Advice For Marketing With Instagram

marketing with instagramOver the last year, I’ve become very attached to using Instagram. Although I’ve had little training in photography, I consider myself an amateur photographer (or fauxtographer, as defined on Urban Dictionary). I don’t have a fancy camera, but I’ve been doing what I can to get pretty handy with my iPhone.

I started using Instagram last year in preparation for my family’s trip to London last fall because it’s easy to share pictures on Twitter and Facebook with just a few extra taps. When you’re relying on spotty wifi, the more you can automate your social media, the better. Once I started using the app, I was hooked.

Because I didn’t start using Instagram until after Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, I don’t have a lot of experience with the “early days” of Instagram. But from what I hear, there was very little advertising and spam on the app (other than #HashtagAbuse). As with any social network that rapidly gains popularity, savvy marketers will develop strategies to get their companies in front of as many eyes as possible. For businesses who have visually-appealing products, Instagram can be just as effective as Pinterest for driving traffic to your website.

InstaZebra.com created this infographic that gives great information on why it’s important to consider Instagram in your social media strategy. With 150 million monthly users, a clever Instagram strategy could build your audience in a meaningful way. Forget about the “hipster” stereotype of Instagram, and read these statistics:


Disclosure: I received compensation to share this infographic on behalf of InstaZebra. All other opinions on Instagram and social media marketing are my own.

Want to connect with me on Instagram? Find me here.

Social Media Marketing World 2013

social media marketing worldThis spring, I’ve been on a conference bender. I’ve attended three big conferences in the last 3 months, with 2 more in the next month. I can barely recover from one conference before heading out for another, and haven’t adequately blogged about my experiences.

Last week I attended Social Media Marketing World 2013 in San Diego. I was sent by my company, and have already written a recap on the DegreeSearch blog, but there were a few more personal notes that I wanted to put into a blog post here. As soon as I heard about SMMW13, I knew this was THE social media conference for me to attend this year. I’ve been registering for a mix of blogging, search/SEO, and social media events this year, and knew I’d get the best social media information at SMMW13. The list of keynotes and speakers was intense: Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Ric Dragon, Mark Schaefer, Lee Odden, Nichole Kelly, Sally Hogshead, Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, and many other social media practitioners that I’ve come to love and respect.

I knew that the conference would be intense, so I arrived a day before the official conference events began. I did a little shopping, sightseeing, and relaxing. I love going into a conference knowing as many attendees as possible, so I planned a dinner on Saturday night to start the mingling early. The 12 people who attended this dinner ended up being the people that I spent the most time with during the event.

degreesearch business cardsSocial Media Marketing World was the first conference that I’ve attended on behalf of a company. I’ve done some networking for clients before, but it was the first time where I set aside my personal interests (and the business cards with my blog on them) and planned my conference schedule around the sessions that will best help my company. Luckily, my coworker Joseph created these awesome DegreeSearch business cards, and I gained a nice amount of new followers for my company. There were a lot of representatives within higher education, and I loved talking strategy with others who interact in the same circles as I do.

There were some amazing keynotes and sessions that I attended. This is what my conference schedule looked like:

Monday:

  • Social Media Marketing in 2013: New Research and Its Implications by Michael Stelzner
  • Advanced Networking: How to Make Lasting Connections by Larry Benet
  • 10 Ways To Improve Your Facebook Reach by Mari Smith
  • Using Google+ To Build a Platform by Guy Kawasaki
  • The Science Of Community Building In The Age of Social Media by Ric Dragon
  • Social Media ROI: How to Finally Deliver Measurable Results  by Nichole Kelly
  • How To Fascinate With Your Social Media Messages by Sally Hogshead

Tuesday:

  • Are We Getting Better or Just Busier? Panel by Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer, Chris Brogan, and Mario Sundar
  • How to Build a Thriving Community With Blogs – Panel with Srinivas Rao, Marcus Sheridan, Michael Stelzner, and Joe Pulizzi
  • Community Building for Big Brands –  Panel with Sarah Robinson, Susan Wassel (Sharpie), Ekaterina Walter (Intel) and Kat Smith (Petco)
  • Google+ Marketing Success: It’s Much More Than a Social Network  by Jesse Stay
  • How to Implement and Optimize Your Social Strategy by Neal Schaffer
  • Why It Pays To Be Likeable by Dave Kerpen

taking notes at smmw13Every time I attend an event, I’m torn about the best ways to take notes. Do I use my laptop, iPad, or just tweet as I go?

