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Tag: Facebook

Why You Don’t Exist If You Can’t Be Found Online

If someone Googles your name and you don’t show up, what does that say about you? Well, it says a lot more than nothing. Here’s why…

I was chatting with a friend recently about her online presence… specifically her lack of an online identity. And her choice was a conscious one:

  • No LinkedIn
  • No Facebook
  • No Twitter
  • No Instagram
  • Nothing!

With all of the concern lately about personal online security and enterprise password breaches, I know it’s become something of a trend recently to actually reduce your time online.

But what about having no online identity? As in… if someone Googles your name… and you’re not there… at all. Does that mean you don’t exist?

Well, I suppose the next question is whether you want to exist online.

I know some (including my friend) might put together a pretty compelling argument that there’s no ‘good’ reason to have an online identity and/or engage in social media.

But I think for most of us, there are still legitimate reasons that essentially demand that we play in our ever-growing virtual world.

Looking for a Job and LinkedIn
These days, if you’re looking for a new job and you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage.

In fact, many companies’ job application portals require you to add your LinkedIn URL to scrape all of your key data.
(Yep.)

Do people who might want to hire you also want to see a well-lit, professional-looking photo of you on LinkedIn?

Yep.

I think the fundamental expectation today is anyone who’s looking for a job needs to properly package their professional brand and credentials online for others to browse through.

How you present yourself used to begin the moment you walked into the job interview or during your exploratory phone call.

Now that process begins days or weeks earlier when your name gets Googled.
That’s the point of first contact!

So, do make a point of posting a friendly photo of yourself on LinkedIn (unless looking angry is important to your personal brand).

And do write up a few authentic and relevant sentences at the top about your value proposition.

Think of it as your virtual self handing out business cards 24/7 to anyone in the world who might be interested in you…

It matters… a lot.
Otherwise, the default impression you give if you can’t be found is there’s something wrong…

Photo Sharing on Social Media
I know we can debate the wisdom of sharing personal photos with family and friends on our favorite social media sites, because we’re really giving up ownership of those pics to giant companies. And despite how many privacy guarantees are out there, we need to recognize that we’re handing over those photos to the universe… forever.

But at the end of the day, many of your connections are still going to share an ongoing photo stream of their lives. Why wouldn’t you want to see the pics?

This method of group communication has clearly become a standard way people stay in touch. So, you probably want access to view these important moments.
(Arguably some more important than others)

But to have that, you usually need to activate your own accounts on these social media platforms.

Keep Up!
If you’re hedging on the whole social media thing and believe you can still stay connected using old fashion methods, I say that’s much harder to do…

For example… If you’re waiting for photos from a family event that you missed to show up in the mail, I think you’re going to be left in the dark… forever. Those priceless pics got posted online hours after the event.

I know this is yesterday’s news, but if you still house any doubts, social media will absolutely help to keep you connected to what’s happening with family and friends.
(That’s the entire purpose!)

Do you need to see every pet pic or every dinner plate photo? Maybe not. But the totality of the visual experience will keep you informed on the lives of others who matter to you.

I know it’s odd that you end up knowing so much about friends without having to talk with them for months… or even years at a time. But how different is that from the old practice of keeping pen pals? Sharing photos and notes online is simply a more efficient method enabled by technology.

You Shouldn’t Be Surprised When You Google Your Name
Ultimately, feeding your online identity helps to more easily maintain your personal connections. Plus, it’s arguably your most important asset to projecting your professional brand to the rest of the world.
(And to be clear, zero professional identity online is not good for your career.)

If you don’t exist online today, in many ways… you don’t exist. From an existential perspective, I know that may sound troubling. But from a practical perspective, it’s not that hard to fix.

So, do you exist?

It’s Time for your 15 Seconds of Fame with Video on Instagram

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow.  If you can record it in 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Now there’s a new way to watch a blade of grass grow. If you can record it within 15 seconds using Instagram, you just might be on to something!

Let me begin with a confession:
I have not been an avid Instagram user.

Any photo I choose to share is the result of a rigorous screening process.
It represents the very best of the many (mediocre) pictures I capture.

The idea of snapping a low-quality shot (640 x 640 pixels), further ruining it with a cookie-cutter filter, and then immediately sharing it with your public is not what I’m usually comfortable with.

