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All Hail The Power Hour!

We’ve all been there, done it and laundered the t-shirt a million times over.

“I’ll do that later today”

“I really need to write a blog / schedule some social media / clean my desk”

And on a Friday evening ……. “Where did the week go, I never did get round to ……..”

Time is our most valuable asset and also the thing that most of us are depleted of, which is why we end up working in our businesses, looking after our clients and taking care of the day-to-day tasks when in reality we should put some time aside to work ON our businesses.

Something I use on a regular basis is the “Power Hour”.  Ask yourself when are you at your most productive?  For me, its first thing in the morning.  Once you have identified your “golden time”, set an appointment of 60 minutes in your diary – with yourself – and stick to it.

This is your Power Hour!

If your mission, for example, is to write a blog, don’t open your email programme, close all of your social media feeds, switch your phone off and put it out of sight.  Once you’ve banished the distractions, apply yourself to writing that blog.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in 60 minutes once you’ve removed all the distractions – the pings, dings, bells and whistles that constantly distract you and take your thought path down yet another dark alley.

Sticking to the 60 minute appointment is the key to success.  Yes, its easy to answer the phone to a client, reply to that email or make an excuse for the sake of making an excuse but none of these will get your blog written, your social media scheduled or your desk cleaned!

Give it a try – I think you’ll surprise yourself and after a few times, your business (or environment!) will begin to benefit and the Power Hour will become a regular habit.

Good luck!

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You Wouldn’t Send Your Child To The Pub, Would You …..?

 

Whether you love it or hate it, social media and online communications play a part in our everyday lives – work, rest or play.  The same can also be said for our children – choosing to talk to their peers using electronic means such as SnapChat, FB Messenger and Instagram.  But did you know that there are minimum age limits for the various social media platforms – just like smoking, drinking, voting and many other aspects of life we encounter as we go from childhood into adulthood.

A recent survey for CBBC, of 1,200 people aged between 10 and 18, found that 96 per cent were signed up to social media networks.   And it found that 78 per cent of those 1,200 people interviewed aged under 13 had joined at least one social network despite not being old enough

So, what are the age limits?

  • Facebook – 13 years old: “Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13”
  • Instagram – 13 years old
  • Twitter – 13 years old
  • SnapChat – 13 years old
  • WhatsApp – 16 years old
  • LinkedIn – 16 years old
  • You Tube – 18 years old – but it will also allow a 13-year-old to sign up with their parent’s permission.

The NSPCC said that some sites can be a “dangerous place for younger children, potentially exposing them to bullying, inappropriate content or grooming”.   The charity found that 1,380 children – out of nearly 1,700 it surveyed – thought social media sites needed to do more to protect them and they reported seeing pornography, self-harm, bullying and hatred.

Quick Tips For Parents:-

  • Educate yourself about the various social media platforms (and remember – the Daily Mail is NOT the gospel!!)
  • Be open with your kids about social media and talk to them about the potential dangers of grooming, bullying and over-sharing. It’s a very fine line between friendly “bants” and cyberbullying.
  • Persuade your kids to accept you as a Friend/Follower. Promise you won’t hound them – but keep a respectful, watchful eye from a distance.
  • Check their Privacy Settings. Many of the social sites default to “the world and his wife” – change the settings so that only Friends/Connections can see the content your children are posting.  Food for thought:  A Profile set to Public, a simple selfie, and Location set to On means that anyone anywhere can locate your child.
  • Make sure you have access to their accounts/account passwords so that in the event of anything untoward occurring, you’ll be able to access their account and intervene if necessary.
  • Establish guidelines: how much time are your children spending on social media?  Do they have access to mobile phones/tablets after they’ve gone to bed at night?  Look out for signs such as tiredness and decreasing grades at school as these could be signs that your child isn’t sleeping at night.

Used in a positive light, social media:

  • Helps children connect with extended family and friends.
  • Helps develop better perspectives on various issues.
  • Helps learn new things, exchange ideas and hone their networking skills.
  • It helps provide an effective platform for enhancing your child’s knowledge.
  • It helps motivate children to get better at communication and encourages freedom of self-expression.

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not All About You!

I’ve undertaken a fair few social media audits of late, and without exception, one of the things that leaps out time after time, across all platforms, is that businesses only tend to post about themselves.

OK, I appreciate that that’s better than not posting at all, but if you’re looking after the social media activity for a business, try to remember the 80/20 rule of thumb:  social media is not an extension of your sales funnel, so in an ideal world, only 20% of your outgoing content should be about you and YOUR business.

