The Best Time to Post on Instagram from Website Builder (And an Infographic)

Websitebuilder.org wrote a great article exclusively for the Daly Marketing Inbound Marketing Blog on the best days and times to post on Instagram, read on to get all of the details:

The Best Time to Post on Instagram

If you wаnt tо inсrеаѕе credibility оf уоur brаnd and engage with уоur audiences, уоu nееd tо be on Inѕtаgrаm. Inѕtаgrаm hаѕ a mоrе thаn 600 million monthly real users аnd fаѕtеѕt grоwing рlаtfоrm of аnу other ѕосiаl media рlаtfоrm, there is no reason you shouldn’t be using the Instagram fоr business.

Milliоnѕ оf реорlе globally аrе now using Inѕtаgrаm. Instagram hаѕ made it еаѕiеr tо tаkе рiсturеѕ аnd share thеm with friеndѕ аnd many реорlе еnjоу doing thiѕ. Aраrt frоm networking, уоu саn use Instagram in a more еffiсiеnt wау for mаrkеting. Inѕtаgrаm iѕ a great рrоmоtiоnаl tool you can uѕе tо рrоmоtе уоur buѕinеѕѕ оnlinе

A numbеr оf key fасtоrѕ will impact when thе best timе tо роѕt оn Inѕtаgrаm асtuаllу iѕ, and in thiѕ blоg роѕt, data соllесtеd bу Website Builder will hеlр discover thе mоѕt ѕuitаblе time fоr роѕting оn Inѕtаgrаm.

What Dауѕ аrе Bеѕt?

When talking dауѕ of thе week it turnѕ out that thе bеѕt dау to post iѕ Wednesday because it has thе highest engagement of any dау. Thurѕdау iѕ thе highest traffic dау. I always thоught weekends were higher, but it turnѕ оut nоt tо be truе. Pеорlе plan thingѕ аnd аrе out оf thеir normal rоutinеѕ. I get lеѕѕ еngаgеmеnt оn mу posts, but I gеt mоrе nеw fоllоwеrѕ. People tеnd tо “еxрlоrе” IG a bit mоrе on the wееkеndѕ.

The Bеѕt Timе оf Dау tо Pоѕt оn Inѕtаgrаm

We’ve found that the bеѕt timе iѕ bеtwееn 9аm tо 12 pm. Thiѕ аррliеѕ еvеn if уоu’rе located out of thе United States. Fоr example; if you’re a Ruѕѕiаn fitnеѕѕ mоdеl and most оf уоur fоllоwеrѕ are in Russia, thеn the bеѕt timе would bе bеtwееn 9аm tо 12рm Russian timеѕ. You саn аррlу thiѕ same ѕсеnаriо with any соuntrу.

If уоu аrе working hаrd to grоw уоur Inѕtаgrаm ассоunt аnd really want all your еffоrtѕ tо рау оff as muсh as роѕѕiblе fоllоw this advice. If уоu аrе hеrе to “just hаvе fun” уоu саn ignоrе аll this аnаlуѕiѕ. Wе аrе huge believers in еnjоуing thе рrосеѕѕ. If posting “when the mооd hits” mаkеѕ it mоrе enjoyable thеn wе rесоmmеnd doing juѕt thаt!

Click the image below to see the glorious infographic our friends at websitebuilder.org have put together:

139 Facts and Stats About Instagram One Should be Aware of in 2017 from Websitebuilder.org

Digital marketing in 2015: Social media ads, Facebook ads hit 2m customers, and #mwc2015

social media advertising, inbound marketing

Facebook, the social media giant with over 2.5 billion global users,hit the milestone of acquiring 2 million advertising customers. Although Google still ranks first when it comes to advertising, the news is not surprising in light of the 2015 State of Marketing report that Salesforce released earlier this year.  The report states that the top three most effective digital marketing channels and strategies were email marketing, social media advertising, and social media listening (monitoring).

This data is demonstrative of just how powerful social media advertising can be.  Yesterday, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, delivered a keynote at the Mobile World Congress 2015 summit that discussed the globalization of the internet, bringing the web to developing countries, the internet.org app, and mobile commerce.  Facebook head of technology and mobile strategy, Jane Schachtel, detailed the trends she expects to see this week as well. Social media advertising is bigger than ever.

