Tag Archives: Social media

Facebook rolls out new design for news feed

Facebook Timeline updateFacebook is slowly rolling out changes to your news feed, but this new design may not leave you grumbling like all the other changes. Unlike previous design updates, this layout one is intuitive and easy to figure out. It allows you to customize your feed based on your interests and viewing habits.

facebook photos newsfeedI think the new design features a cleaner look that’s customizable based on what you want to see. The stories and photos in your feed are bigger. You can also customize your news feed on the right hand side. You can select recent, all friends, or just photos. When you select photos only, your news feed is filled with large photos that your friends posted. The photos are vivid and large. It’s like a slideshow of your friends lives. It’s so customizable, you could view photos only from people you went to school with or your work colleagues. It’s all based on groups you create. You can also choose a news feed based on music or games. It’s all based on your interest or mood at the time.

new timeline 2 edited There is a sidebar full of icons that allow you to easily navigate to the other sections of Facebook like events, photos, and messages. There is even an icon to build a family tree.

News feed family tree icon The family tree is not an app, but you need to add it to your timeline. You can build it right on the web. You click add a family member, and Facebook automatically populates possible people. It’s pretty accurate, and based on your previous interactions and mentions. You can even get stats on your family, like age distribution, gender distribution, alive/deceased.

Facebook is trying to get you to spend more time on their site. While the family tree is an interesting feature, you need to consider what you are telling the social media site and all your friends. At some point, you need to consider what to share and what not to share. Privacy is becoming more of a privilege than a right, and we’re partly to blame. While social media sites make it easier to share and connect, the more we share the more we give up our right to privacy.

The family tree is a neat feature, because it makes it easy to see how you’re connected to loved ones. It’s visually laid out for you. However, think about what you’re doing and how much of your privacy you’re compromising.

privacy settings

Whenever changes are made, it’s a good idea to check your privacy settings. You can do this by clicking at the top of your Facebook page and choosing Settings. Then click privacy from the left hand column. You can also find privacy settings as a lock icon in the sidebar.

Most of these changes seem to effect your news feed only. The Timeline page looks the same, other than the icons that are on the left allowing you to navigate to different sections of Facebook.

My husband got the new look this weekend, but I still don’t have it. If you want to get it earlier than scheduled for your Timeline, you can add your name to the waiting list.

Facebook explains the new design here. What do you think of the changes?

Related links you may like: 
Facebook Timeline 101
How to use Facebook Graph Search
Facebook Timeline privacy

“There’s an app for that” wedding

Our wedding. Destin, FL.

Our wedding. Destin, FL.

Last year at this time I was frantically finalizing all the details of our wedding. Flash forward a year and I’m being asked my opinion about certain wedding planning websites. Planning a wedding takes organization and patience. I carried around a journal type notebook as I went vendor to vendor to get price quotes. Apparently, I am far from a 2013 bride because “there’s an app for that.”

The wedding industry has gone mobile. It makes sense because every other industry is dealing with the rise in popularity of smartphones. A quick search on my iPhone brings up 1,999 apps so you can organize your wedding at your fingertips.

The survey was for a wedding website, and there were many questions about my use of mobile apps. Obviously, this is the next frontier of wedding planning.

Using an app never really crossed my mind. I was so overwhelmed by all the details and spreadsheets I had for addresses, RSVPs, gifts, and costs that I never thought about an app. I was in information overload and struggled to keep track of everything on a big computer screen. Perhaps if I had a tablet it would make more sense.

wedding websiteIn fact, I didn’t even use the website tools that many sites provide to organize items like your budget and checklist reminders. I simply used the websites to search for reviews of vendors and to create a website for our guests. I kept my checklists on Word documents and my figures on Excel documents. Nice and simple. Just like the wedding.

Plus, while I was meeting with vendors I often looked on my phone for other suggestions or answered phone calls. Since I had a destination wedding, I was juggling many appointments that were crammed into my three day visit to the town before the wedding. I needed my phone for other things. I couldn’t use it to take notes on an app. My handy paper journal worked just great.

