How to rock disappearing status updates

Disappearing status updates are the new thing to do over on Facebook and Instagram. Even Whatsapp makes sure they stand out. We give you some tips on how to use the disappearing status update on all three social networks.

Why you should do disappearing acts

First made popular by the Snapchat app, disappearing status messages are all about instant emotions—what you’re feeling, seeing or experiencing—expressed through a combination of pictures, videos, GIFs and illustrations, with a 24-hour expiry time. Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram highlight such status updates to make them stand out from the regular ones that you see on your timeline. Messaging platform WhatsApp has a dedicated column in the app, while Instagram and Facebook show the Stories updates in the row along the top, highlighted with a red circle around profile pictures. Using it means your profile becomes top-of-recall on someone’s timeline. It is perhaps a good way of gaining followers.

Tell a story

It could be the story of how your day is going, where you are working, what you’re attending, seeing, eating, or just anything funny. The best status messages push users to see more updates. Play with posts to tell a story about something. Pictures or videos of a concert or sports event, behind-the-scenes at a party, tutorials on a skill set you know best, or a series of genuine personal questions to which your followers can respond privately.

Have some fun

There’s a reason why disappearing status messages offer mixed media. Continue reading “How to rock disappearing status updates”

7 signs that you are addicted to social media

Feel you are addicted to social media? Here are the signs to look out for and what you can do about it.

Notifications are taking over your life

Brr. Boing. Beep. Your phone keeps calling, blinking, beckoning you, and you oblige again and again, while you’re studying, working, eating, dating or sleeping. It’s stressful and you have Fomo (fear of missing out) attacks in the middle of the night, when you wake up to check yet another beep. A study, conducted by a team of professors from the University of Southern California, US, in January 2016 and published in the journal Psychology Reports: Disability & Trauma, looked at people’s brains while they surfed social media and found that they responded to notifications much faster than they did to traffic signals. Ofir Turel, the professor who led the study, rated the need to check almost as high as cocaine addiction. 

Change it: “We speculate that addictive behaviour in this case stems from low motivation to control the behaviour,” Turel said in a press release. Try switching off all push notifications on social media apps. Head to Settings>Notifications>Off for each application. This way, you will have to make the effort to open an app to see the notifications.

The 11th Like makes your day

Getting more than expected likes on Instagram and Facebook can give you a high—and you may feel depressed if the response is tepid. According to a report by Britain’s National Health Service, released in September, social media posts are responsible for a spike in depression and anxiety in a quarter of women aged 16-24. Continue reading “7 signs that you are addicted to social media”

Log off from the internet, step by step

A 101 on removing your personal data from the Internet. But be warned: it’s a painful exercise

What’s your social media type?

Just about everyone is hooked to social media. Every morning, we check notifications, read suggestions from friends, chat with some and comment on people’s travels. If you can’t help but log into your Facebook timeline while in the loo, or can’t wait to click group selfies and post them when out with friends, here’s a profile test for you—identify your personality type.

STAT-KEEPER

The GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, pedometer, barometer and various other sensors in smartphones were created just for you. You have a Fitbit or a smartwatch and a gazillion apps which auto-post on your timeline. They tell others what speed you’re running at, which restaurant you’re exiting, what you are listening to now, even how many times your toilet was flushed today. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but someone must surely be thinking on those lines.

Food for thought: In a paper published in the Optics Expressjournal in June, German researchers displayed a sensor system for smartphones with potential for use in biomolecular tests—monitoring diabetes, for example. What’s more, your smartphone might soon be able to analyse your sweat and blood to provide more statistics. Can’t wait to get your hands on that one, can you?

THE RABID RANTER

You love to rant, on the weather, on how someone has got it completely wrong, on how you would love to see people think before they speak, on the politics of someone else, or even on things that the government is doing. You love writing in CAPITAL letters, sometimes getting the spelling wrong (who cares about editing when one’s so angry), and usually follow all the celebrities on Facebook and Twitter, spending a copious amount of time correcting them.

Food for thought: If you’re mirthfully grinning at this type, here’s something to worry about: According to a study published in the Personality And Individual Differencesjournal in September, you have the classic symptoms of a Dark Tetrad (no, not Darth Vader). You are an explosive cocktail of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and a classic Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

PHOTO-HOLIC

You travel everywhere with your smartphone, clicking the lunch you’re having, clicking friends at a pub even before you say hello. In fact, even if you were at a beautiful beach, you’d be mentally thinking of ways to capture and post it perfectly first. You also like to take pictures of your cat, sofa, the street, the car…and take time to add filters, crop, add mood before posting the photograph. You’re mostly found on Instagram and sometimes on Facebook.

