Social Media Madness Roundup


Current Internet Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with workingthewebtowin on BlogTalkRadio

By Hector E. Cisneros

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...
 Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and
how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having trouble keeping up with all the changes that constantly happen in the world of social media? Did you know that Facebook added a gender identification option or that Twitter added analytics to their network? Would you like to know what has been added, what's hot and what's not so hot in Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube?  Pinterest and Instagram are both changing and their growth requires your attention. In this episode, we will take you through the latest updates, changes and pitfalls that are occurring throughout the social media world. Our journey will start with Facebook, then move on to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, as well as a pair of specialty social networks, MedMasters and LinktoEXPERT. Overall, this social media roundup will bring you the latest and greatest updates on everything social, including what’s shaking, what’s breaking and what's just plain cool.

What's New on Facebook

Cool toys pic of the day - What's App & Kik
Cool toys pic of the day - What's App & Kik (Photo credit: rosefirerising)
  
  1. Facebook Buys “Whats App”. This business acquisition for $19 billion has many people puzzled. However, I personally think it’s a smart move on Facebook's part. They are hedging their bets that this will help them in the future with mobile users, and I also think a lot of US pundits forget that “Whats App” is huge overseas. 
  2.  Facebook Adds a Gender Option. One of the many new features recently added, this option allows users to tag themselves as one of 58 different genders. (Yes, you read correctly.) A person can select just about anything from androgynous to transsexual woman. Obviously, this is a bold move on Facebook's part.
  3. The new feature, “A Look Back” video is now up and running. "A Look Back" is a Facebook generated movie or thank you card, (depending on how many items you have shared) that can be viewed by typing in https://www.facebook.com/lookback, when you are logged into your account. The more pictures and videos you have posted, the more your "A Look Back" will contain.
  4. Facebook Paper is currently only available for the iPhone. It's Facebook's new story-sharing app that allows the user to create stories with pictures and words that can then be shared with other iPhone users. To learn more, click on https://www.facebook.com/paper.
  5. Year in Review is Facebook's new annual compilation of what happened on your Facebook page through the year. It differs from the "Look Back" in that is not a video or thank you card, but an example of your most important posts, including pictures and items your friends shared with you. You can get to it by logging in and the typing https://www.facebook.com/yearinreview in your browser's address field. 
  6. With Facebook's Donate option, you can now make direct donations to nonprofit organizations that use Facebook pages to accept donations. You can choose how much you want to donate, and then you can share the news of your donation by sharing a link to the nonprofit organization’s Facebook Page. Click on the link to Donate here or key in Donate on the Facebook help file to get an up-to-date list. Currently there are 19 charities listed. 

The Latest From LinkedIn

  1. LinkedIn expanded its publishing platform last Wednesday to allow all users the opportunity to write and share long-form posts to their LinkedIn profile. That's right, you can now publish your own articles right on LinkedIn. This is a major coup
    for them and it will send the social media world into a tizzy as Google+, Twitter and Facebook realize they are behind the curve when it comes to B2B features online. The details on how to take advantage of this new feature could fill its own article. To learn how to take advantage of this new feature, click on the help center and type in “publish” or just click on this link
  2. You can now block annoying people on LinkedIn. This new feature allows you to effectively block another member from accessing your profile or messaging you. To block someone, just go to their profile and click on the “send” drop down and select block. The block can be reversed and you can get all the details on how to use this feature by clicking on this link.
  3. LinkedIn buys Bright, a San Francisco-based, data-driven job search start up. This new acquisition gives LinkedIn new search technology to improve the relevance of its users’ job search. Unlike Facebook's big purchase, LinkedIn paid only $120 million for Bright. (Sounds like a bright move on their part.)