But 130 million Instagram users must be on to something…
And I’ve got to admit, I’ve often wondered how such spontaneity can create such cool-looking photos…

As a status update, an artful Instagram photo can be so much more interesting than text…

Video on Instagram Comes to Town
Now there’s Video on Instagram to help you ‘capture and share the world’s moments.’

Following in the footsteps of Twitter’s Vine, Facebook’s Instagram created its own video functionality on June 20.

Once you download the app update to your phone, (the newest version, 4.0.2 was released on July 5) you can share 15 seconds of Instagram video almost as fast as it takes to snap a ‘selfie.’

Suddenly I’ve taken note…

Eliminate the Burden of Video Editing
Today, my home video production workflow is a labored one, inspired by what I’ve learned through my professional multimedia life.

Time consuming post-production dominates every piece of home video I share.

The workflow is complex:

  • Shoot video clip(s) using one of my Canon digital cameras
  • Download the QuickTime file(s) to my iMac
  • Import them into Final Cut Pro X
  • Choose the best clips and trim them as needed
  • Put them in the correct order
  • Add in a few dissolves and a fade to black
  • Export the final movie
  • Upload it to Vimeo to share
  • Compress the master movie file to email it
  • Transcode another version for my iPhone

Sure, I can simply shoot a quick video to share right on my iPhone.
But you can’t string multiple clips together this way.

Now, Video on Instagram says you can forget about the chore of editing…

You simply self-edit as you record each clip for your 15-second movie.
If you don’t like the last clip you shot, you can delete it and re-record it.
(And if you don’t want to use up all 15 seconds, that’s just fine.)

As an added bonus, Instagram even offers you image stabilization to smooth out all those shaky shots!

Documenting the Cup of Joe
One morning last week, I found myself in the kitchen staring at the digital clock on the stove. The time glowed 4:50am.
The fact I was up earlier than many of the birds outside was the cascading result of my three year old stirring at 4:30am.

He went back to sleep, but not before rousing the cat, who then began to meow for his breakfast at the foot of the stairs.
Ignoring my feline was not an option, because he doesn’t give up easily.

So there I was in the kitchen, trying to enjoy my predicament.
What could I do with all these found extra minutes?

I decided to take Instagram out for a spin.
And it was time to make some coffee.

Click – Shot the clock.
Click – Captured the drip, drip, drip.
Click – Poured some coffee into my favorite mug

Done!

It’s no masterpiece, but my test Instagram video was done in a snap.
I’ve got to admit, the speed and simplicity make this a pretty compelling tool.
And if you want to add in one of 13 new video filters, go to town!

There’s Never a Silver Bullet
But the Web is already a flutter with people complaining about Instagram videos.

Some Instagram users simply don’t want the purity of their photo feeds polluted by instrusive videos.

Others are warning that Instagram videos suck up huge amounts of memory in your smart phone’s cache.

But the biggest concern out there is that Instagram users won’t make compelling videos the way they’ve been creating cool photos.

Critics are concerned they’re going to be bored more often than not, even with just 15 seconds of content to watch.

Gizmodo points out the “clumsy banality of amateur video.”

Jenna Wortham in her New York Times Digital Diary wrote that she didn’t like the Instagram video moments she recently captured at a Brooklyn rooftop picnic.

I think everyone out there is coming to terms with the hard reality of video:
It’s difficult to capture the perfect moment on the fly and equally challenging to stage one.

There’s usually no shortcut to creating good videos.
Click, Click, Click might be fast and convenient, but it can’t guarantee perfection.

It’s important to understand you normally need to capture lots of moments to find a few good ones.
That’s why editing software exists.

Video on Instagram has its uses.
It’s just not a panacea for all your video needs.

Vine – Less is More?
There are other apps out there that offer similar tools.
Since January, Vine has been the poster child for this young art.

But Vine’s 6-second shooting limit is way too restrictive for me.
It may be an interesting artistic exercise to see what you can create in such a short length, but I don’t feel it’s as useful a video tool as Instagram to help document your life.

On the up side, I think the time limitation of Vine inherently forces more preparation, which can lead to better results.

How Many People Does It Take to Create a Video?
I’ve got to admit… I’m feeling a fair amount of schadenfreude.
Here’s the thing…

I’m truly excited about the ease of using Video on Instagram.

Simultaneously, I’m psyched about all the doubt recently expressed about the general population having the ability to create engaging 15-second videos.

Not so long ago, common wisdom suggested anyone could create a video…
The democratization of digital media over the past decade gave most everyone the tools to become their own filmmaker.

