All Articles Tagged "social media"

Who Run The (Social) World: How Millennial Women Can Grow Their Brand Through Social Media

February 24th, 2015 - By Janel Martinez
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Women are powering many of the hashtags and social conversations that hit your screens today. More adult women in the U.S. use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, according to data compiled through personal finance site FinancesOnline.com. And it’s no secret that when you break down the stats further, Black women over index on social. According to “The ESSENCE of Black Women Consumers” report, Black women are twice as likely to spend more than three hours on social networking sites in an average day than the general market.

So, how do we leverage our social capital? We’ve tapped power women from tonight’s Social Media Week panel, “Grow Your Brand,” for their insight. Check out several tips from Anie Akpe, CEO/publisher of Innov8tiv Magazine and co-founder of IBOM LLC; Ariel Lopez, career coach at General Assembly and co-founder of 2020Shift; Chana Ewing, president and founder of littlebigGirl + CO; and Janell Hazelwood, associate managing editor at Black Enterprise.

On their best advice on branding yourself across social media…

“Don’t try to be someone you are not, and be sure to tap into one or two core areas you can be an ‘expert’ on. These areas should align with your passions and what you’ve seen tangible success and results in doing.” — J.H.

“Be as unique as you can be. You can have the exact same product as your competition, the difference is how you promote and sell that product.” – A.A.

“Keep it professional, yet authentic.” It can be a tough balance to strike, however, it’s essential to gaining trust and leaving a solid first impression.” – A. L.

“People like to get to know real people. You have to decide 1. Where you can be open and honest 2. What’s the best channel (s) for your voice to thrive and 3. What are the 1-3 areas you can speak to with authority and then show up. Show up often and show out.” — C.E.

An example of a company, startup or individual that has mastered branding…

“For entrepreneurs in particular, an effective personal brand is synergistic with the business brand. Your personal brand should reflect the lifestyle elements of your business brand. Take Renae Bluitt of inhershoesblog.com. She’s built a blog and brand chronicling the lives of fly female entrepreneurs (many of whom work in beauty), while being a fly female entrepreneur in her own right via her PR company, Crush Media. That’s logical and brilliant. It’s important that your personal brand serve your business goals.”— C.E.

“At Black Enterprise, Twitter chats and social events have been awesome in terms of engaging with an audience and boosting visibility and sharing of content. Strategically using hashtags and incorporating feature stories, along with strategic marketing is key. You can reach millions within an hour, for example, simply by connecting relevant people to relevant topics, infusing content throughout the chats or events, and having conversations on trending topics as they relate to the brand’s purpose.” — J.H.

“I love how Ello entered the market. With a black dot and a smile, Ello peeked our curiosity on its product. In addition, Ello is by invite only; thousands of people (including myself) requested an invite just so we could see what all the fuss was about. Ello (still in BETA) recently raised over $4 million dollars and has approximately 1 million users. That’s what I call excellent branding by a startup company.”— A.A.

“The first company that comes to mind is Apple. They are bigger than the products that they’ve created. They’ve influenced the lifestyle of masses. Apple has become a household name, not only because of the quality of their products but the resonation they have with consumers.”— A.L.

What’s next in the world of branding and social media…

“For companies, social will become more about what they can creatively present visually versus using text. For example, Pew Research Center findings show that more African Americans prefer Instagram over other platforms, and among white consumers, Pinterest is more popular. Facebook is still king among all platforms, but we all know that even there, one photo is worth more than a thousand words and videos often go viral within minutes. Marketers are finding ways to leverage these statistics to change the way in which they strategize their audience development and branding initiatives.” – J.H.

“More startup companies will start thinking of introducing their product in a non-traditional way. Instead of your standard press releases and publicity, more startups are starting to create a buzz for their product by using alternative means such as social media marking and event introductions.” — A.A.

“I’m curious to see how larger businesses will connect personal branding to talent development, regardless of role/seniority. For instance, how can we use social media to reward employees vs. policing behavior? If an employee is influential in a certain domain online, how does that translate to her current work?” — C.E.

