Tag Archives: sharing

Protect Yourself From Online Phishing

It is always phishing season in cyberspace.  And nothing is sacred.  Hackers can get into your address book and send emails to you that appear to be from a friend.  Emails that look like they are from a known vendor or trusted brand name can appear in your inbox and ask you for login information to your account.  And then there are IRS scams, prize scams and all those oversees emails that come from someone in dire need (of your money).

How do you really know what message to trust anymore?  Here are a few things to consider before opening that next email.

Don’t click email links from “trusted” vendors.

We all sign up for emails from our bank, phone and internet company and tons of online vendors we use for personal and business transactions.  These emails can be informative in that they alert us to outstanding bills, sales, and new products.  It is for this reason spammers often try to replicate brand image of these trusted vendors and send out these fake email blasts and try to get customers to turn over their account information.

Best Practice: Do an independent internet search of your vendors and bookmark their website.  If you are still receiving paper bills you can also find their web address there. Just type it into your browser and then bookmark it.  Always go to that bookmark when logging into your account. Never click on the link in the email.

Emails with only a link in them are SPAM!

Emails coming in that have nothing more than a link in the body should be deleted immediately.  Do not click the link.  It will likely unleash some type of software that will run the spectrum of nuisance to destructive and possibly try to send its self out to your contacts as well. Speaking of contacts, you will likely receive this kind of email from someone you know, because they were hacked.

Be careful about updating your computer and software at a website’s suggestion.

Just as with opening emails from “trusted” vendors, be cautious about updating your system or web browser via links another website offers. If they are asking you to update your browser or other software needed to use their website than locate that third party by independent means.

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 8.42.18 PM

This is a screen shot from “About Firefox” which I pulled up within the app.  Many applications have this feature built in so you can update directly from the app.

Do not trust pop up screens.

Whether surfing the internet on a mobile device or full computer screen there may come a time when your screen/device is taken over by a pop up screen indicating  that you “have won…” or that your device is infected and you must call tech support.  They provide the phone number and everything.  Do not click the link and do not call the phone number. There will not always be a button you can click to close the window.  Many of these try to force the recipient into clicking the link or an “OK” button.

Best Practice: Close the app completely. Then re-open it.  If the problem persists,  close the app again and power off your device. This usually disables the malicious intrusion.

If all else fails, I have clicked “OK” and then been redirected to the website where I can claim my “prize”.  From there I close the page and the app without clicking on anything in the website. I also do a virus scan on my device.

Keep your antivirus software up-to-date and scan regularly.

My favorite anti-virus products are Intego for Mac and PC as well as Norton products.  They offer very reasonable pricing to cover a multi-computer home and many now have the capability of scanning mobile devices. The software can be set to scan automatically as well as handle manual scan requests.

Consider working some or all of this into your regular online routine to reduce the risk of being caught up in a phishing scam.


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Social Media and Crime | Social Media Today

This was an interesting article on Social Media and cyber crime.  Social Media and Crime | Social Media Today.  The accompanying info-graphic paints a picture of how much over-sharing we do on social media and the ways it can open us up to be victims of crime.

This and other articles out there point out the need to better understand your privacy settings.  This is true.  Understanding and using the privacy tools available is a good first step.  Privacy settings, however, come and go at the whim of the social media company that created them.  In that sense they are not a good line of defense.

Aside from giving up social media all together, the best line of defense is to not put information out there you do not want public in the first place.  Once you put something out there it is there to be shared, privacy filters or no privacy filters.

Copyright Digital Design Digest 2013


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Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids Part 3 – Privacy

In part one and two of Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids I talked a lot about what not to post in terms of respect of self and others, consequences and boundaries.  In this post I want to talk about privacy and safety in social media.  It’s always fun to share where you’ve been but not always safe to share where you are going with a broad public.  Lead by example and share with your kids these tips for protecting their privacy online.

Location, Location, Location.