New Tricks & Treats on Twitter

  1. Twitter tests its Facebook-like profile page redesign. The new look was first detected and announced by Mashable in February. From what I can see, there is push-back on the new format. Many are calling it cluttered and don't like the fact it can’t easily be customized.
  2. Twitter's slipping user growth spooks investors. A recent report in ComputerWorld details how investor euphoria has turned negative, especially after its recent financial report where its share’s closing price dropped from $65.97 to $50.03. This is significant, to say the least.
  3. Twitter is experimenting with eCommerce Tweets. Twitter users will begin to see more tweets that sell something. The trend started last year in the USA and has now been expanded to Ireland, the UK and Canada. I expect this will not be going away as Twitter is looking for ways to monetize it site. We will soon see if there is a backlash to this relatively new feature.
  4. Twitter passes 241 million monthly active users, 184 million mobile users, and sees 75% of advertising revenue from mobile. However, this new milestone disguises the fact that Twitter’s growth has slowed. Twitters last quarter growth was a mere 9 million new users, (3.8% over the last quarter) far below what investors were looking for. Twitter also revealed that $220 million of its $242 million in revenue came from advertising. Although revenue is up, it’s still a net loss and has investors running for cover. For the full story, check it out on WSJ

The Latest & Greatest From Google+

  1. The revelation that thousands of Google+ and Google Maps listings that had been hijacked is now being alleged as an inside job. Recently we reported on the dark side of the Internet where large companies are being hacked regularly. (See our article, “Big Data Comes Wrapped in Big Danger.”). Even Google is not immune to these kinds of attacks as the recent security breach to two of its major platforms showed. To learn more, read the article in the theguardian.
  2. Privacy concerns are raised as Google+ makes it possible to send email via name search. If the uproar about Google's tracking and user data gathering were not enough, now you can send people emails by just searching for their names in Gmail! That's right: Google+ subscribers can now supposedly send emails to people they are not directly connected to simply by typing in that person's name in the Gmail address field. Gmail will then list their Gmail address so you can write them. I have provided the official information from Google's Official Gmail Blog.
  3. How to Connect Your Youtube and Google Plus!
    How to Connect Your Youtube and Google Plus! (Photo credit: brianDhawkins)
  4. Google's Gmail, Drive, and Google+ services go down. If you use Google services, you're not used to having those services incapacitated. In fact, it's rare that a Google service goes down. Last January, several Google services went down including Gmail, Drive and Google+, forcing people to go to Twitter and other social networks to complain. This outage affected about 10% of Google users (which is a large number of users). Google later apologized, saying it was “a bug” that caused the outage. 

Latest Events & Newest Features on YouTube

  1. Google’s big YouTube goof-up. Some people are saying that Google’s recent change in policy where users must join Google+ to post comments is a big mistake. Before, anybody and everybody were posting anything from the hilarious to the profound in YouTube comments. Google feels that this change will boost the Google+ participation and curtail inappropriate comments. See this article for more detail.
  2. YouTube makes playlists easier to manage. Google (like many Internet players) often tweaks the user interface to provide a more user friendly system. However, what Google, Facebook and other vendors forget, is that most of the population does not like change! Although these changes are minor, they nevertheless irk many users and for the most part, only fix the last set of tweaks that Google instituted. If you want to learn more, read this article in CNET, click here.
  3. YouTube Launched Paid Subscriptions. Although this is not new, (it launched last may), it’s a significant change in Youtube’s model. YouTube launched a pilot program in which users can subscribe to channels like “Ultimate Fighting Championship” and “Sesame Street”, via a paid subscription. Subscriptions start as low as at 99 cents per month. Viewers will be able to test out a channel for free as part of a 14-day trial. Once a subscriber signs up, they can watch the paid channels on their smartphones, tablets, PCs or connected smart televisions/devices. This is YouTube first foray into the paid super channel world.

Pinterest Shines When it Comes to Pictures


pinterest nwf
pinterest nwf (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)
Pinterest shows meteoric growth and popularity.  According to the readwrite ezine and other articles, Pinterest is on fire, showing the fastest growth in unique visitors and more eCommerce posts than Facebook among other distinctions. Read Mind Boggling Facts that will make you care about Pinterest.  Pinterest is also looking to provide more personalized content to users via a new feature that creates "personalized for you" collections of pins.  The last of our news for Pinterest is that it may soon offer GIF support. This will allow users to pin animated GIFs along with other types of pictures, further improving this pictorial social network.

Instagram is Facebook's New Baby!


