Social Media Top 5: Craptivism Won’t Kill You and Fake News is Alright (Not Really)

Image credit: Smallbrainfield

Image credit: Smallbrainfield

Craptivism Won’t Kill You

I have long been reluctant to festoon my social media profiles with the trappings of social activism (remember “Twibbons?”), because I don’t really think I am doing anything concrete for a cause if I’m doing so- especially if that’s all I’m doing. The latest, in the aftermath of the presidential election, is the “safety pin.” From what I have read, the safety pin as a sign of solidarity popped up after the Brexit vote in the UK, and now has been adopted by many in the US to show solidarity with women, people of color, Muslims, and other folks who fear being marginalized.

I’m still not doing it. My Facebook and Twitter profiles are mine alone, and it’s just not me to do it. If you asked me if you should do it, I would say don’t bother- find more meaningful ways to show support or foment change. Donate, volunteer, demonstrate, whatever. That is, however, not the same as saying you’re a dummy if you do it. Awareness is a fine thing, and just as my social media profiles are mine, yours are yours just the same. While my cranky disposition might lead me to agree with this HuffPo article decrying the safety pins as useless, I don’t; I think the author went too far.

What I did not expect was several friends to agree with the premise of the article. I found that interesting, and it made me aware (as if I weren’t already) how on edge people are as they don’t know what the new administration will mean for tolerance for gender, sexual preference, race and religion (so far, I agree we have reason to be all het up). There is a very good discussion of this issue on my friend Amy Vernon’s Facebook wall (where, yes, I used the term “craptivism,” of which I am proud despite my nuanced view, though I am sad I can’t cliam coinage).

Still, if a safety pin on your Facebook page makes you feel better, do it. Just because it doesn’t do anything- and good intentions aren’t enough- doesn’t mean it’s doing any harm.

STOP THE PRE...toolate

STOP THE PRE…toolate

The Rise and Fall of Fake (False?) News Sites, and Responsible Reading

For years I have advocated the “responsibility of the reader,” meaning rather than hoping for the impossible – that content will improve and be authoritative and unbiased- one should simply consider the source when reading and adjust for biases and context.

The election, of course, has turned the concept of “fake news” on its ear. But please- incendiary biased (if not outright “fake” – you be the judge) sites like on the right and DailyKos on the left (I might betray my own bias to say that, despite the fact I can’t stand reading it, I think DailyKos is far less problematic as a”journalism” outfit).

Well, after the election (in other words, too late for the election), Facebook says it will filter out fake sites. Where’s the line? Have the obvious leanings of the editorial pages of The Washington Post (particularly this election season), The Wall Street Journal and The Hill gone to the point where they might qualify. Some folks might say yes. I doubt they are targets. Will we be deprived of The Onion and The Borowitz Report because people are too stupid to know they are satire? I hope not.

Can I report a news source I disagree with as fake? That would be silly.

There  are some sites (such as the teenage Macedonian clickbait) that are obvious targets for this cleanup, but is the line that clear otherwise? This might be fun to watch, just as Twitter’s sudden conversion to banning alt-right (sometimes known as racist, misogynist spew) Twitter accounts, as they try again to get acquired, is entertaining.

That’s two. Not five. It’s enough. We’re all exhausted. use the extra time to read something better.

Social Media Top 5: Pipeline Protests, Ballot Selfies, the Electoral Map & More


This morning (October 31) I started noticing friends checking in to Standing Rock, ND, the location of protests by Native Americans (the Standing Rock Sioux) against the Dakota Access Pipeline. My first reaction was to assume the unlikely: some friends were traveling to join the protests. Wow, right? No, it turned out some Facebook users were encouraging others to check in at that location to confuse law enforcement, which was supposedly tracking protesters via Facebook. Still noble if it works, but I tend to sit back in such situations and see if there really is something to it rather than leaping in with my precious social media account without looking.

Turns out there is some doubt about whether this is effective or necessary. A Snopes article attempting to sort it out, most interestingly, quotes members of the protesting camp saying it would be better to donate to their cause than to check in via Facebook. You decide: I’ll continue to hesitate before doing things like this (after all, I am generally loathe to even change my profile pics for causes, so there).

As usual, I cannot help myself.

Ballot Selfies

Filed under: See, I’m Not Always a Hater:

While we are on the subject of activism, voting is the thing that most all of us can do to affect an outcome. Also, I like ballot selfies; I think they’re a great, fun way to celebrate participatory democracy. Unfortunately, the practice is illegal in some states, via laws that are often naively triggered by fears of voter fraud (“take your picture to prove you voted for who we told you” – like I said, silly). I suspect such laws will be gone, one at a time, and in fact some are already going away.

Here is a guide to where ballot selfies are allowed and where they are not (note: Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has all but admitted the law in Massachusetts isn’t being enforced- just in case, I’m not telling if I am going to take one).

Image Credit: Mick O on Flickr

Image Credit: Mick O on Flickr

The tricky world of listing clients on your web site

Agencies love to brag about their high-profile clients, but anyone who has been at an (ethical) agency knows it’s a great idea to get permission to display client names and logos in promotional materials. There are a number of legitimate reasons a company may not want to be listed (or maybe they’re just being petty jerks, but it’s their prerogative).