This time around, I decided to take handwritten notes. I’ve read lots of studies that say that you retain information better when you take handwritten notes, and I believe this to be true. I feel like I retained a lot more information than the usual event, but I still kept Twitter open to share awesome quotes. I had a few people tell me that they wished that they took notes by hand. Maybe it will be the new trend. I’m going to do it again at Type-A Philly this weekend.

One of the sessions I really enjoyed was Sally Hogshead talking about How To Fascinate, a personality assessment based on how others view you (not how you view yourself). I took the test, and found out I am a catalyst (motivated by passion and rebellion, appealing to others with emotion and creativity). It’s a great test – I think you should do it!

kersten anderson nicole bullockFrom a social perspective, a social media conference is a great place to make new friends. I met people in the hotel lobby, hotel bar, hotel pool, and throughout the conference areas. Conference attendees were, on the whole, friendly, attentive, and fun to be around.

One of the key friends that I made was Kersten from Speakeasy Market Strategies in Tulsa. She gave me a lot of inspiration, we collaborated some ideas, and she gave me some confidence in the things I’m doing right in social media marketing. But we also became fast friends – we were swimsuit shopping within an hour of meeting each other Saturday, and the fun didn’t stop until we arrived at the airport Wednesday. Kersten and I did a trolley tour of San Diego on Sunday before the craziness of the conference began, hung out at the parties, and roomed together the last night.

The opening night party was at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. We loaded up tour buses at the Marriott, and drove about 10 minutes to the museum. There was a fun game to find people to fill out a “Twitter bingo card” that got people networking (for the chance to win fabulous prizes!). The party atmosphere continued back on the bus to the Marriott, and into the bar. Whether or not you were drinking, people were having fun. I like to be around happy people. I met people from all over the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Philippines, and many other countries.

friends at smmw13 collageMonday night, there was a harbor cruise on a yacht. Before the boat set sail, I went to dinner with a big group at Dick’s Last Resort, and it set the mood for a great time on the boat. I’ve never gone on a cruise before, so it was pretty impressive (to me) to be on a boat with over 1000 people. The bottom floor had dancing and a live band, the middle floor had karaoke, and the top floor was the boat deck with a gorgeous view of the bay. I spent most of my time on the top deck, but did get up on the karaoke stage to sing my go-to karaoke song: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. If it’s not exhilarating to have a group of your peers cheering and singing along with you, I don’t know what is.

I made so many new friends, and I feel sad I didn’t get a picture of all of them. In this photo are some of the people I met at this conference: Amanda (@myofficebooks) from Australia, Kristin (@kristin_bush) from Orange County, Kris (@helloitsbutters) from Iowa, and EJ (@EJSchiller) from Chicago.

I can’t wait until registration for Social Media Marketing World 2014 opens up, because I’m going to be there!

 

Why I Love Type-A Conference

type-a parent conferenceOne of my favorite things about being a blogger is connecting with other bloggers. While social media indeed gives opportunities for connection beyond blogging, the real connections happen in person. I’ve been attending blog conferences since 2009, and the conference where I feel most at home is Type-A Conference.

Beyond BlogHer, which is definitely the most attended blog conference for women, most conferences have a large following regionally. I had never heard of Type-A Conference until early 2011 when my friend Gregory Ng announced on Twitter that he was speaking about videoblogging. For a while, I had a food review blog and I connected with Greg through his frozen food review site FreezerBurns. Not only was I intrigued to find out more tips about vlogging from one of the best, I was also looking for another conference to attend that summer. Earlybird tickets were still available, and I signed up to attend the 2011 Type-A Conference in Asheville, NC.

type-a frelleI loved the tagline for Type-A Conference: Engage, educate, empower, evolve. I knew is was more relevant for me than conference that were for people that are just starting out with blogging (since I started blogging in 2002, I don’t need the basics), and the conference topics were right up my alley. I made plans to room with Kelly (aka @childhood)  who I knew from other conferences, and Jenna (aka @frelle) who became a new friend.

