The Proliferation Of “Fake” On Social Media

Last week I read a blog post by Randy Hilarski titled Fake Followers an Epidemic of Narcissistic Proportions. In that post he talked about the rise of fake Instagram accounts that follow all of us, using the avatars of very pretty women. It’s pretty easy to tell these accounts are fake because… well, let’s face the fact that suddenly having a stunning woman with a foreign name following you is pretty suspect. If you need to you can click on the name and notice there’s only a few images along with a fake link to follow if you want more… trust me, never click on those links.

nothing fake about this nutella pie!

Randy’s comment was on the people who see these fake accounts, are shooting for higher follower accounts, accept them, probably add them back and try to get more. The narcissism part of it all is the chase for numbers, quality or not, because in some minds numbers equate to some kind of status.

I’m going to address that part first; he’s absolutely correct. I mean, we look at a blog’s ranking. We look at how many Twitter followers a person has. We look to see how many people are connected to us on LinkedIn and Google Plus. Instagram; pshaw! lol It’s not total narcissism because, for some people, the more connections they have the better the possibility of making money, even big money.

Yet, there are a lot of people who fall for “fake”.

I can’t tell you how many blogs I visit where there are tons of spam comments that sometimes the blog owner has responded to without recognizing them, or totally ignored because maybe they never respond to comments and are happy for whatever activity they’re getting.

I can’t tell you how many people I see on Twitter that have tens of thousands of people following them, and when you look at some of the accounts following you see a lot of bots and accounts with that stupid egg thing.

Sometimes I look at my numbers and think “man, I wish I could figure out how to make that bigger”. However, it’s usually a fleeting thought. Y’all know by now that I’m an engager; if there’s no possibility that we’ll ever talk I rarely stick with you for long. On Twitter, if the first time someone wants to talk to me is via a direct message rather than in the open, I’m probably unfollowing unless I have a special reason to stay connected… but it’s rare.

A few nights ago I happened to have Tweetdeck open; that’s what I use to connect on Twitter. I heard an alert, so I went to check it out. It turned out that someone had liked a post I’d shared there a couple of days earlier. Then, over the next 20 minutes or so there were 34 more people who liked the same exact post.

Whereas most people might have been flattered, I’m a bit more skeptical than that. If I had more than 100K people following me and it happened, I might have just passed it off. However, I decided to take a better look for my own edification.

2014-08-01 Castlefest 2014, Cherilyn

Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography
via Compfight
she doesn’t want to know you…

What I noticed is that every single account that liked that article had a cartoon avatar. There wasn’t a single real person’s image on any of them. Also, none of them were connected with me, including the first person. When I checked a few of those accounts I noticed they were following way more people than they had following them. That’s usually a major sign that an account is either fake, or at the least a bit dodgy.

In this case, the idea of narcissism comes back into play, trying to make people feel good and hoping they’ll follow the account back to the profile. You can bet each of them has a link that will take you to either some kind of sales site or spam/malware site. Since I was only looking at a couple of accounts to verify my thoughts, I wasn’t inclined to click on a link to see what it would take me. Truthfully, I’d have had to slap myself silly if I did. 🙂

Although it happens in greater numbers on Twitter and Instagram, there are lots of fake accounts that try to hook up with us on Facebook, Google Plus and even LinkedIn. Many times they don’t have an avatar. Sometimes you’ll notice the account was recently created. Facebook gets sneakier because sometimes it’s the name of someone you’re already connected to, and you wonder if that person killed their account and came back if it’s someone you haven’t connected with in a while.

I’m not going to denigrate anyone who wants big numbers. Even though it’s not always all it seems to be cracked up to me, if it’s legitimate it can look pretty impressive.

I’m just putting out the warning to watch out for fake accounts, block or report them, and don’t click on links from anyone you don’t know (and sometimes from people you know whose post seems out of character). Be wise and be smart; that’s all I’m asking. 🙂
 

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Creating Products That Already Exist… Kind Of…

Five years ago today, I wrote a post highlighting a product I’d created about 5 years earlier as it pertains to my leadership coaching and training business. The post was titled Mitchell Employee Evaluation Module because that’s what the title is of the item as well. If you want to skip the post and just check out the item itself, click here.

evalmodule

Although I talked about the item in that previous post, it was fairly clinical and pretty short. I just told what it was then; I was in a period where I remembered that I had products and wanted to get the word out. The strange thing is I never wrote about it on my business blog; I’m going to have to rectify that, and soon.

I didn’t talk about the process of creating it and a moment of indecision about it. I figured this was a good time to talk about that because, though it’s not a fascinating tale, it’s an inspirational one, if I say so myself. 🙂

If you’ve ever been an employer, you know it can sometimes be difficult to conduct interviews to find the right people for the position you need to fill. The problem is that for most positions there are a high number of people with close to the same qualifications and it can be hard to figure out which person to take. You also have to guard against perceptions of favoritism, racism, sexism, and a host of other isms. Truthfully, I hated having to go through the hiring process as a director.