This concept came to mind when a friend passed around this story of liquor maker Patron suing a former digital marketing agency for still listing them as a customer. While in this case the agency in question, according to the story, is out of business despite the left-behind Web site, it did get me to thinking about what consultants and agencies need to think about when publicizing their client relationships:

  • Are you doing something you can even disclose?
  • Is it ok to talk about former clients? (Is labeling them as past clients enough?)
  • What is your relationship? Do you have the relationship capital with the client to make this ask?
  • What does it do for you to parade the relationship? It most likely is good for you to have prospects know about your awesome clients, but is there a reason it’s wiser to hold back?

Don’t Tell Me When to Tweet 

Another study telling you when to Tweet. Worth noting, worth ignoring if your data says otherwise. Always trust your own data and your own circumstances. As my good buddy Chris Thilk notes:

Fun with Data, Electoral Map Series

Leading up to this fall’s election, I have seen a lot of people share “This is what the Electoral Map would look like if only men/women/Millennials/whatever voted” graphics. The “women” one, of course prompted knuckle-draggers to call for the repeal of the 19th amendment to keep those pesky creatures from putting one of their own in office.


For myself, I find these graphics absurd; I understand that they point out the preferences for certain segments of the electorate, but no vote occurs in a vacuum, no demographic votes in a vacuum, and votes are not counted this way. Thus, I found that the following graphics represent Electoral Maps that are just as realistic as any of these others.

Happy Election Day everyone.

This is what the electoral map would look like if it were an adorable beluga whale #politics

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

This is what the electoral map would look like if it were a crab in a tidal pool #celtics #twitter

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

This is what the electoral map would look like if it were patriotic candy corn #politics #twitter

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

This is what the electoral map would look like if it were a cute bunny. #politics #twitter

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

This is what the electoral map would look like if it dressed in the dark #politics #twitter

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

What the electoral map would look like if it were a dogwood flower #politics #twitter

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

Here's what the electoral map would look like if it were two cute pandas #politics

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on

This is what the electoral map would look like if only dead people voted #chicago

A photo posted by Doug Haslam (@doughaslam) on


Social Media Top 5: Fixing Conferences, Taking Coffee, Poaching Buzzfeed, Celebrating Social Media Club

How About Addressing the Real Problems with Conferences?

name-tagMost of the tips for conferences in this post by Marcus Sheridan make sense; all are, at worst, arguable. They are also mostly small fixes aimed at making the speakers’ lives better. I guess that makes sense, as the writer is a professional speaker. As a sometime conference attendee, I care much less about any of these complaints, such as name badges being only one-sided, and conferences not using music between sessions (Music? Noise pollution! You kids and your rock and roll!).

How about conferences addressing what makes them dull, repetitive and/or a waste of time and money? Hiring the same damn speakers to say the same damn things at shows that are too damn similar is a constant damn problem. If you are putting on a show, be bold: forget the professional speakers unless you absolutely need that name to fill seats. Don’t fall into the trap that you have to have a celebrity that is totally unrelated to your show’s topic, unless it’s a reward and a “topic break” so attendees can relax (don’t lie by implying that Amy Schumer/Trevor Noah/Aziz Ansari/whoever is relevant to my 2017 marketing planning- but do tell me they might be fun to see).

Find people who are doing something: case studies are awesome. People who are working at companies and facing real problems often have something to say. And for most of those kinds of folks you don’t have to pay a speaking fee for some white dude who has been delivering the same speech for six years. I will admit that I may be an outlier as I spend most keynotes elsewhere getting work done rather than playing front-row fanboy, but this is something I advocated for in my time on the board of the Boston PRSA chapter, and was lucky that the people running our programs largely agreed.

Oh- also stay away from agency wankers and consultants unless they have something original to present. We are all narcissistic jerks.

That said, I look forward to my two-sided name badge at my next conference, even if one side will be obscured by lunch tickets. Rock on.

Don’t Turn Up Your Nose at Networking Because it’s not “Billable” (Chapter 435)

Image credit: julochka on Flickr

Image credit: julochka on Flickr

My old colleague Ed Harrison is the latest to weigh in on the value of taking those “brain-picking” coffee meetings. I know I have ranted on the topic before, but I sternly furrow my brow when consultants rail against people who want to have coffee (or whatever) with them for advice, accusing them of stealing free whatever it is they charge money for. Sure, there are limits; while there are leeches out there who don’t give back (or forward, as it were), those people should be easy to spot. There is never a good reason for turning down networking, even if you are dispensing advice to someone that can’t help you right now. How many people helped you in the past? How many coffees did you ask for? Did you pay them back with business? Of course you didn’t. Time to repay, time to mentor, and time to network, as you never know when and how it will come back to you. Plus, free coffee. There’s your revenue right there.

I’m glad to see more posts on this side of the issue and fewer whining about people asking for “Free advice.” Here’s my free advice: Google “pick your brain for free” and when you need to pick someone’s brain, avoid the type of people whose articles come up. Done.

Taking Buzzfeed Seriously

Image credit: Mike Licht on Flickr

Image credit: Mike Licht on Flickr

Patience, as this bit includes some semi-old news; last month, Buzzfeed announced it was separating into news and entertainment divisions. The article I found announcing the split focused on the business reasons for doing so- but as a consumer, I thought it was a great way to try to shake the image of Buzzfeed. The site’s name itself has become shorthand for listicles, cat videos and other stupid time-wasters (read: awesome content- come on, cats!). But for sometime Buzzfeed has been producing more serious-minded news content. Will this make people pay attention? Were they already paying attention and I am a shallow moron to miss it? CNN paid attention, paying the ultimate compliment by poaching four of their news staffers (there, a newer story to reference- and now we are current again). Heck, Esquire’s politics page is paying tribute to their keen reportage as well.

