News Archives - Harris Social Media

Could social media monitoring have predicted and helped avert Egypt’s crisis?

on Jan 29 in blogging, facebook, monitoring, News, politics, social media, thought leaders, Twitter posted by

Egyptian protester (Reuters)Much of the press coverage of Egypt’s present meltdown has concerned the influence of social media. Organizers used Twitter, Facebook and other channels to get out their message and instigate a popular uprising.

Egyptian authorities belatedly recognized the power of social media on Wednesday last week. They cut off access to Internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook, according to the UK Guardian news site.

Evidently social media has been an essential tool for protesters to coordinate their efforts. Egypt had already cracked down on bloggers, and according to the Guardian piece, “in 2009 the Committee to Protect Journalists listed Egypt as one of the 10 worst countries for bloggers because of the tendency to arrest [government] critics.”

Such a heavy-handed dictatorial approach betrays a profound lack of understanding about social media’s power to communicate ideas.

Is it possible, with better understanding of social media, that this crisis could have been averted?

Sophisticated social media monitoring tools could easily have picked up “buzz” weeks or even months before protesters took to the streets. Social media monitoring would have given the Egyptian government the chance to evaluate the response to its proactive measures and to adjust its policies accordingly.

A proactive approach might have afforded the Egyptian government time to react with conciliatory measures. Monitoring could have identified thought leaders and influencers, to whom the government could have reached out with an olive branch. Would they have avoided the type of instinctive crackdown that contributed to the present crisis? Maybe not. But in any case, social media monitoring would have helped the government judge the zeitgeist and to take appropriate pre-emptive action. Instead, they are now on the defensive, and if history is any lesson, have already lost.

The Mubarak government missed the opportunity to manage change gradually. For such lack of leadership, perhaps they deserve what’s coming.

Social media is a curse as well as a blessing for Haiti

on Jan 14 in News, social media, social networks, Twitter posted by

Over the last day or so Twitter has been indundated with tweets that the global shipping company UPS is offering free shipments to Haiti for packages under 50lbs.

Kindly users are offering useful suggestions such as “UPS is shipping anything 2 #Haiti under 50lbs for FREE: send a care box with things like food blankets candles tents batteries medicine etc.”

Unfortunately, the rumor is false. The company has in fact suspended shipments to Haiti. UPS’s latest blog post cites the “destruction of roads and communications networks” as the reason to put their Haiti service on hold. 

Another popular retweet was American Airlines offer of free travel to Haiti for licensed medical professionals. Again, airline spokesmen have denied the rumor as reported on CNN.

For social media providers, the lesson here is to verify the authenticity of offers or news before retweeting info

In the longer term, spread of rumors can only damage the value of social media. It behooves us all to double-check information unless we know it comes from a verifiable source.

More immediately, these rumors only compound the suffering of Haitians. Many of the country’s residents are reaching out to the outside world through social networks. Twitter and Facebook were for some the only meaningful contact they had with friends and relatives. (See Social media key in Haiti earthquake coverage.) Given the Haitian’s reliance on social media, how cruel to pile such hoaxes on top of their misery.

Please take a moment to post a Tweet to counter the rumors. Feel free to copy and paste the following: “Free Haiti American Airlines and UPS offers are hoaxes, according to CNN.”

10 great sites to look for a job in social media

on Nov 11 in google, hints and tips, links, News, social media posted by

Social media is one of the hot spots for job seekers in an otherwise lackluster employment market. There are a lot of resources out there, but they’re scattered and of varying quality. Soooo… I created a new page for TwitterThoughts: Social Media Jobs.

Visit the page to get a list 10 of the best (IMO) websites for you to concentrate your job search. And if you’re new to this particular job market, the page provides some links to articles that describe the key qualities you need to get hired.

There’s also a news feed for you to keep up to date on developments in social media jobs and careers.

If you know of additional resources, please let me know and I’ll add them to the page.

Posting tweets to your LinkedIn profile

on Nov 10 in linkedin, News, tools, Twitter posted by

LinkedIn is the premier professional networking site. It’s invaluable for building professional connections, establishing yourself as a leader in your field and for getting answers to business-related questions.

One of the nice features of LinkedIn is its status (or network) updates. These appear in your profile just below your profile picture and name and title, so they’re highly visible to your profile visitors. 