While an app wasn’t a part of my wedding plan, it’s something to consider especially as these apps advance and become more sophisticated and user friendly. It might make your life easier. Most brides are looking to cut down on the stress.  That help may be within reach. After all, there’s an app for that. 

Tweet your way to customer satisfaction

airline lineThere is an art to complaining, and I’ve always tried to emphasize that to consumers who call me for help. If you don’t approach the situation properly, you may be your own worst enemy and end up with no resolution. How the times have changed. I started out in the business teaching people how to complain properly in writing, and then with online disputes, and now it’s turned to social media disputes. If used effectively, Twitter and Facebook are great tools to get customer satisfaction.

Facebook and Twitter have evolved into sounding boards and real time reflections of a company’s customer satisfaction. Companies are beginning to realize they need to manage their social media pages. Some businesses are better than others in dealing with this new frontier in customer service.

Recently, I put social media complaints to the test. We were flying back to Kansas City, and of course it was snowing in Cleveland. Many airline sites now allow you to track the history of your plane, so you can see if it’s on time or delayed in another part of the country. I noticed that our plane was delayed in Canada and still had to go to New York and New Hampshire before making its way to Cleveland. Based on the available data, I knew our plane was going to be four to five hours late.

I called the airline and tried to use the old fashioned version of customer service. After waiting on the phone for a half hour, I got a representative who offered me no help. She just repeated what the computer said. The plane was on a short delay, even though digging deeper on that same computer system showed at least a four hour delay based on all the cities that plane had to visit before Cleveland.

There was another plane leaving for Kansas City just two hours after our scheduled flight. I asked for seats on that plane. I was told that wasn’t possible.

Out of complete desperation, I got on Twitter and shared my travel story making sure I mentioned the airline. Within minutes, I got a direct message from the airline asking me for my reservation #. I sent it back to the airline, and they asked if I wanted to get on the 8 PM flight. Within 30-40 minutes, I had two seats on the 8 o’clock flight.

Once it was resolved, I tweeted my satisfaction showing the airline I appreciated what they did.

When we arrived at the airport to depart Cleveland, we saw long lines of frustrated passengers trying to rearrange their flights with customer service. People were waiting in line and on the phone. I wanted to get on the loud speaker and tell all those people to hang up and get out of line and get online. Sharing your travel nightmare on Twitter or Facebook is quick, easy, and the best way to get customer satisfaction.

Airline social media pages are full of customers who are asking for help, and full of responses from the airlines. While many airlines monitor their social media page, some companies don’t respond to these types of complaints. Some consumers say their complaints are even erased from some Facebook pages.

I think companies need to improve their social media response efforts, so the expectation of a response is more uniform. That being said, customers also need to improve their attitudes toward companies.

I’ve always found that you’re more likely to achieve a resolution if you put aside your deepest hatred for the company. Keep a level head, and share your story in a concise and friendly manner. Don’t be accusatory or sarcastic. Just use straight-forward language and sell yourself as an appealing and appeasble customer.

Next time you have a problem, try social media. You might be surprised at the response.

Facebook settlement email is legitimate, but there are some catches

facebookEmails are appearing in Inboxes alerting you to a cash settlement involving a Facebook lawsuit, but many people are dismissing the email thinking it’s a ripoff.  Before you hit delete, read the fine print. You are entitled for up to $10.

The lawsuit settles an issue with advertising of your photo in a sponsored story. As part of the deal, Facebook will pay $20 million up to $10 a person. You’ll get an email if your picture was used in this form of advertising.

The claim form asks for your bank account and routing number, so the $10 can be directly deposited. However, the paper form also says you can choose for a paper check instead. I suggest you do this if you have privacy concerns. The fine print says the personal information given will only be used for settlement purposes.

If there are too many claimants for a $10 payment, the amount will be reduced based on the number of claimants. If it’s economically unfeasible to pay anyone, the money will be given to charity.

