Beyond The Buzz

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– Ray Bradbury

Facebook Isn’t Your Friend

Published June 29th, 2016 in Our Blog, Social Media | Comments Off on Facebook Isn’t Your Friend

BeWarned-254x134Note: This article originally appeared on Beyond the Buzz owner Lori Twichell’s personal site, www.loritwichell.com. We felt it important to share it here since so much of what we do involves social media.

So I’m starting off this article with a bit of a warning.  This is my blog and these are my thoughts. You don’t have to agree and it is not my assumption that if you disagree you hate me or you want me to die. Sounds like a really dire warning doesn’t it? But these days, it is, sadly, far more relevant than outlandish.

A few years ago, I was a writer. Only a writer. Not a social media guru or marketing pro. Just made a living writing stories for the masses. At the time, I was working on a radio drama and some members of the cast (all of whom were teens and young people) were on social media and they encouraged me to join. They assured me it would be easier to get together there and have conversations than it was to follow a mass email chain. So I did it. If I recall correctly, one of the people on the staff of the show set up my account (to  my specifications of course!) and voila! I was introduced to Facebook.

At first it was a weird sort of relationship. I sort of forgot it existed and really, I didn’t have a ton of friends on there yet. So I’d go in and check about once a week. That was the extent of it.

And then a couple of my friends moved away. That’s not unusual for me. My  husband is former military after all. But I realized if my friends were on Facebook, I could keep in touch.  I could see their kids grow up.  I could be a part of their lives. And my relationship with Facebook went to the next level. We’ll say it went from randomly  bumping into each other at a social gathering and waving awkwardly across the room to “Hey, want to have coffee sometime?”

From there, I found friends from high school and college and even some from elementary school. Facebook was suddenly looking not so bad! My church started getting online and that really shifted everything. Birthday parties were being planned on Facebook and Bible studies were set up via events. Suddenly my relationship with Facebook became a “Let’s do movie night together!” sort of thing.

And then I started working on Facebook and that is when things really shifted.  I was (still am!) being paid to be there after all. And my favorite movies and TV shows are there and all of my friends are there too. How cool to be paid to work at a place where ALL your friends hang out and the latest happenings are going on! We were together every day all the time.

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But then things moved another level  in my relationship with Facebook.  I was connected ALL the time. I got a phone and a tablet – both of which allowed me to be connected constantly. In the mornings, in bed at night…Facebook was always there. And I started documenting  my life in order to share it with Facebook. In a huge line at a sneak preview of a movie? Oh, take a picture and show Facebook! Look at this amazing lunch -I must show Facebook!  I wasn’t reaching out to my friends. I was starting to think of Facebook as another entity.  And I was looking for approval. I wanted Facebook to know how cool my life was. How cool I was.

To be fair, this shift didn’t happen in  a void. Facebook has also spent the last several years reaching out to me and reminding me how important I am to it. (I know how weird that sounds, but bear with me here.) I’d get emails nudging me toward sharing things. I would get notifications on my phone asking  if I was okay or if I enjoyed lunch. They sound creepy, but haven’t any of you seen the “You haven’t posted in a while – we miss you” sorts of ‘nudges’ that they send? I remember being at a restaurant and getting a pop up from Facebook on my phone asking if I’d enjoyed lunch. If I did,  I should share it with people and review the restaurant! Seriously?? That was when I turned off all notifications on my phone and I turned off location services. That creeped me out. A lot.

Somewhere along the line though, Facebook went from some tool that I could use to keep  in touch with my friends to something that was inextricably linked to my life. I didn’t realize how much until the past few weeks.

Not long ago, a very young friend of ours had some troubles with the law. He made some stupid mistakes and got into trouble. He was a teenager. And the news covered the story. And this young man that I know and my family loves deeply was dragged through the mud by Social Justice Warriors (SJW – I know you’ve seen them). People who had never met him and knew nothing about him outside of social media were openly calling for him to be lynched. Beaten. There were calls for violence against him and horrifying things were said. I was literally sick to my stomach and had to tell his mother to stay offline. He was young, stupid, and  he made a horrible mistake.  But the things people were calling for? Out of hand. And I couldn’t wrap my mind around the vitriol and violence against this young man.

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Since then, that vitriol and violence seems to be spilling  over everywhere in comment sections of news stories. I had to stop reading. I focused only on my friends and what they have going on in their lives.  I didn’t look at the Target bathroom stories or the gorilla mom. I knew what I would find and I didn’t want to wallow in that mud or fight that battle.

