What Propaganda Looks Like in the Digital Age

Criticism of Facebook began last week after a news report revealed that the social network enabled advertisers to seek out self-described anti-Semites and other anti-Semitic topics. The company responded by saying that it would restrict how advertisers targeted their audiences on the social network. Google also came under fire at the same time after news that it allowed the sale of ads tied to racist and bigoted keywords. Google responded by claiming it would work harder to halt offensive ads.

Joel Garreau, a professor of culture, values and emerging technologies at Arizona State University and the founding co-director of the Weaponized Narrative Initiative, weighs in. Weaponized narrative is the new global battlespace, Garreau said.  “America and other Western democracies – and indeed the very Enlightenment – are under attack.”

Q: “Weaponized narrative” used to be called propaganda, but you could choose not to pick up the leaflet 50 years ago. Now we’re inviting it into our lives via social media. Does this give it more power?

A: This may come as a shock to some folk, but dropping leaflets out of airplanes is to weaponized narrative as hand grenades are to weapons of mass destruction. Weaponized narrative is warfare in the information environment.  It uses words and images instead of bombs and bullets – often to greater effect. Against the United States, for example, our opponents aim to weaken society by fragmenting our fundamental agreements on what it means to be an American. Or even what it means to be a patriot.

Sun Tzu, 2,500 years ago, talked about the use of information in warfare. What’s new and so powerful is that the volume, velocity and variety of information has exploded all around us. We can’t keep up. A fast-moving information deluge is the ideal battleground for this kind of warfare – for guerrillas and terrorists as well as adversary states.

Q: What role should Facebook and Google be taking in this environment?

A: Facebook is to be applauded for drilling down and finding out that their corporation had in fact been used as a weapon against the American election.  But look how long it took for this information to come out.  America’s goal must be to identify and respond to these attacks as they are going on – so we can actively defend ourselves. And unfortunately, the capacity to understand the attack – much less defend against it – is now in the hands of corporations that are famously secretive.

Q: Hate speech is protected. We can “avert our eyes” as the Supreme Court said. Should government be regulating this in some way or should it stay out of the issue?

A: Great question. Our Weaponized Narrative Initiative has two aims: First, to figure out what is coming at us. Second, to do something about it, rapidly. That’s why we’re bringing together an occupationally diverse group—not just academics, but Washington policy wonks and military folk and authors and others.

Q: What can you tell us about the human factor in this? Are people approving hate-based ads and other targeted content or is it regulated by algorithms?

A: We’re paddling as hard as we can to answer questions like that.   But both the authoritarian enemies that are attacking us and the Americans corporations that control the social media are fanatically devoted to secrecy. I heartily applaud Facebook’s revelations.  They didn’t have to do that.  They could have swept it under the rug.

But that’s part of the problem. It took almost a year for Facebook to reveal its research that merely confirmed what many of us had long suspected. And Facebook still hasn’t told us exactly how these attacks worked. What I would like to see happen is for American corporations see it as their patriotic and humanistic duty to tell their customers instantly about an attack, so we can do something about it.

How to Reduce Risks to Employment When Using Social Media

socialmedia

A recent decision sanctioning a social worker for a comment on Facebook by the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC), a United Kingdom regulatory body, sparked an international social work debate on the use of social media in the workplace. Since the decision, I have engaged in multiple conversations via social media with social workers around the globe on this very topic, and I will admit that I have often found myself in the minority arguing against the HCPC’s decision.

Despite the social worker’s comment failing to meet the test for breach of confidentiality, the majority of social workers favoring the HCPC’s decision believe that any comments related to work or a case posted on social media are grounds for termination or discipline even in the absence of identifiers.

The social worker was not disciplined for Breach of Confidentiality, but it was found that her Facebook post “could lead to a Breach of Confidentiality” despite not giving any personal information or descriptors about the client.

I am concerned the HCPC decision will set a dangerous precedent by expanding the scope of breaching confidentiality. The term “could lead to a Breach of Confidentiality” is so broad it could open up liability for social workers outside of the internet sphere.

From the HCPC’s press release on the social worker’s disciplinary action, we actually learn more about the client than we learned from the social worker’s actual comment. The HCPC press release states, “Mrs A, the mother of the children in the case, made a complaint after she searched for the social worker on Google and found the posts, which the complainant stated she was “disgusted” by.” This tells us the complaint was a married woman and biological parent of the children in question. Now, these identifiers within itself  “could lead to a breach of confidentiality”.

