Tag Archives: social media

Is it good to share?

We’re pleased to share this thoughtful guest post today from Charlotte, an adoptive mum of two…

I had an interesting conversation in the playground this morning which got me thinking…

Mum K: XXX has been really difficult recently. She’s a good girl, they play nicely, but when I leave the room she bickers with her sister.

Me: Oh my two are like that too. The entire summer was just the two of them bickering constantly.

Mum M: Really? I thought your two were really good. They seem so polite and kind and when I look at your Facebook all I see is lovely photos of you all looking happy and smiling.

Me: Oh no. K really hates T. The only reason I only share the good bits is because I don’t want to fill my timeline with negative stuff and I have other Facebook groups where I share the difficult stuff.

Mum K: I’m so glad I’m not the only one. When I look at Facebook all I see are lovely photos of families and happy children, but then I actually talk to other mums and find out that all children are like it, or at least, aren’t the angels that we perceive them to be. 

And so the conversation continued. We realised that our 5 year old daughters were all behaving similarly, and commiserated over the frustrations involved. We concluded that it’s good to talk and not just rely on the projected or perceived images.

That was a conversation between me and two mums of birth children. They both know my ‘status’ as an adoptive mum. What I found particularly interesting is that they’re right of course!
On Facebook, and online generally I share my good days to the world, and my bad days within my adoptive parents groups, and seemingly, most of my adoptive parent contacts do that too.

In some of my adoptive parent groups, you often see a status preceded by ‘I couldn’t share this on my own wall but…’ or ‘You saw the positive pics on my wall, but in reality….’.

On forums and on Twitter I tend to share the shittier days because I know I’m surrounded by people that get it and can give me support. And that’s what I tend to see too. I wouldn’t want to share the good days too often in those places because it might seem like bragging to those who are really struggling.

But from my conversation today, it’s clear that others – birth parents – have struggles with their children too. Of course they do. All children can be challenging at times.

I’ve always felt a little concerned about sharing the difficult days on my normal Facebook page.
– Will I come across as ungrateful, after all I have 2 beautiful children?
– Will I be judged?
– Will I look negative all the time?
– Do people really care about my struggles?
– Aren’t everyone else’s children perfect? Won’t mine look awful in comparison?
– Will it bring it home that I’m crap at being a mum?
– Is it fair on my kids to tell the world they’re being little toe-rags?

But actually, after today, I think all it’s done for me is isolate me from some people who could be understanding and supportive. And it’s isolated them by making them feel that it’s only their children that have problems sometimes.
In addition, it explains their reactions in the past to comments I’ve made about particular challenges and behaviours. I’ve presented such a good picture of my family that on those odd occasions where I’ve talked about the bad days they’ve been seen as recoverable minor one-offs rather than the pretty major, violent difficulties that they are.

So what now? Well, I’ll continue to post about the great days, and I’ll continue to seek support from my adopter-only groups, but perhaps I won’t feel quite so bad about sharing the disastrous days occasionally.
What about you? Do you manage to share a balanced view of your life? Do you keep it all in or are you open?

Keeping your Child Safe on the Internet

The internet is a wonderful tool, offering a wealth of information, opportunities and discovery but it also has a dark side, especially for fostered and adopted children.

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As adoptive parents, we have to contend with the risks all parents face of Cyber-Bullying, Viewing Adult and Violent images, Sexting, Trolling, Grooming and Identity Theft; we also have the added risk of our children tracing and contacting  their birth parents.

If we provide our children with internet enabled devices we run this risk, and if we don’t we risk making them ‘different’ from their friends.

As both a parent and a tutor, I firmly believe that in order to successfully parent you need to be aware of all the facts.

Few parents realise the sexual brutality which is freely available to view under the term “Online Porn”.  Many still think it’s like  Playboy. I’ve worked with children of 11 and 12 who regularly view hardcore online porn, and they are putting parental filters on younger siblings computers.In their words,  “I’m old enough to see it, but  they’re too young”! What are the parents doing?

We are the 1st generation of parents who need to have “The Talk” and “the Porn Talk”.However many filters we put in place, there will be children with free internet access who are willing to show ours. It’s crucial we help our children understand that what they see on line is not normal sexual behaviour.The people doing it are actors playing out fantasy roles as they do in feature films.

