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

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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:

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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.

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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

Image credit: Howard Lake on Flickr

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 Esquire.com 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…

Image credit: Patrick Lentz on Flickr

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:

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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.

DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT MY TIME IS VALUABLE? I CHARGE SEVERAL DOLLARS AN HOUR FOR MY EXPERTISE! MY BRAIN IS NOT FREE.

 

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:

Past:

  • 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

Now:

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

Future:

  • 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: ATTENTION EVERYBODY- THIS IS A ROUNDUP

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Chris Brogan Thinks I’m Lazy

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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:

stewart-atholl-ancient-10oz-wool-tartan-swatch_lg

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

Image credit: k crosland on Flickr

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.
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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:
http://imaslowcheetah.tumblr.com/post/10821577203/they-live

 

 

 

 

 

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

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13310600_10157181897050105_2133863842703594186_n

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…

dip_tet

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.

Social Media Top 5: Influenza Marketing, Old Guy Rants & a Twitter Fix

Image Credit: id iom on Flickr
Image Credit: id iom on Flickr

Image Credit: id iom on Flickr

Influenza Marketing: Is the Process Ailing?

“Influencer Marketing” is one of the biggest buzzwords for a marketing tactic (yes, tactic) that is often a bit slippery in a number of ways. First slippery point is that identifying what an “influencer” is for a company is not always the easiest thing to do: whom do they influence, what is their reach, what qualifies one as an “influencer” (hint: if you say you are an “influencer” in your olne bio you are disqualified in my book), and where and how do we find them? The second slippery point is the real value of influencers: what are they worth, do we have to pay them and how much, and can we count on them to follow rules (particularly disclosure guidelines and other laws and regulations)? There is a lot to think about for programs where you really need to be sure what your return should be for the effort and expense.

One article that caught my eye was a confessional piece in which an agency wag talks about the insane amounts of money “influencers” ask for. This seems to be a case of companies and their agencies saying “we need an influencer marketing” program, meeting the increasing cash demands of these so-called influencers, and hoping for the best (or hoping they can get away without measuring what matters). Will brands, as the article says, “start realizing the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean s**t,” causing the decline of the “professional influencer,” reducing such programs back to recognizing passionate brand advocates and rewarding them for spreading the word honestly? It seems that the cash-for-love system is too easy to die without a fight, but I guess we’ll see.

I Disagree: There is Lots of Content Marketing that is as Awful as Most 30-Second Spots

This is the first of two stories I have seen featuring old dudes talking about how great everything was when they ruled the world and how crappy everything is now that the social media comet has threatened to wipe out the old-school dinosaurs. While Sir John Hegarty has a point about the need for any content to be able to tell a story succinctly and, to be succinct about it, accomplish its goal in a short time, the reliance on how old 30-second spots are so much better than today’s “content  marketing” comes off as the babblings of an old-timer who refuses to embrace new methods and turn them to his advantage.

Also in fairness: there is plenty of content marketing that is as awful as your typical advertising creative, so the jobs for people with terrible ideas will never go away.

You knaves! Get out of my moat!

Books are Here to Stay, Dagnabit 

In my other “Old Guy Ranting” find, we see a writer gloating over the hardy survival of the physical book.

Congratulatons! The book has not completely perished, as the easily-dismissed predictions of idiot pundits declared. I’m not sure where the writer is going with the music business analogy, as he strains to prove that the future of music as a viable career is in live performance rather than recorded ones- something the most successful touring musicians always knew. Does he mean the future of the book is live book readings? No- so the music industry analogy falls apart, despite a very good if irrelevant point.

The way I see it, books are the new vinyl. Or the old vinyl. Or something; more and more, I see the “pro-book” people emphasizing the superior look and feel, ability to read, and greater all-around enjoyment of paper to be superior to the convenience and identical content of electronic books. Just like music. If it enhances your experience, great- and no, they will never go away completely, nor will vinyl, newspapers, or hats.

Just don’t give me old books- those musty basement finds trigger my allergies.

 

Twitter Fixing the Only Thing Dumber than 10,000 Character Tweets 

It appears Twitter is fixing one unnecessary barrier of the 140-character Tweet: the fact that URLS and image files count against your character limit. I like the limitation of Twitter, keeping messages short and snappy, but do not like that illustrating with a link or image cripples the text form. So- yes, I like something new.

