Choosing a smart password

Image representing Gmail as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Phishing, a topic that’s been in the news, is unfortunately a common way for hackers to trick you into sharing personal information like your account password. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a phishing attack, we recommend you immediately change your password, update the security question and secondary address on your account, and make sure you’re using a modern browser with anti-phishing protection turned on. Keep an eye out for the phishing warning Gmail adds to suspicious messages, and be sure to review these tips on how to avoid getting hooked.Creating a new password is often one of the first recommendations you hear when trouble occurs. Even a great password can’t keep you from being scammed, but setting one that’s memorable for you and that’s hard for others to guess is a smart security practice since weak passwords can be easily guessed. Below are a few common problems we’ve seen in the past and suggestions for making your passwords stronger.

You can follow the ‘via’ link to get all of Google’s ideas on creating smart passwords…

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The answer is Facebook. Now, what is your question?

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

A recent study by Business.com said that 83% of respondents said that Facebook is their favorite social media tool for reaching customers and no wonder — when Facebook recently passed 350 million members after gaining 250 million members since August 2008 [yes, that’s right — the Facebook ‘nation’ is larger than the United States and growing at an incredible rate] it became clear that if someone was online, you’d probably find them in Facebook…

Yet, as a social media consultant I see so much confusion around the topic of personal profiles, groups, and [fan]pages that I thought it might be time to share THE single best post I’ve found on the topic and share some of the practical experience I’ve gained over the past year working extensively with people and brands in Facebook. I agree with internet marketing expert Dan Zarella when he says “If I could give you only one piece of Facebook marketing advice, it would be: People have profiles. Brands have pages.” He goes on to say…

Social networking profiles represent people. From your Facebook profile, you declare personal relationships, grow your network by manually accepting friend requests, and discover other people in your network to add as friends. Your Facebook profile includes facts about you including your favorite movies, what schools you went to, and your favorite quotes.

Your brand isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a favorite quote or book. You can’t friend a brand, and it certainly can’t friend you back. Brands don’t have friends. Brands have fans. Fans have discussions about your brands, share news about them, and share information about your brands with others.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.

Here’s the part where it really gets good…

“Profiles are for People. At this point in Facebook’s community’s development, you do not want to keep a profile if you are a brand. Keeping a brand profile is a surefire way to come across as totally out-of-touch. And worse, even if you were to pull off a successful corporate profile, Facebook has been known to suspend profiles for “too much marketing activity.”

Groups are for People. Groups really aren’t suitable for a serious marketing effort. They originally were created as a place for like-minded people to communicate outside of their immediate network and never were intended for brand use. There is very little time and energy required to make one and consequently, users do not value them as much as pages. How many I-lost-my-cellphone-so-I-need-all-your-numbers-again groups have you been invited to?

Pages are for Brands. After setting up a page for your brand on Facebook, use applications to pull in content from your blog and Twitter account (you do have those too right?) to keep your page full of fresh, frequently updated information. Resist the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Include some offers, media or conversation on Facebook that does not appear anywhere else. Retail brands like Victoria’s Secret are especially talented at this. I recommend viewing their Victoria’s Secret Pink Facebook page and see how their brand interacts with fans.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.

Hopefully, that clears everything up from a strategy perspective. Now, a few of my favorite tactics for those who have read this far…

The phrase ‘fan page’ is a misnomer and needs to be addressed. Facebook calls them PAGES, plain and simple, but people refer to them as ‘fan pages’ because they have to ‘become a fan’ to interact with the brand — the correct terminology, however, is ‘page‘. Frequently, when working with someone who wants to become a thought leader, I’ll get a statement like “Well, I’m just a _______ [business owner, politician, teacher, etc. – insert thought leadership role here] — I don’t have any fans. My advice to you? Get over it! Why? Because if you are attempting to create any kind of thought leadership position that evokes a response from people, you have become a brand and brands have fans. When Facebook gives you the ability to build a page [which is really a free mini-website] in the middle of the biggest social media group in the universe, they’re doing you a huge favor!

I recently spoke to a LinkedIn group in Green Bay on the topic of “Facebook for Fun and Profit”. At the time, I advocated using a Facebook primarily as an outpost for your website in order to draw people in. Good strategy, yes, but here’s the part I missed: a Facebook page may be all the website an entrepreneur or organization needs in the beginning! Why? Try these reasons…

  • Facebook pages are indexed by Google so the content is searchable; group pages are also searchable, but many Facebook application such as Social RSS only work with Pages, not groups — groups are not good tools for BRANDS
  • Facebook pages are visible to non-Facebook members [they just can’t become fans or interact with the brand or other fans if they are not a member]
  • You can assign your own url to a Facebook page; see http://e1evation.org
  • Facebook page urls can be modified to something more manageable and referenceable to the outside world; see http://facebook.com/skittles. You cannot do this with groups.
  • Facebook pages are highly customizable; see http://facebook.com/victoriassecret. You cannot do this with groups.

