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Generating Unbreakable Passwords

People are lazy. People don’t think that bad things are going to happen to them. People feel safe online. People have a hard time creating memorable passwords, and often create passwords that they cannot remember. These are the conclusions I have come to after thinking about how people handle their online security.

Millions of hacked passwords were analyzed in 2010 to determine that the most common password of those hacked was, …wait for it…Password.  In the recent hack of LinkedIn, the number one password hacked was “Link”, just edging out 1234 (there’s a winner!), and the variants 12345, 123456, 1234567, and 654321 all in the top 30.Obviously creating a good password can be a challenge.

So here’s a way to create a password that is really difficult to crack, yet really easy to remember.

  1. Think of something in your life.
  2. Create a sentence about it, preferably one that uses a number.
  3. Use the first letter of each word, and the numeric value of the number to create a password.

For example “When I was 10 I had a red bike” would be Wiw10iharb, a pretty difficult password to guess, unless the person knew you when you were 10, remembered the color of your bike, and knew that you had chosen that phrase to generate your password. Or “I graduated Penn State University in 4 years” generating Igpsui4y as your password.

Both passwords would be considered pretty strong, They are 10 and 8 characters long respectively. They have a mixture of letters and numbers, and the placement of those letters and numbers are not sequential. And we could make them even better by adding a character for example “I hated the Boston Celtics since I was 12″ (IhtBCsiw12) would be made even stronger by saying “I hated the Boston Celtics & the LA Lakers since I was 12″ (IhtBC&tLALsiw12) And either password would make me a 76ers fan, very happy :)

The possibilities are endless, and that is the strength of the password generator. Of course no password is truly impossible to crack, and the theft of passwords from LinkedIn and Sony, and numerous other sites is a strong recommendation for having several passwords rather than (as many people do) having one password you use all the time. But using this simple password generating trick will go a long way to making your online interaction safer.

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Five Tips From the Social Media Expert You Called Mom

Social media Gurus and experts seem to be crawling out from every rock. But you don’t need them. Your Mom already taught you everything you need to know about social media theory and interaction  -

  1. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back - Mom knew that no one likes people that self-promote. Online or offline, someone who talks about themselves doesn’t make themselves important – they make themselves appear needy and pathetic. Not the public persona you want to broadcast all over the internet. You don’t believe someone who tells you how great they are – why should anyone believe you when you do it?
  2. If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all – Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to disagree with you (even if they’re wrong) without worrying about personal attacks. If you have a disagreement attack the idea, not the person!
  3. If you don’t do it NOW, then when will you do it? – Some people procrastinate so much that they even put off procrastinating. If you plan on having a social media presence, just do it. Pick your market, choose your objectives in engaging them, develop a strategy and then the technology you’re going to use to accomplish it all. Its better to do something and wait than it is to wait and do something.
  4. I don’t care what “everyone” is doing. I care what YOU are doing! Don’t be a slave to social proof. By all means observe the community and what they’re doing, but make your choices based on your needs, your skills and talents, and your schedule. Your social media engagement has to be sustainable to be effective, and that means you ‘ll want to go with your strengths, not a course of action designed to take advantage of someone else’s strengths.
  5. Now, say you’re sorry…and MEAN it! When you make a mistake, be transparent about it. Own the error and be frank about what it was, why you did it, how you recognized it as an error, and what you’re going to do to correct it. Understanding how to use the community’s love of transparency into an effective tool for rebuilding trust after you have made a mistake.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to eat your vegetables :)

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Are You Addicted to Social Media?

With social media becoming mainstream, and people embracing every new network for personal or business reasons, there’s a lot of clutter in our lives. Facebook users check their status first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Email takes up 28% of the average office worker’s day, but social media use is become even more pervasive.  And it’s now being seen as a problem for many users.

At a conference I emceed recently, two of the major presentations revolved around  our need to be unplugged and the physical and emotional perils of social media addiction.

The first speaker spoke about unplugging from the social web, and when we are plugged in, to have a purpose. The second day keynote was a discussion of social media addiction, Korean Social Media Rehabs, and the possible damage that being over connected can have on our minds and our bodies.

This need to be thoughtful about how we spend our time is not new, its just something we need to remember. Ecclesiastes (repeated by the 60′s rock Group The Byrds and the 1984 movie “Footlose”) ) tells us, “to every thing there is a season”. Technology of any sort is the proof of that.  The seasons are obvious when we look. We investigate first. Then we adopt, at first timidly, then with gusto. And then we integrate our lives, until, in many cases, we become so engaged that we recognize that we may need to back off.

It happened with television, cell phones, computer games, and now, social engagement on the web. Each appeared as a novelty, had wide spread adoption, then became ubiquitous , then a matter of concern for users.  Like a child with a new favorite game, we play it again and again until we tire of it, and then, if it is truly something that we enjoy, we learn to use it in moderation.

Obviously being thoughtful about social media is the key to any level of engagement. The web is immense and we desire to fill it with our contributions to the ongoing conversation. So let’s look at what we can do to make the time we spend enjoyable and productive.