If it’s that stressful to hire employees, try imagining what it might be like hiring someone for a leadership position. Then imagine what it’s probably like for people who might be looking for someone with certain qualities on one day of interviews, then suddenly changes the next day. It can get pretty ugly for many people.

It was never a problem for me though. I always knew the type of people I wanted to put into leadership positions. As you can imagine, I was also kind of different than the norm, and in the right position to do so.

Health care billing is one of those positions where a person without a college degree can actually be promoted into a supervisory position. Depending on the hospital, many can also get promoted into director positions if they show they have the skills in bringing in money and managing what we call the front end of the revenue cycle process. You don’t need to know all of that; what you need to know is that those types of jobs don’t always require a college degree.

Or do they? That actually depends on the hospital. There are many hospitals across the United States that not only require a degree, but want some kind of certification as well. There’s very groups that offer certifications in that respect, which means it’s pretty expensive to get those degrees. Therefore, not everyone has one; I don’t. However, I’ve done pretty well; I did help a hospital increase their revenue by $730 million in one year after all (yeah, I’m bragging lol).

It was the “do they or don’t they” question that prompted me to create the module. I sat down and came up with categories I felt were important in deciding what type of person an employer might need. Then I came up with different qualities under each category. In all, I ended up with 46 qualities.

I then created a spreadsheet for employers to use. The basic idea was to first answer a series of questions that lead hiring parties to determine what they were actually looking for. The next step was to go through the 46 qualities, based on the other answers, and pick 10 overall qualities they wanted in new managers.

This helped for two reasons. One, it made those who had to do the hiring actually evaluate what they needed and why. Two, it gave them the option of deciding if they needed that degree or not.

Just so you know, most of the time when people are hiring and ask for a degree, they don’t really need someone with a degree. It’s use is aimed at reducing the number of applications that come in for a position. Some might not want me telling you that, but I’m not in HR. lol

It was during the period of creating the spreadsheets when I had a minor dip in faith. This led me to talk to my friend Kelvin, who now runs a business called Intensely Positive. I hadn’t told him I was creating the product until I’ve reached this point, so he just listened as I explained the whole thing to him.

My issue wasn’t that there were other products on the market that could help employers figure out how to hire people. They weren’t exactly like mine, so I had that going for me. My issue was that I was creating spreadsheets that would become part of the package.

I said to Kelvin “These are just spreadsheets I’m creating in Excel. Anyone could sit down at a computer and do this.”

His response was quick: “They could, but they didn’t. You did.”

Truthfully, that’s all it took for me to go ahead and finish, which I did by the end of the next week. Other than my books and CD series, it was the first product I created. Not that I’ve sold a lot of them, but I have sold some. Back then I actually had to mail them out; now it’s a quick download. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be updated either; whew!

This is the beauty of creating products. Sure, there might be something similar, but nothing is actually a total copy when you think about it. Our buddy Troy Sweezy convinced me to read a book titled Steal Like An Artisticon, and the author pretty much said this same thing, that being very few things are actually new in today’s world. People either improve them or make them different in some way so that people believe they’re totally new.

If you’re using the excuse that “it already exists” or “why would anyone buy from me”, get rid of it now. Create your product, put it out there, market it, work it, and sell it; go ahead and do your thing. Even if it doesn’t become the next blockbuster thing that makes you a millionaire… you created a product! 😀
 

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Of Course We All Look Good On Social Media

Oh, the angst!

Every once in a while I start a post, can’t quite figure out what direction I want to go, and save it to draft. I figured it was time to pull this one out of draft and go ahead and get it written because recently there was something that happened that fits right in with this theme.

looking good on wedding day

 

Last week a young and very pretty model who has a major Instagram following decided it was time for her to shut down her account. The reason she gave for shutting down the account is she felt it was telling people a lie about how good and perfect her life was. She said she didn’t feel that way at all, and that social media had turned her into a liar.
Continue reading Of Course We All Look Good On Social Media

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The Stuff You Haven’t Been Told About How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Back in May I wrote a post talking about trying to make my sites mobile friendly. I shared some links in that post where you can check to see if your sites are ready for mobile or if they need some work. I also had a few gripes in that post; that’s because no matter what I was reading, I just couldn’t figure things out.

code101

At least my blogs were all fine, thanks to WP Touch. I use the free version because I don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with it, but it’s a fabulous program that helps WordPress blogs become mobile friendly. If you’re not using this and aren’t mobile friendly, it’s a plugin you need to check out.

For the rest of us… well, it’s basically taken me over 5 months to finally figure out what was going wrong with all that I’d been trying to do to get my sites mobile compliant, and when I finally figured it out, it turns out that the information wasn’t on any of the websites I’d been reading. So, I’m going to address some of what I discovered on my quest; some is on other sites, some isn’t, and some wasn’t explained fully. These won’t be in any particular order, but I’ll number them in case there’s some you already know and some you don’t.

