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.

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?

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.

Instagram and Twitter scuffle means your photos display differently

You should be aware that beginning today, your Instagram photos won’t appear in your followers’ Twitter feeds in the same way. The two social media tools are in a battle that results in big changes for end users – the very people you are trying to reach with your photos and strategic communications.

I’ll offer tips and best practices for how your organization or business can work around this change as things shake out in the next few days, but in case you wonder what this is all about and you want to find out more, here are a few links to the news that explains what is happening:

You can also follow my Twitter feed for more tips related to this and other communication topics: www.twitter.com/robmcnairhuff

An emerging community on Instagram

As you make decisions about what social media tools you should use to reach your audience, one of the keys to consider is whether a particular tool has a growing audience or is falling out of vogue. It’s safe to choose Facebook these days, and there is still a growing audience on Twitter, but you wouldn’t want to choose to build an audience on an outdated service like MySpace, for instance.

When it comes to new social media tools, one of the fastest growing sites for sharing visual information is Instagram. This photo-sharing site offers easy ways to use the camera on your mobile phone along with the available filters built into the Instagram app to create a personal or business presence on the Web.

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I took the photo above while doing a trail run yesterday in nearby Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington. It is one of a few hundred photos that live on my Instagram feed.

A business can create its own Instagram feed to highlight its products or people, to do promotions of holiday sales or just about any other purpose that would benefit from a highly visual communication method. In fact, the content you create on Instagram is easy to use across a number of social media tools. But remember that, just as it is with most social media, you need to build an audience before you can expect a new presence on something like Instagram will grow into a truly useful communications platform in and of itself.

Are you already using Instagram to promote your business, government or ideas? I would love to hear about your experiences so far. Just reply to this post below.

Reading the tea leaves for social media in 2013

Welcome to December! It’s the month for looking back at communications trends and lessons from 2012 as well as for an endless supply of articles looking to the future in 2013. While no one really knows what will happen in communications and social media in 2013, a number of luminaries and amateur soothsayers are making their best guesses heard. Here are links to a couple of worthwhile summary pieces, as well as a reference to a new tool for managing your posts on Pinterest.

– Earlier this week, a piece on Ragan.com offered The best social media advice for 2013.

– Yesterday, the CEO of Hootsuite offered his prognostications for the top five trends in social media in 2013. The takeaways – more mobile, more social and more big data. Read the whole piece.

– It’s a safe bet that new add-on tools will continue to emerge in 2013 that will make the current social media favorites easier to use and manage. One example I saw mentioned today is pingraphy, for scheduling your Pinterest posts to the most opportune times and tracking statistics using that tool.

I’ll link to the articles I find most useful throughout the month here, and I would love to hear from others who run into good summaries and advice throughout this busy holiday month.