But then  shootings in Orlando  happened. I have so many friends there (and several of them gay friends that have been to Pulse) and my heart was just sick. I spent hours on Sunday clicking through every news story I could find until I got messages from all of my friends letting me know that they were okay. Then I breathed easy. Thank God my friends were okay.  I used Facebook to tell them how much I love them and how deeply I care about every part of their lives.

But then the facade I’d built around my ‘friendship’ with Facebook began to chip and break away. It wasn’t just the comments anymore. It was status updates. From MY friends.  People calling for justice. Angry. Screaming (on Facebook) via memes and ALL CAPS about their thoughts. And it became too much.  It wasn’t just the comments. It was my whole news feed. Everyone was divided.  Some friends screaming with Bible verses others screaming their hatred of Christians. It became a brawl and I didn’t want to be in the middle of it.

Oh wait – did I not mention I am a Christian? Oh. I am. I don’t see the need to scream that from the mountaintops and shout it in every update. I don’t, by any stretch hide it. Anyone who knows me understands that it is not some sideline for me. It’s part of my DNA. I do talk about it. I pray on Facebook. I post scriptures. It’s not everything I post but it’s by no means hidden either. With regard to my faith,  it has always been my belief that if I am there, living my life and loving people (even through the sin, folks…seriously that’s part of it) then they will see Christ in me. I’m friends with a lot of prominent leaders in gay politics and organizations. They know I’m a Christian. I know they’re gay. We still love each  other. We agree to disagree.

But this week, I saw a lot of friends talking about their hatred of Christians and how we’re all haters and how WE are the reason there are all of these problems. It wasn’t just one or two. It was a lot. (Ironically, my friends who are leaders in those gay organizations were not on that bandwagon. I did find that interesting.)  I have a lot of questions, thoughts and opinions on that aspect of things. Everyone screaming “stop the hate” and “hate kills” but it’s okay to turn that hatred on me? And many of those friends say “I mean ALL Christians Lori. Not you specifically.”  But I AM a Christian. That IS me. It’s not okay to throw a label on “all gays” or “all races” or all….anything. But it’s okay to say those things about all Christians? I’m a little stunned at that. And it hurts. A lot. These are people I feel I’ve loved deeply and faithfully and well and they are now screaming that Christians need to be dragged through the streets. It hurts me personally. You can message “I didn’t mean you Lori” but….how does that work? Again, I’m working on sorting through my feelings of all of that. It’s a bunny trail. Sorry. Back to the actual topic.

That isn’t Facebook’s fault, really. I know that.  But being so connected on every level to every story EVERYWHERE and being able to get involved in ALL of it – I think that’s becoming a dangerous place for society. Years ago, we only had news on at 6:00 and 11:00. Breaking news came into the day and it was only the major headlines so we all knew what’s happening in the world. There wasn’t a 24 hour a day 7 day a week void that needs to be filled constantly so that the smallest thing happening in another state or another city became breaking news. “Woman yelled at for breastfeeding.”  “Man charged for taking water from hot springs in Yellowstone.” “Pet left in car in heat.”  Those didn’t used to be things that would illicit death threats. And yet now they are. Every day. The smallest thing trends on Facebook and EVERYONE has a right to comment. This can be a great and powerful thing. Some things can’t be hidden now.  What if the Nazi regime had happened during the time of social media and the internet? Would it have gone on so long? I’d like to say no. But I have a friend fighting sex trafficking and rescuing girls and boys EVERY DAY and she’s constantly trying to get the message over the ‘noise’ of what so and so wore out on a date the other night or who tweeted something stupid. So maybe it still would have. It’s hard to say.

Beyond all of that, I realized how much I had invited Facebook into my life. How much time I spent there. How much I shared there. And I’m uncomfortable with it at this point.  I gave Facebook a full and free pass to me, my kids, my schooling, my meals, our vacations…  Facebook isn’t someone in my life. It’s a TOOL to keep in touch with the someones in my life. And I want that. But I really need to step back and see how much access I want Facebook to have to my world. Every update I give, they have on record and keep it. Every picture. Every quote. Every meme. Facebook has my life in their servers. And I think I forgot that for a while. I began to really see Facebook as someone I needed to keep updated about every little thing. But when I stop to think that some random stranger at FB HQ could pull up everything I have ever said and paint their own picture about me, it scared me a bit.