In that same vein, marketers are going to need to leverage other digital advertising strategies as well and a few other things came to light. Some of the digital marketing channels and strategies that marketers were least likely to continue thru 2015 were blogging, corporate website, and native advertising.  The reason that marketing professionals said they were not sure or unlikely to pursue these channels/strategies was because of lack of training and/or understanding of how to best leverage these channels/strategies to promote their respective brands.

Upon further investigation, it became apparent that a severe lack of knowledge on how to leverage very powerful platforms for marketing and branding was the norm among professionals.
In fact, according to this Copyblogger article, a good chunk of the marketing/PR community has little-to-no understanding of what native advertising is- their 2014 status report showed that: “49% of respondents don’t know what native advertising is, 24% are hardly familiar with it, another 24% are somewhat familiar, and only 3% are very knowledgeable.”

The reason why this could be so devastating for many brands is because these channels and platforms are the most effective for content marketing.  This article discusses how the latest Google algorithm overhaul known as “Hummingbird” focuses heavily on “T” shaped authorities- which are brands that have a very wide knowledge base, but a deep, focused understanding in a few key areas. Blogging, use of corporate websites, native advertising, are all fertile grounds for demonstrating this sort of authority.

This year, social media advertising, and other novel approaches to digital advertising, like native ads will reign supreme.  Brands that fail to use these strategies will be left behind- and unfortunately it appears that quite a few brands have already made that decision.

For more information on how to leverage novel marketing and PR strategies to promote your brand, stop by the inbound marketing blog from Daly Marketing

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Social media cheat sheet: Best times to post content on each platform

social media, inbound marketing, Rochester NYThe end goal of leveraging social media for your brand is getting the audience to be so delighted, they take action. Depending on the goals of your brand, the action may vary. Whether you want to drive traffic to your site, provoke meaningful discussion, or “just” build awareness – here is the quick list of the best times to post on several different social media platforms.

Facebook: According to a great KISSMetrics infographic on the best times/days to post, Saturday at noon is the best for sharing. There’s also a slight spike in sharing around 7PM. Frequency of posts: one post every other day is the “sweet spot.”

Pinterest: I’ve mentioned before that the Google Hummingbird update loves “T” shaped authorities– which means that they favor authorities who have knowledge in a wide range of topics but deep, critical understanding in a few. Pinterest packs a huge punch for brands – and is becoming quite the marketing tool so you’ll want to make sure you’re posting at the best times to get the most exposure- reports vary, but a trusted resource (HubSpot, naturally) tells us that Saturday mornings dominate for when to post content. EXCEPT- if your brand is in the fashion or retail vertical – you’re gonna want to post on Friday afternoons around 3PM.

Twitter: I am seeing conflicting information from two of my go-to resources for all things inbound marketing and social media- so I’ll try to simplify it for you:

  • HubSpot data says: Mondays-Thurs 1-3 PM. Worst times? Any day after 8PM and Fridays after 3PM.
  • KISSMetrics data says: Best time to get re-tweeted is 5PM. Most click-throughs (CTR) – Wednesdays/Weekends at noon or 6PM, at a frequency of 1-4 Tweets per hour. (Spoiler: you could be cranking out up to a 350% CTR for your brand at that frequency!)
  • Kristin’s data says: From my own personal experience I’ve found that different segments of my audience are online later at night. The more “scientific” crowd is on well after 8PM, Twitter parties abound on topics from #MH370 research to some of my mom friends who work during the day and jump on after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I get better engagement at this time. I can say for sure though that I always get good CTR and re-tweets around the sweet spots that both HubSpot and KISSMetrics mentioned. So in short, get to know your audience. Different segments like different means of engagement- my re-tweets come from fellow marketing professionals, good conversation comes later at night. It varies.

LinkedIn: I’ve always found LinkedIn to be especially awesome on Tuesdays at 10AM. Coincidentally, this is also the best time for me to send out any email marketing campaigns. Here’s my theory on why this time is so great- Mondays are catch-up day. On Tuesday mornings, people have time to catch up on less urgent work matters like reading emails, or reading professional articles and networking on LinkedIn. Right after lunch is also a pretty decent time. Tuesday has always been good to me. If any of you have other great times, let me know in the comments.