Food for thought: Enhance your gadget with nifty accessories. Try Olloclip (Olloclip.com, $70-80; Rs.4,400-5,200) for zoom, or a Joby Gorillapod (Rs.1,450 onwards; Joby.com) to add stability to those pictures. If you’d like to outsource to a bot, get Moment Case (Momentlens.co/case), a smartphone cover ($69.99 onwards) with a lens, which automatically takes pictures through the Moment app. Happy clicking.

QUIET LURKER

You don’t post. You don’t “like”, comment or retweet. You’re the quiet one, scrolling through the timelines, people’s pictures and posts, your social presence barely visible. On Twitter, you’re listening to the people you follow, observing rather than posting anything.

According to a survey published in April 2013 by First Direct, a telephone- and Internet-based bank in the UK, there’s a whopping 45% of you on Facebook, watching what others are saying and rarely participating. Oh, and you call yourself “observers”.

Food for thought: It’s hard, but try to participate and interact online. You might find a sudden inexplicable increase in the number of offline friends.

YOU KNOW WHO?

You thrive on anonymity. You like to have various personalities on social networks, constantly use fake names and give out little or no information about yourself. It might be paranoia about your privacy that makes you do this or simply the fact that you like hiding behind a mask and peering into others’ lives. Your online personality might be completely different from who you are in real life. You’re found mostly in forums and on Twitter.

Food for thought: Shift to Whispero (Whispero.com), an app that lets you stay in touch without exchanging any personal information.

HYPER-SHARER

You are the ultimate knowledge-seeker, going through the timelines and Webs looking for good, edible, sensible information to share with your fellow social hogs. You have various RSS feeds that come to your phone, news and social apps and give you the latest in your field, and on people that you follow online. You see, like, share, retweet anything that comes your way. You are also a slacktivist, sharing posts of missing children, funds needed for the sick, petitions, etc. Many a time, you download something from Reddit and share it across your Facebook and Twitter timelines.

Food for thought: Tried Glean (Get-glean.com) yet? Built especially for Android devices, Glean offers interest-based news from over 15,000 sites. Use it and it’ll learn what you like to read and give you your favourites and trends in a single feed.

BABY-PHOTO GENERATOR

Most of your posts feature your child doing something. You can’t help but post pictures of your child making a putty face, smiling, frowning, doing the Dubsmash, with cake all over the face, giggling, looking all so cute. You love to post constantly on Facebook and in your family WhatsApp groups, with a singular comment on what the child did today and what your response was. You’re not alone.

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How do you escape a box created by bots?

When I was little, I used to visit a bookstore in my neighbourhood, stand facing a daunting line up of books in a random alley, close my eyes and just like that, pick up a book, at random, open it on a random page and read the first line that caught my eye. It was the answer to whatever problem or question ailed me at that point of time. I trusted two things in that book. The randomness of life and the collective wisdom that is inside most books, lovingly curated by a bookstore owner. 

DSC09746

Fact and Fiction, a small bookstore in the corner of the Vasant Vihar in Delhi, opposite Priya cinemas was one such store. Being a wallflower at the time and good at being invisible (I still have that power), I would sneak in, get into the back alleys, pretending the door didn’t exist and pick up a book at random, hungrily flapping its pages for yet another wise answer. These books, picked at random, read without an aim in mind, became advisors and consultants and shaped who I became. Strangers who would just come in my life for one moment and their deed done, vanish back into the folds of mysteries of dark pages. Quiet, understanding strangers, who would suggest without judging, without even knowing all facts, and a split second later, forget they had given such advices. It was how I decided in which direction I wanted my first relationship to go. It was how I learnt that I should do my Bachelors in English. 

Unknowingly to me, these books started to become friends, advisors, consultants and guides–all rolled in one. And instead of just picking up a random page, I started to buy them, read them, page by random page, book by random book. This probably was how the idea of writing books myself planted itself inside me. Randomly, quietly, with a stubborn determination. 

