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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Parents Get Crash Course on Facebook

Parents Get Crash 
Course on Facebook:
Ann Marie Brucia provides 
intro at Fairfield’s Main Library
(Posted to 2/7)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Feeds. Pokes. Chats. IM’s. DM’s. For the social media savvy, these terms are as familiar as their personal profiles. But for newcomers, this is a foreign language that begs translation.

Fortunately, Fairfielder Ann Marie Brucia was on hand at Fairfield’s Main Library early Monday evening to shed some light and provide an overview of Facebook, the world’s largest social media network. Her hour-long presentation, titled “Facebook for Parents: What You Need to Know”, included tips, etiquette, privacy guidelines and cautionary advice, and was enjoyed by over 35 area attendees.

A blogger, mother of three and owner of New Media Brain, a social media marketing consultancy, Brucia has become a foremost expert on social media and has been sharing her knowledge through a series of monthly talks that kicked off January 10 and will conclude April 12.

“I launched New Media Brain as a blog five years ago,” said Brucia, “as I was re-entering the work force after being home with my kids for 10 or 12 years. Prior to that, I held corporate marketing roles for two large companies and worked for 10 years in product marketing, both in Chicago and overseas. I decided I wanted to work for myself, taking my traditional skills and merging them with the changing landscape of marketing. This was 2005, just a year after Facebook launched and just before Twitter started. Blogs and social media were exploding.”

Brucia quickly got up to speed on the new technologies. “I actually used social media to educate myself. I went to social media conferences and found webcasts online. Then I took my learning out to my clients – a variety of different sized businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500. I continue to educate myself as the landscape is constantly changing.”

In planning her library series of talks, the social media guru felt that Facebook, with over 500 million users as of December 2010, deserved its own session as it’s such a big part of the social networking world.

Brucia’s goal is simple. “I want to arm parents with information to create a safe environment for their families. To that regard, I’ve been working with two beneficial groups – Common Sense Media, a non-profit that does all types of media evaluation for parents and schools, and, which provided a bound copy of “A Parents Guide to Facebook” for my first 50 talk registrants. The book literally walks parents through account and privacy settings and usage guidelines.”

In her view, Brucia senses there’s a lot of fear and misinformation out there about social media. “I think if people took a different perspective of embracing, they would find the tools very useful. The sheer number of people using Facebook warrants our attention, particularly given the number of teens using the medium.”

It had gotten Fairfielder John DeMassa’s attention. The 49-year-old was curious to know more with regard to a new business enterprise. “I just started a school, New England School of Theology, based in Fairfield. I’m looking at Facebook as a way to mass promote my business. This talk will give me a better understanding of the audience. I’m part of the social networking clueless.”

DeMassa’s wife Grace, who had accompanied him to the talk, was more in the know. “I’m already on Facebook, but I want to learn more about privacy issues. I just want to look out for my family, especially with regard to nieces and nephews who are on it and put a lot of info up. I follow their daily lives through Facebook and just want to know who else may be viewing.”

Fairfielder Fernanda Casey was looking out for her two boys, ages 13 and 14. “They are not on Facebook right now but I want to learn about the basics should we decide to allow them on it in a year or two. I feel like a dinosaur.”

In her talk, Brucia said Facebook can be very empowering. “It is essentially an online publishing tool. Every time we make a comment, we’re publishing. We are producers as powerful as big news organizations.”

Brucia also said it can be a fun place for children. “It can be a diary, playground, photo album, game room, email portal, blog and more. Everything is starting to happen inside Facebook, which is why it’s such a part of many people’s lives.”

But, Brucia cautions, “We need to realize that this is permanent. What we put up doesn’t go away. It all leaves a digital footprint.”

Privacy and the settings users engage to control who sees their content is also key. Brucia says Facebook is pretty responsible about this aspect. “The site allows you to control how much information you display. It’s up to you how open or closed you want to make it.”

Mainly, Brucia advises, “Be a good digital citizen, think before you publish and post with a purpose.”

For more information and to register for upcoming presentations, call the Children’s Library at 203-256-3161.