Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

Why You Need to be Vigilant About Social Media and Your Kids

What would you do if you knew your teenage son or daughter was sending nude photos of themselves to teens of the opposite sex? What if those photos were posted to Snapchat or Instagram?

 

If you’re like me, you would be absolutely furious and enraged.

 

But this is happening each and every day in small towns, large cities, public schools, private schools, and yes, even Christian schools.

 

You think you raise your children right, teaching them right from wrong, but once they get a smartphone and social media in their hands… well, sometimes what you teach them fades into the background in favor of acceptance and validation.

 

Four years ago I wrote an article about how withholding social media from your children does not make you a bad parent. I thought it was time to revisit the topic of children/teens and social media.

 

My oldest daughter is 13. She has Snapchat and Instagram. However, we set the passwords and she has to leave her phone available for us to check it spontaneously whenever we want. That was the deal. I can log in to her social accounts on my phone and see what’s going on. So far, so good.

 

However not all parents are vigilant like that. They give their kids smartphones and let them open social media accounts and never take a second look. Many of the girls in my daughter’s seventh grade class have ‘Finstas’. Not familiar with Finstas? They are fake Instagram accounts where they hide their identities and post horrible, derogatory things about their classmates – or posts that are inappropriate for their public-facing accounts. They are selective in who they let follow them because of what they post. And their parents have no clue.

 

Snapchat isn’t any better. I will say the majority of what they do is send daily streak snaps to keep days-long streaks going with their friends. Many of these are a blank screen with the word ‘streaks’. However, what gets sent via group snaps and individual snaps cannot be seen by the general public. That is where a lot of this takes place.

 

Why is all of this happening? Why are kids acting like wild college kids on social media? To put it simply – they have parents that are not checking behind them. They are not being held accountable to their actions. Parents want them to fit in so badly, that they let them do what they want on social media with no recourse.

 

Do they realize that some of things they post can get them suspended from school? Or hurt their chances of getting into college? Or even a job?

 

No.

 

Why is that? Parents are not educating themselves and their kids about the dangers of social media. My daughters are out of luck there. With a mom who owns a digital marketing company and a dad that is a Prosecuting Attorney for the state… let’s just say their every move is watched.

 

According an article from the New York Times last year titled The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers, “Even though 86 percent of teens say they’ve received general advice around online use from their parents, researchers at Common Sense Media found that 30 percent of teens who are online believe their parents know “a little” or “nothing” about what social media apps and sites they use. And yet, teens still say that their parents have the biggest influence on determining what is appropriate and inappropriate online.”

 

If parents would take the time to educate themselves on social media and the potential danger it can bring, most of what’s going on with children and teens on social media wouldn’t be happening. Parents are not being vigilant enough. These are our precious children and we should protect – and educate – them as long as we can.

 

Being vigilant may look like we are being nosy or being a helicopter parent, but if we are not monitoring their social actions, no one is. Here are five reasons you need to vigilant:

 

  1. You are protecting them from strangers and others who are out there to prey on our sons and daughters. Even with all the internet-nanny programs and account restrictions, that still wouldn’t stop a predator from seeking out your child. If you want to know if this really happens, I can let you talk to my husband. He’s prosecuted many cases over the years where the under-age victim was lured via social media. Just because that Instagram account says they are a 15 year-old from a high school in the next town over, it doesn’t mean they really are.

 

  1. You are protecting them from cyber-bullying. Being a teenager is hard enough without the technology, they don’t need the burden of the online bullying to hurt their still-building self-esteem. Our kids need to find their self-esteem and validation from their parents, their church, and healthy friendships. Not social media.

 

  1. They post content without thinking. Some of this content may hurt them (or haunt them) on down the road and/or hurt a friend’s feelings. Children and teens (and even some 20-somethings) are not mature enough to understand the long-term ramifications of posting hurtful content and inappropriate pictures.

 

  1. Social media can wait – it’s not going away anytime soon. Kids are only kids for so long. Let them be that. Let 9 year-olds ride around on bikes. Let 12 year-old boys play baseball or football. Encourage your kids to be active and social – without an electronic device. Remember back to when you were their age.

 

  1. Not using social media to communicate at this age allows them to be taught the proper way to carry a conversation with others. I know teens (and college kids) who could use a lesson in that. With a generation that is texting the person next to them instead of talking or Snapchatting pictures instead of enjoying an event, the lesson of how to hold a proper conversation is being lost. Not to mention their writing. I cannot count the number of times I have told my daughter that “k” or “ik” (that’s “okay” and “I know”) is never an acceptable way to respond to a text message from me or anyone else.

