Tag Archives: social media

How Holiday Blues Copes With Social Media

Does looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts around the holidays bring you joy or bum you out? If social media adds to your holiday cheer-great! If not, read these top coping tips.

Holiday Blues Coping Tips for Social Media Users (and Others)

  • Get Real – Your friends are posting pictures of their wonderful outings, vacations, and family gatherings. When you’re alone and stuck at home, you may be tempted to fall into self-pity, or compare yourself to others. Don’t assume that what you see on the surface is the whole picture. The smiling family photos can’t capture the family dysfunction, holiday stress, and life drama that go on behind the scenes. Don’t believe that what you see on the surface is the whole picture. You have no idea of what lies underneath, appearances can be very deceiving.
  • Get Determined to be Happy – Everyone has issues and money can’t buy happiness. Problems are relative – a spoiled brat can get as upset about something trivial as a needy child can about being hungry. It’s up to us to decide how happy we want to be. We shouldn’t let our happiness be dependent on things or other people. Make up your mind to be happy regardless of whether or not things are going your way. Acceptance and gratitude will go a long way in helping you to be happy.
  • Get Grateful – Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do. If you have a roof over your head, clothes, heat, and food to eat, that’s plenty. Your health may not be perfect, but if you’re able to attend to your own bodily functions, think, see, hear, talk, walk, use your hands, remember those who are lying comatose or six feet under.
  • Get Hopeful – We have little power over things outside ourselves. We have to accept that after we do our best, the rest is left to forces beyond our control. If you believe in God and trust Him to take care of you, you can have hope that all will be okay. If you’re not sure or doubt there is a God, you can remember that nothing stays the same forever. All it takes is one thing to happen one day, and you can see your whole life change overnight. You never know when that day will come, it may even be tomorrow. But if it isn’t tomorrow, don’t lose hope that it may be the day after, or the day after that, or after that.
  • Get Out of the House – If you’re sitting in front of a pc during the holiday season, chances are that you’re not getting sunlight and could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For those of you in cloudy climates during the winter, you might ant to investigate light therapy products or build your own light box. If the social media posts aren’t helping your mood, take a break from the sites.
  • Get Out of Yourself – Sometimes helping others is the best medicine for what ails us. If you’re up in your head and it’s a bad neighborhood to be in, thinking about others is a great way to escape our negative thoughts. Look up a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. If you can’t donate money, clothing, etc., you can ask about volunteering. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when people less fortunate surround you.
  • Get Exercise – Exercise is a great ay to rid yourself of stress. You’ll also be helping your overall health, as well as burning off those extra calories in holiday treats.
  • Get Sleep – We can tend to overdo around the holidays. Be sure to plan ahead so you can budget your time effectively and get proper rest. Lack of sleep can exacerbate stress and make it more difficult to manage. You’ll look and feel better when you get a good night’s sleep.
  • Get Sober – Consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism can wind up making you feel worse. Alcohol is a depressant and hangovers aren’t fun. When our judgment’s clouded, we can say and do things that have negative consequences. Pouring liquor on top of your problems won’t help them, and may wind up only adding to them.
  • Get Detached from Conflict – You know certain people are going to be unsupportive or push your buttons. Now is the time to avoid the people that have a toxic effect on your mental well-being. People tend to fall in one of to camps. They either are positive and uplift you, or are negative and bring you down. Decide who belongs to the latter camp and avoid them like the plague. Sometimes we have to deal with them, like when they’re family members or co-workers. Find ways to diffuse the conflict. For example, come up with some neutral responses, such as “I can see how you would feel that way” or “let’s discuss that another time.”

Final Thoughts

I hope you find these tips helpful. If not and you want to vent, feel free to leave a nasty comment. That’s fine with me if venting gets rid of your holiday blues. If there’s something you’d like to see on the blog next year, feel free to make a suggestion. I wish everyone the best in the new year.