Adopted and Fostered children are more susceptible to online grooming.  A lot of online grooming through video chat sites is carried out by people in foreign countries. They seek to achieve sexual contact via webcams and video links. As these people can be based abroad there is almost nothing the British Police can do, but report it to the Police Authority in the relevant country.

Cyber-bullying affects approximately 1/3rd of children currently.  Cyber-bullying is 24/7 and often anonymous, so the target does not even know who is doing it. We need to help our children understand that they are being picked on not because of the way they are, but because of the Bully’s problems. In ourHappy Kids Don’t Bully programme  we explore why people bully. The answer is always the same. It’s a coping behaviour displayed by people who need  the power and control which is missing from their lives. This applies to adults as well as children.

Sexting is a rapidly growing trend amongst all children. The explanation for this is , in part due to  accessibility of online porn and that perception of what is ‘sexy’ and ‘cool’;  combined with examples set by celebrities like Rihanna who commented that “if you don’t send your boyfriend naked pictures, then I feel bad for him”. Statistics vary, but many state that a third of young people had either sent or received naked pictures via text or email. Many feel pressured into doing so. Children in care who may have been exposed to the sex industry in their former lives, can be more susceptible to this type of behaviour as they can see it as ok. Interestingly enough these same children are often horrified at the thought of their siblings being involved!

So what can you do?

Protecting children from contacting birth families via social media

  • Try not to let your child know their birth parents surname. It’s difficult to find someone when you only have their forename.
  • Avoid photos on school websites which name your child and/or age.
  • Verify your contacts on social media and set both your and your child’s settings as tightly as possible, so only people you have accepted as friends can see your posts, photos etc.
  • Have the password to your child’s social media accounts and monitor their contacts. Many children have moved on from Facebook to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, PinInterest, Faceparty, Kik   etc.
  • Talk to your children, explain the risksIt could happen and think about what you will do if contact is made.

To generally keep your children safe online

  • Use software which will tell you what sites your child has been on Microsoft Windows Live Family Safety is FREE and it will tell you which sites they have been on.
  • Use Parental Filters, either “Whitelist”  which blocks every site and you then choose which sites your child can visit, or “Blacklist”  where you set an age range, allowing the software to choose what to block and allow.activity report
  • Remember that most children now access the internet via mobile phone or tablet. Apply filters there..
  • Block sites like Chatroulette.com and Pinkroulette.com which have no control over who the children are linking up with.
  • Be draconian with Video and Geo-social apps. These are called hook-up apps for a reason.
  • Teach your children that Happy Kids Don’t Bully. Help them understand that if they are targeted it is not their fault, but all to do with the Bully’s coping behaviour.
  • If your child is physically bullied, treat it as assault and ensure the school works with the bully to help them deal with their problems. Unfortunately very few schools currently do this.
  • Attend any workshops you can on Online Safety to keep your knowledge up to date.

Penny Big Lottery Announcement 1mbPenny Steinhauer has been teaching Online Safety and Anti-Bullying since 2009. She is a member of UKCCIS, the Anti Bullying Alliance, the Children in Wales Preventing Bullying Behaviours Group. Penny has taught thousands of adults and children how to keep safe online and how to deal with bullying. She has recently received a grant of £5000 from the Big Lottery fund to run Happy Kids Don’t Bully workshops for 3000 children in Wales.

For further info go to  www.eyepat.org. You can purchase the EyePAT 200 page Online Safety Information Guide in print format for £13+ £P&P, on CD for  £5.40 + P&P and as a download for £4.79. You can order from http://eyepat.org/safetyguide

How to tweet without being on Twitter

Have you ever noticed those tweets that seem to perfectly coincide with the time you sit down with a cuppa? Or just as you’ve got home from the school run?

Some of the most interesting blog posts I read are those I find through clicking on a tweeted link that pops onto my feed between 9.05am and 10am. A lot of the other interesting ones come through around 8.30pm when I’m sitting relaxing after getting the kids to bed.

