If your teenage child is on Facebook, and you’re not, I suggest you get on it asap. You may believe your child to be responsible and aware, but there are some very smart people out there who know how to take advantage of smart aware teenagers.
I recently had a real eye opener with a teen in my own family. I had become Facebook “friends” with this person about a year ago but they weren’t too active and so I didn’t pay much attention.
Recently I went to their wall to say hello to them and found their wall was filled with advertisements for products teens generally like – Nike shoes, nail polish, baseball mitts, fast food, etc. This not only confused me, but concerned me so I looked a little closer. When I discovered what was happening it was like a light was switched on for me. And then I got really mad.
My teen family member has about 500 friends on their friends list. Originally I found this to be amusing. Even I, at 50 years old, can’t say I know 500 people well enough to be their Facebook friend. But kids are kids and I thought it was cute and funny.
Here’s the scenario… Kids love their friends, and they want more of them. They collect them like they collect baseball cards and Pokemon. It’s a game to see who can out-do the rest. So they get into the habit of friending anyone and everyone.
As we (adults) all know, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, and there are many who get paid to advertise products and drive web site traffic by whatever means necessary. So they start friending the young, ever-so-willing youngsters who are their clients’ audience. They slowly build up quite a large collection of “friends” themselves. They pretend to be someone who might be appealing to whoever their target is.
They post advertisements along with photos, using the status update feature. Then they TAG a bunch of their new Facebook “friends” in the photo. What this does is to 1) notify the teen they’ve been tagged and 2) post the tagged advertisement to the teen’s wall, which then 3) announces it to all their friends. Easy and free advertising for the product or brand, using these unsuspecting kids as a free advertising medium.
The kids are not savvy enough (or they don’t care enough) to realize this and un-friend the person. Besides, “if I unfriend her I’ll have one less friend and I’m trying to get more friends, not less!”
Sheesh. It’s really sick. I wanted to report this happening, but as most of us know by now, Facebook seems to be averse to any kind of customer service. Or maybe they already know about it and they just haven’t figured out a way to deal with it yet.
Which brings me back to my original statement, You need to be friends with your kids on Facebook, and you need to monitor their account. This particular instance is fairly benign on the surface, but it’s actually quite clever when you think about it. Who knows what else these unscrupulous but clever people will do next, or maybe are already doing?!
A recent article appeared in SmartMoney Magazine last week, called “10 Things Facebook Won’t Say.” The following paragraph stopped me in my tracks:
… the ubiquitous “Like” button. But press it or not, if you’re logged in to Facebook while surfing, it will know when you visit any site with these so-called social plug-ins, says Nicole Ozer, a policy director at the ACLU of Northern California. “Facebook can essentially track you around the Web,” she says. Facebook makes all such policies known to users, but critics wonder how many people are paying attention.
Perhaps the article is sensationalizing this just a touch. Artistic license. However, as I think back on my own experiences with the various Facebook widgets I encounter (and admittedly engage with) around the web it all starts to make sense.
If I am logged into Facebook (and I always am… because, well, who wants to log in and out of Facebook every time they post a status update, egads) and I visit a Facebook-enabled site (which is practically everything these days), a digital message is sent back to Facebook. Facebook then takes that wee ort of data and stores it neatly in their database.
Hm. What do you suppose they do with it? But wait, I’m a little off track. What I wanted to say was this…
Remember the cookie uprising?
About 7 or 8 years ago or so people got wind of cookies. Cookies are little one-line strings of codes that get written to a special file on your hard drive when you visit a specific web site. Each cookie is specific to that web site, and only that site can read it or alter it. The whole thing is managed by your browser, it’s very secure and rather innocuous.
Well, when people found out about them, they freaked! They screamed about privacy violations, they revolted, they turned off their cookies and said “so there!”
Now you can fast forward 10 years. Facebook is now following us around the web, they know who we are, what sites we visit, what products we like and don’t like, what friends and family members we keep in touch with, the things they like and don’t like, and all sorts of other things.