“You’ll continue to see an influx of branding/social media efforts from companies and individuals as well. Trend wise, video/images…do the best online, so we’ll se an increase of those methods.” —A.L.

To receive additional tips on branding your business on social media, attend “Grow Your Brand” presented by Innov8tiv, Ibom LLC, MadameNoire and Social Media Week NY. Click here to RSVP for the event

You Better Rethink That! 10 Social Media No-Nos That Will Get You Fired

February 16th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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People need to remember the importance of staying professional both in and out of the office. Sure your free time is your free time, but that doesn’t mean you act a fool without thinking others will notice. In a world with so much access to technology and information, privacy has become nearly non-existent. Here are some social media blunders you need to avoid.

Millions March NYC’s Synead Nichols & Umaara Elliott On #BlackLivesMatter, The Presence Of Black Women, & Social Media

February 6th, 2015 - By Rhonesha Byng
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Synead Nichols and Umaara Elliott on 12.13.14 during Millions March NYC

Synead Nichols and Umaara Elliott on 12.13.14 during Millions March NYC

A little over three months after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown we learned of the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer responsible, Darren Wilson.

The announcement came the week of Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate family and fellowship, instead, many of us could not help but think of the pain felt by those who would have a son, father, or daughter missing from their table. Adding to the pain, something else that’s missing is sense of justice for these families.

Time after time, the people responsible for cutting Black lives short continue to go free. On the day the decision about officer Wilson was revealed, a little over one thousand people gathered in Union Square to protest and to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter.

Twenty-three-year-old Synead Nichols co-creator of Millions March NYC was among them. “My heart sank and I just started to cry. Here I was again putting my faith in a system that obviously continues to fail us. It was hard.”

Nichols marched with the group all the way to Times Square, shutting down several streets along the way. Still, Nichols had a strong feeling that she needed to do something more.

“We were really hoping that this would pan out but it didn’t. I thought about doing shows, a web series, short plays, an art exhibit, installation pieces, everything I could possibly think of to get the message out,” she passionately explained to MadameNoire as she reflected on the moment in her Harlem apartment.

“When I got home all of sudden I was sitting by the computer and I was like you know what I am going to do something. Let’s make a Facebook event. If people can [take action in] Arab Springs all the way out in Egypt why can’t we do that here? So I made the page and I texted Umaara,” she continued.

Umaara Elliott is the 19-year-old co-organizer of Millions March NYC. Funny enough, the two ladies say their friendship began virtually on Facebook and became a real friendship through their art; Elliott is a dancer, while Nichols has a background in dance and also sings. Together, these young women organized one of the largest protests the #BlackLivesMatter movement has seen to date.

After creating the Facebook event page, the news about the march took on a life of its own. After the girls invited everyone they knew to the page, they noticed that celebrities and high profile groups began sharing it and soon the RSVPs went viral. On December 13, 2014 it’s estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 protesters took to the streets. The families of Ramarley Graham, Kimani Gray and Jordan Davis were among those present at the march.

“The power of social media, the power of people’s emotions. People were tired, people were sad. People were hurt because this could be Umaara’s little brother, this could be my little brother, this could be me, this could be Umaara,” Nichols explained when explaining to us why she believes so many people came out to march that day.

Many of our great leaders often say that leadership is an action not a position. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Nichols and Elliott are two young artists from New York City. They never organized a protest before. Yet, using the tools provided by social media and the power of their desire to see things change for the better, they took action.

But they haven’t stopped there. Just last week there was a half-day session of workshops called The Gathering for those wanting to get more involved in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. And there’s more.

MadameNoire: What’s been the response to people learning about your story?
Synead Nichols:
 [People] didn’t know it was us who did it at first. They thought it was another organization. They couldn’t believe two young girls, two young black girls at that, initiated this whole thing.

MN: What do you feel is the significance of you two ladies being at the forefront of organizing something like this?
Umaara Elliott:
I think it’s super important to put a face to something and that we are pretty young and that we weren’t seasoned activists or organizers. We are two regular girls who work with children and work in the arts and we had been avid protestors for months and we wanted to organize something and it just happened to be massive. I think its super important because it inspires people. Someone tagged their daughter or friend and she was like “you can do it too.”  Anybody can do it. You don’t have to have a degree to be an activist, to be an organizer. You don’t have to have a degree to organize a protest, or a march.