Did you ever wonder how that happens? I mean, surely people aren’t just sitting there ready to send those tweets at precisely the right time are they?

I’ve recently started using Twuffer, an app designed to allow you to schedule tweets so you can send them exactly when you need to, without being anywhere near a phone or computer. This is especially useful if you know (from your blog stats) what sort of time your readers usually visit your blog because you can target your tweets – especially with those containing links to your blog – when you know your readers are online.
Similarly if you have blog posts scheduled for e.g when you’re on holiday, you can still promote your post by scheduling a tweet or 5, for whilst you’re away.
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And in all honesty, we use it on The Adoption Social because we’re busy mums who can’t always be on Twitter. But we want to share our posts and other information with you throughout the day rather than bombarding you for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening!

So Twuffer. Log in with your Twitter account and it’ll ask permission to post on Twitter on your behalf. Simply type your tweet in the box, and select your date and time below it. Hit schedule tweet and it’s done!
You can view all your scheduled tweets, see which have been posted, and which have failed (usually through duplication rather than any errors). Screenshot 2014-09-17 11.30.14It’s free to use, and unbelievably easy. If you’re pasting links to your posts in, you might want to shorten them first, else they take up the Twitter character limit – here’s a post on how to use Bitly to do just that.

There’s nothing like interaction though, so don’t schedule all your tweets – make sure you actually converse, retweet and share…but do remember this useful tool.

I love Instagram

Today we’re re-publishing one of our most popular posts. Sarah from The Puffin Diaries shares her love for the photographic, social media app, Instagram.

It took me some time to get into Instagram, it was one of those things that I saw lots of other people sharing pictures of their child via, on Facebook and Twitter. I just thought to my self, there is no point if I can’t post pictures of my children. But how wrong was I, there is so much more to the wonderful world of Instagram.

I take pictures of feet…

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I take pictures of food…

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I take pictures of my cats…probably a little too much.

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and I can still take pictures of my children, in a creative way.

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And I think that is why I love it so much, it is a great creative tool, where you can communicate with others, as you do on other types of social media.You have a profile, follow others and have followers like any other type of social media and you find all sorts of people to follow from all over the world, sharing little moments of their lives in pictures. And you can do it all from your phone.

So hopefully I’ve sold it to you, so here is a simple guide on how to use it.

Taking a Picture with Instagram

imageFrom the App, select the central blue icon with a circle in, bottom centre.

imageThe camera screen will then appear and you take your picture by tapping the blue circle. Once you have picture you like you click Next in the top right corner and the editing screen will appear.

imageAlong the bottom of the screen are the different filters, it’s fun to experiment with these. I prefer to add a filter after I’ve editored the picture using the functions you find when you click on the spanner top right. 

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 Here you can alter the colour quality and sharpness amongst other things. Press Next when you’ve finished.

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Finally you can add a caption and also decide where else you’d like to share the image.

Simple!

Originally posted on July 30.

Here at The Adoption Social we have recently joined Instagram, follow us here

You may also like to follow my puffindiaries account and boysbehaviour

VOTE for The Adoption Social

It’s Award Session………

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We are in celebration mode at The Adoption Social because we have been shortlisted for a very prestigious blogging award. Yes in the category of Social Media we have been shortlisted for a BiB Award ( Brilliance in Blogging). These awards are organised by Britmums who we are very happy to be associated with through our monthly Adoption and Fostering Round Up.

When we set up The Adoption Social we recognised the support that bloggers were finding through our Weekly Adoption Shout Out and we wanted to extend that community through the use of other elements of social media; twitter, Facebook and pinterest. We wanted to encourage more people to join the world of social media and find the friendships that we ourselves had found invaluable as part of our support network.

As the number of our readers and followers continues to grow, we feel very much that our community is blossoming and we both feel hugely inspired by all the people who continue to be involved in this online network.

So if you feel that we have made a difference for you and helped in any way, please vote for us in these awards. Imagine if we could call ourselves The Award Winning Adoption Social, it would be an award for all of us.

To Vote Click on the Badge Below. Each person only has one vote in each category. Our Category is Social Media.

