Did Facebook change all your settings to public? A great reminder that there’s a counterintuitive solution

A few weeks ago, my 12-year old son asked if he could have an Instagram account and, despite my inclination to remove myself from all things facebook these days, I relented on the condition that:

He create a public account and assume that there’s absolutely no privacy with his communications at all.

In other words, he’s welcome to private message with friends, but he cannot assume that anything he says or does is private. If I ask, he’s got to turn over his phone and let me read any and all messages.

So, why do I feel so comfortable with a draconian rules for my son?  

For the same reason I’ve been recommending this approach to just about everyone (adults, kids, teenagers, pets) for years and years:

And the reasoning behind this approach is my understanding that anything you say or post on a social media site could become public at some point anyway. If there’s things you wouldn’t want your kids, spouse, employer, employees, etc. seeing, don’t post it to a social media site.

Even when they have the best of intentions, coders and engineers mess up. Just last month, someone at Facebook flipped a digital switch and 14M people who thought they were publishing “private” messages on Facebook to friends had their updates made public!


And while it’s safe to say it’s more often than not “user error” when people post public messages they think are private, the outcome is the same whether an engineer messes up, a user screws up or a hacker grabs a massive datasets of incriminates tons of users. Messages that people think they sent to a select group of people are not public and lives are often changed in the process. .

But there’s a way to largely stay out of trouble in this environment:

Assume everything you publish on social sites is public.

There are times I’ll use privacy settings on sites (and it’s really only on Facebook)… and every time I do select “friends only” or DM someone on twitter, I make the conscious decision to post to a smaller group of people because I think the general public is not likely to find it interesting… but I always try to confirm that I wouldn’t care if this message was made public.

In the end, there’s all kinds of ways we can try to guard our privacy in a world where just about everyone is on social media… but nothing beats the obvious. If you want something to stay private, don’t publish it to a social media site.

Obviously, I have some strong opinions on the topic, but I’m always game to hear about other approaches.

Do you worry that some of the things you’ve published to social media sites could become public some day? 


Is authenticity the biggest non-issue in content marketing?

I somewhat randomly came across this tweet by Christoph Trappe earlier today:

And it seriously has me scratching my head.

But before I dive into the problems with the article, I want to say that I fully appreciate that Christoph is running an Authentic Storytelling project. I have a wonderful cousin who’s been helping people tell their authentic stories for years and seriously love this kind of work.

However, it seems to me that sometimes people get so ingrained in their perspective that they can get lost to the bigger picture and I fear that’s what’s happen to Christoph in this article: IF YOU ARE TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO POST OR NOT TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA: KNOCK IT OFF!!!  where it seems like he’s trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

So, let’s get started…

He gives an example as to why social media employee advocacy programs don’t work:

Stage 1: Executives: “I want employees to share things on social media.”

Stage 2: They do.

Stage 3: That same executive: “I don’t like their authenticity. Please make it stop.”

I have been actively involved in numerous employee advocacy programs, and not one of them has ever gone through those three stages.

The most comment flow has been along the lines of:

Stage 1: Executives: “I want employees to share things on social media.”

Stage 2: Employees share two or three corporate articles and quickly lose interest. Executives see little evidence of success and also lose interest

Setting a program up that encourages employees to engage is a much more difficult problem to solve than worrying about employees being “authentic.”

Don’t get me wrong, in running corporate social media teams, I’ve had issues with employees being “too authentic,” but it’s almost always an issue with employees being self-destructive and not because they weren’t toeing the corporate line. The “too authentic” situations I’ve had to deal with involve employees who clearly identify their place of work and then post photos of themselves naked or using excessive alcohol/drugs or posting suicidal thoughts.

What I haven’t seen is executives get frustrated because employees are not following the corporate message on social media. Inevitably, my experience has been that executives spend way too much time on the run-up to the launch of an employee advocacy program devising ways to “control” employee messaging instead of thinking through how they can encourage engagement in the first place.

So, yes, employers worry about authenticity before the launch of a campaign, but it’s just not ever been a major issue after the launch of a campaign.

Assuming I still have your attention, I have launched one employee advocacy program that was an all-around success in that we had high engagement from hundreds of employees over a sustained amount of time. The LinkedIn team did a great case study on the program and let me write a guest post on how we approached the creation of the program: How Dun & Bradstreet Uses Employee Advocacy to Boost Influencer Marketing.