More than that, what am I teaching my kids about what’s okay to share and what isn’t? In working on the film Caged No More, I talked daily  with parents who had no idea what their kids were sharing on Facebook. Class schedules, addresses, meet ups at locations….when it’s on Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) I don’t care how locked down you are, it’s NATIONAL. INTERNATIONAL. Hackers from anywhere can get that. And you might think that’s over-blowing things. Look at it this way,  if my daughter posts something, she can have it totally  locked down but  her friends can lift it. Oh what? She has it privacy locked? Only her friends can see it? But if a friend really wants to, they can copy/paste it. Put her name on it. And then she is out there whether she wants to be or not.  That’s happened to both her and I.  I don’t know if people stop and think about that part of things enough.
1369379977_94626I’m not leaving Facebook. We aren’t completely breaking up. I still work there.  Whether I like it or not, I own several businesses and have a public persona to maintain on the site in order to keep working in my industry.  I still visit there regularly to see what my friends and loved ones are up to. And I’ll update it with the things that I feel like my friends need to know. Facebook is not going be another person in my house and I’m hopefully going to keep it where it belongs. As a tool.  I just don’t want to live there anymore.

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing, Radiant Lit, and Fiction Addict.  She is a screenwriter, speaker, and business consultant. 

Facebook Official Page…Instead of a Website?

Published July 23rd, 2013 in Marketing, Our Blog, Strategies | Comments Off on Facebook Official Page…Instead of a Website?

Recently I had a client mention to me that they had no interest in developing their own website for their company. The reasoning behind this was that they have a Facebook Official Page and that, in their mind, served their purpose. After all, it’s got their logo/branding on it, they interact daily with their customers, and the biggest reason; it’s cheap.

Though I understand all of those points (and trust me, they are valid), when you weigh out the pros and cons, it just doesn’t add up.

Here are a few things to consider.

On Facebook, you’re playing in someone else’s playground with someone else’s rules. In the past year or two, we’ve seen a serious crackdown at Facebook with regard to business pages. Your cover photo can’t reference your website address or give any contact information, it must include minimal (20% of the space) content or copy and contests or promotions are harshly regulated.

Kirk-Cameron-Unstoppable__130721153716Though you have the ability to interact on a personal level with your customer base, Facebook can, at any time, decide not to play nicely with you. Recently Kirk Cameron discovered this when his new film was banned by the social media mogul. For hours on end people were unable to post anything in their status updates about the film, the website or even just the name! Facebook put a serious halt to those marketing efforts. (It’s my suspicion that someone  – or perhaps a group of people “ turned in Cameron’s film for being spam. An automatic system will shut down whatever is being linked to or talked about until Facebook has the chance to go through their records and do their own research.) Now to be honest, it ended up working to the film’s favor. Cameron put his own post out on his own page about it and thanks to the power of grass roots marketing, his fanbase reacted. Not only that, they reacted strongly. Facebook was not only inundated with complaints and concerns about it (and subsequently put the film back into circulation on its pages) but the news media took OFF with the information! Outlets went crazy at the idea that a social media company as huge as Facebook would take action against a film in this manner.

There was a happy ending for Cameron’s story including a mountain of publicity, but unless your fans or clients are as rabidly passionate as his are, yours will likely not have a similar ending. Without a mass outcry like what he was able to get, Facebook could take weeks, months, or years to sort through your page and decide whether your company is worthy or not. It would be easy to see this happening to a business and have them waiting weeks or even months for investigations to be completed.

Facebook is a highly effective and valuable resource when included as a part of a larger marketing plan. So many companies are now using it that without a Facebook page or presence, your business isn’t looked upon as legitimate or real. It’s important to keep all of this in mind when figuring out where and how Facebook fits into your plan.

It’s definitely important to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites as part of your plan, but don’t rely on any of them as your sole or whole presence online. If so, you’re handing over branding and marketing of your company to a corporation that doesn’t know or care who you are or what you do.

Facebook Newsflash: You’re Not the Customer

Published May 8th, 2013 in Marketing, Our Blog, Social Media | Comments Off on Facebook Newsflash: You’re Not the Customer

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you’re often in a race with the site to make sure your privacy settings remain private. It seems like a constant battle to update, make sure you’ve got all the settings the way they  need to be… It can sort of feel like that moment when you’re checking to make sure your skirt isn’t accidentally tucked in  your waistband? C’mon ladies – we’ve all had that moment right? Just me? Okay – let’s move on then.

There’s a good reason for that. When it comes to Facebook, you aren’t the customer. You’re not the client. Or the consumer. In this instance, you’re the product. Think about that for a minute. YOU are what Facebook is trying to sell to make money. That’s why we can sign all the petitions we want and make the protests we want, but in the long run, we’re still gonna end up stuck with Timeline and unchecking those ‘personalize’ boxes in all of our profiles.

