How Can I Make My Facebook Account Secure?

Privacy is on people’s minds more than ever. Within the last few months, we have seen Yahoo!SnapchatTargetAdobe, and many more companies be infiltrated by hackers and the private, sensitive information of their customers be published to the internet.

There are many things you can do to keep yourself more secure online like using different passwords on different sites, creating complex passwords, never giving sensitive information via email, only buying from reputable, secure websites, etc.

Social media privacy and security settings are also very important. Just think of all the information you give out on social media: gender, age, where you work, relationship status, home address, phone number, email address, and pictures of your family and friends. The list goes on and on and on. You need to control the people that can access that type of information, and your privacy settings can achieve this.

To do this, update your settings on all of the networks you belong to, even your MySpace page you haven’t looked at in five years. Because 57% of adults and 73% of 12-17 year olds use Facebook, this post will focus on Facebook’s privacy settings.

Facebook has taken some heat about their privacy settings because they were hard to understand and hard to change. They also defaulted so your posts and pictures were public to anyone on the network. You would have to go in and change those settings if you didn’t want your information to be public. Facebook changed this option at the end of May, but that leaves roughly 1.3 billion users with a potentially revealing profile.

Disclaimer: the screenshots in this post are from my personal Facebook page and may look different than your page. I have blurred out sections to not reveal people and business names. These directions are for Facebook accessed from a desktop computer and the screenshots reflect this.

First things first, you have to find your privacy and security settings. Look to the upper right hand side of the Facebook screen. There will be a triangle pointed down. Click that and you should see options similar to the image below. Click on “Settings” and we are off!

Facebook Settings

You will be taken to your account settings page. The page displayed first is the General Account Settings page. You can edit your primary email address and change your password on this screen. For the sake of this post, click on “Security” (see below).

Facebook General Account Settings

Security Settings

The Security Settings page has seven different settings: Login Notifications, Login Approvals, Code Generator, App Passwords, Trusted Contacts, Trusted Browsers, and Where You’re Logged In. I will go through each below.


Login Notifications

Facebook will notify you when it believes someone is trying to access your account that isn’t you. You can receive notifications via email or text message/push notification or both. This isn’t 100% necessary, but I really can’t think of a reason to not get the notification. A text or an email never hurt anyone and then you can change your password as needed to prevent a breach.

Login Approvals

This is an extra login step if you or someone is trying to log into your account from a new or different device or computer. If you turn on login approvals, you will need to enter a security code each time you try to access your account from a new computer or mobile device. You’ll have the option to save a computer or device to your account so you won’t have to input a code every time.

Code Generator

The generator is found within the Facebook app (find where to access the generator on your device) and is used to generate a code you must enter if you are trying to access your account from a new computer or device. You must be logged into your account on a mobile device that has previously been recognized as a safe device. I have Code Generator enabled. I always have my phone with me so I feel this is a sufficient way, for me, to verify my identity.

App Passwords

Many applications use or piggyback Facebook for their service. If you use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to post to Facebook, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck use Facebook’s API to post to the network. If you use Facebook’s App Passwords, you can require each app that accesses Facebook to have its own password. That is a lot of passwords to remember!

Trusted Contacts

Have you ever gotten locked out of your Facebook account? You can designate three Facebook friends that you trust that can help you get back into your account. All you need to do is call your three Trusted Contacts and each of them can get a security code for you. Once you get the three codes, enter them into Facebook to regain access.

There seem to be a lot of “what-ifs” with this option. “What if Bill doesn’t answer his phone?” “What if Karen and I break up as BFFs?” I think I would rather regain access the old fashioned way of resetting my password via email. But that’s just me.

Trusted Browsers

Facebook remembers devices you have logged in from, and considers them a Trusted Browser. You can remove Trusted Browsers but cannot add them. I see this being helpful if you sell your phone on Craigslist and want to make sure that device cannot access your profile after you sell it.

Where You’re Logged In

This feature is cool and could be helpful. You can view where you are currently logged into Facebook. You can also view where, when, how you have logged into Facebook recently. You have the ability to “End Activity” if anything looks fishy. Take a look below.


This is a very cool feature that you could check every now and again just to be safe.

Privacy Settings

As you probably noticed, the Security Settings focus on keeping your account secure. Privacy settings focus on your content: who can see your content, who can contact you, who can find you, etc.

Take a look at the screenshot below. To access your Privacy Settings, look to the left of the screen under the “Security” tab is the “Privacy” tab. Click that.


