Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
Occasionally, we run across stories about the not-so-smart things some people do when using social media and feel compelled to share it with you. Here are a few items that made the news recently. It just so happens that each one holds an important lesson for those who don’t fully understand the power of Facebook.
Lesson #1 – Not everyone on Facebook is your friend; some are opportunists.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you are a 17-year-old Australian girl and your grandma just hooked you up with a pile of cash that she had been stashing in various spots around her house (as the elderly are known to do on occasion). Your first instinct may be to post this exciting news on your Facebook page, telling your friends that you found the money at your grandma’s house. Then, you post a picture of the big stack of cash just to prove it. Most likely, your friend will comment on the post, saying something clever like, “Wow! You are rich now girl. Lol” Then, your friend’s friend will see her comment and he will “Like” the post. Then, the two guys that he met at a party last summer (but has not seen since and has forgotten they even added him on Facebook) will see that he Liked your picture of a big pile of cash. And, since those two guys are not your friends, but are instead opportunists (aka robbers) waiting for dumb teenagers to post pictures of cash, new Xbox consoles and flat-screen TVs that they got as presents – these opportunists are going to head right over to your grandma’s house to relieve you of your newly discovered pile of cash. One more thing. It turns out that this is not a hypothetical situation at all. It really happened. According to this article from TechCrunch, this Australian teenager learned an important lesson. Not everyone who sees your posts of good fortune on Facebook is your friend; the reach of some posts is great enough that it lands in the view of opportunists – waiting to take advantage of your situation.
Lesson #2 – Protecting your online privacy is your responsibility.
Have you ever been out with friends and you stop by an Internet Cafe for a cup of coffee? For some reason, you left your phone at home; or, maybe it’s not charged, so you decide this is the ideal time to hop on one of the free computers at the cafe and check Facebook. If we had to guess, you probably need to get on Facebook because you want to see if your ex-girlfriend has changed her relationship status to “In a Relationship” because she’s finally hooked up with that guy you saw her with last weekend – but, we digress. After you check Facebook, let’s say you and your friends decide this would be the perfect opportunity to rob the Internet Cafe… Well, if you ever find yourself in this situation – here is an important tip: Take time to log out of your Facebook account, before you rob the place. Otherwise, it makes it pretty easy to catch you, as evidenced in this Mashable article. Always remember, if you care about protecting your online privacy, then leaving yourself logged in to your social media accounts on a public computer is a big no-no.
Lesson #3 – Audience selector is an important tool – especially if you have something to hide.
Sometimes, people construct a fairly elaborate web of lies to hide a simple truth. For example, some employees have been known to fake or exaggerate injuries in order to collect workers comp. As was the case with this California woman who went to great lengths to show she could not perform her normal job duties, and further documented that it was impossible to write or type due to the “excruciating” pain. For more than two years, this extreme injury required that she sit out of work and collect a nice steady stream of income via temporary disability payments. While she had a little time on her hands, the woman somehow overcame her “excruciating” pain and mastered texting on her cell phone – not to mention, she logged close to 200 posts on her Facebook account. Unfortunately, she was not selective about who could see her posts and well, she was busted for Worker’s Comp fraud. The lesson? Facebook lets you create custom lists and select the audience that can see your posts; if you have something hide, it’s probably best not to make the posts viewable by the “Public.” Be discreet.