But it’s come at a cost.

The rules surrounding solid filmmaking…

  • Good lighting
  • Clean audio
  • Well-framed composition
  • Steady shots
  • Tight timing

Unfortunately, it’s all been compromised.

People don’t care so much anymore what something looks or sounds like, as long as the content is engaging.

And if it’s ‘real,’ that’s sometimes enough to hold your attention.
But not always…

A gussied-up square photo with extreme saturation gradation might hold your attention for a couple seconds…

But you can’t make that lipstick-on-a-pig trick last for 15 seconds, or even 6.

Unless, you happen to shoot a little video of Godzilla out for a morning stroll, you’ve actually got to do some work to create a video that anyone outside your closest circle would want to watch.

That’s why a 15-second commercial on TV can cost millions of dollars to create.

The 6 O’Clock News – Brought to You by the Fourth Grade?
I know that self-generated content is all the rage these days, and everyone’s doing it. (especially the younger generations)
But your precocious ten-year-old nephew can’t really replace the entire media production landscape with his iPhone and iMovie.

In the end, videos hubs like YouTube, Vine and now Instagram are constant reminders of the inherent limitations of user-generated video content on the Web.

Anyone can create a video for the entire world to watch, but it usually takes a small army of professionals to create, distribute, and market content to successfully reach a fraction of that.

Sure, you may have just recorded the next viral video sensation on your smartphone.
But that kind of lightning doesn’t strike too often.

This reality is revealing the buried truth that a video’s success often requires a little love from the ‘experts’ with a few years of experience generating visual content.

That’s a happy realization supporting job security for professionals who create digital content for a living…

And that’s also good news for my three-year-old budding photographer who may want to one day pursue a career as a digital journalist.

Give Video on Instagram a Chance
So where does all of this video analysis leave us…?

Is Video on Instagram a good development?
I say, “Yes!”

Does creating a compelling video take time and effort?
Yes, again!

Will the simplicity of Video on Instagram revolutionize the way people share their lives with video?

We’re all supposed to get our 15 minutes of fame, right?
15 seconds shouldn’t be that hard to find.

Stay tuned…

Open Letter to My Generation – Social Media Is Good

Circa 1972.  Boy Barrett thinks to himself, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea… Forty one years from now, why don’t I reconnect with all my friends from third grade?!”

Circa 1972. Boy Barrett thinks to himself, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea… Forty one years from now, why don’t I reconnect with all my friends from third grade?!”

I’m a baby.
A baby of a generation of babies.
Baby boomers.
And I’m among the youngest of the generation of baby boomers.
But I’m not feeling especially youthful at the moment.

I’m approaching a significant numeric milestone in my chronology.
And as many people probably handle this milestone, I’ve been spending some time taking stock of my life.
(Is that what they mean by a mid-life crisis?)

You start thinking about all the people you’ve known.
All your friends.
And those friends you’ve lost touch with.
The ones you’ve left behind.
Often for no particular good reason.
Life just got in the way…

If only you had another chance.

But wait a minute! You do!!
Technology and social media can give you exactly that, right?

Social Media to the Rescue
We all know social media can easily help you to stay connected.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s via Facebook for your friends or with LinkedIn for your business colleagues.
(Not to mention a whole host of other choices out there)

But sometimes the magic of social media can offer you so much more…

One morning last week, I was on LinkedIn, and a friendly face popped up in the suggestions corner as someone I might know.

Know him I did.
A former colleague and friend from what seemed like a lifetime ago when I was up in Boston. Twelve years ago, in fact…

But there he was again, right in front of me.
But we had lost touch, and I didn’t have his new contact info.

No problem.
I clicked the connect button.

By the end afternoon, we had reconnected, shared contact info and had a memorable catch-up call. We even made plans to see each other the next time he’s in New York City.

But there would be no Facebook contact.
No.
“He doesn’t do that.

And for what may seem surprising to the more than one billion Facebook users in the world, he’s not alone.
Especially for those of my generation.

Where Are You Now?
Two years ago, a long-lost first cousin found me on Facebook. One click led to another, which set up an amazing face-to-face reunion.

But all searches don’t end with the ‘Oprah ending.’

I spent a little time recently looking up a few friends from my childhood days.
But they were nowhere in sight.

