Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "social media"

Breaking Up with Facebook

Posted on Apr 5, 2014 in Featured |

Breaking Up with Facebook

For the past seven years, I have take a self-imposed hiatus from Facebook for about a month. Some years I learn something from the break, most years I don’t. This year I learned that I don’t want to be on Facebook anymore.

I get Facebook for work. I live it; it’s my bread-and-butter. But, I no longer see its value in my personal life, and it’s time to do something about that.

Facebook can make my work a smashing success (or a failure). It can make me feel like I’m wildly well-respected as a professional, and completely stupid as fuck all in the same week.

I coach companies to put transparency first in their communication strategy. Yet few marketers actually apply this to their personal Facebook personas. The truth is, we tell Facebook what we want to broadcast, transparency aside. We professional crafters are the worst offenders; we craft how we appear to our friends, a gentle balance of self-deprecation,humor, wit and humility. With Facebook, we build our personal brand right alongside those we are paid to build.

So, after much thought, I’ve determined that I can’t have both a belief in corporate transparency online and not be willing to be transparent myself. My Facebook account has to go.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile…

In July 2013, I had 600 Facebook friends — people I am connected to for work, childhood pals, parents of my kids’ friends, ex-work colleagues and a zillion acquaintances. But, only a few handful of those I’m lucky enough to call Friends. My Friends knew all hell was breaking loose in my personal life last year, yet not one single FB post reflected what was going on. It was all crafted. So what about the other 580 people?

In October my login data on Facebook Account page showed that I visited about 35 times daily. This might sound shockingly high, but a new study reveals most people check their Facebook page an average of 14 times daily from their smartphones alone. Since I work on Facebook about 15 percent of my time, I’d say 35 times daily wasn’t so bad.

Except, I still felt bad. Why? Because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. My posts had Zero Transparency. If I wasn’t going to post what was really going on in my personal life, then what was the point of having Facebook at all? It became clear over time: Facebook is my work, and, (as it should be) there is no room for my personal life at work.

Here’s how I broke up with The Face Book.

October 2013 — I parsed out any people on Facebook who I wouldn’t want to send a holiday card to. I took my Facebook friends from 640 to about 200, hoping to increase the signal:noise ratio and focus on better, more meaningful personal content. In contrast, however, in October I moved nearly all of my client’s marketing budget INTO Facebook spend — promoted posts, sponsored posts, retargeting campaigns, contests, sweepstakes, more.

November 2013 — My work on FB was at full-throttle but in contrast, my personal life was radio silent online. The irony of that still embarrasses me. How did I get from being an evangelist for social transparency and yet say nothing about my real life? My posts were hidden behind mildly entertaining content and prideful boasts of my kids. Nothing about ME was shared. I’m a peacock.

December 2013 — My colleagues’ work was bleeding into my Facebook stream, causing even more muddy waters between personal and professional life. During the end-of-the-year flurry, my blogger friends began posting on behalf of brands they represent at a furious pace — “Enter My Giveaway! Merry Christmas Friends! Here’s a Craft from Sponsor X!” We, the anti-spammers had become just that. Moreover, I was all-too-aware that I was both a client and a consumer of these Facebook pleas.

January 2014 — Vacation with the kids means no Facebook. On return, I got a sinking feeling logging back in. I started thinking of a customized FB home page where my work posts and groups appear first, and friend posts are suppressed. Maybe visa-vera? It sparked an idea to move away from personal content to a pro FB account.

February 2014 — I received nearly 100 Facebook Happy Birthday messages, and a dozen paper BDay cards in snailmail. I never read one of the FB messages and kept the paper ones in my dining room for a week. Meanwhile, my Facebook daily logins drop by nearly 50% as my work with The Mother Company ends. I felt a massive sigh of relief to be spending less time on the site.

March 2014 — I attended Spring Training (#GoGiants!) and changed my profile picture to one of me holding a beer at the ball field. For my 100 or so friends, it was hilarious since I barely drink beer at all. However, the next day I had four emails from non-Facebook friends about that picture. How? Because using Facebook Connect pulls in my picture data. Of course it does. Again, my personal and professional lives were colliding.

