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How are your mobile manners?

Here's tomorrow's newspaper Poked column today, for our online readers:

Pop quiz: You're in the middle of listening to a client presentation. Is it OK to sneak a peek at your Blackberry to answer an e-mail?

If you do it, odds are you'll be offending at least half the people in the room.

A recent study done on behalf of Intel by Harris Interactive shows that 54 percent of adults were peeved by people who typed on cellphones while in the presence of others.

In all, a whopping 82 percent said they have been annoyed by others inappropriately using smartphones in public places.

We get that being wired means that you're on the job and connected almost all the time -- at least, during the work day. But when you whip it out, you're telling whoever else is with you that they're not worth your full attention.

That's painfully obvious when there are just two of you in the room. We're amazed at how much this happens to us, both in our work and personal lives. We're guessing people don't realize how rude this is.

The funny thing is, while most said this kind of behavior bothered them, only about one-third admitted to being guilty of doing it themselves.

Textingonthejob Not sure if you're one of ''those'' people? Do your friends joke about how often you're texting, e-mailing, Twittering or logging on Facebook? They're probably trying to give you a hint to PUT DOWN THE PHONE.

The only time we think you can get away with pulling out a phone is when you're in a long meeting with a large group of people. If you can do it discreetly and quickly, you're probably OK.

If you're not sure, ask your boss. If you're the shy type, e-mail this post to your boss to ask what he or she thinks. (We have found that people tend to have strong opinions on this one!)

In the meantime, we're collecting stories of the worst mobile etiquette (preferably on the job) ever. Post a comment or email us at Poked@MiamiHerald.com.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:29 PM on June 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Privacy settings aren't always a guarantee on Facebook

Here's tomorrow's column, that we just posted online a few minutes ago. Basically, it came from a post by two new bloggers at FBHive, who described themselves as two Facebook lovers.

In their inaugural post, the two exposed a big hole in Facebook -- with what they described as a fairly simple hack, they were able to see all of my personal info -- something I have set to be viewed by my closest friends only. They invited people to email them to test it out, so I did.

I got a response from one of the bloggers, Tom, from Brisbane, Australia within minutes: all of my personal information on Facebook: my birthday, networks, hometown, the fact that I'm interested in men, how I describe my religious views.

In the email interview that ensued (it was 2 a.m. in Australia, so Tom and I just emailed back and forth), Tom said Facebook contacted them and was working on fixing the problem.

In fact, Facebook responded to an email Bridget sent by saying they had ''identified the bug and closed the loophole,'' adding in an e-mail that they had no "evidence to suggest it was ever exploited for malicious purposes.''

The FBHive guys also said they didn't intend to be malicious hackers. They describe themselves as big Facebook fans, but they said they first reported the hole to Facebook a few weeks ago and received little attention. Facebook did get in touch with them immediately after the blog post.

''Could the average user have discovered it? No. I'm in my final year of an IT degree, so I consider myself a tiny bit more savvy than most,'' Tom wrote in one e-mail. "That said, if this was to be released online as a tutorial, I suspect anyone who could use Facebook could pull it off if they followed it step by step.''

Still, consider it a cautionary tale about your information online. For identity theft reasons, I've never allowed her birth year to be shown on Facebook -- so the FBHive guys couldn't uncover that.

But it's a good reminder that even information we consider ''private'' really isn't.

Last month, we moderated a panel about social networks and security for the local group of Women in Technology International. (You can read our entire blog post about it here.) One of the panelists was Jay Patel, a senior manager of IT advisory services for KPMG. He mostly avoids social networks precisely because of security risks like this one.

His advice? Don't post ANYTHING online unless you're OK with ''four billion people'' seeing it.

We say this all the time, so we don't mean to sound like a broken record. But this morning's incident should be a fresh reminder.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:07 PM on June 22, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC's Emergency Management on Facebook

Yesterday New York's Office of Emergency Management launched a Facebook page to communicate with New York City residents during, you guessed it, emergencies. In a press release announcing the new page, OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said that "more than half" of the participants in their annual preparedness poll reported that they use Facebook to keep informed about events in New York City.

“If Facebook is where New Yorkers are looking for information, OEM needs to be there with answers,” he said in the statement. Right now, they're using the page also for emergency preparation, so it's full of stuff like notifications that go directly into your Facebook feed, like this one:

NYOEM copy

Obviously, it begs the question as to what we're doing here in Miami-Dade County, now that we're into the third week of hurricane season. I called the County's Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security spokesman, Jamie Hernandez, to see what's happening.