So, what should you post?

  • Be educational.  Share content relevant to your business/industry sector.
  • Share your knowledge.  What seems like part of the everyday to you could benefit someone reading your social media posts – think #TopTips!  Sharing your knowledge will also help to make you a “go to” source when someone has a need for something you’ve been posting about.
  • Look out for awareness days/weeks/months – these can be a great way to join in with daily trending topics and grow your audience.
  • Be current.  I recently had a frenzied three hours on Twitter on behalf of a client, Tweeting on their behalf during the final of BBC1’s The Apprentice.  As a result, their website crashed due to the increased demand in traffic (on a Sunday night!) and they had a spike in online orders.  All because I was being them, on Twitter, whilst watching TV.
  • Don’t be afraid to start conversations.  Twitter and Facebook polls are great ways to nurture engagement.  Ask questions.  It’s human nature to reply.

In summary, don’t be like Donkey.  If you take the “pick me, pick me, pick me” approach to your social media, you’ll soon lose Followers and the Likes will dry up.  Be engaging, be educational, be amusing – and they’ll keep coming back for more.

If you’re still struggling, and would like to book a Social Brainstorm, get in touch and let’s see what we can do!

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Vaguebooking? Please stop it. Now!

For many years now I’ve held a pet peeve, primarily with Facebook although it does pop up on other social networks from time to time.  So, imagine my sheer joy at discovering that I’m not alone.  I’m actually in the majority, maybe the masses.  There’s even a recognised word for the thing that makes my blood boil ……. ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to “vaguebooking”.

Vague-whatting I hear you ask?  Allow me to explain.

You log in to your Facebook account to see what’s being going on since you last stopped by, perhaps you have a picture of your cat to upload or you’re checking in to a swanky restaurant for the evening, and then you see it.  The status update along the lines of –

“That’s it.  Never again”.

This my dear readers is known as vaguebooking.  Those irritating status updates which inevitably prompt concerned comments such as “hugs”, “DM me bab” and my favourite – “U OK hon?”.   Always, without fail accompanied by an emoji or three.

Why do social media users feel the need to post such inane drivel?  I appreciate that we’re all different but surely, if something affects you emotionally to such a degree that you feel the need to partake in vaguebooking, you need to get off social media, pick up the phone and talk to a real friend.  Better still, do it in person, over a coffee or glass of wine with real – not virtual – hugs/rants/tears/joy.

If you’re in a bad place, Facebook can have a tendency to skew reality:  it can appear that all your Facebook friends are having the time of their lives; glamourous holiday photos, check-ins at luxury hotels or restaurants and the occasional celebrity encounter.  It’s understandable that being force fed this false reality when you’re not feeling tickety-boo can drive you to post a cry for help, being deliberately obtuse in the small hope that some of your friends will put their wonderful life on hold and find 10 seconds of their time to post an equally cryptic comment back to you.

Really, unless you’re in the midst of teenage angst please stop this thing known as vaguebooking now.  You’re not doing yourself any favours and I’m 100% sure that your real friends would much rather you call them for a chat to offload your woes than read about your hard time on a social networking site.

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“My Mate Says ….”: 5 Common Social Media Myths Debunked

Without exception, every time I embark on some social  media training, either with a 121 client or a delegate on one of my workshops, the phrase “my mate says” always crops up, together with one or two common social media beliefs that quite  frankly make me shudder.

Whilst it’s true to say that most of us use social media in a personal capacity, how many of those well-meaning “mates” are using social media for business?  No doubt they’ve had  experience of dealing with brands and companies on social media, but do they really understand the difference between personal and business use?

Let’s take a look at 5 common statements I hear time and time again, and the reality behind them.

“I need to be on every social media platform going”

Or do you?  Personally,  I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement.  As a business, the first thing you should think about is where are your potential customers hanging out, in terms of their social media presence, closely followed by asking whether your business is conducive to a particular social media platform.  I know of some fantastic local businesses who enjoy great success on Instagram – hairdressers, wedding dress shops, cake makers – but would a Chartered Accountant or Solicitor have as much success?  I doubt it.  They would be better off investing their time in LinkedIn and Twitter.   My advice on this one would be to assess which social media platforms are worth investing in, and work at them rather than being ubiquitous and end up struggling for content and spreading yourself too thin!  Which brings me on to Myth #2 ….

