Posts in Category: Social

Setting strategy aside to bear witness to turbulent times

If you’ve known me throughout my career, you may be familiar with the 80/20/0 philosophy regarding social media posts that I share as a simple template for clients who want to get started in digital marketing to keep in mind:

  • 80% human posts lifting up ideas and people that have nothing to do with your work
  • 20% work related and promotional
  • 0% politics

Following my social feeds lately, you can plainly see I’ve tossed that long-time, steady practice right out for my own personal use.I’d even go so far as to say my personal ratio right now is 80% politics, 20% work, if I had to guess. I wanted to talk for a minute about why I am (temporarily, I truly hope) highly focused on politics and current events.

Without a diverse, intelligent, empathetic, knowledgeable society where we care about and lift up our fellow humans, we are all in trouble – globally. Borders only exist in the minds of humans. They are a construct. A useful construct for shaping smaller, more tribal societies around common values and economic goals, to be sure, but a construct nonetheless. Everything we do impacts the world. We share one planet. In recent weeks, political shifts in the US and the UK (but especially the US) have led to a more restricted vision of society. If these shifts stopped at economics, I would not be so vocal, however; these shifts are putting real human lives here and abroad in peril.

So I ask that if you follow me on social, bear with me. I feel it is important to share my work knowledge with you, but it will continue to be peppered with a heavy dose of bearing witness to the events unfolding. This is a monumental time in our history, and for me it would be morally wrong to turn a blind eye to it and conduct 100% “business as usual.” I say this in a truly non-partisan way, as well: no matter your political leanings, taking care of our fellow humans seems like a universal value we all must share.

Meanwhile, if you want to try the beta of my passion project with the all-woman led BuoyUp, you can download the beta now in the Chrome Store and help us do good while reading the news. Additionally, if you are an ethically focused B2B company who wants the same in your digital strategist to help you right now, reach out to me. We have room for a few more digital strategy and content marketing clients at my company Story Engage before we’re at capacity.

image credit Lucas Franco via Unsplash

The only winning move is not to play

I figured out how to quit you, Facebook, and still see photos of my nieces and nephew.

First, I’m still “there,” a ghost in the machine — lurking, instead of participating. That way I can still virtually visit the friends, colleagues, and relatives who insist on swimming the algorithmic pool. I don’t trust Facebook — I haven’t for years — and it was time. In the version of this post about it on Facebook, I made a long list of “other places to find me” but you’re already here, so I’ll skip ahead to the how-to and why-the-heck part…

Deleting everything I’d ever posted took four weeks. Four. Long. Weeks.

140 Characters: Mise en Place for Content Marketing

mise en place for content marketing

“What a pain. It takes so much time to make a short tweet, and I have so much to say.” ~ every person who represents a brand online since 2006.

Hard Truth #1: No one cares about your manifesto.

Going strictly by anecdata, let’s accept as true that many people like to hear themselves talk. Why say something in 10 words when you can break out the thesaurus and say it in 4 pages? That advanced degree or extended training program isn’t going to pay for itself. In general, it makes people feel better to validate the time they spent learning by sounding smart and taking an extra hour of [someone else’s] time to reach a clarity of message and brand voice.

Hummingbird Helping Long Tail and Mobile Content

Write Great ContentGoogle released the latest iteration of its algorithm, Hummingbird, in late Summer. Most people focused on the deprecation of keywords and key phrases in the report, lamenting the rise of (not provided) data as a percentage of visitors to their site. Savvy marketers know that this has been a long time coming, as Google pushes its focus to a more semantic and mobile web. In fact, even non-savvy web users have known it was coming, as Google has done an ever-better job fine tuning search results and tracking search terms. There is even a trend emerging where people use Google’s search box auto-fill showing the most popular searches to make videos about sociological changes or issues in society. How does a content marketer excel in the new age of Hummingbird? How does Hummingbird change SEO tactics?