The Privacy Settings section is broken up into three main sections: Who can see my stuff?, Who can contact me?, and Who can look me up? Let’s go over those sections now.

Who can see my stuff?

This section has three settings you can access. This first is “Who can see your future posts?” This sets the default setting of who can see your posts. Your options are public, friends, and custom. I have my setting at Friends. You can always change this setting in real-time on each post. If you want anyone on Facebook to be able to see your posts, set this to Public.

The next option is “Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in.” This will take you to your Activity Log so you can review all your activity on Facebook. It shows anything you’ve liked or commented on, it show anything you’ve posted, and it shows anything you have been tagged in. This is good to review from time to time to check if anything looks fishy.

The third option is “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or Public.” Once upon a time not so long ago, Facebook defaulted to share your posts with everyone on Facebook. Even if you go in and change who can see your future posts, all your previous posts would remain public. If you want to limit all your previous posts to just your friends, change this setting to “Limit Past Posts.”

Who can contact me?

You can change who can send you friend requests in this first option. I have mine set to Everyone because I have to approve the request, but the other option is Friends of Friends. This only allows people that are Facebook friends with your Facebook friends to send you friend requests.

Facebook created an “Other” folder in your Facebook inbox. If someone that you are not friends with sends you a message, the message will likely be sent to your “Other” folder. However, currently you are not notified if there is an unread message in your “Other” folder.

The next setting sets your Inbox filtering. The options are “Basic” and “Strict.” Basic filtering is recommended by Facebook and the option I use. Someone can’t necessarily gain anything by messaging me. If I get a message from someone I don’t know, I just delete it, and that ends it.

Who can look me up?

Most people provide their email and phone number on their Facebook page. This section lets you limit who can look you up by that information. The first is your email address. The options are everyone, friends of friends, and friends. I have mine set on everyone because my email if fairly public and I don’t mind if someone contacts me via email.

The next setting is for your phone number. You have the same options as for your email: everyone, friends of friends, friends. I have mine set to just friends. For a long time I didn’t have my phone number on my Facebook profile, but to use some of the security settings, Facebook needs to associate a phone number to your profile. This is definitely up to your preference, but think about how easily accessible you want your personal phone number.

Have you Googled yourself lately? When I Google “aaron blumer sioux falls,” my Facebook profile is the fifth result. Being in the digital world, I want people to Google my name and my profiles be visible. If you don’t want to show up on search engines, you can change this last setting so your profile won’t show up if someone searches your name.

Whew! That is a lot to think about, right? If you’ve made it this far, don’t stop now. There is still one more important section to look over: Timeline and Tagging Settings.

Timeline and Tagging Settings

Same as before, look to the left and click on “Timeline and Tagging.” This section is split into three sections that answer “Who can add things to my timeline?,” “Who can see things on my timeline?,” and “How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?”


Who can add things to my timeline?

Your Facebook timeline represents your likes and dislikes, your ideas, your personality, and more! Your timeline represents you and you need to control what goes on your timeline. The first setting lets you control who can post to your timeline. Your options are friends or only me. I have mine set to friends, but you can easily make it so you are the only one that can post to your timeline by changing this setting.

The next setting allows you to manually approve or reject a post you are tagged in before it posts to your timeline. I think this is a little deceiving. It only controls what is allowed on your timeline. Posts you are tagged in still appear in search, news feed and other places on Facebook. You get a notification when you are tagged in a post anyway, so manually approving or rejecting it before it goes on my timeline seems pointless. I can see it being an extra notification if you are tagged in a post you don’t want to be tagged in. You can then contact the poster and ask to be removed. But I leave this feature disabled.

Who can see things on my timeline?

The first option here is a really cool feature. It allows you to view your profile as someone who is not friends with you, or you can type in specific people to view how they see your profile. This is a great check to see if your security and privacy settings are set to how you would like them to be for friends and nonfriends.

Next you can limit who sees posts you are tagged in that are on your timeline. Your options are everyone, friends of friends, friends, friends except acquaintances, only me, and custom. Since only my friends can see my profile and only my friends can post on my profile, I just keep this setting at friends. One scenario I can see is if you are friends with your boss or coworkers on Facebook and you don’t want them finding out what you do with your free time (crocheting scarves, training your cat to use the toilet, etc).

The last setting in this group is very similar to the previous setting, but is for what others post on your timeline. If you have people posting weird things on your timeline that you don’t want certain people to see, you can control that with this setting. Moving on.

How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?

