TweetDeck to become even less useful on May 7

Twitter has been hard at work over the last few months making TweeDeck less and less useful, so it comes with little surprise this morning that I received a notice that the connection between TweetDeck and Facebook will be severed on May 7. This is not really bad news. There are other tools that offer combined views of Twitter and Facebook content, and TweetDeck is only a useful tool now if viewed through the Google Chrome browser these days anyway. But if you rely on TweetDeck to keep track of both services, it’s now time to consider the alternatives.

Communications related hashtags from Twitter for April 2, 2013

Every few days I see interesting content about communications and marketing pop up on Twitter that can easily be missed if you aren’t looking at the exact right time. So I am going to start posting the hashtags for these conversations, so you can get the best content even if you can’t watch it unveiled in real time.

If you don’t know how to use hashtags, it’s simple. Just log in to www.twitter.com and type the hashtag into the Search field. Or you can just click the URLs I post to go directly to the conversation.

Here is what I am seeing today:

#infinitedialhttp://twitter.com/search?q=%23infinitedial – posts about how social media is positioned in relation to traditional media, especially the ongoing value of radio and listeners who consume radio broadcasts in their vehicles.

Are your social media accounts safe?

How safe are the passwords for your social media accounts? This question was on many minds late last Friday when Twitter announced that it detected an attack on its tool and that up to 250,000 accounts could be compromised. I received an email notice from Twitter while I was out on a run, and as soon as I came home I logged in to Twitter through the website – not trusting to click on a link in an unexpected email for fear that it could be a phishing attack. Sure enough, my account was one of the lucky few, so I created a new password and moved on with life.

This seems like a minor inconvenience, a tiny blip in another week of communicating through online tools. And for me, it was a minor blip, because I was prepared.

What do you need to do to be prepared?

  • Use unique passwords for each of your important social media accounts – if you use the same password for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other accounts, when your password may be compromised on one tool, it is compromised on all tools.
  • Use strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed by anyone trying to access your account – strong passwords are usually eight or more characters long and they use a combination of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols.
  • Regularly change your passwords – it is a good practice to change your password every few months to make it even less likely that someone could crack the password and get access to your accounts.
  • Limit the number of outside tools that have access to your social media accounts
  • – you can limit your exposure and the chance that someone can get access to your password by limiting the number and types of add-on tools that you connect to your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Make it a regular practice to do a periodic review of the third-party tools connected to your accounts to ensure that you are only allowing key tools to maintain access to your login and password.

In the case of last week’s issue with Twitter, it isn’t clear if the reason those 250,000 accounts were compromised was due to poor passwords. Since one of my accounts was on the list, I would like to think that wasn’t the case.

Are your social media accounts and their passwords safe? If you rely on social media tools to tell your stories, this is a critical question. It’s up to you to ensure that the answer is yes.

Don’t look now, but Google+ is gaining on you

A new report on social media participation in December 2012 carries some interesting and a little surprising news – from the numbers, it looks like Google+ was used more than Twitter and more than YouTube. Here’s the report: http://globalwebindex.net/thinking/social-platforms-gwi-8-update-decline-of-local-social-media-platforms/

Time should bear out whether this is an anomaly or a new reality. Very interesting…

Of course, Facebook remains well in front in the chase for people’s social media time.

After a switch to Flickr, bigger photos and fewer filters

Like many other people, I made a switch a few weeks ago to begin using Flickr to share my photos, after using Instagram for most of 2012. Whether this is a good of bad choice for you and your business or brand is a matter of personal preference and whether you believe that you can reach the audience you need to connect with using either service. Both services make it easy to share photos to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, but in my experience it seems that there is still a larger community on Instagram than on Flickr at this point.

To be clear, I haven’t decided whether I will completely delete my Instagram account, but even after they attempted to clarify their new Terms of Service, this still feels like a good opportunity to re-examine which community I want to participate in during 2013.

I have noticed a few key changes in the way I use Flickr versus how I used Instagram. Because of the interface and focus of Instagram, like many other users, I tended to use filters to alter my images more on Instagram than I do when using Flickr. Flickr does offer easy-to-use filters and editing features, but I find that when I am working with a well-composed, full-frame photo rather than an artificially square photo, I tend to let the image speak for itself, without filters.