 

A study from Common Sense Media found teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.

 

The world is a scarier place now than when we were all kids in the 70’s, 80’s, or even the early 90’s. The amount of information and the immediacy of communication at their fingertips is outright frightening.

 

But if we as parents are vigilant about our children and their technology – checking their text messages, checking their social accounts (that means logging in, not looking at what’s public), we can help our children navigate this and make it a more positive experience.

 

What are your thoughts/experience with this?

 

Mandy Edwards is the founder of ME Marketing Services, a marketing company specializing in digital & social media marketing located in Statesboro, Georgia. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of 17+ years. In the fall you can find her along with her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs. Mandy has been mentioned in Forbes, named to the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 under 40, has been ranked as a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer by StatSocial and is a Sprout Social All-Star Elite. In 2016 she was recognized as a member of the University of Georgia’s top 40 Under 40 Alumni.

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?

I probably shouldn’t confess this in public, much less put it in writing, but I hate Facebook. If I didn’t have my business, I wouldn’t be on it.

 

Why, when I built a business around it, you ask?

 

Despite the fact everyone is on it and businesses can benefit from that, Facebook is a place full of fake news, people portraying lives they do not live, ridiculous fluff posts, oversharing that goes beyond the boundaries of TMI (too much information)… I could go on.

 

Facebook is a wonderful tool for businesses to take advantage of to reach their target audience – that’s what I enjoy using it for. Helping businesses connect with people.

 

However I am starting to rethink the whole premise of that in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach. It’s all over the news, so I am not going to rehash all the details here, but in a nutshell, an analytics company got their hands on data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or permission and used it to influence the 2016 US election.

 

Your information. My information. Your mom’s information. Your child’s information (if they are on Facebook). And it was all exploited to create highly-targeted ads to serve certain purposes.

 

So let’s see, in the past two years Facebook has been overrun by fake news, Russian trolls have run millions of dollars of ads to allegedly influence politics, people were allowed to run ads that targeted racist groups, and now a massive data breach.

 

As a marketer, we naturally encourage Facebook because that’s where the people are. Is it time for us to rethink that? Is it time to take a hard look at the marketing strategies we are putting in place for not only our businesses, but for our clients, and use a strategy that does not involve Facebook?

 

Blasphemous, I know, but I think the day is coming where we will have to consider social marketing options that do not include Facebook. I’m already exploring other options with my own clients.

 

Facebook use is down for the first time ever. In my honest opinion, it’s about time. Social media addiction is real and Facebook is the culprit.

 

When working with businesses, Facebook is always the first platform we look at and go to. Why? It’s the biggest and it’s because it is where everyone is. And it’s where the most data is available to run highly-targeted ads. Why is that? Let’s think on that a minute.

 

Think about all the information you put on your profile.

All the pages you like.

All the meaningless quizzes you click on and take.

 

All of that collects data about you. And that data goes back to Facebook to allow us to create those targeted ads.

 

Scary on the personal side, amazing on the business side. That’s how I describe it.

 

In light of the data breach, can you really trust a company that allows that to happen? A company that’s so focused on making money it has a real internal struggle going on. Sandy Paralikas, a former Facebook employee who worked there enforcing privacy and other rules was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job it is to make money for the company.

 

Really? Making more money is more important than protecting information. Internally, Facebook is a hot mess. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer had a great suggestion on how they can clean it up – go private. Everything that has ever gone wrong with Facebook all started when they went public and started having shareholders to answer to. As much as I do not like Facebook, I think this may be the right – and smart – move. They need to right the ship or they will sink, and sink fast and hard.

 

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg finally responded to the data breach. You can read his statement below.

 

And then later that same night (March 21), Zuckerberg went on-air on CNN and apologized for the breach, saying, “”This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.”

 

Is his response too little too late? Or just another Facebook bandaid?

 

Personal feelings aside, I put the best interests of my clients first and if it’s in their best interest to market on Facebook, then that’s what we do. The day may be coming when everyone may have to branch out and away from Facebook and we need to be ready.

 

In the meantime, if you are not already diversifying your social media marketing strategy and using other platforms, this is the time to start. Look at where else your target audience is and start working on your presence there. You should never solely rely on one platform.

 

Will this data breach affect your Facebook activity or any strategy for your business?

 

If you want another great read on this topic, check out Mike Alton’s post on The Social Media Hat.