Interest and Relevance Matters

One of the more interesting changes for marketers and SEOs is the move to encrypted search. This is the trigger that Google pulled that made blogs suddenly see (not provided) as anywhere from 60 – 90% of the analytics for their site. By doing this, Google is forcing marketers to stop using keywords as a quick metrics for proof of success to the C-suite, as well as causing them to dig deeper to show actual tie-ins between content, social, sales, leads, downloads and other actions and conversions. It’s also increasing the relevance of the “stickiness metrics”: time on site, return visits, remarketing data, device data, and conversion drop point data. By creating compelling content and improving the metrics you are tracking, the shift away from keywords will improve your content and overall site quality and your conversion rates.

Encrypted search is not new, by any means. Google has been experimenting with this in various degrees since 2010. It’s worth noting that not every user’s search data is encrypted. You’ll still be able to get light keyword data – just not the extensive keyword lists people have grown used to. There is a way to get around this (somewhat) if you are a Google Webtools and Google Analytics power user. For the work around you’ll need to create two reports in your browser, while logged in to your Google account(s), then utilize a tool like VLOOKUP or GA DataGrabber tool to glean useful information from the reports. Search Engine Watch has a great step by step with screenshots that will help you set this up.

All of these changes mean that your content is going to have to compete on quality, not quantity. Providing a wide variety of useful, interesting content in many formats will help keep you relevant. Authorship is as important as quality content now, as well, so making sure all of your blog authors have a strong, linked social presence (especially on Google) will help build that foundation. In fact, the more links to valid publications your authors have, and the longer their web history, the more it will help your search results.

Long Tail Content

Why did Google make such a sweeping change to keywords and search data? There are several reasons. Some are speculative, such as the desire to push people into using Google Plus, and some are concrete, such as the changes in the way people search. It is less and less common for people to search simple keywords or key phrases (“high heeled shoes” or “red pumps”) and much more common for people to search the same way they talk (“Where can I get red heels in New York?”). The search engine has become a “trusted friend”, especially since the rise of Siri and Google’s voice activated tools like Google Glass.

The best content creators out there can anticipate what questions their potential customers will ask, then create content that will remain relevant to answering those questions, standing the test of time. Gone are the days of the SEO content farm with robotic, shallow content. Now people are looking for deeper content, content that anticipates and answers their needs, content that entertains in a meaningful way. Content marketers need to create content that can be expanded over time, and used in a variety of platforms and media types.

Mobile Content

Hummingbird also gives more weight to mobile content. It used to be enough to make a scaled down, less feature rich version of your website for viewing on mobile phones. Now customers are more interested in a fully responsive web site that is scaled up and feature rich, that automatically recognizes their device and adapts the design accordingly without sacrificing features. Google Hummingbird is designed to encourage that behavior, giving sites with a combination of great content and a great mobile site precedence over sites that falter in mobile.

Mobile site access is also a great reason to offer balanced content for a variety of audiences. Longer, more in depth pieces are essential for both SERPs and thought leadership, however; shorter content designed with mobile readers in mind is ideal for added mobile reach. Interest pieces and visual content are fantastic for addressing the needs of your mobile readership.

SEO

SEO as we knew it is effectively over, thanks to Hummingbird. There are some tried and true tactics that will stay in place, but this is the first big push away from SEO and into more semantic web results that include not just keywords, but sentiment and grammatical patterns, as well as a push to be mobile friendly.

In fact, you can achieve two goals – getting more people to your content via mobile devices and increasing your mobile SEO – simply by combining short and long form content. By creating image-based, easily consumable short form content as a mobile gateway to your longer, more in depth pieces you can increase conversion from click to engagement on mobile, and increase the traction of your site content.

Google Hummingbird is a dramatic change, but not a fatal one. The smart, agile company that is focused on a multi-faceted content strategy including deep content, snackable content, visual content and mobile will succeed in this new SEO landscape.

(Einstein image made with the fun Einstein Image Generator)

 

Find Leslie Poston on the Content Marketing 50

Today eContent Marketing Magazine announced their Content Marketing 50 for July 2013. I was so happy to be included with such long standing content innovators as Ann Handley and Joe Chernov on this list of content marketers worth watching.

