Five Things You Absolutely MUST Teach Your Teen About Social Media


Only a parent of a teen knows the struggle. Yes, there have always been struggles between parents and their teens, but to say that we are pioneers of a new kind of parenting isn’t just our generation’s attempt to minimize the tough time parents of hippies or greasers or, I don’t know, Disney channel stars, have had to endure. We truly are parenting an entirely new kind of teen — the iGeneration teen. And it’s hard.

I wrote often about parenting this unique generation in my column at the OC Register and I will continue to write about them here on my blog. Heck, I’m even writing a book about them. Out of necessity — my husband and I have one teen now and three more waiting in the wings — I have a vested interested in learning everything I can about today’s teen.

Here are five things I have taught my teen to help her understand social media and its impact on her life, her future and others.

1.)  Be careful what you say, there is no sarcasm font.

Even though your teen may be “just be kidding” in a snarky text or comment or post, it’s important to teach teens that comedy can be taken the wrong way on social media.   A sarcastic comment can hurt feelings or get them in trouble if taken out of context. Since there isn’t a sarcasm font that denotes they are joking around, it’s best to not risk it on social media. 

2.) You are not responsible for what others say in a group chat. 

The group chat is a staple in the teen communication diet. They form groups of friends in group chats on text or Instagram. (Think modern-day Pink Ladies from the movie Grease.)  Just like in a live in-person conversation, we talked to our teen about the way other kids use bad language or are just plain mean in some group chats. And just like in a real life situation, she isn’t responsible for what they are saying, but she does have the option to “walk away” or in social media terms — leave the group. 

In one of the shining moments of my daughter social media life, she decided to leave one group that wasn’t a positive influence in her life. SHE decide. This is what we are going for here — our kids making these decisions for themselves. I sweated it out for a few weeks looking through the groups’ conversation but in the end, she made the decision to leave herself.

3.) If you share other people’s content — Ta-da! It’s now your content. 

The concept of sharing content by doing things like re-Tweeting, re-Vineing or reposting other’s content is a specific one to social media and may take parents a while to understand. Most social media channels give you the capacity to share other user’s content. Teach your teen that when she does this, it is the same as if she were saying it, or doing it herself. For instance, if she re-Tweets something with foul language — she is using foul language. If she shares a Vine of someone doing something that is inappropriate, then she is endorsing it.  Follow this rule up with real consequences. That will dive the point home to your teen — she shared it  = she said it =  bye-bye phone! 

4.) No screen-time is important time.

In our house there is no screen-time after 8 p.m. No phone. No computer. At first this was hard for our older kids to take, but over time I think they enjoy the relief of not being tied to communication. We know as adults that it can be exhausting to always be checking emails and social media. You will get a fight if you don’t have anything like this in place but I assure you, it is worth it! 

5.) It’s rude to not respond to texts from friends and especially from *ahem* parents who pay for your cellphone.

This one seems self-evident but every parent of a teen knows this struggle too well. You text your teen simple questions, a friendly “hi” or direction and you get a whole lotta nothing back. But you can see they seem to be posting on Instagram or texting other people or they respond only when they need something. Teaching a teen to have social media etiquette is an important lesson since this is the world they will be living in for the rest of their lives. When a friend asks about a homework assignment and she doesn’t respond it is rude. When a parent sends a text and she doesn’t respond it’s unacceptable. Remember — without our help they won’t have a phone. Use that power. 

We truly are pioneering a new way of parenting. If you sometimes feel overwhelmed or at a loss for what to do it’s understandable — parenting kids online and social media use was never modeled to us. The key is to be knowledgeable about their social media life and make the best decisions you can for their well being. You read this whole blog post so you’re doing GR8 🙂

Do you know how to check your teen’s Instagram messages?


For most parents Instagram seems simple enough to understand. Their teenagers post pictures or videos and their friends like or comment on them. Easy peasy. But there is most likely much more going on within your kid’s account. I conducted a spectacularly informal but still telling survey of parents. I  asked them this: Did you know that your teen can text to individuals and create group chats privately within Instagram? I found that 8 out of 10 did not.