4 Elements of Connecting with Others 2018

4 Elements of Connecting with Others

We are all in relationships with each other – we’ve all connected one way or another. It could be someone in your field you’ve met via LinkedIn or someone you admire you’ve been tweeting with.

 

In this age of texting, smartphones, social media, etc., I feel like we’ve lost the art of connecting. We become so easily engrossed in our devices that we forget how to really connect with people. Connecting with others is a big topic. You can find article after article about making friends, starting relationships and how to connect on a professional level. Connecting can happen online or in-person. No matter how you go about it, there are four elements of connecting we all need to keep in mind and not forget –

Be observant.

Watch the world around you. How are people interacting? Who is interacting with who? Sometimes it’s worth it to just sit and people watch. You can learn a lot about people when you just sit back and watch. Also, be observant of what YOU are doing. Are you spending so much time on your devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop) that you have no clue what is going on around you? People are watching you too.

 

Be intentional.

Everything you do should have a purpose and connecting with others is no different. Why are you connecting with that person? Is for professional gain? Maybe you find them interesting. Take a vested interest in the person – don’t connect just to name drop. Ask the other person about them, don’t tell them all about you.

 

When you are intentionally connecting, you need to avoid the bubble and break stereotypes. I know you’re thinking – whaaat? Let me explain.

 

We tend to surround ourselves with people like us – Republicans hang with other Republicans. Democrats hang with Democrats. Hot guys hang with gorgeous girls. When you intentionally connect with someone, you need to get away from those like you. Leave the comfort zone. It’s like in high school, leave the cheerleader table and hang out with the band nerds (we’re cool, by the way!).

 

Be authentic.

Authenticity is something that has almost completely gone away thanks to social media. So many people pose online as someone they aren’t. We’ve seen them – supermoms, single guys partying it up, those who display all the pricey things they own to appear as having more money than they do… you know someone like that. Lack of authenticity turns people away. I know social media pros preach about this and it’s true – the fakers can and will be found out thanks to sites like Google.

 

Be wise.

People online can be very misleading. It’s hard to mislead in person so this happens more online. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. When you connect with someone you need to do your own background check on them. Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. You get the picture.

 

Another element of being wise is to not compromise who you are just to fit in or connect with someone or even when you do opposite of what you say. Be mature about it – if you have any ounce of self-respect you won’t cave.

 

So there you have it – be observant. intentional. authentic. wise.

 

What are some important elements you see or do when connecting?

 

Mandy Edwards is the founder of ME Marketing Services, a marketing company specializing in digital & social media marketing located in Statesboro, Georgia. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of 17+ years. In the fall you can find her along with her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs. Mandy has been mentioned in Forbes, named to the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 under 40, has been ranked as a Top 100 Social Media Power Influencer by StatSocial and is a Sprout Social All-Star Elite. In 2016 she was recognized as a member of the University of Georgia’s top 40 Under 40 Alumni.

17 Tips for Connecting on Social Media

17 Tips for Connecting on Social Media

One mantra I’ve adopted while working in social media is to connect with intent. I have to have a reason to connect with someone because I don’t believe in connecting for the sake of padding my numbers.

A few years ago Jennifer Hanford and I did a series of 101 posts on the subject of connecting. In this post we’ve compiled and updated them, giving you a list of great tips to use when making new connections on all of the major social media platforms.

 

Facebook

With over 1 billion people there, Facebook, of course, is the largest social network. You will have many connection opportunities that span the globe. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind.

 

When Connecting Personally…

  • When connecting with someone on a personal level, make sure you know them. I know this sounds silly, but it’s true! I get friend requests from people all the time that I have NO clue who they are…even if we live in the same town. For me, I have to be able to place how I know them – an online group, a conference, school, church, etc. If I can’t, then sorry, we won’t be connecting today.
  • See who your mutual friends are. There are some that I do know but do not agree with who they associate themselves with. People will not admit it openly, but everyone gets judged by the company they keep.
  • Are the only online to play Farmville or Frontierworld or Cooking World or some other silly Facebook game?? There are some who are only interested in the online gaming and only want to be friends so they can move up to the next level. Unless you don’t mind your newsfeed being filled with endless game requests and “so and so just beat level 1,002”, I wouldn’t accept. Unless it’s your mom. Then you have no choice.