The first year was a little awkward because I knew so few people. I recognized a lot of faces from BlogHer and Bloggy Boot Camps, but I had to go out of my shell to get to know people. And you know what? The people I met at Type-A were SO nice! Greg, who tipped me off the Type-A, was just as wonderful in person as he is in all of his videos (and I learned a ton about videoblogging in his session). I met Kesha, who had a vibrant smile and personality I couldn’t resist (she ended up being my roommate for BlogHer last year. I met Robyn, who I had followed online for years, and we became fast friends. Robyn and I roomed with each other at Type-A in 2012 (and I will room with again this year), but we’ve found a world of things in common and she’s become one of my favorite people in the world (seriously!). I met Nicole, who not only has an awesome name, but she forever has influenced the way I say niche (“It’s niche like quiche, not nitch like b*tch!”)

type-a friendsType-A was held in Charlotte in 2012, and not only did I get to explore another city, I made a GAGGLE of new friends (I love the word gaggle – it makes me giggle).

It’s one thing to say “I have a zillion friends on the interwebz!” but, you know they’re your friends when they’ll help you out on a second’s notice. I could namedrop until kingdom come with the wonderful ladies and gents I met in Charlotte, but the people who have really become very dear friends are Andrea, Jacqueline, and Anne. Whenever I need a favor online, these ladies are always eager to help, and I’m eager to do the same for them.

blogger-town-hall-partners2013 will be an exciting year for the Type-A Conference franchise. Not only will the main Type-A Parent Conference be held in a new city (Atlanta), there are two advanced sessions as well. I’m attending the profit-focused session in Philadelphia in April, and I’ll be speaking about SEO on an expert panel session. In October, Type-A Advanced will be held in New Orleans, and the conference will be focused on visual images.

You will likely hear me talking a lot about Type-A Conference this year because I have been selected as an Official Type-A Parent Conference Partner. I believe in Kelby and the amazing things she has been able to create through Type-A Parent, and I would love others to benefit from the experiences available through Type-A. The conference has a well-established reputation for outstanding learning with actionable takeaways. It features power networking with the best and brightest parents who blog, plus the major brands and firms who want to engage them. Type-A is where influential digital parents grow their business and connect.

If you’re interested in attending, I have a special discount code available for 25% off registration for Type-A Atlanta (for a limited time).

A lot of ladies in Utah have been sad that the EVO conference was discontinued, and I can assure you that Type-A is as high-caliber an event at Type-A – there’s a different feel, but the education and network is just as amazing.

And keep your eyes peeled…I will be doing a giveaway for a full conference ticket to Type-A in April!
type-a collage

 

Peter Shankman In Utah – Let’s “Shank” The Love!

Peter-Shankman-SLC
Over the past year, I have served on the leadership board of Social Media Club of Salt Lake City. One of the fun things about being on the board is helping plan our events and guest speakers. On February 28th, we’ll be having our biggest SMCSLC event since the 2012 relaunch of the Club. Peter Shankman, the world-renown speaker, author, and entrepreneur will be the featured presenter at our February event.

When: Thursday, February 28th at 6:00 PM
Where: The State Room – 638 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Cost: $25 (unless you use an exclusive discount code – details below)
How: Click here on the EventBrite Link

Peter Shankman is recognized worldwide for his radical ways of thinking about social media, marketing, public relations, advertising and customer service. Peter’s incredible expertise, quirky personality and engaging presentation style guarantee this will be an evening you don’t want to miss. He is the inventor of Help A Reporter Out, aka HARO, which allows skilled individuals offer their expertise to the media, which could help you land that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for..

nicole and peter shankmanWhen I was at New Media Expo in Vegas last month, I ran into Peter in the hallway of the Rio. I’ve met Peter before at an event, but it’s been a while. I know that he meets thousands of people a year, so I introduced myself to him as he shook my hand. He said, “Of course I remember you, Nicole.” It always impresses me when people have such a great memory of people that they have previously met…which further indicates his awesome people skills.