The next step in building credibility is for Buzzfeed to turn from poach-ee to poach-er. I will be sure to find out a month or more after it happens.

Social Media Club Turns 10

smcWhither Social Media Club? Ten years ago, the outfit was founded by Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells, and it changed a lot of professional lives as it spread from San Francisco to many other cities (including Boston in 2007). I was happy and lucky to be involved in some capacity from the beginning (thanks to my then-colleague Todd Van Hoosear). SMC got a lot of people together, and while activities in different cities may have waned over time as people have moved on professionally and geographically, that does not lute its impact. Many of us have joined other established organizations (like the PRSA as mentioned above, or AMA), as the PR, marketing and other professions embraced social as part of their fabric rather than as a separate practice. Read Kristie’s ten-year post and remember that the SMC continues…

My Favorite Tweet by Me this Month

If you’re going to Tweet about narcissism, you should promote it on your blog too, I always say.

Social Media Top 5: Brangelina Shaming, AdBlockBlock, YouTube Community, TwitterLong

Four this week. So what…

Brangelina Is Big News, so Spare Me Your Condescension

I rarely have time for memes, but the I’m finding the latest to be as tiring as any: since news broke of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce and the predictable over-coverage by so-called news media, some folks wishing for us to follow more substantive news items (like Donald Trump Jr comparing refugees to Skittles– deep!). So, people are grousing online that those posting such dumb things should pay penance by displaying knowledge of something more serious, but completely unrelated.

I love a good grumpy rant as much as the next guy, but I don’t think these posts are winning any hearts and minds (ok, hearts. Minds are of less relevance, which is part of the issue). I have seen a ton of these, but I will pick on Alex Howard, as he is a damn good tech journalist (now an analyst, I recalled after doing some investigative journalism for this post) on his own, a good guy,* and his post is public:








OK, another one, for variety, from a Chicago Tribune writer:

Again, not picking on the individuals- actually, I am picking on them, but I’m not saying they are being bad people. I understand the impulse to protect and promote the idea of “real” journalism, but we are not going to sway people to think better by making fun of their beloved pop-celebrity news stories. We are not going to convince CNN not to cover such stories when they have a 24/7 news cycle and not nearly enough real news. Let people have their cake.

I prefer my take; if you are going to post celebrity gossip, I want to know that you are a true aficionado:

Thanks, Deanna! You may post.

How Many Ads Would AdBlock Block if AdBlock Serves up Ads?

Let me get this straight: Google, who has a big ad business, had a relationship with ad tech company ComboTag, but broke off breaking bread with them over a deal they had to help AdBlock Plus serve ads. Do I have that right? Makes sense to me. I think.

I never bothered with ad blockers, as I block ads WITH MY MIND.

Stare at this long enough and all ads will disappear! Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

Stare at this long enough and all ads will disappear!
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

YouTube Gives Commenters More Stuff to Flame– I Mean, YouTube Community; Yay!

YouTube has announced the launch of YouTube Community, which will create a tab on YouTube channels for creators to share additional content. It’s easy to make fun of a social network play from the company that brought you Google Plus <sad trombone>; it’s also easy to remind folks that comments on YouTube are one of the legendary Great Cesspools of the Internet (along with Yahoo! Finance stock boards and now, apparently, Twitter).


But if a YouTube creator is tending a good channel, there’s no reason to think they shouldn’t be able to moderate a positive community, given that the tools work well. I am actually interested to see how this looks in action.

Twitter Goes Long

We have heard rumors in the past about Twitter allowing 10,000 character Tweets (ugh), but this other rumor, now being put into play, is actually quite good: now Twitter will not count images and other media against the 140 character count.


To me, this is not about making it easier to Tweet (it is! When I Tweet these posts, including one of the images will not be so much of a pain), so much as it is about Twitter lifting itself from its origins as a text-based service. That’s why it was 140 characters in the first place- that limit is largely superfluous now. However, I still like the limited text for Twitter- it forces you to be concise and creative within a strict limit- removing the “image penalty” for adding media is going to make things a lot easier for those of us who use the service- though it’s doubtful it will attract new people by itself. I’m still waiting for Twitter to find a way to make me use “Moments,” which I like but never remember to use.


*Yes, I used an Oxford comma; I thought it was warranted for clarity in this case. Now begone with your judgment.


Social Media Top 5: Twitter Sneetches, No Comment, Hashtags & Unnecessary Zoom

Of Blue Checkmarks and Sneetchesneetch

The butthurt by Twitter power-users who don’t get their Verified Account checkmarks is still being heard ’round the world. I, too, was nonplussed after giving it a shot; seeing some of the non-celebrities who seem to have gotten theirs, and Twitter opening up the request process, I thought why not? I was more entertained by the fact that my rejection email didn’t make it through my spam filter. Alas, I will not be going to the Verified frankfurter parties. That about sums up the whole value of my effort, and the Verified Account process for most of us. Perhaps the program does determine who are the best Tweeters and who are the worst, but if they truly opened the program, how in the world will we know if which kind is what or the other way round?