That was enough for me to put my plan into motion.

The Breakup

April 3, 2014 — I executed on my plan to free my personal life from my professional life on Facebook. I did four things: (1) I created a new Facebook account for myself to run and administer the Pages I use for work and work networking. Call it my corporate account. Yes, it kills my ability to have a large personal reach, but why would I rely on my personal network to promote clients anyway? (2) I downloaded a copy of all of my Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s easy. (3) I added myself to any groups I needed to be a part of as a corporate persona versus personal one. (4) I deleted the Facebook apps from all of my devices.

What is there to net from this?

I’m observing that personal social media and social media for business are very blurry lines for those of us who are entrenched in the space. How do we draw the line? Where do we draw the line? And how do we examine what social transparency really is? I’m not sure I can sell the idea of marketing a brand with transparency if I’m not willing to do it myself. Then again, maybe it’s because I know how effective Facebook marketing can be that I’ve removed myself from it. And where do we reel back in our lives to being private lives?

In reading back over posts spanning several years, Facebook has served as a personal journal for me — what my first company FamilyRoutes was meant to be. But unlike Facebook, a journal doesn’t give you feedback, or likes or comments. It doesn’t take what you post, churn the data and market you a product to fix it or cure it. It just is words on a page meant for you and your eyes only. Somewhere for me, it crossed the line. For goodness sake, two years ago I announced my separation from La Gringa on Facebook. Do we really need to live that transparently?

I’m not sure this experiment will work. My career relies on me understanding Facebook, it’s power and value. And I believe deeply in both. The challenge ahead of me is whether or not I can simply use Facebook as a vehicle for work, or if I’ll find renewed purpose for Facebook in my personal life.

October 2013 — Average Daily Facebook logins 35
February 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 18
April 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 1

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My Facebook Login, My SS and my Rx Prescriptions

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 in Politics and Rants |

Letting it all hang out online?

I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks about employers asking for candidate’s Facebook profile information, and watching the “WHA?!” response from the online community as a whole. I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, and more than that, some tips:

1. Your online persona is completely transparent, even if you think it is not. Period. If you look me up on Facebook, I’ve got pretty good privacy settings, but that won’t keep you (or anyone else) from somehow finding out that I went off on a tirade at my kid’s third grade teacher after he went missing for 40 minutes last month. When the teachers’ union came to me asking me to take down the post, I refused. But I was also reminded that, privacy settings or not, your posts are not private. Not a one. Even the private ones.

2. You have a right to your online persona and no employer can make you give up your private information. Unless, they do. If you’re a public person or a face of a brand or the name behind a brand (even more so for us entrepreneurs) your employer, in my opinion has some right to be concerned about your public persona online and offline. I can hardly be a coke-head stripper by night and be the face of BabyCenter in the day. I get it.

3. Check yourself. No, really. Run a Google Search on yourself frequently, or better yet, set up a Google Alert for your own name (sorry if your name is John Smith, that might give you some inaccurate results). Look at photos of yourself online, make a policy about photo sharing, tagging and blogging and stick to it. I have a strict policy about my kids online. You might want to, also.

4. The world of online communities dates back to CompuServe days and days when we used AOL accounts to troll around chat rooms. Its very core was the ability to communicate from our pajamas with people anywhere in the world, empowered by our ability to speak freely and anonymously. I recall in 1996 when someone in a chat room I used on AOL turned out to be questioned in the disappearance of another woman from our chat room. His name was revealed, unraveling, for me, the mystery of online communities. There is a name — yours — behind every word you say online.

5. Believe in transparency. I believe deeply in transparency online. From a brand perspective, transparency is known to deepen trust between people and products. From a personal perspective, I want to drop-kick the blogs that discuss how perfect life is — as though life is a perfectly set Instagram photo. The ups and downs of our lives are what make us as people, and as brands, humanized.