Google+: This is another platform you do NOT want to be skipping out on. The Google Hummingbird will sing for your brand if you get as involved in Google+ as you can. HubSpot data says Wednesdays at 9AM are prime-time for Google+ posts. KISSMetrics data says you need to do some a/b testing to figure out which posts do well and it’s mostly dependent on your niche and time zone. Interesting tidbit: according to KISSMetrics, nearly 50% of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern time zone. Combine Eastern and Central time zones and you’ve got a little over 80% of the U.S. population. Just something to take into consideration. Try out this awesome app: Timing+ to see what your Google+ “sweet spot” is. Yes, it’s awesome, and you can thank me later.

So there you have it. A not-so-brief quick list of the best times to share, post, and engage on some of the most powerful social media platforms. Hopefully, you run with this information and see a great boost to your brand. What have you found to be most effective as far as timing and sharing? Let me know in the comments! The more information the better!

Guide to Social Media in 2015 (And my critiques/favorites)

There are only a million websites out there geared towards content marketing and social media marketing- this morning I found a cool article with a great graphic from ovrdrv.com that provides a map to all of the various social media platforms, social listening tools, and content tools one could want in 2015. I’ve used quite a few, so I’ll add my own personal favorites- and some notes on what I don’t like and why.

Foursquare: What? Is anyone even on there anymore? Totally irrelevant and I don’t see it making a comeback anytime soon. Its prime moment was when the Mars Rover checked in from Mars. And then, it went back to being stupid.

social media map, social media in 2015

Favorites:
• Social networks: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Note: 2015 trends are very visual so we’re seeing a lot of businesses using Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo.
• Content creation tools: Slideshare, Storify
• Social media management and tracking: Hootsuite and Buffer
• Social search: Twitter search is AWESOME! Socialmention and Topsy are pretty decent as well.
• Blogging: In order of preference WordPress, Medium, then Tumblr
• Social recruiting: Thumbtack (although I would categorize it more of a lead generation tool for business owners)
• Local/location based: Google+ Local (this affects your position on Google’s organic search results- being very active on Google+ is a must if you want better visibility)
• URL shorteners: bit.ly- you can customize yours to match your brand, and ow.ly is what Hootsuite uses.
• Social Q/A: Quora is a must- it can be leveraged to show your expertise in your field. This will help get you to the point of being an influencer.
• Social Reviews: Yelp, always great, but honestly Google reviews weren’t listed (not sure why) because they matter the most.
• Social payment and commerce: Venmo. Let’s say you and your sister order Chinese and she has the cash and you only have debit- you can send her your half via Venmo. So easy. And yes, my example was really what happened- so, thanks sis for showing me this awesome app! And Shopkick is THE best app ever- seriously- you get “kicks” walking into stores. Get enough kicks and you can redeem them for gift cards to a million places- just to give you an idea- I’ve redeemed my kicks for gift cards to Target, Macys, and Fandango.

Myspace is totally irrelevant and SO 2004. Go away, Myspace. Whisper, YikYak, Secret- alright, I guess, if you’re fifteen.

What I don’t like:
• Myspace: Totally irrelevant and SO 2004. Go away, Myspace.
• Whisper, YikYak, Secret- alright, I guess, if you’re fifteen.
• Tagged- SO spammy.
• Howsociable: Hated this. I even had a paid account. I literally got zero information from this site and even received an email from one of the staff after I questioned how to get results apologizing and that they were working on it. Don’t waste your time or money. It’s a giant bust.
• Tweetdeck: Hootsuite is so much better.
• Vine: Again, its okay, if you’re fifteen.
• Foursquare: What? Is anyone even on there anymore? Totally irrelevant and I don’t see it making a comeback anytime soon. Its prime moment was when the Mars Rover checked in from Mars. And then, it went back to being stupid.

I want to know what you all like/prefer and why- as well as what you don’t like and why- leave a response in the comments!

#Yearontwitter Features Top Trends in 2014 on Twitter

2014 is coming to a close and it’s once again time to look back on the year and reflect. Lots of crazy stuff happened- some good, some bad. Twitter has an awesome feature now that we can use to look back on those “moments” as seen in #hashtags.