Up until today, the only way to update your status in LinkedIn was to visit your page and type it in. Now, LinkedIn and Twitter have joined forces, so you can now tweet your status updates directly from Twitter (or your Twitter app of choice). You can also update your Twitter timeline from LinkedIn.

It worked seamlessly when I tried it. On your home page is your status update box with a checkbox next to the Twitter icon.

LinkedIn profile status update with option to update your Twitter timeline

Click this and you are taken to the Twitter app page where you sign in with your Twitter user name and password. Back on the LinkedIn page you have a couple of options, such as including all tweets in your LinkedIn profile, or just those with the #in hashtag.

It took a minute or two for my first tagged tweet (from Twitter to LinkedIn) to appear, but thereafter the update was right away. 

Likewise, posting from LinkedIn to Twitter was seamless and took no time at all to appear in my Twitter timeline.

This will greatly enhance the value of the LinkedIn status updates, and will probably boost use of Twitter by LinkedIn users who are not completely sold on it.

Here is a screen shot showing the new feature in action on LinkedIn.

Your tweets can now be fed to your LinkedIn profile.

Instructions on configuration and options are available on the LinkedIn blog

Are banner ads dead?

on Oct 17 in business, marketing, News, trends posted by

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, online ad spending still grew 10.6 percent to $23.4 billion in 2008. In the same year, a DoubleClick report (PDF) click through rates were 0.1 percent (i.e., 1 in a 1000 website visitors actually click on an ad). This CTR is a third of what it was in 2004, about 0.3 percent, at least in Europe according to Adtech. These numbers are interesting but not news.

It’s true that such low rates combined with an excess of ad inventory worry marketers about how to boost CTRs. So behavioral targeting, rich media, flash and other technologies are driving ever more sophisticated and compelling ads. Again not news. What is interesting (hence the name of this post) are recent reports questioning the ROI of online banner ads. A recent article on Marketing Pilgrim asked Are Banner Ads Dying? The balance of that post seems to be that the jury is still out.

But recent news suggest that the final nails are being hammered into the banner ad coffin. An October 12, Wall Street Jurnal article reports that several major brands fell victim to buying invisible ads — paying for online ad space for ads that never appeared.

So are banner ads dead? Maybe there is life in them yet. But given such malfeasance on the part of ad distributors combined with the diminishing ROI, marketers are going to be hard-pressed to justify continuing ad spend at current levels. At the very least, the CTR and CPMs will have to drop in response to market pressures, cutting distributors’ margins and profits. Tighten your belts!

Five reasons why Twitter’s new anti-spam measure won’t work

on Oct 14 in News, trends, Twitter posted by

One of Twitter’s biggest problems is spam. So yesterday, Twitter introduced a new feature to help combat spammers using the power of the community, it hopes. (The post on its support forum describes several types of spam.)

The new process to report a spammer is simple enough. Under the right hand menu “Actions” you can click the link to report the spammer’s profile or you can use the drop-down menu.

A bit late IMHO but good stuff. Way to go Twitter. Trouble is, it won’t work. It may frustrate the efforts of casual spammers, but chronic and professional spammers will not be deterred. I see at least five reasons.

  1. It’s so easy to create an account on Twitter –– It’s ironic that one reason Twitter is so successful is that practically anyone with a brain (and an email account) can set up a Twitter profile. Yes, you need a unique email address, but a spammer can create new email addresses ad nauseum for free with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and so on. So when Twitter closes a profile, the spammer will just set up another one. Twitter will be playing whack-a-mole.
  2. Many users do not use the Twitter interface — Again, it’s ironic that Twitter’s API has fueled the proliferation of countless 3rd party apps that enable people to post to their feed without visiting their Twitter page. To report a spammer, a user would have to open their Twitter home page, find the offending Tweet, click on the user’s profile link and then report. Too much!
  3. User wars and spammer counter-attack-– If you decide you don’t like a user, hey why not just report them for spam? And no doubt since it’s so easy to report someone, spammers will counter-attack, reporting everyone just to jam the system. So how many unwarranted reports will Twitter receive? What kinds of resources will be needed to screen all the reports? Chances are the system will be overwhelmed.
  4. Already shaky review process —Just last week, ZDNet reported that Twitter banned an internet security researcher for warning followers about a MySpace phishing site. The incident points to a host of problems related to Twitter’s process for reviewing and banning accounts. 
  5. Credibility gap — Is Twitter really serious about fighting spam? In her blog, Ariel Waldman describes her experience in which Twitter refused to uphold its Terms of Service related to personal attacks and harrassment. (Although her case did get a personal response from Biz Stone on GetSatisfaction.)