Want to attend the event for free?

I am giving away one free ticket to the event, which is a $25 value. To enter, go to my SMCSLC board member profile, and reply in the comments about something new you learned about me. The winner will be selected on February 14th at noon.

For those who do not win the free ticket, you can get a $10 discount to the event. Reach out to me on Twitter (@cuteculturechic) and ask me to “Share the Shankman Love”. I will reply to you via direct message with a limited time discount code. Note: you must be following me on Twitter so I can send you the code via DM.

As a committee, we’ve joked about ways to promote the event….and Shankman has always abbreviated down to “Shank,” so we’ll going to share the love….or “Shank the Love,” if you will. At our board meeting, we may or may not have made up a fun theme song to the tune of Debbie Gibson’s “Shake Your Love.” Anyone remember this song?

New Media Expo 2013 – A Recap

@jmowery @cuteculturechic @kristenwright_Last week, I attended New Media Expo 2013 in Las Vegas. Formerly known as BlogWorld, it was my first year attending this conference. And let me say…it was awesome!

I found it interesting to be at a conference that wasn’t a blogging conference geared toward female bloggers. I love my lady blogger friends, but it was fun to meet a lot of smart guys that I could share my nerdy technical side with.

I included a photo collage in my Wordless Wednesday post about #NMX last week, but I didn’t say who was in the photos with me. Without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of the awesome people I spent time with at #NMX and the best parts of the conference:

The first day of the conference, I spent most of my time with @elijahryoung and @thatguydeuce. Both of them had attended BlogWorld in previous years, so they were able to introduce me to a lot of great people. Scott (@thatguydeuce) and I had gone to Dick’s Last Resort the night before, and it was a good kick-off to a really fun few days.

@ahockley – Aaron was one of the first people to reach out to me in the weeks leading up to NMX. Being a newbie this year, it was nice to establish a connection with someone before arriving. I attended his photography session titled “You’re a Better Photographer Than You Think You Are,” and got some great tips on how to use my new Canon Rebel T3i. He’s from the Portland area, which automatically makes him a winner in my book.

@WPmodder – Adam and I met at the opening party at Lavo. It was so loud in the club, and we both had been screaming to talk to people, so our voices were hoarse. We went out to the hallway to chat, and threw around blogging and WordPress ideas. He was an invaluable friend to make, because he was the one who connected me to so many other new friends during the conference. He was at the conference representing ManageWP, and he connected me to James, the CEO of ManageWP. He told me about FooBox, a great WordPress plugin for image management. We ended up hanging out several times through the conferences, including time at the top of the Rio at the Voodoo Lounge.

@jmowery of @ManageWP – James got the crash-course rundown on who I was from Adam, because I went to the ER for a reactive hypoglycemia attack (and I’d been updating Adam on how I was doing). When I was back from the hospital, I went to the expo hall to check out the booths, and briefly met James. Later in the evening, we became acquainted in the hotel bar with lots of other conference-goers. My favorite memory of the conference was when he was a bit tipsy from some vodka cranberry drinks, and he was just fascinated by me eating TicTacs. I would shake them out of the box, and it would look like the box was empty, but there were a few stuck up in the top (which you couldn’t see because the dispenser was covering them. But the next day I hung out at his booth with Adam and learned all about ManageWP, which is a great integrated dashboard product for WordPress users who manage multiple sites.

@WendysHat – Wendy and I met at Bloggy Boot Camp in 2010, and we’ve been wanting an excuse to see each other again. NMX was our excuse. She LOVES to wear hats, and I caught her for a photo-op at a rare moment where she didn’t have a hat on.

@cebsilver – Curtis and I met at Type-A Parent Conference in 2011 in Asheville, and we ate at a really good restaurant (and all I can remember is that I met Curtis that night and the food was good). I tend to run into him at a lot of conferences, and he was at NMX on behalf of Gunnar Optiks. I chilled with Curtis and the Gunnar folks, and spent some time in the pimped out Gunnar bus.