As I read back over the five bullet points, it occurs to me that the primary value of groups is for INTERNAL communications within an organization while pages are EXTERNAL. I think that about sums it up but if you’re still confused, leave a comment or contact me and we’ll get you straightened out!

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Happy belated bday, Gmail!

Gmail New features
Image by Yes, i’m guccio via Flickr

In what was considered by many to be a typical Google April Fools Day prank, Google announced Gmail 6 years ago today…

“On April 1, 2004, Gmail was launched as an invite-only beta, instantly creating a revolution in the webmail space. Googles decision to keep their webmail invite-only kept spammers at bay, leading to the widespread perception that Gmail is spam-proof. While this notion is far from the truth, Gmail to this day does an excellent job of keeping unwanted emails out of your inbox.

Furthermore, by offering storage capacity of 1 GB per user, Gmail dwarfed the competitors which long held the notion that free webmail doesnt deserve decent storage. It was a one-two combination that made Gmail one of the most popular Google services, and solidified its reputation as a kind giant, which offers free stuff where others charge for it.

Right now, Gmail is one of the most popular webmail clients in the world, and besides the giants of old such as Hotmail and Yahoo Mail, perhaps the only one worth mentioning. It offers over 7400 MB of free storage to users, and it has been the foundation for other Google services such as Google Talk, Google Apps and Google Buzz.

Today, Gmail is six years old and its still one of the most important services from Google; many thought that email was dead ten years ago, but today, it doesnt really seem like its going away any time soon.” Source: Happy Birthday, Gmail!

Gmail [and it’s corporate version Google Apps] is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT tool I use for communication — no other product makes me more productive in the critical task of effectively managing email. Here are the top 7- reasons why I love it…

  • Available on any internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world, regardless of Windows/Mac/Linux
  • You can mess it up by using Outlook or AppleMail as a front end
  • Incredible amounts of storage so I can archive, but not delete
  • Insanely low price of free with a max of $50 per user per year for Google Apps Premium
  • Super effective keyboard shortcuts help me process email quickly
  • SEARCH — I can find anything in my inbox with laser-like precision!

What’s holding YOU back?

Some thoughts on better contact management…

I recently came across this post from my Internet buddy Brandon Henak and I’ve been thinking about it all week. It was about using Plaxo for unified contact management and it went like this…

“The people in your network and the relationships you develop with them are some of your most valuable assets as a young professional. You look to them first for advice, job opportunities or just to discuss the latest events in your life. How you keep track of all the contact information you have collected in your personal and professional life is crucial to your success.

Contacts Everywhere!

In the poll we took earlier today we saw an interesting breakdown of contact management solutions, from relying on a cell phone to store contact information to using Microsoft Outlook, Facebook and other online sites. Each one of the solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. I have tried every one of the solutions listed with various degrees of success but, what if you could use each of them where they work the best, Outlook at the office, Mac Address Book at home and Plaxo online, without having to manually update each? I recently found a way to centralize and standardize all my contact and calendar information across all the services I use, automatically!

Sync them up!

Enter Plaxo 3.0 beta with Sync Points. After setting up an account, all I had to do was click on the “Add Sync Point” link for each of the programs I wanted to use (in my case Google, Mac Address Book, Outlook, and AIM) and it walks you through the process of putting in your login information for Google and downloading small add-ins for Outlook and Mac Address Book. Now, all of my sources sync together and I can sync all my contacts to my phone through Address Book. Any addition anywhere flows across the systems and is easily accessible.”

This was particularly interesting to me because I’m a Plaxo subscriber, but I’ve experienced a lot of problems with contact management. So what’s the problem?

A little background info…

I’ve been in marketing, sales, and technology for 25 years now and I have collect over 5,000 vcards and thousands more business cards that aren’t documented. I use 7 computers spanning three platforms and I want to access my contacts on all of them.

The answer?

The answer for me, like Brandon, starts with Plaxo for the following reasons:

  1. It’s platform and browser independent.
  2. It offers ‘sync points’ for the tools I use or have access to; Outlook, Thunderbird, a Treo 700wx running Windows Mobile 5. [Many more are available…]
  3. Members can choose to link to give one another the latest contact information as soon as it changes.
  4. The duplicate merger/remover is among the best I’ve used.
  5. There is a growing social network component which is a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn.

So if Plaxo is the answer, what’s MY problem? In a nutshell, using Plaxo was causing, not eliminating duplicates. Or, better said, using Plaxo with ActiveSync was causing duplicates. When I made the decision to stop using two synchronization tools simultaneously, my problems went away and I got closer to the promised land that Brandon was describing…

More background. I’m currently in the process of moving to Linux; I don’t want to pay ransom to Microsoft anymore and although I’m a former Apple account executive, I don’t want to pay for Apple’s industrial design when I can have the benefits of a Linux based operating system on inexpensive Intel hardware. The answer for me is Linux.

