Ask fm: recreating the school yard online

… and this time there’s no teachers to intervene.

School yard bullying by theirhistory on Flickr

 The classic image of bullying: a group of children in a school yard picking on the smaller/fatter/geekier/poorer/glasses and braces kid (delete as appropriate).

The one smidgen of hope a bullied child has at the moment they’re surrounded by a group of their leering peers is that a teacher will notice and put a stop to it.

The taunts come from the groups hive like mind, jeers all along the same theme.

Now let’s bring bullying into the 21st Century. Let’s put it online and let’s make it anonymous.

That child, the one that’s being bullied, is no longer face to face with people they know and see every day.

The bullied child is alone, in a bedroom, with a laptop or smart phone.

They don’t know who is on the other end of that question. Could it be someone from school? How about the boy down the road? Maybe it’s someone who is supposed to be a friend. Maybe they’re the other side of the world, they don’t know you, all they know is how worthless a human being you are….

Where’s the teacher’s pet running to tell tales now?

Where are the teachers?

Something which started by passing a note in class, moved onto Facebook with the more transparent “Inbox me a question and I’ll answer it on my profile”, has suddenly grown into the monster under your bed – you don’t know what it looks like but you know it’s out there.

And it’s not just children and teenagers who are falling victim to cyber bullying; bullies and trolls will target anyone. It’s not always personal, but to the victim it’s always personal.

Why do people put themselves through it?

Simply, it’s gratifying.

A boy in your class could say they have a crush on you, or a stranger could say you look good (grooming and sexting are a different matter entirely, but not unrelated when dealing with teens and social media).

We want to express ourselves and the best way to do that seems to be online.

So what can be done?

The websites:

  1. Take away the ability to be anonymous
  2. Make it easier to report bullying
  3. Work closer with police to bring about convictions

Parents:

  1. Know which websites your children are on and check their privacy settings
  2. Make yourself aware of what happens on these websites
  3. Talk openly to your children about bullying – let them know it’s never their fault

Teachers and youth workers:

  1. Show teenagers why e-safety is important – what are the consequences?
  2. Let them know they can come to you for advice and support
  3. Make sure your privacy settings are up to scratch so you don’t become a target

Report, block and report again

If you become a target for cyber bullying, don’t let it get you down. You’re not alone and there are people who can help.

  1. Report the user to the site
  2. Block them (if possible)
  3. Report it to the police (screengrabs of the user’s profile and any comments they’ve posted about you will help)
  4. Talk to someone, a trusted friend, parent, the Samaritans or ChildLine
  5. If it becomes too much, delete your account and start afresh.

Bullying it gets better by mistressoftheroses on deviantart.com

So you’ve got Likes, so what?

Photo by Denis Dervisevic

How many times have you heard the phrase “we need more Likes” or have seen a tweet asking people to “help us reach x amount of followers”?

Too many people are under the misconception that the number of Likes equates to the amount of success you have.

Whilst it looks good to have 5000 Likes on your Facebook page, how many of those users are actually taking in your messages or engaging?

Information overload

Like the average Millennial, I get my daily dose of information from a variety of social networks, websites and applications. I use Facebook differently to Twitter. I use my Twitter accounts in different ways. I don’t even bother opening Sulia or LinkedIn unless something catches my interest in their daily emails.

In the information age, there is too much information being thrown at you by everyone… so we’ve started to become selective.

Hiding posts from certain people or Pages on Facebook (well you don’t want to insult them by Unliking or de-friending)

Unfollowing on Twitter (it appears we’re more ruthless in 140 characters or less)

Selectively scanning through our feeds until something catches our eye (usually a video of a cat)

So what does this really mean?

If you want to catch our attention do something creative or innovative. Stand out from the crowd. Ask us what we want to see. Give us something we never thought we’d see from you. Make it relevant.

It’s not about you, it’s about the user

Ask yourself these questions:

“are we engaging with the followers we already have?”

“how are our followers responding to our content?”

“is it being shared?”

Answering these questions and making changes to the way you try and engage your audience will inevitably result in more follows, Likes, Pins etcetera, it may even boost your Klout score… but that’s not what this article is about.

It’s about engaging

Make the most of the people who have actively searched for your Facebook Page or Twitter account and want to hear what you have to say – they’re the ones who can help you build your audience.