SN: If you feel compelled then why not? Just because we were dancers or artists or performers, that didn’t stop us from protesting. We were still out there, we were still getting manhandled by cops. I still got bruised up. Everyone’s out there and again being a seasoned activist doesn’t mean anything. You have an experience.

UE: The thing is about the movement or any movement, you want to bring in as many people, its not an exclusive club it shouldn’t be an exclusive — “Oh you’re not apart of this organization.” We are all trying to reach the same thing so it doesn’t matter we are just doing it different ways.

Synead Nichols on 12.13.14 during Millions March NYC

Synead Nichols on 12.13.14 during Millions March NYC

MN: Did any of you have negative interactions with the police during the Millions March in December?
SN: No, and we are extremely happy for that. We wanted to show people we are here, we exist. There were so many different kinds of people there and they were all supporting Black lives. That was the most important part. You had your few people that were like, “All lives matter.” We know all lives mater. But understand it’s the Black lives that aren’t being counted… Being very adamant about that fact was very empowering.

MN: What was your original goal? How has your goal evolved or become strengthened since then?
SN: When it first popped into my head I wanted to be heard. I wanted people to be heard. They’re screaming and crying and yelling that they’re killing our community and no one hears it. Then it was getting those feelings into actual and specific actions. Getting a bill passed. Getting some law amended. Along with an overhaul of society and a system.

MN: During the march, after all the anticipation and planning, what did it feel like actually being there?
UE: I was excited. With a lot of these protests, “we” [people of color] were outnumbered. So at Millions March, I was happy because we had so many Black people on the front lines, aside from just the families. I was so grateful to see so many young Black people and not like young white kids who go to NYU.

Umaara Elliott during Millions March NYC on 12.13.14

Umaara Elliott during Millions March NYC on 12.13.14

MN: What do you think stood out about this one march that motivated so many people to come out?
UE: With a lot of protests, like after we hard the verdicts, they were spontaneous and a lot of people weren’t able to be part of it. So the Millions March, we announced it a little over two weeks before the date.

SN: Literally about two and a half weeks. It felt like everything was riding on this. I didn’t realize how much was riding on this until the night before.

MN: You mentioned that awareness of issues like police profiling was one of your goals. After awareness, what is next?
SN: After awareness, conversation, continuous implementation of this knowledge. You know now so what are you going to do with it? Talk to someone educate someone, go to panels, go to conferences, speak, write. You have to be proactive. Nothing ever comes to you, you have to go out for it.

Synead Nichols

Synead Nichols

MN: How is social media playing a role in this “new civil rights movement”?
UE: Well we were just talking about how the actual media is not covering anything. We didn’t know about the NAACP bombing until Twitter.

SN: People didn’t even know about Millions. My friend said she came to the protest and when she got home said there was no news coverage whatsoever. The thing about social media that I can appreciate is that it’s starting to [catch] people in their lies. [For example, what happened with] Antonio Martin, people were on the scene in seconds, phones out.

UE: I woke up and went on Twitter to find out Antonio Martin was shot. The media didn’t cover it until noon or hours later but they had changed the story so much. I’m seeing what the protesters were actually out there saying so to see what these newscasters were saying I was like, “No, you’re wrong.”

SN:  I really love citizen journalism… because it allows you to get a wider picture. You see everything.

MN: There’s also a lot of discussion around “social media activists” and whether or not sending a tweet is actually effective. Too often, people are feeling accomplished by just sending a tweet rather than taking action in the real world.
UE: My only issue is people who are only online. Well, you could be online and have a blog about the movement. That’s great, that’s different. But I’m talking about people who just retweet stuff on Twitter. They don’t join Twitter town halls or chats. They’re just critical of the movement… like why are you guys only marching, why are you only doing this… not realizing that this is a multi-faceted movement. People aren’t just marching. People are in meetings. If you actually went to these things you would know.