You have to submit claims by May 2, 2013 on the settlement page.

Facebook Graph Search explained – will you use it?

Facebook Graph Search Ever try to search for something on Facebook and turn up with nothing? We provide so much information to the social media site, but it’s hard to get access to all that information in a way we can use. Facebook is trying to change the way we search for information by introducing Graph Search.

The name of the new search function seems a bit too technical for me. It appears to explain what’s happening behind the scenes with all the information you share. Look beyond the name, because there is some useful functionality to this search option that will eventually appear on the top of pages. Currently, it’s only in beta form as the social media powerhouse works on the bugs to this new tool.

The new search function will allow you to search for people in a whole new way. The first part of the roll-out will focus on your connections to people, photos, places and interests. For example, you can find people from your hometown who like hiking or have been to a certain place, photos of a certain location, restaurants in a town, tourist attractions in a country visited by your friends, or music your friends like. The search results will be based on the information others provide.

It’s a way to connect with new people based on your interests or find out who might be a good source of information for a city or restaurant you might be thinking about visiting. Want to find a good Chinese food in a new city? This new search bar may provide you some useful suggestions and even maybe some reviews from friends. Need someone to bike with that lives near you? Try Facebook’s new search tool once it’s rolled out.

My profile on Graph Search results

My profile on Graph Search results

This will only be as good as the information feeding it, or the information you feed into it. Based on the example I saw, most of the information is pulled from your “about” section and the pages you like. Here’s how my work profile appears in a the Graph Search tool. It contains mostly by bio information and the number of friends in common with the person searching.

It’s a way for you to search all the information people share about themselves and interests on Facebook. Currently it is a little tricky to search for specific people with interests and likes on Facebook. It will be much easier to find information people posted in the past rather than scrolling through their Timeline to find the content you are looking for. It will also be easier for you to see what you have in common with others.

This new search function brings up the issue of privacy once again. You need to be careful what you share on Facebook, as so much of it is searchable. Spend some time exploring the Facebook privacy settings so you know exactly what is private and what is not. Of course, some of it you can’t control as it depends on what your friends share about you as well. If you’re tagged in a photo you don’t want to be tagged in, delete the tag. Be proactive about your privacy. Don’t let others control it.

Facebook said it will honor the privacy settings of individuals so search results for the Graph Search will vary based on the settings you choose. “You can look up anything shared with you on Facebook, and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them, including content set to Public,” Facebook said.

I think it might be hard to figure out how to use this new search tool at first, and of course there will always be those who complain about all the changes. The good thing with this change — if you don’t like it don’t use it. It’s doesn’t appear as though your entire profile page will change much like we saw with the Timeline changes. Just understand your information that you input on this free site will be searchable now and used by others in a whole new way. Perhaps ways you can’t even imagine at this time. Be careful what you share if you’re worried about privacy.

What do you think about the new tool? Will you use it once it’s rolled out to everyone? Click comment below to join the conversation.

What were they thinking?

instagramWhen are companies going to learn the power of social media? People now use Twitter and Facebook to complain about their problems and get action on them. They also use social media to vent their opinion about new policies and procedures that impact all users. Yet time and time again we see companies making irrational changes that spark outrage among customers. Then, the company is forced to change their course of action to react to the outrage. It leaves me asking – what were they thinking?

Facebook, a social media company that knows the power of that medium, is the latest company to make a decision that upset many users. The company owns Instagram,  a photo sharing app that allows you to quickly treat your photos with filters. The new terms included some complicated and clumsy language which made it seem like the photos you upload through the app are up for grabs by advertisers without notifying you or paying you. Of course, that sparked outrage. Users threatened to delete their accounts before the changes in mid-January.

The negative publicity sparked Instagram to change the language and make their point more clear. The company now says you  own the photos you upload with their app and they won’t be used in advertising.