Yep, I thought so. Instagram has emerged as one of the more popular ways teens communicate on their phones using a feature called Instagram Direct. It’s easy to send messages, photos and videos to individuals or groups (up to 15 people), but it’s tricky to find the message feature if you don’t know to look.

You can’t get to Instagram Direct messaging on your profile page. That would be the logical place to look.


To go to the inbox on Instagram you’ll need to go to the home page by clicking on the home icon. You will see an icon at the top right that looks like an old school inbox. If there is a new message an orange number will appear (denoting how many new messages you have). Click on that to get to the inbox.


From here, users can start group chats or reach out to individual Instagramers. (As you can see. I’m very popular with lots of messages.)


Users can “unsend” or erase individual texts within their messages. They can also delete messages or group chats with no record left behind of the conversation.


An Instagram user can send anyone a message if their account is not marked as “private,” even if they aren’t following them. So this means someone can message to your teen even if they don’t know them.

If you regularly check your kid’s text you can now add Instagram messaging to your routine. Next up … Snapchat!

Here are some more posts I’ve written about social media:

Five Thing You MUST Teach Your Teen About Social Media

10 Ways Mom Bloggers Are Different Than Traditional Journalists

How to Host A Practically Perfect Blogger Event



people-hate-us-on-yelp-1024x1000YELP can be a business’ best friend or worst enemy. Bad reviews from customers or former employees can be frustrating and sometimes unfair. Though the success of YELP hinges on honest and credible reviews, there are still some strategies businesses can implement to boost their score in honest ways.

I am an Elite Yelper (Follow me here). I believe in it. I, honestly, would be lost without it. Given that, you can take these suggestions not as a professional, but from a fan of YELP.

1.) Offer a check-in coupon or YELP deal. (See the details on those, ) These help your business because YELP will feature coupons and push your profiles out to drive revenue. (They take a percentage).

2.) Respond to all reviews, not just the negative ones. Responding to reviews can help boost the odds that you’ll get a higher ranking in the site’s search results.

3.) Advertise on YELP. This is helpful because of the perks it adds to your business page. When you advertise with YELP you can add videos, larger photos AND no ads (including competitor’s) can run on your page.

4.) Ask patients/guests/customers to write a review. Though YELP discourages this practice, it is widely known to perk-up a business’s ranking. The most effective way to ask for a review is at the “point-of-purchase locations.” Basically, a plaque at the front desk asking customers to write a review on YELP works best.

5.) Check to see if good, positive reviews are being filtered out by YELP’s algorithms. If you see that there are some good reviews are not appearing in your company’s reviews – look through your business page metrics – reach out to the reviewer and ask him to fill out his profile more completely and perhaps add more reviews. Incomplete profiles, like ones without photos, sometimes get filtered out as spam.

10 ways mom blogger differ from a traditional journalist

Bob Iger, CEO Walt Disney Company, Tom Staggs, President of Disney Parks and me at the opening of Aulani Resort

Bob Iger, CEO Walt Disney Company, Tom Staggs, President of Disney Parks and me at the opening of Aulani Resort