@Matt_Siltala – I have been following Matt online for several years, but had yet to meet him until NMX. He was there with the crew from Avalaunch Media, who are so local to me in Utah, I could walk from my house into their office. I think he’s pretty much a digital marketing rockstar, and it was fun to get to know him on a personal level.

@kristenwright_: Honestly, there weren’t a lot of women that I talked to at NMX that I didn’t already know. I met Kristen for dinner at the hotel bar with James and Adam, and we talked WordPress and ideas for upcoming website launches. It’s always refreshing to find ladies in the tech field who have a brain like mine (understanding the quirks of HTML) but also have a spunky side with an irreverent sense of humor. Kristen and I hit it off immediately, and I’m sad that this dinner was the only time we could hang out during #NMX.

@petershankman – Another digital marketer I admire, Peter and I ran into each other in the hall the first day. We’d met each other before, and I was impressed that with all of the people he meets, he immediately knew that he knew me. I’m excited that we got to connect at NMX because he’s the featured speaker for February’s Social Media Club of Salt Lake City event.

One of my favorite things about hanging out with my social media friends is that we are all alike. We can’t handle putting down our phones for more than the time it takes to eat a meal. We tweet. We take pictures of our food. We punch up a website in our mobile browser to show each other. We show each other the newest apps. I try to not be totally chained to my phone when I’m out to dinner, but when everyone else at the table is too…it’s hilarious. All of us snap photos of each other, and sometimes silly panorama shots appear online that show just how silly we are.

The content of the conference was some of the most relevant to my interests and career than any other conference I’ve attended to date. I love going to blogging conferences, but it was nice to be able to get a more integrated approach to new media, podcasting, blogging, and the evolution of digital marketing. Since I’ve become a social media manager for my company, learning about the ways to integrate strategies for different platforms has been a daily source of research. To be able to hear the latest and greatest from industry leaders made it 100% the price of admission. The fact that I was able to connect personally with people that are making a difference in the digital marketing and new media space was just icing on the cake. I just can’t get over how many cool people I met!

lavo las vegasThe opening night party of the conference was held at Lavo Nightclub in the Palazzo Hotel. Going clubbing in Vegas typically isn’t my thing, but I have to admit that it appealed to me a lot more this time around. I’ve lost a lot of weight, I had a cute and sexy dress, and I arrived without any group of friends. It made me go out of my shell to introduce myself, dance around, order my Diet Coke at the bar, and enjoy the energy of the club that hadn’t appealed to me much in the past. My main frustration was that it was so loud and so dark that you had to get up into the faces of the people you were talking with, and sometimes be cheek-to-cheek to hear what the other person had to say.

It was humorous to me that I was hit on by so many guys…because I wasn’t wearing a blingy ring. I was wearing my new Celtic ring from Ireland that Taylor got me for Christmas, which is a simple woven silver band. Even though it was on my left ring finger…I had some disappointed men when I mentioned my husband. It was the first time since losing my weight that I felt uber-attractive and got a lot of attention…and it was interesting that it coincided with the first non-female-focused conference I attended.

ambulance drive during NMXThe only part of the conference that wasn’t fun was when I went to the Emergency Room. I partied too hard…which is funny to say for a girl who didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. I made the lousy mistake of staying up for 23 hours to play and party, then only slept for 3 hours, and then went to the hotel gym for a workout (since I knew it would be the only chance I had for the day). I went to a networking breakfast after, but apparently I didn’t eat enough. While I was in Guy Kawasaki’s keynote, I started feeling the evil crash of reactive hypoglycemia. Dizziness, double vision, sweating, and they chills. It was time to eat again – NOW.

I slipped out of the ballroom and got some food from the hotel convenience store. I sat down on a bench in the hallway to eat and recover, but it didn’t happen as quickly as usual. I flopped over so I could lay down on the bench, and a concerned conference-goer grabbed casino security for me. They called in the EMTs, who gave me some gross glucose gel and tried to get my blood sugar back up. Usually after 15 minutes, I feel remarkably better…but not this day. They called in the paramedics, who took my blood glucose level. Even though it was back in the normal range, my symptoms hadn’t improved. They strapped me on the gurney and rolled me out to the ambulance.