Instagram
Instagram (Photo credit: Jon@th@nC)
Many of you already know that Facebook purchased Instagram. The purchase was finalized about three months ago and allows Facebook access to the millions of iPhone users addicted to posting pictures from their iPhones. Like the "What’s App" purchase, Facebook is looking to target and capture the hearts and minds of mobile users and one day monetize their new ventures. Of great interest to many Instagram users is the fact that Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos (and concomitantly keep the profits).

A Quickie View of Two New Social Media Players, MedMasters & LinktoExpert


MedMasters.com is one of the newest and most comprehensive professional networking and career management site in the professional medical and health care community. They have  combined the best features of social media and professional networking with that of traditional job boards and lead sourcing. Their site is the natural evolution of the career management and fulfillment process. See more at: http://medmasters.com.

MedMasters’ CEO, Rick Fromme, says: “At MedMasters, we're all about helping people get around — and ahead — in the health care industry. That's because we're the premier online networking community for medical professionals. This site was expressly created by one set of experts (our team) to serve another (you and your associates). Regardless of your role in the industry, MedMasters can help you reach people who care about what you do — need what you can offer — and can help you achieve greater success."

Now Let’s Look at LinktoEXPERT.com


LinktoEXPERT is an interconnected network of expert consultants, speakers, coaches, trainers, event professionals, and executives from around the world. Its advanced search engine, comprehensive profiles and video previews of its members allow executives to quickly and effortlessly find the best possible experts for their needs. Executives can also network and brainstorm with other executives who have already overcome or currently face similar challenges.

LinkedtoExpert has a state of the art "automatic,    e-mail campaign system." This, along with its use of comprehensive web profiles and direct contact information, LinktoEXPERT ensures your ability to make real connections with other executives and professionals. This will provide exponential business growth for consultants, coaches, speakers, trainers, event executives and professionals by saving them time, money and energy. Joanne Weiland will be as our special guest. She is the creator of LinktoEXPERT and you can call in an speak to her on the show.  Call in starting at 4 P.M. Eastern tomorrow at BlogTalkRadio.com/WorkingTheWebToWin.)


In this article, I discussed the latest news, events and features of the top social networks that make up the social media universe. I have included the latest additions to Facebook and LinkedIn. I also covered the goings on at Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. In addition, for good measure, I have added the latest information on Pinterest and Instagram, along with sharing information about two new rapidly growing social networks for professionals, MedMasters.com, a medical social community, and LinktoEXPERT.com, a social network where you can find experts in every realm of business.


If you like this article, you can find more by typing “social media” in the search box at the top left of this blog.

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below. I hope you have found these questions and answers useful. Thanks for sharing your time with me.

That's my opinion. I look forward to reading yours. 


If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.





Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”


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Big Data Comes Wrapped in Big Danger


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Big business calls it Data Mining.  Consumers think of it as an invasion of privacy.  Cyber-criminals look at it as an opportunity to line their pockets.  What it boils down to is the fact that as you surf the web it leaves digital breadcrumbs that people will scoop up in an effort to make money.  If this bothers you, then you need to be aware of how your browsing habits can be used against you as well as what you need to do to minimize the electronic trail you leave every time you go online.

We have all heard about the hacking of big box retailer Target with the resulting loss of 40 million credit card numbers.  However, what you may not be aware of is the fact the FBI is warning companies that deal in terabytes of consumer data that 2014 is shaping up to be a year fraught with peril. Many large companies are expected to be systematically targeted by international hacker collectives.  In fact, a number of other companies and countries revealed that their data had been compromised to some degree in 2013, including such notables as Neiman Marcus, as well retailers in Germany and South Korea.

What makes these breaches particularly galling is not only the scopes of the penetration, but also the fact that hackers are able to blatantly offer sophisticated hacking tools for sale on the open market. Sources believe that the Target security breach was perpetrated by hackers who used malware purchased from a pair of Russian teens.

The real danger is the fact that not only is credit card information contained in these systems, but also is a tidal wave of other sensitive consumer information. Since data mining has become so endemic and identity theft has become such a problem for so many consumers, the question comes down to whether companies whom collect this information without your consent can be held liable if they are unable to protect it?