Maybe Facebook didn’t think the negative pressure would be that intense with Instagram. After all, they make decisions all the time that spark outrage. Remember, the growing pains with Timeline? Facebook usually continues on with their plan despite the negative comments. People predicted Google+ would take over as king of the social media world after repeated changes at Facebook. That never happened. This move was unique for the social media company. They don’t always cave to social media pressure.

netflixThis is not the first time a company took a beating in the social media world.  In 2011, Netflix was under fire for the decision to change its name and pricing structure. The name Netflix made the company famous; then it decided to split the company’s DVD and streaming business by adding Qwikster. The backlash led to a change in position weeks later.

On the Netflix blog; the CEO wrote, “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words no Qwikster.”

What is wrong with these companies? Don’t they use focus groups to test new products and ideas? If these companies are so easily persuaded by social media pressure, which I would argue they have no choice, why don’t they propose the changes they are thinking about instead of announcing the implementation? That way they don’t need to apologize or backtrack if the Twittersphere or social media landscape reacts poorly.

Some companies don’t cave to public pressure as they’ve clearly evaluated their business decisions before announcing them. For example, the stores that opened on Thanksgiving evening around 8 PM received pressure for opening on a holiday. While the publicity was intense, these companies knew the majority of customers would still shop on Thanksgiving. The businesses even said their decision to open earlier was based on customer demand.

For a few weeks, the stores endured some negative attention. In the end, their cash registers rang and rang as they racked up unprecedented sales. Opening on Thanksgiving was a huge business win, and a win they expected because they obviously did their research before they made the decision.

Social media is powerful especially when your customer base is a tech savvy bunch as in the case of Instagram. One could make the argument that companies don’t think this through on purpose because they want any and all attention. Whatever the case may be, these crazy business decisions have me asking over and over: what were they thinking?

What do you think? Weigh in below by clicking comment.

Related links you may like:
Netflix changing DVD service to Qwikster
Netflix gets rid of Qwikster
Navigating Facebook Timeline
Facebook Timeline privacy

Social media “sharing” out of control – now you can share voicemails

Courtesy: Sprint

How much information are we going to share with the world? It seems every product or service has a way to share it on social media. Now, add voicemail to that long list. In my opinion, that’s going a bit too far.

My cell phone’s voicemail prompted me to upgrade recently, and the new feature is sharing voicemails. I couldn’t believe it. How far is this “sharing” business going to go? Can I have any privacy anymore? I’m losing control over all my information because now others are in control of it and how it’s disseminated.

Not only is voicemail sharing a bit intrusive for me, it’s almost a violation of sorts. As a journalist, I know voicemails are touchy subjects and make station lawyers cringe.  I know some journalists (not me) who have been fined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for using voicemails in broadcast stories without permission. You also can’t use a recorded phone conversation unless you’ve received permission. These rules exist for broadcasting over the airwaves on TV, but what about broadcasting on social media?

Once again, the Internet is like the Wild Wild West. Pretty much anything goes. The regulations are so far behind what’s happening on the Internet. We have very little privacy and control of our information. You’re tracked online for advertising purposes and marketing efforts. That’s why you’ll see a shoe ad on your browser for weeks after searching for shoes. There are things you can do to prevent this tracking, and the Federal Trade Commission is trying to come up with standards for information that’s collected online but the rules are so far behind technology.

We are taking this “sharing” a bit too far. Luckily, I haven’t seen too many people sharing voicemails on social media yet. Is it a phone’s way of staying relevant since soon we probably won’t even leave voicemails or make phone calls in the future? I don’t know, but I do know I won’t be sharing voicemails and I hope one I leave for someone isn’t shared without my permission until I hear on your voicemail  “Hi this is Susy. I can’t get to the phone right now. If you leave a message, I’ll get back to you or I may just post it on social media.” BEEP! That way I can just hang up.

Saving money with Facebook: Offers and checking in to locations

There are lots of places to find digital coupons. You’ll find manufacturer coupons for the grocery store in one place, and free shipping codes for online purchases on another site. Now, you can save money just by logging into Facebook. These new ads are different from the ones you’re used to seeing on the right hand side of your Facebook page. Facebook “Offers” appear in  your news feed.