Would it kill Twitter to reward longtime loyal users who still frequent the platform with a Verified status? What about longtime holders of potentially valuable simple handles (like @DougH and @Genuine), who have been targeted by hackers and identity theft? On the other hand, if the purpose of Verified Accounts was to protect the identities of actual well-known figures and brands (as opposed to self-important social media consultants), then why open the process at all? I guess it all got some of us talking about Twitter, which, short of getting acquired or improving their trending topics to take advantage of Facebook’s recent failures in that regard, or taking care of spam issues (see below), will have to do.

Those checkmarks aren’t so big. They are really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all. Twitter Verified Account program manager Sylvester McMonkey McBean was unavailable for comment.


No Comments No Problems

Image credit: Howard Lake on Flickr

Image credit: Howard Lake on Flickr

Comment sections on news sites have long been a problem. They tend to be a morass of anonymous trolling and hideous opinions that are the glutenous mass that evolves into worse forms of harassment on the social web. How to solve the issue? Community, open discussion and engagement by brands are supposed to be the golden promise of the social web, but when Letters to the Editor take on the form of a digital equivalent of bricks thrown through windows, is it worth it?

Some publishers got used to it, and even embraced their seemingly damaged community- I was fascinated by this  of some of their regular pseudonymous commenters several years ago- and you may be also.

Many bloggers have wrestled with the “real names” requirement. Of those I read, Northeastern University journalism professor and media expert Dan Kennedy has gone back and forth, as many of his politically-charged topics have created problematic comments. Recently, he went back from a longstanding “real names” policy because there are many people who have legitimate reasons for wanting to be anonymous – or at least can be counted on to behave, whatever their handle.

Another recent trend has been to rely on Facebook for the conversation: come to our site for the content, please leave for the discussion. I noticed this on Esquire, which has a politics page that invites readers, at the end of each article, to join the discussion on their Facebook page. As a reader, I found that to work well in practice, where in theory I might have had doubts. The publisher can still moderate discussion as they see fit, and the riffraff can play their reindeer games (or not) without sullying the sacred real esate. It makes sense and works well, to the extent that Facebook remains a Thing.

NPR made news more recently, removing their comments sections as of August 23. One stated factor is the fact that many people prefer to comment (and share) on social media anyway, but I suspect the potential cost of cleaning up the hate mess that comment sections often turn into is more of a factor – that channeling conversations to Facebook is less costly (though, again, still needing moderation).

Does this trend mean community is dead? No, it means it must be managed, and there are many ways to do so with the resources you have (or want to devote). I’m sure I’ll check back n on this when the next trend emerges because something bad happened on Facebook.


Someone Should Start a Hashtag on Why You Shouldn’t Use Infographics

This is actually intriguing, but I wonder how complete it is: a study shows hashtag effectiveness is hard to measure because spammers can overwhelm them. I am skeptical. I easily can believe that spam Twitter accounts target hashtags. However, does that mean they are useless? Can you still, say, count 35% of hashtag use (to take a number from the study) as an effective measure of how many non-spam accounts are sharing your hashtag organically? I suspect you can use “because spammers are ruining it” as a reason to discount any function of Twitter. Are hashtags the problem? No, the wasteland of fake and spammy accounts on Twitter are- and perhaps, if it’s possible, that’s a better job for Twitter’s Fix-It-Up Chappies than creating a Checkmark-On Machine.

I embedded the infographic at the very end of this post because it’s too darn huge to put in the middle, and I’m not done just yet.

Pinch Me, am I Dreaming? Instagram Has Added an Incremental Feature!

Sometimes it takes the little things to make people go nuts. Now you can zoom on Instagram images. Hooray?

I can’t wait to try it. I guess.



Here’s that dang huge infographic

Infographics: Hashtag Spam
Hashtag Spam | Infographics


Social Media Top 5: Facebook Automated Trends is Just Fine, Blab is Dead, Disclosure is…Well…

Some of my items might be slightly out of date for a post that aspires to be weekly (Ha!), but I don’t care, as long as the relevance endures…but first a newer one:

Image credit: Patrick Lentz on Flickr

Image credit: Patrick Lentz on Flickr

Facebook Automates Trending Topics, Hilarity Ensues

So people were worried about humans putting bias into the Facebook news algorithm. So people thought a completely automatic algorithm would be better. News alerts about a man humping a McChicken sandwich is what we deserve. I for one think this is great, but I wasn’t much for clicking on trending topics. Of course, now my curated Facebook feed is full of people complaining about trending topics, so I have to suffer as well.