“If I use a scheduling tool, I can send the same post across all platforms”

Really?  Please – just don’t!  Each social media platform should be treated individually when it comes to your posts.  They all have a different audience and different formats/rules for posting – and if you’re lucky enough to have the same followers across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and  SnapChat (to name just 6!) how will they feel, ,seeing the same post at the same time from your business?    And please, if you have your Tweets linked to Facebook, or your Facebook posts linked to Twitter go ahead and unlink them now – here’s why.

 “The more Followers/Likes I have, the greater my social media success will be”

Believe it not, social media is not a numbers game.  Sure,  you can visit the likes of Fiverr.com and easily buy yourself 500 Facebook Likes or Twitter Followers, but why would you?  Social media is all about engagement, and a smaller audience of Followers who have actually chosen to follow your brand/business are more likely to engage with your posts – Like, Share, Re-Tweet – than those anonymous accounts who don’t know you from Adam – many of whom are more likely to be automated bots than real people.   If you work at your posts and engage with your audience, the Likes and Followers will increase organically over time, which neatly brings us on to Myth #4.

“Social media is a quick fix to get me out there”

Usually, when I take on a new client for social media management, one of the first questions they ask me is “how long will it take to get anywhere on social media?”  I always advise them to give it 6-12 months and not to expect miracles in the first 3 months.  You may have the best content on the planet, but its not worth putting it out there if you haven’t first built your audience – you may as well be giving a presentation to an empty room.   Think about your audience,  engage with them and your reputation will grow.  Please, don’t expect to have as many Followers as LadyGaGa within  a week. Food for thought – the world won’t necessarily come to you if you don’t go to it first!

“I don’t see the point, I’m not getting any orders/sales from social media”

Boom!  And there you have it – the ultimate mistake made by many:  the expectation that purely having a social media presence will make the phone ring and the order book healthy.   By all means use your social media presence as a partial sales funnel but its primary function should be to build your brand awareness and the fact that you exist!  Make yourself accessible to your audience (yes, we’re talking engagement again!) make yourself memorable, and when the time comes, they will remember you for all the right reasons, which is when it’s down to you to take the relationship away from social media and talk business.  The golden rule of thumb is that just 20% of your social media output should be sales-orientated, whilst the other 80% should be everything else, from sharing tips, joining in conversations on trending topics (think hashtags!) and generally being a clued-up, engaged member of any social media community.  Your followers will soon get bored if you turn into Donkey from the Shrek movies with a “pick me, pick me, pick me” attitude.

So, next time your well meaning friend comes out with a golden nugget of social media wisdom, just ask yourself if its advice worth taking, or advice to be avoided at all costs.

 

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5 Top Tips For Successful Networking

Now, I’m guessing you wouldn’t expect to win the first marathon you ever entered, would you?  However, if you train hard, apply yourself, invest the time and really work at it, subsequent marathons will eventually get easier, your finishing times will improve and the personal rewards will follow.

Well, the reality is that the same can be said for networking.  Time and time again, I come across  business owners who just don’t seem to get the importance of networking and the positive impact it can have on your business.  The classic line I often hear is “I went to a breakfast meeting once, but didn’t get any business from it so didn’t go back again”.

Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

When done effectively, networking should play a pivotal role in how you  grow your connections and ultimately win new business.  There are so many different networking groups that trying one and dismissing the whole thing as not for you is a bit like saying “I don’t like Chinese food” when in fact you may have had noodles once and not been overly keen!

Personally, I enjoy breakfast meetings – I tend to be a morning person, plus it leaves the rest of the day free to run my business.  However, we’re not all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7am – not to mention early morning commitments like packed lunches, the school run and the time it takes to commute to the workplace.   We all have different budgets for our networking efforts, as well as different levels of comfort zone.  Networking is a long-term investment, not a quick fix and I hope my 5 top tips go some way to helping you when it comes to taking the networking plunge.