You can review if your friends tag themselves or someone else on your content with this first setting. You will always be notified if someone you aren’t friends with tries to tag any of your posts, but I like to have this enabled so I can monitor my content closely even if it is my friend that is adding to my post.

Odds are your friends have friends that aren’t your friends. Clear as mud? When Bob posts a picture and tags me in it, Bob’s friends can see that picture of me, but I have friends that Bob is not friends with that now see that post because Bob tagged me in the image.

The next setting allows me to restrict the people who see Bob’s picture with me tagged. The options are friends, only me, and custom. If you don’t want your friends seeing what you are posted in, select “only me.” I have mine set to “friends” because thinking about this setting makes my head hurt a little and I believe Facebook is about sharing, so why not let everyone see what I’m tagged in! Right?

This last setting is a little creepy. When a friend uploads a photo you are in, Facebook can automatically recognize that you are in the image and suggest your friend tag you in the picture. Creepy, right?! The good thing is that if some weirdo takes a picture of you while you were on vacation and uploads it to Facebook you won’t be automatically suggested to tag in the image. Sorry weirdo picture taker. The setting allows the suggestions to be given to your friends or no one. Your choice. However it is defaulted to your friends so change that if you feel it’s necessary.


Uff da! That’s a lot of settings! If you made it this far, give yourself a gold star and a pat on the back. I hope this was a good review for you or maybe you even learned something. Remember, we share a ton of personal and private information online. Privacy and security settings are a step in securing your data from someone who may misuse it. Stay safe everyone!

stay safe


Fun Fact: The words “friend” or “friends” was used 52 times in this post! Yay friends! (now 53)

BONUS! Blocking

Do you have an annoying aunt that always comments on your posts? Does that same aunt invite you to play Farmville and Fishville and Cityville and other dumb games? My name starts with two “A’s” that means I am at the top of everyone’s list when those annoying games tell you to “share for more coins” or whatever they say. So I have a fairly extensive block list.

To the left of the Facebook screen, under Timeline and Tagging is Blocking. This tab allows you to put people on a restricted list, block specific users from viewing your content, block app invites from specific people, block event invites from specific people, and block specific apps. The blocking section is glorious if your name is Aaron or Aaliyah, or if your mom just got Facebook and really doesn’t understand how it works yet.


Social Media

12 Online Management Tools If You’re On a Budget

More than ever businesses and brands need to monitor themselves on social media. Even if you aren’t active on a certain network, your customers are and you need to know what they are saying about you. Most businesses feel they should be on social media, but don’t have the time or the staff to put the effort in to multiple platforms.

If you have tried to post to Twitter, Facebook, and your blog, while trying to answers your customers’ questions and comments online AND at the same time you have this small task of running your business, you know what a nightmare it can be.

This post is here to help!

I am going to assume you have determined you know the networks your customers on which your customers are most active. I am also going to assume you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a platform. All the platforms and websites listed below offer their services for FREE! I will also let you know the services I use and why.

Let’s start with the more common platforms.

Buffer Aaron Approved

Buffer is a great tool that will help you in two main ways. First, you can write a bunch of posts at one time, and choose which social profiles to send them to, and then Buffer will spread them out throughout the day or week so that you don’t have to be at a computer all the time in order to have a social media presence. Second, since we shorten your links for you, we are able to provide more analytics than if you just were to post to Twitter or Facebook directly. For example, we can tell you exactly how many folks clicked on each of your links.

Aaron Approved! I really haven’t used Buffer for very long, but I absolutely love it. I have small windows of time throughout the day where I can jump on social media. So instead of rapid firing off 10 tweets in a row, I can simply add the post to my Buffer and it will schedule the posts for me. The links analytics is a plus, and I love the ability to publish immediately or jump a post to the top of the queue. The Buffer browser extension is an absolute must to share with a click.

Facebook Insights Aaron Approved

Facebook Insights provide measurements on your page’s performance and are available after at least 30 people like your page. Find anonymized demographic data about your audience, and see how people are discovering and responding to your posts.

Aaron Approved! This really goes without saying. If you have a Facebook brand page, you MUST use Facebook Insights. Analyze everything about your page and you also have to ability to export the data so you can analyze it even further. Data nerd alert!

Hootsuite Aaron Approved

Hootsuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard.

Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audience and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard. Streamline team workflow with scheduling and assignment tools and reach audiences with geo-targeting functionality. Invite multiple collaborators to manage social profiles securely, plus provide custom reports using the comprehensive social analytics tools for measurement.

Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and more.