A look at the topics trending for me as I write this, and my first guesses as to the stories vs what was actually behind the trends:


The biggest problem is not fake stories making the cut, as I am sure Facebook will tweak things to fix that, but that the headlines they present give me no clue what these are about and why I might care:

  1. “Needham, Massachusetts Employee” – No idea what this was about. Nice human interest story from near where I live about a McDonald’s employee with Down Syndrome retiring after 32 years. Weird headline though.
  2. “Jarrod Saltalamacchia” – Guessing he had a big night for whatever baseball team he plays for these days. I like baseball, but am a Red Sox fan- he is with the Detroit Tigers now and hit a game-winning home run. Nice story, and I love saying “Saltalamacchia” out loud.
  3. “Tony Stewart” – Absolutely no clue. Apparently he drives cars or something, and finishing 21st in a race was newsworthy. I guess. I don’t follow racing. Weird.
  4. Florida State University” – My guess: football team, perhaps involving a game, maybe some arrests. No, this is about a research team making a breakthrough regarding the Zika virus. Much cooler story than I would have hoped for.
  5. “Ice Road Truckers” – I thought maybe that was a band (nope, that’s “Drive-By Truckers, I think)- it’s about some reality TV star dying. Sad. Don’t care.
  6. “McChicken” – This is the famous one, so I already knew it wasn’t a McDonald’s ad. It’s a video of man humping a McChicken sandwich. Not an ad (if it were Burger King I would still think maybe it’s an ad). Not related to the first item, thankfully.
  7. “Mila Kunis” – I know she is an actress. Hopefully not dead. Phew, she is pregnant, and there are memes about her old TV program “That 70s Show” – two things, neither of which I made any contribution to.
  8. “Kevin Owens” – First guess, country music star – that’s a total country name. Let’s look: he’s a new WWE wrestling champion! Cool. I used to watch wrestling and sometimes keep up, but never heard of this guy. Good for him.
  9.  “Britney Spears” – I guessed this one, but with no thanks to Facebook. She made a comeback at the Video Music Awards. That show peaked in its first broadcast when Rod Stewart and Ron Wood made a severely drunken attempt to bestow an achievement award on Quincy Jones – my opinion – but I guess this is valid pop culture trash news.
  10. “Bea Arthur” – she had better not be dead! Nope, she opened a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. That’s pretty awesome, wish the headline had give  me a clue there.

Automated trends will be ok, and will probably get better- they need to give more context though; that is by far the worst problem, especially if you are ok with man-sandwich relations being a valid breaking news story. I should look at these again in a week or so and see what changes.

Your reward for making it through all that is a look at the first VMA awards moment mentioned above:

Blab is Dead, and For Their Sake They Might Want to Stay That Way

A couple of weeks ago, the live video service Blab, which on its debut gave Google Hangouts (sorry, YouTube Live or whatever it will be called by the time I get around to hitting “publish”) a run for its money by being easy to use and good-quality, shut down suddenly. I used Blab a few times and liked it, but simply for the fact that it was not owned (or sought for purchase) by Google, Facebook, or even Microsoft or Twitter, was certain it was not long for this planet. I was right, which hardly makes me brilliant (but feel free to praise my vision). Two things of note in this particular shutdown:

First: the founder, in my opinion, nailed the problem with live video on social media:

Most live streams suck…Because most live streams aren’t interesting enough to justify stopping what they are doing to watch your broadcast.

Of course, his real problem was that the lack of interesting content translated to a lack of revenue-generating activity, but that does not negate the primary point. Do you watch live video, on Facebook or YouTube or anywhere else? What makes you watch? As Facebook ramps up its live video notifications, I clicked out of curiosity and found nothing worth my time. There is a place for the medium, but apparently that wasn’t it (and I have many doubts it ever will be as presented by the Blabs of the world, or even the Facebook Lives ad Perikats and what-have-you-alls).

The other note: the lack of notice meant the people who did use Blab regularly had no time or means to back up  and download their content. This reminds me of the old mobile posting app Utterli, which has left a number of blank posts on my own channels where I once had audio (you didn’t miss much, which I guess returns us to the first point). For those who did rely on Blab- yes, you need to be careful relying on independent services as you could lose them at any turn, but the Blab folks could have given folks a little confidence to follow their next venture had they been able or willing to let users take their content with them. Perhaps it was not to be, but would have been a huge goodwill gesture to come back to benefit them later. Oh, well.


If I Can’t Buy You Coffee, How About a Steaming Hot Mug of Shut the %&@$ Up? 

A great example of a timeless story that never goes away: the whining by consultants about people wanting to “pick their brains” over coffee. I saw yet another of these entertaining jeremiads a couple of weeks back. There seems to be a disconnect with some people among the concepts of consulting, networking and mentoring.



I have seen these whines periodically ever since some social media folks broke out on their own and (in my view) started to panic about overhead and how much and what they should charge for. Granted, some people do ask for too much and there is a line between “brain picking” and leeching, but any smart person knows how to fend that off without painting the entire ecosystem so painfully. There is a simple formula attached to giving a certain amount and getting back multiples- not immediately, and not from the same source, but it does come back to you.

So “Here’s What To Say When Someone Asks To ‘Pick Your Brain’ About Social Media Over Coffee:”

“I’d be glad to.”


This week in Disclosure

Another one from a couple of weeks ago: it seems the next step in the Disclosure Wars is under way: watchdog groups calling out high-profile abusers. In this case, Truth in Advertising putting the Kardashians on notice. I think that’s a logical evolutionary step in the following time line:


  • Wild West: everyone does what they want
  • Writing Rules: FTC established guidelines; everyone still does what they want
  • Selective Enforcement: FTC means business, occasionally; most still do what they want


  • Watchdog Groups jump in: Slightly fewer do what they want


  • FTC figures out how to enforce guidelines better
  • Industry Groups actually adopt best practices
  • Social Media Influencers start following rules
  • Dogs and Cats living together

You get the picture.