  1. Shop around. Most networking groups offer one or two free visits before they ask you to commit and become a full-time member of the group.  Take advantage of this – you can usually instinctively tell if its the group for you during your free visits, and assess who the other members of the group are, potential synergy with them and work out your budget for membership (financial and time!).  However, be careful not to become a “serial networker” or you could soon find you have a reputation that is far from flattering.
  2. Prepare well, before you walk through the door for the first time.  Does the group have a website? A social media presence?  Do you know anyone already in the group? Ask them what the format is – do you need to prepare a 60 second pitch?  Is there a one-seat policy and if so, is your seat available?   Is there a membership fee? If so, is it annual or a one-off?  What are the expectations of members when it comes to bringing guests, referrals etc.  Trust me, it’s better to find all these things out up front as part of your prep than join and not live up to the Ts&Cs of membership.
  3. Learn to listen. Believe it or not, its not all about you.  A  room full of seasoned networkers should make you feel welcome – you may even get “buddied up” with a member of the group for your first visit.  Naturally,  you will be asked questions but remember to ask them back and listen with interest at the responses.  Open-ended questions (how, what, when) will make for better conversations than closed questions (do  you, have you, are you).  You’ll be surprised how much you can learn by just shutting up and listening to those around you!
  4. Think about your 60 second pitch. Plan ahead what you want to say to the room.  Rehearse it if it makes you feel better.   It may sound daft,  but when you’re standing up and the clock is ticking, its easy to forget such fundamental pieces of information like  your name and what your business is. If you need a crib sheet, have a crib sheet – there’s no shame in reading from a set of notes.  Just don’t go over the 60 seconds – if everyone else in the room can stick to it, then so can you.
  5. Collect and connect. Offer your business card to the group members and take one of theirs in exchange.  After the meeting, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow and mention them on Twitter, Like their Facebook page.  Networking doesn’t end the moment you leave the room – follow up with anyone you were particularly interested in getting to know better.  Request a 121 with them over coffee – this is where the real value of networking begins to take shape.

Hopefully, those five points will give you a head start when it comes to networking.  Over and above everything else – be yourself and be professional.  Once you’ve found a group and applied to become a member, give it time.  Networking is a long-term investment, not an express lane to get new business.

For further networking opportunities visit:

Burntwood inBusiness

BriteStart Lichfield

WiRE UK

Featured image by Mark Zaccaria Photography

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It’s All In Your Profile!

Anyone who has attended one of my social media workshops, or had some 121 coaching from me, will know that I am absolutely passionate about social media profiles and the importance of getting them right.

Every social media platform has different profile requirements, but the ultimate aim of putting ourselves and our businesses “out there” is to be found, and hopefully, followed.  Think of your profile as your shop window. The more complete your profile, the higher you will rank with the internal search algorithms of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

When completing your profile information, try to think outside the box.  My LinkedIn connections and enquiries have increased since I changed my name from just plain old Cheryl Turner to Cheryl Turner – Social Media Superhero.  It tells my LinkedIn connections exactly what I do, and literally took seconds to change.

Is your business dependent on a geographic location?  Have you got a link back to your website?  Do you have opening hours?

My biggest bugbear are the profiles with no profile picture, or a bad image.  Ditch the selfies and holiday snaps and invest in a set of professional headshots with a photographer.  Aim for uniformity across all of your social media platforms and try to include your branding – the header/banner space on Twitter and Facebook are prime real estate – why leave them blank?  Although a word of warning – Facebook isn’t too keen on blatant advertising on their banner space, so be subtle!

In summary:

  1. Your Twitter biography/profile can be up to 160 characters in length
  2. Tweak your name on your LinkedIn profile to make yourself more memorable. Try searching for your own name on LinkedIn – I bet you’re not the only one!
  3. Include a link back to your website.
  4. Regularly review your Facebook Page profile – is it up to date and accurate?
  5. Make the most of the header image/banner space.
  6. A good, clear professional headshot far outweighs a selfie!
  7. Don’t make your LinkedIn profile too much like a CV – be relevant to what you do now.
  8. Build your LinkedIn credibility with Recommendations from clients/associates – if you never ask, you’ll never get!
  9. Try to add regular Posts to your LinkedIn profile – it shows your connections that you know your subject matter.
  10. Don’t over-hashtag – particularly on Twitter, as it can make your profile difficult to read.

Yes, time is precious but investing in 10 minutes to go over your social media profiles could make a big difference!

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The Art Of The Business Expo. Yes, There Is An Art …..

My name is Cheryl, and I love to visit business expos!  There.  I’ve said it.   My secret is out, and there’s no going back!

In all seriousness, a business expo can present great networking and marketing opportunities, but sadly, not everyone seems to have grasped the concept – whether they’re behind their own stand, or visiting as delegates.

Having recently visited and exhibited at several different expos, I really can’t understand those businesses who pay for a stand yet fail to engage with the footfall passing right in front of their very eyes.  Stand space doesn’t come cheap so why have staff on your stand – or yourself if you’re the business owner – seemingly more engaged in a SmartPhone, laptop or tablet (or in some extreme cases, the floor) than the valuable client prospects before them?   It’s truly frustrating, when as a delegate, you want to find out more about a business but literally have to dance a merry jig in front of them in order to gain their valuable attention!

