Posts tagged facebook

My Social Media Story – A Story of Loss or Why Facebook Doesn’t Suck

This is a part of a special series looking at how social media has impacted the lives of its users. This week, the story comes from Amy Vernon.

I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and every time I moved, I vowed that I’d stay in touch with people better than I did the last time.

Easier said than done.

After a few letters or phone calls, friendships gradually faded away, though the advent of email meant we could share stupid jokes that made the rounds until you saw every joke in the history of mankind at least a half-dozen times, and began to regret ever signing onto email in the first place.

That’s besides the point, though. Fact is, until Facebook, there really wasn’t any way to really catch up with all those people who’d disappeared over the years.

I’ve learned of one elementary school friend who responded heroically when a maniac shot up her office. Of college classmates who’ve risen to fame in Hollywood. Of friends who succumbed to the siren call of drugs and are still struggling to pick up the pieces.

And then there’s Christine.

From the Outside In

My senior year of high school, I ran with a group of punks. Real punks – at least, as real as they could be in the suburbs.

We lived in middle-class homes but listened to the Sex Pistols. Spiked hair, mohawks, ripped jeans, safety pins. And those weren’t retro or cool yet.

We wore black on the outside because black was how we felt on the inside (yes, we listened to The Smiths, too).

I didn’t know Christine, then.

Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. - Khalil GibranClick To Tweet

She was the older sister of Justin, my dear friend and the heart of our group. He was magnetic north.

We gathered at his house after school more often than not. Most of our funny group stories somehow revolved around him.

One day, he and a couple other friends were teasing me and I got pissed off and stormed away. Next thing I knew, Justin was on his knees, asking my forgiveness.


Christine was out of the house already. She was a few years older than Justin. I don’t think I ever met her until his funeral.

You see, on Aug. 8, 1987, Justin took his own life in the early morning hours. Broke the locks on the garage doors, turned the car on and died. His was a closed casket.

It was one of the seminal moments of my life and changed me forever.

Loss and Gain

The group of friends who surrounded Justin stayed tight for some time.

The following summer, when I came back to Long Island to work at a weekly newspaper, we had parties and hung out many weekends.

Some were still in school, some were home from college, some were about to head to college for the first time.

During my sophomore year, my parents moved from New York to California. As happens in life, I gradually lost touch with that group of friends.

I kept in touch with Justin’s mom for several years, but after I moved from Florida to Arizona and then she moved and her phone number changed, even that faded away.

Still, every Aug. 8, I awoke with a pit in my stomach, which wouldn’t go away until I remembered why.

Death and love

You’d think after a decade or so, I might remember why I felt so bad around that date every year, but something in my brain switched off – almost as if it was trying to protect myself, but failed because now I felt crappy and couldn’t figure out why.

When Facebook came into the picture, I started getting friend requests from people I knew growing up on Long Island, at the Connecticut summer camp where I was a CIT, in college, in Florida, in Kentucky, in Arizona – all the places I’d lived over the years.

One such request was from John, my closest friend in that high school cabal, and Justin’s best friend.

It was so great to be in touch with him again; he posted photos of us from high school, some with Justin and some without – all reminding me of the joy and the pain.

We messaged privately sometimes, to catch up on people without discussing them publicly.

He said he was in touch with Christine, Justin’s sister. Would I want to connect with her?

Duh. Of course.

I reached out tentatively, saying I didn’t know if she remembered me. I hadn’t realized how connected she was to Justin’s life back then.

She knew damn well who I was and was happy I’d reached out.

Strength Through Adversity

We chatted on Facebook, discovered we had a lot of likes and dislikes in common and though we’d never spoken since Justin’s funeral, began building a friendship that sprang from a mutual loss but was built on mutual respect and common interests.

John died suddenly, unexpectedly, about a year later.

We consoled each other. I sent Justin’s mom a prayer card from John’s funeral.

We mourned again, this time as adults grateful for the time we’d been back in touch with John rather grieving the years we knew we’d never have with Justin.

It wasn’t easier, per se, but we were older and we understood grief better.

A natural death at 40 is different than a suicide at 16. Not better, just different. Click To Tweet

And a natural death, even unexpected and sudden at 40, is different than a suicide at 16.