Also of note, is that brands (the smart ones) seem to know that they are more likely to be sanctioned than influencers. As the TINA post notes in its update, some Kardashian posts added disclosure immediately after this call-out, and all were (initially at least) from one single brand, “Sugar Bear Hair” (whatever that is):

So the onus is still on brands to police their influencer programs when it comes to disclosure. Never assume “influencers,” aven social media “gurus,” will intuitively do the right thing. Demand compliance and give explicit instructions.

UPDATE: I just saw a study that found one-third of native ads (sponsored content) do not follow FTC disclosure guidelines. Some of us might consider that progress, though not to be confused with good news.

Social Media Top 5: Instagram Disappears, Snapchat Offends, FTC Enforces, Twitter Censors, Facebook Spoils

Image Credit: DukeNewport Photography on Flickr

Image Credit: DukeNewport Photography on Flickr

Instagram Stories – I’m Trying to Care – I’m Trying really, really, hard.

This has already been batted around a bit, but Instagram has launched a “stories” feature ripped directly, more or less, from the Snapchat playbook. Good thing? Instagram itself is the more established players- plus it has Facebook’s backing, so there is no reason to believe it cannot succeed on those grounds. Also, Instagram has always amazed me in how instantly communities rise up around simple pieces of content (one could say the same about Snapchat, even if the perceived younger demographic may or may not be an obstacle).

Does Instagram care about marketers and brands more than Snapchat, as I have seen asked somewhere? I don’t believe that; but they are more experienced with them, another reason I think they could make this work.

What I am trying to figure out – and this is my fundamental problem with this feature, and has mystified me about Snapchat to begin with – is why having these stories disappear after 24 hours is appealing to marketers. There may be reasons to do this, but I would want flexibility to choose on/off, and length of time before something disappears. I also believe the best content is persistent and widely shared. Why make it disappear at all? Somebody please explain this to me, for I am stupid.

Snapchat’s Response

Not to be outdone by its more established competitor, Snapchat responded by launching a compelling feature of its own…yet another racist lens!

I try not to judge a company by the personalities of its executives, but the frat boy history of the company’s CEO appears to be a factor (likely one of several) in fostering an insensitive bro culture that doesn’t see anything wrong in celebrating Asian (or Jamaican) caricatures. Can we ignore this? Does it hold the company back behind the scenes in any way (or should it)?

Endorsement Enforcement

The FTC says it will crack down more on online endorsements that aren’t clearly endorsed. It has been a long, slow, path to endorsement enforcement, but every time I see this surface, I’m happy to make it an item in my own posts. It’s worth repeating, over and over: Disclosure!


The article makes a good point about many (most?) influencers wanting to do the right thing, but lacking the guidance. Brands and the FTC need to be clear- that was always true, though if the FTC is threatening enforcement they should double down on education efforts, if the goal is to get everyone to do the right thing rather than simply to punish.

Note: I found the ad industry executive quoted in the article to be a disingenuous twit.

“I don’t know if I even think of it as an ad”


Worse: if this article speaks the truth – that 25% of the time, brands ask endorsers not to disclose, then we have a ways to go.

Twitter- Censorship or Community Management?

Reportedly, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo had abusive comments towards President Obama filtered out during an online chat event. This Buzzfeed article refers to it as “censorship,” but I have a problem having a problem with this. Twitter can do what it wants, but more importantly it has been under fire for not doing enough to curb online abuse, particularly towards women, on their platform. The problem I have is that Twitter doesn’t do this more widely.

It’s not censorship, it’s community management, and the only one who should be frightened of a wider implementation might be Donald Trump, who would be at risk for a permanent ban from Twitter (SMILEY FACE EMOJI!)

Stop Acting So Spoiled

I was actually going to waste this last bit on a plea to stop advocating unnecessary use of Oxford commas (though seriously, this author invalidates his argument for the comma by citing the tussle over the pronunciation of “gif” in his argument- damn, I went and posted about it anyway), but I’ll instead mention a current pet peeve: people whining about being spoiled with the results of live sporting events on Facebook. This has been especially prevalent during the Olympics. Not being spoiled does not work for sports- not since the transatlantic cables were laid. WHY ARE YOU ON FACEBOOK if you don’t want to know? Go away, and live in your tape-delayed bubble, clutching your plush Bob Costas doll (I bet those exist).



Chris Brogan Thinks I’m Lazy

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.37.03 PM

That settles it: roundup posts are lazy? When I get around to it, I’ll give him a piece of my mind. Meanwhile, I am so lazy that I am counting this as one of the 5 for this week’s ROUNDUP POST.

Twitter Verification is Now For the People

Socialism rules! Equal rights for all! That sign of the bourgeoisie, the Twitter verified account blue checkmark, is now available to the hoi polloi. Well, as long as you pass the test of notability, but at least everyone now has the option to ask.

I applied (I am @DougH! Remember?) I am hoping that eventually we can customize our checkmarks, so that I may disply mine in the colors of the Stewart of Atholl clan:


It’s not much to ask.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Twitter Support? Hate Speech is Not Free Speech

I don’t have much to add to the chorus of voices already online, but as a fan of Leslie Jones from (slightly) before her SNL debut, I am an even bigger fan of the #LoveforLeslieJ hashtag, started after racist/misogynist (cheaper when you buy two) Twitter trolls attacked her for the crime of being a very funny lady in the new Ghostbusters movie. I’m not going to get back into the whole history of trolls turning the fact of a Ghostbusters reboot with a female cast into an excuse to be hateful on Twitter, but I will celebrate the fact that Twitter finally found some spine to ban someone (a so-called “journalist,” Milos Yiannopolous) for ringleading the hate.  Now, for Twitter to crackdown on hate speech (which is not free speech) and other forms of abuse more consistently (?).