Should employers be asking for Facebook logins? Not a chance. Should candidates be aware that what we say online is fair game for judging your character? Absolutely.

To save you the five minutes, here is what the Internet says about me… there is comfort in transparency.

Samantha Fein: Google Search

On Twitter: Garza Girl

On Facebook: Samantha Fein

On LinkedIn: Samantha Fein

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24 Days, 0 Tweets

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Featured |

24 Days, 0 Tweets

Last December, I took a vow of radio silence from Twitter for 17 days, and although I did find some peace in being untied to my iPhone, I also found that I missed online engagement more than I’d expected. This year, I’m upping the ante, and going Twitter and Facebook-free for 24 days to try and understand more about how social media tools truly impact the life of someone who works in the business itself.

Neither of my top clients —  the paying nor the offspring variety — are doing anything on Twitter or Facebook over the next three weeks. So why should I? What can I learn from the online community that I shouldn’t be learning from the people and magic and family that surrounds the holidays in my own home? And what is it about my world that is so important and exciting that I need to disengage from it to broadcast to the world? I’m guessing, not much.

My motivation last year was a $100 credit to Anthropologie from La Gringa if I was able to keep the vow. I don’t have a carrot yet this year. I better think about that.

Now there are logistics to keeping me completely off of Facebook and Twitter for over three weeks. I don’t have self-restraint, so I’m going to have to remove all temptation. Here is how I plan to do it:

1. Remove all social media monitoring tools from my desktop (this is no small task).

2. Remove Tweetdeck and Twitterlator Pro from my iPhone.

3. Go to and set my preferences to not receive any alerts to my mobile device (that’s cheating!)

4. Go to Facebook and set my email alerts to none.

5. Remove FB app from my iPhone.

6. Leave a post/tweet of the day I will be returning (this is mostly for work stuff)

What do you think? Think you could do it? I challenge you to try.

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Privacy Meet Transparency, Your Ugly Twin

Posted on Sep 29, 2010 in Featured, iVoices |

Privacy Meet Transparency, Your Ugly Twin

It has been a long standing debate in our industry about the value of transparency in communication. It breeds trust, gives tangibility and street cred. Being transparent is cool. Until it’s not. Equally, we look at privacy protections, safety of our families online and the need to use code names and words for just about everything from the dog to the husband. But transparency has come to a place online where being truly transparent and completely private online are both pointless, fruitless battles. It’s us against the (PR/marketing/Google) machine, and we’ve lost.

I’ve used code names for my kids and self for years. I worked hard to keep my LinkedIn separate from my blog. I put my online personas into buckets: Facebook/LinkedIn in one bucket; Blog and Twitter and Flickr in another bucket. I went so far as to set search alerts for my name with my user names and cross reference the searches with my kids names — all for the sake of being both transparent and private. But somewhere along the way, the web got smarter than me. Oh, it just took one link to here or there, one re-tweet, one comment that used my real name to put it all together. Mark 2010 as the year that the Internet truly began to never forget.

The biggest problem with working in online communities has always been transparency — both the lack of it, the strive for it and the freakout when it comes to pass. It’s true that most people I know online know me as Garza Girl, and when I introduce myself I expect the blank stares, but as soon as I use my online name, the recognition comes. But the yucky side of that is that if you know me online, you know my dirt, because it is there in the cloud, where I, like so many others, have the false security that I’m writing anonymously. Transparency as we know it is dead because if it has to be staged, hidden behind user names and goofy profile pictures, then it’s not really transparent. Online transparency has a new norm: bare all or someone else will.

My someone else day has arrived.

I’ve been selected to be one of 15 iVoices for NBC/Universal’s iVillage. This means attaching my real name to my real face to my real life. This means being a face of a two-mommy family. This means the world will know that I feed my kids organically to prevent my daughter from having early puberty. This means that my crossed-eyes can’t be hidden. It means being transparent about my opinions on parenting to the world, not just in my backyard between like-minded friends. It means my exes — from the super insane thief to the one that got away — will be able to access me in all my 10-lb weight gain glory.