Not better, just different.

At 40, we’ve had more experience with death and know that, in time, the pain can subside and become tolerable.

Still, Christine and I had never talked on the phone. We emailed back and forth and were so grateful for John having put us in touch with one another, because it brought some meaning to his loss, in a sense.

I know how much his death rocked his family – his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter — but for me, I think of John and I quietly thank him for bringing Christine back into my life.

A couple years back, on Aug. 8, I posted something about Justin. Christine responded almost immediately.

I realized she didn’t really know how much Justin’s friendship and death had meant to me. The next day, I breathed deeply, picked up the phone and called.

For about an hour, we talked. We cried.

I mean, we SOBBED.

We laughed. I finally had the chance to tell her how amazing her brother was and how his death had changed me for the better, despite the searing pain I still felt.

The next year, as the anniversary came up – the 25th anniversary – my brain did what it does, and I forgot. I had thought about it a couple weeks earlier, determined not to forget for once.

And yet, I did.

Then, sitting at my computer somewhere around midday, I remembered. I looked at my Facebook mail and saw a message from Christine.

Despite the fact that reading her message made me cry, I suddenly didn’t feel so alone.

The last couple of years, we’ve let the day go by quietly. But a couple days later, one of us will ping the other, letting both of us know that we remember.

And that we’re thinking of each other.

Amy VernonAbout the author: Amy Vernon does stuff on the Internet. She spent 20 years as an ink-stained wretch, figuring out what people wanted to read in their newspaper.

Now she spends her days figuring out what people want to read online. You can read more from Amy at, and connect on Twitter @AmyVernon.

The Sunday Share: Should You Dump Your Facebook Page in 2014?

Facebook fact checking

As a business resource, Slideshare stands pretty much head and shoulders above most other content platforms.

From presentations to educational content and more, you can find information and curated media on pretty much any topic you have an interest in.

As a research solution, Slideshare offers analysis from some of the smartest minds on the web across all verticals.

These include standard presentations, videos, multimedia and more.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Share.

Every week, I’ll be sharing a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside. These will range from business to content to social media to marketing and more.

This week, a short and useful presentation from Genevieve Lachance, founder and owner of virtual assistant agency VA Simple Services.

With Facebook coming under increasing scrutiny from consumers concerned about privacy as well as brands concerned about Page reach, this presentation offers advice on both staying with and leaving Facebook.


Why We Need The I Don’t Care Button on Facebook (Infographic)

I don’t normally share infographics here on this blog, as I find most to be a mess of anecdotal data and limited research. However, as someone who’s been going through a culling process on Facebook for many of the reasons listed in this infographic, I thought this was a fun one to share.

Designed by Alessandro Di Ruscio, founder of “infocomics” website The Maple Kind, Why We Need The I Don’t Care Button on Facebook pokes fun at some of the status updates that find their way into our streams every day.

Alessandro’s mission is to make infographics that are funny and waste your time, as opposed to the ones that don’t teach you anything and waste your time. Seems he’s onto something there.

You can check out his other infocomics here.

Courtesy of: The Maple Kind – Where infographics meet comics and bullshit!

Beyond Contests: How Facebook Apps Can Boost Your Brand’s Visibility

Facebook fact checking

This is a guest post by Jim Belosic.

Facebook contests, especially giveaways and sweepstakes, are popular on Facebook for a good reason: if the prize is right, the contest generates buzz and motivates people to spread the word about the contest and the brand that’s hosting it.

We’ve seen ShortStack users install a contest app and gain of thousands of Likes within a few days in response to a well-run contest.

A contest or giveaway isn’t the only way to increase engagement, though. In fact, there are lots of fun ways you can use Facebook apps to increase interaction with your followers month after month, allowing you to use contests sparingly so they’re something they look forward to.

Since contests generally last about 30 days, and it would be difficult to run one month after month, it’s important to think about other ways you can boost visibility day in and day out.

Here are a few ideas:

1.  Use a Fan Reveal App to Get Users Excited About New Features

Ask your customers/users to Like your Page and in exchange reveal new products/features or make product-release announcements. Fans of your brand want to know what they can expect next from you, and whether you own a bakery or a manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’ve got in the pipeline.

