Tagged: Twitter

Social media frenzy and Obama’s death

So the last few weeks we’ve been seeing somewhat of a Social Media frenzy among Social Media users. With Google+ going live (nicely hyping it by limiting access calling it a ‘beta’), Facebook reacting with its new Video chat functionality and Twitter…. Well Twitter kept silent. The only news on that front: the hacking of a Fox News account starting to proclaim Obama’s death.

Still that last titbit of information intrigues me… Not because a Verified twitter account was hacked or that twitter is staying remarkebly silent about Google+ but because the ‘Obama news’ generally didn’t cause much of a stir at all. In fact, reading the different reactions I’d say people mostly just shrugged it off.

There used to be a time that when a renowned or at least well known media source or paper would publish something everybody would simply believe it. If the morning paper or the tv-presenter said so most people wouldn’t doubt that. They had limited resources to verify and generally just trusted the journalists to have done their homework.
Ok, yes I know this was more then a decade ago but still you’d be surprised how many people still believe in the integrity of journalism and regard a well known news agency, network or newspaper name as an instant proof of validity.

So when the FOX account started spewing out messages about Obama’s death I kind of expected a certain part of the internet population to start blindly retweeting this, like they retweet all kind of nonsense…. It didn’t happen (or at least not as blindly as I would expect it)! In fact the tweets I saw about it all identified the fact the account was hacked.
I think that’s great, it proves we’re starting to mature into the new age of unlimited access of information. Instead of blindly believing and following what others say or write we try to verify. We take a more sceptical approach to news and news suppliers and check up on more sources before believing it. And… we’re more aware about the dangers of hacking.

I know most of you won’t see this as anything special but I really think it is. Not so long ago I tutored a group of senior citizens on using a computer. This was a challenge to say the least. For their age these people were advanced as they actually were interested in learning this new phenomonon. In all truth though some of them struggled to even grasp the simplest concept of mail or internet information. Teaching them to be vigilant with what they could and what they shouldn’t believe (phising, hoaxes, spam, unvalidated information) really was a hell of a job. They were used to libraries with books that had been edited, scrutenized and categorized into nice definitive catogories like ‘science’ and ‘fiction’. So all that unvalidated info confused them.
Similarily intriguing I think is the group of youngsters, that although generally pretty well aware of the lack of validation on certain internet information still choses to believe blindly sometimes. Is it stupidity or lazyness, I’m not sure but I do find it fascinating how easliy they sometimes just take the internet info as fact.

So the lack of response to the Obama news shows we’re getting there. We are learning how to digest the info that is out there in cyberspace and when a supposedly verified Social Media account starts announcing the US president’s death we are critical and don’t get into a frenzy.

Now if we could only do the same when a major internet company announces the hottest new Social Media network….

Twitter DM’s not private…. Weiner watch out!

Applications can use the Twitter API  to get you to grant them access to your twitter account without having to share your username and password. You would expect your DM’s to be excluded though by default from the information (eg. Tweets, Favs, Lists, etc) that applications can than access or at least make it configurable. Apparently this is not the case! See this blog by Tweetster.de (in German) in which they unearthed it. It means that as of day 1 any application you granted “READ + WRITE” access to your Twitter account had access to your DM’s and potentially could even send them out on your behalf…..?!?
Twitter seems to be aware and working on a solution (planned for the 30th of June) and has added a notification to the Access granting page:
I’m feeling a perfect ‘Weiner‘ – excuse popping up here. ” No sir, I didn’t put those pictures up, it was a twitter app that I authorized to access my Twitter account! It took pictures while I was drying myself after a shower without me even knowing it and posted them to my DM’s…It wasn’t me, I swear!“. Oh wait, too late, he admitted to putting them up there themselves…..
It just shows. Leave your Frankfurter out of it or the Germans will find it!
Thanks to @ThomasBahn for bringing it to my attention by tweeting about it!

Error handling

Love this! Something goes wrong while writing a DM on twitter and in stead of deflecting blame (“Something went wrong”) or assigning blame (“Oops, it seems you did something wrong”) it simply takes full blame for the problem. Wish more sites / software would be so insightful!

So Twitter, now you’ve got the error message right….. please solve the problem too!

Smart ways to use Twitter commercially

Twitter is a lovely tool to keep in touch with your friends, customers and contacts and learn what they are doing. But how can you use it for business purposes? I had a discussion with some of my colleagues and a fellow Business Partner recently about this. Because there certainly are opportunities!

Ok, yes I know. There are some nitwits out there that think that blasting spam-like tweets across their networks with advertisements links is a good way of using Twitter commercially but I block those immediately and so do most of the people I know. Not interested in those and in my opinion certainly not a good use of twitter! If anything, those tweets put me of from using that companies products or services at all. So how can you use twitter then? Well you can use it to interact with your users. Don’t forget: With hundreds of millions of people on twitter this is is an amazing channel to use for name building and branding.

