Tag Archives: Microsoft

“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

“The Social Graph is PEEEEOPLE!”

As the dust settles on last week’s latest installment of the social network showdown between MSFT/Facebook and GOOG/Everyone Else, the idea of a universal social graph looks a little clearer. But what is it and how does it affect PR and Marketing folks?

Supposedly computer science peeps have been talking about the social graph as a concept for a while. To be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about it until May when Mark Zuckerberg enlisted application developers to tap into the social graph. Then, in August, LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick wrote a well formulated, high level discussion of the social graph. It, to me, really addressed several problems and concerns that would lead to the development of–or maybe it was already in the works–Google’s OpenSocial platform, announced last week.

I almost wrote about all things that graph social after attending Dave McClure’s “Graphing Social Patterns” conference, and then again after the Web 2.0 Summit. Both times, I felt like the idea of the social graph was not quite there.

So, before I discuss what it is, I have to disclose that I am neither a computer scientist nor am I a mathematician. I am, however, a PR/Marketing/Tech geek with a Bachelor’s in Social Anthropology. Therefore, this type of stuff gets me pretty excited.

A social graph is loosely defined, according to Brad Fitzpatrick, as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.” You may ask, “Isn’t that the definition of a social network?” My answer: Close, but not entirely.

For me (and Robert Scoble), a social network is a collection or a list of all my “friends” without the context. A social graph, on the other hand, explains why these people are relevant to you. On it’s lowest level, a social graph can be represented like an org-chart or a family tree.

When you add someone as a friend, Facebook asks the question: “How do you know this person?” This helps an outsider see that Audrey is a co-worker at SHIFT; Natalie is my cousin; Bekah is my housemate; Kathryn and I met through a friend while living in Berlin; etc. It’s almost like tagging, but, instead of a webpage or a bookmark, you are tagging people. This relationship information explains the social value that each person has.

Very quickly, social value is an important aspect of our lives. It let’s me know that I need to tuck in my shirt around the CEO, stopping looking at porn when my supervisor walks near my cubicle (JK!), and to respect cops. (Check out this essay on social value from 1908 by economist Joseph Schumpeter or look at Wikipedia.) For a marketer, being able to map that information is priceless.

But wait, there’s more…

When you fill out your profile, you enter in your interests. If you look at my profile, you can see that I like music, travel and photography. In terms of the social graph, I’m tagged (or plotted on the social graph) as someone who has an interest in boxing and chocolate. Paired with my demographics, Facebook now can show me as a married male in San Francisco in the (oh-so-old) 25+ demographic who likes camping. Great info for market research…or targeted ads.

On top of all that you also get… THIS INCREDIBLE JUICER!!!

Just kidding…kind of. The graph can get a little deeper than that. Take Amazon, for example. It’s constantly recommending items to me. I can evaluate these items on a scale of 1-5 or tell it “not interested.” After a while, it starts to know my behavior. All of these are tiny little tags graphing the bigger story: I like electronic music but am totally not interested in trance. You can also see that I’ve sent my grandmother a book on prayer for her birthday. Once again, more tags; more plots on the social graph.

What about digg or del.icio.us and the type of articles I like? How bout when I answer those surveys to get more points to buy caviar on the Facebook App FoodFight? Think about all that information you could mash-up to create highly-targeted marketing strategies or community outreach plans (eg hitting all the female members that live in Chicago and liked Spiderman).

Google and Facebook in the ring?

Once upon a time, the web was a mess. You sat at your computer and clicked around endlessly. One day, a beautiful search engine appeared to index everything on the web. Now users could find content quickly and easily, while advertisers could target people searching for a particular term. Then one day, social networks started appearing and the magic search engine could no longer get that information; all their users were in a wall…

Ok, I’ll spare the fairy tale and get to the point: Facebook keeps Google from accessing that information contained in the social graph.

One of Brad Fitzpatrick’s ideas was that there would be no one social graph, because every site kept the information to themselves. That was true until OpenSocial. Details on OpenSocial are still a little sketchy (to me at least), but it’s probably best described as an open API led by Google that allows cross-platform interoperability and integration (partners include Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, LiveJournal, Plaxo, and others). Basically: Where Google once created a table of content or index of everything on the web, OpenSocial will allow all of your interests, relationships, etc. to be indexed.

Of course, there are already talks of security concerns, but for a marketer (or anthropologist) there is a lot of really cool data out there that can now be harnessed.

What are your thoughts on the social graph? Is it useful or just another catch phrase?

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

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Filed under Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Graph, Social Networking