For now, however, my solution set consists of Plaxo, Microsoft Outlook 2003 [I only said I didn’t want to pay anymore – I’ll still use what I have], Gmail, Google Calendar and a Treo 700wx. I see myself moving off Outlook to Thunderbird/Lightning [Mozilla’s answer to contact and calendar management – Mozilla is only going to get better at this!] and off the Treo onto either a Blackberry or the Google Android platform. Thankfully [?], Sprint is forcing me to keep my current phone until September when the outlook on Google’s approach to cellphones should be known…

A big part of solving my problem was also to realize [thanks to David Allen] that some contacts are context sensitive, namely, that I don’t need to be able to call all 5,000 people from my cellphone – some I only need to be able to access when I’m sitting at a computer. I was actually synchronizing contacts for which I didn’t have a telephone number to my phone! Why? Because I was going to send them an email from the phone? Unlikely. In reality, I have found that after careful analysis, I actually need to synchronize less than 200 contacts between my phone and my computer and if I really were honest with myself, there are probably less than a hundred people that I call on a regular basis. So, I copied all my contacts to a folder called ‘Master’ in Outlook and deleted all contacts that I either hadn’t called or didn’t anticipate calling this quarter [there’s a copy of the deleted contacts in Master, remember?] As a result, I’m only synchronizing what I have to now. This is a HUGE savings of time and energy and silly as it may seem, actually represents a massive epiphany for me. Call me Captain Obvious?

The underlying idea here is getting closer to a world where it doesn’t matter what computer or platform you’re using – your information is accessible from anywhere! Plaxo can get you a good part of the way there…

By the way, if you’re not using Google Desktop, start! It can unify all the computers you’re using and allow you to search your Gmail and your computers in the same way you search the internet now…

Why people tweet…

Twitter
Image via Wikipedia

Do you tweet? Or twitter? Victoria Harres does…

“The other day I sat down to write something about Twitter. I struggled with my thoughts, threw some words down, and came up with a question: “Why are you twittering?” I knew the answer people would give. I know Twitter, and I know the type of people who tweet. I know why my husband is on his iPhone flipping through tweets at 1:30 a.m. He insists on reading every tweet from every person he follows. Personally, I’m guilty of recently tweeting after midnight with a couple of people who tweet for major newspapers. So I know my husband and I are not the only ones afflicted with this social addiction.” Source: Why People Twitter – in one word.

So? Do you? Spill the beans in the comments…

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How DO You Do It?

Stay on top of your industry, that is. If you’re a business professional in any category and you’re not using Google Reader or some lesser tool to monitor newsfeeds, I’m very concerned about your future. Whoa. What did you say, Todd? I said, I’m very concerned about your future!

You see, unless you’re working on a production line somewhere making widgets for an hourly wage [not that there’s anything wrong with that — I’ve done it myself] your growth and advancement in business and in life [see this if you don’t believe me] depends on your ongoing professional development and that depends in large part upon your ability to aggregate, manage, and leverage relevant information

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While you were sleeping 2/17/2010

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Good morning…

“Every leader I know has at least one need in common: a need to connect honestly with others. One way to help foster improved connections is by asking good questions. Leaders who excel at asking good questions have honed an ability to cut to the heart of the manner in a way that disarms the person being interviewed and opens the door for genuine conversation.” Source: Learn to Ask Better Questions – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review

It’s almost all Facebook from here on out…

“If you are still wondering why Google is pushing so hard with its new product Buzz, it is because it wants in on social traffic. For many sites on the Web, social traffic coming through Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace is beginning to rival, and in some cases overtake, search traffic as the single biggest source of traffic. This traffic comes from shared links, photos, and videos. By its own numbers, 5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every week.” Source: Facebook Drives 44 Percent Of Social Sharing On The Web

Moving on…

“Confused about the new Facebook home page? While it should be pretty easy to use, there are a number of things that have changed that you should be aware of. Whether it’s a new location for the logout link, or hidden friend lists, many users still haven’t completely figured out the way the new Facebook home page works. In this guide we explain how to use the new home page and have a complete video tutorial included at the end.” Source: The New Facebook Home Page Guide That You Must Read

How much time do you spend on Facebook?

“A recent Nielson Company survey of web users found that Facebook users spend an average of seven hours a month updating statuses, sending messages, creating events, playing games, and just generally using the social network. The time spent on Facebook far surpassed the average time spent on any other site examined in the survey.” Source: Facebook Users Spending 7 Hours A Month On Site

Are you a mobile user?

“Facebook has released scant details about a new stripped down version of Facebook for mobile devices to save precious carrier bandwidth. The site is being dubbed as Facebook Zero, and can be accessed at zero.facebook.com.” Source: Facebook Launches Facebook Zero: A Light Weight Mobile Site

Finally? Something for the bloggers…

“Got a business blog? Want some inspiration to make it awesome? This is a GREAT slide deck by Convince and Convert social media blogger Jay Baer. Here’s his post with lots more information and explanation of his 11 Must-Do’s. Awesomesauce.” Source: 11 Must-Do’s For the Serious Blogger — SocialFish

Have a great day…

“A man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also unnecessary thoughts, for
thus superfluous acts will not follow after.” Marcus Aurelius (121–180), Roman emperor

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