And for the love of all things social, don’t buy followers!

Top 10 Facebook Tips for Businesses

To start with, this isn’t a definitive list of the Top 10 Facebook Tips for ALL businesses. Each company, brand or person should come up with their own strategy on how they want to use Facebook to engage with their audience, these are just some helpful pointers.

Facebook business by Sean MacEntee

1. Think about your audience

This goes for everything you do online, whether on Facebook or Twitter, email or website.

You might think that this should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many companies push for “sell sell sell, buy buy buy” without thinking what their audience is actually getting out of it.

Think about who has liked your page: are they potential clients? are they already customers? could they be like-minded businesses or people in the industry?

If in doubt, ask the audience. Don’t be afraid to ask people what they want, more often than not they’ll surprise you.Facebook’s Insights show real-time statistics by post. You can see what works and doesn’t work by how many people are engaging with your posts – use it!

2. Ask yourself “Why are we using Facebook?”

If you’ve created a page because that’s what everyone else is doing then consider deleting it right now, or at least consulting with someone who knows what they’re doing!

When setting up a Facebook page, the first thing to ask yourself is “why?” – if you see real benefit then start formulating a Facebook strategy: what will you be posting about? how  does it differ from any other website/blog your’re already using?

If you think there might be potential but don’t quite see how it will benefit in the long-term, or are still stuck on where to start, then ask someone. You could hold a brain-storming session in your company to get ideas from different departments/individuals (e.g. Sales, Marketing, PR, Customer Services, Events etc), or even asking someone externally to come in and consult as a one-off.

3. Click throughs

You might have added some company information in the About section, even a contact number or two, but  it’s always important to make sure users know where to find more information about you, your company and your products/services – add links from your posts back to your website.

4. Add an RSS feed

Facebook allows you to add applications to your page, if you have a news or blog section on your website then RSS feeds might be worth a gander. Once the feed is set up, it will pull through new stories from your news or blog section saving you the hassle of adding it manually to Facebook.

Adding an RSS feed is NOT the only solution for your page. RSS feeds should always work alongside manual posts so that there is some original or different type of content to make the page more engaging.

Simply search for RSS in Facebook and a list of relevant applications will come up – it’s worth reading other users’ reviews before using the application to get an idea of how easy it is to use or how well the application works.

5. Make it visual

Adding photos, individually or as an album, and videos to posts will make your page seem more interesting and people are more likely to engage with your content and share it amongst their friends.

6. Make the most of the Timeline

A great feature of the new Timeline is that posts are chronically ordered and grouped by year, many pages have made the most of this by adding in historic events and Milestones from the company’s history – when it was founded, when it bought another company, when a certain product was first launched or re-launched.

A few insights into the company’s past might make the page more interesting, and who knows what old posts the users will find as they trace your business through the years.

7. Highlight / Pin to Top

Two more new features of Timeline.Highlighting a post (the little star in the top right corner) will expand the post across the whole page, which is great for images, photo albums and video content.Pin to Top allows you to pin one post to the top of your page for up to 7 days at a time – this is great if you have a competition running, a sale or even a new contact number.

8. Enable private messaging

A brand new thing for pages is the ability to have private conversations with the people who like your page.

It might be that you need to ask them to send you personal details so you can deal with a complaint or business request which they have posted on your Timeline, or it might just allow people who don’t want to ask a question publicly on your Timeline to come forward and ask that question – every little helps (to borrow a phrase).

9. Target your posts by language or location

When adding a post, next to the Post button is an image of a lock and the word “public”. If you click on it you are able to target your post to users who live in a certain country or speak a certain language.

This could be advantageous to local as well as international companies, let’s not forget that the UK has many different cultural communities – you might want to target the Polish or Somali community you know live in your town, or you might have started shipping abroad!

10. Adverts

Facebook advertising is very quick and easy to set up, and the best thing is you only pay when someone clicks on your advert (if you select payment option CPC – Cost Per Click). You can set a reasonable budget and target certain people in certain location who have certain interests – however remember that people who have certain interests may not have added it to their Facebook profile so your advert would not reach them.


If you have any questions or comments on anything above or would like more details then don’t hesitate to leave a comment or find me on Twitter.

Remember, if the content isn’t appropriate to your audience or customers, the page will not be a success.

Last but not least, Facebook is a social network so be social and interact with the people who like you!