 

When Connecting Professionally…

  • I reiterate points 1 & 2 from above – since there are over one billion people on Facebook, for your safety make sure you truly know them.
  • If you connect with someone, do not invite them to every.single.page you manage. Same goes for events. There are those out there who connect only to spam you with “Like this page” or “Like that page”. That’s screaming a one-way relationship.
  • If your competition is wanting to connect, it’s okay, but be forewarned. I always joke to keep your enemies close, but your competition closer. Yes, it may seem like a good idea to accept your competition’s request to connect, but unless you’ve activated some really detailed privacy setting, they will get to see what you are doing. You may see it as showing what all you can do, but they will see it as things they need to do better or one-up.

 

Instagram

When Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in October of 2010, the service brought a whole new meaning to online sharing. Instagram, as you know, is known for its photo and video sharing (and selfies and pictures of your dinner plates). There are many ways to connect with the millions now using this network.

Instagram is a great social media platform that provides people from all over the world to share their personal photos with friends and family, and it is a great place for users with common interests to connect and come together to share and discuss content. Here are 4 main ways to connect –

 

Connect through Photographs

You’ve heard the old saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And that’s absolutely true.  It is easy to connect with others by capturing the world from your viewpoint. Images allow us to connect with one another on a different platform simply by displaying a message to one another. Whether the message be about your experience at a concert or your favorite food, Instagram allows for others to discover and understand the world through photographs.

 

Connect through Exploring

One of the easiest ways to connect with others on Instagram is on the ‘Explore’ tab. This feature consists of 15 most popular ‘liked’ images from all over the world. This allows you to venture out and view images you may not see on your normal feed. While also providing different content, exploring can connect you to other users. The great thing about the explore tab is that it is constantly changing. It updates the most popular 15 pictures every few minutes, allowing us to connect to even more people.

 

Connect through Hashtags

If you are looking to connect with new Instagram users, adding a hashtag to the picture you upload is a great way to do so. Displaying a specific hashtag connects you with more like-minded people. This feature allows you to share your photo to a wider audience who probably would not have seen the photo without it. If you are at an event, use that event’s hashtag to connect with others there.

 

Connect through Stories & Live

Now that Instagram has Instagram Stories, you can tell a story while being authentic. People will see the real you. If you’re account is public, anyone following you can see these and some may just pop up in the ‘Explore’ tab. And much like Facebook’s Live option, you can go live on Instagram as well and connect live to people.

 

Twitter

I opened my first Twitter account in the fall of 2010 for the intent purpose of following University of Georgia football. Never in a million years did I think I could actually make friends and connect with businesses. It’s now my favorite social media platform to use for business. It’s the platform I’ve gotten the most clients from too.

I’ve written two previous articles on Twitter following – 8 Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter and 8 More Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter – that really touched on some general, cosmetic points. However, here are some deeper connecting tips for Twitter that will make you a more seasoned and polished Twitter user.

 

Connect with like-minded people.

In any business, reputation management is very important. People will look and judge you on who you are surrounded by. By following like-minded people, you will find a community you can grow with and learn from.

 

Tweet people you want to get to know.

Even though that person you want to meet has 100,000 followers, if you don’t tweet them and let them know you are there, they may never find you. I’ve developed relationships on Twitter with people I normally would not have access to simply because I started tweeting (and retweeting) them and started a conversation. Anyone reputable on Twitter will not ignore someone who is trying to strike up a conversation. It may take them a day or so to respond but the serious ones will respond.

 

Give credit where credit is due.

Did you like a blog article and tweet it? Give the author credit in the tweet. Liked a tweet and agreed with it? Again, credit the author in the tweet. When you credit the author it’s mentioning them and they will take notice. Taking the time to give credit to the original author or the one who shared it on Twitter (you can use “h/t” for “hat tip to”) will show that you care and are purposeful in using Twitter.

 

LinkedIn

Making connections on LinkedIn will help you realize the power LinkedIn holds as a social platform where professionals interact and engage with others.

First things first, you never have to pay to make connections on LinkedIn. The free version provides you with the same connection and networking abilities as the paid version. Secondly, you do not need to be an “open networker” to connect with anyone you wish, but know that most users prefer to connect with meaning and intent on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, LinkedIn attracts a lot of spammers, but the platform does provide easy ways to report and ban them. If you do not mind occasional spam and want to connect with a large volume of people from all over the world though, you may consider joining open networker groups.

 

Here are some of the basics to get you started:

 

Put your best foot forward with your LinkedIn Profile

  • Your profile gives people their first impressions of you so make it count!
  • Make sure your profile is complete and current with a professional picture, employment information and relevant qualifications.
  • Always be honest with the information you provide, especially if you are seeking employment or potential clients.

