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In Solidarity Against SOPA and PIPA

Dear Clients and Friends,stop sopa pipa

Tomorrow, January 18, 2012, Seek Media Group will join thousands of other websites by going dark in opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills being bandied about in Congress.

If you’d like more information about what exactly these bills entail and how they would affect you, please visit:  PIPA/SOPA Breaks the Internet
To contact your Representatives in Congress, please visit:  Stop American Censorship.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support!

Carole Billingsley
Founder
Seek Media Group

 

Social Media Fail: Boners BBQ’s Big Blunder

I’ve written previously about brands making huge gaffes when handling negative comments via social media networks, but this one takes the cake! You may have never heard of Boners BBQ in Atlanta, GA but they’ve gotten some unwanted publicity in the last few days, all due to the way the owner responded to what he considered to be a negative review on Yelp.com.

SEE ALSO:  Another Sale Fail for Ann Taylor Brands on Cyber Monday and Empathy for The Social Media Team

It all started innocently enough. A woman named Stephanie and her husband got a $10 off coupon for Boners from Scoutmob. After their visit, Stephanie wrote a review on Yelp. Her review was less than stellar, but it certainly wasn’t the most scathing review I’ve ever read on Yelp. It was well-written and laid out exactly what she believed to be the strengths and weaknesses of the of the restaurant’s foo,service, and atmosphere. You can read her actual review here.  In no way did she trash the place in her review; in fact, she actually gave some constructive criticism.

This unflattering review didn’t sit well with Boners’ owner, Andrew Capron, however. He decided that he didn’t need customers like Stephanie darkening the doorway of his establishment, so he posted the following (which has since been removed) on Boners BBQ’s Facebook page:

Boners Rage

I’ve edited the photo to blur her face – Andrew did not.  As you can see, he was not impressed with her review. He says she didn’t leave a tip; she says she did. The first few comments on his post were positive with people “liking” and sharing the post, which must’ve encouraged Andrew because he decided it’d be a good idea to add a follow-up comment:  Well then, that explains it! This is when things really got fun! As word (and Andrew’s post) started to circulate around the Internet, comments began flooding in to Boners Facebook page with some rather harsh words for the business owner. Many people mentioning that he had no right to post Stephanie’s picture and reminding him that calling customers names via social networks (or anywhere else) might not be the best business decision he’s ever made. Andrew heeded this advice – sort of – and posted the following on Facebook:Boners 1st Apology largeThe initial “apology” simply apologized for being inappropriate. Really, Andrew? That’s it? As you can see from the number of comments on this post, that wasn’t enough for most, and it certainly didn’t convey a sense of remorse or an attempt to rectify the situation. In fact, as he started getting flak about his lack of remorse, Andrew decided to explain why he’d felt the need to post Stephanie’s picture and rude (to say the least) comment:

Boners RationalizationHe must’ve believed that once we realized she hadn’t left a tip and that he and his staff had been working so hard, we would understand, see his perspective and it would all go away. He was obviously ready to move on and, I guess, thought that making light of it would work:

Boners Making LightBut it didn’t go away. No one seemed to appreciate his humor. The comments kept coming and several people pointed out that perhaps a sincere apology directly to the customer would go much further toward righting the wrong that he’d created. Poor Andrew tries one more time to put out the fire:

Boners 2nd ApologyAs you can clearly see from the comments, it was a case of too little, too late for most. Andrew has obviously learned the power of social media the hard way. Had this been his first response to the review, he’d have looked like a hero, would’ve garnered some brand loyalty, and may very well have gained some new customers. Unfortunately, too much had already transpired before his common sense kicked in and he most likely lost customers and certainly didn’t inspire any loyalty. And, sadly, even though the firestorm will die down, the damage will remain. Anytime someone searches for Boners BBQ many articles about this debacle will pop up – for eternity.

As someone who manages social media for small businesses, I’m constantly amazed at how some business owners (and social media managers, in some cases) choose to handle negative comments via social networks. No matter how fabulous your brand is, there will always be some negative comments or complaints. Stuff happens. How you choose to handle these incidents can literally make or break your business. No longer can you have an argument with a customer that stays between you, the customer, and 10 of her closest friends. Complaints now have a tendency to go viral, especially when handled poorly, as in the case of Boners, Ann Taylor, Papa Johns, and many more. Some brands do it right, such as the way FedEx handled the viral video of its employee tossing a box over a fence. FedEx took to YouTube, owned up to the mistake, and made things right with the customer which was the wisest move they could’ve made. Here’s a link to the video by FedEx Senior Vice President of US Operations, Matthew Thornton, III.

