Legit or Fake? Keepin’ It Real in Social Media

It’s true. Social media sites provide a unique opportunity to connect with people that we would never have had the slightest chance of doing so with before, from Fortune 500 CEOs on sites like LinkedIn to Hollywood celebrities on Twitter.  Check this out… an actual Twitter reply from the real Danny DeVito to a post from my son’s real girlfriend. How cool right?

Yes amazingly cool if it is Danny DeVito (which it is by the way), after all he has almost 1,200,000 Twitter followers.  What awesome exposure for a comedic actress to be seen by all those eyes. On the other hand what if this wasn’t the “real” Danny DeVito and just a ploy to collect names for possibly a marketing campaign?  How do you figure out if a profile is legit or fake? Here are 5 tips to help make sure your online relationships are keepin’ it real.

1.    Smokin’ hot profile pic:   Don’t believe someone is a boy, girl or celebrity just because their profile picture appears as such. Time to do a little research.  Go to the person’s site and look around. Are they having legitimate conversations or just adding friends and followers? Even if they are conversing, evaluate what they are talking about. A scammer or con will tell you anything to get you to let your guard down. They will flirt with you, message you, poke you (virtually of course), etc. Trust your gut and if you have an ounce of doubt move on.

2.    Personal pictures:  Okay some people want to have some semblance of privacy. Facebook provides a setting where your photos can be viewed by only friends. Once you have taken the jump to friend someone, start looking around at his/her photos. If they don’t have any photos of themselves or if you do not recognize anyone else in their pictures. Be wary. Chances are they are not legit.

3.    Verification: Twitter has a feature that helps sort out the wannabes from the real deal. In the following example the check mark in the blue circle signifies that Twitter has verified that this is Ashton Kutcher’s legitimate account.

 A plus to this is that you have found the right account. A downside is that even though the account has been verified, it doesn’t mean it is updated by the celebrity. In Ashton’s case he is an avid tweeter that shares and talks with his audience. Some celebrities mix it up by doing a few postings while enlisting a social media assistant to do the rest. Some just leave it up to an assistant. It is best to keep in mind that you may not be chatting with the actual person, although you still are only one degree of separation from him or her. If your posts strikes a chord with whoever is managing the account, chances are you will get a shout out and be viewed by possibly thousands or millions of the celebrity’s followers.

4.    Narcissism: Are your new friends or followers contributing to the relationship or are their posts always me, me, me focused? Maybe they are on a constant sales pitch, only talk about one company over and over, or pull the “my baby just took a poop” and I don’t have a life approach (disclaimer… I don’t hate children). My point is that social media is about communication and if the person on the other end is not engaging with you, they may be an actual person although how “real” is the relationship.

 5.    Get Direct: So you have done some research and are still not sure about your potential new friend’s sketchiness? Send this new person in your circle a direct message asking them how they found you, who you know in common, etc. Get personal and expect an answer. Have they listed an email or phone number? Go ahead and email or call them. It’s your life they are asking to enter, so get direct.

Fortunately in my experience with thousands of friends and followers, I have only run into a handful of fakes. They typically give themselves away in a short time.  There are instances where people are duped by the promise of a shiny object. Ultimately, the responsibility falls upon each of us to be smart and not take candy from strangers. Slow your roll to friend the stud with the six pack or bikini babe. Monitor your relationships and if they go south don’t hesitate to end them abruptly.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share ;-)

The Real Jodi Mallow Maas

P.S. I recommend renting and watching the movie Catfish – Enlightening.

Facebook Tags – The Good, Bad and Ugly

Note: This is my 22 year old son Jordan. Typical... doesn't listen to his mom's advice.

Have you ever heard this phrase? Don’t put that on Facebook! Who cannot relate to the fear of someone else revealing a compromising photo, situation or embarrassing tale about you? Before the onslaught of Social Media, our misappropriations were tucked neatly away with the skeletons in the closet but now we are subject to a paparazzi mentality with a click of a button. Where there’s action, there’s Facebook.

What does this mean for the 400 million active Facebook users? Well for some this ability for cyberspace friends to reach into their world is good, others bad and for some just plain ugly.

The Good: Social Media is a powerful tool for connecting people. If used appropriately, a person can expand their reach to global levels. To tap into this benefit simply remember that your actions outside of the digital landscape can and probably will cross over – so take control.

Get in on the pictures you would love to be tagged in but stay away from potential danger shots. From a business stand point you can gain positive exposure by tagging others or you being tagged… especially if you are photographed with a “big player” in your industry.