I have a unique perspective on this topic — How a new media influencer (mom blogger) differs from a traditional journalist — because I have been (and still am) both of these. Though I began as a mom blogger back in 2008, I am now also a traditional journalist, working as the Editor of OC Register Family magazine and Columnist at the Orange County Register.
It’s my opinion that the shift in thinking about pitching and working with new media for most Pubic Relations Professionals has been difficult. The standard ‘ol press release just doesn’t cut it anymore. It is a rare case that those pitches work, even when I’m wearing my traditional journalist hat, but I still receive upward of 100 of them a day.
In an effort to help PR folks understand the mom blogger and/or new media journalist I have made this list of how they differ from traditional media.
1. Doesn’t always have access to professional equipment and/or assistance.
The more you can supply to the mom blogger as far as photos, videos and graphic design the better. 
2. May not hold traditional office hours
Most mom bloggers are, well, moms. They might be running around all day with their kids and get the bulk of their work done at night after the little ones have gone to bed.
3. Is a business owner
Unlike traditional journalists who work for a company, mom bloggers work for themselves and have an entrepreneur approach to their work. That means their time is valuable.
4. Effective coverage hinges on relationship
It’s all about a good PR/mom blogger relationship. They have built their brand around these relationships. Successful PR people know this and maintain strong communication with mom bloggers.
5. Is open to suggestions for story lines and angles
This is probably the hardest thing for a traditional PR person to do. In the past they wouldn’t dream of mapping out the story for a reporter, but a mom blogger appreciates hearing the PR person’s vision of how they would fit with their brand.
6. Immediacy is an important part of her social media currency
Competition is fierce in the mom blogging community. Provide immediate sharing opportunities as much as possible. Mom bloggers want to be the first and/or original. Anything to set them apart from the other bloggers. 
7. Usually a one-woman show
They don’t have a staff of photographers or graphic designers. They do it all! This makes them great at guiding their brand. Respect it.
8. Is interested in experience when telling a story on her blog. That is where she uses her power
They want to stay at a hotel or to eat at the restaurant. They want to try the vacuum cleaner at their house or drive the car for a weekend. They are hands-on reporters. That is the value they bring. 
9. Is a linear journalist (or story teller)
They don’t just publish one story and BAM! they’re done. I use the example for this from when I covered the opening of Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii. I started Tweeting about it the moment I was assigned the story. I posted photos on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr and videos on YouTube while I was on the trip. I also blogged while l was there. The print story ran the following January, but I had already provided a full body of coverage by that time.
10. Has developed her own ethics and standard practices for her work
All reputable mom bloggers should have their standards and ethics policy posted on their blog. If they don’t, then ask them for it. 

Is your brand speaking every social media language?


Whenever I speak at conferences or to professional groups I talk about readers/users/costumers “social media language.” Every online media consumer has one they prefer.

The social media world can be confusing to businesses who are trying to reach out to consumers. They often tell me they feel like they are just spewing out the same information on every channel. I explain that you must be in all places in order to “speak everyone’s language.”

When a social media savvy person (which really is every person between the ages of 13 – 55) finds a product, company or brand they like they will follow that brand in their preferred language.

My social media language is Pinterest. If I like a brand and I see the little red “P” at the top of their web page, most of the time, that is where I  will follow them. When my friend Elaina finds a product she likes she follows them on Instagram. Others will choose Facebook or Twitter. Social media helps consumers process information in the way they prefer. I’m a visual person. Elaina is community oriented as well as visual.

It’s important for a company looking for brand believers to be everywhere. The trick is to know how to tell the right message in each social media channel.

Let’s use the example of a restuarnt who is using social media in a successful way.

Pinterest: Post recipes from the chef.

Instagram: Post photos of the daily special and behind-the-scenes photos from the kitchen. (Sealegs Winebar does a great job at this.)

Tumblr: Create a page that glorfies food and their core beliefs about food with beaufiful photos. (I don’t know any restuarant that does this well which is a shame!)

Flickr: Post photos of menu items in albums by season and share them with the community. Invite bloggers to download them for review.

Facebook: Run contests, post photos of daily specials and share news about the resturant. (Driftwood Kitchen does a good job at this.)

Twitter: Interact with the foodie community (Zov’s does a good job at this, here.)

Yelp: Claim your business, post photos and respond to reviews: both negative and positive. Offer a coupon upon check-in.

Do’s and don’ts of pitching to mom bloggers

I recently spoke at the OCPRSA luncheon, The Virtual Power of Parenting Media and Influencers. I was looking forward to spending half an hour instructing (READ: bossing) PR folks on how to work with Mom Influencers. Here is some of the info I shared.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching to Mom Bloggers (or Influencers)
Do familiarize yourself with her content. Spend time reading her blog to understand the power of her influence
Do build a relationship with her via Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest prior to pitching her a story
Don’t connect with a general pitch, instead pitch a specific storyline based on influencer’s interests and strengths
Do include relative links, hashtags and photos!

Don’t call her a “mommy blogger”

Do be clear on what your expectations are of her
Don’t send a traditional press release attached to an email
Do create content that is easy to share on all platforms. A .jpg “flyer” is best way to control your message and create easily shareable content. This is my best tip. When pitching to Mom Bloggers send them something they can easily share.

