Public vs. Private: How much do you want to share?

In today’s world of doing everything online – shopping, blogging, socializing, entertaining, marketing – everything we do can be tracked, record and sold. This is a frightening thought. Let’s take a Facebook profile for example. Think of how much information you share with your circle of friends and what your fan page preferences say about you.

If you are active on Facebook, your sexual orientation, religion, family tree, political affiliations, and friend connections are just a few of the things Facebook can glean from your profile. Then, if you like certain fan pages, this gives Facebook even more information about you. For example, you are a dog lover specifically of Schnauzers. (I get updates from VIP Schnauzers page on my Facebook account.) If you support social causes with a Facebook like, then Facebook knows where your heart is too. Facebook uses this information to serve up ads to you based on your preferences. This makes Facebook advertisers happy because they are reaching people in their target market who have more of a likelihood to buy their products. Back to the previous dog example, I get ads for products feature Schnauzers.

The future of Internet connection will be smart products that are Internet enabled. This means the product will be able to connect to the Internet and report data. Temperatures in homes can be managed remotely via an app on the user’s phone. Home security systems are connected to apps where homeowners can see a video of certain locations of their home such as the front door or back door. They can view footage of a live camera to see who is at their door – a friend or foe. Baby monitors have features where parents can watch infants from their cribs from an app of the parents’ phones.

Watch this video about the Nest thermostat, which can be controlled by an app.

All of this technology is exciting, convenient, savvy and fun to use, but buyers and users should remain cautious. If you are using an app to connect with your home thermostat, security cameras and baby monitor, are these devices secure? Does the company that sold the product have a reputation for protecting the consumer from hackers? Remember if you can connect to devices over the Internet, then there is a possibility that you could be hacked. Be sure you are taking safeguards to not trade in convenience for your family’s privacy. Read about scary baby monitor hacks in this BuzzFeed article.

Smart phone security is another way hackers can breach your privacy. You should always use a passcode. Enable remote swiping in case your phone is stolen. Be leery of downloading free apps and also carefully examine the app permission settings. Be wary of apps that need access to your contacts, pictures, microphone, etc. if the app does not require these items in order to perform. Many of these free app companies make money on selling information gleaned from your phone!

In closing, this technology rich world is an exciting and scary place to be. The rule is to have fun while always remaining cautious. You have to educate yourself about what safeguards you need to implement in order to connect and be safe for you and your family.

Here’s an info graphic with some tips on how to be safe online.



Instagram Stalking: A Way to Grow Followers?


Instagram is not a social media tool that I use personally because it just felt like all I was seeing was duplication of everyone’s picture that were already being shared on Facebook. Sure people have fun with the photo effects, but who has the time for yet another way to connect online especially if it’s a repeat?

When you set up your Instagram account, like most social media platforms, the app (if you allow it) will search your contacts and display the accounts of people you know. Then, you can decide whether or not you want to follow them. After spending a little time on Instagram, I decided it was not worth my time to see pictures that were already filling up my Facebook feed. So, I hopped off the site after a couple of weeks.

I work as the marketing director at a local community college, and Instagram was all the rage in our target market of 18-24. My co-workers encouraged me to start an Instagram account because “all the young people are leaving Facebook.” Well, we know that Facebook is still alive and well. However, I did set up an Instagram account in Fall of 2014. The page can be found at @surrycc. We only have 262 followers on Instagram, and I have posted 253 items including pictures (of course!), videos and flipagrams, which is a neat slideshow effect of photographs. I am following 67 other Instagrams accounts, many of which are other community colleges in North Carolina and some of the nearby four-year universities. The highest number of followers that I have seen for a community college is around 700.

These mediocre statistics leave me wondering if having a presence on Instagram is worth the effort? Instagram is also a challenge in that to post a picture or video, the picture has to be generated on my iPhone or sent to my iPhone and saved in the library there. I am still willing to give the platform more of a try. For Spring orientation, we are going to offer a $25 gift certificate to a randomly selected new Instagram, Twitter or Facebook follower. I am anxious to see if this boosts our social media reach especially for Instagram.

One of our curriculum programs – Welding Technology – has its own Instagram page – @surry welding. The page has 58 followers and has posted 49 items. Welders like to show off welding projects to each other. Thus, Instagram has proved to be a good platform to highlight student projects and for students to connect with the program.

