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At the weekend, my friend went to a party which had been thrown by one of her boyfriend’s friends. She’d never met him before so, naturally, she wanted to make a good impression. She was therefore horrified when he mentioned that before their meeting he’d had a look at her Facebook profile.
This concerned her for several reasons:
1) She thought she’d had changed her privacy settings so that only her Facebook ‘friends’ could view her personal information – obviously not!
2) Every public thing she’s ever done on the site is now easier than ever to look through thanks to her new ‘Timeline’ profile. She’s been on the site for five years so there are bound to be posts and pictures she wouldn’t want looked at, particularly by someone she wants to impress!
3) Like most people, she doesn’t like the thought of someone she doesn’t know having access to so much of her private information.
4) She is now wondering who else has had a cheeky snoop at her account?
This made me wonder, can you really have a private life if you are on Facebook? How many people have been guilty of over-sharing and, most importantly, what can people do to make sure their private lives are just that, if they do continue to have a Facebook account?With that in mind, here are some tips for managing your privacy on Facebook:
- Take the time to understand the site’s security settings. Don’t make the mistake I made of allowing your profile to be viewed by people you haven’t expressly accepted as a ‘friend.’
- Look at your timeline – do you really want your new colleagues to see drunken New Year’s Eve pictures of you from three year’s ago? If not, remove the pictures or wall posts from your Timeline. Remember, you can comb through your past and decide what to share (as each item has the option to be edited or removed from your Timeline).
- Find out what your company’s social media policy is and stick to it.
- Only accept friend requests from people who feel comfortable sharing personal information with – ask yourself, is it wise to allow my clients or colleagues access to my profile? If in doubt, leave them out!
- Keep your friends close but limit everyone else – if you do find yourself pressured into accepting a friend request from someone you are not close to, take advantage of the site’s privacy options and limit the information they can see.
- Only put information you are happy to share onto the site – do you really want 456 people to know you are going abroad for three weeks? Is it really necessary to share your ultrasound? If you do want something kept private, don’t make it visible for all to see!
Ultimately the easiest way to avoid privacy invasions is by avoiding Facebook altogether. But then you may miss out on the latest news and party invitations from your friends. So if you do want to have a profile, the onus is on you to keep information about yourself as private as possible.
I could write whatever I like about my mother here as she’s never going to see it. You see, she doesn’t ‘do’ social media. No matter how many times I’ve tried to explain, she just doesn’t get it.
Blogs, YouTube, Facebook – it all blows her mind! And as for Twitter, well I may as well try and explain the purpose of tweeting in Japanese. It’s all absolutely alien to her. “Why do people feel the need to inform others of their whereabouts or what they’re doing?” she said. Now, some might say, she’s got a point, but like it not, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms are shaping the way we share information and communicate both on a personal and professional basis.
To many, and not just my mother, social media is considered a bit of a dark art. New social networking platforms are emerging on a regular basis and unless you have a keen interest in what’s new, it can be difficult to keep up with all the latest developments.
While us PR and marketing types know that the majority of people are now active in social media, there are still some businesses that are just dipping their toes in the water.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are now essential communication channels and it sounds obvious, but if your prospects and customers are using these platforms, then you should be too. They are really effective routes to share news about your business and engage with your customers.
However, before throwing themselves in at the deep end, businesses should plan how they are going to use it, who within the business should use it, which platforms will best help support their business objectives, and most importantly what information or ‘content’ will be of most value to prospects and customers.
Social media doesn’t need to be complicated, and there are many different platforms which can help organisations in different ways. Still confused? I love this very simple explanation to social media. Surely even my mother will get this…..won’t she?
Two image-led social media platforms, Pinterest and Instagram, are currently in the industry’s spotlight. They are both reporting dramatic adoption figures. Pinterest attracts 245k unique visitors a month in the UK, whilst Instagram is recruiting 5 million new users worldwide every week.
However rather than a new phenomenon, this movement reinforces a basic principle that can sometimes be overlooked by PRs. Pictures are more important than words in storytelling. 80% of people only read a story if it is accompanied by a picture in the national press.
So if you want your company news to be not only printed, but also read, it is important that imagery is a central part of campaign planning. The visual side of a story should be researched, discussed and deliberated to the same extent as the wording of an announcement.
Picture desks look for pictures that define the news. A strong image can raise the prominence of your story, and even enable a ‘softer’ story to achieve coverage that it otherwise would not have. Make sure your picture is not an afterthought, but an image that captures both your message and also the news agenda.
However rather than an easy route in, picture editors maintain a high bar. They are also deluged with offers of images from staff, freelance photographers and PRs. The Press Association alone add 25,000 new editorial images online each week.
Furthermore many of the most talented PRs were born to write, able to make the most turgid news sound groundbreaking. However we are all not born with a good eye for a picture. To address this we include people with picture editing experience in all PR planning meetings.
But for us without the gift of visualisation, here are a few tips to help:
- Get to know the pictures that publications use and make sure your picture story reflects this. The satirical image of Nicolas Sarkozy today in The Daily Telegraph is in stark contrast to the close-up celebrity-led shot of Kate Bush on the cover of the Daily Mail and reinforces the difference in art direction and readership.
- A couple of great sources include The Guardian’s picture desk live, giving you the day’s best news photography ( www.guardian.co.uk/news/series/picture-desk-live ); The Daily Edit from blog aphotoeditor.com also gives creative inspiration.
- Work with freelance photographers who gain great coverage in your target publication. There will be a handful. Make sure you know who they are.
- Once you have your iconic image, don’t miss out due to failing on the basics – embed captions in your pictures, make sure your branding is subtle and get it to the nationals well before the 3pm editoral planning meeting.
I guess if nothing else, this all explains why the BBC’s most popular and successful schools programme of all time was called “Words and Pictures”.