#BCSChampionship game when Auburn faced off with Florida State

#goteamusa during the send-off for the #sochi2014 winter Olympic games- featured the athletes in their #goteamusa mittens- we also saw #sochiproblems trending with hilarious pictures of the less than pretty conditions in Sochi. Bob Costas’ raging pink-eye also caused #bobcostaspinkeye and a spoof account “owned” by his eyes.

#sotu and #sotu2014 for the President’s State of the Union address- and twitter made this hashtag visualization to feature the live hashtags during the speech on Twitter. Very cool visualization, by the way.

Countdown to #SB48 game- Seahawks vs. Broncos but what really took the cake was during the #nflplayoffs when @rsherman_25 got heated in a post-game interview yelling “I’m the best corner in the game!” He later apologized (we still love you, Richard!).

One of the funnier moments from the #oscars was when John Travolta totally botched the introduction for Idina Menzel- er- “Adele Dazeem” – which made viewers do a double take and ask “wait, what did he say just there?” Check out the video- and it caused a riot on twitter with #adeledazeem and a spoof account from the lovely lady herself.

A huge trend on Twitter was when Malaysian Flight 370 or #mh370 completely disappeared – literally- vanished into thin air. The search is still on-going and as of right now, nobody has any answers. There is still a huge trend going on now, more than 9 months later.

#RIPphilipseymour was also one of the more sad hashtags trending when the Oscar-winning actor was found deceased in his New York apartment. And we also lost yet another great actor and his passing trended as #RIPRobinWilliams.

#Bringbackourgirls was the biggest trend after schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria last spring- the world was outraged and it showed how many people wanted to help.

#icebucketchallenge trended and helped raise money for ALS, while #ferguson #ebola and #onlyontwitter were seen in the last few months of this year.

Definitely check out the Twitter Moments feature– it’s worth a look. My personal favorite “moment” was #onlyontwitter and a story that involved someone finding the people in a picture she found at ground zero after 9/11. Truly amazing work by a community that cares.

Do you have any favorite “moments” that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment and I’ll go ahead and add them with your username!

Have any questions about social media or inbound marketing? Email me and I’ll get back to you with an answer. Happy holidays- and can’t wait to see what hashtags will trend in 2015!

google hummingbird, social media, SEO, inbound marketing

How to: leveraging social media to make Google Hummingbird sing for your brand

One thing that amazes me about my job is that I meet so many industry professionals who still don’t know much about the infamous Google algorithm updates. Everyone who works in any type of marketing (because we’re all generating content for brands here, amiright?) needs to keep themselves apprised of these updates- because they do drastically affect a company or brand’s visibility/position within the organic results on search engines.

Which, you guessed it, wields the power to stuff your brand into the proverbial black hole under their bed to collect cobwebs and spiders, never to be heard from again.
So let’s stay on top of this- it’s not hard. I don’t want to come into meet with someone ever again to a shocked gaping look of “where did it all go so wrong?!” when the respective site is found on page ten or worse- not at all.

If you remember nothing else from this article, please heed these three sentences: Your website and online branding is a fluid, living, breathing thing. It needs to be fed and watered, talked to and petted lovingly, it needs to be PAID ATTENTION TO at least three to four times each week. Or else it will shrivel and die.

Here’s my list of how to make the newest addition to “THE ZOO” – the Hummingbird- sing for you.

Google+

Get on Google+ immediately if you haven’t already. Google is now indexing Google+ pages, which means that the new “communities” will be as well. Show your marketing muscle as much as possible, start a community about your brand for your audience, talk to people. Hummingbird loves Google+ much more than other social media sites for not so subtle reasons, one may guess.

LinkedIn

Hummingbird loves Tea. As in “T”-shaped authorities. What does this mean? It likes authorities who have knowledge in a wide range of topics but deep, critical understanding in a few. That means drive-by stops into Twitter and Facebook to post a back-link to your site doesn’t mean anything. Getting back links from your industries influencers- where your brand is actually influenced- DOES. Like Linked-In. Are influencers in your field linking to your brand? Are you engaging them? That’s good, keep doing that. If you haven’t, you need to be active in Linked-In like yesterday. I know. So obvious. Thank me later.