VOTE FOR ME BiB 2014 SOCIALMEDIA

CLICK ON THE BADGE TO VOTE

Oh and Whilst you’re there both The Puffin Diaries and The Boys Behaviour are nominated in the Inspire Category so please Feel Free to cast your vote there too!

VOTE FOR ME BiB 2014 INSPIRE

CLICK ON THE BADGE TO VOTE 

And as always a massive thank you to everyone for their continuing support, every one of you plays their part in making The Adoption Social.

Privates on parade: balancing confidentiality and openness in the adoption blogosphere

A piece from Adoption Journey on the need for adopters to consider privacy in social media.

A few weeks ago I was reading the paper in my lunch break. Towards the middle was one of those heart warming human interest stories. An adult who had been adopted as a very young child had set out on a search for her birth mother and had finally found her using Facebook. A reunion ensued and so did a happy ending. They were now back in regular contact and building a new relationship. Who couldn’t fail to have their heart touched by such a lovely tale? Well, me for a start because, as I read it, the uplifting story was tinged with a shiver which went down my spine.

This did seem to be a truly happy ending as far as the story told and the child’s adoptive parents had supported the search from start to finish. But do newspapers always tell the full story? As I recall, in the newspaper story the child had been relinquished by her mother, some twenty five or thirty years ago. The implication was that economic circumstances and family pressure had led to the child entering the care system.

100However, for the children who are being adopted in the UK today that is the most unusual of circumstances. These days relinquishments are rare, with most children who end up being adopted entering the system because of some form of serious neglect or abuse – or at least the pressing need for action to prevent it. It is interesting reading the blogs which link up every week on The Adoption Social and contrasting the transatlantic experiences of adoption bloggers.

Those blogs which I read from the States largely seem to feature open adoptions through voluntary relinquishment. The circumstances portrayed so vividly in the film Juno. When I watched that film a few years ago, as well as marvelling at the stunning performance given by Ellen Page in the lead role, the scenario seemed quaint. Now, a few years later and absorbed in the a world of UK adoption it seems foreign.

Were that film to be transplanted into a UK setting it would not only be be quaint. It would be illegal.

The upshot of these rambling musings is that, in the UK and for those children adopted elsewhere from foster care, there may be real reasons why first hand contact with birth parents could be very undesirable for adopted children. And yet here we are, writing about our adoption experiences in the most public and connected of public arenas. How, then, to balance the need for the security of our children with a desire to be open and inclusive about our experiences?

For me, the decision to start blogging came only after the deepest of consideration and discussion with my wife. We were both concerned at whether it could threaten the security of our child. Whether it would pose a risk either now or in the future. Whether we were content that the risks (real, perceived or imagined) could be sufficiently minimised and managed.

There are very good reasons why contact between adoptive and birth parents is carefully managed, anonymous and confidential. And across many of the blogs which I read on a weekly basis it is clear that precautions to preserve anonymity have been taken. Many of the UK blogs written by UK adopters are presented under pseudonyms (like “The One Hand Man”, whose blog states that Andrew McDougall is a fictional construct for blogging purposes). Others are content to go on a first name only basis like our very own Vicky and Sarah at The Adoption Social (presuming, of course, that those are their real names). Still others adopt internet handles based on the names of their blogs, like Suddenly Mummy or 3 Bees and a Honey’s “Honey Mummy”.

But is this all unnecessary paranoia? Are there really clear and present dangers out there for open and inclusive adopters.

Certainly my heart sinks when I see a new blog where the first posting runs something along the lines of: “Hi! We’re Danny and Danielle Donaldson. This blog is to chart our journey as we are about to start an adventure into the wonderful, wide world of adoption. We’re an administrator at St Botolphs hospital in Cheam and a chartered accountant with Bloggins and Bloggins in Cricklewood and live in the Orchard Cottage in the lovely village of Nether Walloping Under Stress…” Given the search capabilities of social media etc that degree of online openness is probably inadvisable at the best of times – let alone in the adoption world. A little anecdote should illustrate this. A few years ago, well before we started the adoption process, our church began supporting a community project in the Philippines through an aid charity. As part of this we signed up to sponsor a little 3 year old boy. We got some basic info on him and sent off our first sponsors letter introducing ourselves, including a photo. A few months later we received a lovely letter in response… As sponsors do. However, a few weeks after that I also received a friend request on Facebook. It was from his mum. Now, there wasn’t a negative outcome to this. There were no begging letters, inappropriate requests or emotional blackmail. However, it does go to illustrate just how unbelievably connected the world we live in is. With social media, websites like 192.com or the Way Back Machine and a million and one different ways to build up a profile online (wittingly or unwittingly) we are each more discoverable now than we ever have been. There is an old (well, in internet terms anyway) maxim… “Once it’s online, it’s online forever.”