How blogging made me a better friend, mom and person

After my daughter was born, all I wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom. I imagined I'd spend my days pushing my daughter in a stroller through the park in the mornings, scrapbooking our family memories when I could sneak in some "me time," as she napped in the afternoon, and then I'd prepare a pictorial-worthy family meal every night.

It didn't exactly happen that way; I did eventually leave my full-time job when we decided we could make it on one income, but by then, my daughter was four and my son was one.

I was ready. Bring on the stay-at-home momminess! But what happened the next six months shocked me–I was miserable. The reality of spending most days snail hunting, waiting for a child to either fall asleep or wake up, and the stark loneliness of staying at home with two small kids wasn't what I imagined, but I didn't dare tell a soul. Are you kidding? After all the dreaming, planning and sacrifice I couldn't admit I was two "Dora The Explorers" shy of a total meltdown. Even if Elmo himself came and knocked on my door for a little heart to heart–I wasn't going to admit I was going a little crazy.

That's about when I came across this thing called a blog and decided I would start one of my own. I was a journalism major in college and always loved to write and tell stories. I had my own personal blog up and running within a week and a few weeks after that was picked up by the Orange County Register to blog before joining the team here at OC Family. At night after the kids were in bed I'd stay up late writing, making videos and connecting with other moms online. Blogging was just the spark I needed to keep me from leaping into the waiting arms of a deep depression.

I love my kids. It wasn't being a mom that was causing me to spiral, it was the lack of connection to the "pre-mom me" and to other people. I'm a social person and I needed to spend time being creative and then share that part of me. I discovered that being a mom was just like anything else, I couldn't rely on other people to flip that "happy" switch. Once I took it on myself to find what made me feel balanced and content–ta da! I was happy.

Blogging is undeniably denominated by women–mostly moms–and here's why: Our blog is all ours. Moms rightly spend most of their days pouring their energy into everyone else's needs; the kids, the boss, the husband. But a blog is our own space and we can make it look, say and be anything *we* want, and that's empowering.

I believe the internet and its cohorts–etsy, blogs, message boards, Twitter–have been revolutionary to women, especially to moms. Through online networks a stay-at-home mom in Iowa can sell her handmade scarves internationally or a working mom can take night classes online to help grow her career or a stay-at-home mom in Orange County can write on her blog late at night and become a columnist, writer and local TV host all while her kids are asleep or in school.

This month's cover story for OC Family is all about Digital Moms. I proudly wear that title. In fact, the writer, Debbie Lavdas, and I are tight friends and we met through an online OC mom's networking site years ago. If I remember right she described herself as a mom and writer in her bio. I think I replied with "I'm a mom and a writer too!" That was it. We quickly arranged an IRL (In Real Life) meeting and have worked together blogging and now on OC Family TV.

I hear the comment often that online connections are "superficial" and "unhealthy," but that’s not my experience. Try having a deeply felt conversation with your daughter's Pollie Pockets about the weather after being home with a sick kid for two days and then let's talk "superficial" and "unhealthy" relationships. Moms need to connect and the online world offers us a conduit to find customers for our products, like-minded moms in our community and healthy friendships. Embrace it!

Connect with me on Twitter at @suzbroughton or on Facebook at Facebook/Suzannebroughton.

This is from my column in May's OC Family Magazine.  Here are some of my other columns from past issues:

Lessons in Parenting: Lying to Your Kids
Girls In Glasses
A Curious Pear
My Magical Son

The Five Distinctions of a New Media Journalist

I’ve worked as a blogger for over seven years and I’ve watched as well-intentioned PR professionals and companies struggle to meet the needs of new media journalists. They’re not sure what to do with us or how to speak our language. “Do we seat them with the traditional press? Why are they texting on their phones during a press conference? What’s a hashtag?” seems to be common refrain.

In hopes of closing the gap a wee bit, here are some distinctions between new media and old school traditional journalists I’ll make sweeping generalizations and wild assumptions to make some points. Of course, not all of these apply to every new media journalist.

For the purposes of this list I’ll define a new media journalist as a refined and experienced bloggers, usually with more than one blog, each with an emphasis (or beat) on one subject. They may or may not be a professional (paid) blogger. Sometimes called online journalists, new media journalists use the thrilling and immediate avenues of content distribution — Twitter, Facebook,, Flickr, YouTube, and Google, blogs–and their content usually only appears online. This sets them apart from more traditional journalists.