The social worker’s comments only described that she was working on a “domestic violence case among other things”. The client assumed the social worker was referring to her case because it was a domestic violence case on the same day as the social workers check-in on Facebook. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had three to five cases go to court on the same day and all of them had a domestic violence element. In the absence of identifiers and a decision from HCPC, the client had no real evidence to prove the social worker’s comment was about her case. Sanctions and disciplinary actions in your employment should be based on evidence and not assumptions.

In retrospect, I do believe the social worker’s comments were ill-advised, but it’s not for the reasons you may think. I am definitely against and don’t recommend anyone to commingle your professional life with your personal Facebook account no matter your profession. As a matter of fact, some of the comments I see from social workers on Facebook make me afraid for the client’s they are serving. I do and must believe that social workers have the ability to separate their personal beliefs from practice, but you may not be able to “unring that bell” with clients or potential clients after review of your online persona.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) have provided me with one of the best social media policy guidelines to help social workers be aware of the pitfalls when using social media personally as well as using social media to obtain information on clients. However, I have yet to see any real solutions that equally address social workers safety with client centered policies. Also, it’s important for us to acknowledge that clients can’t breach confidentiality in their own case. If a client wants to publish online every document you send them, it’s their prerogative, and you should keep this in mind when providing written documents as well as having oral communications with your clients.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are the three primary areas that cause the greatest concerns for professionals and students. Here are a few recommendations that may help you move one step closer to having some peace of mind and keeping your job out of jeopardy.

Tips for Using Facebook

10434000_311155715719496_3315011175902307129_nFacebook is a double-edged sword. When used correctly, Facebook can expand your reach as an expert, increase traffic to your website, and allow you to provide support to others on their professional development journey. Where people get into trouble is when they try to occupy their professional and personal life in the same virtual space. This is not limited to commenting, but it also includes likes, shares, who your friends are, photos, and etc.

I recommend changing your personal Facebook page to a nickname/middle name with an avatar or baby picture for your profile and cover photos. True friends and family members will know who you are, and Facebook will automatically update your post search history with your middle, nickname, or alternate spelling. But, be careful because it’s possible for Facebook to flag your name change. You should also take precautions to enhance the security of your Facebook account.

This will help protect you when clients are actively seeking out content generated by your social media accounts. Secondly, don’t post case related items on your personal Facebook account. If you need advice or an opinion related to a case, message the Social Work Helper Fan Page. I frequently post #SWHelper Team Questions as case study questions to minimize risks to you, and I hope other social work entities will offer similar support for social workers.

If you chose to anonymize your personal Facebook account, I recommend creating a Facebook Fan Page in your professional name which can also help with establishing your professional identity.

  • You can post information and resources for your clients
  • You will no longer need to have embarrassing conversations with clients or coworkers about why you can’t friend them
  • Clients can follow your Fan Page without exposing client’s to each other
  • You can like other Fan Pages your clients may find useful while organizing resources in a central location
  • FB feature allows you to seamlessly switch between your FB account and Fan Page without having to log out
  • You can also make comments, like, share photos, and share posts choosing from either profile

To prevent Facebook from locking your account due to the name change, you should use a shortened or variation of your real and last name, a common name with a long search results history, your maiden name, or your middle name. These are just some of the possibilities you can choose to prevent Facebook from blocking your account. So, if you don’t want to explain to a client or an ethics committee about how your personal beliefs did not affect your decision-making due to memes and content found on your social media account, please take my advice above.

Making the Most of Twitter

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms for making connections and expanding your professional network while enhancing your ability to advocate for the causes you care about. However, there are times when you do need anonymity to protect your employment especially if actively engaging in conversations you don’t want public. Due to my personal philosophy, I don’t post comments or materials that require me to distinguish between my professional and personal identity with the exception of the occasional tweet when I am watching Scandal.

If you are using your professional name, potential networkers and possible opportunities are not going to sort out your professional tweets from your personal tweets. They will all be considered a reflection of you as an individual. “RT does not = endorsement” is not going to cut it. It’s safer to not tweet and/or not retweet something you don’t want to defend, but you could always phrase it as a question to ask other’s opinions. Also, I recommend adding the disclaimer “my opinions are my own not my employers” on accounts using your professional name. As a rule of thumb, if your account is going to be opinion filled, use an avatar with a pseudonym for anonymity. It’s better to be safe than sorry later.