Social media is a new medium for business owners which is why it’s important to have someone on the team who is adept at dealing with negativity in a constructive and impartial way that could actually help your business shine (and grow!) at times like this as opposed to igniting a firestorm and possibly destroying your business in the process.

 SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Brands Respond to Negative Comments on Social Networks and Why Only One is Effective

If your business is considering jumping on the social media bandwagon (or if you already have), you should consider hiring a professional to manage these accounts for you. For more information about our services, please click here. Seek Media Group is here to help you connect and engage with current and prospective clients and grow your business online by harnessing the power of social media!

Let me know what you think about the way Boners BBQ handled this situation in the comments below!

The Dark Side Of Social Media: What To Do If Your Account Is Hit With Scams, Spam, Viruses, or Malware

Facebook has been overrun by spam and scams for the last few days. The jury is still out as to whether malware and/or viruses are also being spread through these messages. Some are saying that many of these are coming in through third-party apps. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

You may be wondering how to “fix” your account if you are the victim of this type of post.  There are several things you should do on both Facebook and Twitter, which are explained below:

Facebook:       

1)  Report the post to Facebook. If the post looks like it came from a friend, report the post to the friend and advise them to also report it to Facebook.

How to report scam/spam posts:

  • Hover your cursor over the top right corner of the post
  • A drop down box will appear. Click “Report story or spam.” This will delete the post from your wall.
  • Another box will pop up. The sentence “If the story is abusive, please file a report.” will appear as a link. Click the link.
  • A box will pop up with several options; click the one that says “Report as spam/scam”.  There is also an option to choose if you believe your friend’s account has been hacked.

2.) Run a virus scan on your computer.

3.) Double-check Apps that you’ve authorized and delete those that you don’t actually use.  To remove app permissions:

  • Go to Privacy Settings.
  • Scroll down to Apps and Websites. Click Edit Settings.
  • Here you’ll see the number of apps you’ve authorized; click Edit Settings.
  • Check the list and delete any apps you don’t remember authorizing or that you don’t use any longer. To do this, just click the X to the right of the app name.
  • Once you’ve deleted all unnecessary apps, return to the previous page where you’ll see options for editing how people bring your information into apps they use and edit those settings as well.
  • While you’re on this page, it’s a good idea to also check out Instant Personalization and Public Search (this will show you how your profile appears to people who view it via search engines).

4.)  Change your password. Make your new password strong by including numbers and special characters (!, @, %, etc). Also be sure that your social media account passwords are different from passwords for any other accounts.

Twitter:

1.) Delete the tweet.

2.) Run a virus scan.

3.) Change your password from the Passwords Tab in your Account Settings.

4.) Revoke app permissions by going to the Applications tab, also in  Account Settings.

5.) If trusted apps remain that use your Twitter login, update your password on those apps so that you don’t get locked out of those accounts for failed login attempts.

6.) Once these steps have been taken, your account should be secure.

7.)  If you’re still experiencing issues with your account, file a Support Request with Twitter.

UPDATE: Facebook is investigating all of the nuisance/malicious posts from the past few days and trying to determine the source (you can read the article from Sophos here ). That being said, there will always be a few hackers that get through, so the steps outlined above are always good to have on hand.  Facebook suggests three things that users can do to keep this from happening again:

1.) Never copy and paste into your browser or click on a link if you are not positive of the source (especially if it’s a link offering a prize or free gift).

2.) Always be sure your browser is up-to-date

3.) Always report any suspicious posts to Facebook.

Have you been deluged with any spammy or nasty posts in the last few days? Have you considered deleting your account because of it?  Let us know in the comment section below! We want to hear from you!

Computer Viruses: Some Surprising Facts and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself (Before and After)

computer_virusHaving just retrieved my computer from The Computer Hospital (yes, that’s actually the name of the company), I was compelled to write this post.  On Sunday morning I clicked on a link from a trusted colleague and, within seconds, hundreds of boxes popped up on my desktop with messages saying that my disk was corrupted and unreadable and that my RAM was unstable and may cause system shutdown.

Of course, this wasn’t my first trip around the computer virus block so I knew not to click on any of the boxes that claimed to be able to help me fix the problem. I immediately ran scans on BOTH of my anti-virus software programs (I’ll explain in a bit why that was not the right way to go) and watched as every document on my desktop disappeared. Within 90 seconds, all that was left on my desktop were the Recycle Bin and an Internet Explorer shortcut. That was pretty scary.  I immediately took my computer to The Computer Hospital to see if they could wipe the virus and retrieve my data. Luckily, they were able to do just that. They removed twenty viruses from my computer!

