Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Web Secret #269: Instagram

I need to come clean right away. I have never downloaded or used Instagram.

But let's get real, we all know that my ability to spot trends, is shall we say, spotty. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for 1 billion dollars.

Didn't see that coming at all.

Let me explain: Instagram is a photo sharing app. I share my photos all the time - without the help of Instagram.

My daughter has informed me that I don't get it. "It's all about the filters," she said.

Let me explain what she means:

1. Download Instagram

2. Take a photo thorugh Instagram

3. Apply a filter. "Instagram is well known for its filters, and there are 20 different looks you can use. Each filter provides a different look, coloring, and feel to the photo, so it can be fun to make your photo look unique simply by applying a different filter." I told my daughter I have never felt the urge to apply a filter to anything.

Let me explain further:

Instagram lets you share your photo, or "select Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, email, Flickr, or Foursquare, and share on those networks as well." I can do that on my iPhone.

Further yet:

Your photos are saved to an album in your Instagram account. As I write, my photos are saved on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro. Without the help of Instagram.

Instagram also allows you to:

Follow people on Instragram.

You can use hashtags, so that all of your photos about #icecreamflavorsIlove are grouped together.

Instagram is now allowing videos. (Already doing this on my iPhone.) Ah, but the app allows you to use 13 video filters.

Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars.

Clearly there is something about filters I just don't get.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Web Secret #268: Cost of Social Media

Social media for your business costs nothing, (except for your time,) provided you do it yourself. But many professionals would prefer to hire an expert to do it for them. And that brings up the question "How much will it cost me?"

Fees are among the most closely guarded secrets. Fortunately, social media strategist Mack Collier divulges this information in a yearly article aptly titled "How Much Does Social Media Cost Companies." Here is the essence of what he had to say in his most recent annual survey:

Custom design and template creation – $1,000 – $5,000
Writing/Editing Content for the blog plus ongoing training – $500-$4,000 a month (Assume 1-2 posts a week at this rate)
Ghostwriting blog posts – $50-$500 per

Account Setup - $500-$2,000
Ongoing Account Management and Training – $500-$3,000 a month

Initial Page Setup – $500-$2,500
Monthly Content Management and Curation – $500-$3,000 a month

Social Media Training and Consulting
Hourly Training/Consulting – $50-$500 an hour

Social Media Workshops(All fees exclude travel and are for on-site Workshops)
Half-Day (Up to 4 hours): $500-$7,500
Full-Day (6-8 hours): $1,000-$15,000
Note: Keep in mind that workshop rates represent a significant amount of training and content creation time. If you pay a consultant $5,000 for a day-long workshop, that consultant might have spent 20 or 30 hours creating that workshop. So the prep time has to be considered in addition to the actual time delivering the workshop when looking at fees.

In general, a really good compromise is to have the expert set up your blog/Twitter/Facebook and teach you or another one of your staff members how to run your social media channel going forward.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Web Secret #267: Smartphone Year Abroad

How do you take a smartphone abroad?

Very carefully.

If you don't want to get slammed with massive roaming and data fees.

First and foremost, do not take your device out of the country without planning ahead and doing your homework.  You have some options:

1. You can keep your existing cellphone and buy a data package, a voice roaming package or both from most American carriers. What's nice about that:  anyone calling you from the US will pay only for a local call no matter where in the world you find yourself.

For example AT&T has three levels of data, priced by the month: 120 megabytes for $30, 300 megabytes for $60 and 800 megabytes for $120.  For voice, AT&T charges start at $30 for 30 minutes of calls. Text packages start at $10 for 50 texts.

The problem is that it can be very difficult to gauge how much data you're going to need. For this reason, it is always a good idea to call your carrier and discuss your needs and the various plans offered with a human being.

Also, data and voice packages are sold for a minimum of one month. So you need to remember to cut off the package when you are back in the US by calling your carrier's customer service. If you do not, you will be charged each month until you do.

2.  If your phone is unlocked (meaning it will work on any other network) and you are going to a place that uses the GSM phone standard, (eg Europe,) you can buy a local SIM card. This gives you your own phone number based in the country you are visiting.  

