Do you start your day by signing into Facebook and checking out what's going on with your friends and family? If so, you're not alone. Social media is here to stay, and many of us are becoming more and more addicted to social networking sites like Facebook. In fact, there are even studies that show that our brains get a reward when we overshare information with people on the internet.
So, if we are all enjoying Facebook, what's the problem? Well, one of the biggest problems with Facebook in particular is that the information that we share is often stored and used against us. Employers routinely search social networking sites to find out more information about prospective employers. This means that all of the photos you shared with your Facebook friends can now be viewed, with a critical eye, by someone who is deciding what sort of employee you would make. In addition, the information is stored, compiled and sold to advertisers in order to better serve advertisements to users.
At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal. After all, when you post something on the internet, you have to know that it isn't private. While that's true, people are beginning to get tired of trading their identities for the ability to share status updates with friends and play games. Now that Facebook has announced that they are selling personal information, like your gender, age and the pages you like, to third party applications when users sign in with their Facebook accounts, the problem is only getting worse. In the UK, there are even companies that offer social media insurance, designed to help people in the event that their reputations are ruined or their identities are stolen.
For those of us in sales, this means that as users become more hesitant to share their information or use the site, reaching them becomes more difficult. If your online presence is primarily made up of your Facebook page and a page for your company, product or service, it's probably time to begin to branch out to other arenas. In the ever-changing worlds of technology and social networking what's hot today can be over tomorrow.
In fact, there a huge number of people have already begun to leave Facebook and look for other ways to network. However, it's not as easy as it sounds. The problem with leaving Facebook is, especially if you've been using the site for a long time, it's difficult to remove all of your data. In fact, if you delete your Facebook account, the information you've shared and the data you've uploaded to their servers still belongs to them. It takes a great deal of work to completely delete your Facebook account.
In spite of that, it's not impossible to remove your data from the Facebook server. In fact, Google is actively trying to make it easy for users to do just that. If you want to liberate your data and branch out to other social networking sites, here are a few things you can do:
Let Google do the heavy lifting. Google has developed a tool designed to assist Google + users in taking their Facebook data with them. The Google Data Liberation tool is easy to use. You simply sign in and link your account. With just a few clicks you can export all of your photos and upload them to your Photobucket account, where you can then do whatever you'd like with them.
Find another calendar management tool. When I quit Facebook earlier this year, one of the biggest challenges was keeping up with what was going on. I didn't realize how much I relied on Facebook to remind me of upcoming events and birthdays. While other social sites like Twitter can help you stay connected to your friends, you'll need a good calendar tool. Personally, I use Google Calendars, but there are many really great options. The key is to plan ahead.
Don't use your Facebook account to log into other sites. If you aren't ready to quit Facebook, but worry about privacy issues, don't use your Facebook account to log into apps or other sites. When you link your accounts, you are giving Facebook permission to use all of your information from the third-party site. In addition, after finishing using Facebook, sign out before surfing the web. Most of these sites will provide you with an option to create an account separately.
Find other ways to connect with customers. If you use Facebook to connect with customers, look for other social networking options. Social media is still in the early stages and there are many programs that can help you manage your business and reach out to customers.
Do you think that you are too dependent on Facebook? Have you considered quitting? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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