 

This Week in Stupid Facebook Apps That Might be Stealing Your Info:

or- And Now, a Word from “Wonderful Ladiesman”

The Captain Beefheart Name Generator Rum and Monkey

If you must use a Facebook-connected app of uncertain provenance, surely betraying your private information to some nameless developer/marketer, then that app should be the Captain Beefheart Name Generator. I approve, especially as this one did not appear to take my Facebook credentials.

Social Media Top 5: Facebook Sponsored Content, What Holds Podcasting Back, and Lessons from Kobe

facebook-verified

This week’s topics inspired in part by my participation in the revived Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast. Always a pleasure to chat with Chip Griffin about media and communications topics.

facebook-verified…and the Beast Shall Bear the Mark of the Blue Check…
I like the idea that Facebook is using its own bully pulpit to restrict how sponsored content is disseminated, by allowing only verified accounts to post sponsored content such as “affiliate links, ad images, links to info about (other’s) products or services.”

But wait, that Search Engine Journal link above suggests the new policy is restrictive; after further reading (perhaps Facebook’s actual post?), it seems more that Facebook is opening up sponsored content, though only to verified accounts to control access, and with easy disclosure tools, as making it easy is the best way to ensure disclosure. From that angle, I actually like it.

As a regular Joe, I have to ask: does this mean I should assume anyone with a verified Facebook account – not just actual celebrities with a mass audience – will be pimping out space on their page? Should I just avoid such people?

Also: a friend pointed out that the Facebook checkmark is white, not blue. I’m not changing the headline.

This week in “Marketing Lessons From…”

Oh, my. They just keep on coming. As a Celtics fan, I am proud to have nothing to learn from the just-retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, but if one must, here is what I learn about marketing (not just AdWords) from Kobe:

  • Take as many shots as possible, then point to the total successes and not your success rate. Everyone will think you are a hero.
  • If you have irreparably tarnished your brand, change your logo (or number).
  • Give yourself your own nickname (actually, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. It’s the only rule of nicknames: you don’t get to give yourself one. I refuse to recognize “Black Mamba”).

That’s it. Other than that, it’s too much to hope that these “marketing/advertising/PR lessons from X” post will stop giving me fresh material.

What Kobe Bryant can teach you about succeeding with AdWords

Podcasting is Growing, But Is There an App to Support it?

The New York Times had a lengthy article on the state of podcasting last Sunday. While it seemed focus on “big time” podcasts such as those by or related to National Public Radio, it did point out that Apple’s podcasting tool seems to have been abandoned as-is after being built about a decade ago, and lacks in features for podcasters (some of who want download and listening data).

As a podcast listener, I’m more interested in what would make things easier for more people like me to listen to them. Currently, using existing apps like iTunes and DoggCatcher (which I use on Android) is a little too complicated and clunky.

I do see hope in putting podcasts in apps where people listen to other programming – going where they are instead of thinking of podcasts as a whole new medium- but TuneIn, the radio app, is focused on streaming rather than asynchronous listening, while Spotify, a more interesting possibility, has a new directory that is not comprehensive (unless you want those NPR podcasts, I’m sure those are there).

Listening habits need to settle in- and apps need to account for downloads and streaming in balance. Otherwise, I will continue to justify my earned cynicism on stats showing how much podcasting is surging in popularity.

Twitter Data and the Government: Principled Stand or Grandstanding, um, Stand?

In another item from the Media Bullseye podcast, I spoke with Chip about Twitter’s revoking government access to a data mining tool of which it owns a 5% stake. Is it a principled stand, a PR move (in the wake of the Apple/FBI iPhone hacking standoff), or simply a pragmatic business move hidden by one of the former? That Dataminr analyzes already public Tweets makes this more puzzling: what exactly is Twitter (and Dataminr) withholding access to, apart from the ability to more quickly analyze Tweets. I don’t know.

This Week In Stuff I Saw Lionel Menchaca Post: Instagram Redesign 

instagram-old-new

Instagram’s big redesign goes live with a colorful new icon, black-and-white app and more

All I can take from this is the old Polaroid Camera-style logo had to go, as the “retro-photo” image of Instagram gives way to a more modern image. But I am a simple country blogger, not sophisticated in the ways of logo and app design. It’s just refreshing that I haven’t seen a lot of “this new logo sucks” crabbing that is typical in social media (or have I missed it? Don’t tell me).

h/t Lionel Menchaca

Social Media Top 5: Humorless vs Unfunny: Who Wins? Plus, Schools Get Smart & More Brand Bullies

Image Credit: Iván Niño on Flickr
Image Credit: Iván Niño on Flickr

Image Credit: Iván Niño on Flickr

When Parody Run Amok and Lack of Disclosure Clasp Sweaty Palms and Jump off the Bridge of Propriety

I just thought that was a cool sentence, but I found this story to force into a clash two things I hold dear- the hilarious denuding of social media pundit egoism, and the need for disclosure in all forms of publishing, from newspapers to individual Tweets.

