The Good, The Bad and The Very Ugly on Facebook

From January 9 to January 13, Real Simple magazine encouraged all of their subscribers to “be nice on the Internet”. It was the beginning of an annual movement by the women’s lifestyle publication to create a nicer Internet.  They said after looking at the “negative impact of rudeness online” they would provide expert tips on etiquette for the age of social media.

While the Real Simple movement didn’t gain national attention, it’s a reminder to all of us to watch out for our own rude online behavior…especially when it comes to Facebook.  Facebook can be downright ridiculous when you scroll through your newsfeed. Braggadocios posting about their children, jobs, money, nail polish, clothes, cats, cooking skills and everything in between can make you want to say “screw it all” and cancel your account.

We believe there are three types of Facebook users, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. After outlining those three, I’ll take you through a few tips to make sure you fall into only the first category: The Good.

The Good: This Facebook user posts when they have something important to say or a picture that is unique and fun. They don’t post to wrack up comments and Likes and they never leave you guessing with posts like “Something good is about to happen.” If something good might happen, they tell you what it is. This is a kind, courteous Facebooker who never uses profanity and posts their political or religious views in a thoughtful, unobtrusive way.

The Bad: The Bad Facebook user shows up in your newsfeed a few times per day. It’s usually to make a comment about politics, quote the Bible or post yet another blurry photo of their cat. They also like to post self-portraits where only half their face is in the photo.

The Ugly: This is a person you have definitely considered unfriending on Facebook at one point or another. Their constant barrage of complaints and emotional outbursts in the form of Wall posts is tiring and stressful for all 1,400 of their Facebook friends. They post a lot of profanity and want someone to comment or Like every post they make. They don’t interact well with others and post a lot of ambiguous information (“crying today”, “someone doesn’t love me”, “it’s going to be an amazing day” etc).

Which Facebook user are you? Hopefully you fall in the Good category, but just in case you’re on the edge, here are five tips to make sure you are a great Facebook friend.

  1. Give all the details. If something is great say what it is and why it’s great. If something isn’t great, don’t post it unless you need help from one of your friends or are willing to provide the details. For example, if you have a big move coming up and need to ask for help or want advice on moving companies, give all the details and expect to get some comments.
  2. Post only good pictures. Just because it’s Facebook doesn’t mean that blurry photos or photos where only half of your face (or dog, or child or boyfriend) is visible are okay.
  3. Limit your posts. Don’t be the person that shows up in the newsfeed every single time someone scrolls though. Post only when you really have information that’s worth sharing.
  4. Keep it clean. Keep posts clean of profanity, nudity, complaints, negativity and even consider using sarcasm on a limited basis. It can be hard to be sarcastic in two sentences and can come across as snarky instead – simply bad taste is bad form.
  5. Be a good friend. Encourage your friends, like their posts, comment with positive, helpful and caring responses.

You should treat people online how you would treat them in person. Isn’t that the way you want to be treated?

Note:  Literally everyday I get asked about Twitter as people understand Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest and even Snapchat.  However, Twitter seems to hard to grasp or understand.  Here is why Twitter is important.  First, Twitter is a newsfeed as people don’t go to websites any more they go to Twitter first and if they see an idea or headline they want to see or know more about they will then go to your website as most people do not think your website has all the news they want or need.  Second, Twitter is social media you can find and meet prospective clients and discuss business easily.  I am not suggesting you do as many do “thank for following me and here’s my sales pitch.”  I am suggesting like every other kind of business connection, you offer thought leadership first in the form of blog posts and great content – why your business is the best business to do business with.  Third, Twitter is fun, you can find interesting facts, topics and political pandering.  Fourth, most important Twitter is social media like a cocktail party you engage and have conversations with others not just toot your own horn.  Being nice will bring you more rewards than just being boastful.

If you need help with you Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or other social media efforts, please email us cross@gocross.com or on Twitter @techtionary. You should also follow one of the great social media experts who has worked hard to gain followers and you should consider his services to help you – @evankirstel.