Aaron Approved! I use Hootsuite when I am in front of a computer. I solely use it to consume content, but you can share and schedule posts easily from the dashboard. Hootsuite is super easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Tip: I create lists on Twitter and put every account I follow into a corresponding list (News, Marketing, Friends, etc). The I setup my Hootsuite streams to pull in specific lists. This way I can easily identify different types of content and organize my streams.

Google Alerts Aaron Approved

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries. Enter a search query you wish to monitor. You will see a preview of the type of results you’ll receive.

Aaron Approved! I really don’t use Google Alerts to its full capabilities, but it is a very useful tool. I use it to notify me if someone posts about me or my family. I get an automatic update every time someone posts about me and I get a weekly update of mentions of my wife online. That is all I use it for, but these alerts are very important.

Klout Aaron Approved

Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100.

Aaron Approved! Some people are not fans of Klout. I am indifferent, but use it to track my social media influence. Klout is trying to be a “content sharing” platform. I believe there are better options out there (Hootsuite, Buffer), but I can see how some people could come to like the platform. I use it as a benchmark monitoring tool. I have a goal to not let my Klout score to drop below 50. Soon I will be bumping that to 55. Some people have given Klout a hard time because they say, “What does a Klout score of 55 even mean?” It really means nothing, but if someone you respect in your field has a score of 65, then you can benchmark yourself against that person. You can also use it as I do to monitor yourself.


TweetDeck: Owned by Twitter, TweetDeck is a desktop application similar to Hootsuite. Monitor multiple timelines in one easy interface. Schedule tweets to be posted in the future. Turn on alerts to keep up with emerging information. Filter searches based on criteria like engagement, users, and content type. Build and export custom timelines to put on your website. Use intuitive keyboard shortcuts for efficient navigation. Mute users or terms to eliminate unwanted noise. TweetDeck timelines stream in real-time. Manage multiple accounts, tweet, and follow from one or all.

Note: I have used TweetDeck in the past, and just prefer Hootsuite. I know many people that prefer TweetDeck over Hootsuite. It’s really a great tool and is really a matter of preference. If you haven’t used either, check them both out.

Now for some maybe lesser known solutions.


Icerocket is a free resource for brand monitoring. It taps the internet, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and delivers easy-to-read results in one page. It has a fairly minimal and easy to use interface. It is a great tool if you would like to search blogs, Twitter, or Facebook individually or all at once. Just type in what you need to search and the results are neatly arranged on the page.


Mention is an iPhone and Android app that lets you create alerts for your company, its keywords, your brand, and your competitors. Updates in real time. This app is similar and lets you create your first alert for free. It looks nicer than Google Alerts, but if you need multiple alerts, use Google Alerts.


Netvibes is the all-in-one dashboard intelligence platform for real-time social media monitoring, social analytics, brand sentiment, reputation management. Netvibes offers a free option along with two paid options. When Google stopped offering iGoogle, most of those loyal users flocked to Netvibes.

You can monitor a topic without signing in. Without an account, you can see news about your topic from Bing News, Yahoo News, Google, Twingly, YouTube, and Dailymotion. If you login for a free account, you can like your Twitter profile and see news and results from Twitter. You can also add widgets to monitor everything from Facebook to your website’s Google Analytics.

Note: I haven’t played around with Netvibes enough to give it my recommendation, but it looks really awesome. I will be adding this to my shortlist of things to try out. If you are looking for a dashboard that will give you almost any information you could need, check out Netvibes.

Plugg.io Aaron Approved

Plugg.io is a web-based system to help individuals, businesses, organizations and marketers easily grow and manage their social media profiles. It includes a suite of tools to organize and keep track of multiple accounts, get more followers, and automate the finding and publishing of excellent targeted content.

Note: Plugg.io is very similar to Hootsuite and TweetDeck. However, Plugg.io combines the features of Hootsuite with the features of Buffer. You can view your Twitter stream and you can schedule tweets for a specific time or set predetermined times to post, just as in Buffer. If Buffer ever makes me mad, I will definitely switch to Plugg.io. You can also get Twitter stats emailed to you weekly and infographics for free.


TweetBeep: Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates. You can keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL. The alerts are sent to the email address of your choosing.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.

There you go ladies and gentlemen. Twelve options you can use to monitor yourself or your business online. All for FREE! Have you had luck with any of these platforms? Which ones did I forget?

Native Advertising

What You Should Know About Native Advertising

A main goal of marketers is to get people to interact with their brand. As users become more savvy and accustomed to marketers’ tricks online, marketers need to constantly evolve and create new tactics to catch potential customers’ eyes and their dollars. One of these ways is native advertising.