When using your professional name, it should consist of useful information, advice, inspirational quotes, resources, and/or projects that make you look good professionally. If you are only on twitter anonymously, you are missing opportunities to enhance your professional development. If you are using twitter with your professional name and it’s a private account, you are still doing yourself a disservice. What’s the point of being on Twitter with a private account because it’s difficult for someone to connect with you and no one can retweet your profound 140 characters?

To Google or Not To Google

As practitioners, we should not be asking whether to Google or Not Google instead we should be giving you the information on how to Google clients and potential clients ethically. According to a recent study by American Psychological Association, 98 percent of clinical, counseling, and school doctoral students reported Googling their clients. It’s time for this profession to readjust our reality for the digital world we are living in. When Googling a client or anyone for that matter, one must keep in mind that everything on the internet is not true, and it should not be used to penalize without giving the individual a chance to respond.

However, for potential clients at a private practice or when making home visits to new clients, a Google search may be a vital tool in assessing social worker safety. Dr. Ofur Zur provides one of the most comprehensive resources on whether to “Google or not”, and its complete with scenarios and varying categories to help practitioners decide which category is best for your practice and needs. It also covers how to use informed consent for conducting Google searches at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship.

How Do We Move Forward?

Unfortunately, many people have been introduced to social media and online technology as entertainment or to be used as a personal diary. Even if your account is marked private, using instant messaging, email, online technology and/or social media should never be used with an expectation of privacy. You should always assume any information you post online can be privy to public consumption via screen capturing or other measures from anyone who is intent on hurting or exposing you.

In my opinion, the social worker in the above case was condemned because her comment was posted on Facebook. I argue that if said social worker made the same comment in a restaurant, classroom, or another public place would the disciplinary action have been the same? The counter-argument was that Facebook is public and archived by Google which makes it different. I assert we all need to be more careful and aware because we live in a digital age where you can be video tapped or audio recorder via camera phone, vined, viddyed, snapchat, etc. The individual in possession of such digital data can make your actions and comments public without your consent. The medium in which words and actions are transported is irrelevant, and it stifles our ability to move the conversation forward instead of focusing on best practices.

Most importantly, one of the biggest issues in the above case not being addressed is that fact the client went onto Google searching for the social worker in question. Community Care UK reported that 85% of social workers reported being harassed or verbally abused on the job. Whether the client was acting with nefarious intent or in preparation for a pending court case, we simply don’t know. However, social worker safety should be just as important as client confidentiality. The biggest mistake made by the disciplined social worker was her checking in on Facebook thereby giving the time and location for when she would be in court. Why are we not being programmed to think about social worker safety as much as client confidentiality is drilled in our heads?

As a profession, we can not begin the journey of leveraging online technology and social media to advance social work because we are stuck having conversations about account creation, security, and ethical use. These things should always be ongoing conversations, but we have got to start making advances in tech education and training. Agencies, associations, and social work faculty can not adequately answer or provide solutions because most don’t use social media or they utilize outside firms to meet their social media needs. There is nothing wrong with contracting out to meet the needs of your organization, but we must also have mechanisms in place to address social workers’ technological IQ at the micro and mezzo levels.

We must develop continuing education credits, foundational course work, and in-service trainings to properly prepare current and future social workers for practice in the digital age. Social Work education is expensive and students should be demanding that they get the best resources and training during their education especially when they can be fired or disciplined for it later.

Most importantly, we have a duty to our students and professionals to assist them in harnessing all the advantages that social media and technology can provide.

*Since this was a UK regulatory body disciplinary action, I primarily used UK resources for this article, but they are applicable globally.

Using Prezi to Spice Up Infographics

Prezi is presentation software that makes it easier to create fun, energetic presentations that tell a story. You can combine this software with other visual tools, like infographics, to have a greater impact by focusing in on the important pieces and removing the noise.

images (37)Infographics are excellent tools for succinctly and visually representing your data. More recently, several nonprofits have been able to convert their annual reports into infographics . Infographics are very easily shared and read through social media and email marketing channels.

They are much more likely to be retweeted, receive more +1’s on Google+, and more shares on LinkedIn. They rank fairly evenly with traditional posts’ number of ‘Likes’ on Facebook.

But, how can we make these better? How can you turn an infographic into something useful for a fundraising event or community outreach presentation? The best solution I’ve come across is Prezi.

Prezi is free software (there are paid versions)   that allows you to visually and energetically explain how  portions of your data are related to each other. You can add images, music, and video to enhance your words. And, because it’s in the cloud, you can collaborate with multiple people who can access and edit it from anywhere. It’s perfect for working in teams, in the field, or with volunteers.  You can also access it on your phone and tablet, which lets you give your presentation on the fly for those chance meetings with possible supporters.

