Category Archives: Social Networking

“Safety in Numbers: How to Fight Brand Hijacking on Twitter”

Last week a reporter asked my opinion on the state of brands on Twitter after the Exxon Twitter-jacking debacle.

“As more companies move on to Twitter, how are we to know who is real and who is a fake?” she asked.  “How can a reporter or a consumer know that this person can be a trusted source?”

With Exxon, someone named Janet had claimed to be the Exxon Mobil community manager.  Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang got excited that Exxon was getting involved with Twitter–3 days later, it turned out Janet was a fake.  She hadn’t said anything negative about Exxon, and actually did a great job of addressing people’s questions…but she’d hijacked the brand.  Other big companies might not be so lucky.

Back in the old 1.0 days of the Internet, you could be pretty much anyone–a 40 year old man pretending to be a 13 year old girl–and no one would know otherwise.  In the Web 2.0 world, however, our identities are built on and confirmed by our relationships.

Using Facebook as an example, my identity is more-or-less confirmed by my friends.  Not that it can’t be forged, but by checking my profile, my friends, my work network, etc., you’d be able to make a fairly good guess as to whether I was real or not.

Nope, Twitter doesn’t confirm your identity–but you can still use the network to validate someone.  Jeremiah could have easily searched on Twellow for other Exxon employees on Twitter.  Had their been any Exxon employees (there aren’t), he would have been able to ask them about Janet.  Did they know her? Exxon is a big company, so maybe not…but I bet they have a directory in Outlook.

Companies like Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft all have tons o’ employees on Twitter, making it easy to find a spokesperson. (Click links for Twellow searches).

A couple of steps any company can take to ensure their brand is protected:

  • Don’t just create a XYZCo generic Twitter account, get as many employees on Twitter as possible
  • Add any official Twitter names to the company’s main contact page
  • Encourage employees to mention company name in Twitter profile
  • Create a directory of employees in the company on Twitter and distribute internally
  • Encourage employees to add each other.  Even if they may not work together, Twitter can help strengthen the camaraderie within a company
  • Encourage employees to respond to any Tweets about the company they see — bonus if they search for the company’s name or industry keywords

There you go. Now whenever a reporter, blogger or consumer is looking for a company rep, they can find many to whom they can turn!  Oh, and it might not hurt to claim your company’s name–if it isn’t already taken!

What systems does your company have in place to validate Twitter screen names?  Do you have just a generic name? Do you let employees actively Tweet?

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[The above photo, “Kids at zebra crossing” by fiskfisk on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Community Relations, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking

“Top Tech Bloggers Define Web 2.0”

Last week, all eyes were on San Francisco. Up north in Sonoma, the NewComm Forum debated how to incorporate social media technologies with communications (Step 1: Add socialTNT to RSS reader). Down in the city, the tech community rallied around the Web 2.0 Expo. But two years after Tim O’Reilly defined the emerging technologies, many are still left scratching their heads and wondering what the eff Web 2.0 is.

In 2006, Tim O’Reilly, founder of top tech publishing company O’Reilly Media, gave his compact definition of Web 2.0:

“Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them. (This is what I’ve elsewhere called “harnessing collective intelligence.”)

Now let’s compare that to what top Bloggers Dan Farber (CNET News.com), Marshall Kirkpatrick (ReadWriteWeb), Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Dean Takahashi (VentureBeat), Scott Beale (Laughing Squid), Josh Lowensohn (Webware).

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For me, Web 2.0 is multifaceted:

  • Platforms and tools that increase communication, collaboration and connection
  • Software built around communities
  • Open platform with applications that run in the cloud
  • User-generated content or data creating two-way exchange

It’s also a term of reference for the phase of evolution of the Internet in which we currently reside. Marketers like it too!

Next steps (Web 3.0) [UPDATE: Check out this post from ReadWriteWeb on Web 3.0]:

  • Connect disparate communities with data portability and openID
  • Platforms and tools that help sort data so users can find what they want and interface with it where and how they want it
  • Build infrastructure to allow full integration of Web 2.0 aspects with traditional networks

How do you define Web 2.0? Where do you see the Internet headed in the next 5 to 10 years? Let us know in the comments.

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Filed under Future of Media, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking, Video Interview

“Web 2.0 Expo, Day 2: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Loic LeMeur, Simeon Margolis”

Web 2.0 Expo LogoWeb 2.0 Expo marches on, and socialTNT has been there day and night. On Thursday, Day 2 at Moscone Center, socialTNT ran into ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick , Loic LeMeur from Seesmic, Simeon Margolis from Utterz, the Seybold Report’s Chuck Lenatti and BlogTalkRadio’s Hilary Leewong.

In today’s short video montage, we talk with folks on the floor about monetization and marketing strategies, explore the collaborative aspects of social media, and even learn a little French. You’ll also see how all the VC-funded open bars and late night geek-out chats have finally caught up with me.

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Future of Media, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking, Video Interview

“Our Modern Lives: Tune In or Turn Off?”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer Marie Williams.