Native advertising isn’t a new strategy. Newspapers and magazines have been using a similar form of native advertising called advertorials for quite some time. Now digital marketers have taken those strategies and implemented them online.

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. In short, advertisers try to disguise their ad so it looks like the content you are already consuming on a particular website or application. Types of native advertising can include text, images, video, and music.

There are six types of native advertising ad units that are commonly used. They are:
1. In-Feed Units
2. Paid Search Units
3. Recommendation Widgets
4. Promoted Listings
5. In-Ad with Native Elements
6. Custom

In-feed ads have perhaps the largest variation in execution. There are three common examples of in-feed ads. An endemic in-feed ad is in a publisher’s normal content and is in story form where the content has been written in partnership with a publisher’s team to match surrounding stories. An example of endemic in-feed ads are the three in the screenshot from Buzzfeed below.

BuzzFeed Native Advertising

A linked in-feed ad is in the normal content as well. It is a promotional ad and links off of the site to content or a brand’s landing page. These ads are seen on Facebook like Amazon’s ad in the screen shot below.

Facebook Native Advertising Example

The third type is in the content well and matches the surrounding stories. This type allows an individual to play, read, view, or watch without leaving to a separate page. An example of these are the video ads that play on YouTube.

Paid search native ads vary between the different search engines, but share similarities. In the screen shot below, the blue box is the search results. That is the content you are presented when you use the search engine. The green boxes are ads Google serves you based on your search query. These ads are a form of native advertising. They mimic the content and they are relevant to what that user is viewing online.

Google Search Native Advertising Example

A common recommendation widget is usually integrated into the footer of the page. The ads are delivered via a widget and can be served based on the content of the article or overall content of the website.

Recommendation Widget Native Advertising Example

Promoted listings are typically found on websites that don’t offer traditional editorial content. They are designed to fit into the browsing experience and are presented to look like the products or services on the website.

Foursquare Native Advertising Example

In-ad units are placed outside of the content and contain relevant content within the ad, and they link to an offsite page.

There is no limit to the possibilities when an advertiser uses custom units. This group encompasses all the ad types that don’t cleanly fit into the previous five categories.

Measuring Success of Native Ads is Just as Important as Other Advertising

As with all online advertising, it is very important to measure the success or failure of these ads. Now that native advertising is becoming more popular you shouldn’t just settle for impressions as a measurement. Impressions are great, but they don’t necessarily tell you what you need to know.

Dig in deeper with native advertising. Are users interacting with the ads? Are they clicking them or sharing them? Are the ads leading to conversions or leads? Are the ads making you money? Go into using native advertising with a strategy and use key metrics to measure if the ads are meeting your goals.

Is Native Advertising Effective?

This really depends on who you ask. Sharethrough notes in an infographic that consumers looked at native ads 53 percent more frequently than display ads. But just because someone looked at an ad doesn’t mean they remember it, right? HubShout reports that when asked, “Do you remember the last sponsored article you read?,” 62 percent said they didn’t remember what it was about or who it was sponsored by.

However, in that same HubShout survey, 45 percent said it is a form of advertising that can be more relevant to them, and 43 percent said it is a form of advertising that can help them learn more about a brand’s industry.

Controversy in Native Advertising

Native advertising is talked about constantly and gaining steam with advertisers. With this new spotlight on this type of advertising, controversy has sprung up. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into native advertising to make sure it isn’t misleading to consumers who might read it as a real editorial. The IAB has also issued a native advertising handbook in an attempt to define native advertising.

Outside of all the legal controversy, there are some internal issues with native advertising as well. Journalists and editorial purists feel the ads muddy and devalue the content. They also feel it decreases the “journalistic integrity” of the content.

There is also possibility of losing your audience’s trust. Ads designed to blend into the content can easily seem spammy and deceptive if not done correctly. People do not want to be tricked and they want to trust that what they are clicking on and what they are reading is the content they were led to believe.

Who’s Doing It Right?

Other than the companies in the screenshots above, many companies have been successful with native advertising. A recent example was a promoted post by Starbucks on May 4th in celebration of the “May the 4th Be With You” holiday. The post below received over 9,000 retweets and 16,000 favorites!

Starbucks Native Advertising Example

Native ads can be effective if there is a solid strategy behind them and the ads are measured appropriately. With many large websites making a majority of their revenue from native ads, it looks as if they are here to stay. Have you seen effective native ads? Do you feel they are relevant to a consumer or do they just take up valuable real estate that should be used for content?