Hooking visitors in to your stand is another art, and one which needs to be done with careful thought.  Nobody likes to be hassled. Just think of those souks and bazaars when you’re on holiday and the “looky looky” people – a total turn-off!  Try a smile, make eye contact and think about your body language.  A simple “hello, are you enjoying the show?” is a great way to start a conversation.  The rest, as they say, is up to you.

Try to be original.  The most recent business expo I visited was on a par with an old-fashioned sweet shop-cum-off licence, with almost every exhibitor giving away confectionery or a bottle of prosecco.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this – I’ve done it myself, and also won a bottle or two in my time – but originality will help to make you more memorable.

Another turn-off is cluttered space.  Plan what you want your stand to look like but try not to overdo the giveaways, leaflets, product brochures, decorative confetti, business card boxes, bowls of sweets etc.  Keep it clean – the main star of the show should be you and your products/services.

As a visitor to an expo, think of it as a networking opportunity but adopt the “soft sell” approach.  No, not those chaps who gave us Tainted Love in 1981 but soft sell as in “by all means promote yourself but remember that you haven’t paid for exhibition space”.   Get into conversation with a stand holder, ask questions about their business – chances are, they will reciprocate.  I was horrified when exhibiting at Edgbaston Cricket Ground earlier this year, when I was quite literally pinned against my own table (which I had paid quite a bit of money for!) by four people from the same company who bombarded me with how they could revolutionise my business overnight, how much value they could add and that I’d be a fool not to use their services.  The key thing they didn’t think about was to ask me what my business does.  Had they bothered to do that in the first place, they’d have learned that my core business is more or less identical to the service they were attempting to force feed me!  And as for the lady who was hell-bent on signing me up to her organisation, without first checking whether I was already a member (yes, I am!) ……!

In a nutshell, whether you’re exhibiting or visiting a business expo, remember these top tips:-

  1. Exhibitors.  Arrive and set up in good time, not as the event opens to the public.
  2. Engage with your audience, not your on-stand technology.
  3. Think about your body language: smile, maintain eye contact, open arms …..
  4. Try to be original with prize draw competitions (data capture!)
  5. Avoid too much clutter on your stand.
  6. Try to have at least 2 of you on the stand. You WILL need loo breaks/lunch at some point during the event.
  7. Visitors – please don’t sell to me. I’ve paid for the space, not you!
  8. Is there an exhibitor list online? Plan who you want to see before you even leave the office.
  9. Take lots of business cards with you – there’s bound to be a prosecco draw somewhere!
  10. Be prepared – there may be speed networking or workshop opportunities.

Thank you for reading – I hope you found it useful.

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Who Holds You To Account When You Work For Yourself?

There are so many benefits to working for yourself: you can manage your own time, work around school hours, work at your own pace and yes, be your own boss.  Perfect!

But wait!  There are down sides too, and the biggest one I came up against was the self-discipline needed to work on my own business and concentrate on my own growth as a business owner.  It’s all too easy to keep working on client work – after all, that’s what pays the bills, right?  Before too long it’s become a habit: you’re working in your business instead of on it and hey presto! You’ve stagnated.

In April 2014 I (along with three fellow self-employed acquaintances) signed up for a mentoring group.   The four of us, plus our fabulous mentor, met on a monthly basis.  Our sessions consisted of some basic business housekeeping that we’d all overlooked such as measuring the value of what we were doing by the introduction of KPIs, setting goals and targets and the most valuable aspect, for me, was the monthly Peer To Peer Action Learning section, where we each tabled an issue we were up against, and the issue was brainstormed, discussed and suggestions put forward for resolution.

The mentoring group came to a natural conclusion in April 2016, and not wanting to lose the momentum that the sessions had provided, two of us agreed to keep on meeting on a monthly basis by way of peer support and Action Learning.

We call ourselves Accountability Buddies.  We are open and honest with each other, share ideas and best practice and most important of all, act as a sounding board/shoulder to cry on when things aren’t going tickety-boo.  My Buddy, Tracey Nixon of Plumessence Therapies, is also a fellow WiRE Network Leader so we’ll often compare notes about our respective WiRE Groups and have even thought about “subbing” for one another should real life (or even holidays!) get in the way of our monthly WiRE meetings.