I certainly know that I have inadvertently built myself up a healthy web profile without even trying.

A career in the public facing side of the public sector means that my name and work details have ended up on public documents, online contact lists and so forth. I have presented at conferences which has lead to my CV, my picture (and on one case, video of me) being posted online. I have participated in online discussion forums and left product reviews on websites… much of this long before I had ever considered that one day adoption might be something I would pursue.

So do I believe that I can achieve perfect control over information about me and my son? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be circumspect on the internet. It is a likelihood that someday my child may search for his birth parents. However, when it happens it would like it to be because he has decided to and, hopefully, he will decide to include us in that process. What I don’t want is for some online carelessness to lead his birth parents to contact him surreptitiously at a point where he is not ready for that contact. While I continue to blog about our journey it is my responsibility to ensure that our openness does not compromise our privacy. This remains a concern both now and for the future. Although, as far as we know his birth parents are relatively benign (in terms of immediate risk that they pose) that does not go for all birth parents. Many could be quite the opposite. But what about extended families? What of the birth parents’ attitudes, associations and situation in the future? There are so many uncertainties.

The nature and character of birth parents is something which must be factored into our stance as members of the online community.

Not quite the same, but we have some really good friends who went through adoption in the same local authority as us. We don’t see them so much these days though. While their final adoption order was being processed a clerical error was discovered which meant that their court correspondence had been sent to their children’s birth parents. Including their address. The details of their case meant that now they don’t live in the same local authority area as us. In fact they don’t live in the same region of the country!

Social media in particular is a concern for many adopters. It is there to make the connection between disparate people easier. I know it is a big concern for our Local Authority who run regular post-approval courses on the internet, social media and ensuring the privacy and security of your adoptive placement.

So as a blogger, how can we balance that openness and privacy. Each will need to come to their own conclusions on that. However, here are a few thoughts which you might like to consider in starting to blog…

Identity: maintaining anonymity can be important. Both for you and your child. Consider how best to do that. There are many ways to approach this. Pseudonyms and internet “handles”. Consider creating a new, blogging specific email address which is separate from your personal email address. If you also run other non-related blogs for other reasons and other interests then run them from a separate email and login.

This is all particularly important if you are in a web-based sector where you will already have been working hard to build up a broad and active internet presence. On the other hand, if your other online business/activities are directly adoption related you may wish to be more open and create direct links with blogs on your own personal journey. However, the degree of your internet presence should be a conscious decision, weighing up the positives and negatives, the risks and advantages. It shouldn’t be something you allow to happen unawares and by accident.

Photographs: they say that a picture can tell a thousand words. On that basis they need to be treated with care. We have taken a personal decision that we will post no photos of our child on the internet, whether this is on blogs, on Facebook… Wherever. We have asked friends to respect this wish too. We have even been very careful about the way in which we have distributed photos by e-mail. Our Facebook privacy settings – in particular image settings – are set as tightly as possible.

With the development of facial recognition software over recent years and the ability of Google Images to search from source photos, allowing it to search for similar photos online, this seems like a reasonable precaution. It is worth remembering that maxim about the indelible nature of internet information. The truth is out there, in pixelated form. After all, we have met our little boy’s birth parents so they know what we look like. Furthermore, with each contact letter we have included photographs of our little boy.

Different bloggers take different approaches to image control. We have gone for a harder “no photos at all” line. Some use photos which have been anonymised using black letter boxes or pixelation. Others post only “back of the head” shots… Again, it is for each to decide what works for them.

