Social Media for Storytellers, Part 1

Revised April 25, 2017.
Revision details are at the end.
Use control-F on your computer to search within this page (or any page).

Printable version is social-media-for-storytellers-part-1-rev-1.pdf.
Updated March 26, 2017.


Assume there is none. It’s safer.

Even if the programmers intend to give you privacy options, they don’t always do it right. Instagram has a setting so only your friends can see your pictures, but when I search for “Do I need an account to see Instagram?” the first page has a site that will get around that. The next entry is instructions on to use the Instagram activity feed to see activity of people who thought it was private.

Most group moderators are very lax about screening who can join a group. The only reason they are private is to reduce spam. Many people join with fake names that look real. Some groups have thousands of members.

FaceBook has levels of friendship. Close friends can see more than acquaintances, who can see more than the public. I don’t trust it. Or maybe I don’t trust myself. Even though I can, in theory, put my boss in my “doesn’t see everything” group, it’s too easy to forget to tighten the settings on the post where I complain about work.

As companies merge, they often combine your accounts. “We looked at your browser history. It will make your life easier if we connect your GoodReads to your FaceBook account.”

Privacy Myth

If I tell only some people about it, only those people can see it. False!

Google asks your browser where it has been, then crawls those links.

If you want to keep it private, you must use a password. Even then, many sites just use passwords for permission to see it through normal channels. It’s still possible to get the file and read it in other ways.

Likewise, anyone can read an email attachment. Encrypt it before sending.

Save the big guns for the important things. The guild address list is private, it’s not a big problem if it leaks. I protect my password list more carefully.


Bad passwords (that seem smart, just like a key under a rock):

  • 314159, cadaei (Hint: C=3)
  • 602223 (Number from high school chemistry. It’s the second-most popular password among scientists.)
  • Anan51, anansi, isnana, 114114191 (hint: 14=n)
  • yuiop, ^&*() (hint: look at your keyboard)
  • 68jan25, 19680125, 25jan68
  • 077awa, w00153y (my teenage summer camp, which isn’t a secret)

Hackers have programs that can test thousands of variations each second.

Use random passwords. I use SplashID to remember them. Do not keep your password book by the computer. Double-encrypt anything to do with a bank, government, email , Google or FaceBook. (Many other sites connect to them.)

Change all your passwords regularly. This keeps them safe. It also helps you remember they exist.

Record each password as you make it. If you change it, mark it as old but do not erase. You might need the old one.

Never reuse a password. If a hacker finds one, he will try it (and similar passwords) on other sites.

Your primary email account is valuable. If you lose the password to another site, it will use that to send you a new one.

Set the recovery options where available, especially for email accounts and FaceBook. You choose other email accounts, friends, or a cell phone that accepts text messages. (Gmail and FaceBook are often used to sign in to other accounts.)

Never email a password. Emails are unencrypted.

Security questions aren’t safe. Lorne Ames on FaceBook told me what my distant cousins were doing. I have many Abrams friends. Guess my mother’s maiden name. Now guess my father’s mother’s maiden name.  My friend Beth posted a picture of us as teenagers. I’m wearing a Confederation Cardinals shirt. Also, my profile says I went to Confed. Another friend wished me happy birthday, and another asked me to wish my mother happy birthday. I mentioned a yard sale Trinity United Church was holding. Now FaceBook wants me to Friend the minister.
This site will see if your email has been part of a breach, and give details of the breach and recommended action. It is not complete.

(Two-Factor Authentication and Legacy Contacts (Executor) are a future topic.)

Website Design

The front page should have what you want people to see first, often an upcoming concert.

Over half of searches are now done on mobile phones.

Include contact information.

Think like your audience.

Use text, not pictures of text. Google cannot reliably read text. Also, pictures don’t display well on small screens.

Choose a few pages that you will change often. Write the rest so you rarely have to touch them. Bios rarely change. Your next concert will.

Text is easier to read on a plain background, especially if the audience has difficulty seeing, is using a small screen, or is colour-blind, or is in bright sunlight.

If you use drop-down menus, give users another way to reach the page. There are many ways to program drop-down menus. Some don’t work on some systems. Use a site-map.