How cool is it when someone showers you with public praise? You can do the same by using the @ symbol prior to a friend’s name, a group, or Fan Page (hint no space after @). Facebook will automatically create a live link to whomever you have chosen. For example… Had an amazing fun time @National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. Can’t wait to go back again next year. This post provides a double benefit. The Cherry Festival gets exposure by being mentioned in your feed and you gain exposure because the post also goes to their feed.

The Bad: Okay it happens. There is that one friend that looks amazing in a picture where the rest of the group appears to all be blinking simultaneously, yet he or she feels compelled to tag everyone. Yikes!

You can always untag yourself to protect the innocent from viewing in your feed. As far as removing from your friend’s feed, that will require a request to your friend. Might I also suggest a Photoshop class for said friend?

The Ugly: Yep saved the worst or best (if you enjoy watching a train wreck) for last. Those unforgiving tagged photos that haunt college kids while job hunting, serve as a catalyst for divorces, or are key factor in someone’s unemployment status. I refer back to The Good for this one – so take control.

Think before engaging in activities that when shared, will run rampant through the Social Media sphere. Your digital imprint does not easily disappear. As I see it you have but a few choices: change your behavior, block that tag wild friend or embrace the bestowed awkward notoriety.

Jodi Mallow Maas

From Zero to Hero – Social Media Celebrity

What can Social Media do? Well for some it can catapult a mere mortal to celebrity status virtually overnight. For the first time ever in our history we are witnessing the manifestation of Andy Warhol’s prediction – that “everybody will be famous in 15 minutes.”

Susan Boyle: Through the powerful combination of traditional and new media the perfect example of an overnight sensation was born.  As soon as the video of her maiden performance on Britain’s Got Talent was posted on YouTube, the more immediate and viral Twitter users grabbed hold and spread her performance like wildfire! By the next day Susan Boyle was a household name.

Barack Obama: The internet and social media did for Obama what television did for Kennedy, mass exposure through new technology. Some say that social media is the golden ticket that won him the Presidency. Through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, widgets and podcasts, the Obama team has essentially begun a political information revolution.

Dane Cook: A master social networker, Dane Cook used MySpace to propel his comedic career and create a fan base of currently 2,645,009 fans. He didn’t wait for one of the large traditional networks to seek him out. He took charge and built a marketing machine around himself and his brand of comedy – a Hollywood Cinderella story.

Justin Bieber: Do not underestimate the power of Web 2.0 technology and teenage fans! A digital/viral social media/analog/print hybrid, this 16 year old singing phenomenon was catapulted from anonymity to superstardom in three years. At 13 he posted videos on YouTube and ten million views later he was signed by Usher.  Bieber topped over 100 million YouTube views in 2009, has 5,080, 862 Twitter followers and occupies a solid holding pattern on Twitter’s “Trending Topics” list. Is this pop sensation a sign of the times?

Arguably these are extraordinary examples but the fact remains that the average person can now reach more people simultaneously than ever before. Each Twitter user is reported to have an average of 126 followers and each Facebook member 130 friends. When in history has it been possible for a single person to communicate with approximately 130 people within seconds? Who knows? By tomorrow we could have yet another new celebrity in our midst.

Jodi Mallow Maas

BIG NEWS!… A Personal Note

Dear friends, clients, colleagues, and all around great people,

Some of you have heard wind of the Big News and for others this may be the first. Yes it is true… I am making BIG moves personally and professionally.  Glad I am a fan of roller NewLife and Business Venturecoasters because I am pretty sure it’s going to be a wild ride!

The Move: I am very excited to announce that I am moving to Dallas, TX later this fall. Let’s hope this Yankee is welcomed with that renowned Southern hospitality. :) The reasons for the move are fundamentally personal in nature and will allow me to hang with my awesome family so much more. Of course Traverse City is already on the vacation docket (fingers crossed for a future cottage)… can’t beat the gorgeous summers!

Social Media: Additionally, I am moving forward as a solo social media entrepreneur. Fortunately, there are plenty of wonderful clients to go around and I am actively seeking additional business at this time. How nice it is that I am able to service clients, build business ventures and speak from anywhere in the world! I have to admit, you can’t beat an actual in person meet and greet, and luckily that seems to organically occur once we are doing business together. With that said, your business and referrals are very much appreciated.

Previous Biz: My time spent with ATI Attraction Marketing has been a tremendous experience and I am grateful for that journey. Michelle Corteggiano and I remain friends and I wish her continued success. Her passion and talent will take her far. With our book in the works, I am confident that you will see us sharing the stage again :) I simply have decided to blaze my own path personally and professionally. Decided it was time to take some dreams off the shelf and put into action!