That list is packed full of people who excel in the content marketing arena. You absolutely can’t go wrong checking out what they have to say on everything from ebooks and white papers, to blog posts, infographics and more.

Read the entire Content Marketing 50 list (and find out where to follow all 50 of the content marketers on Twitter) at the eContent Marketing site.

Social Media Metrics for Dummies: Win a Signed Copy

Starting today, you have a month to win one of 10 signed copies of my book, Social Media Metrics for Dummies, over on GoodReads.  Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Social Media Metrics for Dummies by Leslie Poston

Social Media Metrics for Dummies

by Leslie Poston

Giveaway ends July 05, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

If you aren’t yet a GoodReads user, sign up and connect with me on my Leslie Poston author page for Social Media Metrics for Dummies, Twitter for Dummies and other upcoming books.

Social Media Metrics for Dummies is designed to give you a great start in using metrics for your brand or business. It is appropriate for both beginners and intermediate analytics users. Have you read it? I love it when happy readers leave reviews on GoodReads and on Amazon!

Publishing Industry Growing Pains at Book Expo America

I spent the last few days at the book lover’s Mecca: Book Expo America 2013.  I noticed several things this year that made it stand out in contrast to my past pilgrimages to BEA (I’ve attended as an author, speaker, buyer, retailer and marketer). The most glaring things centered on the overall atmosphere and a sense that the publishing industry is still struggling to keep up with rapid changes in technology and how readers consume and buy books.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m an avid lover of the printed page. I much prefer to hold a real book in my hands, and only reluctantly use Kindle for iPad or iBooks. That said – the times, they are a changin’. I think BEA could have used the Expo to set a great example for publishers, buyers and consumers, with a few simple tweaks to the conference.

If you walked the Exhibit hall, you may have noticed a larger area devoted to the self publishing industry, the digital publishing industry, digital publishing tools, and e-readers. You may have noticed a slight increase in speakers dealing with the growth of digital and multimedia reading experiences. In my opinion – it wasn’t quite enough of a push. This series of trends in how people consume “content” has been growing, whether traditional publishers like it or not, for several years.

 What I Liked

I liked the floor space given to the new, easy tools authors have at their disposal to empower them with easy publishing in a new digital age. There was no shortage of booths for companies that help authors create multimedia, enhanced, books-as-portable-masterpieces that allow readers to go deeper into the story through music, videos, 3D graphics, maps, illustrations, games, animations, and more (and in some cases that may make authors and publishers uncomfortable: manipulate and “mix” an existing digital story into something new).

I liked the healthy number of talks centered around digital media and publishing for portable readers, tablets and a newly responsive and multimedia-driven web space. I’m glad that there is more education being offered at events like this one to help authors and publishers learn to better navigate the digital reading environment, and that many of the talks centered around how to make your digital publications more compelling and take them beyond just a simple PDF or basic ebook.

I liked that they continued to have an app for phone and tablet to help navigate the conference, though I felt it was a bit incomplete. It did help not to have to carry around magazines and maps when you already carry around big swag bags full of heavy books and booth trinkets.

I liked that the app included a way to scan fellow attendees nametags for inclusion in your contacts and for ease of mailing ordered books. They have offered this in years past, but this year the technology worked fairly seamlessly – an improvement.

What Was Missing

There were a few things I thought were missing from the Expo. Many of them I hope to see next year.

I thought the app had a few missed opportunities, mostly in the area of digital publications. I noticed a marked decrease in the number of available galley copies to take home and evaluate this year, but there was no equivalent uptick in electronic books. Why wasn’t the app set up to ping you when you passed a publisher booth to offer you a free download for your Kindle, Nook, or iBooks apps? I realize this would take massive coordination with the publishers to accomplish, but in an age where publishing is becoming digital, this is a huge miss in my opinion. In fact, I’d have even been pleased to see signs on publisher booths offering one of the dreaded QR codes that led to a download page while at BEA. Only a handful of booths tried to include technology driven downloads.