Sadly, I must also report I’ve got two more first cousins to find.
They’re on the other side of my family, and yes they happen to be older than me.
I’ve Googled them and searched high and low on Facebook and LinkedIn.
But alas they remain missing.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find someone anymore, right?
They’re probably out there… somewhere!
(Unless, they’re doing their best to remain off the social media grid.)

So more and more, I’m not surprised when I don’t find someone of my generation through social media.

Fact Check with the Social Media Stats
At first glance, the statistics don’t support my assertion:

According to a 2012 Pingdom report,

  • 65% of Facebook users are at least 35 years old…
  • and that percentage jumps to 79% for LinkedIn users
  • The average Facebook user is 40.5 years old
  • The average LinkedIn user is 44.2 years old

So what’s the problem?
It seems clear a majority of Facebook/LinkedIn users are graying
(Ahem…slightly).
But that doesn’t speak at all to the population not using social media.

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey,

  • Only 56% of Americans age 50-64 use Facebook

The participation numbers get far worse on LinkedIn:

  • Only 25% of 30-49 year olds are on LinkedIn
  • And that number drops to 22% for the 50-64 age group

Another consideration is gender.
Pingdom says Facebook’s gender distribution favors women 60%- 40%.
(The split is more even on LinkedIn.)

So the stats suddenly don’t look so rosy for baby boomers.
46% of my generation isn’t on Facebook, and even fewer men.

These numbers fall right in line with my empirical evidence.

Facebook Maybe…
I’ve run into former classmates at reunions and asked them to connect on Facebook.
They wince and reply, “Oh, I don’t do Facebook.
I’m not comfortable putting all my private information out there for the world to see.”

All right. So everyone knows, you shouldn’t be putting anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want the entire universe to see till the end of time.
So what’s the problem?
(You’re old enough to know how to handle this Pandora’s box.)

Yes, there are other avenues to find a former classmate beyond social media sites.
You can always look through your school’s online directory for their email address, but your friend may not be there either.

Even if you do find your friend, maybe you’re a little embarrassed, because you’ve let things ‘slip.’ (over the past few decades)
Sometimes, it’s hard to attempt a direct hello after all those years.
‘Friending’ may be easier as a ‘toe in the water’ approach.

Do You Really Exist If You’re Not Online?
Seems like a no-brainer to want to create and manage your online identity these days.

Like it or not, every day, your identity is being influenced by your virtual life.
I believe that relationship will only continue to grow.

If you don’t exist online, what does that say about the brick-and-mortar you?

Ignorance Is Bliss
But I think if you’re of a certain age, you’ve lived long enough without an online identity, and may feel like you really don’t need it.

You’re happy with your current pool of friends.
No need to power up your Laptop Time Machine to look backwards for former friendships.

But you’re not getting the upside potential…
Not so long ago, I didn’t ‘get it’ either.

I took to LinkedIn first, because its business and networking focus seemed clear.

I joined Facebook with the rest of the general population, but didn’t initially participate, because I didn’t think I’d care about everyone’s every thought.
Then I started to enjoy all those innocuous little data points.

But it was social media’s whole reconnection potential that really blew me away.
Friends I worked with 20 years ago.
High school friends from 32 years ago
Elementary school friends from 35 years ago!
And my lovely cousin, who I remember playing with when I was five years old.

The younger generations will never experience this phenomenon of re-forging decades-old connections via social media, because they’ve been ‘connected’ since childhood.

We boomers own this little social media phenomenon of ‘extreme-reconnect syndrome.’
And it’s a wonderful thing.

Call To Action!
So it’s time to embrace social media and take advantage of what it offers.
And selfishly, I must admit I’d like to find a few more of my old friends out there.

So get with it!

Sing the Happy Birthday Song
Social media is about sharing your life… just like you always do with friends.
And that fosters the organic development of connections.
Even if you prefer a more private existence, I bet you’ll find some value in this ‘passing fad.’

Everyone’s got something to say, share, or tweet. Something others will enjoy simply knowing.

On your birthday, do you neglect to share that detail with everyone you run into?

It’s okay to spread the news. I give you permission.
(Because I know you really want to.)

Here… let me show you how…

Hey, readers!
My 50th birthday is on February 12th!!
And I’m happy for the world to know!!!

Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday to me.
Happy Birthday, dear Barrett the blogger,
Happy Birthday to me!

See?
I feel like a kid again…

Don’t be afraid to jump into the pool.
The water’s warm!

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