It’s time to draw the line on social media disclosure

Perhaps by now you’re heard of the “Please Rob Me” site that highlights those on Twitter disclosing that they’re away from their homes.

While the site is kind of funny, it draws attention to a serious point — disclosure of detailed personal information, including your precise physical location, will lead to crime. Notice I didn’t say MIGHT lead to crime. It is inevitable that the bad guys are going to figure this stuff out. They always do.

Last week I saw my first tweet that actually had a map attached to it. The stalkers can not only find you, the technology is telling them how to get to you.  Or your empty house.  Or your kids.

I’m particularly concerned by this emerging generation who is de-sensitized to what they’re sharing about themselves.  They’ve been conditioned to put everything out there all the time, so why not tell everyone where you are, too?  They’re actively and willingly teaching The Machine their personal habits, behavior patterns and hang-outs, just so they can be named “mayor” of a location on Foursquare or receive a free latte at Starbucks.

Where corruption can occur, corruption will occur. It is only a matter of time before a tragic crime draws attention to these serious issues and people start taking action, perhaps even legislation. Let’s not wait for that, OK?

As an individual, and especially as a parent, I think we need to draw the line on certain social web behaviors.

  • Actively teach your kids to be net-savvy. Instill a healthy dose of paranoia into their mindset.  Teach them about privacy settings and being Internet “street smart.”
  • Take a view that Internet access is a privilege, not a right. Set clear expectations and limits. If a child does something to endanger themselves on the Internet, there should be consequences, just as if they had wrecked a car or set a fire in the kitchen.
  • Personally, I would forbid my kids from using Foursquare or any technology that reveals their personal location at  a point in time.
  • Be involved in what they’re doing. Know enough about the technology to ask the right questions. Look at who has friended them and what those people are saying to your kids.  Until you are convinced they can demonstrate mature judgment, I don’t think kids have a right to Internet privacy.

A man told a story yesterday on a news report on Internet safety that as a precaution, he follows every one of his young son’s Facebook friends. “I’m a 39 year old man,” he said. “And these kids automatically follow me back even when they don’t know who I am. And their parents never question it either. It just shows me how dangerous this could be for young kids.”

If you’re a parent, deal with this. Don’t ignore the issue or avoid conflict with your kids over the family “privacy” battle.  Will you leave a comment and let me know what you think on this issue?

New report suggests corporate blogging may be at saturation point

A new study of the world’s 500 largest public corporations by the University of Massachusetts Center for Marketing Research indicates that the level of corporate blogging may have flat-lined while the adoption of of other social media platforms, especially Twitter, continues to escalate rapidly.

Corporate blogging

Of the Fortune 500 companies, 22%, have a public-facing blog with a post in the past 12 months, including three of the top five companies (Wal-Mart, Chevron and General Electric).  That’s up just 6% from a 2008 study.

Rank on the Fortune 500 list seemed to influence the adoption of blogging by the F500. The top 100 companies (or to 20%) on the list represent 39% of the 108 blogs.

All 108 blogs were examined to determine the level of interactivity the blog allowed — 90% percent of the Fortune 500 blogs take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions.


Of the 108 blogs located, 93 (86%) are linked directly to a corporate Twitter account, a more than 300% increase over the 2008 study.

173 (35%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 have a Twitter account with a post within the past 30 days. Of these companies, four of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and General Electric) consistently post on their Twitter accounts. For more on GE’s social media efforts: click here.

Podcasting and video

The 2009 Fortune 500 were also examined to determine usage of additional social media tools. 19% of the 2009 Fortune 500 use podcasting (up from 16%) and 31% are using video on their blog sites (up from 21%).


While blogging has more or less flat-lined for the mega-companies, a recent article I posted on the fast-growing Inc. 500 corporations showed a much higher rate of adoption. In fact, nearly half of the Inc. 500 had corporate blogs compared to 22% for the Fortune 500.  What could this mean? I guess you would expect smaller companies to be fleeter in adopting new ideas, but blogging isn’t that new.  Besides, the incredible adoption of Twitter demonstrates that the Fortune 500′s do have at least some understanding of the social web.

I have experienced first-hand how difficult it is to manage a meaningful blog in a public company straddled with so many laws and regulations. It’s hard to be responsive and authentic when you have to get everything reviewed by the legal department.  I’m guessing that many companies are experiencing the same angst –   What is the role of a blog in the corporate communications structure?  What are the benefits versus the cost of approvals and the time needed from executives to sponsor the work?  And just how many blogs does the world need any way?  Does the heightened use of video and podcasting indicate companies are turning to new means of expression?

What do you think?  Has corporate blogging reached its saturation point?

{grow} community alert: Jon Buscall has written a wonderful companion piece that actually answers the questions I pose here!

Many thanks to Nora Barnes and Eric Mattson for their detailed and important research.

Illustration: Web Tycoon

The thrill of victory, the agony of re-tweet

I had two very contrasting social web experiences in the past 24 hours that I wanted to share.

The first came from one of my students, who is urgently trying to learn how the social web can benefit her business.  Yesterday, she had exciting news to share: “We just had out first re-tweet!  I couldn’t wait to tell my boss.  We are so excited!  Now … what do I do?”

We talked about the importance of community-building and connections and how RT’s on Twitter are a nice way to compliment and reach-out to people.

The second episode came from a blog post I read from a Twitter personality who as far as I can see does nothing but re-tweet other people’s links all day long. His post was about how he had now received more re-tweets than the Huffington Post and was one of the top-10 re-tweeted people on Twitter.   Who actually measures these things?  He made no connection between his RT’s and personal relationships or any benefits other than he is on somebody’s list. There were about a dozen comments on the post … none of them from him. There was no engagement, no community, no sharing.  For him, the ridiculous notion of re-tweet count was simply a mythical badge of honor.

These two stories illustrate the best and the worst of the social web.

If you authentically cherish and appreciate those who are connecting with you, you will ultimately succeed in creating personal and business benefits.  Can you hold on to the excitement you felt when you saw your first re-tweet, or the first comment on your blog?

If you approach this as a numbers game to validate your own self-esteem, people will easily see through your veneer and in the long-term you’ll have a lot of meaningless followers trying to sell you a spot on the Trump Network.

Where are you on your social media journey?  Are you creating meaningful connections?

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