On the publisher side, there were several who were still reluctant to include social media and email in their marketing and in their communications with fans. Most of the major publishing houses had social fan outreach in place, but the smaller publishers did not. This was an especially glaring miss in the comic and graphic novel publishing section of the Expo. There are few fans more rabid than comic book lovers, and the publishers seem to be content to let them subsist in the dark with only minimal official engagement online. For example, did you know they are rebooting “Elfquest” soon? Neither did I, until I had a side conversation with a booth rep about favorite graphic novels. A rabid comic fan might have picked this up via forum or blog scuttlebutt and rumor, but for folks like me who love comics but don’t get into the fan world? There has to be a better way to find out information about what’s coming next.

I also noticed a lot of companies offering DRM solutions and ways for authors to protect their work in various ways. I think there needs to be an equal number of ways for people to share their digital reading material. The thing that is lacking in digital editions of books is the ability to easily hand it to a friend and say “Wow, this is awesome – you have to read this.” The more a book is isolated by DRM, or fixed to a certain ereader or software, the less the idea behind the book can travel, and I think that does all of us a disservice.

I also felt a sea change in the overall atmosphere of the conference. There was a buzz from previous years that seemed largely missing this time around. In fact, instead of feeling like I was walking through a bustling hive of book lovers, it felt more like I was walking through the world’s largest homogenous Barnes & Noble Superstore. This is, I’m sure, strictly a matter of perception, but I think that bustling indie feel will return to the Expo once the industry embraces the new, more accessible, ways of publishing and reading books.

Did you attend this year? What were your takeaways from the Expo?

 

 

Prepare For Facebook Changing News Feed, Adding Graph Search

If you are one of the many people out there who hate it each time Facebook makes a change to how you view it, each time it violates your privacy or tweaks your settings – brace yourself. Facebook is about to change things up again in a big way with two new iterations of the way you use their service. In a blatant bid to compete with Twitter, Google+ and Google Search, Facebook is introducing changes to the News Feed and adding something called Facebook Graph Search.

Facebook users are already freaking out about the potential privacy issues both changes will bring, and with Facebook’s past history of being cavalier with our privacy I think a healthy dose of pre-emptive adjustment to your settings is completely warranted before each new thing rolls out. Before I dip into settings and privacy issues, however, let’s take a look at how this will change how you see the people and pages (and ads) on Facebook.

Gizmodo did a great write up of the basic changes in the news feed, so I’ll just do a quick recap here. You can read the complete article on Gizmodo. I noticed that their post seems to view the changes in a largely positive light. Each person (and business) uses Facebook in a different way, however. Personally, I’m not looking forward to the categories being split. I prefer to get my updates in one lump feed. Frankly, I’d have been happy if they’d have just let me set my feed to “Most Recent” consistently and called it a day. However, if you are a a visual person you’ll love the huge emphasis on images and videos in each category. If you go to Facebook for music discovery or memes, or to bombard Facebook with baby and vacation photos and not to talk with friends, for example, that change will appeal to you as well; you’ll now be able to simply look at one of the four categories at a time. For the rest of us, having to switch back and forth will create extra clicks – an intentional way to force people to spend more time on Facebook, which in turn will pave the way for an increase in the number of ads you will see in your News Feed.

The biggest shift for people who hate Google+ is going to be how much they copied Google’s 2012 release of a new Google+ interface. Facebook has definitely taken a page from Google’s design book with the new News Feed.  If you balk at Twitter, the speed of the News Feed they are introducing will feel quite a bit Twitter-esque to you, and may take some getting used to. If you are one of those people who don’t like sites they view in their browser to work (and look) like an app on their phone or tablet, you may struggle with the new unification in appearance and functionality of Facebook’s Mobile Apps and their web interface. Other than getting used to a new way to find your friends and family and learning where things are in the new categories, in the end the new News Feed is simply a user interface (UI) change designed to make Facebook a more visual and ad-friendly experience. In short, the UI is something you can get used to in time like all of their other many changes.