Automatic Advertisement

Did you know there is a setting on your iPhone that allows the phone to access GPS and broadcast your location on social networks?  I was on my Facebook account one day and the map there announced the 4 locations I had been at.  I won’t lie. It creeped me out.  I made a point of getting to know the broadcast settings on my phone much better after that.  My social networks no longer have permission to broadcast to my contacts where I am and where I have been.  I reserve the right to do it manually at a time of my choosing and most certainly I reserve the right to not share my every move.   I reserve my right to privacy.  Providing such information does nothing for me and serves as nothing more than digital noise for most of my contacts.  The only purpose it serves is advertising for the places I visit.  Lead by example and be in control of what information is broadcast to your contacts.

Manual Mischief

Disabling the automatic broadcast of your location simply puts the control back in your hands as to what information you share.  It is a responsibility, because you can actually give away too much information manually than your mobile device would automatically.

If you are going out for an evening, on vacation or anywhere for an extended period of time, keep it to yourself until you get back.  Advertising where you are going and how long you will be away is opening the door to trouble.  It first lets people know that your home is unprotected and an easier target for being robbed. Second, if others know your children will be home alone during that time, either by something you posted or something your kids posted, it invites an opportunity for them to be taken advantage of in ways ranging from friends trying to orchestrate an unsupervised gathering to something more serious.

The Devil is In the Detail

The details of our comings and goings in life seem benign enough to share.  To someone with an agenda that digital noise can be mapped into a routine to gain easy access to someone or provide enough detail for someone to act the part of knowing friend.  Just because someone knows a lot about us does not mean they are trustworthy.  Social media makes it easy to “collect” people, contacts, and information and to be “collected”.  You can reveal too much of yourself very quickly and when your social media interactions meet you on the street or at the front door in real life it can be very difficult to establish boundaries of privacy that were so easily broken in the digital world.

Be My Friend

We all have different reasons for signing up for a social network.  Some are to stay connected with former classmates, others for business and others just to share different interests.  The contacts we collect in all these instances are not close friends.  They follow us for specific reasons and we want them to follow us for specific reasons.  Social media makes it easy to forget ourselves and share things with contacts when we would not dream of physically letting them into other areas of our lives. We simply do not compartmentalize people online the way we do in real life.  If we can’t do it, how do we expect kids to?

Facebook and Google have ways of allowing a person to compartmentalize contacts to some degree.  While a business or fan page on Facebook can be followed by anyone without having a request accepted, you can strictly limit your personal page to just your friends.  If you or your kids are running a public fan page on social media keep it strictly business.  No personal contact information or personal details. On their private pages they should limit their details to just an email address.  Kids under 18 have no real reason to post the school they go to and where they work. No one, of any age should make their address and phone number public on social media.

Accept friend requests judiciously. If you are using social media for business purposes you probably have a blog, fan page or Twitter account that is open to the public for just that purpose. Your followers do not need to be a part of your private page as well.  Young kids should be particularly careful who they accept friend requests from. If they do not know the person, even if the request is from another kid, don’t accept the request. Many sexual predators gain access to their victims because they pretended to be a kid themselves.  Kids should learn to question things now.  How does this person know me?  Why does this person want to connect with me?  Why would I want to connect with them? These are the same questions and rules that apply in face-to-face interactions.

Parents and kids should have direct conversations about who in their broad social spectrum is truly a close entrusted friend.  From that will hopefully come conversations about how to create boundaries with others in a social network and in life and how deal with others who try to cross those boundaries.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids Part 2

In part one I talked about how to guide your kids to a place of respect for self and others when using social media.  Since it is so easy to acquire contacts and post everything and anything that comes to mind it is very easy to offend and do harm without realizing it.  Parents, this is as true for you as it is for your kids.  Respect for self and others starts at home. It starts with remembering what it was to be a kid and the social order of things; what was cool to share and what damned you if it ever became public.

Private vs Public Self

We all have our public selves and private selves (yup, the psychology major in me emerges).  The public self is how we want people to see us.  The private self is the unguarded public self, a more relaxed version of ourselves that can explore and revel in our various interests and idiosyncrasies that we guard in public for fear they may not be accepted in broader society.

As adults we have learned, hopefully, how to enter into a broader conversation of mixed company, both in person and online, without offending anyone.  We have also learned, hopefully, how to appropriately respond to or ignore some of the communication that comes back at us as a result of what we choose to share.  We learned the subtle differences between being offensive and being accepted and how to make amends when we offend and how to stand our ground for the right to simply be ourselves.  We did not get there over night.