I hoped (or rather imagined) these books had a symbiotic relationship with me. That maybe they too, created with words strung together by an author, and given a mysterious life, wanted to be opened, to be hungrily devoured by another, by me, page by page, to be guides, to create words, to question meanings. 

Growing up, this feeling of magic, of entering a womb or a temple or a dark hole, full of secrets, of unknown possibilities stayed with me. Whenever I enter a bookstore, an ancient one, one that’s a bit scattered, a bit messy, a bit quaint, like an old woman who has forgotten to tame her web-white hair, I enter a magical world of sorts where I know I will find a new friend, a new guide, a new path to walk on. And the wild woods has so many of them. Some of the best authors who shaped me and my voice, have been ones that came to me at random, found in the jungle that is an old bookstore. 

Which is why, a sadness grips me when I hear of yet another bookstore closing down. It’s not that I don’t logically understand, I do. Shopping online is so much more cheaper and efficient and convenient and logical and suited to the notification-hungry, constantly-connected, fast-living, multi-tasking, mutated beings that we’re all becoming. But I just wonder if somewhere in this online world, full of recommendations by friends, personalisations and bestseller lists and hyper-marketing, will I lose Ms Random?

In online bookstores, nothing is left for hubris, nothing to chance or randomness. Instead the bots avoid the accidents, the random chances. Algorithms analyse what you might like, put it in a box, and instantly serve you, like your favourite noodles, satisfying your craving. It’s based on your individual tastes and browsing habits. 

But what if you don’t want to be you anymore? Or you haven’t had a chance to really become one person? Or if you want to be many people together? Change personalities, like a chameleon or your opinions, live in the grey areas where you can’t express what you feel? 

What if you want to head into a new direction, randomly, not look out for things to change you but passively wait, wait for something delightful to fall in your lap? How do you do that online with no spaces for accidents, where everything is codified and left to algorithms which analyse what you might like? Which constantly suggest, constantly try to keep you in the box that they’ve defined for you? How do you escape this box created by bots?

I hope the online world’s future holds some of these answers. Maybe one of the e-commerce giants will give us a brick-and-mortar bookshop to find a random book which we can order online from there. Or can this space, this random storehouse, this blackhole of the unknown, be created on our screens somehow? Can I read a page at random in one of these ebooks?  

Or maybe all of this is wishful thinking. In a world that’s increasingly becoming black-and-white, where no one has patience for nuances or for questioning faith, or for changing minds, or listening to more than a tweet. Where you’re either going right or left on a set path. In this clean cut world, maybe I am only one, a foolish old lady, without a comb, dancing on the streets. 

Joined a NGO for a bit

This was in the making for a while. I started off as a communication professional and I love devising angles and language for a brand. So when I came across an opportunity to work with a social organisation, how could I refuse? So I am so glad to tell you all that I’ll be working on a communication project with Buzz India, an NGO based in Bangalore, who go to villages and train rural women in managing their money and leading a more confident life. And they come with a beautiful team! Here’s them:


I’m setting up their social media, website and a future communication plan. Have ideas? Think you can help? We’re looking for volunteers to come with us to villages and record, take photos of the rural women. Contact me. Now!

Champion or pawn: What does your firm want?

Why are companies eyeing their employees’ social media accounts?

Two years ago, as part of its social media strategy, HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd asked its editors to use their personal social media accounts to tweet and post about the books they were working on. There was a social media training session at their office in Noida, Uttar Pradesh; that is how Karthika V.K., publisher and chief editor of HarperCollins Publishers India, who has been with the company for eight years, became active on Facebook and Twitter.

Today, she has over 2,847 followers on her Twitter account and around 4,637 friends on Facebook. Together, that makes 7,484 possible readers, not all of whom may have been connected directly with the publisher earlier.

“This is not part of the job for me, as in, it’s not in any contract,” says Karthika, “but my work-life is such an integral part of my whole life that I don’t mind using my personal online identity.”

She does add, however, that when she’s on a social network, she’s more than just a HarperCollins employee. “I am an individual when I am connecting with people. I don’t think I am a publisher so I should say certain things, I am pretty instinctual about my posts.” In this instance, it is a win-win situation for both company and employee.

Like HarperCollins, companies across the world are fast realizing that they can convert their employees into effective brand ambassadors if they bring them on board, guide them and let them work in the social media space. Even one post every day from 500 employees makes it 500 different posts about the brand.