Privacy and the New News Feed

Privacy on Facebook changes so often I check my privacy settings weekly. Sometimes when Facebook flips a UI switch it changes some of your existing settings – that’s just how Facebook works. It has a long-standing cavalier attitude toward it’s users’ best interests. I recommend going into your privacy settings now if you don’t have the new News Feed yet and locking them down, then doing the same for pictures (yes – photo privacy is in a slightly different place). I also recommend reviewing all of the applications, games and third party services that have access to your account and permission to post on your Timeline and locking those down as well. Then I recommend taking time over the next fews days to adjust the granular settings of your friend’s posts as they scroll by in your existing news feed (you do know you can mute what you see from each individual friend, right? You don’t have to see their game notifications, likes or comments – but that control is up to you, not them). I discussed how to do this ina video here in August 2012, and that advice should be current until the new News Feed is rolled out to all. I’ll make a new video on settings for privacy then.

Let’s Talk About Graph Search

From a real-use standpoint, Facebook’s new Graph Search is underwhelming. Facebook is trying to bring some competition to Google Search, but if you are like me, you search for new things on Google Search, and not things that are connected to your social graph. However, the new Graph Search does make things you find on Facebook more comprehensive. More importantly, Facebook has not abandoned their partnership with Bing. This means that if the location, interest, business, place, photo or whatever you are searching for isn’t on Facebook and a shared interest with someone in (or connected to) your network, you’ll still get the Bing suggested search results popping up.

Graph Search is still in a slow-to-roll-out beta stage. Unlike the change to the News Feed, which will happen rapidly (and soon) for everyone, Graph Search may not flip on for you for a while. Even so, you need to prepare (especially if you are a business). If you upload photos, check their privacy. If you are a business, upload more photos and make them larger and more interesting. If you haven’t added location information to your business page – do so. If you are an individual user, make sure you have your location settings turned off on Facebook browser and mobile interfaces if you want that kept private when you post an update.

Facebook will now allow you to find new people outside of your existing network who share an interest in things you search for, in locations you search for, and will deliver photos as results drawn from your network on topics you search for among other things. One example: you can search for people who have their relationship status set to single in your area and find new people to connect with via Graph Search. This is going to have an interesting impact on how much people share, and could serve to quiet some of the more obnoxious noise from people (and businesses) as users notice how far-reaching their social graph is. If your friends haven’t locked their profiles down as much as you have then how they share, like, and tag information pertinent to you matters more now than ever before. Much of the “creeping” that occurs on Facebook occurs through leaks in profiles that are not connected to you. This means educating the less tech-savvy in your circles about privacy settings (see above).

What About Graph Search and Privacy?

Because Graph Search is designed to unearth shared interests and connect you to like-minded people it will, by its very nature, infringe on privacy a bit. How much is yet to be discovered because it isn’t fully available to the entire user base. I recommend viewing the video above, which tells you how to set some of the more granular controls like how you can (or can’t) be tagged, and turning off the settings for “what your friends can see about you on Facebook” as well as turn off being found in search. There are some potential benefits to people who want to build a larger network of like-minded people, but the main benefit of Graph Search lies in what it can do for businesses.

Businesses should begin prepping their pages now to be more interesting and more shareable to ensure they are showing to all potential connections in the networks of the people who “like” your page. If you don’t want to reveal your love of Glee, bad karaoke, troll pages, political rant pages, vats of wine, or any other information that you felt was heretofore more private to a larger network, comb through your “liked” pages and interests and consider adjusting what you have liked and how much can be shared with friends. Keep in mind – to make all of these adjustments now, before you the News Feed and Graph Search is activated for you, will take the better part of an afternoon. Facebook did away with simple universal privacy settings long ago.

Page Ranking

One interesting benefit to businesses about Graph Search for Pages will be their push for better page ranking and more transparent metrics on the ranking of your pages. Double check a few things to improve your rank. First, check your page name and make sure it is not keyword heavy. Next, get a custom Facebook URL. It pains me every time I see a Page that hasn’t bothered to do this simple step. You can do this here. Make sure that all of the sections that allow you to give more information about your Page are filled out. This seems like a no-brainer, but so many businesses don’t bother to fill out their hours of operation, location or even provide a full About section, for example. Take the time – it will help you.