Hernandez said that while his office does have the capacity to use Facebook for such things, their research shows that just 10 percent of the population here uses social networking sites like Facebook. So, Miami-Dade officials are concentrating more on its website and traditional forms of communication. 

In the meantime, Hernandez told me that Miami-Dade's OEM office does send out text alerts, by zip code, to notify people about emergency stuff you need to know: not just hurricanes, but floods, tornadoes and the like. Sign up for those here.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:00 PM on June 17, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Read this to avoid legal trouble on Twitter

If there's one thing we preach to people getting on Twitter, it's this: Think before you tweet!

So Bridget was really pleased to have a great conversation on that theme with Web attorney Gaida Zirkelbach (@Gaida), who works with Gunster in West Palm Beach - so much so that we made it the topic of tomorrow's newspaper column. 

Zirkelbach originally presented this at a meeting last week of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association, but basically, it's just five tips every worker/business owner needs to know to avoid creating some serious legal trouble on Twitter:

  • Exposing company secrets -- Workers can inadvertently send out tweets that convey Handcuffsproprietary or confidential information about the company or its clients.  "'A lot of people don't think twice about sending out a tweet,'' she said, adding this is the most likely culprit in the horror stories she hears.
  • Retaliation/wrongful termination -- Say you want to fire a worker because they're constantly tweeting about how they're slacking off, or worse, complaining about a boss. If your company doesn't have a formal social media policy, firing over tweets can backfire if that worker sues you for wrongful termination.
  • Defamation -- This is obvious, but tweets could become the basis for a defamation lawsuit. The offhand criticisms you make about someone could be interpreted as malicious.
  • Contracts -- Badmouthing about other companies can be dangerous if there's a contract involved. Say your competitor has a deal you would love to have. Zirkelbach says knowingly interfering with that contract -- even if the tweets are seemingly lighthearted critiques, or attempts to get business -- could one day cause serious legal trouble.
  • Trademark infringement -- Tweets can misuse, dilute or cause confusion regarding a trademark. Lots of folks are on Twitter posing as celebrities and public figures. Recently, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa filed a lawsuit against Twitter for allowing someone to tweet offensive messages under his name. Zirkelbach has yet to hear of anyone getting into serious legal trouble with a fake account -- usually the name is just taken away and given to the real person.

The point: We get that the lure of Twitter is how fast it works - that's why we like it. But be careful. Use the same filter for your tweets as you would when having a conversation with your boss or client. It may end up saving you a whole heap of "twouble.''

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:50 PM on June 15, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Local Social Media Club talks about being authentic online

I was at a Social Media Club of South Florida event last night where the group convened a panel of "creatives" - that is, an only-in-Miami mix of artists and the like:

I've never been to one of these events, and must give props to the moderator for controlling a rather rowdy crowd at Transit Lounge (the panel had to be moved inside because of the rain, forcing the social media types to try to talk about their thing while regulars drank at another side of the bar).

What the event got me thinking about what what Onajide Shabaka said about "being authentic" online -- being a whole person -- not just pushing out your art, your brand, or whatever -- but also being you. That's also good advice for people who don't know where to start on social media.

I was also really interested in the fact that many said though, even though they were definitely people, not just brands or their companies or whatever online, (mostly through Twitter, but also blogs) that they were careful about not being too personal - there are some things they just don't share except in real life.

All sounded great to me, and sounded like they had pretty clear ideas of what they do online versus real life. The great thing about Tweetups like last night, where Twitter folks meet up in real life, is they get to intersect.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:18 PM on June 10, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Coming this weekend: rush Facebook to preserve your name

The Twitterverse and all other things social media have been abuzz today with Facebook's blog post about incorporating your user name into a personal url address for your page. Oddly, they're called " vanity urls" -- although I don't really get why wanting to use your actual name is a "vanity" (it's not a license plate like ASSMAN!) but that's just me.

Before, if people wanted to find you on Facebook, it was a barcode-like collection of whatever numbers make up your user id. Now, it can include your real name - making it ever so much easier for people to find you.

Just to generate more hype, and if for some reason you can't figure out how long it takes to get to 12 midnight Friday, Facebook has created a 24-style countdown clock.

Want advice on what name to use? Shouldn't be a surprise to you that Bridget and I recommend you use your real name. (We're not into identifying ourselves as LonelyGirl305 and LonelyGirl954.) Make sure you think about it -- because it's a name you'll be identified with on Facebook forever. If you've got a name that's not Niala Boodhoo, perhaps you're more of a Bridget Carey, and worried about being taken, you can always go for the Bridget.Carey or something that looks as professional as possible.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:34 PM on June 9, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How to use social media to rule the world

The folks at South Florida American Marketing Association invited to me to their meeting today with speaker Peter Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter Out, a web site dedicated to linking people to journalists looking for sources. His other life is as a marketing and social consultant.