The community college that has reach 700 followers says they follow people who post pictures of campus events. Some blogs that I read recommend this practice. I have opted to not do follow private people. Seems a little creepy to me. A big difference between Facebook and Instagram is the fact that Facebook has a difference between a fan page and a friend page; Instagram does not. Users can choose to set their accounts to private where people have to grant permission to follow.

I feel like it’s an invasion of privacy for a community college to “stalk” students even if they haven’t set their account to private. And, how would I determine even who to follow? What do you think about a community college growing its Instagram account by following random people? Or, by following all the people that follow the college account? Do any Instagrammers out there have some advice?

Why Vine Videos for Marketing?


Vine describes itself on the social media platform’s home page as a “world of beautiful, looping videos.” The platform was introduced in January 2013.  The six-second maximum length has created a new world of content marketing for companies and entertainment for users. Vine has more than 200 million monthly active users. Twitter owns Vine, and 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter daily.

If the unusual video platform can fit your marketing message, it is a good way to promote your products and services to American teens as the Pew Research Center says that 24% of this target population uses Vine.

ReelSEO has given praise to vines from Dunkin Donuts, Target, Disney, BuzzFeed, Lowes, Arbys, Pandora, Burt’s Bees, Cocoa Cola and LEGO as the best uploads and ad from November 2015.


Here are some fun Vine facts from CNBC 140 Things You Don’t Know about Twitter: 

  1. Why was Twitter’s video-sharing app named Vine? A source says it’s short for Vignette, which is defined as “a short impressionistic scene.” Vignette is also the name of aphoto filteroffered by the signature Twitter app.
  2. Vine limits its videos to six seconds, but Twitter user Will Smidlein once figured out how to upload a three-minute music video to a single Vine clip. On the same day Twitter released Vine on Android, Smidlein (@ws)exploited a holein the video app’s coding that allowed him to share the ever-viral “Rickroll” YouTube video in its entirety. The bug was later patched, but not before Smidlein says he “ruined some poor engineer’s day.”
  3. Vine’s logo connects the “V” and “I” in its name in the same way a vine loops and wraps itself around a tree.
  4. If you turn Vine’s logo upside down, it displays the maximum number of seconds your video can be: 6.
  5. While most social networks’ most followed users are superstars in the real world, Vine’s most followed users are a dozen of your everyday folks. One such Vine star is Nicholas Megalis, who was the first user to post aclip that hit 1,000,000 likes.
  6. Because Vine didn’t give users basic editing tools at the start, some Viners spent hours on a single six-second clip. Top Vine user Meagan Cignoli says she spent five hours and three shirts onthis video.

Are you active on Vine? What do you think about the short video content format? What’s your Vine story?

To Tweet or Not To Tweet

The Answer: To Tweet

Twitter is a source of news, advertisements and entertainment. Twitter  generates 1 billion unique visits each month to sites with embedded tweets, which is why marketers need to pay attention to the social media platform. Twitter tweets can send you customers, and these customers may be looking for your store or restaurant on the go as 80% of Twitter users are on mobile devices.

Twitter’s mission is: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” I have not been really active on Twitter personally, but there are 320 million active users on the social media platform. People seem to love the 140 character tweets that can include videos, pictures and links to websites.

News Source

Average Twitter users are becoming sources of news information by using Twitter, and journalists are also using Twitter to push out information. This information can be distributed in real-time. Check out this video detailing Twitter usage following the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Plane Crash on Hudson River. It is average citizens who are the first sources of news – a passenger from a ferry also on the Hudson takes a picture of the plane landing and distributed it on Twitter and scoops the media. Twitter users sent photographs of the Boston Marathon bombing scenes in pictures and newsbytes of 140 characters. Police departments are also now able to disseminate their own side of the story via Twitter and other social media platforms to help capture suspects as in the Boston Marathon attack.


When I first visited Twitter, I was turned off by the extensive use of hashtags. I felt as if I was reading a foreign language. Hashtags are meant to categorize tweets and begin with the hashtag or # symbol. Twitter now recommends no more than two hashtags per tweet and asks users to select a relevant word as the hashtag.  If you use a hashtag before every single word or group of words in your post and no one else is using that hashtag, you have not accomplished anything. Simply put, do not use hashtags for the sake of using hashtags. Keep in mind that hashtags are search identifiers for related items, not a cute way to say something. A great use for hashtags is to classify event related comments and images.