This move toward transparency also means that I will be able to work on stories that I am passionate about. It means I will put my image fears to the forefront of challenging myself to look in the mirror and into the camera. It means I’ll be able to offer a peek at what it’s like to be a two-mommy family. Being transparent means I’ll have to keep myself in check (can’t rant at the kid’s teacher anymore), keep other’s privacy in check, keep myself open to failure when it comes. It means, above all, that I’ll be living externally and that my role is to ensure I’m living that same life privately — the best I possibly can.

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If I… Was a GroupOn Freak-o-Matic

Posted on Sep 20, 2010 in Featured, If I... |

If I… Was a GroupOn Freak-o-Matic

I am not a coupon whore. Not even close. And although the economy has knocked us all on our butts, I still only participate in coupons if the stars align just right and I happen to see a coupon, happen to have time to save it, cut it, not lose it, not smoosh it to bits  in my handbag, take it to the grocery store, need the item, buy the item and remember to redeem coupon. For 25 cents off, this seems like a lot of brain power.  Nope, not a coupon type person.

Until Groupon. And SavvySource. And Fresh somethingruther, Daily Deals, Juice, Mamapedia, Group Swoop, Yipit Do it buy it fry it try it. Oy.

Unexpectedly, I have become a complete Groupon junkie. And likely, so have you. There is going to have to be some consolidation in the space. And if I were the czar of all things group buying I would focus on the following four things:

1. Think Vertical. It makes no sense to use similar technologies to accomplish the same tasks. There are even a zillion white label group buying softwares to start your own knockoff.  Rather than reinvent the invented, I’d encourage companies that have a niche group buying model like App Sumo (a group buying site for software) to build out their niches. If GroupOn is local, verticals can go deep with the same customer’s targeted needs (without the local spin).  App Sumo could, for example, use their audience to leverage new niche buying: Software, Hardware, Apps, and IT. There you go. Own the vertical space.Forget about local if you’ve got niche.  From there, go category specific. Vertical consolidation has got to be one of the first changes in group buying.

2. Think Consumer. The downfall of many daily deals is that they are hyper local but broad. Although GroupOn went heavy into hitting every major world city (nearly 40) and close to 100 US cities, they haven’t yet leveraged their database to highly target user purchasing. There’s room in a rapidly saturating market to hit customers with what they want and be able to repeatedly deliver for them. Quality has to count. Be sure to vett out your customers well. At some point, Mamapedia is going to run out of Moms in San Jose who want deals on spa treatments at every place on El Camino Real Blvd. There’s only so much spa a girl can take. But, however, if Mamapedia refocused to go completely postal on offering me things that are (a) in my spending range for instant gratification/POS purchases  (b) hit me with variety (I’m not just a mom!)  (c) was both local and virtual and (d) only offered the good stuff and weeds out the crappy deals for me, then you’d have me as a loyal customer. So loyal, in fact, that I might just unsubscribe from Living Social. Make me a rockstar purchaser and I’ll return the favor.

3. Put real money into editorial. Voice is one of the most important things to look for in what we see next from group buying. This isn’t for marketing 101. Targeting isn’t enough. If you’re going to go vertical and focus on customer retention (even if the price point is lower), then you’ve got to speak to me. This is a relationship, afterall. You have my credit card, my attention, my inbox, my loyalty. You speak with me every single day. That’s more than I speak to my mother. Many of the leaders in daily deals use generic communication tactics. Boo! Take cues from sites like BuyWithMe who write unique copy and not PR submitted blahblah.  It’s all in the positioning, the communication and the delicate yet direct call to act.