When you “Like” a business page, you are entitled to special promotions from that company. Some are providing their loyal “likers” an “offer” for money off a product. When a deal or promotion is underway from a company you liked, you’ll see it in y our news feed.

This is a way for businesses to promote themselves, but also a chance for them to get to know their customers. The advertiser has access to your information when you “Like” their page.  If this sounds interesting to you, you may consider “liking” a few more pages so you can take advantage of the deals.

These promotions may seem amazing on the surface. Just read the fine print so you know the limitations.

When you see an offer in your news feed, you simply hit “Get Offer” to claim it. The deal is emailed to your account on file.

If you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, perhaps you’ve seen a friend take advantage of an offer. When a friend gets an offer, it appears in your news feed.

The offers are for in store, in store or online, or online only.

Another way to cash in on deals is to check-in with Facebook. There are very few offered in downtown Cleveland, but it’s worth it to check your area. You can search by zip code to see if there are any worth using.

Navigating Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline is topping my news feed again as more users are forced to convert. All those procrastinators who didn’t make the change on their own time, are now dealing with the Timeline on Facebook’s timeline. It is a bit scattered, and sometimes hard to find things but it’s the new reality for this free service we’re all addicted to. It’s time to revisit what the Timeline is all about and how to customize it for you.

1. First, add a cover. This is the picture you want profiled. Pick a good one, because it’s large. I originally had a vertical photo, but the cover space is more wide than tall so I think a horizontal photo works best. You can tweak the picture a little, but not enough in my opinion for a vertical photo.

Uploading a new photo takes some time, but it happens so be patient.

You want your cover photo to be different than your profile picture as that will appear in a box to the lower left of the cover photo.

2. Now, it’s time to review your posts on your Facebook Timeline. Hover over a story or post and click the star icon to feature an item and make it widescreen.

When you do this, it disrupts the flow a bit but experiment and see if you like it. It’s easy to minimize if you don’t like it. The pencil icon will allow you to hide or delete a post.

3. Facebook decides which posts will be part of your timeline and which ones will be hidden.When there is a post along your timeline, there is a dot. Look closely. Some of these dots are not associated with any posts because the dot represents a hidden When you notice this, hover over the dot  and you can see what the post says that’s hiding. While hovering, you can decide if you want to feature it or add it to your timeline.

4. Go to the upper right corner just under the cover photo and click on the Activity Log. It’s a way to manage everything you share on Facebook and it’s private. On you see the log.  Here, you can control what hits your Timeline and who sees it.

It’s much more obvious who is seeing your posts with this activity log. I recently discovered on the old Facebook profile that even if your page is private, people can see your wall posts that you made on other people’s pages and are thus subject to their privacy policies. Now, with the activity log it’s easy to control which posts are public and who actually sees them. For example, a wall post about a friends birthday showed me that all his friends can see that. It might not seem like a big deal for a birthday, but on a more sensitive post be careful if you want to keep certain aspects your life private. Having a private profile doesn’t mean everything is private. The activity log really makes this easy to follow.

An open circle on the activity log means it’s allowed on your timeline and a circle with a line through it means it’s hidden.

For more about the activity log, I highly recommend you read the Facebook explainer for more tips and tricks.

5. Map your pictures. You’ll notice the map just below your cover photo. Click on it, and you’ll be taken to a large screen of map with pictures above it. I was amazed at how many are already mapped. Things you think Facebook doesn’t know about you but really does because someone checked you into a place or previously tagged the location of a photo.

When you try to add the location of some photos, Facebook doesn’t always know where that location really is. For example, I took a girls trip to Belize recently, and Facebook mapped it in Houston, Texas.  See below.

It had one picture mapped correctly in Belize, but another friend tagged it with the name of the place we stayed. If you go generic and just do the city like Placencia, Belize it may not show up in the right place especially if it’s a different country.