Change: As with all change, this is a process. I believe in the concept of Ready, Fire, Aim. I am firing away; the logistics fall into the aim category. My internet sites are under construction and I am already finding that these adjustments will offer a lesson in patience. To keep tabs on me, please find my contact information below.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to spend time with each of you and for your continued support. I am grateful and fortunate that we were able to build or begin building a relationship – some of you are in so deep now there is no turning back… and yes that is my attempt at humor ;) If I can be of any assistance now or in the future, I am easy to find. Just ask Google.

Jodi Mallow Maas

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Social Networks + Technology = It’s A Smaller World After All!

Out with the old and in with the new!

Goodbye physical maps, phone books and small scaled networking. Hello GPS, smart phones and global connections. I have taken many business trips over the course of my career but during a recent business excursion to attend South by Southwest in Austin Texas, I experienced a glaring reality…

Six degrees of separation has extremely narrowed to more like one degree. The combination of technical gadgets and social networking sites provide instant ability to connect.

  • GPS (Global Positioning System): Some of you reading this may remember when we used to have to unfold a paper map to find our destination. Now you enter a location into your GPS, stick it to your windshield and follow the step by step audio and visual directions provided. This little gadget came in extremely handy while traveling throughout Dallas and Austin. It gave us navigation on the major roads and better yet provided the freedom to easily venture around within these cities.
  • Smart Phones: Talk about more than a phone! Welcome to portable ability to connect.  My iPhone was an invaluable tool during this trip. I kept a finger on the pulse of my business by easily accessing email, Facebook, Twitter and the Web on the go. Plus I had a love affair with a few specific apps…

WhitePages – What a great portable GPS! Like with most geographical apps, my location was automatically registered then I simply inputted a person or place. This came in extremely handy when traveling by foot or taxi.

Gowalla - Networking ease! Have you ever been at a conference and tried to find a friend or colleague amidst the thousands of attendees? Not a problem if you are using a tool like Gowalla. You simply “check in” to your location (i.e. Ballroom A) and anyone else using this specific app or in combination with Facebook & Twitter (if you choose) can see where you are. It helped me connect with several people that I may not have ever known were in the same room.

Bump - Instant contact info! Save a tree and scale back on business cards. This app easily exchanges contact information with a simple “bump” of your smart phone. What a great way to lighten the stacks of cards gathered at a networking event.

  • Pre-Networking: Thanks to Social Media networking now has a global reach and preemptive possibilities. For example prior to attending SXSW, my business partner and I were able to pre-network through sites like Facebook and Twitter. We began communicating far in advance with key people in our industry like Gary Vaynerchuck and the Mashable team. So when we did meet them, we were not strangers in a sea of people but instead a familiar friendly face. BT (before technology) when you attended a large scale event, your chances of connecting with these same people were slim to none.

Throughout our adventure in Texas, we were thrilled to meet new people and excited to confirm that we were already connected to almost everyone through mutual friends. How did we know this? Well of course through Social Media. So next time you come across a new contact, check out a site like Facebook and you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you are probably connected by only a few degrees of separation.

Jodi Mallow Maas

Top 5 Reasons Why “I Will Never Join Facebook”

Yes it’s true! I know it’s hard to believe for those of us that are zealous social medias fans, but some people still have doubts about joining the “new media” revolution.

Throughout my social media adventures, I have heard valid concerns, naïve assumptions and humorous objections, especially about the big player – Facebook.

Touting a database of more than 500 million users and growing stronger every day, Facebook is not only the #1 social site; they are intent on rivaling Google’s empire. Facebook’s Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was featured in Fast Company, where he shared that Facebook “is a movement not a website”.

With Facebook’s staggering growth and let’s face it worldwide presence, will the following objections hold enough validity to actually stop someone from joining this social media giant?

1. “I don’t need any more friends”: Really? Unless you have devoted yourself to a life of solitude this philosophy will not serve you well. As humans we not only need but crave interaction with others. Think of Facebook as a networking tool at your fingertips. Now the introvert can express themselves without being thrust into a physical crowd, the closet comedian can test his material before taking the stage or the new mom can stay at home and still stay connected.

2. “Facebook is for college kids”: In the beginning this statement was true but today could not be more off target. The fastest growing demographic in Facebook is 35 years old and up. It’s obvious that the Gen X and Baby Boom generation is quickly realizing the value of this phenomenal operating system.

3. “I am concerned about my privacy”: There are a few ways to look at this one.