“Today, every employee is a spokesperson for the company,” says Aditya Gupta, co-founder of Social Samosa, a social media content portal based in Mumbai. “Companies can add value to their brand when employees update their personal accounts with updates about the industry, engage with the customer and showcase the company both internally and externally.”

Trust matters

According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, a worldwide survey of trust in companies and brands, customers trust the voices of regular employees within the company, not the top-level management, most. Around 62% of the respondents, a group of 33,000 members of the general public and people familiar with the industry in 27 markets globally, believed a company’s employees are the most credible voices on multiple topics, including work environment, integrity, innovation, brands and business practices. In fact, an old employee of the company is three times more credible than the chief executive officer when talking about work conditions on social media.

Power to reach out

That’s a lot of power in the hands of individuals. More and more marketing teams are encouraging employees to become brand ambassadors for their companies. Some firms are even putting it down as policy, making it part of the contract or even part of the regular work of an employee.

It is the strong individual brand companies want to tap into. “Social media is now mainstream, and a broadcast medium with large reach,” says Amita Malhotra, director, Blogworks, a social media marketing company based in New Delhi. “Since the employees are individuals who hold the power to broadcast messages, have their own set of consistent followers that can impact their company’s interests, they have become much more powerful,” she says.

Finding a balance

This channel does, of course, have its limitations and risks: the pros and cons of creating an official account for each employee, the credibility of an “official” account, the kind of things employees should post about, and the attempt to drive this through guidelines or policy. And when an employee leaves, the risk that the network (possible brand buyers) may go too.

For while companies may ask employees to create official accounts, this comes with its own dilemmas, including a possible dilution of the core brand and extra work for employees.

Some employers also feel threatened by a powerful personal brand. Legally speaking, an employer can only control two aspects of an individual’s social media life: what you write about the company or its products and competition, and what you do on the infrastructure and devices that the company has provided you for work, say, your office laptop, phone or tablet and Internet connection.

“An employee with a strong online following can also dilute the parent brand by building his/her own networks or by leaving a void when he/she quits,” says Malhotra. It’s a threat which is very real for companies, and the reaction tends to be knee-jerk. They either put in place stringent social media policies at work, or curb the individual’s voice on social media by forcing him to strictly segregate his work and personal posts online.

“If your employer’s policies restrict you from tweeting about work-related matters on your personal ID or ask you to create an official ID on social media sites, then you’re legally bound to comply with it,” says Vikram Shroff, a Mumbai-based lawyer with Nishith Desai Associates who has extensively researched the use of social media in workplaces. Shroff believes companies may be more comfortable if they have well-defined social media policies for employees, with clear guidelines on what is permissible and what is not.

The model of segregating official social media accounts, much like an official email ID, does solve the basic problem of ownership (in this case, the company has ownership of all followers, content, comments on that particular account), but it’s not the perfect solution. “If I am forced to do it, I would find it inconvenient,” says Dheeraj Sanghi, a professor of computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, who runs a blog on education that gets more than 200,000 page views a year.

“I know of faculty members who have two separate pages on Facebook, one for personal friends and the other for more official use, like interacting with students, alumni, or sharing class-related information, but I feel it’s unnecessary and without purpose.” According to Prof. Sanghi, online spaces are fluid and people can’t really segregate their personal and work lives, though they may want to.

Gupta has a different take. He says a separate official social presence may not be the best idea for a company’s brand. “It dilutes the brand’s social quotient by having too many ‘official’ lines of communication.” Also, readers might perceive official accounts as parroting the company’s opinion, and therefore being less believable.

No right over an individual’s identity

If an employee leaves, he or she has to stop using the official account and cannot interact with followers of that account. Companies, in turn, cannot use the former employee’s personal accounts or his/her name for brand-building, says New Delhi-based cyber law expert Vakul Sharma, a Supreme Court advocate. “Under no circumstances can an organization use my name after I’ve severed all ties with it,” he says. “Any company using an official social media handle which includes my name is a violation of my right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Revenue-sharing, perhaps?

A company doesn’t own an employee’s individual identity. Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to citizens. Remember, such a right extends to social media as well. “Anything that the employee does personally, using her own resources, is owned by the employee,” says Sharma….