It’s an interesting feature, but I think it tells a little too much about you. I think I’ll proceed with caution. I don’t mind telling people where I’ve been, but not where I am. It’s clearly a way for Facebook to get more users to use the Places feature so it might be hard to control if friends tag you as being at that place while you’re still there. For me, it’s sort of like Foursquare especially since any changes to your map are added to your News Feed. I understand social media is meant to be social and allow you to gather in places outside the Internet, but this is a little bit too much information if used and broadcast while you’re visiting that “Place.”

6. Privacy, privacy, privacy. Do we have any with all these social media changes? It’s hard to keep your information personal without doing a lot of work. I think it’s worth the time if you are somewhat interested in privacy and truly only want to share information with your true friends.

Ever wonder what your profile looks like to someone who is not your friend? There’s a button next to your activity log that with a drop down box that says “View as.” Click that and you’ll be able to view your profile as the public sees it. This will really help you decide if your privacy settings are what you want them to be.

7. You need to give Facebook your phone number to post photos from your smartphone. Want to make sure your phone number is not public? Watch this extremely information tutorial from CNET to find tips and tricks to make sure your page is as private as you want it to be. It’s worth the 3 minutes and you’ll learn a lot.

Overall impression
Overall, Timeline is not as intimidating as you might think. It just takes some time to go through your posts and make sure the ones you want featured are visible, and the ones you don’t want people to see are not visible. This is really time consuming if you are a frequent poster, don’t filter your posts, or you have been on Facebook for an extended period of time.

Also, make sure your uploaded pictures are good ones because they are quite large and prominent in Timeline. Pictures associated with a link remain about the same size.

I’m not a fan of the layout as I think it’s a bit sloppy as it Timeline’s your life. I also think it’s hard to find things on individual pages. You really need to know when something was posted.  Before I’d just click “more posts” and I’d eventually find what I needed. Really, when I use Facebook I mostly read the news feed. I don’t interact with the Timeline much at all. So, it’s a headache at first but give it some time and it will dull.

Like this post? Follow Jenn on Facebook (Jenn Strathman – WEWS) and Twitter for more posts like this one.

What do you think? Click comment below.

Android marketplace replaced by Google Play

There’s a shift in how you get apps on Android phones, and it happened rather silently. Recently, I noticed this odd app on the main page of my phone titled “Google Play.” I thought it was spam or something. After a little research I realized it’s the new Android Market and that green icon that indicates the market is now gone from my Android phone. It’s replaced by Google Play. So, what does all this mean?

Google Play is a way to sync all your devices so you can “play anywhere.” It’s also more than just apps. It’s for games, movies, books, and music. Now, all that is accessible on the web or your Android device.

I still have the old marketplace icon on one phone, and Google Play on another. The Google Play icon appears when you open the marketplace. You’re asked to agree to the terms of service for Google Play. I must have done this once, and not realized. Sometimes, I just click out of habit and don’t realizing what I’m clicking until later. Until you do this, the marketplace icon will still exist on your phone. The switch happens when you open the marketplace and agree to the new terms of service.

It’s really all about synergy. As more and more devices are introduced into the marketplace, companies are finding better ways to sync them all. The company says you can buy a song on your laptop and it’s instantly available on your phone, or download something on your phone and pick it up on your e-reader. This all works through what you may have heard referred to as the “cloud.” It’s a way to sync everything together so you can read, listen, or watch whatever you want without cords, software, or wires.

Of course, there is a social media aspect to all of this that makes it easy to share your favorite entertainment with your friends. I understand social media is all about sharing, but it’s getting a little out of hand. Soon, our news feeds will be cluttered with the songs, books, news articles, and music that are friends are reading or listening to. Plus, if retailers have their way it will have the clothing or product you just purchased. How about just comments? That’s enough sharing for me.

There’s a lot of condensing going on at Google. First, their privacy policy and now their marketplaces.  It makes for a smoother user experience, but it also gets you thinking about the next device you need to truly sync everything. If I’m going to read books, I guess I need a tablet or e-reader. Funny how a simple service change can get you thinking about that next device — that you probably really don’t need.