MadameNoire: Did you see the movie Selma? Did you take any lessons from it?
UE: I thought it was so important to see WHY they were marching. It’s not just about marching and going out in the streets. It’s very strategic and very organized. I thought it was important to see the role that allies play in this. The only reason Martin Luther King had the allies is because he knew that if the media sees White people out there protesting with these Black people and they’re getting beaten up then the media becomes sensitive.

Umaara Elliott

Umaara Elliott

MN: What would you say to people who have not protested before but maybe want to?
UE: Go out there and remember what you’re fighting for. Are you going to wait on someone else to do it? You can do it!

MN: What would you say to women who maybe feel they are overlooked or ignored by the movement?
SN: You are not overlooked, we see you. We know you exist. We are fighting for you.

Millions March NYC 2014 from Simone on Vimeo.

To stay up to date on Millions March visit: millionsmarchnyc.org. You can also follow their event page, and their twitter: @MillionsMarch.

Rhonesha Byng is an Emmy award-winning journalist and founder of HerAgenda.com – a digital hub of inspiration and information for professional millennial women. You can follow her @NeshasAgenda.

What Happens When You Meet Instagram Famous People In Real Life?

February 5th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Every time I attend some type of after work event, I’m reminded why I’m so comfortable in my introversion. Though I like to think of myself as a fly on the wall at these events, I know I probably come across as the weird girl who didn’t break eye contact when you saw her blatantly staring at you, listening intently to your conversation.

#Creeplife

I found myself playing this role at a mixer last week. It was one of those events that promised to bring out an equal number of men and women. And after about two hours, that was true. But before then, there was literally a sea of women. It was clearly an event for women to meet men; and in the best case scenario, form relationships. I always hesitate to go to these type of events because the thirst level is usually on swole at such events and honestly, I think when the pressure to find someone is that high, the results are usually disappointing.

So I went with the intent to observe.

And while I thought I’d get an eyeful of desperate women, instead I was most interested in one particular man in the room. I won’t call any names, but this particular man has a pretty large following on Instagram. Women follow him because he promotes… himself and they regard him as some type of sex symbol. And he always has a clever way to share an observation or offer a word of encouragement. The women who I know who’ve followed (and some who’ve later unfollowed) him have either dubbed him sexy, smart and funny or obnoxious and self absorbed.

So of course, spotting him in the crowd, I was excited to see what he was like in person. In real life, this Instagram celeb was…on Instagram. The backlight on his phone illuminated his face for several minutes throughout the night, until a woman was brave enough to approach him.

Later, this man wrote an Instagram post about the event being popping even though the women in the room were salty when they saw him talking to one of them.

I’m pretty good at picking up a vibe; but my eyes can’t be everywhere at all times, so there was a chance that I could have missed something. But I didn’t see anything like this.

Even still, watching the people in the room I saw just how much social mixers, in a lot of ways, resemble middle school dances. There are a few brave girls dancing in the middle of the floor, maybe a flirtatious conversation being had in the wings. But for the most part, boys are on one side and girls are on the other. The men are joking with their guy friends and the women are dancing with their girls.

I guess it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone who is popular on the internet, doesn’t come across as super charismatic in the physical. The irony of it all is that social media has become a place for socially awkward people to thrive. As someone who identifies with this group, I can’t exactly be mad at that. My people deserve shine too.

Have you ever met someone who was digitally famous, only to discover you liked them better when you were looking at them through a screen?

Hackers Not Behind Facebook, Instagram Outage, Says Facebook

January 27th, 2015 - By Janel Martinez
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Social media users were in for a surprise on Monday evening when social networking giant Facebook and its photo-sharing platform Instagram experienced a temporary outage that left millions of users unable to access their accounts.

For roughly 40 minutes, users across the globe had issues accessing Facebook and Instagram. Instagram said it was aware of the outage in a tweet, which was later deleted:

“We’re aware of an outage affecting Instagram and are working on a fix. Thank you for your patience.”

Other sites reportedly affected during the outage include dating app Tinder and instant messaging app HipChat.

If you were attempting to refresh your favorite platforms and didn’t have much luck, this was the reason. Of course, there was no shortage of commentary on the outage since many took to Twitter to weigh in on the issue.