YouTube

YouTube- did you know it’s the second most trafficked search engine? And you didn’t have an active thriving channel because…. why? People love videos. Even if you’re making playlists of industry relevant videos or three minute “vlogs” about relevant topics (seriously, just use your phone!) – you can work it- no fancy camera crew needed!

Pinterest

This social media site has been oft overlooked. But lately has been very effective for brands- do you notice a trend here? This update is very visual. And if you’re not creating content- at least stay busy curating content- sometimes just as good- you can influence your audience as an “authority” on what is relevant on Pinterest because as we know there are a lot of Pinterest fails out there as well. Why weed through all that garbage when you can follow a trusted buddy and get what you’re looking for very easily? Exactly. Pinterest. Now.

Quora

It’s a total time-suck, but really it helps you stand out as the “world’s best” at whatever you do by showing off your deep understanding of certain topics (remember, the Hummingbird will sing for “T” authorities!).
Work on building your presence on these sites- along with other best practices as far as updating your blog, on-site SEO, etc. and you’ll start seeing progress. Consistency is key.

And if you’re unfamiliar with Hummingbird, before you freak out, just remember- just like the other two algorithm animals, it’s designed with information-seekers (read: your customers, your target audience) in mind. Content generation for your audience still wins above all else. So chances are if you’ve been optimizing your brand the “right” way (and not key word stuffing, or using any other shady black-hat SEO tactic) you’re still going to be doing just fine.

Top Branding Resources to Make Your Life Easier

I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this- because who doesn’t have a “top (insert trendy thing here) list?” I’ve used these tools and they have definitely made my life easier. Thank me later.

  1.  
     
     
    I’ve used several newsletter services in the past, but this one is by far the best.  Your messages won’t get dumped into your recipient’s junk box, and the interface is super easy to create a professional looking design.  No, they are not paying me to say this.
     
  2.  
    Vocus.  At first, I wasn’t sure about it.  It’s technically a “social listening” service- but I use the PR web press release service that is rolled into it.  I love it for that part alone!  It is such a great interface to upload a press release and get it in front of a lot of eyeballs.  Highly recommend.
  3.  

    This book.  It is awesome.  A very quick read and explains the fundamentals behind why inbound marketing and social media/blogs are so important for your brand.  You.must.read.this.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.

  4.  
    This is also a great book.  It gives lots of great resources and best practices for your brand.  Erik Qualman has also created some great videos that show you the power of social media.  See below.
  5.  
     

    Social Media Revolution
    The socialnomics channel on YouTube has a lot of great videos on social media and how/why it’s so powerful.
  6.  
    Do you need a high quality logo but don’t have the time or money to hire someone to do it?  Look no further.  Also has useful tools for other marketing materials for your brand.  There are paid and free options for logo creation as well.

     

    So those are some of the resources I like- off the top of my head.  There are a lot of other great tools out there- what are some of your favorites?  Tell me in the comments.  Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.

 

Facebook giveaways? Definitely cool. IF done the right way.

I have seen a thousand posts on my FB feed for giveaways.  Some of them are really cool! Since I am basically the unluckiest person in the history of winning things, I wasn’t shocked to see (when I tried to enter one) that I didn’t win.

What I was shocked to see (after a little browsing around various FB merchant pages- mostly created by the moms-gone-crafty types- hey momtrepeneurs are great- free market yadayada)  was how these businesses operated their giveaways blatantly breaking Facebook Pages TOS.

You know the type of giveaway I am talking about the ” like this, comment, and share for a chance to win (insert cool merchandise)”.

I reviewed my TOS to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and lo-and-behold: there it was.

So all of these giveaways that violate the TOS could potentially get their FB page shut down.  And for small businesses who use their page as a means of taking orders for product, this could mean a HUGE dent in sales.

It’s a huge risk.  FB is always changing their TOS, but when it comes to your bread and butter, not wise to tempt the hand of fate. Make sure you visit the TOS pages frequently so you don’t inadvertently violate them (and then get banned/deleted).

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems awfully cheap to be giving away stuff for a measly like or share.  At least get yours audience to interact and create cool ideas with you- that’s what a couple of my favorite clients are doing right now and it’s working so much better than the cheesy giveaways that some brands promote.