A Facebook app is a great way to let them know. A few movie and video game companies have teased their fans with snippets of trailers from upcoming releases — the caveat is that the trailer is only revealed with new Likes so existing fans are motivated to ask their friends to Like the page.

2. Inform Your Customers With a Newsletter App

Adding a newsletter signup app to your page is an easy way to increase your business’ visibility. You can even ask people to like your Page in order to reveal the newsletter signup form. That way you have an additional way to communicate with your users.

You can use status updates to tease newsletter content and then direct your fans to the app where they can sign up to receive the newsletter.

3. Let Your Customers Request Reservations With an Appointment App

Any small business owner who wears many hats should try using an app that allows his or her clients/customers to request or even book appointments or reservations via Facebook.

You can ask for name, telephone number and times that a customer wants to come and then call them to book or confirm an appointment. You can also iFrame in a more sophisticated reservation system that will actually make the reservation for your customers, something like OpenTable.

4. Add Another Communication Channel With a Request for More Information App

A small staff can be overwhelmed by phone calls and email requests for more information about your company’s products. Using a “request” app gives prospective customers access to the information they seek, such as lists of products or services, or even cost estimates.

And if you’re collecting data via a form, take the opportunity to sign your customers up for a newsletter, to gauge their interest in a new product or service you’re thinking about adding to your line-up or ask for their location or age.

5. Increase Efficiency Even More With a Contact Us/Customer Support App

The easier you make it for people to get in touch with you, the better. Using a “contact us” app allows your fans/customers to send an email to specific departments within your company.

For example, you can send them straight to whomever handles sales, customer support, press inquiries, etc. streamlining the contact process. You also link to this type of app whenever someone comments on a post or or asks for more information, keeping them inside your Facebook “property.”

6. Collect Feedback With a Testimonials App

At ShortStack we have an app we call “Make us Better” where customers can leave us feedback about our service. It’s a great way for us to learn what we’re doing right and what our users would like us to do differently.

As tempting as it may be, avoid posting only glowing reviews of your business — prospective customers might not believe what they read because, well, no one is perfect!

7. Do Some Good With a Donation App

You can use an app to let your friends and followers make donations — or match your company’s donations — to charities. Various apps have different features, but donation apps typically show your giving history, let your followers know which charities you’ve donated to, and give them an opportunity to share donation messages.

8. Reduce the Risk of Investing in Unwanted New Products or Services With a Voting or Survey App

People like to participate in surveys. As a business, using a survey or voting app is a great way to learn what kinds of service your customers wish you would provide, or even what color coffee cup they’d be most likely to buy.

Using a voting or survey app can ultimately reduce the risk of investing in new products or services only to have them bomb.

For example, if you own a bakery and results from a survey include tons of requests for gluten-free desserts, you might consider adding equipment to your kitchen that would allow this.

If you own a hair salon and a “What new service are you most likely to use” poll suggests that you’d do a booming business in massage, you  might decide to invest in a massage table and hire a massage therapist.

Gut feeling is good, but data that backs it up is even better.

9. Connect With Other Services

Using apps to connect with other platforms and services that you use allows your users to have a seamless social media experience with your company, using Facebook as the hub.

For instance, you can install apps that allow you to display videos from YouTube or Vimeo on your Page, display photo sets from Flickr, display Tweets or share podcasts, songs or any other recording you made on SoundCloud.

These are just a sampling of ways that you can use apps to build your presence on Facebook without hosting a contest. Have you experimented with non-contest apps? Which ones  do you find the most useful for building engagement?

Jim Belosic ShortStackAbout the author: Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service custom app design tool used to create apps for Facebook Pages, websites and mobile web browsing. ShortStack provides the tools for small businesses, graphic designers, agencies and corporations to create apps with contests and forms, fan gates, product lines and more. Connect with Jim on Twitter.

Fact Checking Facebook: How to Do it and Why You Should

This is a guest post by Jennifer Dunn.

It’s back. Last week grandma posted the old, “With this status I hereby declare that all my Facebook content belongs to me and only me…” and all of a sudden the mythical Berner convention is gunking up your Facebook feed again.

