Practice safe on-line networking: how to secure your Facebook account

Facebook has again made a change in privacy settings. Without much warning and more often none at all we are faced (no pun intended) with a dilemma. How do I secure my settings once and for all? Haven’t we all heard the saying “set it and forget it,” from Ron Popeil? I think we can all agree that privacy is paramount. More importantly with today’s ever changing environment we need to put a system in place that is not affected by what facebook does with today’s or tomorrow’s flavor of privacy. Some say get a life. I say set a list. With that in mind I think we can all agree on the following.

Today privacy has never been more relevant regarding personal facebook accounts and the people that peek. Today’s people are recruiters as recent studies show that 75% of them are required to query a potential applicants social standing online.  So what does that mean to you? Further analysis shows that 70% of potential applicants are being rejected due to online profiles. This sounds rather dire but the good news is that 85% of potential applicants are being hired. What is a profilee (sic) to do? Quite frankly, it seems the odds are better if you have one than if you don’t, so let’s look at how to project the best image without compromising engagement.

First things first let’s lock down facebook. What fun is it if you have to pretend that every potential viewer is either your Mom or your boss? No worries here boss, as you need to create lists to protect who sees what. Easy to do and fun to navigate. Can anyone here say restricted family, work related or students? These are lists I have within facebook. None of them see my friends, my posts, my pictures or my videos. They might as well not even be friends as they see no more than those that aren’t.  So why would I friend them? Voyeur that I am (and you are too) I am curious as to what they let me see. More than likely they have friended me and I have no reason to say no and hurt their feelings. It also allows me to connect broadly and send personal messages to the list. “Students, don’t forget to look your best for the graduation photos this week,” is an example of how I use the list for mutual benefit.  Lists are easy and lists are fun. Find them under accounts settings and then the subheading edit friends.

Tag you’re it and find me through search engines needs to go too. Easy to do and found under privacy settings. Facial recognition is tricky to find but one can navigate to it by asking our friend Google. Simply type, “How do I remove facial recognition in facebook?” in the search engine bar. Be careful of third party applications and change your passwords regularly. Please don’t use the same ones for work and banking that you use for social profiles. If I know where you work (because you told me in your profile settings and I didn’t need to friend you to see it) I might be able to hack your account. So be smart and get a policy regarding social media and how to protect yourself. This can apply at home as well as at work. I can help. To quote a bankruptcy attorney that appeared regularly on TV, “This is all I do and I do it well.” I am here to help you set policy that matches your culture. I teach employees and students how to do just that.


Pat Huston is the Director of Education at Geek Speak LLC. She can be found at


Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly: Use Twitter to attract followers and get your message out

Now that you’ve chosen a target market, you want to more about what they want, and tell them about what you do. If your customers use Twitter, it can be a great listening post. Plus a tool to tell your story. If they don’t, move on to a more useful tool.

Follow you: One of your main goals is to create a community around your business or brand, and Twitter can help you build a group of followers.

Buy, buy, buy? Think about the people you have decided to follow. Why did you follow them? Did all of their tweets say, “buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff”? Probably not. You followed people who are up to date on your industry or your customers’ industry. You chose people who are influential with your customers. They share useful information. They answer questions. Other people will follow you for the same reasons.

Smart gal/ smart guy! Your goal is to establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your field, someone whose opinion is worth listening to. Spend time looking online for unique and interesting information about your customers’ industry. Talk to people at meetings and trade shows. Don’t just repeat the news, use your expertise to add value. If your tweets are interesting to your target market, the number of people who follow you will increase. You should send 80 to 90 percent informative tweets, and 10 to 20 percent relevant promotions for your product, service, or event.

Relevant promotions: use your tweets to move people to your web site. Tweet about white papers or ebooks they can get. Release a new blog post or podcast. Link to a video demonstrating a new product. Invite followers to an event. Point them to a landing page with sale prices. Announce a contest.

Read all about it! Twitter is an important tool for public relations. Listen to, comment and build relationships with media writers before you need to promote a new product or tell your side of a story.

Use Twitter Search. Go to and enter terms like ‘St. Petersburg Times’, ‘Tampa Tribune’, or ‘Tampa Bay Business Journal’. Look for listings of writers who cover areas that are important to you or your customers. If you see they have a question you can answer, respond quickly, respond only when your information is a good fit for their need, and include contact information in your response.

Time savers: Twitter can take up a lot of your time, but it shouldn’t. Organize your contacts and manage your tweets with tools like TweetDeck. TweetDeck ( lets you connect with contacts in Twitter, along with Facebook and LinkedIn. The most important advantage is that you can organize your followers and tweets into groups and keep track of them in separate columns. You can create a column to track tweets that mention you or your company. Set up another column that holds only direct messages (DMs) from followers to you. A column for tweets from industry leaders, and a column for important customers. And you can tweet and reply to tweets from the tool. Go to their site and see it for yourself.

Security! Security!Security! Be sure to activate the secure connection option, which encrypts your communication with Twitter. This gives you more protection from hackers in a Wi-Fi environment. Make the change in your account settings. Do it now!

Next – Marian the Librarian: finding business prospects in a library data base

Want to know more? Call the Pinellas County SCORE chapter at (727) 532-6800, email, or visit our web site at

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly: Find important Tweeters in your target market

Now that you’ve chosen a target market, you want to know more about what they want. If your customers use Twitter, it can be a great listening post. Plus a tool to get your message out. If they don’t, move on to a more useful tool.

Follow them: Before you can listen to and interact with target customers and industry leaders, you have to follow them. You’ll be most productive if you focus on the best contacts. How do you find the best contacts?

Follow leading industry bloggers. Google blogs: followed by the industry you want to find. For example, if your business offers computer system installation, upgrades, and maintenance, you might follow tech radio broadcaster and podcaster Leo Laporte (@leolaporte), New York Times tech columnist David Pogue (@pogue), or Wall Street Journal tech  columnist Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg). If your main customers are  restaurants, you could follow the National Restaurant Association  (@WeRRestaurants) or The Back Burner (@thebackburner). You get the idea.

Use Twitter Search. Go to and click on ‘advanced search’. If your main customers are restaurants, enter keywords associated with restaurants in the ‘words’ section. In ‘places’, choose a city where you do business, and choose a distance around the city. So if you enter ‘restaurants’ in ‘all of these words’, and choose a radius of 50 miles around Tampa, you will get a listing of 20 most recent tweets from that area. Look through the list for people with lots of followers, or with interesting tweets. Follow them. Repeat the search every few days to find different tweets.

Try Geochirp. lets you choose a location, a radius up to 50 miles, and a search term. It returns a list of tweets that meet your conditions. Check them out.

Listen: Use the search tools listed above to follow comments about your company and product (probably without the geographic limits.) If you see comments frequently, someone should be responsible for checking these comments every day or every few days, because some situations require a quick response.

Respond to complaints quickly and professionally. Move conversations about complaints to your email or other private communications if possible.

Ask questions about possible new products or services. Ask what could be improved. Don’t forget to thank people who make positive comments
about your company.

Spy vs. Spy: You should also follow comments about your competitors and their products. If your company has a growing market share, there’s a good chance your competitors are watching comments about you.

Security! Security! Security! Be sure to activate the secure connection option, which encrypts your communication with Twitter. Make the change in your account settings. (settings – HTTPS only) This gives you more protection from hackers in a Wi-Fi environment. Do it now!

Next: use Twitter to attract followers and get your message out

Want to know more? Call the Pinellas County SCORE chapter at (727) 532-6800 or email