LinkedIn Business Networking Success Tips

LinkedIn can be a great way to use social networks for professional gain. At first, in may look daunting to a person who’s used to Facebook’s visual interface and lots of entertaining, fluffy posts. The tone on social media sites vary according to the users’ motives, and LinkedIn is definitely about getting ahead in business-building your brand name, reputation, and customer base. Here are some of the top tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Strategies for Dominance

Optimize your profile with keywords. Especially in your headline, your current work experience, past work experience and summary. Google Adwords is a great tool for keyword research.

Use a professional headshot. Your half-naked pose or picture of you at the bar will not impress. At least, not in the right way.

Complete your profile. Make sure to fill out all the sections and add projects, publications, awards, certifications, whatever you can to fill it out as completely as possible. You can use the Complete Your Profile button to get walked through this.

Take a look at some profiles of your top competitors. Not only does your profile need to be written with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, it should use effective marketing language with flair.

Build your connections number. 500+ seems to be the magic number everyone needs to have in order to be taken seriously. In this case, it’s quantity over quality, I doubt that most people actually know all of those connections personally. I imported my email contacts as a .csv file and hardly had anyone I knew accept my invitation to connect. I know some of them probably didn’t have a LinkedIn account or weren’t active users, but others, well…sheesh. The real topper is when you send a connection request to your coworker that doesn’t get accepted. Nice teamwork there, huh?

I eventually joined some open networking groups and that got me to 500+ quickly. (I did notice a couple of the coworkers who initially snubbed my connection request had a change of heart after I had 500+ and sent me one. Kinda made me feel like one of the nerds at school who suddenly gets invited to sit at the popular kids’ table at the cafeteria and now everyone likes you.)

Give endorsements. Sure, it’s nice when people endorse you back. However, if they don’t, don’t let that discourage you from taking the initiative in endorsing others. I always return endorsements as long as their profile looks like it matches the skills. It’s just the right thing to do for etiquette’s sake, and hopefully good LinkedIn karma.

Post updates. The Pulse feed is a good way to get visibility. I’d like to have time to post more often, but I try to share a blog post at least once a week.

These are some basic tips to get you started off on the right foot. Do you love or hate LinkedIn? If you do, please share your reasons.

Social Media Networking – Why We Need It

There are some obvious answers. Other motives go way deeper into the meanings of existence and human interaction.

Business Marketing and Social Media

Businesses marketing needs to use social media to stay competitive these days. The days of letting your fingers do the walking have given way to fingers doing the clicking. Even the local mom and pop stores in the neighborhood have Facebook pages now. It’s about establishing a brand name and gaining a online reputation. For those who are service providers, it’s essential to establish your authority in your field. While you may not have a book on the shelves or articles in print publication, having content posted online can be equally effective in establishing your credentials and image as a leader in any given area.

Personal Networking and Social Media

There are more complex reasons behind personal social media engagements. Some are related to business motives. Others can be boiled down to a basic human need to connect with another human being. None of us likes the feeling of being all alone in the world. Whether we use site likes Facebook and Twitter to stay connected to distant friends and relatives, or play a popularity numbers game through a certain number of friends, likes, and followers, it still is a way to avoid experiencing loneliness.

Not all posts through social media channels are updates on someone’s daily life or links for entertainment value. There are posts that genuinely seek to promote worthy causes, help others, etc. However, what motivates a person to share informative content in a public forum? Isn’t it a way to feel good about oneself, through gaining the recognition of others for being helpful, caring, knowledgeable, and so forth? This leads to the question of why the opinions or thoughts of others matter to us. Now we’re back again to the basic premise that no man is an island unto himself. We need to be connected to others, and rely on them to an extent for our self-esteem and self-worth. Hopefully, we don’t allow others to define us too much.

Effects of Isolation

I’ve read that there’s an area of the brain, in the back of the head, near the base where it connects to the spine, that atrophies with lack of human interaction. This has been cited as one of the reasons people will seek negative attention if positive attentions can’t be gained. Prisoners isolated in solitary confinement sometimes go insane. Newborns won’t thrive without contact with another human being.

Some of us may live cocooned lives, barely ever leaving the house. However, I suspect that those who do are unable to live without a phone or computer. How comfortable are you with being alone? How much do you care about what others think of you? Could you live on an island like Tom Hanks in the Castaway movie and not talk to a soccer ball?