So, what was behind the service breach? While hacker group Lizard Squad, which has been connected with other high-profile attacks, tweeted messages implying they’d been behind the outages, Facebook denies those claims.

“This was not the result of a third-party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems,” Facebook said in a statement. “We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100 per cent for everyone.”

 

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.

#BringBackOurGirls, Ice Bucket Challenge, And More Selfies: The Social Roundup of 2014

December 22nd, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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Each year the social media waves become flooded with important news and things we wish didn’t make headlines. Here’s a look at look at some of the top stories from 2014 that made us take notice.

Can you think of any that were memorable to you?

Embracing Your Talent, Ignoring Your Vanity

December 10th, 2014 - By Kendra Koger
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Image Source: Shutterstock.com

 

My mind sometimes wonders about how some of my favorite people from the past would fit into this current world; a world that seems to value controversy over talent.  The thought of some of my favorite writers, painters, activists, and leaders stopping what they were doing to take a selfie, or hashtagging pictures of their meals with the caption “#foodporn” is funny, but also sad to me.

In this world of popcorn fame that seems to value looks over substance, with actual guides of how to be “Instagram Famous” it can make you feel a little poorly about yourself, society, just everything.

There was a time when personality based reality television were seen as the lowest form of entertainment (right after dog racing).  People would relegate these “stars” to the d-list and lower.  However, something changed.  Maybe it was the shift  from dating reality shows to life-based ones.  Once people stopped vying for the affections of rappers and rockers and people’s glamorous lives were being shown, reality television was a haven for people to be discovered.

People who were initially brought on “Bad Girls Club” to change their ways were now being offered a few thousand to do appearances, calenders, photo shoots.  The need to be an upstanding person paled in comparison to the profitable road of tomfoolery.   Heck, some of your favorite reality stars have multiple degrees, and aren’t doing a blankity-blank thing with them.

But with the advent of Instagram and Vine, everyday people are finding their way to getting their names out there.  A few pictures or short videos can allow a person to become a lucrative presence and gain followers, and if they’re lucky, endorsements.

However, if you’re considering following this path, can I encourage you to pursue a talent?  Something that coincides with your desire to be known for something, instead of being known for your looks?  The reason why I say this is because that fame is incredibly fleeting.  Why?  Because once you get older no one is going to care.  Or better yet, when someone younger comes in, they’re gonna replace you.

Why do you think some reality stars keep on doing more reality shows?  Or the exact same reality show when they enter into their 30s… Just sayin’.

There are some Instagram people who are famous off of talent, along with their media personalities, like my favorites Mankofit, Maria KangTameikaG and others.  People who were able to use their love of fitness, coupled with Instagram to inspire and help people.

This post isn’t meant to down anyone, especially reality stars. It takes a lot to make yourself vulnerable to criticism, even if your behavior is completely abhorrent.

However, nurture your talent while you’re also nurturing your ego, because at the end of the day that’s what’s going to essentially nurture you.  That’s what’s going to allow you have longevity and a career, rather than just a name.

Now that I think about it, there have always been attention-seeking people.  Along with the invention of the printing press and photography, the early age of tabloids featured people who were so popular at their time, but we don’t really remember their names now.  We do, however, remember the names of the people who put in work and used their talents to made an impact in one way or another.  You have more to offer the world than how you look, make sure the world knows that about you.

 

Need To Add Social Media Items To Your Work Email? IBM Launches ‘Verse’

November 20th, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
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International Business Machine (IBM) announced this week it’s launching a new email application for businesses that merges social media, file sharing and analytics to learn a user’s behavior and predict interactions with co-workers.

IBM Verse comes equipped with a personal assistant that learns from a user’s behavior and drafts responses to emails based on previous interactions. Also, users have the option of turning email content into threads for blogs and social media. Verse users will reportedly be able to view relationships between different employees in an email, mute a chain and look through attachments.

Sounds good? For easy access, the interface pins your most frequent contacts, schedule and assignment lists to a dashboard.

“We came at this from the perspective that this is about changing the game, not just incremental improvements in email,” Jeff Schick, IBM’s general manager of social solutions, told Reuters.

