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.

Blog Silence

Out of respect for the millions of victims of marketing blogging, I am taking a brief break from writing new posts.*

Image credit: Julian Tysoe on Flickr

Image credit: Julian Tysoe on Flickr

*Or, I’m busy and/or dealing with offline events and issues that demand my time


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

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

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’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

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?

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.


No, really. Why on Facebook? Stop it.