Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

The Man. Big Brother. The eye in the sky. Whatever you call it, it’s watching you. (Cue The Police — the band, that is.)

We’ve touched on the issue of privacy in a digital world before, but it’s worth revisiting as technology continues to improve. The issue comes from balancing convenience and maintaining any privacy whatsoever. Where’s the line in the (digital) sand? When will we know when it has been crossed?

“It straddles the line of creepy and cool.”  –Jeff Bakalar, CNET Senior Editor

As CBS News reported, the new Google timeline tracks — and archives — every move you make. Before you completely freak out, note that your timeline is visible only to you, and the search giant does allow you to opt out of being tracked. Of course, that may hinder any location-based services you utilize, such as Google Maps.

Understand that this isn’t a Google issue, or a Facebook issue; it’s a human issue. Do we jump all in to utilize the conveniences that technology offers? Do we maintain any privacy at all? Does it matter anymore?

Sure, you can opt out of the Internet entirely, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. According to a Pew Research study released last week, 15% of American adults don’t use the Internet at all. While that’s a substantial drop from a 2000 study (48%), it’s still shocking to most of us. How do they manage? What do they do for a living?

“In our ever-more wired world, connectivity is crucial for access to jobs, government services, health care, and information—as well as for the education and skills training of younger Americans.”  –Julia Greenberg, WIRED staff writer

So the question is where’s your line? Do you have one? Have you thought about it?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s a personal decision like what you wear or the music you listen to.

Let’s discuss; weigh in with your opinion. Where’s your line?

p.s. If you’re now humming “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, here you go. Enjoy!

An old school soul living in a digital world,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on technology, privacy or otherwise):
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Global Expansion: Thinking Outside Your Borders

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to welcome Sloan McKinney as the latest contributor to the CCC blog. You can learn more about the author at the end of this post.  

Small businesses make the mistake too often in assuming that just because they’re small, international expansion will never be an option. It’s this kind of mindset that causes the troubles a lot of business owners have that prevent their company from growing. The fact of the matter is that reaching an international audience is much simpler than it was years ago — and we can all thank the Internet for that.

What many companies don’t realize is that the Internet isn’t obsolete; there’s really no conceivable way it can become obsolete. While small business owners lament slow sales or the difficulties of expanding their market to their friends on Facebook, they don’t realize that they have the technology to grow as a company. In fact…they’re using it.

Think outside of the box

Expansion Concerns

The idea of expanding a business to reach a larger base is inherently desirable. But the want to make it work often outpaces the logical questions that need to be answered before going forward:

  •  Is there a demand for the product or service overseas?
  • Does your company have the staff to handle the incoming demand for your company’s services?
  • Does your company have the means to handle transitioning into a larger company?
  • And lastly, does your company have the confidence to make the move?

These are all questions that need to be seriously considered before moving forward with anything.

Think Locally, Act Globally

It’s crucial that any business considering expansion first isolates what made them successful in the first place. There’s a reason why your company is doing well: what is it? Tie this in with the question about confidence. There’s a reason why you’re thinking about supplementing your business strategy, and it’s certainly not because you are struggling.

Once you’ve identified what makes expanding to new markets viable for your company, it’s time to consider if it is, in fact, viable to do so. Can your company support the move?

Time to Act

Alright, so you’ve answered all of the questions, and now you know it’s time to take the next step…which is what exactly? Easy: apply all of your answers to the previously stated questions to the new markets. Designate places you believe your business can be successful, and move. Start with niche advertising to get the ball rolling.

For example, if your company sells specialized toolboxes, advertise with a trade publication, and set up a booth at a trade show. It’s much more likely that experienced plumbers will purchase a hyper-specialized toolbox than a group of Boy Scouts.

Setting up a local phone number in the areas you are targeting is a good way to garner local business, because it will establish a local presence. It’s understandable why a consumer would patronize a local, established business over the upstart who just moved in…or isn’t even located in the immediate vicinity. A local phone number can be forwarded to an already established number, making it easier to manage calls, while still reaching a larger audience. It’s easy to implement, inexpensive, and a gesture to the locals in your new audience that you believe you have a product that they would like, and it’s a good one.

Expanding your operation is a justifiably daunting task. But with enough time, research, and patience, it can work for your business.

Sloan McKinney

Today’s guest blogger is Sloan McKinney, who is honored to have had the opportunity to share her knowledge on international communications with CCC‘s audience.  Her writing, which can be found on SmartVirtualPhoneNumber.com, also covers business globalization and technology.

“Think Outside The Box Concept” photo via Shutterstock 

Thanks for the wonderful article, Sloan!

A Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to welcome Ramya Raju, an experienced freelance web design writer from India. Ramya has written a step-by-step search engine optimization (SEO) guide for CCC’s readers, so you can improve your search engine rankings and website exposure. This is the first post in a 4-part series that will be published on Thursdays for the next month. You can learn more about Ramya at the end of the post. Enjoy!

SEO

The Internet is largely becoming the primary home for most businesses, and to be competitive, websites need to have better SEO to be noticed. But all businesses do not have in-house SEO expertise or consultants to lend a hand due to budget constraints, and the amount of available information on SEO is so overwhelming that many companies shy away from doing the right things.

This guide shares SEO best practices, so businesses and individuals alike can benefit without the need to pay a professional.

SEO basics for the website

You may have heard that link-building is a popular SEO practice, but nothing works if your own website is not optimized. It is imperative that your own site carry the most important elements that will help and support other steps that you need to take for successful SEO. Ensure that the following elements are present and clearly carried on all the pages of your site, especially on the homepage.

Important rule you shouldn’t ignore while performing SEO

SEO for websites has to follow a strict code and conduct according to the guidelines set by Google. The most important rule is do not ‘overdo’ the further steps which will be discussed. There is even a penalty on websites who have over-optimized keywords and are stuffed with more key phrases than necessary. Instead, add four or five keywords that are optimized to suit your website on each page. You can even use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to learn the best suited keyword phrases for your site.

Title Tag

The title tag is comprised of the information that tells the search engines what your website is about. It should be kept under 70 characters and should carry essential info like your business/brand name and keywords that are specific to the page. In HTML code, the title tag is placed between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags on the top of the page.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions are written for specific websites to add additional information that search engines can use. Though it’s debatable whether meta is really useful for getting a search engine ranking, it nevertheless is still important since anyone searching for the website will get to see the meta under the search result. Using the right keywords in both the title tag and meta description are essential to having your site highlighted when a user searches for it. This makes the search result stand out for anyone who is searching for the specific keywords you use.

Advantage of using WordPress

If you use WordPress to host your domain, then you can take advantage of free plugins like All in One SEO, Platinum SEO and SEO by Yoast. These plugins are optimized to help you easily add title tags and meta descriptions to your site, and you can even find further SEO tips if you use premium plugins like Scribe SEO.

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to SEO basics for your website. Tune in next week for part 2 of this 4-part series, Content Is King and Other Essential Elements of SEO. Same bat time, same bat channel!

Pic credit: “SEO” by Singapore SEO Company is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ramya RajuRamya Raju is a freelance web design writer with 8 years of extensive blogging experience on a variety of online publishing and social media platforms. She generally writes high quality articles on travel, photography, SEO, web design, English courses and other general topics as requested. Ramya, an extrovert with a passion for photography and anthropology, enjoys travelling to different countries to discover new cultures and experience life with the locals. You can reach her at ramyaraju896@gmail.com or visit her online at http://www.colorcharacter.com/uk/.

Facebook Graph Search: A Case Study

Yesterday Facebook removed me from the waiting list and added Graph Search to my profile. I attended the press conference launch (via live blogging) and have certainly heard the hype, so I was anxious to try this new tool.

Recently, I’ve become interested in oils in order to make more natural versions of beauty and cleaning supplies. I began typing in oils, and results began filling in below the search box. I love the auto complete feature as it lets you modify your search term in real time to receive better results.

Facebook Graph Search

Initial results included a blog, book, website and holistic beauty supply store in MN. The only initial search result that didn’t apply was Oils Moto Club, which was labeled Automobile and Parts so I knew it wasn’t worth clicking on (if the name didn’t give it away to begin with).

Upon pulling up the Herbs & Oils World Facebook page, I had multiple options to locate more information on it.

Facebook Graph Search

I discovered that I had one friend who liked the page and pulled up several non-friends who did as well. I noticed that some were in my area although I’m not sure what criteria are given the most weight here.

The point is that you can easily gather personal feedback on your search results, which differentiates Facebook Graph from web search engines.

Naturally, privacy concerns arise. Do you want the world to be able to find you in Graph Search? Or even be able to see that you like or engage with specific pages? Facebook has made great strides in simplifying its privacy settings, but some still find them cumbersome and/or confusing. If you’re not sure, check out Graph Search Privacy to better understand what people can find out about you with this new tool.

Feedback

I’m excited about the possibilities of Facebook Graph Search for everyday living as well as for my company. There appear to be some intriguing possibilities for landing new clients, locating new resources and connecting with like-minded individuals.

