"Would you let the phone company listen into your calls in order to target you with specific telemarketing offers?" asks Steven Sprague, co-founder of Scrambls and CEO of security company Wave Systems. "Of course not, but that's pretty much what social media does every day."
Scrambls encrypts social media posts and lets users specify exactly who can see them, across all social media sites. The user can form groups from friends and family, going as broad as everyone with a Gmail account down to a specific colleague or even those who know a certain password. Everyone else (including the social media site itself) will only see a series of random numbers and symbols, keeping content private and secure.
A cool feature is the ability to put an expiration date on posts, after which time only the author can see them. No more worrying about HR seeing some stupid post from a party five years ago.
"Delete is a false choice," Sprague says. He notes that there are plenty of posts - say, from our college years - we'll want to keep, but over time make less and less public.
The main trouble with Scrambls, though, is that it won't really be useful until a tipping point of users is reached. Otherwise, people don't know why hieroglyphics are showing up on your Twitter feed. There are a few other kinks as well, but it was just released at the end of April, so it's expected to improve.
No. 3: Embrace analytics
Not too long ago, marketing analytics were something that only large companies and agencies could afford. As social media advances, though, analytic tools are available not only to SMBs, but also to individuals.
Tracking your social media output can point to simple tweaks to make you more effective. For instance, if you're tweeting from a trade show, be sure you know the exact official hashtag for the show.
Analytics can be just as important if you want to promote a story or a tweet. For example, should you tag it BYOD or mobile or mobile security or something else. For two days in late April, #BYOD was tweeted 971 times by 654 different people, generating 1.7 million impressions with a reach of 1.1 million people. Compare that to #mobilesecurity at 38 tweets, 30 contributors, 25,500 impression, 17,600 reach, and it's clear that #mobilesecurity isn't a very good tag.
There are plenty of low-cost or free social media analytic tools out there. They may not offer the power of a Radian6, but not everyone has several hundred dollars to spend each month on a subscription. Google Analytics is a good place to start. Hashtracking.com will give you a free report with a transcript and data on 1,500 tweets (or 24 hours of tweets, whichever limit is hit first). Hashtag.org offers a free hashtag search engine, and, of course, Twitter itself offers some rudimentary analytic capabilities.
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