It was a constant process of trial and error in allowing little pieces of our private selves out in public, testing the reaction and determining what is truly unacceptable and what others simply need to get over.  This is how we became who we are.  Truth be told, it is an ongoing process even in adulthood, but most of the process is somewhat second nature to us now and, for the most part, we can let the little failures of the great experiment roll off our back more easily then we could at thirteen.  Not everything in an OMG moment (For those not hip to the lingo, omg= Oh My God with your choice of affectation).

When sharing information about kids online we need to remember that in their own social circles they have a public and private self too.  It does not look like ours in adulthood.  The things we know are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things could very well be everything to the younger generation.  Don’t dismiss it outright.  Sharing certain things about your kids online may seem benign and safe, but at a certain age for your child, it may become a betrayal of their private self.

A Teaching Moment

Remember “The Christmas Story” scene with Ralphie in the pink bunny pj’s?  WHAT would he have done in the age of Facebook and Instagram?  In part one I warned kids that what they post could come back to haunt them in ways they don’t expect.  Parents, what you post could come back to haunt your kids in ways they probably see coming within their own youthful society.  Don’t dismiss it.  They don’t understand most of what concerns us half the time, but we teach them to respect our wishes anyway. Kids will not learn to respect others if they do not feel respected. Make them a part of the conversation and sharing process.  Take those memorable photos for your own keepsake; once upon a time that was enough.   If you are going to share images, or even details about your kids, talk to them first.  Let them pick the picture and even help write the post.  There is a little something deep inside most kids that are flattered that others’ in your world ask of them, but just like you, they have preferences in what they share with whom.

Our kids are a part of our lives.  When we talk about ourselves on social media we instinctively want to share the joys, concerns and sorrows of them just like anything else.  Social media is the digital diary that follows you forever.  What you post about your kids in your diary are the first pages in their diary.  Social media is here to stay.  Teach them respect of self and others by giving them some choice in their online presence early on.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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Social Media – Prior Post Planning

I am not a spur of the moment person.  I take my time, think things over, have a cup of coffee and think it over again.  My process would seem contrary to the live stream, immediate gratification model of social media.  Social media thrives on the think it post it model where posting occurs while the thought is still in progress and not fully fleshed out.  I sit down most days with the intention of coming up with something witty to post on these global broadcast streams always to come up short.  The question I always ask myself is…”Why would anyone care about this?” The answer most of the time is, “They wouldn’t care.  It’s just digital noise.”

“Why would anyone care?” is a good question to ask before posting.  Just like in video production, social media has an audience, and you need to know who your audience is and what they care about in order for your posting efforts to mean something. Embedding meaning in anything requires some thought, which requires time, which results in seemingly less spontaneity.

To start, take an information inventory of items your audience could be interested in.

  • Upcoming events
  • News articles
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Tips

Open up a Word document and write out each item as its own paragraph.   Each paragraph could easily be it’s own Facebook post.  Pared down, most could also be posted on Twitter with an accompanying link.  As a consumer of information I find posts with links most gratifying since Twitter posts in general do not relay much info. With only 140 characters available you have to love your links.

Many of these information nuggets can be reposted in the course of the month.  Why?  Most social media is a news-feed model.  Post it and in no time it moves down the feed, out of site and is replaced by newer information.  Not everyone will see the post the first time you post it.  For timeless information or events that are further out on the calendar you can re-post.

Participating in this inventory exercise at least once a month will get you in the habit of regularly putting your marketing hat on. The exercise need only take an hour or two total to come up with your inventory sheet of posts, complete with relevant links where appropriate.

With list in hand, set a schedule for yourself of what you will post and where.  The rest is just a matter of copy and paste, rinse, repeat.

