysis of big data are only as good as the analytics behind them, subject of course to human error and changing data.

Don’t be surprised as you start to hear more and more about big data.  Instead of Big Brother we have Big Data collecting us, storing us, sorting us, trending us, suggesting to us, but also hopefully curing us, making us safer, and enriching the quality of our lives without too much risk to whatever privacy we may still retain!

Your Digital Afterlife

Facebook Legacy

Now that most of us have a digital presence (Facebook,  Google +, Twitter, Pinterest accounts, digital music libraries on iTunes, pictures on Shutterfly, email, cloud storage), what happens when we are no longer around to manage our various social media or online storage accounts?   An estate executor knows about closing bank and investment accounts, but what about social media and other online accounts which store our digital assets?   Will anyone have access to retrieve paperless account statements via email?  Could our digital footprint be causing an increase in postmortem identity theft?  Have no fear, digital estate planning does exist and we are sure to be hearing more about it as our online content grows.

A student specifically enrolled in my Facebook class to learn how to close her account due to suggestions she received from Facebook mentioning her deceased cousin.  I would agree that getting a friend request from a deceased relative or acquaintance is unsettling.  In contrast, I recently visited the Facebook Timeline of a deceased coworker and friend.  Although he passed well over 2 years ago, his Timeline is full of recent loving messages which hopefully are a comfort to both his family and friends.

Each online service provider has its own policy regarding handling of deceased account owner’s data. Most policies do not allow another party access to a deceased’s account.  Facebook provides two choices.  You can memorialize the deceased party’s account or family can request the removal of the account.  Using Facebook’s help feature you can use the search term “deceased” to find information and exercise one of these options.  Facebook also allows you to create a page as a memorial for a deceased individual (but not a personal account).

Recently Google released an Inactive Account Manager which allows you to determine what to do with your data from its various services once you can no longer use your accounts.  Your accounts can be deleted or data transferred to someone you specify after a specified time of inactivity.

As social media continues to evolve and more people have active digital lives, there are sure to be new developments on this topic.  Much is still unclear and confusing as Federal and state laws are inconsistent, and providers have their own terms of use policies.  Your estate planning attorney should be able to help address your digital asset planning needs.

Hmmm….remember when computers were supposed to reduce paperwork?

Interest in Pinterest?

Image

I have resisted and resisted and resisted Pinterest.  I have proclaimed proudly that I will not pin, I have no need, I will resist any interest in Pinterest.  After all, I am already addicted to Facebook, do I really have time for another social media site?

Oh in case you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring or being confused by Pinterest yet, in a nutshell it allows you to create bulletin boards and pin images from the Internet on these boards.  Once the image is on a board you can click on the image to retrieve the original web page.  You can also share your boards with others and see other people’s boards.  There are countless YouTube videos explaining how to use it, so I needn’t digress into a tutorial here.

Sadly(?) I must admit I have lost my battle against using Pinterest, and I am starting to understand and dare I say it, yes I see its value as a great tool in our online world.  I am also desperately hoping that I am not developing an addiction to it!

I first knew I should take a serious look at Pinterest when I saw its logo alongside that of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on store websites.  I thought what is this all about?  Yet it makes perfect sense for a business to post images of products.  And it is great advertising if a potential customer pins an item from a business to their own board for contemplation and for their friends to see.

I have my own little system for saving web pages.  Aside from bookmarking, or saving in Favorites, I sometimes cut and paste a URL and save it in an email that I keep in draft status or send to myself.  Or I save the page to my desktop.  However, this is not that efficient, especially when you are dealing with a wedding for instance where there are dresses, and flowers, and shoes, and hairstyles, and colors, and all sorts of items that you may want opinions on, or wish to visualize all together.

Pinterest has come in very handy in the planning of my daughter’s wedding.  Once I started posting pictures of wedding flowers, it was hard to stop.  Then I knew I was hooked on Pinterest when in my Facebook News Feed I received a link to my niece’s Pinterest board to look at dresses my niece is considering for her daughter, my great niece.   Of course I had to check out the board and render my opinion.  Women can appreciate this, a visual online filing system (and no clutter around the house to clean up).

But how about the guy who wants some power tools or mountain bike equipment for his birthday –  he can pin a whole bunch of gift images on a birthday board and share it with potential gift givers.  What about privacy concerns you say?  Did you forget this is social media?

I finally get it, as I finally have a use for Pinterest.  And now that I am using it I can find more reasons to. Just in case you want to learn more about Pinterest or pick up some tricks and tips check out this CNET YouTube video.

Revisiting Facebook Privacy (Again)!

Nerd

Reviewing your Privacy Settings

Privacy and protection of personal data is always a concern on Facebook.  We know we should periodically review Facebook Privacy and Account settings.  There are two good reasons to do this.  First Facebook occasionally creates new settings especially when new features are introduced.  You want to be sure you agree with Facebook’s  default settings for new features.  Second, your sharing preferences may change over time.   You can change your mind and perhaps your settings are too strict, or most likely not strict enough.

Facebook recently revamped some  privacy settings, so if you haven’t reviewed your settings lately, now would be a good time.  Think of it as an early spring cleaning.  Facebook has created a new shortcut to assist you.  Have you noticed there is a new privacy icon on the top blue menu bar, next to Home?

Menu Bar

Private or Public?

What information on Facebook is private vs. public?  Facebook considers  your name, profile picture, and cover photo public information.  You cannot set these items to friends only.

If you click on Privacy Shortcuts (next to Home), then click Who Can See my Stuff?  and finally click on View As, you can see how your Timeline looks to someone who is not your friend, your Timeline public view.  If you see posts and photos other than your profile and cover photos,  this means these items have a share option of  “public”.  If you want to limit these posts to friends only, you have two options.

First, from your Timeline you can click on Activity Log, and then from the left menu column, click on Your Posts.  You can then change your share options on individual posts.  Or, to change all your posts all at once, click on Privacy Settings from the top right blue menu bar tool gear, then click on Limit Past Posts from the Who Can See My Stuff category, then click on Limit Old Posts.

What about other data that is showing publicly on your Timeline?  You will need to check your share options on the About, and Likes links found on your Timeline. Click on each link and then the Edit options to modify your share settings.

Internet Access of your Timeline

Did you know you have a Facebook username that allows anyone direct access to your Facebook Timeline?  Try it yourself by using the URL address http://www.facebook.com/firstname.lastname  and see what shows up.  Make sure you are logged off from Facebook when you do this.  (You can validate your username by going to Account Settings, General.)

If you get a message that says “This content is currently unavailable” good for you!  This means you have updated your Facebook Privacy settings and disabled search engines from finding your account.  You can update this setting in the Privacy Settings,  Who can look me up?  section.   When “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline” is set to Off, your Timeline will not be found by a Google or Bing search.

If your Timeline does appear, take note of what is showing.   Aside from your name, profile picture, and cover photo,  everything else showing has a share option of  public that you should be able to modify!

Class Action Suit

If you are not happy with Facebook’s handling of your privacy, go ahead and join the current class action suit against Facebook.   This suit covers Facebook Sponsored Stories, which are ads that may have contained your name or name and photo. You won’t get rich, but you can make your claim and possibly receive up to $10.  You may have received a legal notice email  that you ignored.

Not to worry if you can’t find the email.  You can use this link to file a claim and find out more information,  You will need your Facebook username.  You can find your  username by clicking on Account Settings, General.

What’s Next?

I don’t know if anyone can say for sure how the new Graph Search may impact our Facebook lives, but for now, it does not hurt to find ways to help ensure our privacy.  My rule is if you post, protect – but don’t post anything that would cause you discomfort if it became public!

 

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