Facebook Facts?

Facebook Facts?

The image you see above was created in reaction of all of the so-called facts we see floating around social media, not just Facebook. I named the image “Facebook Facts?” because, in our TL;DR world, we have gotten into the bad habit of sharing without clicking way often. We just see a pretty picture and pass the possible misinformation along.

A while back, I wrote about a quote that I had found that was supposedly from Albert Einstein. As a novice social media user, I had passed it along without doing any research because it came from a friend.

Later on, as I was teaching my Public Speaking students the importance of citing sources, I decided to look up exactly when Einstein said this. Unfortunately, there is no proof that he ever said anything like this. But, thanks to a 2004 self help book author, it was misattributed to the Nobel prize winner who was known to have a learning disability.

I wrote the post I linked above as a way to address this problem and I pinned it on my Pinterest account. And it got re-pinned over and over again. People usually put it on boards named things like “Inspiration” or “Things to Remember”. Which meant that they hadn’t bothered to click the link and read the post. Last week, I couldn’t take it any more and I deleted the pin.

So I would like to ask Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to add a new feature. No sharing, re-tweeting or re-pinning can be done until the social media user has actually clicked the link and read the article linked to the image. It would be even better if the social media user had to take a quiz on whether they comprehended what the article was saying, but that’s probably too much to ask.

— Carla

Why Disclosure Matters

The issue of users of social media disclosing their connections to the content they are sharing has been around a long time. In fact, it pre-dates social media and actually goes back to journalism (both print and broadcasting). But, with the rise of citizen journalists and easy to use blogging software, the issue needs to be addressed repeatedly so that the folks who don’t have a J-School background understand.

I first realized what a major problem this was back in 2009 when I attended BlogHer in Chicago. It was a rude awakening in many ways, but one thing that really stuck me was how demanding (and clueless) some of my fellow bloggers were. At the trade show, a representative from a major camera company shared a story of a blogger insisted that they “had” to send her two cameras (one to giveaway and one for her). Why? Because she blogged.

At a panel later in the conference on the topic of disclosure, the discussion among the members of the panel and the audience got a bit heated. Finally, one of the bloggers shouted, “But journalists get things sent to them all the time!” I couldn’t take it any more and yelled back, “But they send them back!”

A recent post on the Six Pixels of Separation blog raised the issue again. As Mitch Joel points out, with the FTC now monitoring blogs and now holding publishers responsible for “misleading consumers with native advertising”, disclosure is even more important now. Even Facebook or Instagram likes can be taken as a sign of you and/or your blog endorsing a product. Same can go for retweets on Twitter and so on.

Lack of disclosure also does something else. It makes your personal brand less authentic. And when it’s less authentic, it’s less valuable to your readers and to you.

On both RadioCarla.com and Hoperatives, I’ve tried to be totally open about when I’ve received a review unit or been invited to a soft open to try out a new better beer location as their guest. But, I’m planning to go back through all of my posts to make sure I was as authentic as possible.

I had an interesting Twitter conversation with a long time blogger and friend recently about this issue. She mentioned that she had started waiting to review Disney events/attractions later rather than sooner. She was skipping the private events and going when the general public could also go. She mentioned that it was “funny when you want to post a disclaimer that you did NOT get anything for free.” I replied that I had seen (and done) that on occasion and think it adds authenticity to the review or post.

It’s true. Unfortunately, because of lack of disclosure too often in social media/blogging, I’ve come to assume that when certain users use social media to talk about being at a play or new restaurant opening, I immediately think they must have gotten comp tickets or a free meal. At that point, nothing they say about the event or location is valid for me.

I’ve written before about how you need to be careful what you blog. It’s even more important now with the FTC watching. Now, please be careful how you share on social media too. If you are live tweeting an event for any kind of compensation, be sure to make an early tweet about whether you are being compensated or if you have a connection with the event or product.

And those of you who are trying to get your clients and their products placement in blogs and other social media? Please stop rewarding the ones that violate disclosure rules all the time. How valuable is that placement if the person giving you coverage isn’t authentic?

Re-post: A Kick in the Butt

While cleaning out my Google Reader subscriptions in preparation to move to another RSS reader, I came across this post I wrote for the non-extinct Cincinnati Losers blog a while back. I recently added a piece of technology that builds on what I discuss here. I’ll be reviewing it very soon.

Four years ago, I weighed 281 pounds. For the second time, Tom and I began a liquid diet through a local hospital and, by April of the next year, I weighed 221 lbs. for a loss of 60 lbs total. (You can read about our journey on that diet at Diminishing Returns.)