IBM’s enterprise mail service, known as Notes, is used by 25,000 companies worldwide, and more than 50,000 use IBM’s social platform for businesses, IBM Connections, reports Reuters. The company hopes IBM Verse will eventually replace Window’s popular Outlook.

The newly launched service is exciting to some and a bit scary for others. How will it impact privacy within the office?

I’m all for streamlining emails and managing my inbox efficiently, but can’t help but wonder if a mistaken response made by Verse’s personal assistant will result in the mishandling of a sensitive situation, or if I’ll have to spend time editing responses? Most people don’t have time to edit emails under a time crunch, especially since it can take more than 10 minutes hovering over one as is.

What’s your take? Would you use IBM Verse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.

5 Facebook At Work Features That’ll Make the Platform Worthwhile

November 19th, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
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If you’ve been minimizing your window thanks to your “Facebook at work habit,” you may not have to do that anymore. The social media powerhouse is reportedly working on its own version of a professional site, Facebook at Work.

Rumors about the service surfaced in June when TechCrunch reporter Ingrid Lunden revealed that Facebook was working on a “business collaboration product called ‘Facebook at Work.’” Then, the murmur heightened on Monday when sources close to the company confirmed the news and told Business Insider that companies are testing the product, which is in pilot mode, and could be available as soon as January for companies that sign up for the service. We know that the enterprise-focused platform reflects what Facebook employees use the social site for, everything from collaborating on documents and IM to Facebook Groups and reporting maintenance issues.

While “Facebook at Work” will compete with Google’s and Microsoft’s workplace products, Facebook’s workplace version can work if it meets the following criteria:

Optimum security

Facebook is known to switch up its privacy policy and aggregate data, which is problematic for businesses that vow to keep employee information under lock and key. Products like Google Apps for Work, Microsoft’s Yammer and Office 360 and Salesforce.com’s Chatter keep internal data and communications secure, so Facebook at Work will have to do the same.

No Ad Zone

With Facebook making the majority of its revenue from advertising (a reported 62 percent in mobile advertising), many wonder if they’d place ads within their new platform. Our vote is, NO!

Separate from personal page

Most people keep their co-workers at bay when it comes to their social media life, especially Facebook. The reports indicate that users will be able to keep their personal and professional pages separate, which may be a draw for those (such as myself) unwilling to have both linked. My status update has nothing to do with the meeting proposal/update due? You get my drift.

Simple and easy collaboration

If I’m already familiar with how to use Facebook, having to use it to connect on team projects company wide and to share documents with colleagues won’t be hard. For many, there won’t be a learning curve since 864 million people use Facebook on average daily. “If I were to use it [Facebook at Work], real-time collaboration for projects and a live chat feature would be nice,” says Ariel Lopez, tech enthusiast and founder of 2020Shift.

Ability to publish articles

Some are referring to this yet-to-be-released platform as a LinkedIn killer. Doubt it. One thing LinkedIn has implemented, and Facebook should include with its new site, is the ability to publish long-form posts. You can publish using Note on Facebook, but how cool would it be to share creative idea posts or even reflections on company events on this platform? It’ll not only allow employees to share their thoughts and ideas, but an opportunity for company execs to review for ideas to implement within the company.

What features would you like to see on Facebook at Work? Let us know in the comments section below. 

On Owning Your Partner And Why I Had To Unfollow Him On Instagram

November 18th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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I know people generally regard the Smith family as weird. And I know the recent interview Willow and Jaden just did with the New York Times, won’t make things any better. But I can’t help but dig them. Yeah, Willow and Jaden are certainly different. There’s no denying that. But they also have a freedom that most teenagers–and hell even most adults–will never know. And while people are always pointing at Will and Jada as if they’ve screwed up, I think some of their philosophies have actually been rather helpful.

And not just for their children either, I know they’ve helped me.

Last year, as is always the case, the issue of Will and Jada’s presumably open marriage came up once again. And finally, in a statement Jada said, “Will can do whatever he wants…” 

It didn’t help quell the rumors. Instead, for the people who believed the two had an open marriage, it confirmed it. And in an attempt to clarify, Jada took to her Facebook page, (which is full of gems by the way), to expound.