SkyDiverSpeaks1 Personally, I'm indebted to Peter (also known as @skydiver on Twitter) for telling a roomful of PR folks that that the best way to reach reporters is to be brief and be good. In that spirit, here's a recap of his talk today, which was a great introduction for people who may not know much about social media, as well as some insight for folks who are already pretty familiar with this world.

His basic point was social media is just a tool like any other -- just because you have it doesn't mean you'll be good at using it unless you learn how to use it. Learning social media isn't just about pushing out information -- it's about using it to listen to others. Here are a few of his principles, which are really applicable not just to business people but everyone using social media:

   TRANSPARENCY: The world we live in now basically requires this. Shankman made a point of saying companies, people, whoever is in charge of a Facebook page, Twitter account, or whatever social media you are using, needs to be honest about who's in charge. In other words, if you have the summer intern in charge of sending out tweets for the company, you should say so.

If you try to hide something, especially online, he points out there's always some 15-year-old kid out there who is dying to prove you wrong.

RELEVANCE: Given the information overflow out there, be as relevant as possible. Make sure you make an effort to find out what people want and how they want it. Our standards for customer service and relationships are so low these days, it's not hard to exceed people's expectations.

BREVITY: Shankman said the attention span these days of teenagers is about 140-characters, or 2.7 seconds. We're all inundated with information, so don't just be good -- be brief about it.

TOP OF THE MIND: Given all of this, it's important to remember to do things that keep yourself engaged with other people. He estimates that people really stay connected with just about 3 percent of their entire social network. If you make a point to listen, be relevant, smart and brief, you can stay connected to folks.

For me, his talk all came down to this: People today who are the best at using and sharing information will rule the world. And so many more people have a shot at that these days using social media to do it.

p.s. Thanks to @fsutoby, otherwise known as Tilson Communication's Toby Srebnik, for the picture of Peter.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:41 PM on June 4, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter , Web/Tech , Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


We all know folks who are addicted to Twitter. Many others don't understand the big deal, especially when you have the media flipping out every day over what some celebrity said about their lunch on Twitter. So it's no wonder Conan came out with the TWITTER TRACKER! (I love this skit!)

Aside from wasting about 4 minutes at work watching this, there is a netiquette lesson you can take from these not-so sweeeeet tweeeeeets: Messages about your latte line make us all roll our eyes. So unless you're Miley, be sure to add value to the conversation when you get on a social media like Twitter. There are so many people on here now creating so much noise, that if you're not adding value to my life with cool links or interesting tidbits, I'm tuning your messages out.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 01:46 PM on June 3, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What's the right way to push your business on Facebook?

Pop quiz: What's wrong with this e-mail?

SUBJECT: Niala Boodhoo suggested you become a fan of Niala Boodhoo.

BODY: Niala became a fan of Niala Boodhoo on Facebook and suggested you become a fan, too.

OK, so this isn't an actual e-mail, but we got something similar to this recently, which sparked today's column: How to properly promote your business on Facebook.

The biggest problem with the e-mail: You shouldn't create a fan page for yourself unless you're a celebrity. If you're a business, the fan page should be about your company, not you -- even if you're the only employee.

No. 2: When you suggest that others become a fan, you should be aware that the suggestion comes from the person who created the fan page. That's not a problem if you, as a business owner, have created the page. For example, if Bridget created a Facebook fan page about our column, it would read: Bridget suggested you become a fan of Poked.

But when you make it all about yourself, it just looks pompous.

So here are a few tips to make a fan page on Facebook for your company:

First, use Facebook for yourself before you use it for your company. You should understand how it works before you dive right into promoting your business.

Second, make sure the entire page is filled out correctly. Have someone else read it through to check for typos, grammar and punctuation. Nothing makes you look more unprofessional than a fan page with errors.

Finally, once you've created the page, it's important to know your fan base and how many messages they can tolerate. We're guessing that you send more messages to their inboxes than they care to read, so remember that you risk alienating and annoying people when you send too many.

A way to achieve good balance on communication is to mix up the style. Don't always send messages. Do a status update or post a note or link on the fan page's wall. That way, your messages show up on a fan's News Feed.

We're fans of you, really. Become a fan of us at our new Poked Facebook fan page, where you can ask any netiquette questions. Or you can go old school and e-mail us at Poked@MiamiHerald.com

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:38 PM on June 1, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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