And nobody cares? Really? What happened between then and now? Why is nobody concerned about their privacy? Is it because Facebook is so much fun and so addicting that people are simply willing to overlook their privacy being blatantly violated? Do people simply NOT KNOW???
I wonder if anyone still worries about cookies…
If you have any insight into this topic I’m dying to hear it.
The new “group” feature of Facebook seems very promising.
Unlike the OTHER Facebook Group feature (I know, it’s confusing), this one lets you categorize and segment the members of your network (aka your “friends”).
I did a quick test to see how easy it was to create a new group, and it seems pretty straightforward. I haven’t explored all the bells and whistles yet, but according to the Duct Tape Marketing blog it will let you send messages and have conversations privately with certain segments of your audience.
One of the biggest issues I have with Facebook is the incestuous nature of it. Business mingles with personal and vice versa. It can be very scary, and downright dangerous. The confusing privacy settings of Facebook make it very easy for people to say just the wrong thing and have it seen by just the wrong person.
This is HUGE for businesses. I’m not going to jump into this pond with both feet however. It still remains to be seen how the business side of me will intermingle with the personal side. I’ll continue to be cautious, and so should you, with everything you say on Facebook.
Don’t confusing this with Facebook Groups, which lets you create an online group and invite people to be members.
I’ll try to do some more research and give you some more info on this next week. If you want to play with it yourself, you can go to the groups page and give it a whirl. Let us know if you find anything out.
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About a month or so ago I wrote a post on opt-out vs. opt-in with regards to e-mail marketing. This, however, is way scarier.
Taking this a step scarier, Facebook allows apps your FRIENDS use to gain access to YOUR private information, even though you have not granted them permission.
I was tempted to leave Facebook after hearing this but I find it highly useful in keeping up to date with my family, which happens to be scattered pretty widely. So I stayed.
I have not yet inspected and adjusted my own privacy settings (it’s on my list), but I’ve always treated my online postings, on any platform on the web, as a very public activity anyway. I don’t post anything *anywhere* that I wouldn’t want my mother, husband, or potential client or employer to see.
Unfortunately there are many people out there who post very personal things. I’d love to hear any thoughts and comments about this.
Don’t boo me off the stage here. I hate SPAM as much as the next gal, and I never SPAM people myself, never have, never will. However, while SPAM is highly annoying, it is not technically illegal. The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 defined a set of guidelines email marketers must follow when distributing or displaying commercial messages, whether via email or other advertising channels.
A marketer who does not follow the rules can face hefty fines, according to the law, but so far it has been largely unenforced. Probably because it’s largely unenforceable. Our tax dollars at work.
So… let’s look at the commonly accepted definition of SPAM, and then I’ll tell you my personal definition, which I like better.
Wikipedia‘s definition of SPAM is “the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.”
The most common form of SPAM is sent via E-Mail and, according to Wikipedia’s definition above, there are three specific components that must be present in order for an email message to qualify as SPAM:
For the purposes of Avarra’s own E-mail Marketing products, we define SPAM as:
Repeatedly sending people irrelevant, promotional e-mail without their explicit permission and without giving them a way to unsubscribe.
What I’ve done is to create a specific guideline under which I feel comfortable working. I’m in a position to make recommendations to business on how to do their e-mail marketing. Therefore it’s important that we work within a very clearly described boundary.
I go into a lot more detail on this in our E-Marketing 101 Workshop.
Sending a person one single promotional email without their permission is not necessarily a bad thing. If done professionally and personably and with respect, you might actually convert a few of the recipients into customers. It’s a risk though and each of you needs to decide for yourself and your business if the risk is worth the potential reward.
If you do decide to risk it, you need to treat it just like a “cold call.” You are a vacuum cleaner salesperson knocking on doors. That’s a tough visual, but it’s accurate. You are barging into these people’s lives, hoping they’ll be responsive to your message. Good luck.
Next week I’ll have a follow up post: 7 Tips to Warm up Your “Cold List” E-mail Marketing
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