  • If you are participating in technology and the internet, your privacy is already compromised. The reality is that we all leave a digital trail. Can we put systems in place to help protect us? Sure we can but we must not be naïve to the truths of cyberspace.
  • If you are engaging in social media for fun, sites (especially Facebook) have gone to great programming lengths to ensure that you can control your privacy. That being said it is up to you to review and control your privacy settings.
  • If your participation in social media is to build your brand and large networks of people, then you must embrace transparency. Be as you are! We all want to be surrounded by like minded people and the world is full of them. Facebook provides a digital platform for those connections.

4. “Facebook is a time waster”: The same goes for television and video games. In all reality the product is not to blame; it is our own responsibility to set limits. If you are using Facebook for business there are many time saving tips and tools designed specifically for efficiency.

5. “I don’t care what someone had for breakfast”: That is what people say but it appears by Facebook’s success that people really do want to peek behind the curtain and see what you are up to. Granted if you are posting boring content and doing so way too often, people will stop looking. Add a little spice to your post, even if it is about what you just ate and the crowd will stay entertained.

Facebook is like a party. It’s a place to connect, share and have fun. If you still decide that you never want to join Facebook that’s ok, even without you or me the festivities will go on. With that being said, I plan on wearing my party hat for years to come.

Jodi Mallow Maas

Top 5 Social Media Tips for a Resort Town Business

Who doesn’t love a getaway, especially to a great resort town? Escaping to these little slices of heaven is a welcomed reprieve from everyday life.

But what if you decide not to leave the land of utopia? How do you live, own a business and flourish in a town that caters to the tourist you once were… you know the one that actually made enough money to spend when visiting a quaint resort town?

Typically you roll with an in season and off season approach. A business owner hopes for an abundance of tourists and all their folly in season, so a nice nest egg can be built for off season survival.

Thanks to Social Media and 5 basic tips, a resort town business owner has the ability to bridge the seasons’ gaps.

1. Social Media won’t Break the Bank: Aside from a few luxury businesses, resort towns are mostly populated with mom-and-pop shops on limited ad budgets. Many yearn for a stronger marketing presence yet are overwhelmed with the cost to do so. Now these small businesses can tap into the online marketing power of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube for free. From these sites, they can share photos, business news and specials, industry content, video, and most importantly their own unique voice.

2. Capture Your Tourist Market in the Off-Season: Don’t stop collecting customer emails but be sure to ask for Facebook and Twitter information as well. Keeping your transient tourists in the loop through emails is still a valid marketing tool but may illicit minimal interaction from your customer base.

On the other hand social media sites are all about 2-way communication. Once your customers head back to their hometowns, they still have the opportunity to engage in conversation with you. Although they are not physically standing on the other side of the register, they will experience fond memories of their resort town get away through your comments, photos and such. In turn this will build an even stronger attraction to you and your business.

3. Let Your Loyal Customers Spread the Word: Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, and sites like Twitter are a digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

You can be sure that your customers will be chatting about their wonderful vacation experiences and if you have a social media presence, they will eagerly direct their friends, family and co-workers to your sites. It is the essence of throwback marketing… doing business with people you know, like and trust, even if that relationship did not develop face to face.

4. Keep the Locals in the Loop: The same advice about tourists spreading the word applies to your local community. The people that live and work in the same beautiful town as you want bragging rights as well. Resort towns have a tendency to lull people away from merely visiting as a vacationer to becoming an actual resident. So think of the network they have built in another locale and how eager they are to share all the splendor of their enviable surroundings, including favorite shops, restaurants and entertainment with that group.

In addition the locals love to frequent their favorite spots when the tourists hit the road. Social Media is the perfect avenue to keep them up to date with specials, promotions and events.

Photo By: Salty Life Photography

5. Work, Play and Promote Together: If you treat social media as a way to meet people, expand your horizons, learn from others, and feel connected, you can make it a useful tool for your business. Start building relationships with other social media folks in your area. In my hometown of Traverse City (located in Northern Michigan) we use a Twitter community driven convention known as a hashtag (# sign in front of keywords or groups and locations). Check out #NWMI to see how we are organically growing our network.

When you live in a resort town, your sense of community is strong. It is advantageous to pool your resources and help promote not only your amazing surroundings but each others talents. I recommend that you check out some of my favorite locals on FacebookGrand Traverse Pie Company, Cherry Republic, Traverse City Film Festival, and The Village at Grand Traverse Commons… and on Twitter – @thevillagetc, @TCFF, and @BrittenMKTG.

Jodi Mallow Maas