 

People will give you their customer loyalty if you attach them to your brand in a meaningful way. Ask them to help you name a product, that is an endearing way to engage your audience.  When consumers like, they buy.

While you may not see your likes shoot up to 80,000 in one day- or even one decade- you can bet your fans are loyal and they go the distance with you.   These are the fans that will engage because they are interested, not bc of a freebie. Quality over quantity.

And by the way- who even cares about likes? I want to see a real discussion going on- whether it be debating fabric colors, customer service related, or a real dialogue that shows the brand is outstanding. Likes can be easily purchased as we have seen lately. It takes a lot more time to put thought and effort into a comment and that is what you ultimately see with quality brands.  That is what you want to strive for with your own brand.

Success is not overnight.  And if it is, you’re doin it wrong!  Slow and steady wins the race!

What is your take on these giveaways?

Social Media is Here to Stay!

I am a huge fan of the Socialnomics guys!  They help explain why using social media is so effective as a marketing/advertising strategy.  Based on impressions alone, it makes sense.  Note: This is video number three- I’ve also posted the first video in an earlier post.  Check out their video:

Sometimes when meeting with a client, they are skeptical as to why social media would be relevant for their business. It allows a business entity to connect in such a way that the consumer does not feel like “just another number”.  The consumer feels that the business, however large or small, values their input.  In this day and age of disconnect, interacting on this personal level is the gold standard of customer service.

When someone feels they matter, they WILL give you their business.  I know I do.  What do you think?

SEO: Reaching for Low Lying Fruit?

Often times when talking to someone about what their goals are for search engine optimization we look at several different aspects- such as what their business is about, and what key words one can use to describe that business.  Relevancy is the most important thing.  Sometimes its easier to try to optimize your site for key words having a low competition – meaning that there are less websites for the given search term trying to compete for the number one position.  So this way, you can get to the top of the heap faster.  I don’t necessarily think this is always the best route to take.  Yes, it’s important to increase your web presence right off the bat, but you want to do it the right way.

I do advocate trying to go for the best term for your business.  Even if that means its extremely competitive.  One can still reach the top of they optimize their site the right way, by creating remarkable content- frequently and consistently.  The reason that google ranks certain pages at the top is because they are THE most credible.  They are viewed as the leaders in their industry, the creme de la creme, if you will.  How, pray tell, does one become an industry leader?  By knowing the most.  By being the best.  To me, in this customer service driven age, the best DOES equal who knows the most.  Who wants to hire a quack for an important job?  Not me.

Whats really important is that the expectation is set.  Glory is not achieved over-night with SEO.  Not if it’s done the right way.  It can take months, even a year.  Be wary of those who promise immediate results.  Dig for more information- because you’re either getting to the top quickly by optimizing for the easiest (and maybe not necessarily pertinent) terms- the low-lying fruit, or you’re getting to the top quickly by use of black hat SEO.  And if you need more information on that, please refer to my previous interview with Jim Gubiotti.

Facebook Places vs. Foursquare

Foursquare and nearly seven years ago, Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg. According to Socialnomics.com, it took a mere 9 months to rack up 100 million users. Since then, the world has been dazzled and amazed by the continuous development of the Facebook platform, as well as other social networking sites like one of the newest- Foursquare.  This platform was created in the latter months of 2009 and had accumulated 170,000 users by December 2009. In comparison to Facebook,  Foursquare doing pretty well considering how focused the practical application of this new social media site is.

Here are some of the great things about Foursquare: The nature of “checking in” to different businesses where groups of people meet to socialize or congregate encourages healthy competition amongst your friends for badges, “mayorships,” and even discounts on the product that is being promoted.

If the idea of opening your physical location to the world is eerie, you can modify your privacy settings. This is another feature that is great about Foursquare- the privacy settings are designed in such a way that you have sole control of what you show other users, and your friends.  The only downside that I can see to this social networking site is that you stand to lose credibility if you are caught being the mayor of… let’s say… a specific bar, especially if you visit that establishment too many nights in a row, it tags you as being on a “bender”.