As for the movie- I dream of a day when we can simply say that Ghostbusters was a very funny movie that was limited only by its required reverence of the source material- I agree with my friend at The Boston Globe in that I hope a sequel is less beholden to the original and is a bit more bonkers- everyone involved (even the fellas) earned it.

If You Are Going to  a Conference for the Keynotes, Maybe You Don’t Need to Go to the conference

When I go to conferences, I often use the keynote slot as a way to get work done. Keynotes are often simply some sort of celebrity booking to either attract attendees (though if that’s why you are booking a ticket for a conference you probably shouldn’t be going at all) or to reward them for coming all that way.  Does a keynote need to be relevant? Do Spredfast customers expect Daily Show host Trevor Noah to impart some wisdom on social media analytics? Did Amy Schumer throw relevant red meat to the Inbound Marketing flock? Of course not.

That was part of what went into my reaction to outrage by part of the BlogHer audience when Kim Kardashian was announced as a keynote. Sure, she’s a celebrity, which normally would indicate an irrelevance that incites no more than an excuse to skip the session. Sure, some might object to what she represents. But to be honest, my reaction was that she is actually relevant: someone who not only uses social media well, but has said some very common sense things about how to approach social media that puts her ahead of most social media “gurus” in imparting such advice.

I’m not part of the BlogHer community, and I understand the passion of much of the community, but part of me feels quite happy that a conference was able to balance the need for a celebrity draw with actual relevance. Last year, the conference had Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m not going to judge that.

But like I said, I’m not an invested part of that community.

I Have Joined GoPro Nation: Here is Why

As a cyclist, I like to occasionally take videos of rides. I have resisted, vociferously, using a GoPro camera because they are bulky and awkward, despite their quality and popularity. I favored the Contour cameras, as their shape was unobtrusive on the handlebars. That said, after a number of years my Contour finally broke. As a replacement? A GoPro, due to the apparent downfall of the Contour brand. Fortunately, GoPro finally, a while back, introduced a model, the Session, that was small like I wanted- and finally, they lowered the price (it was originally $400 like the clunky, butt-ugly Hero model). Sold. So far, I am happy with the raw tests.


Social Media Top 5: Pokemon Go Stages of Good Grief

The 5 Stages of Pokemon Go

This is hardly the first or last Pokemon Go blog post out there, but I can guarantee you it’s the only one I have read. I found it a bit hard to ignore. I also find it easy to mock- but that would be too easy. It’s a fun app for a lot of people, with the accompanying overreach in praise, overreaction in backlash and caution, and general lack of big-picture awareness (hint: augmented reality may actually be useful after all these years- this is n’;t it, but may lead to it. See, I led off with my positive takeaway!). On to my rambling:

When a new mobile app really takes off right out of the gate, I have noticed a Kübler-Ross-style arc to its introduction and adoption. Pokemon Go is no exception, though it also proves that there may be endless Kübler-Ross variations.

  • Mass Adoption: Take an overly complicated geo-based mobile game, strip it down and add a pop-culture element that stimulates the idiot-centers of the modern brain (I believe the scientific term for the social lubricant is derpamine). Soon you have a mass-adopted mindless game that could be used for…well, anything I guess.

No nefarious intentions here, I promise

  • Inflated Sense of Benefit: Oh, yes, people are exercising and socializing because of Pokemon Go. After all, you have to physically go to the locations to catch the beasts, right? Plus, the throngs of peacefully-assembling hordes staring at their phones is a sight to behold. Our nation is saved. Yes, there are absolutely people for whom the game is getting them out when they might not, and communicating in ways they otherwise might not, but describing the app as some sort of fitness craze is a bit much.
  • Backlash: With any overwhelming popularity comes withering dismissal. I am generally happy to be cranky about silly popular things online, though to be honest I have no problem with Pokemon Go. My complete lack of interest in the game personally is more due to my complete lack of interest in Pokemon the first time around, so I come by my ambivalence honestly. What’s your excuse?
Image Credit: txmx 2 on Flickr

Image Credit: txmx 2 on Flickr

  • Opportunism: As a marketer, I always eagerly await (read: anticipate with dread) the kneejerk “Marketing Lessons” posts of whatever is going on. For Pokemon, the worst took the form of advice on taking monetary advantage of a fad that is only a few days old. I actually got an email from a marketing firm with the subject line “Turn Pokemon Go Into Dough for Your Business.”
Image credit: k crosland on Flickr

Image credit: k crosland on Flickr

  • Danger (Privacy): Immediately after the game came out, the Internet Cassandras warned of privacy issues. These were both offline – danger of being assaulted either from being lured somewhere due to the game, or simply due to not being aware of surroundings – or online – the iPhone edition getting full access to your Google account (which was fixed, but despite the “don’t worry” attitude of this article, it was a real thing), or maybe stupid people downloading malware-laced knockoffs on Android. In defense of the Engadget article, I do agree that the game is not likely a privacy apocalypse, but do be careful out there.