First published in Livemint.com. Read the complete article:
http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/boUFgRT3cU8ykKaIGxE3IJ/Champion-or-pawn-What-does-your-firm-want.html?utm_source=copy

Freelancing with friends

 

Find freedom from a 9-to-5 job with a little help from social networks

In April, when sisters Sunitha, Mariamma and Soumya Thomas started their online business of selling handcrafted dresses for girls, they found they could not afford the cost of designing and hosting a website. So they decided to go in a different direction—they created a Facebook page for their shop called Little Women, hosted pictures of the products and sold their products through their networks as well as those of their friends.

“On a website, we would have had to invest a lot and figure out how to build traffic, which a small start-up like us couldn’t afford,” says Soumya, who is based in Bangalore, “but on Facebook we already have a network which we can use. All we need to do is share our products with them.” Four months down the line, they have had more than 120 orders.

Illustration by Raajan/Mint

Illustration by Raajan/Mint

Whether you’re selling a physical product, like the Thomases, or your skills as a freelancer, knowing how to use social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, is now an essential skill.

Considering that 63.50% of Internet users in India are on Facebook, making it the largest social network in the country, according to real-time statistics researcher Socialbakers, this could be a good time to be a freelancer or an entrepreneur on social networks. Here are some useful tips to build your presence across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook:

Become the expert

Working as a freelancer requires you to be good at what you do, right? Then why not tell that to people on your social networks? If you are a photographer, write blog posts explaining how your followers can improve their photography, and post your own photos. If you’re a Web designer, share tips that anyone can follow to improve their websites. Retweet and share good content, and answer questions on LinkedIn.

“This way, you position yourself as an expert in the domain and generate leads or business,” says Aditya Gupta, co-founder of Hyderabad-based Socialsamosa.com, a social media consultancy. “Once you are known as an expert in a field, people start sending leads your way,” he says.

Talk about your projects

If you put all your projects on a page or a resume, you’re the only person who knows about them. Social networks aren’t like blogs—you don’t just talk about a project once. Post regularly about the work you do, several times every day. Vishwaraj Mohan, who in December 2010 opened a restaurant-bar featuring live music in Bangalore called CounterCulture, uses the pub’s Facebook page to connect to musicians who will come and perform there. “I do a minimum of five posts a day which include details of shows, our food, media coverage, pictures, videos and such,” says Mohan. More than five times a day starts to feel like spam, but updating up to four times a day is a good idea.

Clean up your mugshot

Is your mugshot the same bearded or sloppy photo which you took early Sunday morning with your laptop? Change it. The mugshot is small but says a lot about you to someone who checks out your profile or timeline on any social network. Your personality, and even the kind of work you might be doing, is formed from that mugshot, so keep it clean and professional. Facebook and Twitter both offer backgrounds in which you can put images to show your personality to the world.

Most of the social networks give options on more than one picture to tell the world about you. Use this well. Use the small mugshot with a clear photo of you as personalisation always helps and use the background space to create a careful collage of your brand’s personality.

Find the right groups

Like LinkedIn, Facebook has groups which has the people you may want to network with. Want to sell your art? Join some city-specific art groups. You will find artists and buyers in such a group. Little Women got a lot many orders because Soumya stumbled upon a Facebook group called Chennai Shopping. “It’s a very active group run by a bunch of women who give honest feedback to a seller. It has both buyers and sellers, making it a market,” she says.

Bangalore-based Ruche M. Mittal, a graphic designer, started a group for women entrepreneurs on Facebook. Called Entrepreneurial, the group has seen active postings of jobs, business suggestions and connections and even media exposure for a lot of members. Media Movements is a well- known media industry group on Facebook.

Connect with prospective clients

As a freelancer, you already know the companies and people you want to work with. Follow them on Twitter and add them on Facebook, not just LinkedIn. Mumbai-based Anuya Jakatdar, a freelance writer and social media consultant, got a chance to work on a Vidhu Vinod Chopra film commercial when she tweeted that she was looking for work a few months ago. “I got a reply from one of the associate directors and ended up doing the project,” she says. She feels that freelancers should get into conversations with people who are in the industry they want to break into. “Tweet and ask for work and keep an eye out for tweets which are looking for work, of which there are many,” she suggests.

Express your personality

You need to reach out to people and make contacts that can lead to projects, but if you’re a holier-than-thou know-it-all, people will avoid you on social media. If you’re connected to people on a social networking site, they’re going to hear from you, a lot, and this requires you to have a personality that reaches out.

 

To read the complete article on the HT Mint website, click here.