Hopefully, it’s clear that I fully appreciate the Christoph’s mission to encourage authentic storytelling and I’m trying to do my part to encourage content marketers to focus on creating engaging content and worry less about trying to control the message, which is an authentic approach I hope Christoph will appreciate. 🙂

Getting titles right when building a marketing team –> The one mental leap you should make

This article from Chief Marketer (What Makes Up the Ideal Marketing Team?) had me thinking:

“OMG… I so have an opinion here!”

By way of background, before I started InterestedIn, I had the awesome opportunity to build out a marketing team pretty much from scratch. The team of 9 was able to quickly get some awesome results in terms of driving new customer acquisition, improving retention, etc, but out of everything I did there, I’m most proud of the team I was able to build. So many great people!

How did I do this?

I think one of the keys was figuring out the right title for each role, which also meant figuring out the story behind each role that would attract the right people.

But before I give my big, beautiful insight that guided how I hire and recruit, I should say that the article that Patty Odell quotes gets one thing right:

“job titles breeds one united voice, a lack of variety and leads to less diversity of thought.”

However, the solution they provide has me scratching my head. The article recommends creating titles that explain the role people are to play on the team, such as:

  1. The Visionary
  2. The Taskmaster
  3. The Creative Thinker
  4. The Problem Solver
  5. The Devil’s Advocate
  6. The Culture Creator


I’m pretty sure that if I was building out a marketing team and tried to recruit someone to be “The Culture Creator” or “The Problem Solver” (and especially “The Devil’s Advocate”), I’d end up with a lackluster group because it would likely only be able to recruit people who aren’t particularly worried about their long-term job prospects.

Instead my goal was to recruit entrepreneurial people who are ready to go out and kick some butt!

So what did I do? 

I made one big mental leap when defining roles and titles:

  • Create roles and titles that are results-based and not functional-based

I think the biggest problem with most marketing titles is that the employers want their recruits to “own” results, but title them with “functional” roles.

In other words, when you want to recruit someone for a paid media position, you need to think:

“At the end of the week, month, quarter, year: What results do I want this person to get?”

In my case, I wanted someone who would be laser-like focused on acquiring new clients because I new that was going to make a massive impact on the business. Rather than give that person a functional title (Director, Paid Media), I made sure to give them a results-based title (Director, New Customer Acquisition).

The same logic can go for just about any marketing role.

Want someone awesome to manages social media or content creation?

Rather than focus on the function you want out of that person (social media manager), think of the results you want them to get: maybe: “engagement manager” or “community builder.”

Now, I realize not all roles fit into this easy “results-based” titles. Especially for junior-level people who often expect to be told what to do (functional title/role) and just don’t have the experience to be responsible for results.

However, in my experience, motivated people, even junior ones, are almost always hungry to show they can get results, so you might as well set up their title and role for success.

Great candidates want to be challenged and judged by the results they can get. That’s how they “win.”

Put another way, when you’re trying to recruit a top-notch paid media person, it can be super hard to compete on salary and benefits… but giving them a clear understanding of what part of the marketing results they own can be a HUGE differentiating factor.

Just as important, it’s important to make it clear to these recruits that they’ll have a ton of room for creativity in how they get their results.  Of course there will be oversight and a big-picture marketing strategy that they could tap into, but a trick to recruiting awesome people is to let them know they’ll be in charge of how they get their results.  For example, if you want someone to be responsible for “prospect engagement”,  do you care whether they get their results from Instagram Stories or Twitter Chats?  Most important is that they go where they’re getting results.

Ditto for the new customer acquisition team. You shouldn’t care whether they are bringing on new clients from Google Adwords, AdRoll retargeting or Facebook social posts. What matters is that they are driving quality new clients to the business in an appropriately cost-effective way.

And that’s probably the biggest mental leap of all. If you want this result-based titles to work, you not only need to get the title and role right, but you also need to give these awesome employees the freedom to get those results…. and make the occasional mistake along the way.

Hopefully you’ll find, like I have, that there’s almost no marketing roles that need to be functional-based… but maybe I’m wrong. Think you can stump me?