You see, Facebook makes money with advertisements and going to the big companies to sell…you. How many people are on Facebook? How often do they click on an ad? How much do they tell everyone what they are doing? How about checking in at a store or a restaurant? That’s what they take to these companies and the companies, in turn, buy advertising that appeals to you.

Last Christmas one of my friends posted a screen cap of the images on his computer. It had my name, my picture, and the message “Lori Twichell likes Starbucks. Why don’t you give her a gift?” Another of my friends posted a link to a funny item she found on Amazon.com. That post stayed at the top of my news feed for weeks. Why did it stay there? Cause Facebook has a deal with Amazon and when my friend posted that link, it alerted something somewhere and Amazon paid for it to stay on my news feed.

It’s frustrating when you consider it that way right? But keeping that in mind can also help you remember what you’re comfortable putting on the site. And it might alleviate some of the stress over “Why aren’t they listening to me?? I don’t WANT timeline!”

Keeping that perspective in mind might also help you be more vigilant about your security settings and what the updates to apps and Facebook mean for your privacy.  It’s also important to remember this on your business pages. Make sure you are aware of what you’re putting out there and that if it’s on Facebook, it belongs to them – not you.

 

 

 

Facebook Privacy – the Graph App and other things you need to know

Published February 5th, 2013 in Our Blog, Social Media | Comments Off on Facebook Privacy – the Graph App and other things you need to know

This morning a friend posted a Facebook Privacy warning with the very dire words “I WILL HAVE TO DELETE” you in the post. Of course, this made me wonder what I would need to do now to maintain a friendship but more importantly, to maintain my own security on the popular social networking site.

Her warning went like this:

WARNING!!! FACEBOOK HAS CHANGED THEIR PRIVACY SETTINGS ONCE MORE!!! DUE TO THE NEW GRAPH APP ANYONE ON FACEBOOK (INCLUDING OTHER COUNTRIES) CAN SEE YOUR PICTURES, LIKES, AND COMMENTS. The next 2 weeks I will be posting this, and please once you have done it please post DONE! Those of you who do not keep my information from going out to the public, I will have to DELETE YOU! I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. I post shots of my family that I don’t want strangers to have access to!!! This happens when our friends click “like” or “comment”… automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it that way. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (DO NOT CLICK), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “LIFE EVENTS” and “COMMENTS & LIKES”. By doing this, my activity among my friends and family will no longer become public. Now, copy and paste this on your wall. Once I see this posted on your page, I will do the same.

I have seen posts similar to this before that were labeled a hoax, so I decided to do some research and see what I could find. I went to Snopes and then after that, I also did some more digging. (Because as much as I love Snopes, I have on occasion not found their answers to be completely satisfactory. Not always, but sometimes….)

Snopes had an explanation of the warning and showed here that it claimed to be a mixture of true and false.  While the concerns are still there, it states that performing the steps within the instructions left on my friends status won’t actually fix anything, but they will hide some results FROM YOU.

So how can we actually go about doing something of value that will FIX this?  Snopes cites a security site, Sophos, for their answer.

What happens is this:

1. You have “friends of friends” or “public” as the privacy setting for your posts.
2. One of your Facebook friends comments on your post, or clicks “Like”.
3. As well as all the people commenting on the thread seeing what has been posted (this much is normal), Facebook also tells all *their* friends what was said.
4. Your friend’s settings *cannot* stop this from happening, *your* settings can protect your friends’ privacy, in this instance.

What do they suggest?

* Stop using the “Friends of friends” setting. This is what is broadcasting so widely.

* If you use the “Public” setting, explain that you are doing so. Then people can decide if they want *all* of their friends to be informed of their comments.

* “Limit” all previous posts you have made via the privacy settings (unless you had “friends only” or specific lists already) – this will change everything to “friends” only and will stop people you deleted but did not block, people who sent you friend requests that you ignored, and friends of friends from seeing your activity (yes they can, if you are not on “Friends” or lists).

* Use lists to decide who you want to see things (use the privacy controls in the top right of your posts).

* Encourage your friends to restrict their setting to “friends” or custom lists too. This is the important bit.

* Inform strangers or the connecting friend when strangers show up in your feed. It is their settings that made them show up. This will illustrate to them why they also need to change their settings.

They wrap up their article by saying this:

Still baffled? Don’t worry.  The problem is complicated to explain, but the solution is simple. If you want to stop strangers from seeing everything you do, you and your friends need to change your privacy settings to “Friends” or custom lists. That’s it.

The hard part is getting your friends to do it.