Social Media Engagement – How Much Time is Needed?

There are differing opinions about how often you should post on social media sires like Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn when you want to promote your business. Advice can range from once a week to multiple times a day. What’s the right amount? What about personal profile posts?

Posting on Social Media Business Pages

Based upon various studies and articles on the subject, Twitter seems to be the platform that requires the most engagement, with multiple tweets daily being suggested. Regardless of how often you believe you need to be posting to your business pages, even if it’s just once a week, one thing that’s agreed upon is that your posts need to be informative and add value. Even if you’re spinning an article or curating existing content, rather than writing totally original content, this takes more time that just posting a link to another page. Your comment on the post often needs to be formatted and have hash tags. The are tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, but you’ll still to come up with content, add imagery, which needs to be optimized with an alt tag and description, etc. I’m not even factoring in the time it takes to create original images, slides, and video. How do you find the time?

Just like anything else that needs to get done, you need to make time for your priorities. There’s only so much time in the day, and sometimes proper time management calls for delegation. A top executive may need to devote more time on other business matters and find it cost-efficient to delegate social media engagement to others. That’s not a problem, but what about the small business owner without the funds to hire social media help?

Social media content writing requires proper time management, discipline, and organizational skills. I find it best to schedule my blogging on a certain day of the week. Occasionally I don’t always meet this goal because I’m putting work for others ahead of my own, but I do my best to make the time and stick to the schedule. When I can, I write an extra article to have in reserve for the weeks when I’m really crunched for time.

Posting on Social Media Personal Profile Pages

I spend all day in front of my computer, and much of it working on social media tasks. I don’t really have any time left over these days to post on my personal pages. I make time to stay in touch on Facebook with one of my long-distance friends who’s ill, that’s about it. While I’m on there, I’ll spend a few minutes reading my timeline and may comment on some posts, but I notice some of my friends are avid users and post regularly. I have to wonder where they find the time. Many have jobs and a social life. It’s true that these types of posts don’t require lots of effort, compared to writing an article or blog post. However, there are some people that post constantly enough that it’s equivalent to writing a novel, plus they leave numerous lengthy comments on others’ posts. That’s when I begin to wonder if they have a life in the real world, have social media addiction, or are just needy for attention.

Are you finding it a breeze to manage your business’ social media? Do you have time-management tricks to share? Do you think there should be a limit to how much time one spends on social media for personal pages? Please share any advice or thoughts…if you can find the time.

Social Media Sites – More Than Popularity Contests?

Social media - popularity contests?Social media channels have become a part of daily life for many. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google Plus users are posting on these sites for various reasons. Are some reasons more legitimate than others?

Reasons for Social Media Engagement

1. Business Networking

Many have a Facebook or Google Plus page to promote their businesses. Obviously, their motives to increase profits are justifiable. However, the nature of their posts may not be in line with their goals. Especially when they’re ineffective because they lack SEO optimization, or other characteristics that get the attention of their target audience.

2. Social Networking

Staying in touch with distant friends is a popular and valid reason for using social media channels. Expanding the number of connections you have to others isn’t a problem, depending on the motives involved. As long as stalkiness isn’t involved, and you still interact socially with others in real life, it’s generally a good thing. Of course there are some gray areas. For example, flirting online can be harmless or not, depending on your relationship status.

3. Loneliness and Boredom

These can be problem reasons for engaging in social media platforms. Some people get too sucked into these sites, at the cost of developing a real life and real friendships. Like most forms of escapism, it needs to be used in a limited and balanced way. Those using social sites for these reasons tend to run into more problems. Especially if their posts often take on a negative tone, and they display whining, complaining, and similar traits that reflect the person’s unhappy state of mind. If you’re out to win a popularity contest, people tend to be more attracted to others that are happy and uplifting to be around. Those who are downers may find themselves rather isolated, or surrounded by others who are equally miserable.