I can’t stress enough to be interesting if you are a business on Facebook. It matters now more than ever to create updates that compel your fans to engage with, and share, what you say. If your Facebook Page is a wall of announcements, heavy-handed sales pitches and general billboarding, the new Graph Search will start to mute how often people see you. It rewards Pages with high user activity and variety of content.

What If You Aren’t Afraid To Play?

If you are one of the early adopter types who just wants to play with all of this yourself, you can request early access to both new features. To request access to the News Feed early you can add your name to this list. If you want early access to Graph Search you can find that waiting list here (Note: that one has a longer wait for many people).

Social Media War Games

The simple fact of Facebook remains: much like War Games, “the only way to win is not to play”, especially if you are a user who wants to maintain a small social footprint behind a curtain of privacy. For many, leaving is not (yet) an option. They are either on Facebook for friends and family they can’t find elsewhere, have a business that needs a Facebook Page to reach new customers, or perhaps work in a field that requires a social presence (the fact that much of life requires a social presence now is worth a post of its own). Revisiting your privacy settings on Facebook (and elsewhere) should become a habit if you plan to stay on the service. In the meantime, explore these two new options and enjoy them – they both have benefits. It’s just a matter of getting used to something new and adjusting to change fluidly.

 

 

The Rise of Telecommuting Still Faces Corporate Resistance

Telecommuting is here to stay – and should be considered the norm wherever possible.  Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, made waves with the telecommuting community this week when she decreed that all remote workers would now have to work in an office – or quit. This makes her the poster child of corporate resistance to the idea of telecommuting.

It’s not uncommon for companies to resist allowing workers to telecommute, even a few days a week. The corporation has valid, but addressable, concerns about time management, productivity, corporate intelligence leaks, and quality and quantity of work delivered on company time. In some cases, corporations balk at the idea of remote workers from a company culture standpoint – without the traditional water cooler moments, endless meetings and plenty of face time, remote workers can never truly feel like part of the company they work for, they argue. Setting aside the real possibility that Yahoo is using this as a cost reduction move (stealth terminations – it’s easier to have people quit than to hand out severance and go through the usual legal ramifications of firing someone) because that, in my opinion, is a whole other topic entirely, let’s take a moment to examine the idea of remote work.

I see clear benefits to a remote workforce. Less traffic, less impact on the environment, and lower corporate costs (no need for the office, utilities or the equipment in the office) all come to mind immediately. Happier workers allowed to work with more flexibility are more loyal to the companies they work for that allow them that freedom, trust and flexibility. Remote workers allow a company to have a presence in a new city without the cost of a new office. Remote workers with children are able to be more involved in their children’s lives and schoolwork and avoid high cost of child care in many cases. In fact, some have posited that Mayer’s move at Yahoo is a direct slap in the face to working parents at the company, and mentioned the bad example it sets for her corporate culture, especially in light of the bar potentially set by her short maternity leave.

Even in the face of incredible benefit to the remote worker and the company, a company may wonder how to keep remote workers not only on task, but feeling a part of the team. The advent of social tools and “cloud” computing tools, from Salesforce with Chatter and programs like gTalk and Hipchat all the way to collaborative tools like gDocs and others makes this easy. Virtual meetings using Google Hangouts, Skype or Go to Meeting with HD video all provide much needed face time, with a side benefit of encouraging brevity in meetings. Employees can even be flown out to the corporate office for real face time once a month with no loss in savings to the company over all.

With all of the benefits associated with a productive and loyal remote work force, it’s difficult to see why some companies still balk at the concept.  Certainly not every job can be remote, but such a vast number can be that it makes no sense in this changing age of work to insist on an employee being a cubicle jockey during a set time period each day.

Do you have remote workers? Has it increased productivity? How is it working for you? What are some of the tips you have for others who want to move into the future of work and start allowing employees to work remotely some or all of the time?