Maybe Twitter’s anti-spam measure is just about appearances. If that perception spreads, authentic users will be deterred from reporting, negating the entire premise of the system. So Twitter gets an A for their effort to thwart spammers, but a failwhale for execution.

Neurotic hive-mind needs virtual therapist

on Dec 09 in News, panconsciousness, quote of the day, Twitter posted by

Quote of the Day, Dec 9, 2008

I’ve commented on how Twitter is a window into panconsciousness, or our hive-mind. But as Xeni Jardin points out, like our own consciousness, it’s all too easy for the panconscious to descend into irrational panic and neuroses. Now what’s going to be the social web’s virtual therapist?

“Our collective hive-mind gets into a tizzy over other things that suddenly zoom into focus. It’s a hurricane! OMG, salmonella in the hamburgers! Wait, we’re all fat! There is an escalation of attention that feeds itself, because this recession is appearing throughout all forms of digital human expression. And unlike any of those other topics, this affects everyone.”

— Xeni Jardin, editor at Boing Boing

Stoking Fear Everywhere You Look
by David Carr

Twitter Terror? Mumbai bomb attacks: pros and cons

on Dec 01 in News, panconsciousness, technology, tools, trends, Twitter posted by

The Web is buzzing with discussion of how Twitter was used during the recent bomb attacks in Mumbai, India. While Twitterers anxiously Tweeted about the events as they unfolded, the authorities expressed concern about how Twitter could be used to help the terrorists.

Most mainstream news articles seemed impressed that Twitter and other social media could be used to report the events in real time.

But on a darker note, reminding me of an October 2008 US Army report (Terrorists May Twitter, Army Says), the Times of London reported that “citizen journalists” were being “told to stop using Twitter to update on Bombay attacks,” because of fears that the perpetrators were using the Tweets to gather intelligence about the response to their attacks.

Yet, PC World reports that Twitter and blogs were offering solace and assistance to relatives of the slain and wounded. (In Mumbai, Bloggers and Twitter Offer Help to Relatives) So evidently, there was some benefit to people being able to use Twitter during the atrocities.

So what’s the reality? Can Twitter be used for good or evil? The answer is, of course, both. Should Twitter use be banned or prevented during terrorist attacks to prevent misuse of the service?

As I have blogged previously in this column. Twitter is a tool. As such it is subject to human whim, used for good or bad, limited only by our imaginations. As such it reflects the collective conscious, or panconsciousness, and won’t be bound by our worries or concerns.

Other links
American Free Press Twitter, blogs provide riveting accounts of Mumbai attacks
Forbes Mumbai: Twitter’s Moment

Science Online 09: Science blogging for all

on Oct 23 in blogging, News, thought leaders, trends posted by

Science blogging is a niche sector for the blogosphere but a significant one.

Science bloggers generally try to cut through the crap and get to the core issues, whether they concern the latest research, controversial issues (such as evolution or stem cell research) or science policy.

So it’s great to see the third consecutive annual science blogging conference, held in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Registration is full, but you can keep up on the (un)conference’s Web site:

I am honored and excited to be participating as moderator for the Sunday session “Blogging102 – how to make your blog better” (see conference program) and also to lead a demo session: “How to put your story on a dozen networks, sites and services in 15 minutes or less.”

Thanks especially to Bora Zivkovic, Anton Zuiker and all the others who are working so hard to make this event special.

NEW FEATURE: Quote of the Day

on Sep 04 in News, quote of the day, social media, trends posted by

As I have been settling into my new role at Capstrat over the past couple of weeks, I have been re-visioning TwitterThoughts. I sense it can be more than just a place to discuss Twitter. 

Many smart folks are thinking and discussing what is going on in the Twitterverse, and mostly within the context of social media. And indeed, my own TwitterThoughts are limited in number! 

With that in mind, I’ll be broadening the scope of this blog more generally to include aspects of social media, particularly as they relate to marketing and advertising.

For now, I am starting a daily feature: “Quote of the Day.”

I’ll scour the web for pithy sayings and aphorisms that crystallize a particular trend or concept, helping to bring this fast-moving field into focus.