Here are a few examples of Prezi’s being used on Infographics

Internet Marketing Land

NHS Governors Demographics 

Western Lowland Gorillas

If the infographic aspect of this post scared you away – don’t worry. Infographics are easy to make and don’t require prior graphic design knowledge. There are several sites (free and paid) that will help you get started.  Piktochart is very popular, as well as  Visual.ly. If you want to make it yourself for free, you can use image manipulation software (like GIMP), some infographic templates you can find on Google image searches or freepik.com, and a little bit of time to make something beautiful.

If you need help creating infographics, Prezi’s, or anything related – feel free to shoot me an email to Rjlendzion@gmail.com or you can also visit the Prezi’s support forum. Have you used Prezi? Share your thoughts below!

Making Common Sense A Common Practice: Mentoring & Social Work

common-sense

If you’re like me -ambitious yet, admittedly, occasionally lost- you likely remember the song lyrics from the play Annie Get Your Gun that read “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you!”

I tend to live my life by this saying, or at least a less arrogant version such as, “if they can do it, so can I!”  Considering this is a mantra that I live my life by, I find it ironic that I don’t remember where or when I ever heard those lyrics and had to Google it to identify the song’s origination.

Yet, these lyrics replay in my head daily.  It is a positive thinking tool that I have used to develop a mindset that allows me to Overcome Adversities and Never Give Up.  I first initiated a positive thinking mindset through Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth – Awakening Your Life’s Purpose.

I truly believe that if someone of a similar ability and intelligence level has achieved something, I can do it too.  The same goes for you and even that under-achieving client, friend or acquaintance; no matter how hopeless they appear.

I was not always such a positive-minded person.   Having experienced life as a child in the system and now as a professional and advocate, I have had a unique opportunity to study the shifts in my own mind-set – as well as others.  I often refer to it as the difference between having a “Poverty-Mindset” versus a  “Middle Class-Mindset.”  The “getting by and having everything I need” mindset associated with the middle-class is a great example of the resourcefulness that it takes to always have “enough” and be able to progress.  There is a stark difference between the resourcefulness that it takes to have enough and that which the poverty-minded individual utilizes to simply survive.  There is also a commonality among the two.  If you find yourself seeking more from your financial situation, improve your financial intelligence here.

Each level of resourcefulness is the result of learned behaviors.  Someone mentored, taught, or otherwise demonstrated poor resourcefulness to the poverty-minded individual, while the middle-class minded individual observed middle-class behaviors.  Each becomes proficient in their respected lifestyles.  Their proficiency comes from practicing demonstrated behavior.  Which is why it absolutely blows my mind that when we as professionals offer an idea or resource we expect those who need it to already know how and why they should utilize that resource.

All-too-often we give information to people who don’t know what to do with it and expect them to “get it” just like we did.  We fail to remember that prior to “getting it” someone demonstrated how to properly utilize that information as it applies to our individual needs.  As mental health professionals, social workers, or even simply as a friend we need to remember the importance of mentoring during our interactions rather than strictly assessing.

Mentoring can take place in many ways.  In situations where we impact a life for a very short amount of time, we can still offer a mentoring relationship.  This can be established through being a good listener and taking the time to walk someone through a process step-by-step and then ensuring retention of that experience.

Take a few minutes and help them write a goal list; heck, even write it for them.  Maybe they have never written a goal list before and you demonstrating what it looks like will help them get started rather than feel stifled and overwhelmed with the task of creating a list.  Instead of handing a referral card to someone, offer to make the call.  Maybe the reason they have not followed up with any of their referrals is because they are not sure what to say when they call, or even why they are calling, so they simply do not call.

The difference between learning and implementing the idea of “if they can do it, so can I” is having the opportunity to observe the “how”.  Even when things seem to be “common sense” it is never a good idea to assume that it is for someone else.   I challenge you to make it your common practice to demonstrate the “common sense” for those who may need a little boost in the right direction.

Six Online Tools I Love that I’m Surprised More People Don’t Use

It’s no surprise to anyone I know when I say that I love technology. I’m a bit of a geek, an early adopter and, sometimes annoyingly, quick to switch to the next new thing.

What surprises me though is how many cheap or free online tools and apps are available, yet few people I know or work with use them. So I thought I’d list a few I use and encourage you to try at least one.