  • Start With a Purpose - If your online engagement has a business purpose, first determine what it is, and which channels are most effective for achieving your goals. If you are only online for social purposes, figure out what makes you happy and determine how much of your leisure you want to spend doing that. Like any other social activity, you need to allocate the time you can spend, considering the needs fo your business and family- what’s left is yours.
  • Prioritize your online time . E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all of our other online engagements have different purposes – now that you have determine what you want to accomplish, it becomes easier to choose your battles. You don’t have to be everywhere because your customers or clients aren’t .
  • Set aside time for offline engagement. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but someone needs to tell you that most texts or phone calls can wait until after you son’s game, your date night, or the movie. You have voice mail for a reason, and you need to remember that in most cases, the people you are with are more important than that message from a distance. Whatever is going on at Facebook will still be there when you arrive its the internet people, you aren’t going to miss anything you can’t read about later.
  • Be Here Now. This simple statement was the  title of a 1971 book written by Baba Ram Dass and contains a message of importance that transcends the decades since its publication.The really significant moments of our lives happen off-line. It would be tragic to miss them because you were hiding out on Facebook. Spend some time with your friends and family doing things in the physical world. You can let your online community know when you need to unplug. You’ll be better for it, and they will understand your absence and not confuse it with a complete withdrawal.

Addicted or not, these simple suggestions can help you organize your online presence effectively , and without detracting from the value of your online engagement. In fact, they might even help increase it. What do you think?

 

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A Social Media Guide for Small Businesses

Everybody loves short cuts. Most social media tools are so easy to initiate that people don’t recognize the need for adequate training to use them in an ethical and effective manner. Of course I may be prejudiced since I spend so much time providing technology and social media training, but most people seem to have difficulty achieving business goals on their own.

For most, the challenge is making a paradigm shift to inbound marketing. Their old traditional marketing programs are shoved into new marketing channels, and though the company can claim to have a presence on social media channels, they are not building community, gaining business intelligence, or driving business in these new venues. But for others, the problem is simply that they are overwhelmed. They have difficulty adopting the appropriate channels for their communication because they are confused by the overwhelming choices, and the ever changing landscape of social media.

Our good friends at ColumnFive and Flowtown have rushed to the rescue with the infographic below. Though it is not a substitute for a knowledgeable consultant, or a live course or seminar, it can be a great tool for busy people that have no clue where to start. It will at least help you begin to differentiate the trees from the forest so you can begin to determine where your business might engage most effectively, or where your existing marketing resources might do further research  about expanding your online campaign.  So bookmark this, print it out, share it with your marketing team, or just use it as a cheat sheet for your next cocktail party but most of all use this as a tool  to help you determine  which channels to get more training on so you can deploy effectively.

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Did You Miss the Social Media Gold Rush?

In the past 5 years, I have watched the discussion of social media go from “What is it?” to “Do I need it?” to “How do I do it?”.

Now people who came late to the dance wonder if its not too late to create an effective online presence. It seems that no matter what their business, it there has already been a huge rush to stake out what has been perceived as valuable online territory. The fear of being just another tree in a forest filled to the edges is not a fantasy. Luckily, that’s not how social marketing works. Social marketing has never been (and I’m not sure it ever will be) a function of the tools we use. If you’ve ever heard me talk, you know that I am fond of quoting my son Hal Lublin who said, “three years ago , social media was Friendster and MySpace, now its Twitter and Facebook, and we don’t know what it will be next. ” In fact, I would expand on that to say that no one know what it will be next. Maybe Google+ and its integration in the basic search, maybe YouTube (since every year seems to be the year of video) or maybe FourSquare or Gowalla(since every year is also the year of location based services) But no matter what the tool, the basics will remain the same.

  1. Identify your target or niche market. Through the glory of what we used to call the information superhighway, we are no longer tied to just geography, but are free to work  demographics to reach our intended community
  2. Be a Joiner – Its better to be part of your community’s existing world than it is to try to create your own world and seek their participation. Why worry about competing for their attention when you can put yourself firmly in the middle of the place they’re already focused on? Join the existing conversations. Add to the comments in their community, respond to their statements and questions as a peer, and your acceptance will be almost immediate. People are finding that they get more traction by participating in Facebook Groups than they do trying to get people to engage on theior Facebook pages.
  3. Get Through Giving  People become pre-disposed to like you when you contribute freely and without question.If you  contribute to the community on their terms, at their pace, through the channels they choose to populate, you become viewed in the most positive fashion, earning a position of trust that leads to referrals and direct business, when the members of the community have a need for your product or service – it is the very essence of inbound marketing.
  4. Be Genuine At some point you’re going to be dealing directly with your consumer, and your interaction will have set some expectations in their mind about who you are and what you stand for. If you are not the person they expected to meet, their experience, and your ability to maintain their trust is severely limited.  You need to send a consistent message  and you need to make sure that your message has the right context. Context in terms of the ongoing conversation and in terms of the platform you’re sharing on. In the world of FourSquare, Yelp and Foodspotting, sharing what you’re having for dinner is not only acceptable, its crucial to the community – on LinkedIn, not so much…
  5. Be Patient You need to understand that this takes some time and you need to have realistic expectations. Whatever your business goals, social media is a long term investment of time and resources. Your strategy needs to be considerate of that fact. Because of the nature of the relationship process, consistency and patience are key to success. If you blog once a week, at the end of the year, you have accumulated 52 posts that create a part of your permanent presence online. Each picture post, tweet and poke contributes to an overall structure that becomes your online persona – a place where people can see not only what you are discussing or sharing today, but what you have contributed to the community at large.

Bottom line, there is still outstanding opportunity for small businesses and professionals in the social media space. Used thoughtfully, properly, and with integrity, you can connect with a wonderful online community that will profit  your business and enhance your life.

New opportunities are being created everyday, Where will you stake your claim?

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