What happened? First, witness the parody Twitter account, “Prof Jeff Jarvis,” an often-funny comic stream of semi-consciousness, which rightly infuriates the real Jeff Jarvis of TV Guide and “Dell Hell” fame, and currently a CUNY professor and regular contributor to the This Week in Google podcast (I’m a fan); he would rather his name not be used in vain (rather than vanity). That he may be right (I’m no lawyer) is separate from the quality of the Tweets, so may they live on in some form.

Recently, Esquire Magazine published an article by “Prof. Jeff Jarvis” about some thing or another. I forget, I was bored, but you can check out a cached copy here.

The biggest crime of the piece, of course, is that it is not very funny. Perhaps that is part of the root of the second crime, that there was not a clear enough disclosure that the piece was not authored by the Real Jeff Jarvis. RJJ has obviously had it with the misuse of his name, as he published on Medium (not to be confused with Measured). 

Real Jeff Jarvis is perfectly within his rights to have no sense of humor about this- something I try to keep in mind every time I laugh out loud at this parody account. I personally don’t care about the battle between the Tweeter and Mr. Jarvis, and if it is legally shut down, so be it. But Esquire absolutely did a poor job clearing up any potential confusion (no wonder the article was taken down).

Also, “Professor” Jarvis is much funnier on Twitter than he was here. Leave Esquire to the likes of Charlie Pierce. So, yes, we should endure (Real) Jarvis’ windy indignation, simply because he’s right.

Disclosure, people.

Also, I take it all back- THIS Jeff Jarvis is far more entertaining than either of the other old bores.

Ahead of the Curve Meets Better Than You Think at Syracuse University

I found this story about a Buzzfeed partner teaming up with Syracuse University to offer a course in social media content to be interesting for two reasons:

  • A decade ago, I expressed concern that public relations curricula were not evolving fast enough to embrace social media and keep students up with the changing landscape. I assumed the same was true for journalism and other content-related pursuits. A course like this threatens to make college educations current with trends and technology.
  • It’s a reminder that Buzzfeed is more than listicles and cat videos (I don’t even know if they are really a big source of cat videos, but I hope you get the point); there is more serious thought into the content and kinds of content on that site, compared to others. And if they are planting seeds in students that will grow into a tree of talent for their future plans, then good for them.

Brand Bullying Run Amok or Brands Being Inappropriate and Just Need to Stop? 

I’m a week late and an indignant opinion short by now, but I have turned from fretting about brands trying to horn in on public events, such as the unexpected death of Prince, towards the attitude that maybe social media pundits ought to take a break- to shut up about brands shutting up. Telling Minneapolis-based companies like General Mills, makers of Cheerios, how they should mark the passing of one of their hometwon icons- or whether they should do it at all- is now feeling foolish.

So all I will say after a week of observation is that it is time for “social media gurus” to stop bullying brands and do something more entertaining- shame and destroy each other- as long as it’s done in an entertaining manner. Have at it, guys and gals.

Besides, my friend Christopher Barger surpassed any thoughts I might have had- and certainly any word count I could have applied to it – in his worthwhile post, so go read that.

Besides, our anger should be focused at Mr. Rogers and Purple Panda for appropriating Prince’s signature color and flaunting it in the media, decades before His Actual Purpleness – right?
Purple_Panda

HBR is Too Important to be Left to Hacky Bloggers

The line above is not a reference to the quality of the article “Social Media Is Too Important to Be Left to the Marketing Department,” but certainly to the flippancy of the headline, which suggests that if something is important it should not be left in the slippery hands of marketing. Any marketer should be insulted by that inference, which is too bad because the article isn’t the kind of hacky hatchet job the title suggests and which I’d love to look down on, especially given the varying quality of posts on the Harvard Business Review‘s blog. It is, if espousing ideas that should long be familiar with any social media professional, well-reasoned and supported by examples, so have a read.