1. Table coding structure

Do you see that code above in the image? All coders know that, except for a couple of enhancements, that’s the basic table coding structure for websites. This particular snippet is the code I use when I put images on my blog posts, whether they’re mine or whether I’m using the Compfight plugin, which finds free images that are allowed to be used via Flickr and Creative Commons.

Anyway, most websites use this structure to put their websites together, whether or not they also use CSS (cascading stylesheets). At least they use it as an initial basis because it’s stable and helps lock many elements into place.

The problem as it concerns mobile comes when you’re designating specific sizes that might be higher than what mobile will allow in general. I’m one of those anal types who usually set my initial tables at 90%, which means that my content would spread out over 90% of the space on someone’s monitor. I’ve always thought that helped things look pretty cool… but it turns out that it ends up fighting anything you try to do with mobile. It’s the reason this code I had found, meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width initial-scale=1″, wouldn’t work on any of my sites; ugh. What I decided to do was take out the width connected with my main tables. That helped a great deal… but there’s more (as always lol).

On some of my sites I was using the Google box ads. To make them format within my content I used the same table code.

On my medical billing site, the size of the menu on the left side and the size of the table in the content made the mobile version too big. I couldn’t shrink the size of the menu, so I had to remove the box code. That brought the pages on that site that I altered into compliance, and instead of fighting to keep the side box I switched to a different code… which I’ll come back to later.

On my main business site, I totally removed all secondary tables and went back to original coding instead, using the main table only and breaking the two columns up by using the

tag. I also altered the size of the two columns by making the width of the first td tag to 15% and the second one to 50%. I needed to go with the 65% because on that site I have two images up against each other, and they wouldn’t show properly if I reduced the size of the columns more.

2. Logo images

If you go to the page that talks about speed, it’ll recommend that you reduce the size of your images so they’ll load faster. What they don’t tell you is that you might need to reduce the width of your images as well for true mobile compliance.

On my medical billing site, the logo was 793 pixels; on my business site the combined size of the two images was around 850 pixels. That’s way bigger than the allowed size for the initial mobile size, thus you’ll never be mobile compliant that way. Although I loved the way the larger images looked, I knew I had to make a change.

Screenshot_2015-11-02-00-41-02

For the medical billing site, I reduced the width of the image to 400 pixels. On my main browser it’s definitely smaller, but still looks pretty cool. On my business site, I went a totally different direction and changed the height to 100 pixels for both images. It reduced the size of them both enough so that they would be compliant. The only problem I have is that if you look at it on the phone lengthwise the first image sits on top of the other one but I can deal with that because one, I doubt many people will be looking it up on their phone (maybe the blog), but two, if they’re like me they’ll probably turn their phone sideways, where they line up properly.

3. Google code

If you read that previous post, you will have seen my little rant that one of the issues turns out to be Google’s own stupid code. The code size that always worked the best was the 728×90 ad, which one normally put at the top of a page. Well, that 728 is way too big for mobile phones, so it looked like Google wasn’t giving us a choice of what to do.

Turns out they had made a relatively recent change that I didn’t know about, that I learned of from Lisa Irby’s YouTube channel, where she was talking about responsive ads and how one of her friends had doubled his income since switching. I don’t know about all that, but what I discovered is that if you use the responsive ad, it alters its size based on where people are viewing it. So, if it’s on their home browser they’ll get a big ad, even bigger than the 728, and if it’s on the phone and people aren’t blocking those ads they’ll show up perfectly for them and as big as they’re allowed.

I tried this out on my medical billing site and it works wonders! However, remember earlier when I was talking about using the tables for the ads within my content? For some reason the responsive ads won’t work if confined, and the table made the overall size for the phones being viewed lengthwise that it took them out of compliance. What I’ve done instead is killed that side box and put a second responsive ad at the end of the content. Since I was only running two ads on each page, and hopefully people are reading all the way to the end of those articles… all should be good long term, and I’m still mobile compliant.

4. Viewport code

Remember that viewport code I shared above? I had a couple of pages where I was having trouble with it in that form. The Google insights page kept saying to use the code as given; forget that mess. Most of today’s smartphones will handle a width size of up to 525 pixels, so what I did was alter the code and make the width 500. I had seen this figure altered on a couple of pages I visited while trying to figure things out. However, what none of them did that I did was to leave the second part of that script in there, the initial-scale part. For some reason it helped bring everything together; I can’t explain it but it worked. 🙂

By making all these changes, my pages were suddenly mobile compliant; yay! That doesn’t mean they’re perfect by any means. If I put the code into the insights page, it keeps finding recommendations to make to try to get to 100%. However, the main thing we all want to achieve is compliance, since that’s the thing Google is penalizing some of us for, and these changes overcame that.

To think, it only took me 5 months! lol Hopefully, if you’ve run into any problems this will help you solve some of them. I still have a ways to go to get to all the pages on those two sites, and I have one more site where the coding was so intensive that I’m going to have to do something drastic with it… but at least I now know what needs to be done… and you do also. 😉
 

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