Details: Of course, it’s not just your online identity which can identify you. The content of your blogging can give more information than perhaps you would like. We talk about our lives and our experiences when we blog. For us, in particular, our blog tells the story of our journey through adoption – real, identifiable events populated by real identifiable people. How one decides to obfuscate and obscure leads into a grey world between facts and fiction. Every blogger will need to work out where their thresholds lie. How much information can one change without compromise the authenticity of your account. For me personally, I have tried to retain as much openness and authenticity as possible. The principle I quote in the introduction of my blog recalls the old ’60s cop show, Dragnet, which stated at the beginning of every episode that the stories in the programme were true, ‘…only the names have been changed to protect the innocent…” However, maintaining our online anonymity still requires some careful drafting.

A few final thoughts…

Setting down these thoughts in writing has been an interesting exercise. Reading the words back, it would be so easy to see me as some sort of Luddite conspiracy theorist, holed up in a bunker somewhere in the wilds and distrustful of a world which is clearly out to get me. Ironically, it’s quite the opposite. I love openness and the connection that they internet can bring. Sure, my Facebook privacy settings err on the more security conscious but that is partly driven by my still recent position as an adopter. I still share photos and thoughts on there. It is just that nońe of them explicitly reveal the identity of my little boy.

Whatever, there will be a balance to be struck. Some will opt for a stricter, more private stance. Some will simply opt out of online life altogether for this reason. Others will retain an open and discursive stance in terms of the details they are willing to share about their lives and their identities. Many, perhaps most, will lie somewhere in-between. I think that my only hope is that if they do then they do so in an informed and conscious manner – aware of the risks which their openness entails and willing to accept them.

It would be very interesting to hear about how you have considered and dealt with the issues raised in this blog. Please feel free to leave a comment in response.

The Importance of Social Media to a Fostering and Adoption Charity

This piece has been written for us by Amy Peters the online marketing officer for TACT, a fostering and adoption charity

TACT_Logo_RGBAt TACT, social media has become part of our everyday lives. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly a preferred way of communication for many, and while there’s nothing quite like a face to face chat over a cup of tea, we are finding that using social media adds real value to our work.

Social media enables us to raise awareness about the services that we provide, such as the support we give people throughout the adoption process, as well as finding new people who are interested in providing a loving home to children who are unable to live with their birth parents.

It also allows us to engage with people in a more immediate way than traditional forms of communication.  TACT news and updates can be broadcast immediately.  If we’re taking part in important policy debates then we can keep people up to date on developments as they happen.  And if we’re campaigning on a particular issue, such as the Children and Families Bill, we can ask people directly what they think.

Social media is a brilliant platform for highlighting real life experiences of our adopters, foster carers and young people, adding depth and meaning to the work that we do.  So, for example, if people have questions about how to adopt or foster, we can answer through the words and stories of carers and adopters.

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But social media does not stand still and we must move with the times. Our ideas for future development include introducing a regular blog on our own website. There are so many amazing people involved in the TACT network – committed adopters and foster carers, inspiring young people and dedicated social workers – each with a unique insight and special story to tell. Look out for some serious blogging activity during this year’s National Adoption Week!

For me, one of my best social media moments was at an event we held for Care Leavers’ Week last year.  As young people talked about their hopes and fears for the future and how TACT had helped them, I tried to capture this in tweet form. Words such as my foster carer showed me love, TACT helped me grow up’ were a brilliant reminder of why TACT’s work is so important. With every Tweet, I felt privileged to work for an organisation dedicated to helping the most vulnerable children in the UK.

Amy Peters – Online Marketing Officer

Find out more about this amazing charity on their website http://tactcare.org.uk/

Or on Facebook and Twitter

Making friends on Twitter

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Previously we did an article on how to set up your twitter account, with special considerations you might want to make when tweeting about adoption, you can find out more here.

Here we aim to give you some tips for getting around twitter and how to find other people to tweet with.

 

HOW TO FIND PEOPLE TO TWEET WITH
Twitter will make recommendations for people to tweet with in your side bar. If you click on the name or picture (the avatar) it will take you through to their profile, where a brief bio will give you information that might help you decide if you’d like to follow them

If you are looking to tweet with people who share a particular interest, like adoption, you can use the search tool in the top bar. Type in adoption and then select people in the bar to the left, and a list of those involved in adoption will come up. This will include organisations as well as individuals.