With Blackberries and iPhones keeping us constantly connected to an online IV stream, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to disconnect. As of late, discussion around the problems of our “always on” lifestyles seem to be popping up everywhere. Last month, the Churchill Club held a panel on the issue of information overload. And, even more alarming, The New York Times recently chronicled the health problems–and two deaths–resulting from the demands of round-the-clock blogging. While not as severe as those tragic cases, I recently came face-to-face with my own info-addiction.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my sister for a week holiday in Seattle. The whole time I was there, I was either checking my Google reader or Twitter on my phone. I was so plugged in that I somehow managed to catch some major coverage of a client before my team even had a chance to see it. Yeah, I know: I was supposed to be on vacay. Don’t judge me!

The topic came up again a few nights ago when Chris and I met up with Twitter friends Paull Young and Christi Eubanks. After discussing some geeky, social media PR theory, the topic turned to being always plugged in. Neither Paull nor I could ever imagine completely unplugging from the Internet; Paull said (and I agree) that there are just too many important relationships that would be lost in the disconnect.

Chris and Christi weren’t as game to the idea, both affirming that they could see themselves easily wanting to escape their online life. Then, Chris asked a very interesting question: What if the Internet no longer existed? What if some major event happened and the Internet went kaput as a result? It’s almost a little too scary to think about.

No blogs? No Twitter? No Facebook? No way to always know any and all details about your friends? Is such an existence possible?! It must be; we’d all led an Internet-free life before, right?

What would I do if the internet no longer existed? I guess I’d probably just spend time doing more of the offline activities I already love, like reading books, hiking, sharing more one-on-one time with friends, and reconnecting with the earth (yes, I know it’s hokey, but its true). In fact, some of my most memorable times include patches with no phone reception or lack of access to a computer. Go figure.

This past Monday, Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOm wrote a great post talking about her over-connected life. After discussing the stresses of being continually plugged in, she pointedly says: “I’m choosing to turn off my computer now.”

It’s a difficult balance, but I think Marshall Kirkpatrick from Read/Write Web says it best in a post discussing RSS feeds last week: “I don’t know why people feel obligated to read every item in every feed they’ve subscribed to. Get over that and you’ll already be a far happier person.” The same can be applied to our online existences. We shouldn’t feel obligated to be in the know all the time about everything that’s going on in the cyberworld. Maybe if we just dip in every now and then and we’ll be happier! I know it works for me. 🙂

What about you? Could you or do you ever completely disconnect? How do you prevent information overload?

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[The above photo, “Streeter Seidell, Comedian” by Zach Klein on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, Social Media, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Matt Mullenweg, WordPress”

It’s Thursday afternoon, and…yup, that’s “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Minhittin you on your iPhone. You can go ahead and answer.

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. The videos are meant to encourage dialog between PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

Today, socialTNT chats with Matt Mullenweg, Founding Developer of WordPress and Founder of Automattic. Besides this humble blog, WordPress also powers the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, All Things D, GigaOM, TechCrunch, and many others. In this week’s episode, Matt suggests big media is whole-heartedly embracing the new media, and shares his tips on how best to control brand image.

Just barely 24, Matt Mullenweg is revered by both the blogger and open source communities. That’s because WordPress, one of the top blogging platforms on the Internet, empowers millions of people to create daily. It’s also completely open, so anyone can develop plug-ins or integrate it without licensing fees. Whether WordPress.com for consumers or WordPress.org for Enterprise, I don’t think there is a better selection for blogging.

It’s a busy time for Matt and the Automattic team. In January, they released Prologue, a micro-blogging WordPress theme that enables Twitterstyle communications to increase collaboration within companies or work teams. On the day of the interview, Matt had just announced the hire of Andy Peatling. Since Andy had developed plug-ins to create a social network, Chickspeak, built on the WordPress Multiuser platform, speculation ran rampant through the blogosphere of a WordPress move into the social networking space. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, WordPress is releasing a major update, WordPress 2.5, in the next couple of weeks.

Matt loves MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. He doesn’t think there will be one SocNet that rules them all. Instead, Matt sees a diverse online world with as many social networks as there are hobbies, interests or personalities. WordPress, however, doesn’t want to be a social network; Automattic’s vision is to provide smooth running machinery that works behind the scenes to make it easier for people to communicate and express themselves.

In his blog post discussing the new hire, Matt says, “Someday, perhaps, the world will have a truly Free and Open Source alternative to the walled gardens and open-only-in-API platforms that currently dominate our social landscape.”

With the upcoming release of WordPress 2.5, bloggers can expect several major upgrades. The Editor has been completely renovated with a more streamlined look, fullscreen writing mode, and increased ease of media integration. Flickr fans watch out: WordPress 2.5 allows bulk uploading of photos. Photos can also be tagged and commented on. Video and audio are also easier to embed within posts.

Fun Facts about Matt:

  • He’s originally from Houston
  • Plays Alto Saxophone
  • Automattic is funded by True Ventures, the VCs who also back GigaOM
  • No surprise that GigaOM is his favorite tech blog, but have you looked at another fave: the comedic musings on Stuff White People Like
  • Avid photographer, has a photo blog, PhotoMatt
  • Sorry ladies Matt’s got a GF

Wondering what the Blogmeister thinks about branding? Check out the video below. He also gives tips on how to track communication for global teams, and cheers on Fox News.