Twitter is expanding its advertising options and can help businesses large and small since campaigns are established by objective, geography, and a set budget. Twitter is now offering five different objective based campaigns in a beta-mode. Businesses can select one of the following:

  1. Tweet Engagements (drive conversation)
  2. Website Clicks or Conversions (send people to your site)
  3. App Installs or App Engagements (get people to download or engagement with your app)
  4. Followers (grow your community on Twitter)
  5. Lead (Collect emails from people who express an interest in your offer)

Twitter also offers several other options for marketing. Advertisers can also choose to promote tweets, which will be designated with a yellow arrow saying “Promoted by X Company.” Similarly, companies can promote their accounts to gain followers. Companies can also sponsor the trending topics with a sponsorship.

When I visited Twitter recently, about 1 of 10 tweets was sponsored, and the variety of topics ranged from education to food. Here are some of the ad examples that were in my Twitter feed. You will see a variety of the ad types mentioned above.


Starbucks App Ad on Twitter



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Video Ad on Twitter


Entertaining Side of Twitter: Second Screen Phenomenon

Do you watch television in one hand and your mobile device in the other? Are you tweeting as you watch sports or shows? If so, why do you like to comment and read other people’s comments about the game or shows?

What’s your Twitter story? How do you use the social media platform?


Socially Unexpected Private In-Home Workouts

File_000 (2) copyMy husband and I recently bought a NordicTrack X9i Incline Trainer, basically a fancy treadmill with a -6% to 40% incline. It was advertised as iFit enabled, which to us meant we had a way to keep up with our mileage and hopefully compete with each other. The treadmill came with a web-enabled touch screen, which we thought was pretty neat. What has surprised me about our new treadmill is that I have been connecting with other people via the iFit application, so my workouts have become socially unexpected. In other words, I did not think that I would be using an emerging media channel (aka social media tool) on the treadmill, but I have. And, I love it!

File_000 copyThe iFit membership, which is an additional subscription, offers workouts that tap into Google maps. After you select a workout, you can choose to do street view. This allows you to see the Google street view pictures as you progress throughout the workout. I have run through the Colosseum in Rome, Italy; traversed Mt. Okuhotaka, Japan; and journeyed through Penang National
Park, Malaysia, just to name a few. The Google street-view pictures make me feel like I am taking a virtual tour and keep me motivated to just keep going. One of the workouts – Destination Everest – provided an educational video sponsored by National Geographic, which was incredibly neat. I should also point out that the workout intensity on the treadmill matches the topography of the actual location – how cool is that!?! You can also make up your own workouts by programming the treadmill or even mapping out your own run. I made up one run through my neighborhood, which was interesting. This feature is a little buggy, but when it works, it is so neat!

Below is a view of Mt. Okuhotaka that I snapped on a water break during one of my workouts. This is on the web-enabled color touch screen.File_000 copy.jpeg

After I complete each workout, I have the opportunity to review the workout, which I always choose to do later on the iFit website, which I access via my iPhone. I choose to write a workout review because I enjoy reading the reviews of other iFit members. This information helps me decide if I want to do particular workout when I am scheduling them via the website. Thus, I have become connected to strangers through the common interest of working out in a similar fashion. After I have commented on a workout, I get emails when others also comment on the workout. I always enjoy reading the comments from other exercisers.

The iFit membership is similar to a workout Facebook page. Members can follow each other and set privacy restrictions. I am currently only following my husband. I can see his workouts and provide kudos in the comments, and he can do the same for me. iFit profiles allow users to upload a profile picture and a cover photo, very similar to the Facebook model. Here’s my profile page: (Yes, that’s me in the hat. I am not sure who the fit male runner is on the cover picture. He was the default cover photo.)

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My profile shows how long I have been a member, and provides my stats – elevation climbed, workout time, calories burned and distance travel. I was incredibly motivated to use this treadmill when we first got it and then my class (the one that requires this blog) started, and I also have a foot injury. So whine, whine, I haven’t had the time to workout, and even if I did my foot would not allow it.