There’s Gold in Them There Data Mines


While the term “Data mining” was coined in the 1990s, the actual practice of digital data storage and manipulation has been around for more than 30 years.  An outgrowth of database management and machine learning systems that were developed in the 1980s, data mining was traditionally used to find patterns and relationships that are designed to predict buying habits.  In the early days of the internet, this was accomplished by getting the consumer to fill out online surveys that were designed to get them to divulge key buying and income information that could be used to deliver targeted advertisements. (If you ever entered a contest to win a prize online, you are familiar with this kind of tactic.)

Data mining
Data mining (Photo credit: moonhouse)
However, with the advent of social networks and with the rise of web browsers that were designed to report on every keystroke (such as Google Chrome), it is no longer necessary to offer an inducement to consumers to ascertain their buying and browsing habits.  This explains why you continue to see ads for products after you search for them on most search engines.  If that was where the trail ended, most people would just shrug it off as the cost of doing business online. 

Far from being the be-all or end-all of the equation, the gathering and initial use of this data is only the tip of a vast submerged iceberg.  Because once this data is accumulated it is then packaged and sold on a worldwide basis to anyone and everyone willing to pay for it. 

Your Data is for Sales, Who’s Buying ?


The NSA, FBI and other government entities pay for access to mountains of data.
An August 24, 2013 report by the "Wall Street Journal" stated,

Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook all supply user data to the NSA based on secret ordered from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court under a program known as Prism. Although U.S. law mandates compliance, the government usually helps pay for it.
Your Data for Sale...
Your Data for Sale... (Photo credit: anitakhart)
While many of the companies that share data with the government, such as Microsoft, extol the fact that they only provide this information because they are legally ordered to, all of the major players not only accept compensation, they expect it.

A Yahoo spokeswoman referred questions to its Friday comment in the Guardian. “Federal law requires the US government to reimburse providers for costs incurred to respond to compulsory legal process imposed by the government,” the company told the newspaper. “We have requested reimbursement consistent with this law.”

We’re not talking chump change here either.  More importantly, who else do these internet edifices share or sell their data with?  Well, it all depends on who you ask.  Take Google, for instance.  While the world’s largest search engine is tight lipped when it comes to who they share or sell information to, in a 2008 article in the German magazine Stern, the magazine bought a list containing the names, addresses, dates of birth, occupations and phone numbers of hundreds of German citizens from the world’s most popular search engine. 

The writer of the article actually picked up the phone and called the phone numbers informing each person who picked up how and where he had obtained the information.  Since Germany has strict laws regarding the protection of personal data, those who were contacted were outraged as was the German government, who subsequently sued Google.

Google wasn’t the only Internet company sued over privacy issues by Germany.  So was Facebook, which was dragged into a lawsuit by German authorities in 2011 over its use of face recognition software on its services.

Of course, in the United States there are no such legal speed bumps in the data-mining superhighway.  More to the point, not only is your personal information available, but what is amazing is the sheer volume that is being collected. And while search engines and social networks can be tight lipped when it comes who can use their data, there are other companies who are quite up front when it comes to selling the personal data of every man, woman and child in the US.

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2006 - Acxiom Digital
MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2006 - Acxiom Digital (Photo credit: MarketingSherpa)
Two companies, Acxiom and Epsilon, are a couple of the largest data mining operations in the world.  To quote Wikipedia, Acxiom has been described as "one of the biggest companies you've never heard of.  In addition to collecting information about people, the company helps marketers anticipate the needs of consumers, according to the documentary "The Persuaders." As the world's largest processor of consumer data, Acxiom has identified 70 types of consumers with its segmentation product PersonicX.”

Here’s some data on Acxiom: In the third quarter of 2012, Acxiom’s revenue was $281 million, which was down 2% from the same quarter a year before.  For the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2011, Acxiom’s revenue was up 5.5% to $1.16 billion.

“Most people know that basically everything that we do on the Internet is tracked, but data mining goes far beyond that.  When you use a customer rewards card at the supermarket, the data miners know about it.  When you pay for a purchase with a credit card or a debit card, the data miners know about it.  Every time you buy a prescription drug, that information is sold to someone.  Every time you apply for a loan, a whole host of organizations is notified.  Information has become an extremely valuable commodity, and thanks to computers and the Internet it is easier to gather information than ever before.” 