First off, this is a hoax. All major media outlets have now reported it as a hoax. You can’t copyright your Facebook content with a status, but luckily you don’t have to – you already own it. Don’t worry.

Lately I’ve taken it upon myself to, politely, call out people who have posted bad information on a public forum like Facebook. Yes, I’m that person. But being argumentative isn’t in my nature.

Wouldn’t it be better if everybody was armed with the tools to fact check Facebook themselves? Couldn’t they save themselves from posting a picture of a baby with a horrible tumor and promising us all that Bill Gates has offered a dollar for every “like”?

Here are some of the erroneous posts I’ve recently ran across and how I fact checked them. I hope you’ll share your favorite fact checking methods in the comments.

(Because politics and general worldview are two of the more frequent hobgoblins of misinformation on Facebook, this post will deal with both, but I promise to pick on reds and blues equally.)

Example #1: The Inflammatory Picture

The other day a friend posted this picture of dark-skinned youth in camouflage holding guns with the caption, “Obama just graduated a class of 40 ‘Department of Homeland Security Youth.’” The post went on to compare this alleged fighting force to Hitler’s Brownshirts and warned us all to be very afraid for our guns and women.

Immediate clues that something was amiss:

a.)   The “youth” looked very, very young.

b.)  “Department of Homeland Security Youth” doesn’t sound like any U.S. government department I’ve ever heard of

c.)   Hitler made an appearance. Any mention of that guy should raise a red flag when it comes to the veracity of a Facebook post.

How to fact check? I downloaded the photo and submitted it to trusty It turned out the “youth” are Explorers, a group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. The picture was taken after a training exercise simulating a Border Patrol exercise. In 2009.

Example #2: The Inflammatory Video

Back around the time of the U.S. political conventions, I very nearly shared a video on my Facebook page showing a group of delegates at the Republican National Convention shouting “USA! USA!” over the Puerto Rican delegate as she tried to speak.

We all have our own areas of sensitivity, and racism is one of mine. “Wow, look at these racists!” I almost posted. Except I mentioned it to a colleague who quickly told me there was more to the story.

How to fact check? Look at the context. Get the whole story. If I had bothered to check before marveling to my colleague, I would have seen that the chanting had to do with seating arrangements.

While this one has been in hot dispute, an article in the well-respected Harper’s magazine sets the record straight that the delegates were not trying to shout the Latina delegate down.

The Sniff Test

The moral of this story? Before you go sharing something on Facebook, ask yourself a few questions to make sure you’re not just perpetuating another rumor or hoax.

1.)  Is the source trustworthy? Does it say, come from a Facebook group called “Kill all the Pandas”? This is an easy way to find clues about the veracity of a source.

2.)  Does this jibe way too firmly with my worldview? You might hate Paris Hilton but chances are she wasn’t caught on camera actually consuming an adorable puppy. You might want to check the provenance of that doctored image before you share it.

3.)  Is it on Snopes? Or can you Google it and quickly see that it’s been debunked by reputable sources? (I.e. the Facebook copyright notice.)

4.)  Is it accredited to a famous person? Abraham Lincoln was a quotable guy, sure, but the 16th president didn’t say this. Or lots of other things you’ve probably seen attributed to him on Facebook.

5.)  Was Hitler mentioned? Seriously, Godwin’s Law should always end the discussion. Think before you hit “share.”

If it passes all these tests, it just might be real and ready to share.  Remember:

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t. – Mark Twain.

Or did he?

The next time you see someone post something about copyrighting their Facebook statuses or terrorizing your feed with images of Boy Scouts, maybe instead of being “that person” you can just link them to this post.

Or just make like this guy and give up.

Jennifer DunnAbout the author: Jennifer Dunn is owner of Social Street Media, helping businesses connect with their customers through social media strategies and education. You can find her small business writing at Outright and WePay. Follow her on Twitter at @JennEscalona.

The Mysterious Case of Oracle Social and Facebook Likes

Oracle is a well-respected brand when it comes to solutions for I.T as well as social media and business intelligence for enterprise users. They have a collection of toolsets that cover everything from loyalty programs to service management and analytics.

So you’d expect them to have a fairly robust social media strategy for themselves, right? Except when it comes to Facebook, it would seem.

Read More