If your site is large, include a way to search it. Sandy knows how to add search to designs that don’t normally have one.

What Is Social Media?

Social media is a large ongoing party. Unlike a real party, you can participate in several conversations at once, and they often spread out over time. Also, there is a recording which is sometimes searchable.

What is it Good For?


Networking is useful if you network with the right people. My teenagers say FaceBook is old and useless. Most of my online friends are there. If my friends move to NewSite, then I will move. Meanwhile, there is no reason to go to SiteMyKidsLike.

If you want to connect with other storytellers, ask them where they hang out. Follow who they follow. It’s like moving to a new town. The best way to find new friends is to find a few people you get along with, then meet their friends.

Many storytellers are on FaceBook. I don’t know about the other sites.


As with networking, go where your friends are. You will probably like your friends’ friends. If they move, then go with them.


Go where your audience is. Advertising on Reddit, which is mostly techies, won’t pay off.

Advertise in many places. Some people aren’t on FaceBook. Some don’t go to the library. Some don’t wander downtown.

Only your friends will see your posts. Ask them to boost the signal by sharing. Return the favour.

Actually, not all your friends will see it. FaceBook only shows people what it thinks they will find interesting. (That’s what they say.)That might not include your post. You can pay money to increase the odds, but it’s not clear exactly what you’re paying for.


Most Social Media sites make money by showing you ads. They are very good at keeping you on the site.

What is it Not Good For?

Information you want others to find when they ask.

Real World Analogy

Books in a Library

A traditional website is a book. You can easily update it. Google is the index to the library, and will also index within the book. Users have to look for the information, but when they do look, it’s easy to find (if you put it up).


Social media is a party with conversations. A huge party, with many rooms. You can be in many places at once. Like a family reunion, some people will be discussing cars, others will be by the pool, some will be napping, and some will be discussing the next meal.

Many of these conversations are recorded and can be searched with Google, like a library book, or maybe like the Letters to the Editor section of a newspaper.


Blogs are more like newspaper columns or newsletters, with conversations attached. Again, they are often put in the library and indexed.

Where offline would you go to ask:

  • Do any of my friends use Instagram?
  • What’s the latest news in Waterloo?
  • Will it rain today?
  • What is storyteller Mary-Eileen doing? (Assume I’ve never met her.)
  • What is my friend Mary-Eileen doing?
  • What are all my friends doing?
  • How can I use this vegetable?
  • What recipe is the Food Writer trying today?
  • What recipes has the Food Writer tried in the last month?
  • Has anything exciting happened in the world?
  • Has anything exciting happened in Waterloo?
  • I’m bored. Really bored. And tired. Entertain me.
  • What can I do this Friday night?
  • Is there a storytelling guild in Waterloo?
  • Is there a local storyteller who can help my class learn about the environment?
  • Is there a storytelling event on Friday night?
  • Are there any local storytelling events next month?
  • Will there be a World Storytelling Day event in Waterloo this year?
  • What’s new in the world of storytelling?

Advice to Storytellers

Use an email list to communicate with your fans. High value, since those people want to hear about it. Information about your new show will be in their inbox, waiting patiently for them. However, they might not see it, or might delete it.

Use a website, such as WordPress, so you can be found by strangers, fans who lose the email, and people who heard about you from a fan but can’t remember your name.

FaceBook is easier than WordPress for pictures. Instagram seemed easier, but you can’t make albums. All your pictures are shown by date. (FaceBook owns Instagram. If you want an album, you can create one on FaceBook, and then include pictures from Instagram. FaceBook likes it this way.)


Hashtag. Fancy type of label. Any word with a # in front becomes a label. Clicking on it searches the site for other entries with the label. Used in FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and more.

Blog. Short for Web-log. An online diary.

Friend. Someone who agrees that you can see what they post. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It doesn’t have to be reciprocal (although it usually is). “Only my friends can see this.” (Warning: This is only as good as the programmers, and it’s easy to forget that your boss is your FB friend.)

Follow. Tell the site, “I want to see everything posted by this person.” Some sites email you updates. Others just include their posts in your feed. You do not have to follow all your friends.