1. Evercontact

tech-toolsI’ll start with Evercontact because they’re going to give me free stuff if I send them this post’s URL (nice). Formerly WriteThatname, Evercontact “intelligently scans your incoming email & auto-enriches contact details in your address book and CRM.”

It works with Gmail, Outlook, Salesforce and other apps. Basically it does two things: It scans your contacts and adds other details automatically. It also has a browser extension that allows you to select contact details and add them to your contacts. It has free and paid plans, but also rewards you for shouting out about it on social media.

2. Buffer

Buffer allows you to schedule and post links to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+. Again, it has a browser extension that pops up a posting window and you can choose to post on all or some of your networks. It also adds a “Buffer” button to Tweet windows. Founder Joel said in a blog I read somewhere that he created it so his tweets and updates were spread out consistently rather than in random bursts. It has free and paid plans – and the team keep a great blog.

3. Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management app developed by the 37 Signals team. It combines messaging, to-do lists, file storage, shared text documents, a calendar and reminders. It allows sharing by teams and you can also invite clients to let them monitor progress. It’s just had a nice redesign that has made it more intuitive and simple. 37 Signals have several other products, as well as books about how they’ve innovated in their work. I’d recommend Rework and I believe another is imminent. Once again, there are free and paid plans.

4. Bloglovin’

Bloglovin allows you to add blogs you want to follow and get all of their new posts in a feed or by email. You can also use it to allow others to follow your blog. I prefer its layout to RSS readers – it present snippets and images in a clean, simple layout. And it’s totally free.

5. YouCanBook.me

YouCanBook.me allows other people to book time with you. You choose when people can book, eg. between 10am and 5pm, appointment lengths and what information you want. You can even ask people for their mobile number to send text reminders. It makes appointment-making easy for both parties – everyone should use it. It’s free or you can upgrade to add functionality. Check out mine as an example.

6. Boomerang

Other than YouCanBook.me, Baydin’s Boomerang is my favourite online tool. it integrates into Gmail and Outlook and adds functionality to emailing and scheduling. In email you can bring emails back to your inbox on a specified date, schedule emails to be sent later (so you don’t look like a nerd sending emails in the weekend) and you can request read receipts. It also allows you to embed your schedule into emails with a click, and suggest times and dates to meet for both individuals and groups. If you hate email volleys trying to make appointments as much as I do, it’s a must. Free and paid.


There are other tools that I use, such as SurveyMonkeyXeroWorkflowySanebox and of course Google’s suite of apps, but the six I’ve mentioned are definitely time and stress savers. Go on, start using at least one!

How to Incorporate Google Places and Virtual 360 Tours to Promote Your Business

In a competitive market, small businesses are always looking for creative ways to give them an edge with consumers. Google has devised two services that businesses should immediately take advantage of in order to help drive traffic to their websites and physical locations. Any business with a physical office space can easily add their location to Google Places at no cost which also integrates with ease to other free Google services such as Google Plus Business Pages and Google Maps.

Google experts suggests that businesses registered with Google services are ranked in search results higher than unregistered businesses. For a more established business that may not have registered, Google also offers the ability for businesses to claim their Google maps listing to encourage them to register for Google Places and create a Google Plus Business Page. Once you have successfully added your business to Google, you may be interested in adding Google’s Virtual 360 Tours to help you stand out even further in search results.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview private practice therapist E. Kelly from Norwalk, Connecticut. She shares her experience in implementing a virtual tour to help engage potential clients to choose her practice, and here is our discussion.

SWH: Tell us a bit about your background and your practice? 

EK: I am a Connecticut licensed marriage and family therapist in a private practice.  I achieved a Masters Degree is in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University in Connecticut.  My undergraduate B.A. degree is from Hunter College in NYC with a concentration in biology and psychology.

As both an intern and extern, I worked within many not for profit organizations.  I learned a lot about myself during that time which fostered strong desire for independence and continuing to create my own vision of helping and healing. I had done it with my past career and was determined to do it again which led me to take a  leap of faith in creating my own private practice.

SWH: How are you using technology to market and promote your practice?

E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT - Google SearchEK: In my early days of private practice, I paid money to a well known host of a commercial therapy website provider.  They were and still are the most well known. I do not regret hiring them then as their template was helpful and many clients suggested that they chose me because of the exposure and the professionalism of such site.

However, it is a monthly fee and once you are established and/or have enough notoriety in your local area, you can create your own site for less than a third of the monthly cost.  After a few years of such hosting costs, I decided to again take a risk and hire someone to  create my own unique site.