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Creating a ChicsTech Plan for Getting & Staying Organized

Most people hate being organized but yet some people love making lists for things that have to be done.  Still others for whom the very idea of creating a to-do list is, you pick the adjective that fits. The fact is that there are many benefits of making, at least, some to-do lists. In essence, a to-do list is a list that lists all the things that you have to accomplish within time frame or rather deadline, not often referred to as a “hard stop.”  These action oriented time-dependent items can be easily ticked off the list when they are completed which ensures that you don’t forget to get something done and hopefully get it done.

A completed to-do list will give you the satisfaction of being on the top of your game and you will only feel more in control of your life. There are many other benefits of to-do lists.

Benefits of Writing it Down

These to-do lists allow you to concentrate your focus on a task that is both important and urgent. This way you and possibly others to prioritize everything that you or they need to accomplish and work the way through the list in a given time frame. Putting things down in writing helps people to prioritize as well as think clearly knowing that there is no aspect of planning that you have missed. This also helps you and your teammates or colleagues focus on a particular task that is high on your priority to-do list. When you already know what you have to accomplish on a given day or even week, it becomes easy to manage the time to actually get the task done.

Another benefit of writing down ideas to comprise a to-do list is that it frees your mind. It is very similar to a movie that impressed audiences in the summer of 2011 called X-Men: First Class. There is a scene in that movie when the character Erik Lehnsherr is talking to Raven or Mystique about the fact that she could reach her full capabilities if she stopped concentrating on being normal. He told her natural self was blue skin and she should accept that and not worry about blending in all of the time. By trying to blend in, she was wasting concentration power and by looking like a normal human was forcing her brain to utilize a section of it that could be devoted to harnessing her full strength and mental capacity.

Making a to-do-list also falls under the same concept.  It frees your mind. When you have the notion in your head in regards to a task that needs to be completed, just write it down. Compile a list or put in a calendar like iSportcal, CrossPinPoints or iREcal. Then you do not have to continue to remind yourself about it or think about it as the day or days go on. In addition, writing something down reinforces that idea into your mind anyway.

Finding Like Tasks

There may be come tasks that have certain similarities. For example, you may need to speak with one person to get two kinds of information or two stores that you need to visit for specific items but that are in close proximity to each other. You will be able to work out a better routine once you can see the likenesses between the tasks.

Be Calmer

In case you are still not convinced, to-do lists are known to decrease stress and anxiety. Writing it all down gives you a clear plan of how to make it happen which in turn, removes the ambiguity out of the situation. Not only are to-do lists a great boon to effective time management, they also help you with energy management. You can pace yourself through the day, depending on what needs to be accomplished so that you do not end up too tired at the end of the day or week. This sort of touches on what was mentioned before about allowing your mind to concentrate on the task at hand rather than focusing on something that needs to be completed at some point in the near future.

Using Technology

Creating to-do lists is one of the top principles and tips of functioning time management. You will be able to assign a set number of hours or even minutes in a day to obtain the biggest as well as the minutest things that should be tackled. Many people become bogged down by the whole paper-pen aspect of creating lists. With advances in technology, this is no longer the case. You can easily use our calendar/planner (click on banner), and/or your smartphone to create effective & poignant to-do lists that you can update and change while on the run and have you complete a task. After all, there is not any reason to keep a task around if you have already managed to complete it. So make that to-list or even better put it in a calendar and stop procrastinating.

5 V-Gifts for the TechChic – Tech Love for Valentines Day

You can send chocolates, you can buy flowers, you can make reservations and you can buy gifts. But once it’s all said and done and you’ve gained five pounds from the champagne and are breaking out from the chocolate, what did you really gain from Valentine’s Day?