There are also those who just seem needy for attention. For some reason, they seem to think we need to be constantly updated on their daily activities. Frankly, most people don’t care what you just ate or where you just went. If you just took a vacation to an interesting locale, sure I’d like to see some scenic pictures, even if I’m pea green with envy. On the other hand, your trip to the local gym or pub….not that interesting to me, sorry. There needs to be a distinction between a profile page and a diary. Social media sites aren’t meant to be used for journaling, and diaries come with locks for privacy reasons.

4. Altruism

Some are trying to promote a worthy cause, such as drawing attention to the plight of abused animals. Of course, one can’t find fault with such motives. However, one needs to be careful to discern whether their motives are pure or if there’s some type of hidden agenda at work. Sorry, but I’m cynical based on past experiences.

Have I left something out-are there other motives at play I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear your thoughts and why you’re engaging with social media sites.

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Facebook and the Defriending Dilemma

Facebook defriending

Facebook can sometimes make or break a friendship. There are various reasons that prompt users to defriend someone on their friends list. Are some more valid than others?

Reasons for Defriending

I’m going to list a few reasons that have tempted me to delete someone from my friends list. I have very rarely done this, but I don’t know whether that means I’m more loyal or more tolerant than others are. Hopefully, it’s a good indicator of the high caliber nature of my friends, and my good judgment in selecting whom I choose to call a friend. However, I have seen sides of people come out online that were kept well-hidden for many years. Yes, it can be scary.

1 Rudeness – I can be rather blunt, even obnoxious at times, so it takes a particularly insulting type of rudeness to cross a line with me.

2. Negativity – I like to be surrounded by others who are positive and uplifting. While I have compassion for others, constant whining and complaining is a turnoff. However, those types of posts can be ignored. It’s when I see mean-spirited posts that my dislike buttons get pushed pretty hard.

3. Political differences– I once had a friend post a link to an article about holocaust denial. I was close to defriending him because I found it offensive. Luckily, he explained the post was motivated by a desire to heighten awareness, rather than his own support of such denial. As far as political differences go, that was the closest I’ve come to defriending someone. Some other friends post about many political issues, but I don’t have a problem ignoring those that I simply disagree with.

4. The “ex” – Over the years, I’ve had boyfriends on my Facebook friends list. When we broke up, I thought it was best to sever ties completely, both in real life and the virtual world. In some cases, I was hurt and trying to spare the pain of reading about how they survived happily without me, or even worse, found someone else. In general though, I find it easier to make a clean break, so I can move on.

I’ve only rarely felt it necessary to defriend someone. Perhaps this is due to being selective about my friends. It may also be partly due to being more patient and tolerant as I’ve gotten older. I know there are many other reasons for defriending someone, so feel free to share your defriending experiences. Regardless of whether you were the defriender or defriendee, others may learn something about social media etiquette or friendships in general from your story.

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Why Facebook Needs a Dislike Button

Facebook dislike stamp

Facebook can be a great place to reconnect with friends, classmates, and distant relatives, and make new friends. However, this social media platform can turn some people off, causing them to delete people off their friends list or not log in altogether.

Reasons Facebook Makes People Want to Hit a Dislike Button

Facebook has changed over the years. Some people are happy with some of the new features. Many other reasons people object to posts haven’t changed.

Too Much Attention Seeking

Some people are just plain drama queens. They may tend to post updates that beg for people to ask what’s wrong and pry for more details about their latest crisis du jour. For example, posts full of intrigue, like “It’s sooo unfair,” “Need prayers,” or “I just can’t take it anymore,” beg for an inquiring response. Such cries for help/support without letting others know what’s really going on can seem pathetic after a while. These types of posts may be viewed as narcissistic, and can create a “boy crying wolf” situation when posted continually. One has to wonder whether the people who ask what’s wrong really care or are just being nosy and looking for gossip.

Too Many Ads in the Newsfeed

No, it’s not a coincidence that you suddenly see ads in your newsfeed related to products or services you’ve been looking at online. Facebook makes big money from companies that pay for advertisements on the site. Technology makes it possible for Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, and other social media channels to track your online activity and turn this data mining into advertising revenue. There are things you can do to minimize the data collected and protect your privacy, such as blocking and deleting cookies, adjusting browser settings, and add-ons that block scripts running on web pages. However, it’s very difficult to be completely anonymous on the Internet.