Copyright Digital Design Digest 2013

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The Value of Going Viral On a Local Level

Many viral videos often happen by accident, not by design.   Videos are posted to YouTube by the casual videographer with a little social network promotion, but the intent is to just sit back and see who watches.  Every now and then such random videos go viral – attracting millions of views from around the world very quickly.  It makes news headlines, is circulated through social media as the newest discovery and creates a flurry of wonder over why and how it got all this attention (Justin Bieber?). Most of the time a viral video is no more than pure entertainment.  We all need a good laugh (Mentos & Coke Fountains) or some inspiration (Susan Boyle).   When a video comes along that fills that need we are more likely to watch it and then share it with our social networks, who, will then share it with their networks. If you are a business, a non-profit or an individual with something to share your main goal should be identifying your audience, their needs and the networks that will get your video circulated. Going viral, on a global scale, is not the goal.

Your Audience and the Relativity of Going Viral

Not every video is meant for a global audience or even a national one.  A small clothing business may choose to highlight its spring line by creating a series of fashion demo videos such as scarf tying, color combinations and accessorizing.  This small, brick and mortar operation may only conduct sales in-store.  It will use their online presence to stay connected to their customers by sending them useful information about fashion and how their product ties in with that information.  Hopefully the information is dynamic enough that it is shared and results in a draw into their store and, ultimately, some sales.

 View Quality, as Defined by Your Audience, Counts More than View Quantity

A video is not going to help your business just by posting it on YouTube.  Video is another tool in your marketing arsenal to help make your audience aware you exist.   A small clothing business with one or two locations in its home state is mainly concerned with targeting an in-state audience.  The fact that their videos are viewed overseas does not do anything for their domestic sales, especially if this small business does not do overseas commerce.  What matters more is that the video is circulated in areas within close proximity to the place of business.  The video should be

  • posted on the company’s website in a conspicuous place;
  • sent to existing customers in e-blasts;
  • posted on the company’s social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages

YouTube has a great statistics feature that not only shows when and how many views a video has but also location demographics right down to the state it was viewed.  If a business really wants to know if a video made a difference, offer a small discount to anyone who purchases something and mentions the video.  The point of the video is to draw more people to your business.  You are not going to get a sales conversion from global viewership if you are catering to a much smaller demographic.  Build and market your video to your target demographic. Two hundred views from your target demographic means more than two thousand from anywhere else.

 The Needs of Your Audience

Now that you have defined your demographic audience you need to figure out what their needs are and how a video can satisfy that.  More often than not, the biggest need is for that of information.

Product demos are a great way to give your audience a 360 degree real world view of the product.  Keep the information centered strictly on product how-to and product characteristics.  Talk about materials that create the product, do a walk through of product setup, and cover all the ways the product can make the consumers life more efficient.

If your product is more service oriented or instructional, consider filming a short lesson. Ask each instructor to film a short demo video that can be posted and shared via the internet.  What you are giving is the opportunity for the consumer to experience your service and decide if it is a good fit.

Do not burden the video with weekly sales information.  People do not want to be sold something.  They want to know if it will meet their needs, will it last and how it works.  Let this timeless information be the main objective of your video.   The most important company information you can include in a video is how a customer can contact your company to inquire about the product.

Sales information can be added independently in the webpage, tweet or post. This method allows the video to get more mileage by keeping the content timeless and relevant to the product.  The video can be worked into temporary sales campaigns or used in other marketing without additional editing.

 It All Comes Down to Networking

 A video is another tool in your marketing arsenal; a proxy that allows you to represent your business, product or idea to the masses when you cannot be in multiple places at once. Video can only do this if people know it exists.

  • Start by making it known within the network you have such as your website, social media, chamber of commerce and e-blasts.
  • Remember to repost the video periodically, especially if it fits in with various marketing campaigns.  People will not see everything you post the first time you post it.  It may also not be relevant to some viewers during the first posting but will be on the second or third posting.
  • Ask your current followers to share the video with anyone in their network who may be interested.

It is important to let customers know they can get the best price from you.  Video marketing is another form of customer service that also let customers know you are the place to go for solid product information.  Both types of marketing require frequent exposure to be effective.  Persistence and patience is key.

In an economy where the consumer wants assurances on the value of their purchase it becomes more important than ever for a company to show consumers where the value is well before a purchase is made.   The mission here is not to post a video that is an overnight global sensation, but to produce a video that meets your audiences needs and makes it easy for them to tell their social network that you can meet their needs as well.

Copyright © 2012 Digital Design Digest

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