Instead of sending the tried and true (or should we say, “tired and true”) we searched the web for a few more unique gifts for tech chicks. These geeky gals will appreciate your creativity and they’ll enjoy having a gift they can look at or use throughout the year. Or ladies, buy these for yourself in celebration of National Singles Awareness Day. Don’t be shy, nothing says “I love me” like an 8-bit heart necklace.

1. The classic gift. This gift has been on the market and available to tech savvy consumers longer than any other gift on our list. Don’t just etch your love in stone or scratch it on a tree, carve it in metal on the back of an iPod or iPad with custom monogramming. It’s available on the Apple website for no additional charge.

2. The expensive gift. Turn up “Let’s Get It On” on your significant other’s new Bose iPod dock and tie a big red bow on the top of this $250+ gift.  The SoundDock 10 is $600 but cheaper versions start at $249. Click here to find them on Target’s website.

3. The creative gift.  Okay this one is a doozy and we love it. Plug this mug warmer into your USB drive to keep your caffeine heated. That’s right, it’s a USB-powered mug warmer in a romantic heart shape. Click here to find this amazingly cheap gift. No guarantees as to how long it will last, how long it will warm your coffee or how hot it will keep your coffee, but it’s so fun and creative that you really can’t go wrong.

4. The gag gift/nerdy gift. Heart paperweights are a little too practical for Valentine’s Day, which automatically makes them just a little too nerdy. While it’s definitely something they can use all year, we’re using the term “use” very loosly considering not many people are working at a desk frequented by gusts of wind. Click here for this $10 stone paperweight from Macy’s.

5. The fashionista gift.  Etsy brings us this fifth and fantastic gift by House of Darkley. It’s the 8-bit love heart necklace and it’s only for the super tech ladies out there. It’s laser cut and made of acrylic. How cool.  Plus, if you’re on a budget this is an affordable way to go at only $9.

With these five gifts, how could you possibly buy chocolate strawberries and call that a passable Valentine’s Day present?  However, consider that you could score some bonus points if you combine one of these techie presents with something like a creative flower arrangement or box of truffles.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Enjoy and remember, the greatest gift of all is a night with your smart phone turned off.

 

 

 

Time For iPhone/iPad Addiction Intervention? – 10 Ways to Tell You’re an IPhone Addict

On ChicsTech, we’ve featured a variety of accessories for tech-conscious, chic ladies. Like this post on great workout wear and this post on iPhone and iPad accessories. But while you’re accessorizing your iPhone/Pad, did you ever think you might be a little too into it? Is it an accessory or has it gone way beyond? Find out if you’re an iPhone addict by reading through this list.

1.  Your iPhone/Pad to the bedroom-bathroom everywhere 24×7 and you wakeup in the morning with a iPhone crease across your face. Ok, you can take your iPhone/Pad to bed with you but don’t expect your bedmate to love you more for it.  Indeed, they may find it a bit too much you are texting during intimacy.  As far as the bathroom is concerned, this isn’t really sanitary and not cool. When you’re out to dinner, the only reason you might need your phone is to fake a “getaway” call on a bad date. Don’t trek your iPhone to the bathroom with you because we all know someone who has had to save their phone from a watery grave after dropping it in the toilet.
2. You have named your iPhone. Yeah, really. People do this. If you no longer call your phone a phone, it’s time to call a spade a spade and admit your addiction. Names like “The Digitizer” and “Frank” go way into the weird category.
3. Your iPhone is accessorized. If you’ve ever set your phone on the table instead of your clutch, you might have a problem. If you’re so proud of the way you’ve matched the perfect case to your white phone or have gone all matte black on your black iPhone, you might have an addiction. Put it back in your purse.
4. You’ll immediately walk out of a wireless store if they don’t have Apple. Clearly, they aren’t cool enough for you. Wireless carriers are nearly required by techie law now to carry the iPhones but you’re the first to point it out to them if they need to carry the phones…or at least more iPhone accessories.
5. You have iPhone chargers in every room and everywhere else. Car charger, bedroom charger, desk charger, home desk charger, living room charger, kitchen charger etc., etc. If you have a mini freak out every time your phone buzzes 20% (“Oh no! It might shut off!”), then you need to admit the addiction.
6. If something doesn’t sync with Apple, it sure won’t sync with you. Yes, there’s something to be said for the ease of an all-in-one piece of technology, but just because your Word document won’t open on your iPhone doesn’t mean you need to ban Word from existence.
7. You still have the standard ringtone and you never have it on vibrate. Brag much? This is a surefire sign you want others to know just what kind of phone you have. Chill out.
8. You gave up your camera so you could whip out your phone for pictures. It’s totally true and legitimate that iPhones take great pictures and some phone pictures even rival those of cameras. But if you got rid of your nice camera just to use your iPhone more often, you might have the Apple Addiction. (*this does not apply to Twitter users who have many good reasons for taking photos with their iPhone!)
9. You love signing e-mails “Sent From My iPhone.” Did you know that some people have deliberately deleted this phrase so people don’t know they’re e-mailing from their iPhone?
10. You consider non-Apple technology obsolete. Android, Droid and any other smart phone might as well be a dumb phone as far as you’re concerned.
11. Apps – This was added since it yet another level addiction that we can only begin to understand and will write more about.