During the conference, there was a contest going for a free conference ticket for the best photos with the hashtag #NMX on Instagram. I was in a memorable predicament, so I had to document it for the chance to win. Once vitals were taken and oxygen administered, the paramedic took my picture in the ambulance. I Instagrammed that sucker, and arrived at the emergency room.

They took several vials of my precious blood, and hooked me up to an IV for fluids. The ER was busy, and since I was no longer a critical case at that moment, I knew I’d be there a while. I napped for the majority of the 4 hours at the ER, where they concluded that I was severely dehydrated and my electrolytes were out of whack. 3 bags of IV fluids later, they discharged me with the charge to rest and recuperate.

I still kept pretty busy during the rest of NMX, but that hospital visit was enough to scare me into not push it quite so hard. I ate more frequently, avoided a lot of physical activity, and spent time in conversation with friends instead of partying it up my last night in Vegas. I missed most of the conference on Monday, but caught everything I could on Tuesday. I spent a lot of time talking to people in the expo hall, and made some great contacts.

Overall, NMX was a blast…and I can’t wait for next year. Now, to see if I win a free ticket for next year for my ambulance Instagram photo…

Social Media And The Digital World Of Teens

Last week, I was featured in the Deseret News, one of the local newspapers in Salt Lake City, discussing kids, social media, and online safety. I’m pleased that people like what I have to say about keeping your kids safe online, because it’s such an important issue for me.

Libby, the producer from KSL News, gave my contact information to Lois Collins at the Deseret News after my Digital Divide interview on KSL Browser 5.0 aired. I spent some time with Lois on the phone, answering questions and discussing my opinions and advice on social media, online reputation, and safety for tweens and teens.

We talked about results of the Pew Internet And American Life Project (co-researched by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University). It was nice to be able to discuss the subjects as both a social media professional…and as the parent of a 12 year old daughter. Later in the day, photographer Jeffrey Allen came to my house to get some pictures of Rosie and me for the news story (whose photos I’ve posted here in this blog post).

From the news story:

Bullock has found online is a fun world for mom and daughter to do things together and learn about each other. She likes to see what her daughter “pins” on Pinterest. When she was using Instagram with vacation photos, Bullock said she helped Rosie set up her own account.

Bullock describes her daughter as responsible online and sensitive to things like vulgarity. They’ve had discussions about what might come back to haunt them when they apply to colleges or for jobs.

That’s an issue Bullock thinks about for herself now more than she did in the past. When she worked in a different field, she said, “I was more liberal (posting) about how I spent my weekends. She asks herself — and prompts her daughter: “Is this something you are comfortable with anyone in the whole world finding out about you? Forget privacy settings. If a friend’s privacy settings let the information about you out, would you care?” she asked. “It could be around forever.”

I think that as more kids gain access to smartphones, laptops, and other portable digital devices, this subject wil become more important for families to discuss together. I found this infographic on the subject helpful.

The digital world of teens

What are your thoughts on the subject? What do you allow your kids to do on electronic devices or online? Are you comfortable with your kids actions in the digital world?

The Digital Divide – Teens And Online Safety

Rosie Bullock

There are so many opinions on the correct way to parent your children. The older your children get, the more dangers and temptations they will have to face. Never has the danger that my daughter faces been more on my mind than in the past year or so. Not only has she turned 12, but she’s had access to her own smartphone.

I know I’m more lax and liberal than some parents. I have a great deal of trust in Rosie, and she hasn’t done anything to break that trust to date.

This week, I was a featured parent on KSL Browser 5.0 and discussed teens and online safety. I was joined by another mom and her 14-year old daughter. We were asked questions about what guidelines we have in place with our kids and their online habits. Here is a clip from the show.