I googled a local restaurant in my area because I was never there, and I saw the restaurant had an option to see inside. I quickly learned how to take a virtual tour. I never been to the restaurant, but  I loved looking around to imagine my experience there – and, yes, It was indeed just perfect for my needs. It was then, at that very moment that it dawned on me:

If patrons of restaurants want to see where they may intimately dine…THEN why wouldn’t chance to LOOK and SEE a practice area where they are going to share an intimate story?

I thought about it for a while, and I searched more local sites to see what was happening.  I saw interior shots of dentists offices, retail shops, dog groomers, hair salons, automobile shops, etc. and, I thought WHY am I waiting to show clients my space?

Really, why not give my clients a chance to see my space too?  After all, I proudly created a space with lots of light and one that was conducive to positive thinking – so, if the GOOGLE guy could do a tour of MY space – well, maybe, just maybe – it’s the best way for potential clients to decide if they like my space tool

SWH: How difficult was implementing Google Places and the Virtual 360 Tours?

EK: Not hard at all. I search for Google certified photographers who did Virtual 360 Tours.  Buyer beware,  if they aren’t listed by Google, they are not approved. It’s that simple, and you can also use this link to find a certified Google Photographer in your city.

Prices may vary, but total cost to me was $500.  Once you purchase the shoot, you have the right to use it in any promotional material you want including your own website and/or social pages as you own the rights to all photos.

This is a service that Google offers 24 hours a day/7 days a week at no cost. No click charges, no monthly charges, no annual charges.

AND, if you want to see my tour – GOOGLE THIS “E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT” and see how Virtual 360 Tours work.

E. Kelly Therapy Virtual 360 Tour

Top 5 Best Free Website Builders For Your Practice

Frustrated User

I will be discussing my recommendations for the best free website builders to assist you in crafting an online professional image. Whether you are creating an online portfolio or starting a small business, you only have once to make an online impression of yourself with a well planned website.

You could always hire someone to design your website, integrate your social media, provide internet security and IT support. On the other hand, this could be pretty expensive for someone with minimal assets and capital. However, you don’t want potential clients and employers dismissing you based on the look and layout of your website.

Before choosing a website platform, you must first decide whether it will be updated frequently or whether your web content will primarily remain the same. Blog style platforms are great for content that needs to be updated frequently. Static website platforms are primarily for individuals who need their content updated only every few months.

The Top 5 best free website platforms that I recommend are as follows:

Weebly

Weebly’s platform uses a drop and drag type website builder which is very easy to use. It will give you a professional looking website with a wide selection of templates in its free version. For someone with no technical skills, I highly recommend weebly as the best option for the beginner. Advanced features are offered for your weebly site with an upgraded plan.

 Wix

Wix is a great option for someone who needs to display a lot of multi-media such as videos and photos. Wix has recently upgraded it’s technology to HTML5 which now displays on Apple products. Wix also uses a drop and drag website builder platform. The look and feel is geared towards achieving a rich multi-media website.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

WordPress is the ultimate marriage between static content and frequent updates because it has the ability to do both. WordPress is a free open source platform that will allow you to create with very few limits for a small business owner. WordPress.com is hosted on a wordpress server, and WordPress.org is hosted on a hosting service that you pay for. WordPress is also optimized for mobile site visitors, and it even includes a handy mobile app for on the go posting.

Google Sites

Google sites is the ultimate choice for static websites which includes free hosting courtesy of google. Their sites are fully integratable with a suite of free google products such as google drive, google calendar, gmail, youtube, adsense, and more. Google Sites come with an array of templates that can be modified through widgets for the beginner, but it also give the ability to inject html code and java scripts for the more advanced user. The skill of the user will affect the achievable look and feel of a google site.

Google sites are optimized for mobile site visitors, and it is free to use. Google also offers the ability to purchase your own domain name using Google Apps at a cost ranging between 8 to 12 dollars with privacy options included. For what comes with the purchase of a domain name using Google Apps, I have not found anything better. Google Apps needs a stand alone post by itself which is possible in the near future. Resources will be given below to learn more on these products.

Blogger

Blogger is a Google product that uses a blog style platform. It will provide another alternative for sites needing frequent updates. Blogger has been making strides to improve customization for its users. Most importantly, it is fully integratable with a suite of free Google products, and it’s free to use. However, this option would make a great personal website and your business type would determine whether Blogger is a good fit for you.

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