As of this morning, I weigh 303 lbs., 22 lbs. more than when we started the liquid diet four years ago and 82 lbs. more than my lowest on the diet. A lot of things happened between then and now (my mother died, we started blogging about beer, my work stress level got even higher), but it all comes down to me and what I was doing. Or rather, what I wasn’t doing.

In the beginning of 2009, I started training for walking the Flying Pig half marathon in addition to continuing our water aerobics. I got all the way to walking 8.5 miles one Saturday. But, I made the mistake of walking in cold, damp weather with a chest cold. It got much worse and I got to stop training for a while to recuperate. The slide that had already begun got steeper at that point.

Since that point, I have started and re-started SparkPeople more times than I can count. Last year, I was asked to join Cincinnati Losers and I managed to post all of two times. Our trips to our local Y to do water aerobics got so infrequent that we tried taking the months of January and February off this year to see if that would help push us a bit when March arrived.

All this time, I kept thinking something’s going to happen to get me back in the weight loss mode again. I won’t buy new clothes so I’ll have to diet to fit in the ones I have. Yeah, right… That didn’t work. When I go over 300 pounds, it will shock me into losing weight. Well, that happened in last September and I’m still there.

It was a conversation on Twitter that made me think I need something more. As you’ve already read, I’m not shy about sharing my weight unlike most people I know. About a year ago, Leo LaPorte of the TWiT Podcast Network was talking about the Withings Scale on This Week in Tech. This scale can be set up to send your weight directly to SparkPeople or even tweet your weight. In my search for the something that will make me get serious again, I bought one and set up a twitter account for it – https://twitter.com/#!/carlas_scale. I was talking with someone who was interested in the scale and he mentioned being reluctant to tweet his weight. I pointed out that “Not saying the number out loud doesn’t make it not true.”

That phrase kept sticking in my mind. And then, over this past weekend, I realized why certain diets and plans worked for me and others didn’t. I need accountability. Not so much public humiliation, but being held accountable for my actions. So when Shannan asked about creating a Facebook fan page for Cincinnati Losers, I was one of the first to say “YES!” I need that kick in the butt every once in a while that gets me back on track. I need to know that someone is paying attention and someone is watching my journey.

So, I’m asking… both my fellow Cincinnati Losers and those of you following us on Facebook… please ask if I got to the Y this morning. And have I tracked my food on SparkPeople. And did I get my water in today. And, most of all, please kick my butt when the need arrives. My goal is to make it a smaller target to kick as each day goes by. Many thanks in advance!

– Carla

Re-Launching RadioCarla.com

When Posterous announced it was shutting down on April 30, 2013 (thanks a lot, Twitter!), it gave me reason to think about what I wanted to do with my personal blog RadioCarla.com. It had started on Blogger and was more sports related (How about that win for the Cubs last night?) over there. When I moved it to Posterous, it became more generalized, but vague. I also shared lots of comic strips (I love comic strips).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to switch to WordPress. Tom and I discussed it and then he installed it (and also moved his personal blog CrankyBear.Net to WP – Its re-launch is coming later). We also both decided to use the Responsive theme since we were using for the Rivertown Brewing web site and plan to move Hoperatives to it too.

We had gotten a back up of our Posterous sites, but soon discovered that there was some major clean up work to do after importing the back up. All images were there, but were not in the proper format so each had to be fixed one by one to show up correctly. There was also some extra HTML tags that needed to be removed. Personally, I decided to remove any post that was just a comic with no real commentary. That cut my posts from 162 to 61. (I told you I love comic strips.)

Design elements were next. Since the idea behind the Responsive theme is that your blog works on any browser (desktop, tablet or phone), I knew I wanted to keep the design very clean. The radio clip art came from http://openclipart.org/ (part of Creative Commons) and the background image is from a free Twitter background web site whose name I forget. I originally used it with my CinStateCarla Twitter account and decided it was too good not to be used more. And thank God for Google Fonts. They make such a big difference.

But what to blog about? As I was creating categories for my past posts, a theme of sorts began to evolve. I’ve been writing about the things I love: blogging, Cincinnati/NKY, comics, Disney (especially Disney Parks), craft beer, sports, teaching, technology, theater and travel. And so I’m going to continue that, but bump it up a notch. I’m also going to throw in some recipes and reviews and maybe something else. That’s the joy of a re-launch. You don’t know exactly where you’re going, but you kind of have an idea of the direction. As I was tweaking everything yesterday, I jokingly told Tom and some of my friends that I was going to add the tag line “Fat, Fifty and FUN!” I ended up not using it, but I still think it sums up my direction. So onward! And enjoy!

–Carla