Here goes:

1.) New Media journalists are a one-person show. Most write, shoot video, appear on camera, photograph, and do all the post editing of materials themselves. Some call themselves “backpack journalists” because they carry everything they need (or roller bag in my case) with them. In the new world of content distribution, the expectation is to post a story that has all the elements — reaching a reader in a format they prefer. A solid post is well written, has interesting photos and includes a video segment. All provided by the singular new media journalist.

The Three Disneyland Moms Hitting ACC to cover D23


2.) New media journalists don’t have the access to professional resources or expensive equipment. When supplying materials to the new media — like video footage — keep in mind most are editing video on their computer, so supply them with thumb drives in easily transferable formats (like .mov). I’ve had companies send me Beta tapes with b-roll. Though nostalgic and heartwarming, old formats like those are useless to a new media journalist. Same goes for stock photo accounts, lavalier mics and copy editors–they don’t have access to those things. So news providers should think to supply photos, a relatively quiet place for a video interview and forgive the occasional misplaced semicolon.

Shooting video for OC Family TV on my 7D

3.) They are part of the story. This is one of the biggest philosophical differences between new media and traditional media. It’s definitely the biggest mental shift that PR professionals need to make when thinking “new media.” The reason bloggers are successful is because readers have taken a liking to their personal view of issues or activities. So bloggers want to interact in more genuine ways with top players in a story. New media journalists have “followings” that can sniff out an inauthentic story. A good new media journalist’s highest priorities are providing  factually correct and authentic story to their readers.

Shooting interview with Guy. 

In practical terms, this means new media journalists  prefer a hands-on experience. They want to ride the Zamboni, get a photo with Mickey, or chat with the big brass of a company. They want to tell the story from the inside, narratively. It’s a fact, though my journalism professor from college would rather eat the suede patches on his corduroy sport coat than admit it, this is a real shift in the way most readers want to receive their news and information.

I played against Harlem Globetrotters at Honda Center

4.) They report in real time. Twitter, Facebook,, Tumblr, Google +, Flickr, YouTube all allow new media journalist to report the “real-time story” as it happens. According to Technorati, 40 % of bloggers says Smartphones have changed the way they blog. After experiencing the story, they go home and post a more formal blog entry, with nicely edited photos and sharply produced videos. Here lies the real power  punch of the new media journalist. Their superpower.

New media journalists often report several stories over an extended period of time — making their reports more dynamic, nimble and complete.

Jenelyn Russo & I write a sports blog; covering opening of Ducks event

For instance, I recently covered the opening of Disney’s new resort in Hawaii. From the moment I got the assignment in September my report of the story began. Through social media I announced I was going to Aualni and gathered questions from readers and followers about what they wanted to know about the resort. I reported in real time the four days I was there, still answering questions and gathering information from followers and readers. By the time I boarded the plane to come home I had written three blog posts, posted two videos, and had photos up on and Flickr. I followed up with two additional blog posts before my print story ran in January. See what I mean? Superpower.

5.) All new media journalists are different. Having said all that, it’s best to keep in mind it’s the Wild West out there. Some new media journalists would rather drop their iPhone in the toilet than accept a swag bag, while others look at them as payment for their work. Though the concept of journalism without rules or codes of conduct is scary (and I’ve seen and read some very frightening things), it’s also exciting to be part of the new world.

A wide net has been cast. All bloggers have been lumped together, but true new media journalists will rise to the top and continue to grow and become part of the mainstream media (If PR companies don’t hire them all away before then). In an ironic twist, I see five years from now that the very things that make blogging appealing and bloggers popular will be the undoing of a lot of them. Freedom. Power. Access. Notoriety. These are fresh ingredients in the new world of journalism. A good new media journalist wields them all wisely.

One last thought on the subject of new media journalists, I don’t believe they’ll ever replace traditional journalist, specifically reporters. They are distinctively different. Though new media journalists have a place in the media, there is still a dire need and, on a personal note, thankfulness for, traditional journalists. It’s important for PR professionals, companies, government agencies and other news providers to know how to prepare and provide content to both.