Do we believe loving someone means owning them? Do we believe that ownership is the reason someone should “behave”? Do we believe that all the expectations, conditions, and underlying threats of “you better act right or else” keep one honest and true? Do we believe that we can have meaningful relationships with people who have not defined nor live by the integrity of his or her higher self? What of unconditional love? Or does love look like, feel like, and operate as enslavement? Do we believe that the more control we put on someone the safer we are? What of TRUST and LOVE?

Should we be married to individuals who can not be responsible for themselves and their families within their freedom? Should we be in relationships with individuals who we can not entrust to their own values, integrity, and LOVE…for us???

Here is how I will change my statement…Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.

I read this last year. And even though I didn’t think it was a lesson I needed to learn at the time, it stuck with me. Because, unbeknownst to me, I would need it later.

For years I’d been in a situationship. Everything kept us from being together in an official capacity. I mean everything: age, timing, distance, lack of trust, immaturity (on his part), dishonesty (on my part) and then eventually brokenness (on both of our parts). And so, after many years, the situationship ended…again. And though there was friendly-ish communication on social media afterward, this time the permanency felt more real.

But you know, matters of the heart. You can know something is over and still care and still want to know how that person is doing, what’s going on in their life. So even though I knew it was over, I decided I would be mature enough to continue following him on social media, or the one social media outlet I still followed him on: Instagram.

I could write a whole anthology on the ways in which social media can bring madness and mayhem into the very palm of your hand.

And that’s exactly what happened.

At first it was all good, I’d like the comical posts, pictures of his adorable niece, inspirational messages, life goal progress. All of that. I was so mature I had to commend myself.

And then the new boo started making appearances. At first I was lying to myself. ‘Oh, maybe she’s a friend.’  But it wasn’t long before there was a picture that was just to obvious to ignore. And when I saw it, I was shocked. Not at the relationship or the declaration of the relationship but my response to it.

I happen to know of the new boo. I went to high school with her. And though we were far from close, I always assumed she was a nice person. She always had a smile on her face and struck me as having a positive spirit.

But seeing that same smiling face on his page, I could literally feel the bile in my stomach rising up, my skin heating up and my lips turning up in both disgust and to keep any vomit from seeping out.

Just as my head was about to start spinning in Exorcist fashion, Jada’s words came back to me, with an explicit instruction from God:

“Veronica, you don’t own him. She’s a nice girl and he has every right to move on with his life. And if you can’t be happy for him, then you need to unfollow his page.” 

I am one of thee nosiest people in the world; and it pained me to do so, but I started unfollowing him instantly.

That was real maturity.

So Jada’s words resonate with me. So many times in marriages, relationships and even situationships we feel, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves, that we own the person. We like to put pretend stipulations on what they can and can’t do, forgetting the very real fact that we all have our own autonomy and can all do whatever we want.

I know some of you will read Jada’s comments and interpret them to mean that she allows Will to sleep with other women.

I don’t see it that way.

Jada acknowledges that in her mortality, she is not enough to stop Will from doing whatever he wants to do. He’s a grown man, with free will…and in his profession, plenty of access. People say it all the time, if a man is going to cheat on you, he’ll find a way.

But being that she truly knows Will and subsequently married him because she knows him, she trusts that he won’t do certain things. And it’s not because she wields any power or control over him. It’s because she trusts and believes in his own integrity and the decisions he’s made for his own life.

I’ll say that again. Decisions he made for himself, not because she’ll leave him or divorce him or step out too, but because these are the principals that are important to him as an individual, principals which she just so happens to benefit from as his wife and mother of his children.

All that relationship advice we consume about how to keep a man and how to make sure he stays faithful, have all been simplified by Jada’s words.

Instead of playing power games, learning a new move in the bedroom, giving ultimatums, sneaking through his stuff, or asking to smell his dick, choose to be with, surround yourself and even have children with men, women, people who not only possess their own sense of integrity and accountability but can actually prove they live by it. You and your relationship will be happier for it.