Freedom of speech

Charlie hebdo gives us pauseIn the wake of the events of the past few weeks, many people throughout the world are realizing just how precious the right to freedom of speech is. As Americans, we sometimes take this right for granted. Between the terror events in France and the Sony movie The Interview, we are now seeing how some other people view our freedom.

In my business, I have the opportunity to write about a wide range of topics. The most controversial I have gotten in my work has been organizing your clothes closet or picking a team that might win tomorrow’s game. But I know I have the right to write about whatever topic I chose. This is not true for some people.

As a college intern, I worked at a Baltimore television station during the American hostage crisis in 1979 that took place in Iran. It was an exciting yet scary time to be in the news business. The Associated Press and United Press International alarms were ringing in what we called “the wire room” all evening, every evening with news updates and bulletins. Every time the alarm went off, my heart jumped.

Back then, we didn’t have a 24-hour news cycle, social media or cell phones. Okay, maybe there were cell phones, but they were about the size of a shoe box and few people owned them. At the TV station where I worked, they didn’t even have computers. We typed on typewriters with large keys so the stories could be put directly into the teleprompter for the anchorman.

As a young adult, it was the first time I was exposed to terrorism. I also learned a lot about patriotism and freedom during my internship. It has been a long road from that job to creating Social Squids, but freedom of speech has been there all along.

With the technology of today, people use freedom of speech and social media to instantly send images and words to the world. With this freedom people have gotten themselves into all kinds of trouble from “sexting” to sending out things by accident. Of course, many also use it for sending funny, informational, inspirational or newsworthy messages.

As citizens of the world and especially as writers, we should remember how precious this freedom is. Some people have paid the ultimate price. We should take advantage of our freedom of speech and use it wisely.

Je suis Charlie.

Instagram chief bends to pressure

instagram changing their policyThe people have spoken. After the deluge of people bombarding instagram over their recently announced policies to take ownership of all photos beginning Janaury 2013, they have scrapped the idea.

Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom wrote, “The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos.”

While claiming that people misunderstood his intentions, Systrom continued, “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”

Once again, this is proof of how powerful social media is. In just a matter of a couple days, the photo sharing app changed its plan. The announcement was made, people were appalled and began deleting the app or simply stopped using it.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, purchased the popular Instagram in 2012 for about a billion dollars in stock and cash. With over 100,000 million users, he could not afford for everyone to switch to another way to share photos.
Twitter is ramping up its photo sharing feature. It is now more flexible and user-friendly to compete with other apps. People can post pictures directly from the Twitter app. I often use this photo sharing feature when I am posting on Twitter.

When using a photo app to grow your business, there are so many options. During the past two days, I tried a number of other apps, but didn’t find anything that I liked as much as Instagram.

While Pinterest is a nice app, without the photo editing options Instagram has, it has a different focus. Pinterest is more about sharing photos you see on websites and less about promoting your own photos.

Since I am one of the multitude of Instagram users, I am thrilled that they will be changing their proposed plans. And I feel good about using the app again.

Social media “Whoops!” posts

This morning I read an article about Bill Cosby. Yesterday, for the fourth time, there was a rumor that he died. It was all over the internet. False celebrity death notices seem to be the norm on Twitter and Facebook. Remember the false death stories about Jon Bon Jovi a few months ago?

Then there are posts that should never be said at all. A man was arrested in England after making racial slurs against a sports star. Either the poster didn’t think or didn’t care what he was posting.

Whether it is risqué, wrong, racist or just in poor taste, that is no way to get people to like, know and trust you. Those are the people who will want to buy from you or use your services. Your reputation is based on what you say and how you say it. Don’t blow it by making an off the cuff comment that contradicts your message or brand.

How many times have we heard about people accidentally (or on purpose) sending nude photos of themselves or others? How about when Tori Spelling’s husband sent a touching tweet about how beautiful his wife looked playing with their kids first thing in the morning? It accidentally showed his wife’s bare breast! He didn’t look at the photo closely before he posted it.

There are entire websites devoted to inappropriate photos that people have posted. Sometimes it’s a sexy or nude photo with a small child in the background. There are all kinds of examples of what not to do!

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to filter things before you send them. We all know that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good. Even though the Tori Spelling photo was taken off Twitter after a few brief hours, countless people saw it and people downloaded the photo. Once that happens, there is no taking it back.

If you need to do so, type out your posts in a word processing program so you have a chance to proof them. If you run a business, you can type out several messages that you want to send during the day. Proof them all in the morning and then copy and paste them into Twitter at the time you want to post them.

Always look at the links before you share or retweet someone else’s post. Make sure it is not offensive or incorrect information. There might be a message that seems okay, but then when you click on the link or view a photo, you might discover something disturbing.

Checking photos and proofing your posts before you send them should be something everyone knows and does. If you are an entrepreneur, this is vital to the success of your business (unless you are in the business of exploiting these posts). Don’t stop posting – just think before you post!

Add pizzazz to social media pages

memes-for-social-networkingAs more businesses jockey for position to be the best, they use their social media pages to gain popularity. Some have one time offers, others contests and still more have funny pictures. No matter what strategy you employ, you must do something to attract new clients.

Lots of web pages have “suggest a caption” contests. Those are fun because people think of the most outrageous things you would never think of on your own. Viewers often share these funny photos. Come up with something that is thought provoking. Remember that you either need permission to use a photo or have taken it yourself to avoid copyright infringements.

You can do a lot with videos. They do not have to be professionally done. Many people use their laptop’s webcam to create video content for their site. People love watching videos and looking at photos. It is so much more interesting than straight text. Even if your website is devoted to something very serious, you can always find some tasteful artwork to go with it.

There are programs like Picasa and Instagram that will help you manipulate photos you take and make them look a little better. By using your own photos, you know no one else will be using the same image. If you don’t have the skills to take photos worthy of your blog or Facebook page, subscribe to a graphics service in order to get copyright free material to use on your site. Companies like istockphoto.com will sell rights for individual photos. Sites like graphicsfactory.com offer a year-long subscription and rights to use any graphics or photos on the site. Both are reasonably priced.

Even creating a meme, some having no artwork at all, are gaining in popularity. A lot of times they are old fashioned looking photos or artwork with a catchy phrase. In the case of I Can Has Cheeseburger, and the LOL cats seriously lacking in their knowledge of grammar, the text is often misspelled. I am told it is because cats can’t spell. Many times, unfortunately, I believe there are misspellings not done on purpose.

A meme is defined by Bing:

meme

[ meem ]

  1. cultural characteristic passed down generations: any characteristic of a culture, e.g. its language, that can be transmitted from one generation to the next in a way analogous to the transmission of genetic information.

Making your social media pages look more interesting will help get page views, likes and retweets. When you have that kind of interest, your business will grow. The more people who view your information, the better the odds are for you to get new business.

Don’t be afraid to add some zip to your Facebook or other social media pages. Jump in, and build up the page with artwork and maybe even video. You will quickly discover how much new attention you will get.