Not exactly something most users would want their supervisor, clients, or Mother to see.   Always remember, what you post on the internet could be there for days, weeks, months, years, or even gasp forever. Yes, it’s true. Take heed now. The security settings are pretty simple and straightforward so most people (possessing average intelligence) should be able to avoid these possibly awkward situations.

Does Foursquare have any significant competition?  Yes.  It does.  Recently, Facebook developed and released an application called Facebook Places.  To put it mildly, it’s not great.  The concept behind the Facebook version of Foursquare seems a bit rushed and there are inherent flaws in the design that we are now discovering actually pose quite a privacy risk.  When you post on the internet, or any social networking site, the assumption is that you are there to socialize.  The assumption is that you want to socialize with your friends and share information.  However, each user has a different comfort level of what type of information they would like to share.  The privacy controls that Facebook set forth allows the ability to custom tailor each Facebook account to meet the discretionary needs on a per-user basis.

In the past there have been some “issues” with privacy settings.  There is a ton of information on this topic- so I’ll save that for a later article.   Recently, I was updating my Facebook privacy settings- and was surprised to find new settings for Facebook Places:

  1. Facebook privacy settings allow you to control who can see which places you check yourself in to.  This is good, obviously.
  2. Facebook privacy settings allow you to enable or disable if other users at the same location can see you in the “people here now” area of the application.  This is also good if you do not want people to know your every move.
  3. Facebook privacy settings allow you to enable or disable whether or not your friends can check you in at places.  This is where it gets tricky.

The Facebook Places tool does offer some control over settings as listed above. Some being the operative word here.  The users of this tool must actively check themselves in, as opposed to automatically being checked in as they move around town.  So this is good, obviously, however by default, friends can tag you at places where they have checked in to whenever they want.  Although you won’t show up in the places application if you don’t allow it in your privacy settings, your geo-tag will show up in your friends statuses, their friends statuses, and anyone else who can see the various tags involved in the specific place where you’ve “allegedly” checked in to.  But wait!  There’s more!  All of these tags that you can’t see- you can’t do anything about.  Because they are all controlled by your friend’s privacy settings, and the privacy settings of their friends, and friends of friends.

So now that we’ve discovered that your friends can tag you into one of the places where they’ve checked in, the question of validity arises.  In this application, a tag is (or appears to be) just as “official” as a check-in.  Once you are tagged in a post, your friend, other people who are tagged, and their friends can see this.  If they have their account totally “open” so that anyone can see their wall, then guess what?  Literally everyone can see this “check in.”  Nothing that you can change in your own privacy settings can prevent this.  This opens the door for mis-information to be spread around the world-wide web very quickly.  Obviously each user can un-tag themselves in any post that they can see- however it might be too late, the damage could already be done.

According to a recent article on MSNBC.com, a miffed co-worker or angry friend can “broadcast to everyone (including your boss) that you are in a coffee shop, museum or airport — even if you are sitting in your cubicle working. Even if you haven’t agreed to use Facebook’s location service. And even if you aren’t logged in to Facebook.”

This seems pretty frightening to me.  Imagine what could happen if this spirals out of control- here are some hypotheticals:

  • What would stop a Facebook Places user who opposes the current Administration from broadcasting odd, untrue, and possibly damaging things about our President?  Seemingly, nothing.
  • What would stop an angry ex-girlfriend/boyfriend from broadcasting malicious things to the world that could defame the character of the other half of that previous relationship?  Probably nothing.
  • What would stop a co-worker gunning for your position from broadcasting that you were out doing non-work related things during work hours?  Certainly not the weak-to-non-existent privacy settings that Facebook provides….

The point of this article is not to “slam” Facebook, because I think it is a great marketing platform for businesses, social circles, and Farmville fundamentalists alike.  The point of this is to make everyone aware of the frequently changing privacy settings- and that every single time a new feature is added, or changed, your privacy settings are compromised all over again, and in this case, some control is removed completely.  This seems ridiculously unfair and stands to cause problems that transfer over from the cyber world to the real world.

So now I’ll say… when predicting the winner of Facebook Places vs. Foursquare, I’d definitely have to say- overwhelmingly, Foursquare, for the win!  Facebook needs to get on it, fix the security settings, and fix the glitches.  Once that is done, they will be in top shape to compete against the surprising power of one of the newest additions to our savvy little social networking world.