Too Much PDA

You’re in love? That’s great. Just remember that certain things are best expressed privately. All the lovey-dovey, gushing love notes some couples put on display can be nauseating. Also, it may tend to make your friends who are single and lonely feel jealous and worse about their own unattached status. Even when I speak to my single girlfriends on the phone or in person, I refrain from rubbing my romantic bliss and my boyfriend’s wonderful traits in their face

Too Much Information

People just aren’t as interested in your daily activities as you might hope they are. Some people feel a need to use Facebook like a journal, chronicling their daily activities and moods. When Facebook asks how you’re feeling or what’s up, you should keep in mind that people don’t really care about what you just ate for dinner, or that it’s a rainy day and you feel blah.

Do you have a Facebook pet peeve? Feel free to vent, many others can probably relate to it.

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Tips for Freelancer Success and How to Not Get Ripped Off

freelancer success tips

Freelancing is challenging and it’s easy to make mistakes in getting hired. These mistakes can harm not only your income, but freelancer reputation as well. I hope the following advice will help you avoid some of the bumps along your road to success.

Freelancing Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

Research Your Client – Many sites that post freelance jobs, like Elance and Freelancer, will display information about the employer, such as feedback from other freelancers, number of paid jobs, total amount paid, etc. This can provide valuable clues about their integrity and potential for future work with this client. It can also raise red flags, such as when they have no payment history, the payment method isn’t verified, or they have a number of unpaid jobs.

Don’t Communicate Off-Site About Freelancer Terms – If the site has a method for describing job terms, make sure to include all the details regarding the tasks involved, deadlines, and payment terms in the form provided on the site. Even if you’ve discussed terms through messages on the site, repeat them in the main page that evidences acceptance of the job proposal.

Always Nail Down the Price – Some job postings are vague about payment terms. Always get a written agreement that defines precisely how you will be paid, including:

  • Amount – This might be fixed price or hourly. If it’s hourly, make sure to agree on the number of hours authorized. If it’s an incremental or piecework rate, define the rate and amount of work to be performed. For example, a blog post assignment might be paid on a per word basis, so define the amount per word and the number or range of words to be written.
  • Payment method – Specify whether a credit card, Paypal, etc. will be used if the payment method isn’t already defined. If there are associated fees, be clear about who will be responsible to incur the fees or additional charges.
  • Time of payment – Will you be paid in a lump sum, incremental amounts as milestones are achieved, and on what exact date(s)?
  • Never work on spec – The client should have an opportunity to see your work portfolio prior to hiring you for the job. If they’re satisfied with the examples, they shouldn’t have a problem with paying you to get a job done. Escrow arrangements can resolve any doubts about delivery, and Paypal protection may also apply.
  • Don’t Give Your Work Away – Some employers will try to get you to submit an initial project at a greatly reduced rate or even free, with the promise of future work. This is usually a scam, and simply a bad business practice that you shouldn’t agree to. It may be tempting when you’re having dry spell, but don’t set yourself up to get used by an unscrupulous employer this way. Look for employers who have integrity and the financial backing to pay a fair price.

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Is Social Media Killing Friendships?

Before social media, the Internet

Perhaps social media has always been part of your life. However, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest didn’t even exist when I was born. I’m not THAT old, but reminiscing about life before the Internet can make me feel old as dirt. I’m going to give a few examples of the way life has changed. You can probably relate if you are old enough to remember having to get up to change the t.v. channel. For the younger set, it may read more like a chapter in a history lesson.

Friends Before Facebook

Most of my Facebook friends list consists of people I met before Facebook existed. We’ve met in person and share a history together. We’ve done the following:

  1. Hung out in person together.
  2. Talked on the phone.
  3. Sent Christmas and birthday cards.

I can even remember life before caller i.d. and answering machines. For those of you who can’t, yes, there was once a time when people didn’t screen calls. I suppose we had the benefit of getting more exercise by having to get off the couch to answer the phone and using our fingers to dial rotary phones. While the innovations in technology have added the benefit of convenience to our lives, at what cost has it been to our friendships?

