Paul Balcerak

Creative social media and communications professional

The Best Social Media Links This Week (And Some Others)

I don't know what I'm calling this weekly newsletter-style thing. I might just change it every week. If you want it all packaged up, click the Newsletter link.

1. Social media news you can use

LinkedIn has a new product called Elevate, aimed at getting employees to share company content. // Twitter's rolling out a new home page. // Hootsuite is partnering with Tagboard to make it easier to display grouped social media posts. // Foursquare is launching Pinpoint, a "cross-platform, location-based ad targeting" system. // Path has a new app called Kong that lets you create animated GIFs out of your selfies and other photos.

2. Hacks, strategy, and deep dives

Chris Teso writes about how customer loyalty is the next big focus area for brands on social media, and I couldn't agree more. // Buffer maintains one of the best company blogs on the internet, so this post from Kevan Lee, about his blogging process, is a really interesting read. // If you're into having a somewhat-intimate experience with strangers, Periscope/Meerkat might be for you; maybe not so much if your goal is to get content shared. // Sizing social media images is a constant, changing pain-in-the-ass, but Donna Moritz shows how you only really need three layouts to cover all your networks. // In the midst of a lengthy post about the best way to share a link on Facebook, Jon Loomer argues that the best thing is to just quit trying to game the system:

Let’s stop overcomplicating this.

If you want to start a conversation, share a text update.

If you want to share a great photo, just share that great photo.

If you want to drive traffic to your website, share that link the way Facebook intended.
— Jon Loomer

3. The best Snapchat explainer I've seen

This is a great SlideShare deck, and you should share it with anyone in your organization who's still struggling to understand how Snapchat works, and why it's so great:

4. Other great stuff

Nathan Kontny has a great post, "Constrained," about why the people who don't have unlimited resources are often the ones who put out some of the best work. I wrote a similar post last year for Curator.


On a somewhat related note, I love this quote:


This week will forever be remembered as that time I wrote a tweet for a client and then paid Riddick Bowe $20 to publish it.


Lastly, I'm a Trekkie at heart, but if this new Star Wars trailer doesn't excite you, you should probably have your pulse checked.

Why I Don't Worry About What I Don't Know

That headline is a lie. Of course I worry about what I don't know, because that's human nature, and everyone does. 

But I shouldn't, and you shouldn't, and here's why:

Like I said, everyone's worried about the same thing. Everyone's making things up as they go along; some just do it more confidently than others. 

How A Dallas Sportscaster Makes Viral Internet Content

Grantland has an extensive profile on Dale Hansen, who you may remember from his local-news-segments-turned-viral-videos on everything from gay rights to racism. It's fascinating, particularly since it points out that Hansen represents a kind of coming-full-circle for old and new media: 

The Hansen content mix — liberal smackdowns, brave confessionals, kids in peril — may sound strangely familiar. That’s because it’s exactly the kind of sharable content that populates the “soft” sections of sites like BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and Upworthy. Not coincidentally, those are the sites that discovered Hansen, aggregated him as they would Jon Stewart or John Oliver, and delivered him to a new audience.

A land bridge had formed between old and new media. What Hansen offered the web was gravitas and gray hair. His friend Mike Fisher noted that some measure of Hansen’s fame is based on a mistaken impression that he’s a former tea partier rather than a liberal whose heart has bled since the ’60s. Hansen also has a knack for taking a position that just about every lefty agrees with and stating its case in pithy, local-news style — like Stewart with less sarcasm. “He says what people are thinking, but it’s much more eloquent and gets to the point quicker,” said George Riba, a former Channel 8 sports reporter.

Trying to imitate what Dale Hansen is doing isn't going to save local news or turn it into destination viewing for younger audiences. But his no-bullshit approach is refreshing, and it at least makes you wonder what it would be like if someone like him did exist at the anchor desk.

Edward Snowden On How To Generate A Good Password

If you're reading this, odds are your passwords suck. No judgment—most people's passwords suck! But don't let that become an excuse for your passwords to continue to suck.

In this video, Edward Snowden gives John Oliver some great advice on generating a good password. Specifically, don't try to think up a good password so much as a good pass-phrase. Longer passwords, as well as strings of text that aren't real words, can help protect your accounts.

I mostly use LastPass for passwords these days, but there are some other tricks you can use, too:

Assign your passwords to people or objects in a room. Think of the people at your office. Or your family that you live with. Or maybe your high school chemistry class. Any time you need a password, think up a phrase that's associated with one of those people and use it. Then when you need to remember that password, mentally go into that room to recall who's associated with what (e.g. Tim starts with T; T = Twitter).

Use your imaginary friends. I find this particularly helpful when I'm asked to create security questions. A lot of sites will force you to use pre-built security questions like "What's your mother's maiden name?" or "What's your birthday?" But those can actually be pretty easy questions to hack. For the sites that let you create your own security questions, type in things that only you would know.

Use a recurring format for special characters. Adding in symbols ($%^&*@!) is a good way to beef up your password security. But you can also confuse the hell out of yourself by forgetting what symbols went where in a password (like $e@ttl3Mar1ner$). Instead, set up a format you'll remember, like first word random characters, underscore, second word regular letters:


That way, you're less apt to forget if that @ symbol goes in the first "A," the second "A" or both "As."