Other posts from me on New Media:

Disney Was the First to Embrace Mom Bloggers

How to Host a Practically Perfect Blogger Party

Follow me on Twitter @suzbroughton

How do you get your news now?

I grew up with the big three: Jennings, Brokaw and Rather. Their voices narrated the news of my life–the wall coming down, the Gulf War, September 11. They were the authoritative voice who explained it all to me.  CNN creeped into my news flow in the early nineties, but mainly, these were the individuals I turned to during the critical news moments.

Specifically, for me, Brokaw. He was “my guy.” As a teenager I became so enthralled in the world of journalism that I ended up majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in print. That might explain why the recent changes in how we get our news has been thrilling for me to watch.

Some might call me a journalism nerd; though not necessary after they’ve read something I’ve written.

In the past, the conduits of news were limited mostly to news anchors, the newspapers or news radio. There was no interaction between the news givers and the news receivers except for the hastily written–sometimes by hand–“letter to the editor.” (My first internships was reading letters to the editor. I wonder if they still print those in the paper, that would be quaint.) It was a one-way street and we put our trust in the folks who drove the news; we had few choices.

But now, in the new age of journalism, who should we trust  and turn to for our news? Is trust even a quality in news we’re looking for anymore?

Last night as the news broke about Osama Bin Laden I realized as I flipped through the channels on TV that I didn’t recognize most of the faces reporting the news.  Then of all things, the newscasters were quoting Twitter feeds, blogs and Facebook updates of people even further off my radar. That struck me as ridiculous: “Boise65  just Tweeted ‘God bless our troops now bring them home.'” I found myself bouncing around trying to get news and discovered half of it totally worthless.

I truly believe in the power of social media and I’m excited about the changes in journalism over the past five years, but in times of critical news I still feel a little lost in the sea of information.  It’s almost like a montage of news now that we piece together ourselves through our TVs, phones and computers. (Honestly I don’t read the physical newspaper anymore. I can’t imagine what news would be in it today I don’t already have from my online sources.)

I like the freedom and immediacy of the new media, but I miss the authority, reassurance and more in-depth reporting that came with the big three anchors, olden-times news reporting.  It’s at once easier to get information now, yet harder to discriminate what is factual, relevant and free of  hype and hysteria. Again, it’s a montage of news and it seems we are now our own editors. I like it, but it’s a big change and with every “big news” event I’m reminded how far we’ve come in such a short time.

Tom Brokaw called this new media direction the “Tom Payne environment,” likening it another time when there was a shift in news disbursement, way, way back in 1776 (i.e: before cell phones):

“I’m a big believer in what I call the Tom Payne environment. I love the idea that we’ve expanded the street corner (where news pamphlets were sold), but I also say …you’ve (the news reader) got a role in this. You’ve got to be more vigilant and you’ve got to work harder for where you get information and then develop a litmus test of its worthiness.”

Something to think about as we sift through the news today and I admit, it felt good to get some perspective from Brokaw one last time.

You might like to read these other things I’ve written that loosely follow this subject*

Another Reason To Hop On Twitter

Has Facebook Replaced the High School Reunion?

*relevancy not guaranteed

Has Facebook replaced the high school reunion?

(This reunion made possible by Facebook. My old friend Christine and me.)

I don't think I've ever had such polarized emotions at once. Watching this video of Richard Blade inviting all graduates of the class of '86 from Marina High School to attend our 25-year reunion makes me a once cringe and leap with joy. It's like when saw Adam Ant in concert a few years ago, I was swept away in the nostalgia and youthful swashbuckness of it all, but was sobered and dead baffled by the old man jumping around in scarves, high boots and eyeliner.  Somethings are welcome and warm reminders of your age, somethings are not, rarely do you find something that is both.

Case  in point…




I would have jumped at the chance five years ago to find old friends who I had lost contact with over the years, but Facebook has done that work for me. I can honestly say I've "found" everyone I was interested in reconnecting with from high school–and then some. I know what they've been up to the last 25 years. I've seen the photos of their kids or dogs. I know where they had dinner last night and what really peeved them about the American Idol elimination last week. I'm good.