Feed. Everything written by the people you follow. This can get very busy. FaceBook and Twitter let you put your friends into groups, so see fewer posts at a time. Also, it’s not always everything. If FaceBook thinks your friend’s post is boring, it might helpfully not show it.

Profile. Your description of yourself. Sites encourage you to fill this out. It helps them send friend suggestions and ads that you are more likely to click on. This is both useful and creepy. 

Some Social Media Sites

* Even if the sites say strangers can’t see your content, it depends on the programmers’ skill and the company’s trustworthiness. See Instagram comments above.

This table looks much better in the printed version. social media for storytellers – part 1 rev 1

  Real-world analogy Search engines see? Can strangers see your content? * Who is there? Other

For sites and blogs.

1. Library book. New edition easy to make.

2. Newspaper columnist.

3. Conversations about the content (if turned on).

Your choice. WordPress wants to keep Google happy. Your choice. Only those who visit. Followers can ask to be emailed of new blog entries, but not new pages or changes to existing content.

Can pay for more control over the look.

SquareSpace Similar to WordPress.

Can have forums where members (or strangers) start topics.

Your choice. Your choice. Only those who visit.

For sites and blogs.

Same as WordPress, but not as versatile. Your choice. Owned by Google. Your choice. Only those who visit.
FaceBook Microblogging, the usual settings Huge party. No organization. Everyone can hear and join friends’ conversations, if they listen fast. There’s a lot of background noise.

Except…FB only shows you what it thinks you want to see. You might miss a friends’ announcement.

No Assume Yes. The settings are complicated.

However, you need an account to see much of the content. Telling Mom to see FB for details is useless.

Friends of friends of friends, and many strangers. Easy to miss announcements if you follow many people.

Many obscure features and settings.

It sounds like I don’t like FB, but it is my main socializing site. It’s good for that, but not good as a main website for advertising.

FaceBook Groups Smaller party. Everyone hears every conversation.

Some groups are big, some small.

Maybe Anyone in the group can see it. Most groups accept anyone who behaves themselves. Depends on the group. Easy to miss announcements.

Group posts are combined with your regular FB feed. Easy to miss. You can look at the activity in just that group.

FaceBook Public Page Bulletin board by the office. Staff reorganizes content daily. Sometimes, but I still don’t recommend it as your main site Many people don’t click on links to FaceBook. If they do, they see a “You can see more if you join!” message over much of the page. Its purpose is to be visible.

Can be seen without FaceBook account.

Only those who visit. Some followers will see updates, if their feed isn’t too busy.

You can pay for more visibility. Their pricing structure is seductive.

Instagram Photo gallery. Conversations about the pictures. Indirectly They say its your choice. Many. Can put several hashtags on each picture.

People often put pictures here, then link to them from sites that don’t accept pictures.

Reddit Huge party, organized into groups and topics. Yes They say you can set groups and your profile to private. Techies. Audience choice. Also depends on the group. Very wide variety of groups.

A bit clunky. Appeals to techies.

Pinterest Pin pictures onto your boards for sharing and future reference.

Pins are linked to the original page. Very useful.

Not sure Your choice. Only Pinterest members can see content.

One of my boards is a wish-list. My husband refuses to join Pintrest so he can see it.

Many, especially crafters, decorators, cooks. Very good search feature. Maybe too good.

Can add tool to your browser so it’s easy to add pictures. Otherwise, need to copy and paste the website address.

Twitter Huge party. No organization. Fast moving. Can follow friends or watch everything.

Posts limited to 140 characters each.

Yes Yes Lately over-run by trolls. Big events often use a hashtag, so everyone there can join a huge conversation.

Useful for quick announcements that followers are expecting.

Revision Details

March 26, 2017
Website Design. Searches on mobile phones. Making text easier to read. Search large sites.
Social Media Sites Table. Added SquareSpace, Pinterest. Notes to Reddit.

April 25, 2017:
Privacy. Clarified details.
Privacy Myths. Clarified details.
Social Media Sites Table. Google can see FaceBook Public Pages, but I still don’t recommend it as your main site. FaceBook microblogging doesn’t always show you everything your friends post.