At the end of each monthly meeting (which lasts about 3 hours) we leave with a list of “commitments” and the promise to report back at our next meeting.  This, in itself, has really helped me to get things done which otherwise I probably would have consigned to the “I can do that next week” pile on my desk!

If you work alone in your business, I really recommend that you find an Accountability Buddy and get cracking on all those jobs that you keep promising to do …… “one day”!

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Social Media: How Safe Is YOUR Teenager?

FB blog postI was recently asked to deliver a social media-based enrichment talk to a group of Sixth Form students at a local all-girls’ school. During my research and preparation, some of the things I discovered led to me questioning the values of social media, and whether there should be age limits imposed on children having a social media presence. If you have teenage children, I would urge you to read on and ask yourself – just how safe are your children online?

Is your teen constantly glued to their computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone? In a recent poll, 71% of respondents in the 13 – 17 year old age range admitted to being regular users of Facebook.   But what are the effects of long-term social media usage and how can you, as a parent, combat them?

Where & When?

Admittedly, with mobile devices readily available, controlling the amount of time your teen spends online can be an uphill battle to overcome. If they have a computer in their bedroom, chances are they’re spending more time than you think on social media. In my research I came across some parents who insist on imposing time limits on their teen when it comes to social internet usage, simple house rules such as no internet after 7pm and even in some cases, removing the chargers or insisting that mobile phones be kept downstairs overnight to avoid late night social media stints.

What’s the harm in a selfie?

Have you seen your child’s profile picture? I was horrified when I came across the profile images being used by some 13 year old girls on their Facebook profiles. The selfie craze has really taken hold and the evidence is rife when it comes to social media. Innocence is almost lost, as young teenagers pout, Lolita-like at the camera, some wearing outfits which may be hip on the high street but in a badly taken selfie, could potentially attract attention from the wrong type of social media user.

Selfies can also lead to a negative body image among teenage girls. A recent article in a national newspaper cited that some girls take as many as 100 selfies a day in the belief that they look prettier in selfies than they do in real life. Photos are then posted to social media sites and the wait for the Likes to appear begins. Did you know that there’s a “club” among teen social media users for posts and pictures that receive over 100 Likes? Yes, entry into the “100 Club” is quite an honour to a 14 year old.

Privacy Settings

When a new social media profile is created, the majority of the default security and privacy settings are set to “Public” – meaning anyone, anywhere, can see what a person is posting. Think back to those inappropriate selfies, add in any location details, age, school …… in fact, anything that your teen has added to their social profile and you’ve got a potential situation just waiting to happen. Changing privacy settings quite literally takes a minute to do. Please, please check your teen’s settings and make sure they’re set to “Friends Only”.

It’s a numbers game!

As with the “100 Club” and gaining Likes, many teens perceive the amount of friends they have as an indicator as to their popularity, accepting Friend Requests without necessarily knowing who the person is they are connecting with. When I was growing up, my parents’ fear was that I may “go off” with a stranger. In the social media age, a child doesn’t even have to leave the house to connect with a stranger. Be aware of stranger danger at all times – it happens online as well as on the streets.

Befriend them …..

How many of you are Friends on social media with your teenage children? If necessary, lay down some ground rules (on both sides!) so that you can keep a discreet watch over what they’re getting up to in their online world. Be mindful of their privacy and don’t go tagging them in baby pictures every other day – trust me, they won’t thank you for it! Explain the dangers of social media and that you just want to make sure they’re acting sensibly. Some parents told me that their teens don’t want to be Friends with them so the parents have insisted on having the log-on details to the child’s social media accounts – purely so that they can log in periodically and make sure all is OK.   You will need to build trust with your teen but you will get there in the end.

“It’s only banter”

Unfortunately, cyber bullying is rife among teens on social media. What may begin as “a bit of banter” can soon descend into nastiness – all very publically on a social media profile. Others may join in, taking sides, alliances form and the “banter” is soon forgotten, replaced by bad feeling and upset.   Yes, your child can block the perpetrators but be mindful that it has been known for bullies to create a second account under an assumed name, submit a Friend Request and yes, you guessed it – they’re back on the case of your teenager (remember, the more Friends you have, the more popular you are, right?)

Social media can be a marvellous tool – I have family and friends all over the place and Facebook plays an integral part in keeping us all up to date with each other on a regular basis. However, as with all things, social media can be used for the wrong purposes – usually through inexperience and naivety. If any of the above strikes a chord with you where you teenager is concerned, talk to them, explain your concerns and offer assistance.

Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to add any comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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