March 25, 2013

Have You Backed Up Your Facebook Posts Lately?

The links, photos, videos, and likes you upload to Facebook are a wonderful record of what you've been thinking, feeling, and doing, but what if it were to suddenly be lost? Facebook changes, Facebook errors, or even hackers could destroy your access to your account's Facebook history.

Following these steps is a simple way to make sure you've got a record of everything you've shared:

To back up what you've shared on your personal page, click here:

To back up "expanded data" about your account click here:

Facebook will then notify you when your downloads are ready.

And while there is currently no way to back up a Facebook Page's updates, here's a work-around trick:

  • Click on Edit Page
  • Click on Activity Log
  • Keep scrolling down until you reach either your Page's first post, or the point at which you want to start saving
  • On your browser, select "Save Page As" and save it as "Web Page, complete"
Nothing lasts forever -  remember Friendster? - so backing up Facebook is a good way to make sure you save those pictures of your iced cappuccino for the Ages.

March 8, 2013

Are You Ready for Facebook's New News Feed Display?

Facebook is changing its News Feed display to feature more visual content. To join the waiting list for the new look, click here.

Meanwhile, here are four tips to prepare you for the enhanced emphasis on visual posts.

1. The new News Feed will enlarge the way visual content is displayed. Uploaded photos and videos will be more prominent than before. Users will also be able to select to see an exclusively "photo" feed.

A good strategy - Use uploaded images to promote a link, rather than just the link. Upload a photo and include a bitly link in your post instead of just linking to the post.  

2. Photo captions will now be overlaid on the photo.

A good strategy - Keep your descriptions short!

3. 3rd party app posts (such as Pinterest) will display more prominently.

A good strategy - Share more compelling, relevant pins to Facebook.

4. When people "like" your page your Timeline cover photo will now display in the feed.

A good strategy - Make sure your cover shot is visually compelling even when reduced in size (e.g. no small print or fussy collages)

Remember, while these are important changes, the most important thing  is still to post interesting, compelling content that your  followers will want to share. There is no substitute for sharing great content!

December 25, 2012

Google’s War on Christmas Cards

Yesterday I tried to email my yearly Holiday Greeting Card and, as a result, Google locked me out of my gmail account for over 24 hours due to “Unusual Usage.”
Note to Google: Christmas is fairly unusual, it comes but once a year…
My Christmas Eve gift from Google was the message, “To keep our systems healthy, Google has temporarily disabled your account.”
Apparently Christmas Cards with a picture of my son cause a little “irregularity” in Google’s system while the USPS considers them healthy roughage and Facebook considers them an essential part of a balanced diet.
Google went on to say, “This primarily occurs when we detect unusually high levels of activity on your account.”
Clearly g[rinch]mail believes that sending 150 Holiday Greetings in targeted batches is an unusually high level of activity,  whereas the “Dr. Oz Diet Solutions” and “Dish Promotions” emails they deliver daily to my inbox are business as usual.
Yes, Google, the “do no evil” people, scrooged up my Christmas and of course, there is absolutely no way to contact anyone at gmail to get it reinstated. And that’s not because it’s a holiday, that’s because there’s never any way to contact anyone at gmail.
To spread my holiday cheer, I posted the card to Facebook, sent some through private Facebook messages, and even reverted to a legacy AOL account.
But I still didn't get my gmail messages for over a day. And while today is devoted to sugarplums and wassailing, had this been a business day and had those been business emails, I would not be experiencing such elfish good humor about it.
I’ve always treated my gmail account as my “serious” account, but this lump of coal from Google reminds us of the frailty of our communications pacts with free providers. While gmail is a "free gift" from Google, I count on it to work.  And while spam is a problem, I wasn't spamming and gmail couldn't tell that. My Christmas wish for next year: a more sensitive mail platform that let's me send greetings to as many friends as I like without "seasonally profiling" me.

September 7, 2011

Social Productivity: Don’t Just Twitter Your Time Away

You and your business have made the commitment to the social web. You’ve created Twitter accounts, you’ve got a LinkedIn profile, you’re blogging and commenting on other relevant blogs, you’ve created a Facebook Page for your business, you're testing the geo-location waters with Foursquare and Gowalla.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You’re not the only one. Between keeping up with social media sites and running an actual business, many people feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Either you never find time to get to your social media accounts (and your last Tweet was three months ago) or you get lured in and spend way too much time online (“Google drifting” from one cool site to another.)