I love twitter and use it regularly in my own personal and business life. So I tend to tweet about the things that happen to me. I recently installed a Beta release of Firefox because I wanted to try out a cool new feature that was in it (Tab Candy but that is a totally different story). While doing so I found out that my favorite Firefox add-in “Yoono” wouldn’t support the Beta release causing it to cease working. Bummed out by this I tweeted the following:

This was just an observation. I wasn’t actually addressing anyone. I took it for what it was and thought I’d have to use an alternative tool in the mean time and was tweeting this. But within 10min I got the following tweet:

Well, nice” you might say but at that moment I was seriously contemplating to use an alternative which would have meant I would have ditched the Yoono tool all together and installed a competitors product. By simply tweeting me a link though, they helped me with my problem, gave me the feeling I mattered to them as a customer and kept me on their product. Effectively they gave me the ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’ that ensures I will not forsake their product any time soon!
Commercial? I would say so, I’m even writing this blog about it!

A second way of using Twitter is by letting your users do the talking. This example is again taken from my personal experience.

Earlier this week I did a session on social plugins for Lotus Notes including a product called Gistat the NLLUG event. One of the attendees tweeted about this:

A couple of hours later this was retweeted by one of the engineers at Gist:

Very clever. They simply retweet a tweet from a user that is appreciative about the product and that mentions it is being talked about at an official event. This gives the product an objective credibility outside of the Gist companies claims. Again, is this commercial? Well I think so! Customer loyalty and credibility ensure people stay with your product and might even recommend it to their contacts and getting your customers to talk positive about you in their network is the best advertisement there is!

Tips on using Twitter for your product/company:

  1. Have a company Twitter account (company or product name) and post on it regularly. Mention updates, enhancement, future developments, etc.
  2. Obey twitter etiquettes, this is important!!
  3. Follow what is said about your product on twitter. They might not always directly mention your twitter account or hashtag so use filters and search tools to search for variations of your products name. In the Gist example above for instance the @Gist name tag or #Gist hashtag aren’t used at all but the name ‘Gist’ and in this case even the site ‘www.gist.com’ are. Both should be included in your search filters.
  4. Retweet positive feedback about your product but don’t overdo it. If you retweet every mention of your product your followers might get annoyed. Try to limit it to one positive tweet every couple of days. That will keep the good vibe without it looking arrogant or becoming spam like.
  5. Answer tweet questions on your product if you can and think they could be relevant to others. It shows goodwill and commitment and your network is assured you take them seriously. At the same time, don’t try to answer all. Your network is following you, not every user that might tweet a question or remark about your product. So they will only see what you answer, not what is being asked/said (unless you retweet them). Answering tweet questions shouldn’t become a day job in itself, you probably have some formal support channels for that.
  6. Use DM (Direct Messages) to communicate with people if you don’t want the rest of your network to see a certain conversation.
  7. Use personalized or support accounts for answering questions. In the above example Gist has a company Twitter account for general messages and updates but the retweet was done by an actual employee called Greg whose twitter account conveniantly is GregAtGist ensuring the link with the company. In the Yoono example a YoonoSupport account was used. So split support tweets from marketing tweets in this way and give your responses a personal feel (people like that).
  8. Be appreciative and generous. Thank people for their compliments (which in itself is a way of retweeting the message) and suggestions (if they are valid and on your roadmap).

And a final one that might be out of your hands already….. Make sure your company or product name is unique because otherwise following it on twitter becomes a whole lot more difficult!

Silly Season – Breaking news

The one thing that Social Media has tought us is that you can never predict what is hot or not. Even the most trivial thing can be made into a straight out hype on the Internet within a day.

Take the infamous “Blumenk├╝bel”. Now you might think ‘What?’ and yes I thought that as well. But still this word made it into the WorldWide Trending list on Twitter, has a Facebook page with thousands of followers and was mentioned on major news sites. It has been one of the topics for the last two days on the internet.

So what is it all about then?
Well simply put Nothing really. It’s a non-story, something to talk about in the absence of serious topics (summer recess). ‘Blumenk├╝bel’ means flowerpot in German and refers to an article in an obscure local German magazine two days ago about a flower pot outside an elderly home that got broken by vandals.

Someone started twittering about it and within hours this story just got totally hyped. Worldwide people were twittering about……. a broken flower pot.
Some of them not even knowing what the word meant at all. Al thanks to social media. Would you have predicted that a broken flower pot would have gotten that much attention??

Funny detail, the author of the article just started and this was one of her first articles. Now that’s a way to make an entrance!