However, I cannot wait to get back into action on the treadmill. This social connection is a huge motivator. Plus, I like competing with my husband. I was whipping his tail for a short time period, but now he is killing my stats. I also enjoy reading and connecting with other iFit members through the workout reviews. Interestingly, our treadmill provides in-home private workouts along with a connections to the outside world with people all over the globe.

So, my question to you out there in Internet land – Have you connected socially through an emerging media tool in an unexpected, yet delightful way? If so, will you please share it with me?

Periscope: It’s Not Just a Kid’s Toy

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You might not be able to actually walk in someone else’s shoes, but the one of the latest social media sites, Periscope allows you to see through someone else’s eyes. Matter of fact, you can watch live video from Periscope broadcasters from around the world, and they can tune into your broadcasts from anywhere!

Periscope was developed to let users do the closest thing to teleportation – discover the world through someone else’s eyes, or phone lens. The Periscope blog says: “While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.” Periscope describes itself as a “visual pulse of what’s happening right now.” A picture and a video – that’s all in the past! A live broadcast, well, that’s now!

Periscope is a two-way street. You can broadcast your live events, or watch other users’ live adventures. To get a feeling for what Periscope is about watch the video embedded on the site’s homepage.

I first heard about Periscope at a marketing conference that I attended a few weeks ago. Periscope was not a topic of a presentation, but I heard someone suggest it for live streaming events. I was intrigued, and I felt behind the times because I had not heard about it before. And there are competitors – Meerkat and YouNow. I have just found out about these guys too.

I wondered how long the app had been available. According to the Periscope blog, the app was unveiled in March 26, 2015. Twittter bought Periscope before it even was launched. Okay, so I am eight months behind the times.

In June, the Periscope blog says the app had been localized in 29 languages. That same month Periscope reported that the average amount of time users spend per day on Periscope was equal to 25 years of live watching time every day. In August, Periscope celebrated 10 million accounts on the platform. The platform then reported that the average amount of time that users spent watching live broadcasts was more than 40 years of video watched per day.

How Does Periscope Work?

You download an app from the App Store or Google Play on your mobile device. You create a username and password – signup with your phone number or sign up with your Twitter account. To broadcast your own live broadcast, you tap a button to notify your followers that you are going live. You can name your broadcast and choose your audiences – go publicly or privately by selecting people in your audience. You can also easily tweet your broadcast notification on Twitter by tapping the Twitter icon. Of course, you have to be signed in properly to Twitter on your device. You can also share replays on Twitter. Periscope also creates a web profile for Periscopers. You go to to see all the broadcasts for that particular user.

To watch live broadcasts, you decide whom you want to follow, and then when they go live, you will get a notification on your phone. You can also find people who are broadcasting live by looking at the map and selecting a random live broadcast. While you are watching a broadcast, you can send messages and reply to messages. You can also tap on the screen to send hearts or a little Periscope love. You can also check out the feature sections to begin watching broadcasts from there. And, if you miss a live broadcast, you can replay it. Also, you can watch Periscope live on your Apple TV. You can still comment via Apple TV’s features. Listen to Aaron Wasserman, Periscope Engineer about developing the Apple TV software.

Making of Periscope for Apple TV from TwitterHQ on Vimeo.

Who Should You Follow on Periscope?

To find these people on your Periscope app, go to the magnifying glass and type their name in the search bar.

The Periscope blog recommends these five broadcasters.

AJ+ @ajplus

Funny or Die (Fans of Will Ferrell) @funnyordie

Zagat @Zagat

Mitch Oates @MitchOates

Mark Stone @Stone_SkyNews

Pocket-lint offers 31 people to follow for awesome broadcasts. Here’s a few from the list:

Jimmy Fallon @jimmyfallon

Arnold @Schwarzenegger

Kevin Jonas @kevinjonas

Ryan Seacrest @RyanSeacrest

Tony Hawk @tonyhawk

Channing Tatum @channingtatum

The First Lady (Yes, it’s Michelle Obama!) @FLOTUS

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton

Kayvon Beykpour  (Co-Founder of Periscope) @kayvon

Kevin Hart @KevinHart4Real

Al Roker @alroker

What’s my Periscope Experience Been Like?