My evaluation a few weeks after making this switch is simply that Flickr feels more polished and professional than Instagram. My use may vary over time, though.

You can see my Flickr feed for how this evolves.

Have you made the switch from using Instagram to another photo sharing tool? Does it even make sense for your business or brand to do so?

Create a blogging strategy for 2013

The approaching new year offers an opportunity to assess your communications efforts and set new goals for 2013. If your communication and brand awareness campaigns include blogging, this is the perfect time to set targets for things such as reframing the focus of your content, finding new ways to measure the impact of your posts or how many posts you want to make each week. When you are setting these goals, remember that your posts will be noticed and read more often if they are posted between noon and 4 p.m. on weekdays, or on Saturdays.

As for creating a strategy itself, one tip is to plot out the topics you want to be sure to cover each month of the year and then use an outline or mindmap to ensure that you hit on each of the topics in your strategy. Lists, outlines and mindmaps are your friends when it comes to ensuring a focused communication strategy – whether your communication channel is on a blog, social media, news release, through advertising buys or any other means.

What are your communication goals for 2013?

Instagram to users – we hear you, don’t break up with us

The lawyers over at Instagram caused a major ruckus for the users of the popular social media and photo sharing tool yesterday when Instagram released new Terms of Service language that made it appear that beginning in January, users’ photos might be used in advertisements without any notification or profit sharing for the photographers who took the photos. This morning, this led to a host of Facebook and Twitter posts in my feeds about people bailing on Instagram and giving the new Flickr apps a chance as an alternative.

The folks at Instagram hope you’ll wait and reconsider. A few minutes ago they posted a blog piece – Thank you, and we’re listening.

We will see if this clarifying blog post will help stem the tide of defections from Instagram, but this whole incident is a great reminder that when it comes to building a social media presence for your company, government or idea, you can’t afford to put all of your resources in one tool.

Your photos may not look the same as the originals

After all of the hubbub about Instagram photos no longer appearing in Twitter feeds, I have to note that if you choose to use Flickr as your online photo tool of choice and you share one of your photos on Facebook, your photo won’t look the same as the original. I am spending a little bit of time this morning looking at the new Flickr app for iPhones and iPads, and I couldn’t resist sharing a photo to Facebook. And, alas, the resulting photo on my timeline is squared off like an Instagram photo, even though the original is not square.

Although the photos from Flickr are square, at least you can rest assured that your photos will display in your timeline and the feeds of those who have friended you on Facebook. Silver linings.

As for the new Flickr app itself, the app seems to work pretty well. Like Instagram, it doesn’t take advantage of the larger screen space on the iPad, instead offering a tiny, iPhone-sized application in a sea of wasted screen space. But the app still looks good if you hit the 2X button and use it that way. And of course, the app offers a slew of filters and editing features to help you maximize your images before you share them either with the Flickr community or through Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. I will play with the app a little more in the coming days and weeks.

Additional links:

Seth Long, who I follow on Flickr, just posted a link to a good story from GigaOm about what the new Flickr could mean as an alternative to Instagram.

Newspapers aren’t dead yet

Last week I wrote about the decreasing reach of newspapers for telling your story to the community at large. While some of that decrease is due to falling readership, a situation that is likely to get even worse if you live in a community where the main daily newspaper is about to create a paywall and pull the rug out from under online readers who have grown used to the paper giving away content for free online, one newspaper in California thinks that falling readership is really about the content itself. This morning, National Public Radio ran an article about the Orange County Register and its recent growth and hiring spurt, where the newspaper leadership has found that improving the news content is bringing back subscribers. Read and listen.

This experiment goes against the path followed by most newspapers, where dwindling advertising revenue caused staff reductions, many of which led to less local news content. The other interesting part of this story is that this particular newspaper is concentrating on its print paper over the digital version of the paper.

One thing is sure – if your newspaper is growing, and if the number of print subscribers is growing, that newspaper could be an effective place to reach members of the public whose demographics match your message. The key is knowing and trusting those demographics.