    Image credit: jublin on Flickr

    Image credit: jublin on Flickr

  • Danger (Darwin): It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed playing Pokemon Go, right? Please don’t fdo a dead pool, we’ve already had enough close calls (one near-contender resulted from a man assuming players were criminals and shot at them, because ‘Murica). I really don’t want to know if and when it actually happens. It’s weird enough that more than one early story described players discovering dead bodies, as if they were in some half-baked coming-of-age-movie. Who am I kidding: is there really a danger to playing a fantasy game in the real world?

  • Squirrel: How long do you think the Pokemon Go craze will last? I assume it will wear off, and quickly. But I also suspect it will inspire some folks to come up with some interesting uses for augmented reality – as well as some new brainless ones. Enjoy the game is it’s your thing- just be careful of what you might find:






Social Media Top 5 (Not): Identity Theft is Fun (Also Not)


Late last month, I was hacked. Specifically, a few of my accounts were hacked, most notable being my everyday Google account and my “@DougH” Twitter handle, which I have had for nearly ten years. No matter what is taken (or not), while I got everything back and lost not much more than a month of frustration, it was an interesting experience and I learned a few things, among them:

Lots of People Have Your Personal Info

One of the things you do when you have a known breach of your personal data is to file a police report. In my case nothing (no money or assets, that is) was stolen, so the local police were not that enthusiastic. As I asked them to file a report anyway so I have something on the record, The officer mentioned something that I agree is very likely true: many people have your personal information, as it is so easy to get: your address, phone number, social security number and even more. Rather than lay awake at night in fright, I realize this is the plight of most of us, and the proper response is:

  • Don’t be paranoid about people having your personal data; assume they do. Watch all your financial accounts very closely; many companies (American Express does a great job of this) will alert you to unusual activity, but regularly comb financial account activity on your own. Besides, there are plenty of other benefits to knowing the state of all your accounts.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your accounts: move things around if you think a credit card or other account is compromised: change passwords regularly,  etc. etc.
  • Use the credit bureaus: they are such a pain in the butt in a good way: when I filed a fraud alert with Experian (which alerted the other bureaus by default), every time I performed a legitimate new transaction (opening a new car lease, for example), the bank had to call me to verify that everything was in order. I’ll take that inconvenience (in fact, I gave up on a retail credit retail credit account I didn’t really need) knowing that if someone tried to open a fraudulent account in my name, that the same stops are in place.

Customer Support for Online Services is Gravely Lacking

Here is my real point of concern from my experience. First: I appreciate that it is not super-easy or instantaneous to get your account back if you don’t have access to a password or other information: however, it should still be more difficult for someone to steal your account than it is for you to prove that you are you and get it back. While Twitter is only so important, and Google only somewhat more so depending on what you keep linked to your account, it is disruptive, upsetting and potentially catastrophic to lose control of your accounts to some other person.

In the case of my phone provider, getting control of my phone number back was pretty easy- but so, apparently, was the process for the hacker to get my number in the first place. There must have been some breakdown in protocol where the hacker was not required to use my “secret code” (which I don’t even write down) to get access and switch my phone number. That should not happen, but it did. The provider called a family member to confirm this was a valid action (a good policy), but when the family member failed to answer they went ahead and handed over my life in the form of a phone number anyway (not such a good policy). The hacker had the number for two or three hours, but that was enough to change account passwords and phone numbers.

In the case of Google, the account recovery process resulted in Google asking me (by email, as no actual people were evident in my contacts with either company) to fill out the same account recovery form with the same questions (and answers) – repeatedly.  My experiences with Twitter were similar. While I don’t know exactly what triggered the final recovery of the accounts, I did have friends inquiring with contacts they knew, but I had no idea of knowing exactly who or how finally got things moving- and i that means anything for most people who simply get stuck in the robotic “customer support” loop.

By the way, The Daily Dot was kind enough to include me in a story on the difficulties of recovering accounts from social media platforms and Internet services.

So, a month later, I have my accounts back. The process of confirming identity should be thorough, but it should not take nearly that long.

Definitely Activate Two-Factor Security. However…

One thing most people asked once I got hacked was “did you have two-factor security on? You gotta have two factor security!”

Thanks, Frances…


Truth is, I couldn’t remember at first, but I obviously had not turned on two-step authorization features for Google and Twitter. I was just lazy, but the truth it is worth the hassle.

That said- the real answer to the question, unfortunately, is it didn’t matter. In two-factor, the second factor is normally your phone- and if a hacker gets your phone number, you’re screwed anyway. So don’t relax just because you have two-factor security turned on (you smug reptile), you still need to be on guard.

Perhaps if that second factor were something less transferable- a corneal implant or a simple tattoo on the inside of one’s eyelid, maybe- it would be more effective, but I suppose that would just encourage the growth of rings of eyelid or eyeball thieves.

Photo Credit: Odric on FLickr

Photo Credit: Odric on Flickr

Another fun link- in a recent This Week in Google podcast, panelist Gina Trapani describes (about 44 minutes in) more or less exactly what happened to me; so either it’s more common than we want to admit or there is a concentrated identity theft crime spree.

So, big fun in Internet-land over the last month- between that and end-of-school (forever: my son graduated) activities, I’ve stayed away from writing here. I’m just glad it is over with.