Because the TV segment was so short, I didn’t get a lot of time to talk about the details of what I allow Rosie to do online, and why I allow her to interact on social media. As I mentioned in the segment, I’ve allowed her to have accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The reason I’ve allowed her to be on social media at such a young age is because it makes her more a part of my world. She gets to see how I interact professionally online, and is acquainted with both my friends and colleagues. I’m getting to know her personality well, especially on Pinterest. She’s got a fun sense of humor and a great sense of style, and I wouldn’t know that side of her as well without Pinterest. It’s also a great platform for her Doctor Who geekiness.

@rosie_said_whatBecause she isn’t 13 yet, I have not allowed her to be on Facebook. It’s hard sticking to my Facebook decision lately because all of her friends have accounts, and I know she wants to be part of the social interaction with her friends. But with her other social media sites, I don’t feel like she’s lacking for an internet experience. When people tag her in pictures, they use my name to tag her so I know what she’s been up to. She’s eagerly counting down the 10 months until she turns 13 for her Facebook account.

Right now she’s using my old iPhone 4 without a SIM card, so it’s like an iPod touch and she can only use the apps when she’s connected to wifi. She also uses a laptop and a tablet at home, but most of her online activity is on her iPhone. Rosie also has a regular cell phone, which she’s very good at replying to my texts and answering my calls. It’s given her a lot of freedom in her communication with her friends. I give out her number to people who want her to babysit, and I am proud of how responsible she is.

I do random spot checks on her cell phone and iPhone. I see the contacts she has in her phone, the apps she’s downloaded, and read through her messages. We talk about what is appropriate to view and share, and I feel confident that she’s not using any sites or apps to mask her habits online. I know she might get more sneaky as she gets older, but she knows that I have a lot of trust in her, and breaking the rules will have consequences.

How do you monitor online activities of your children? Do you let them be active in social media? Do they have their own phones, smartphones and computers? How do you decide what the rules are?

Social Media and Narcissism

social media venn diagramIt’s time for some head shrinking!

Today’s Topic:

Does the use of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media make us appear more narcissistic than we really are?

It’s been an interesting few weeks for me. In a jumble of health problems, sleep deprivation, writing my story about surviving lung failure, travel, sticking up for a friend and other controversial conversations (not to mention trying to wean myself off caffeine) I’ve been a little more emotional than usual. I’ve had some things I’ve vented to a friend in confidence blow up in my face, and it’s made me do a lot of critical thinking about myself.

I am pretty open about talking about my struggles with ongoing depression on my blog. I am on medication, I read books on self-improvement and I see a therapist. But after a year and a half of teetering on the edge of my sanity, I decided to get a full psychological evaluation. Yep, I’m going there.

I filled out a packet of intake forms, met with a psychologist, then filled out a Scantron form with answers to 250 yes/no questions. They psychologist asked a lot of questions about my support network, past medical and mental health incidents, body image issues, and I feel like I answered openly and honestly. A week later I got an 8 page summary of the psychologist’s impressions and recommendations for me.

Without going into too much detail, I was really surprised to read words like “inflated sense of self, ” “superficially charming,” “immature,” and “exhibitionistic and narcissistic.” I think that everyone has moments where they seem a little more prideful or immature. I know I’m guilty of it, but I think it’s more the exception, not the rule. When my friends talk about me on Twitter, they say these type of things:

kate pease comment

In my studies of Dr. Google and Dr. Wikipedia, I realized that there is a spectrum of states of narcissism. When most people think of narcissism, this common and general definition comes to mind:

Some psychoanalysts and writers make a distinction between “healthy narcissism” and “unhealthy narcissism“…the healthy narcissist being someone who has a real sense of self-esteem that can enable them to leave their imprint on the world, but who can also share in the emotional life of others. According to Freud, healthy narcisissm is natural part of the human makeup, but also a characteristic that if taken to extremes can prevent us from having meaningful relationships.


Bearing all this in mind, how do you think that social media affects narcissism? Does it allow the vain to become vainer? Is it a safe place to explore your feelings of self-esteem? Have you had experiences where you’ve made a better/worse first impression on people because of the way you’ve portrayed yourself online? Are you careful to not allow the deeper parts to show in your virtual persona? Do you think that people uninvolved with social media misunderstand the sense of support and community that websites like Twitter and Facebook provide?