I consider myself a fairly Internet-savvy person. I know not to click on suspicious emails or to visit certain types of sites. I very rarely click on links within Facebook or Twitter, opting instead to go directly to the website where the article is supposedly living so that I’m not re-directed to a malicious site or inviting spammers to flood my friends’ walls with their malicious links. I read a lot of articles on Internet security and, as I mentioned above, even ran two anti-virus software programs all in an effort to avoid the misery of viruses and spam. What I learned from my computer saviors really surprised me so I wanted to share these with all of you.

Today I learned that:

1)     You can get a virus from a reputable or legitimate website. In fact, studies show that you’re more likely to get a virus from a legitimate site than from one with adult content.

2)    The worst sites for getting a virus are actually local news sites. Somehow, the virus programmers get their viruses into the ads on these sites and, whether you click the ads or not, your computer can get the virus. One of the techs said that he got a virus from the Chili’s restaurant site. Simply put, consider every site to be a threat!

3)    The first time I got a virus, I clicked on the boxes that popped-up and was taken to a website that offered to fix the problem. Luckily, I realized this was a scam. What I didn’t realize is how damaging the scam could be. The techs told me that a man recently came in with some real problems. He’d clicked on the boxes, went to the website and entered his credit card information. He then sat and watched as all of his personal information scrolled across his desktop. He assumed this was part of the fix. The next morning, his computer still wouldn’t boot and he soon came to realize that, overnight, his credit cards had been maxed out and his bank accounts cleaned out.

4)    I’d always heard that Apple computers were less vulnerable to viruses. This is not necessarily true. The fact is that Apple only has about 15% of the home computer market so these virus programmers don’t bother to write viruses for Apple. As Apple’s market share grows, so will virus programs that affect them.

5)    As I mentioned, I’ve been running two anti-virus software programs (one paid and one free) and still twenty viruses got through. I’ve been told that the most effective anti-virus duo is MalwareBytes (Pro version, $24.95) and Microsoft Security Essentials (free).  My techs tell me this is the very best combo.

6)    Whatever anti-virus program you use, it should be set to scan daily, not weekly or monthly; especially if you are online often. Also be sure that you set the scan times for a time of day when your computer will likely be turned on. The scan can’t happen when the computer is off.

7)    If you contract a virus, shut down the computer immediately. Don’t run your anti-virus scan at that time. Turn the computer off, then restart in Safe Mode and run your anti-virus software from there. Immediately shutting down the computer will disrupt whatever activity the virus is trying to perpetrate on your computer.

If you’ve never had a computer virus, consider yourself lucky, but don’t think that it can never happen to you. Writing virus programs is a big business for a variety of reasons.  For more information on different types of viruses and spam, their capabilities, and the reasons people write them, check out this guide from Sophos entitled Viruses and Spam: What You Need to Know. I found this very helpful in understanding the types of viruses and spam there are out there and why people write and distribute them.

Have you ever been the victim of a computer virus or spam? Let me know your story in the comment section below. And please feel free to share this article if you found it helpful.

Delete Those Old Facebook Apps To Protect Your Privacy

I don’t know about you, but I’m always concerned about protecting my privacy on the Internet and I’m quite cautious when it comes to sharing personal information, both online and off.  That’s why I was shocked when I read an article entitled These Steps Will Protect Your Privacy While Using Facebook and Twitter, posted recently by The Next Web.  The following post will focus on Facebook since it has been around longer and apps are used more commonly there than on Twitter.

If you’ve been a Facebook user for any length of time, you have undoubtedly used apps. I’ve been on Facebook for several years and, back in the day, my friends and I used to send each other virtual hearts and bouquets, and take quizzes like “What Star Wars character are you most like?” or “How blonde are you?”, among other silly things.  All of these are apps and we’ve given them access to our personal information in varying degrees. I seriously doubt that the information would be used for malicious purposes, but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to allow them to have access to our information until the end of time, either.

In The Next Web’s post, readers are instructed to go to their Facebook Privacy Settings (while signed into the account) and look at the apps that they’ve authorized so that they can delete apps or revise the permissions given to them.

I admit that I’ve never checked these settings before which is why I was so surprised to see more than 300 apps that I’d authorized over the years; some of which I haven’t even used for years! I might add that it’s a three-click process to delete an app – which is quite the hassle when trying to delete hundreds of them – but I think it’s an endeavor worth our time.

My suggestion to everyone who uses Facebook and Twitter is to check your app settings and delete the ones you no longer use – just to be safe.  Again, I doubt that the information would be used maliciously, but better safe than sorry!

I’d love to know what you think about this.  Do you think it’s a big deal for these apps to have your personal information – especially if you no longer use them?  Please let me know what you think by leaving your comments below.

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