Telestial is a company that sells SIM cards and even phones that work in other countries. Depending on the country and your American mobile carrier’s rates, buying a local SIM card or phone may be cheaper than the roaming rates you will pay your carrier. Do the math. Also if go the SIM card route, make sure that your friends and family back in the States have an international calling plan of their own.

3. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible to check e-mail, so you do not use up data plan minutes. Wi-Fi is available in most hotels and many coffeehouses. Make calls in a Wi-Fi hot spot by using Skype, Apple’s FaceTime or similar apps. And turn off the “push” data option on your smartphone so that your device is not continually checking for new e-mails.

This blog post was inspired by a NY Times article by Erica A. Taub.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Web Secret #266: Your Digital Afterlife

Back in 2011, I wrote a blogpost entitled "Death in Cyberspace"which asked the question "as we increasingly scatter ourselves across Facebook, websites, blogs, and more - what should happen to all this digital "stuff" when we die?"

At the time this question was not on most people's radar.
But now it's 2013, and the New York Time's Anne Eisenberg wrote an article explaining why estate planning is important for your online assets.

In her piece, Anne asks "Who gets the photographs and the e-mail stored online, the contents of a Facebook account, or that digital sword won in an online game?"

Since my 2011 post, many new services and programs have sprung up to help people prepare for what happens after their last login.
"Google has a program called Inactive Account Manager, introduced in April, that lets those who use Google services decide exactly how they want to deal with the data they’ve stored online with the company — from Gmail and Picasa photo albums to publicly shared data like YouTube videos and blogs.
The process is straightforward. First go to Then look for “account management” and then “control what happens to your account when you stop using Google.” Click on 'Learn more and go to setup.' Then let Google know the people you want to be notified when the company deactivates the account; you’re allowed up to 10 names. You choose when you want Google to end your account — for example, after three, six or nine months of electronic silence..."

Anne adds, "And if you just want to say goodbye to everything, with no bequests, you can instruct Google to delete all of the information in your account."

Not a Google user? How about SecureSafe  which bills itself as "Swiss online storage." There you can save up to 50 passwords, 10 megabytes of storage and one beneficiary. "Accounts can be accessed from a browser, or from free iPhone, iPad and Android apps."

At minimum, experts urge “Make a private list of all your user names and passwords for all the accounts in which you have a digital presence, and make sure you update the list if you change login information.

Think about it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Web Secret #265: Swindles and spam

How do you protect yourself from online swindles and spam? An article in the New York Times by Azadeh Ensha tried to answer that question. Here is my abbreviated version:

Though the major search engines discourage such deception, it is easy to fall victim to a Web scam. For example, be deeply suspicious of websites that sell designer bags, electronics and watches at surprisingly low prices. You are either dealing with a fake or, in the case of electronics, with a refurbished used machine.

When it comes to email, look before you click. I live in a warehouse district that is very cool, but has no shopping. So I order everything from toilet paper to medication on line. Recently, I received an email that claimed to be from DHL - a helpful link to track my package was provided. Except I never have anything delivered via DHL. So I googled "DHL scam" and found that indeed the email is fraudulent and aims to infect your computer with malware when you click on the link. Delete these emails immediatly.

In addition, before making any purchase on a lesser-known site, take a look around. Does it look like it was put together by a teenager for a school project or does it seem legit? Remember "On the Internet Nobody Knows You're a Dog." And the converse holds true - you don't necessarily know who's a dog either.

Grammar and spelling errors may signal that the owner is based elsewhere. And if you spot the term “free” scrawled across a Web site, well proceed at your own risk.

Azadeh points out: "It is important to know what separates a potential spam site from a harmless one. The difference may be counterintuitive. For example, pornography domains may be safer to browse than some mainstream advertisements are 182 times more likely to deliver malicious content than pornographic sites.

He adds, "Be wary of Web pages that oversell you on their supposed legitimacy. One Better Business Bureau logo is fine. A series of logos promoting a site’s professionalism or expertise is a red flag."

Remember: "Common Sense Is Neither Common nor Sense."

Caveat Emptor.