If this list started sounding too familiar around number three (or if you’re reading this on your iPhone) take a step back, a deep breath and turn your phone off for a few minutes.

Editor’s Note: this list was compiled by a “borderline” iPhone addict.

Hate the Facebook Timeline! Here’s Our 5 Reasons Why

Facebook launched yet another “update” in late January after a short trial period where early adopters could voluntarily change to the new profile type. The new profile is very different, very photo-oriented and is supposed to chronicle your life. It is called “Timeline” and well, I don’t like it. I will be the first to admit that any new feature, layout or adjustment to Facebook takes some getting used to. You have to find things you used to be able to click on with your eyes closed. You have to relearn shortcuts and ways to manage any business pages you work with. And you usually have to readjust your privacy settings.

Since I am fully aware that some of my dislike for Timeline is solely based on the fact that I haven’t learned it yet, let me instead give you a few other reasons why I wish Facebook would have left our profiles alone.

Reason #1:  There’s practically nothing “above the fold.” Hasn’t Facebook heard of this age-old newspaper term? In the newspaper business, designers and reporters live and breathe by what is above the fold on the front page of a paper. In the Internet business, designers consider anything you have to scroll down to see worthless, except for SEO purposes.  The new Facebook Timeline requires so much scrolling you could wear out your mouse and this is partially to blame for the ginormous photo they call the “Cover Photo”. That leads me to the next reason.

Reason #2: The cover photo. What the heck? How many people really have a high-quality, horizontally framed, flattering photo they want showcased to every person who visits their Facebook profile? Um, I’d wager that not many do.  Having that huge picture there doesn’t help people get to know you, it’s just a giant profile picture and another thing you have to update. Plus, it gives those obnoxious Facebook users (featured in a post on ChicTech last week) a chance to post an even larger and more prominent photo of their cat.

Reason #3: It is leaving businesses guessing. There has been a lot of debate and speculation as to whether or not Facebook will push Timeline to business pages. That leaves some businesses guessing and other businesses preemptively creating strategies to adopt the new layout. While I have to admit that a Timeline of a business’s history could be really interesting and a great marketing tool, it will be painful for many businesses to adapt to the photo-heavy layout and emphasis on the past.

Reason #4: If it ain’t broke… You can see where I’m going with this. The previous profile layout was fine! It made some nice improvements over the layout that launched the year before and has been a great success doing everything Facebook intended it to do. This change was quite simply unnecessary and they were “improving” something that really didn’t need improvement.

Reason #5: The newsfeed. No, there haven’t been any changes to the newsfeed, but as Facebook users start to build out their Timeline, all of those changes are showing up in the newsfeed of their friends. Baby pictures, birthdays, college party photos, middle school dances. All of it is being pushed to the newsfeed of their thousand closest friends while they work to update their Timeline.