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Is proper hiring and training the solution to ensure your brand image is maintained? What social media tools do you use for increased internal collaboration? Is big-media really embracing social media? Let us know in the comments!

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[The above photo, “Matt Mullenweg” by Drew Olanoff, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Future of Media, Internal Public Relations, New Media, Social Networking, Video Interview

“Swollen Tonsils Full of Facebook Fatigue”

Just a quick programming note to say I’ve got golf ball sized tonsils. I’ve also got a fever that’s making me hallucinate about getting on planes and being late to my paper route back in 6th grade.

socialTNT’s Contributing Writer Marie Williams is cooking up a great post for tomorrow, and we’ve got a top-notch blogger slated for Thursday’s “3Q’s in 3Min.”

I’m gonna crawl back under the covers. In the meantime: Coming down with Facebook Fatigue? You’re not alone. Check out these facts from our friend Wayne over at Cynopsis: Digital:

MySpace saw user engagement spike in January, according to the latest ComScore social networking metrics, with users spending an average of 204 minutes on the site for the month, (an increase of almost 14% from Dec.) Facebook’s unique visitors fell 2.3% from December and are more or less flat since August, with users spending an average of 172.1 minutes on the site last month.

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[The above photo, “Waiting for the Judgement” by Jan Tik on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.]

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Filed under Just For Fun, Social Networking

“Review: Xobni And The Pursuit of (E-mail) Happiness”

Today’s post was written by Contributing Writer Marie Williams.

Last November, we heard rumblings of a possible game change from both Google and Yahoo that would marry social networking and e-mail into “Inbox 2.0.” Since then, whispers of a revolution have gone quiet. And with a Yahoo merger possibly on the horizon, it remains to be seen when–or if–the concept of Inbox 2.0 will ever see the light of day.

In this age of four hundred Facebook friends and the ever-increasingly crowded inbox, how can you sift through the clutter to find your most important peeps? While we wait for the search giants to figure out Web 2.0, content yourself with the impending promise of Xobni Insight.

Xobni–pronounced Zob-nee or “inbox” spelled backwards for you word wizards–is an Outlook application that wants to help you keep up with all your BFFs. After receiving an invite to the closed Beta, socialTNT decided to take Xobni Insight for a test drive. Here’s our review.

Why Xobni rocks:Xobni screenshot

Snapshot to your (Inbox’s) soul

  • Direct from the widget, you have all your friends’ contact information.
  • Like a true social network, Xobni let’s you see a friends list of shared contacts.
  • Quick and easy access to all of your e-mail threads or files you’ve exchanged in the past.
  • Xobni scrapes your Outlook calendar and puts free time into an organized list, allowing you to send your schedule to any of your friends–very cool!
  • To help you get a better idea of when it’s best to contact your friends, Xobni even graphs times during the day when you most frequently exchange e-mails with each person–sweet!
    • Check out this screenshot (right) of Chris’ Xobni profile. He’s typically active on e-mail in the AM, at noon, and in the late afternoon.

Super search capabilities

  • Need to find a contact quickly? Search their name and you get a Xobni profile and a list of relevant e-mails mentioning and/or from that person.
  • Looking for an email about a certain topic or conversation? Xobni gives you instant access to the top Yahoo Web results, as well as any recent emails with that topic.
  • The best part: The e-mail results highlight the exact portion of those e-mails that is relevant to your query.

Plays Well With Others

  • If you are actively using it, Xobni folds out on the right-hand side of your Outlook. This helps you search and navigate your inbox without a lot of distraction.
  • When minimized, Xobni shows contact info or upcoming calendar appointments relevant to the email you’re viewing.

How Xobni could be even better:

Slow Children at Play
  • After downloading Xobni, we noticed other applications seemed to run quite a bit slower…major bummer when you’re trying to streamline your e-mail flow.
  • We uninstalled and re-downloaded and that seemed to help, but Outlook’s still not as nimble as it should be with the Xobni add-on.
Make It Personal
  • In its current state, you can’t store additional information beyond Xobni’s pre-defined categories. Add a personal e-mail or cell number? Nope. Note their birthday with reminder to send a thoughtful card? Uh-uh. Add notes about an offline-convo? Sorry.
  • User definable fields would add significant value to Xobni’s already helpful service.

Data Checks In, But Never Checks Out

  • Data Portability is a hot topic this year. LinkedIn and Outlook both allow export of contact information. Xobni should, too.

With the rise of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, e-mail may eventually go the way of the DoDo bird. Be on the lookout for socialTNT’s review of LinkedIn’s Outlook toolbar.

Want a chance to check out Xobni Insight for yourself? socialTNT has some Xobni Insight Beta invites and wants to share. Send an email to marie [at] socialTNT.com and tell us why YOU need Xobni to fulfill your pursuit of e-mail happiness.

Already a guru at the networking game? How do you manage your connections? Let us know in the comments below.

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Filed under Beta breakers, Product Review, Social Networking