So, how do you strike a balance, giving your online presence the time it needs and deserves, but not getting so “addicted” that it becomes more important than the work you’re using it to promote? The most important step in creating a working – and workable – plan is knowing what’s important to you and to your business. Here are some ideas to help keep you on track:

Know who you are, what your unique offering is, and what value you bring to the market.
Clearly defining who you are is the first step in focusing in on what social media platforms are important to you, what you should be bringing to the table when you participate, and how frequently you should be posting. If you’re positioned as a top source of breaking hedge fund trend news, for instance, you will want to be updating while the market is open and much more frequently than if you are positioned as a retirement management resource. If your business is positioned as a premier local entertainment venue, you might discover that evening is the best time for your posts to reach the audience you want to connect with.

Identify your goals and the strategies you’ve chosen to help you achieve them. If your goal is to connect with potential customers by providing content that positions you as a trusted resource about vineyards, you may not need to spend a lot of time participating in a Twitter thread about the New York Jets (unless, of course, you’re a Long Island vineyard, in which case you might!)

Know which social media platforms are the most tactically important for your business and prioritize participation. If you’ve positioned yourself as a luxury brand, niche communities and sites like A Small World, Generation Benz or ArtSlant, may be more valuable uses of your time than MySpace, for instance. If YouTube content is driving more people to your video production website than Facebook, prioritizing frequent YouTube updates is a smart move. If FourSquare isn’t adding much value to your local business (and you are consistently your own Mayor) sit geo-location out for a while and concentrate on the platforms that are creating a local community for you. You can’t be everywhere at once, so don’t waste time with platforms that aren’t working for you.

Make time in your calendar for social media updates and treat it like a meeting: arrive on time, give it your full attention, and wrap it up before it drags on too long. Creating a routine can go a long way to keeping you focused. If your business benefits from updating LinkedIn and LinkedIn groups twice a week, put it on your calendar. Combine checking in with Facebook, Twitter, and key blogs with checking your email first thing in the morning (more time for that bagel!) Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick with it. That way you are less likely to feel the pressure to check your social media accounts when you should be doing other work.

Rely on Tools:
Take some time to experiment with social media tools and find the ones that work for you., which calls itself a “social business software hub,” is a great site for discovering new tools and shortcuts.

  • Create a “listening suite,” with tools like Twitter Search, Google Alerts, Social Mention, and Blogpulse, schedule a time to monitor mentions, and stick to that schedule.
  • Use browser “favorites” and “bookmark” functions to create an easy-to access list of the blogs and Twitter accounts you are monitoring.
  • Use a posting tool, like Tweetdeck or HootSuite, that makes it possible to update and monitor Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from one location.
  • Create a “measuring suite,” with tools like Google Analytics,, TweetStats, Technorati, PostRank, and Facebook Ad analytics, to let you know how you’re doing.

Once you’ve clearly defined your positioning, goals, and strategy, you can prioritize your social media tools, create a schedule, and stick to it. When you’ve clearly identified what you are trying to achieve, you can trim what’s not working and spend quality time on what’s truly important for you and your business.

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my

June 26, 2011

No Textbook Required: Use Social Sites to Gain Social Media Skills

We’re halfway through 2011 and social media has not yet gone away. It’s thriving, evolving, and changing the way we interact. So if you’ve been putting off learning the new social media tools that will help you connect and engage with customers and clients (as well as potential customers, clients, and contacts) there’s still time to resolve to make 2011 the year you start leveraging its tremendous potential.
While nothing beats hiring an experienced social media practitioner to help you or your business identify goals, strategize, and implement, there are many free resources and tutorials available online to help you learn and familiarize yourself with both basic and advanced platforms, tools, and techniques you need to create or upgrade a social media presence.
Social media enthusiasts are, first and foremost, social, and most of the best practitioners enjoy sharing their knowledge online. There are great videos, great slideshows and great blogs you can access that provide you with an expert – and free – social media education.
Here are some social sites with great resources and tutorials:

Why you should go there:, which describes itself as “a business media site for sharing presentations, documents and pdfs,” offers a wealth of easily searchable presentations as well as features such as “Top Presentations of the Day,” “Hot on Facebook” and “Hot on Twitter,” and “Spotlight.”
How you should use it: Use keyword searches for access to presentations, how-to slide shows, and cutting edge thinking by top practitioners. A search for “social media getting started,” for instance, turns up 1645 hits. Many speakers at social media conferences upload their presentations so search for conferences by name. And use the “people search” function to find content generously shared by experts such as Chris Heuer, Chris Brogan, David Armano, and Beth Kantor.

Why you should go there: The second largest search engine in the world is full of great content, great talks, and great how-to videos. A search for “social media” produces 6,700 results.
How you should use it: Search for “how-to” videos, such as “How to Customize Your Facebook Page” (690 results,) video blogs by social media experts, and videos of speakers at conferences such as Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Summits or Toby Daniels’ Social Media Week to hear talks about new trends.