I’m/we are avid social media users. Chances are that we will warm up, suck it up and figure out the Facebook Timeline. But in the meantime, we are going to hold off and enjoy the old profile for as long as Facebook lets us change it.  As we know how hard it is to change and the only person who really wants change is a baby who wants their diaper changed now!  Or if you really want change, get up and go outside and sit on your porch, take a walk in the park or on the beach and meditate as to why Facebook isn’t all that important to really anyone and most of us had interesting lives before it was here.

Tag Barcodes, NFC & QR Codes Tech in “Search of” Users

Did you see a little square barcode in a magazine this year? How about a little colorful square that looked like a screenshot from Pac man? These scannable codes by your mobile phone or other device have been on an up and down rollercoaster trend for the past two years as public acceptance has been unclear.  Unlike Facebook which is uncannily addictive, “tag barcodes” seem too been too confusing for either the vendor or user to get widespread acceptance.  Generically called “tag barcodes, they can take many formats.  For example, a QR code stands for “quick response code” and scanning one will take you to either the company’s website, a coupon or a mobile microsite they developed to capture your information as a new visitor. The colorful codes are Microsoft tags and are supposedly easier to scan and more customizable to the company’s brand.  Click on the colorful tag for more on Microsoft’s strategy for tag barcodes and nearfield communications (NFC).  NFC is a set of international standards for transferring information at low data speeds between smart phones/pads/devices based on existing radio frequency ID (RFID) standards (though not the same frequency or speed as Bluetooth).

While some experts say these little squares are the future of connecting print and digital advertising, others say they are too hard to use and too complicated for the average user.   This explains the comment about the rollercoaster of popularity surrounding the codes. One month a magazine will be full of them, the next month companies leave them out due to low response.

First, here’s a quick guide to the codes and you can test out the code above, which will take you directly to the Beauty Apps Twitter feed. In comparison, the MS Code below will take you to the same place but with a totally different look.

  1. What is a QR Code exactly? It’s a small, barcode-style box that links to digital content on the web or can activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS. It connects the mobile device to a web browser.
  2. How many people actually use these codes? June 2011, 14 million mobile users in the U.S., representing 6.2 percent of the total mobile audience, scanned a QR code on their mobile device.
  3. How does a potential customer scan a code? They must first have a code reader. There are a variety of free code readers for both QR codes and Microsoft tags. Simply searching in a mobile browser and choosing one to download is easy and only takes a few minutes.
  4. Where were codes most commonly found? 50% of the codes scanned in 2011 were in print material like a newspaper or magazine, 35% were on product packaging and 23% were on a poster or flyer or kiosk.
  5. What are some of the most creative uses? Restaurants can provide nutritional information by printing a code on their menu, museums can replace long write ups next to art with a code that provides information about the artwork itself and the artist and Taco Bell and Mountain Dew are using codes to provide free music downloads.

So, now that you know what the codes are, what they do, how to use them and some creative uses and where will they be going next? In my opinion, there won’t be any major movement toward adoption of the codes unless; a major retailer puts them into mainstream use. For example, if H&M printed them on every label allowing customers to buy their size online or if Whole Foods put them on nutrition or animal welfare labels giving people more information about the food, then we might see greater adoption of the codes. But before that happens, here are my three predictions:

  1. Microsoft tags will become more popular overall. They’re easier to scan and easier for the company to customize using shapes and colors.
  2. Codes will continue to show up in magazines and on some billboards and we’ll see new uses by a wider range of businesses like Realtors and general contractors.
  3. Codes and tags will show up on more business cards. This is an underutilized way to use the code. Put a code to your LinkedIn or Facebook page on your business card for easy, quick networking and connections.

Despite being more than two years old, it’s still a hot, new technology. Stick with us on the blog and we’ll see where it goes!