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Another way is to access the following or followers list of another person. Select a person, group or organisation in which you are interested in, go to their profile and click on following or followers. From this list you will be able to select those you might want follow with a single click.

We have a twitter blogroll on the site, down on the right hand side of the page, scroll down and you will find lots of great adoption folk to follow.

THE BEST WAY TO ENSURE YOU GET FOLLOWERS AND FOLLOW BACKS
Make sure you fill in your bio and include an avatar image (sometimes known as an avi). People will be suspicious of you if you don’t provide even a small amount of personal information or present a personality. None of the information needs to be too informative or personal, but it will be how people identify with you. Maybe list hobbies and likes and if you want to tweet about adoption, mention it in your bio.

If you have a blog include it in your bio and remember to include your twitter tag on your blog, it’s easy to add a follow button in your sidebar. To see how to do it follow the link below.

https://twitter.com/about/resources/buttons

If you have a blog to promote it is also a good idea to incorporate the name of it into your twitter tag, that way people can instantly link them together. 

What you tweet about will also influence  whether people follow you. It’s up to you what you tweet about but people will be more drawn to you if you appear friendly. 

Comment on other people’s tweets, if you have a relevant reply, and retweet posts that you feel may be of interest to your own followers.

The favourite tag is used by many as the “like” button is on Facebook, to indicate that you agree with a comment or just “like” it.

If you read other peoples blogs leave comments on their posts and if you really like them share them on twitter, people will often check you out if you support them and follow you in reply.

There are no hard and fast rules for tweeting but remember to tweet with others as you would like to be tweeted with yourself. 

Introducing Instagram

Instagram

Heard of Instagram but not really sure what it’s all about?

Well, it’s basically an app for your phone (Iphone or Android) whereby you can take photographs and edit them, or edit your existing photographs.

Once you’ve done that you publish them to your very own Instagram timeline.

A little like Twitter, you can follow other people and therefore their photographs appear in your timeline. Other people can follow you, and your images then appear in their timelines.

You can ‘like’ or comment on your own photos, or those in your timeline. And again, like Twitter, you can tag your images with #hashtags and tag other users by including their Instagram @ handle in your comments.

The editing capabilities in Instagram are limited, you can change the overall look of your photograph by selecting an effect – some make it look old, some brighten your image, some turn it black and white, there’s a range of effects. You can also choose whether to include a frame or not, but you don’t get to choose which frame is used. You can also blur parts of your photographs, which helps both obscure parts of an image you might to keep private (your children’s faces for example), and it can also draw focus to something, by removing or blurring distractions. You can brighten a photograph and rotate it too.

That’s pretty much it, but it’s enough to turn a dull picture into something a little more special. Here are 4 versions of the same image…OK, so it’s not a great image, but you get the idea…

4 different effects

When you upload an image to Instagram you are given the option to share the image to various other places – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and even FourSquare, so your friends on those platforms can see your photographic efforts too.

I rarely include photos of my children on Instagram but if you want to, there is a helpful security setting which you can turn on – this means only those you approve can follow you. It’s a simple yes/no to accept/reject potential followers.

Very recently, Instagram have also launched a video aspect to the app, where you can take or view videos as well as images, but I’ve yet to test this feature.

If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then I’d say yes!
For me, it’s a really simple way of quickly improving my photographs, and sharing them with other people who like photography. I can include images from my blog which helps with drawing people to my blog, and I can create a ‘look’ if I want, styling my images similarly so people instantly know they’re mine.

I have different people following me in different places, so having the ability to share a photo on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all in one go is great for me.

I can do it on the move, and because copies of all my Instagrammed pictures appear in my phone’s gallery, I can very easily add them to my blog too.

If you want to get into Instagram, then you’ll need to download the app from the Android Play Store or the Apple store. You can follow myself (@BoysBehaviour) and Sarah (@PuffinDiaries) to get you started too.

For more information on Instagram, go to www.Instagram.com.

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