4. Think customer. So the bad news in group buying is that it might be a deal for you, but in general, it’s no bargain for  the company (usually small business) offering the deal. The marketing dollars are well-spent and putting companies on the map is important. Once qualified, think about how to help the customer. How are they going to make real money here? What’s the package you offer them to help with user retention?  What should they be prepared for? You are likely taking a small business’ Yellow Pages marketing dollars. It better be worth it. Be a customer care advocate. Help set expectations. My friends at The Grapevine Wine and Bistro lost money on their absolutely smashing Groupon deal from last year. There were over 1000 people who bought-in on the deal. It was a financial hit for them and wasn’t a new customer acquisition play either. They’ve learned and now are part of Groupon “G” points, ofering an ongoing discount rather than a one-off daily deal. Ace Hardware also  took a hit too when they learned their computer systems couldn’t handle the Groupon couponing. They spent more money in getting their cash registers able to accept the Groupons without fraud than they did in income for the deal. What can you to to be fully customer focused to help customers become evangelists?

Consolidation in the group buying space is certain. Watch for key players to swoop in — eBay is running a good, but simple daily deals site that’s getting some traction. I’d expect Yelp to develop something here soon. I was surprised they went with the Foursquare direction before the daily deals, especially considering the controversy with their sales teams. Keep an eye on Merchant Circle, the online small business tool (advertising, ratings, blogs, community) for merchants to reach local customers. An acquisition for MC would be likely and beneficial to their model.

My existing group buying deals include: Zip lining, Kayak lessons for fun, Empire Tap Room, Edna Ray and Habana restaurants, Ace Hardware, A & I Books Online and A Work of Heart for creativity, One Month at Club One Fitness + 60 Min Massage and waxing services for body, The Gap and Bella James for clothes. My total savings to-date have been over a thousand dollars; my total purchases have been around $300.

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Three Time-Saving Product Ideas for #FB

Posted on Sep 13, 2010 in Family and Friends |

Three Time-Saving Product Ideas for #FB

It’s hard to argue that Facebook, with 500 million active users, has succeeded in finding a simple — and addictive — way for people of all ages to communicate. Rumors fly daily about what the next feature will be, how #fb plans to steal your identity, your first-born, your future. But truly, all Facebook really steals from you is your time.

I have no idea how long I’ve been on Facebook. A long time. I’ve been a power user (Scramble games in the afternoon, stalk ex-boyfriends at night), to a casual engager (messages with old high school classmates that hated me back then, but seem to be excited to know me now). I’ve ditched Facebook completely for months on-end. I’ve used it for work, for clients and for self-promotion. I’ve used it as a voyeur, a supporter, a loneliness killer. Facebook is in world-domination-mode, and there is very little anyone can do to stop its momentum. But, we can curb our own.

I believe Facebook owes us the one thing we can’t get back: Time.

Here are my three product ideas for Facebook that focus specifically on helping us all curb our #fb obsession:

1. Self Timer. Set FB self timers so that you get logged out after X amount of time and cannot log back for Y amount of time. Just think: self-controls for the un-self-controlled. I’d allow myself a half-hour, with a forced 12-hour logout.

2. Give me a way to consolidate down my friends. Afterall, those of us who’ve been using the product long enough have added many people over the years we don’t really need anymore. Or, like me, FB is strictly personal now and not meant for workplace banter. Give users the ability to view, multi-delete and, ultimately, put friends into lists without having to do it one-by-one. That would save me time and get my people all sorted out. While you’re at it, FB could — and should — allow us to download our address books into a .CSV file.

3. Allow us to self-regulate spam and spammers. It’d be helpful to know who was a blabber, a spammer, repost-freak-o-matic. It would save a lot of time if the community was allowed to rank posts — display weighted versions. I know Most Popular is supposed to do that, but it’s not helpful or time saving. Give us the chance to see only truly relevant content. Oh, and if something is really spam, it would be very helpful to just go ahead and get rid of it for us.

At some point (and past the 2011 IPO, right @gseevers?), Facebook is going to have to become a time saver, not time waster. It’s going to have to be serviced-based, it will have to have an easy way to find good nuggets of information, and weed through the junk for us. They’ll have to find a way to let us utilize our own address books for efficiency in our offline lives.

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