Tips for Safer Social Networking Passwords

I love these suggestions on how to “stay safe out there” as we navigate our way around our favorite social networks. For instance, “make sure you select or create a question with an answer only you would know, not something a hacker could easily find on your Facebook wall or Twitter profile”. Common sense right? Well that’s all well and good, but what I really need, what I really, really need, is some secure application or tool that will remember all my logins and passwords. Seriously, I can’t remember any of that stuff! It makes me crazy!

My memory loss aside, here are some great tips to safer social networking passwords.

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By their very nature, social networking sites like Google, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace are gold mines for cyber criminals looking to steal your identity or hijack your account.  All four sites have recently revamped or released new privacy settings, largely in response to outcries from a critical public and skeptical media.

And, just in time for Halloween, Facebook unveiled a Houdini-ish new privacy feature, offering users a “one-time,” disposable password for use on public computers or to double-check the security of your account.

The disappearing trick is just a good reminder as any of the importance of using safe, secure passwords for all your online accounts.  So take a moment this month to review your passwords and follow these 7 top tips to stay protected:

1)    Be Creative: Create a password with a mixture of numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters.  Skip keyboard patterns like “qwerty” or sequential patters like “abcd1234” and go for the combo – it gives you more options and makes it that much harder for anyone to crack.

2) Make it Long: Your password should be at least eight characters long, but the longer the better.

3) Use Non-Identifiable Information: Forget that combination of your first pet’s name and the first street you lived on.  Never use information that people may find out about you, i.e. your maiden name, your employer or even the name of your uncle twice-removed.

4) Go Foreign: “Parlez-vous français?”  When it comes to your password, you should.  Try using foreign words that aren’t in the English dictionary.  And, better yet, combine those words with mixed-case letters, numbers and punctuation marks for extra security.

5) Stay Mum: It seems every site these days requires a password so you may be tempted to write them all down or send yourself an email to keep them straight.  If you have to have a written record, keep it stored in a secure place with a non-identifying label.  The same goes for your computer, create a unique name for the file where your passwords are saved.  Also, never reveal your passwords to friends or even family members.


Social Media Marketing to Baby Boomers… Don’t Sleep on Their Influence and Power!

I once saw a tweet that read, “If you’re over 40 and on Twitter I don’t know why you are here.” I would question that if you’re over 40 and NOT on Twitter or at least on Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube I don’t know what you are doing… period. Social networking is not just child’s play anymore. Don’t let your marketing campaigns count out the Boomers. There are plenty of them and plenty of them are online!

I’m toward the tail end of that Baby Boomer spectrum (some don’t even consider me a Boomer) and while I haven’t hit 50 years old yet I am often one of the more “seasoned” social media folks in the room. What I bring to the table is over 20 years of mass communications experience and using social media is just another way to communicate ideas. The social networking portion of it builds community. You can to recognize that there are communities of all ages. If there is a need, if there is a need, there will be an audience for it and you can use social media marketing to reach many of them in ways never done before!

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Facebook is not just for kids anymore, nor is LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or the many other popular social media platforms and services. As today’s Pew Research Center study entitled “Older Adults and Social Media” concludes, “Social networking use among those ages 50 and older nearly doubled over the past year.” In fact, the fastest growing demographic of social networking users consists of Baby Boomers ages 50 to 64. Nearly half (47 percent) of internet users ages 50-64 and about one in four (26 percent) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites, according to the study.

If your business or marketing department has dismissed Facebook and other social networking venues or social media platforms as digital playgrounds for indolent teenagers and twenty-somethings, this Pew Research Center study should be the blaring wake-up call to get you thinking otherwise.

More and more older adults are spending increasing amounts of time on the internet and on social media sites in particular. As you might suspect, they are connecting with old friends, keeping in touch with family members, building personal and professional networks to help find jobs and advance careers, and managing their daily communications. And wherever your company’s targeted demographic or secondary market is spending increasing amounts of time, you should be shifting increasing focus on your marketing efforts.

Even if you have a well-established social media presence, this recent study serves to increase awareness of the potential demographic you’re reaching via social media. As a result, you may want to revisit your messaging, so it resonates beyond the younger set and has more of cross-generational appeal. In other words, language like “Hey, check this out” or “You guys are gonna love this” might not be your best play.