Friends after Facebook

Over the years, all of the above three activities with friends have become diminished or stopped altogether. I’m sure that some of it has to do with being more involved in married and family life as we get older, and the price of postage. However, I think social media’s instant communication methods have made people less willing to invest time in friendships through phone calls and get-togethers. It seems that all the modern conveniences somehow haven’t freed up much of our time, people seem more rushed than ever. How did this happen? Is it a figment of my imagination that life used to move at a slower pace, or is time just accelerating as I age?

Even when I get together with others, checking their phones for messages often distracts them. Of course, other forms of e-communication contribute to this, such as texting and email. Google+, Facebook, etc. have recognized this by delivering email notifications.

I have friends who get upset that I don’t text. My attitude is that you aren’t really a friend if it’s such a hardship to actually call and talk to me. If people are so investing in checking their Facebook notifications but can’t invest time in seeing or talking to me, how much are they really interested in my friendship? Are they just checking up on me out of boredom or curiosity?

I’ve added people to my friends list whom I haven’t met in person, but share common interests with. Some I seem to know more about than my “in real life” (IRL) friends, simply because they post more often or share more information when they do. Are they truly friends or should they be considered acquaintances until we’ve met in real life? How is the classification made? Some thoughts I’ve had include:

  1. If an IRL friend never likes or comments on my posts but a friend I’ve never met always does, is one more my friend than the other?
  2. If an IRL friend has stopped calling and sending cards, and now only sends me an annual birthday greeting on Facebook, are they now demoted to being an acquaintance?

Have you noticed a change in the nature of your interactions with friends since the birth of social media networking sites? Has it changed the way you define friendship? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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Can Social Media be Blamed for Munchausen Deaths?

Social media attention seeking

Can we really point the finger of blame at social media when mothers seek attention by deliberately inflicting injuries on their children? Munchausen by proxy syndrome is the name given to behavior of caregivers who purposely exaggerate, lie about, and/or induce physical, mental, and/or behavioral health problems in those under their care. It may be used to label a mother’s actions when she manufactures a child’s medical crises as a way to gain attention and sympathy. Researchers claim there’s a connection between a rise of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome and social media’s impact on modern life. Munchausen syndrome is named after Barin von Munchausen, and 18th century German officer who was notorious for telling embellished tales of his past experiences.

Social Media and Attention-Seeking

Those who have an extreme need for attention-seeking can find ample opportunity to satisfy their needs through sites like Facebook, Google+, etc. Recently, the case of a New York woman accused of poisoning her child with salt came under scrutiny. Investigators found out Lacey Spears, frequently posted updates about her son’s frequent hospitalizations on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and a blog.

Many of us have seen more benign attention-seeking efforts on our social media networks. Facebook and Twitter are full of those mining for approval from others or fishing for sympathy. From posting selfies to status updates about friends and family members who are ill, social media provides endless opportunities for people to seek approval and support from others. Even posting messages seeking to raise awareness about important social, environmental, and political issues is typically motivated by a need to be acknowledged as the messenger of useful information.

The question then becomes what forms of attention-seeking should be rewarded? Most people I know want to avoid having drama queens in their life, due to how energy draining it can be to deal with them. The severity and frequency of the drama may be taken into consideration. Do you continuously reply with encouragement to a friend who has a new crisis to report every other day?

To call people who exhibit Munchausen’s syndrome drama queens is an understatement. Such people have a severe mental issue and need psychiatric intervention. Rewarding such twisted attention-seeking with sympathy and compassion exacerbates the problem and can contribute to further deadly behaviors. If you suspect someone you know has a mental illness that is driving extreme attention-seeking behaviors, what is the best way to handle it? Experts advise against rewarding such behavior with the attention and sympathy being sought. However, can withholding attention lead unstable people to inflict even worse harm on a child to get the attention they crave? I’d like to hear your suggestions for the best way to respond to extreme cases of online attention-seeking.

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