As always, privacy is a concern, so you need to review your settings. Take a few minutes to understand what others can see when they search for you on Graph Search (and online in general).

This shouldn’t stop you from jumping in and utilizing this new tool though. One of the biggest benefits of technology is connecting people and resources, and I see Facebook Graph Search moving this cause forward.

What about you? Have you used Graph Search yet? What are your thoughts and/or experiences?

Are you confused? Drop me a line and I’d be happy to help you out. Below I’ve listed some additional resources on the subject as well.

Happy searching!
Jaime

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Where Has All of the Good Journalism Gone?

Along with the rest of the nation, I watched in horror at the events that unfolded in Newtown, CT last Friday. I was out running errands for my business in the morning, so I didn’t see the initial breaking news coverage. I quickly checked my social media networks upon arriving home and noticed a few mentions of thoughts and prayers for Stony Hook Elementary School. Naturally, I Googled the school’s name to see what had happened.

My first search result returned a close-up picture of terrified, crying children being led across the parking lot to safety. I was shocked. First, as I learned of the morning’s events, and second, at the photograph of young children that had been posted online and was spreading like wildfire. That image has been immortalized, capturing those children in a moment of sheer terror forever. Why? What news value does it add?

Of course that was only the beginning as the rush to break the story led to quoting ‘anonymous law enforcement officials’ and publishing the wrong individual as the shooter. To further the misinformation, a Facebook profile and Twitter page were published that supposedly belonged to the (wrong) shooter. Wait, the Twitter page didn’t even belong to the misidentified shooter, throwing yet another innocent person into the spotlight.

excellent journalism quote

Where has all of the good journalism gone?

As a journalism major, I remember learning some of the sound principles of quality journalism. Accuracy. Accountability. Ethics. Legitimate, vetted sources. An accurate story was just as important as speed, and journalists were held accountable to a code of ethics (unless you ended up at the Enquirer, but I digress).

In today’s world, we have instant access to social media and the Internet, which connects us all at breakneck speed. This always connected feeling and easy access to the masses has brought positive and negative effects. But has it killed quality journalism?

Today, I came across an article written by Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic. It’s entitled News coverage, not movies, helps trigger Newtown-type tragedies. You can gather its point from the title, but it’s worth a read anyway. As always, Ebert makes a case for his opinion and gets straight to the point. As I read his article, it made a lot of sense.

If this is true, then the current state of journalism and news coverage is more than sub-par; it’s helping to stoke the fire of violence in this country. As a journalism major, this just breaks my heart.

What are your thoughts on the state of journalism today?

  • Have the Internet and social media contributed to its demise?
  • Would you rather wait for quality, accurate information or receive news immediately (regardless of errors or misinformation?)
  • Are journalism and news coverage helping to contribute to the rash of violent acts in this country?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this timely subject. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on social media to let me know your thoughts. Feel free to invite your friends to chime in with their opinions as well.

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Image credit: planeta via flickr

Stay safe,
Jaime

p.s. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone in Newtown, CT. affected by this horrible tragedy.

Online Marketing & Your Privacy: Can They Coexist?

As a marketing professional, I find myself in a conundrum. I completely understand companies wanting to gather information about me in order to present a more personalized experience. Targeted ads, relevant special offers, personalized product suggestions.

Online information tracking creates security concerns

But it’s scary. We live in a digital world, and identity theft and fraud are on the rise. If we don’t have our identity, what do we have? I’ve heard horror stories of people having their identities stolen and fighting for years to get it back, clean up their credit report, etc..

Recently, I read an informative article from Lifehacker about protecting your information online. It really made me think, and I proceeded to install some security plug-ins for my browser and strengthen my security settings. However, I soon ran into issues.

Sites that I commonly use (and trust), such as clients, vendors and mainstream services, were rendered ineffective. I’ve already run into multiple instances where I couldn’t even log in to these sites without enabling cookies. Also, these plug-ins seem to be really slowing down my browsing experience. So what to do? What do you do?

I did check out Lifehacker’s “The Best Replacements for Privacy-Invading Services,” along with other suggestions for bypassing some of these companies and services. But do I really want to forego Gmail and Facebook entirely? I can’t imagine removing my Facebook company page in lieu of a presence on Glassboard. Would you? Have you?

As noted, I can definitely see both points of view as a marketer and consumer. I enjoy the personalized experience and convenience that information tracking allows. However, I’m at a crossroads right now. Security or convenience & personalization? Can these two sides ever coexist?

I would love to hear your suggestions and experiences on how you live in our digital world while maintaining your privacy. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Stay safe,
Jaime

Image credit: cedro via Flickr