Why you should go there: If the web is Social Media U., Twitter is the course catalogue. Social media thought leaders, strategists and practitioners are constantly uploading links to great resources.
How you should use it: Identify a good Twitter List of smart social media thinkers, follow it, and click on the links they tweet. Or create your own list of resources. By following Tweeters like @Mashable, @SocialNetDaily, @SocialMediaComm, @SocialMedia411, @SocialMedia2Day, @SocialMediaWeek, and @TweetSmarter you are guaranteed a daily diet of links to great content, great how-to articles, and great blogs by top social media thinkers (you can find their content and others’ by following my Social Media News list:!/CatherinVentura/social-media-news.)

Why you should go there: which was founded in 2005 and now claims over 30 million monthly page views is one of the single best aggregators of news about social media and digital trends. Updated constantly, it is a one-stop (if a bit overwhelming) treasure trove of the state of the web now.
How you should use it: Take advantage of Mashable’s lists, how-to, and guidebook sections to find lists of social media resources and trends, guides that range from to How to Build Apps, How to Use Facebook Insights, to using Social Media to solve the Global Water Crisis, and e-guides to Twitter and Facebook.

Why you should go there: A search for “Social Media Getting Started” yields 10,800,000 results.
How you should use it: Search for “How to,” “Tutorial,” or “Guide” and the specific topic you’re looking for (e.g. “Tutorial Add Twitter WordPress blog.”)

Not understanding how social media works is no longer an option. When you help yourself to the great resources on the social sites above, you’ll be “learning while doing” as you familiarize yourself with the exciting new ways businesses are connecting in 2011.

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my

June 7, 2011

Building a Better, not Bigger, Social Media Network

When it comes to social media networks, a bigger network clearly is better, but only if bigger also means a bigger selection of relevant, targeted, high-quality contacts.

Amassing thousands of random followers with automatic “follow back” gimmicks on Twitter may give you bragging rights at the water cooler, but it will do little or nothing to help you grow your business. And adding 500 friends or fans on Facebook overnight may feel like progress, but if you haven’t mastered the Facebook algorithm of update quality and engagement, your content may not even appear on their feeds.

So what are the best ways to grow quality social media networks, so that the contacts and relationships you create truly benefit you and your business and deliver real value?

There are no shortcuts to creating real engagement and real relationships; as in the “real world,” they need to be nourished to grow and produce results. There are tools, however, that can streamline the process of finding the right people for you or your business to connect with. Here are several steps you can take to help you grow your social media contacts efficiently and organically, through targeted research and engagement:

STEP ONE: Be Brave
Your most valuable contacts are the ones you already have, so leverage them. “Find Friends” on Facebook and Twitter and “See Who You Already Know” on LinkedIn are functions that allow the sites to access your Gmail, Aol, Yahoo!, or Hotmail email address books and identify which of your contacts already have profiles. To get started, each of the services asks you to enter your email address and your password. Be brave and let them access your email. It’s not a “bulk follow.” You can pick and choose, and it’s a great way to jump-start your community.

Don’t have an email account with one of those popular providers? Create one, import your contacts from your business accounts, and let LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook access it.

STEP TWO: Be Clear
Know why you are networking. Identify your goals, whether they are personal or for your business, and prioritize them. If you identify your top priority as building brand awareness, for instance, you will start creating a different community than you would to enhance “customer retention.” Prioritizing your marketing goals will help you prioritize whom to reach out to as you build your social media base.

STEP THREE: Be Curious
Social media platforms are great opportunities for making connections in a highly targeted way. The best way to start is with Twitter, where it is fine to follow and reach out to “strangers.” Once you’ve made a good contact on Twitter, it’s an easy next step to move the connection to LinkedIn or Facebook, and then, hopefully, into a solid face-to-face connection as well.

Here are some great tools to help you discover interesting people and communities:

1) Twitter Lists: Twitter users have already done a lot of research for you by creating lists of the people they enjoy following. Find a thought leader in your field and check out the Twitter Lists they’ve created or the lists that include them to find interesting new people to follow and connect with. is a great site that aggregates Twitter lists and makes it easy to search for topics – and users – that interest you. Also,’s Twitter Lists organize recommended users into lists based on field or interests (such as marketing, economics, wine, etc.)

2) Twitter Search: (advanced Twitter Search) is still one of the best tools around for identifying targeted users to follow with keyword and location searches. Because of the location function (you can even search by zip code) it’s a great tool for local businesses to build relationships.,,,, and are also great tools that help you drill down and identify interesting new users.

3) Twitter Recommendations: Twitter now recommends users that you may be interested in following. “Who to Follow,” which appears on your own Twitter page, gives recommendations based on who you are already following (so, the more specific your niche, the better the suggestions.) “Similar to…” which appears on Twitter users’ profile pages finds users that Twitter considers similar. Click through for interesting new discoveries. And when you do follow new contacts, don’t expect them to follow back automatically: reach out by responding to one of their Tweets, by Retweeting a Tweet or a link to their blog, or by engaging in the comments section of their blog.