 

Where to find your connections on LinkedIn

  • One of the first places to find new connections is on LinkedIn’s home page when you are signed in. There is an entire section called “People You May Know.” Based on information you have filled out for your profile, LinkedIn makes suggestions for you. Do not be too surprised when it shows you people you may not really know.
  • You can also find people with whom to connect through the advanced search function. This allows you to search for people by name, company, job title or location.
  • Another way to meet people is through joining and participating in LinkedIn groups. People typically join groups in order to network with like-minded people. With a group association, it becomes easy to connect since you most likely have common interests.
  • As you connect with people, you become “1st-level” connections with them. You are then able to view their connections; their 1st-level connections are now your 2nd-level connections. You can also see when your 1st-level connections make other new connections. As a result, you now have a larger network and more people with whom you can connect directly.

 

Mind your manners when connecting on LinkedIn

  • When you are ready to connect, make sure you are sending personalized invitations. Introduce yourself when sending invitations to people you have never met, and briefly explain why you would like to connect with them.
  • When you accept someone’s invitation to connect or they accept your invitation, it is good practice to respond and thank them personally.

 

When using social networks and connecting, the quality of your own personal experiences depend very much on your own level of involvement. The more time you spend on those platforms and engaging with others, the more connections you’ll make.

 

Speaking of connections, Jenn and I would like to invite you to connect with us! You can find Jenn on Twitter at @jennghanford and myself at @memktgservices.

 

Connections make the social world go ‘round. What are some connection tips you would add?

 

Amateur v. Professional - Which One are You?

Amateur v. Professional – Which One are You?

Last week I came across an article from Farnam Street that asked the reader if they were an amateur or a professional. Well, we are all professionals, right? In the wise words of College GameDay legend Lee Corso – not so fast my friend.

 

In the article, differences between the two were pointed out. Some made you get a little defensive and hot under the collar, but nonetheless, it made the point.

 

Let’s take a look at seven of them…

 

Amateurs stop when they achieve something, like a goal. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning, and have a process.

Goals are good to have, don’t get me wrong, but honestly, it doesn’t stop there. Goals should be seen as benchmarks along the way. Your career is a process, and the awards you achieve are goals along the way. You don’t end your career because of an award or a making a sales goal. You keep going.

 

Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.

This is a rookie mistake we’ve all made at some point. We think we can take on everything and be the one source for our customers or clients, when in reality, we are not. One piece of business advice I received early on was to focus on what I was good at and outsource the rest.  Yes, I work in marketing. Yes, I could do a complete marketing package for a client, but I know where my strengths lay. One of my close friends is a CPA but she’s better on the audit side than the tax side – that’s her strength. Knowing your circles of competence, or strengths, will help set you apart and make you a better professional.

 

Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.

People do not like to have the negative pointed out, no matter how well it’s done. However, I’ve been on both sides of this one – early on in my career I didn’t want anyone telling me how to do something unless I asked because I saw it as criticizing me as a person. Now that I am older and wiser, I know my weaknesses and I do seek out advice from those whose opinions I highly value. This is a career (and personal) maturity journey.

 

Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.

People want to be good at everything. That’s impossible. No one person can be good at everything apart from God. This is where the business advice I mentioned above comes into play – professionals will outsource what they are not as strong in to supplement. The sooner you realize this, the more time and energy you will save yourself.

 

Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.

I came close to leaving this one out. I know “professionals” who make it a point to tear others down no matter how long they have been in business. And I know amateurs who claim to focus on making everyone better while their actions speak to the opposite. So be aware and be on guard at all times.

 

Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.

This point comes from maturity – both in the person and your career. I understand fear – you may be scared to accept responsibility because of the consequences, but trust me, it’s always better to take that high road and be responsible. That’s what true leaders do.

 

Amateurs are scared — scared to be vulnerable and honest with themselves. Professionals feel like they are capable of handling almost anything.

The distinguishing factor here is confidence. It will come and go throughout your career. There are days I feel like I can conquer the world and there are days I feel like Chicken Little. As long as you are honest with yourself and know your strengths and take responsibility, it will be okay.

 

The article concludes by saying the main difference between the two boils down to two things: fear and reality. At any point in your career, no matter your age or how long you’ve been in your job, you will fall on either side of spectrum. If you read through to the article, you’ll see the other comparisons. There are some I fall on the amateur side, and some I fall on the professional side.

 

The goal should always be to be on the professional side more than amateur, and if you are on the amateur side, work on what you need to to move to the professional side. I know I am. Are you with me?

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on amateurs v. professionals. Share with me below in the comments! This was an intriguing article and I’m curious your reaction.

 

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