This Week in Things I Hate for No good Reason:

People using their Snapchat “Ghost” template profile pics on Facebook. Just stop it.

Screenshot_20160502-203911

No, really. Why on Facebook? Stop it.

Social Media Top 5: My Marketing Buzzwords are Better Than Yours

Image Credit: Alice on Flickr
Image Credit: Alice on Flickr

Image Credit: “swot” by Alice on Flickr

My Buzzword-Based Definition of Marketing is Better than Your Buzzword-Based Definition of Marketing

Everything the tech world says about marketing is wrong

First: “Everything xxx is wrong” is Internetspeak for “Fight me.”

Second: Yes, there are a lot of people in marketing who didn’t study marketing. Thank God for that.

That said: point taken that basing everything around content marketing and “inbound marketing” is a terrible idea and pundits who say so should be shunned, even if their name rhymes with Beth Bodin, but to say they “don’t exist” because they don’t fit in with your old-school definitions is silly. They exist. OK, “inbound marketing” is a cynical branded buzzword invented by Hubspot, but they did a good job of defining it and why it might be important (a much better job than they have ever done at explaining what the company actually sells, but ).

The author goes out of his way to denigrate content marketing as not marketing (well, that was my reading):

“Content marketers” are doing nothing different from what creative teams have always done.

Careful, there- “creatives” remain a species in need of Darwinist disruption, particularly in advertising, in only to breed out cleverness for cleverness’ sake.

That marketers should know the basics is obvious, though it comes dangerously close to drawing the conclusion that a marketing degree is the path. We know that schools tend to be three or more years behind in adopting modern shifts (PR curricula took at least that long to adopt social media, with few exceptions). The trick is to accept the new ideas and place them where they belong in marketing strategies- which this article attempts to do- but be open to redefine what the mix does and which emerging channels are more important than, if not displacing, traditional modes.

Last: as much as I hate buzzwords, let’s not get into dismissing them if there is an idea they represent (even “inbound marketing,” though feel free to call it something different if the term recalls the horror of awkward corporate musical YouTube videos). After all: what are “marketing mix,” “the Four P’s” and “SWOT Analysis” but buzzwords coined to try to simplify some of the core aspects of marketing?

Content marketing? In its place, and the best practitioners know it’s merely part of a larger strategy. Those who don’t didn’t earn such wordy bombast.

Get on my lawn.

giphy

We Got Our Own Damn Site

First, let’s ignore the fact that The Economist is using a Kanye gif. I’d like to pretend that didn’t happen.  That said, this is an interesting use of Medium – to discuss the features of a web site redesign, and more importantly, to explain why economist.com is necessary, and viable, in a world of proliferating off-domain content platforms. This is now my favorite argument in favor of owning your stuff.

 

Post-app? But I Just Got Comfortable with “App!” or, Marky Zuck’s Every Flavour Bots

I’m sharing this largely because the headline made me chuckle: “Facebook Believes Messenger Will Anchor a Post-App Internet.” Leave it to Wired to be future-thinking. I’m not ready for post-app. It took me a while to be comfortable with the quality, stability and speed of apps on mobile to finally favor them over mobile web versions. Now the mobile web- or, more precisely, the mobile-friendly web- works even better – so do we need a new platform?

We do, if bots are to catch on. Facebook has announced that Messenger will rely heavily on chatbots. As my former colleague Christopher Barger points out, bots are great for big brands to scale response, and to do it where are people are (for now), Facebook. I’d prefer the buzz of the announcement to die down before seeing if this is the next big thing, and I worry that poorly-tuned bots will turn into spam or worse crimes of the kind Twitter Direct Message devotees could only dream of committing.

 

Student Athletes Being Dumb on Social Media

Student athletes are often encouraged to be on Twitter- I have seen it up close with my son and his teammates: it’s a great place to interact with the local high school sports reporters, as well as sharing information about games et al. We also see pro athletes are on Twitter more often than not, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and the rest. It’s clear that young athletes could use more training about how to conduct themselves online, as another group of people monitoring the web is the coaches.

student

(H/T Mel Webster)

 

This week in Private Personal Data Collection Fun Apps

Hey, Boston sports fans, how far do you live form Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox? Enter your info at http://feetfromhome.com and find out? Actually, don’t. I don’t mind the occasional app that asks for info in exchange for some value, but this one- I can’t believe smart people entered their info into this database of unknown origin.