If you find your friends aren’t understanding the issue, forget about explaining the details and “copy and paste” this to your status:

"If you don't want your actions broadcast to everyone via the ticker/News Feed please set your privacy to "Friends" and ask your friends to do the same. Pass it on."

 

Now, finding a solution, or a potential (hopeful!) solution to this issue wasn’t enough for me. I’d seen the lower portion of the original status update before, but had never seen anything on the Graph App. So I thought I’d look that one up.

It seems that (for some of us who have been busy working and unable to keep up with the daily changes to our privacy put out there by Facebook) a new app has been developed which will, once again, mine your information that you’ve put on Facebook. It’s a Graph Search. Your friends can search “Favorite movie” and it seems that you (and all of their other friends) can be collated to one big graph showing whenever you’ve mentioned a movie. You can see more about the new Facebook Graph Search at Geek.com and here at Business2Community.com . Both articles explain more but unfortunately, neither one gives a fix. Basically at this juncture we need to wait for someone to figure out how we can plug this security hole.

I’ve got to admit, all of these security issues with Facebook are beginning to feel a little like watching someone cut off your finger while saying “I’m sure that there’s an ambulance around the corner will get here to help at some point.” A good friend pointed out to me recently that my anger over Facebook privacy issues was misplaced. I of course, got indignant at that but then he said “You’re viewing it like a consumer. You’re NOT a consumer or their customer. YOU are Facebook’s product.”  But I think that concept might just be another blog entry…

-Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing, Radiant Lit and Fiction Addict. She co-hosts Christian Work at Home Ministries radio with her partner, Jill Hart. Lori’s guidance, mentoring and advice have been featured in articles and relied upon by film and television production companies, authors, actors, speakers and corporations.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Published April 6th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Recently, I’ve had a spate of clients who have come to me after having not so pleasant experiences with other marketing companies or agencies.  The vast majority of these people have paid a fortune for products or services that didn’t benefit their company at all but they were part of a package that was sold to them by very prominent marketing companies. By the time these clients have gotten to me, they’re broke, their marketing needs a complete overhaul, and they’re gun shy.  

How can you avoid letting this happen to you?

Make sure you get what you pay for. One of my current clients was paying almost $2000 a month to a marketing company for Facebook and Twitter posts once a day that ended up being automated based on their own company blog. Do you get the significance of that? Someone in my client’s company was spending a good portion of their own time writing thought provoking business related blog posts and this marketing company just tweeted the title of the blog entry with a link back to my client’s blog. Oh and did I mention that every single tweet had the marketing company’s name in it somewhere? Seriously. That’s $2000 a month that my client was paying to have their own content tweeted by a company once a day while the marketing company was getting a shout out with each tweet. Social media marketing does not have to be an expensive venture.

  1. Check the numbers. Find out how many hours they plan to work on your social media marketing each month. Then ask how many posts/tweets that translates into and how much interaction they’ll provide with your fans/followers. Then do the math. You may find out you’re paying someone $100 an hour to make one tweet or post for you every day.  Is that worth the value to you?
  2. Ask for examples. You want to see current clients and what they’re doing for those clients. Then watch the Twitter/Facebook posts and see if they’re delivering.
  3. Find out who will provide the content. If you’re still required to provide the information, facts, etc. then you shouldn’t be paying a significant amount to someone else to package it into 140 characters or less.
  4. Watch closely.  Once you’ve hired someone to do your social media marketing, keep an eye on what they’re doing. It’s your company. Not theirs. Are they effectively sharing your message? Are they giving you everything they promised? And are your fans/followers responding to that message? If not, then you need to re-evaluate that relationship.
  5. Ask questions. Any company worth paying can answer the questions you have about social media marketing.

 

The last thing to remember is a big one. There are a lot of self proclaimed social media ‘experts’ out there. Listen, there is no school giving degrees in social media. There’s no one certifying social media specialists and there’s no list of social media experts you can trust that’s out there. Social media is something that’s recently cropped up with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and before that, Myspace. When people realized the value in these venues, they began utilizing them. As they should. This created the social media phenomenon. But it does not create social media experts.  Spending time online does not make an expert. Just because someone spends a vast amount of time on Facebook or Twitter does not mean that they are a social media expert. They need to understand your message inside and out and be able to effectively communicate that relationship to your audience. At the same time, they need to build a relationship between your company and that audience in a professional manner. Make sure that whoever you hire to carry your company message knows more than just Twitter and Facebook. Effective social media requires effective marketing and communication. Period. There are no shortcuts when it comes to your company’s message.

Next time: Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.