I downloaded the Periscope app to my iPhone 6+ on Saturday. Later that day, I found UNC Tar Heels @GoHeels on Periscope via a tweet on Twitter promoting the start of the UNC football game. At the time, I was at home doing homework for the class that requires this blog, (yes, sad, I know) while my husband and son were at the Miami-Carolina game. I immediately went from Twitter to the live Periscope broadcast of the Carolina football team entering the field. Pretty cool! I saw “Go Heels” messages and floating hearts on the screen. This was my first Periscope experience, and it was pretty darn neat! The only hiccup was the streaming would time out even though I was on a WIFI connection. Perhaps, it was trouble with the broadcaster’s phone.Even still, it was a neat experience.

Later that day, my phone beeped to alert me of another @GoHeels broadcast. The game was over and a victorious Carolina team was celebrating on the field. Very cool! The only negative again was the timing out and the fact that the time of day did not provide a lot of lighting for the scene. Still I am excited about this new technology.

Now, I am following Jimmy Fallon @jimmyfallon, Max Lucado @MaxLucado and the Royal Caribbean Blog @theRCLblog. I am going to add a few of the ones I listed above as well. Just a few minutes ago (10 p.m EST), I sat in on a prayer for peace led by Max Lucado. It was very moving, and I did not experience the broadcast timing out.

So, for now I am a Periscope viewer. Perhaps, I will create a broadcast to get the full experience later on. Find me on Periscope @jpharr.

A Decade of YouTube Stats, Laughs and Ads

YouTube logo 2013

YouTube turned the big 1-0 in February 2015. It’s hard to imagine this social media video platform has only been around for a decade. What did we do before we could watch just about anything we wanted on YouTube? YouTube has also made anyone with an Internet connection to the World Wide Web and a video recording device, a video publisher after setting up their own personal YouTube channel. Personally, I have used YouTube to share my own homemade videos with friends and family. I have also enjoyed watching hundreds of YouTube videos whether I go directly to the YouTube site or link through another site, usually Facebook. Professionally, I use YouTube to share marketing videos with prospective students at the community college where I work. YouTube is changing the world of advertising and marketing.

The Numbers

Statistics for YouTube are enormous – it’s the largest online video destination site in the world and the third most visited website. With a billion users, YouTube is touching almost one-third of all people on the Internet. Every single day, people watch hundreds of millions of YouTube videos, generating billions of views. The numbers are rising at a 60% growth year over year for time spent watching YouTube videos. People are accessing YouTube on mobile devices – a 100% increase – more than half of YouTube views comes from mobile. YouTube reaches more people ages 18-49 than any cable network in the United States. The number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40 percent year to year since March 2014. Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.


Chad Hurley and Steve Chen founded YouTube on Valentine’s Day in 2005, which is when Hurley registered the trademark, logo and YouTube domain. In May of 2005, a beta site was released. In December 2005, YouTube become a corporation having been funded by Sequoia Capital in November 2005. Google purchased YouTube in October 2006. The first video ever published on YouTube was called “Me at the zoo.” It features YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim talking about elephants at the San Diego Zoo. Ironically, Karim’s participation in founding the company was left out of the YouTube history.

Digital Video Advertising

Digital video advertising is a fast-growing segment with a 43.5% growth year over year. In 2017, digital video advertising is projected to make up 15% of all of the total digital advertising market according to eMarketer. What does that mean to you? If you are a marketer or owner of a company, are you using videos to propel your business? If not, you should invest in video advertising now to stay ahead of you competitors. Obviously, you should make sure your videos are posted on YouTube.

Along with paid placement, you can create video content that might go viral – or be shared freely among social media platforms. This is an awesome way to spread your message and let the public do the work for you. Adding humor goes along way in making videos go viral. Here are a few examples of YouTube commercials that were successful in going viral. These are some of my favorites?

Evian baby&me has 114 million views.

Volvo Trucks – The Epic Split feat. Van Damme (Live Test) has captured 81 million views.

Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like has almost 52 million views.

Kmart Ship My Pants has 22 million views.

Pepsi Max Test Drive Prank has racked up 45 million views.

Always #LikeAGirl has almost 60 million views

Red Bull Space Jump has 39 million views.

What are some of your favorite YouTube commercials? Please share in the comment section below.