You Don’t Own Your Data, They Do


#etmooc @audreywatters asks 'Who Owns Your Edu...
#etmooc @audreywatters asks 'Who Owns Your Education Data (and Why Does It Matter?)' (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)
The biggest problem for consumers is that for the most part, they do not own their data.  If you subscribe to the majority of social networks, blogs and portals you need to read the find point in their user agreements.  Because if you do, you will find out that while you are free to post information on yourself and your friends, you do not in fact own it.  The operators of the social networks, blogs and portals do. 


The only way to be sure, of who owns what, is to read the user agreements that are part of every browser, search engine, portal and social network.  But really ... how many of us ever do that?  This is important since the terms of use change from year to year.  Google has made a number of sweeping changes to its privacy issues over the years.  In the current iteration under the heading of “Information We Share” is the following:

We do not share personal information with companies, organizations and individuals outside of Google unless one of the following circumstances applies:
·         With your consent
We will share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google when we have your consent to do so. We require opt-in consent for the sharing of any sensitive personal information.
·         With domain administrators
If your Google Account is managed for you by a domain administrator (for example, for Google Apps users) then your domain administrator and resellers who provide user support to your organization will have access to your Google Account information (including your email and other data).

Have a Not-so Sweet Cookie


English: Cookies settings and view in Firefox ...
English: Cookies settings and view in Firefox 3.0 browser Русский: Просмотр и настройка cookies в браузере Firefox 3.0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The real elephant in the room is the fact that for the most part, companies and/or individuals who want to track your every movement online don’t even have to ask your permission.  All they have to do is get you to accept their cookie.  These cookies are not as sweet as they sound.  All they are is a subroutine that is designed to collect information from your computer, tablet or Smartphone.  The way they get onto your system is simplicity itself.  You open the door and let them in.



Have you ever downloaded a “Free App?”  Have you ever signed up to play a “Free Game?”  Have you ever entered a “Free Contest?”  If the answer is yes to any of the above then you may have accepted a cookie onto your system that is now free to roam and collect as you point and click.  Some people have so many of these gizmos on the loose in their machine that it will slow to a crawl.  Sound familiar?

Shaking the Bugs Out of Your Browser


While the cleaning mechanism varies from browser to browser, there are ways to clean the digital carpet.  If you are using Chrome, click on the master control button on the far right of the browser.  (The one has three parallel black lines.)  By clicking on this button and then hitting history, you will be able to clear out both your browsing history and any cookies that you have picked up along the way. (You can also hit Control H.)  While this won’t prevent other cookies from attaching themselves to your device, it will shake out those already onboard.
 

Better still is to opt for a more proactive approach.  This entails being more careful about where you click and what you accept as free.  In terms of browsers, you can either find a browser (such as Comodo dragon) that does not collect user information.  On the other hand, if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Chrome user, you can hit the same master control button and opt to open a “New Incognito Window.”  While using this option will eliminate some of your browsing traces such as search history and cookies, according to Google, it still doesn’t protect you from:

Going incognito doesn't affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
  • Websites that collect or share information about you
  • Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
  • Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
  • Surveillance by secret agents
  • People standing behind you
When you realize all the many ways that your personal information can be used by others, the last thing you want to do is dig a hole from which you cannot hope to escape. Here is a list of browser plus-in's that can help; Google Privacy, Ad blocker, Ad Block, Ad Remover, and WOT (Web of Trust). You can find many more by doing a search for privacy plug-in’s for your browser or going to that browsers store and searching for them there. You may also find that your antivirus/malware software also provides plug-in’s for your browsers.

In this article, I discussed how Big Data is changing the way government and big business track consumer behavior. I discuss how this can lead to huge security breaches since so much data is housed in one place. I also discuss how this can become a big problems for these businesses when consumers react negatively to these breaches. Monetary losses will be huge on both the consumer and business side and some businesses will not survive these monumental Big Data breaches. Finally, I have provided several ways that you can minimize browser data tracking, ways to protect yourself from all the players in the Big Data world. If you found this article useful, share it with friend and associates. If you have a comment, post it in the comment sections. Remember this, cookies are best eaten ... not added to your browser.


If you like this article, you can find more by typing “Internet security” in the search box at the top left of this blog.

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.



Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.



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