 

 

 

Throwing Stones at Glass Houses, or Privacy vs Publicy

Normally I am all business on this blog, but let’s take a moment to think about a few tech issues on a personal level. I think Google Glass is cool tech – I love cool tech – but if I see someone wearing Google Glass glasses after they come out, I’m infinitely less likely to want to be anywhere near them for any type of interaction. As the glasses get better and harder to detect, I’m likely to learn people have them by experience then avoid them. I’m wondering if I’m the only one?

You see, in spite of my public job, I don’t assume that every moment, thought or deed (my own or others’) needs to be public.  I am not a fan of being photographed or having video taken without being asked first, or having photos put up I don’t get a chance to look at first, and if you have ever tagged me in a non-work related photo – well, you already know how I feel about that. I value privacy and the dwindling ability to choose how much the internet at large gets to see of my (actual) life.  Just because you *can* take a picture of someone in a public place doesn’t mean you *should*.

People ask me why Facebook is my least favorite social network. Setting aside the network’s blatant disregard for a consistent user experience, the manipulation of the user base while on site and the downright Machiavellian terms of service: the total disregard for privacy on the network, and the inconsiderate behavior it encourages in people, really make me cringe. I feel we must do our best to resist a world where we have spy glasses, drone planes, a culture of eavesdropping on communications and an “always on” mentality.

Let’s look at it from the simple perspective of crime, if you don’t like the privacy angle. As a woman, I am cautious to only pre-disclose events I plan to attend if I know my home will have someone in it and that the event will keep me surrounded by people. I don’t connect with many people on sites like Foursquare – I use them to keep me motivated for things like the gym, but never check into my home, and more often than not I keep my check ins private unless I am – you guessed it – surrounded by people and know my home is protected while I’m gone.  I value time with my friends where I can let my hair down a bit and have a little fun, and I eschew anyone who tries to make those vital moments of being out of the public eye public by sticking a camera phone or flip cam in my face.

It’s because that behavior is rude and invasive, true, but  it’s also because it’s not wise. I can’t control the privacy settings of other people – I can only control my own. A large percentage of information bleed online comes from the missed settings and carelessness of other people that you know. You can lock your own privacy settings down tight, but your inebriated friend at the reception might have his set to public, or a relative might not be as tech savvy, and enough unwarranted photos might reveal you or your kids’ favorite hangout, even if you try to keep it private, which could put you and people you know at risk.

I get a lot of flack from photographer friends about my desire to be asked before photographed. They err on the side of “if you’re in a public place, your consent is automatic”. I agree that at times that’s true. I can’t really get annoyed if I’m speaking at a conference and my picture or a video is taken, and I don’t – it’s all about context.  There is a difference between being in a “public place” and “publicy” and a need in this hyperconnected age to be vigilant and respectful about not just your own privacy but the privacy of those you come in contact with.

Mass adoption of new technology always causes a cultural shift. As one example: the dissolution of public transportation and rise of the car brought us the suburbs and contributed to urban decay in addition to making it possible to do cool things like go visit relatives in Ireland or go on vacation quickly and easily (the car and the plane brought us the world, but the trade offs for easy access to the planet have been pretty significant).

I wonder if we are prepared for – or even cognizant of – the cultural shift away from privacy that is in process right now and what it will cost us if not handled delicately and reigned in to allow for private spaces inside and out. Study after study  shows that privacy, the ability to reinvent oneself or move past a prior mistake in life (Think for a moment of Facebook’s recent indication that they will open up to ages 13 and under and what that will mean to their ability to grow from bad decisions, learn and reinvent when it’s time to move into their adult life. Pretty serious impact, isn’t it? ), the chance for quiet solitude and reflection to grow creativity and deepen thought processes, the ability to move safely from one place to another and more are vital to our well being as individuals and as a society.

*Note: the issue of trading our online behavioral and shopping data for access to sites is a whole ‘nother issue/can of worms. Post on that coming soon.

What are your thoughts on privacy vs publicy and this huge cultural shift that is going on under our noses?