4) Facebook and LinkedIn Threads: Join interesting, relevant conversations in LinkedIn Groups or Facebook Pages or Groups and engage with other contributors. Once a connection has been made, “friend” them on Facebook, or “link to” them on LinkedIn. And, of course, follow them on Twitter.

5) Blog Threads: Read blogs that are relevant to your business and post responses with your thoughts, including a URL to your Twitter account. See who else is making interesting comments, engage with them, then make a connection on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

STEP FOUR: Be Generous
The key to social media success is bringing value to the conversation. Engage by sharing information and ideas that are valuable to your target community and positioning yourself as a resource. Use Twitter Search to find questions you can answer, problems you can solve, and relevant content you can share. And retweet and share other users’ content that is relevant to your community.

So work on growing your networks, but work efficiently by focusing on targeted connections that truly matter. Use tools to grow your networks with new contacts, new connections, and new friends who can help grow your business as well.

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my

May 26, 2011

Is Your Social Media Voice Oscar-Worthy?

As businesses flock to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and FourSquare, it’s more important than ever to create a distinctive social media voice that stands out from the crowd and reflects your own unique offering.

While most businesses are vigilant about keeping branding and messaging consistent across their websites, business cards, and e-blasts, many still don’t focus on how they speak to their customers via Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re an authoritative financial brand whose target audience is high net worth C-suite investors, for instance, you may not want to use Twitter to urge them to “check out this awesome mashup.” Or, if you’re an edgy fashion retailer whose target market is 20-something fashionistas, you may not want to post: “please connect with us on LinkedIn to see our new SlideShare presentation.” And, as tempting as it may be to turn your Facebook page or Twitter Feed over to an intern, most interns sound like, well… interns… and not necessarily like your brand.

Carefully crafting a social media voice that reflects and expresses who you are (or who you aspire to be) helps ensure that your social media strategy dovetails – instead of clashes — with your overall marketing strategy.

So what is the best way to create a “brand voice” that works across social media platforms to engage your audience or customers in a dialogue about your brand?

Why not take a cue from the masters of great dialogue – screenwriters.

Screenwriters (whether they’re based in Hollywood, Bollywood, or Pinewood) all share a common craft: they create distinctive characters, they place those characters in a context, they give those characters a goal, then they show us how that character pursues that goal.

Creating a great social media voice for you or your company is a similar process: just substitute “character” with “brand.” Businesses that use social media effectively start by creating a distinctive brand identity across social media platforms, they give the brand a context with a clear, consistent positioning, they prioritize their marketing goals, and then they get to work telling their brand’s story as they pursue that goal.

And, just as a good screenwriter would not send a small French mouse to battle the Matrix or send a trench-coated hacker into a restaurant kitchen to create souffle, your brand’s character needs to fit your brand story and marketing goals.

The first step is to identify your goals clearly, both short and long-term, so you can align your social media tactics with those targets in mind. (How to set your goals is a whole other discussion, of course, but it always helps to start with the basics: Are you trying to gain greater brand awareness? Sell products online? Drive foot traffic to a physical store?)

Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to analyze your two most important characters: you and your audience. Is your brand young or mature, witty or authoritative, informative or entertaining, provocative or helpful, all business or mixing business with pleasure? Is your audience millennial or boomers, fun-loving or demanding, passionate or critical, skeptical or looking for a reason to believe? The answers will help you choose the language, the tone, even the adjectives your brand should be using to communicate effectively with your target audience.

Now take a look at your brand identity and positioning and create a list of keywords and topics that reflect what makes you distinctive, valuable and unique. Are these keywords appearing frequently in your social media updates? Using a tool like Tweetcloud (which creates a “tag cloud” of your recent tweets) is great way to take a “snapshot” of your overall messaging on Twitter.

Also, make sure you are engaging your audience and giving them something of value. A great rule of thumb in social media is that approximately 60% of your content should create value for your audience, 30% should be engagement and interaction, and 10% should be things that make you “human,” interesting, and unique. That 10% can be a great way to reinforce your brand’s relationship with its target audience as well. If you’re brand is young and hip, feel free to share your passion for extreme sports. If your brand is sophisticated and international, sharing new wines or resorts you’ve discovered could be a great way to share extra value and create personal relationships.

Just like many screenwriters say their best characters often take on lives of their own and tell the screenwriter what should happen next, an expertly-crafted social media personality can reward you by creating unexpected and valuable new relationships for your business or brand.

Craft your social media voice well by creating a distinctive “character” your audience will value interacting with, give your voice context by aligning it with your business’ positioning, give that voice clear goals to achieve, then get ready for its starring role telling your brand story. The award for best social media voice goes to…

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my