Tag Archives: twitter

My Totally Fake Life

I came across an article last week that I found disturbing. I don’t think it’s news to any of you there that it’s possible to buy fake followers on the various social media platforms. You can buy hundreds or thousands of “followers” on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook fairly cheaply. I had assumed that this was something that some (dumb) businesspeople did to make their metrics look better. More on that in a second. The article set me straight.

What it said was that researchers at:

Huron University College in Ontario, Canada, who surveyed around 450 participants ages 18-29 through an online polling platform, and found that 15% admitted to buying “likes” from Web sites for their Instagram profiles…25% of respondents said they engaged in digital plastic surgery before posting photos.

Yikes! I guess these people figure that by having large numbers of people following them on some platform that they appear to be more influential. The reality is exactly the opposite because it takes very little effort to figure out that those people are fakes. Running a Twitter handle through Twitter Audit showed me that some person who claimed his million plus followers as a reason to do business with his had, in fact, 96% fakes in that million. It’s ego gratification, the same reason why people lie about their age or their weight or name drop, and it makes for a serious level of insecurity. And yes, there are other tools for other platforms to help spot fakes.

The same can be said when we do this in our business profiles. Some warped social media person will buy likes to show the boss that they are becoming more popular and that the efforts they’re making to garner new followers are paying off. Of course, engagement rates will drop off to nothing (those fake names don’t interact), and in fact, could do your brand harm by becoming spammy through your account.

It’s a little frightening that many of us feel the need to live a totally fake life online. The study found that 31% of respondents said they edited out all the boring details to make their life seem more exciting, and 14% said they specifically craft their profile page to make it seem like their social life is much more active than it actually is. Maybe it’s possible that the people who are posting the most are actually living the least glamorous lives?

Maybe one benefit of getting older on a personal level is the realization that the only one with whom we’re competing is ourselves. More “stuff” – cars, clothes, or followers – can mean less happiness. On a business level, more can be great but fake never is. Your thoughts?


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Filed under Huh?, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

What’s Up?

You might have heard about the latest information from the Pew Research Center about how most of us seem to get our news these days.  If the study is accurate, you might even have heard about it on Twitter or found it in your Facebook news feed.  You see, according to the study, clear majorities of Twitter (63%) and Facebook users (63%) now say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family. That share has increased substantially from 2013, when about half of users (52% of Twitter users, 47% of Facebook users) said they got news from the social platforms.  

What makes me a little nervous is what the Pew folks go on to say:

As more social networking sites recognize and adapt to their role in the news environment, each will offer unique features for news users, and these features may foster shifts in news use. Those different uses around news features have implications for how Americans learn about the world and their communities, and for how they take part in the democratic process.

Having worked with professional reporters and journalists, I can tell you that they don’t just report what they see since sometimes appearances can be deceiving.  The problem, both in journalism and in business, is that instant analysis is often wrong – who can forget CNN, The Boston Globe, and others having to retract reports around the Boston Marathon bombing?  When the reportage is immediate from many people who are untrained in evaluating information (what’s the source, how reliable, etc.), the chances of something being way off base increase dramatically.  Couple that with the built-in selectivity, in the case of Facebook, of algorithms which filter what you see unless you dig a little and one can see how “news” found on social media can easily be “rumor.”

I think social media can play a valuable role in surfacing breaking stories.  Twitter is soon set to unveil its long-rumored news feature, “Project Lightning.” The feature will allow anyone, whether they are a Twitter user or not, to view a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by a bevy of new employees with “newsroom experience.”  This is a good thing, in my opinion.  What’s not is accepting what we see there as gospel until there are multiple, professionally trained sources weighing in.  Yes, sometimes they’re wrong (see above), but when they don’t try to compete with the instantaneous stuff found in non-professional sources, they generally get it right.  What do you think?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Socially Devoted To You

The folks at Socialbakers do a quarterly study on how well companies respond to consumers via social media.  Here is how they put it:

Socially Devoted brands understand the shifting paradigm of customer care. They know that the most responsive and dynamic audiences are on social and those people want responses to their questions and issues.

If your brand responds to at least 65% of audience questions on Facebook and/or Twitter, you qualify as Socially Devoted. The benefits of Social Devotion are clear – Socially Devoted brands get 3.5 times more Interactions than their less-responsive counterparts.

Needless to say, some brands are really good at this but many are not.  Sadly, US companies ranked near last globally in responding to customer inquiries on social.  What I found surprising was that it wasn’t the business sectors or brands – airlines and telecommunications to name names – that were at the bottom of the responsiveness heap.  Actually, they ranked near the top.  Instead, e-commerce – the last sector one would think would ignore the social space – was down towards the bottom.

What do they mean when they say the US ranked near last?

The US ranked 33rd out of the 37 countries, with US brands responding to only 18% of customer questions. Compare this to the average global Question Response Rate (QRR) of 30%…Of course, some US brands are providing great customer care on Twitter. A couple of examples are T-Mobile, whose @TMobileHelp handle received nearly 11,000 questions and responded to 75% of them, and Nike’s local branches (@NikeSF, @NikeBoston, @NikeSeattle, etc.), which maintained QRRs anywhere between 76% and 84%. But many major companies, like Domino’s Pizza (@Dominos) and Walmart (@Walmart), had low QRRs on Twitter: only 13%, and 18% respectively.

The US ranked 23rd out of the 24 countries — beating only India in our rankings. US brands had a response rate of 59%, compared to the average of 74% for all brands globally. US brands on Facebook with poor customer care included Nationwide Insurance, Wendy’s, and Samsung Mobile USA with response rates of 7%, 20%, and 18% respectively. Brands on Facebook with great customer care included many telecom companies — like Sprint with a QRR of 84% , T-Mobile (87%), AT&T (68%), and Verizon Wireless (72%).

You can see if your company has been included in their rankings here.  It might be easy to blame the poor response rate on short staff but clearly when one company can handle 8,000+ questions in 90 days (meaning they answer 91 out of 122 questions every day), it’s not an impossible task.  So why isn’t every company doing that?  My guess is that it’s a matter of priorities and customer-centric thinking.  Maybe it’s also that they still see social channels as megaphones and not telephones.  What’s yours?

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Filed under digital media, Huh?

Talk To The Hand

Sometimes I feel as if I’m picking on the same companies all the time.  It’s not intentional, I swear.  It’s just that some brands seem to find stupid things to do and push corporate behavior standards to a new low.  With that disclaimer, let us ruminate over the good folks at Spirit Airlines and their latest genius move:

Florida-based Spirit Airlines, the ultra-low-cost carrier, is taking a different tack. Spirit has instead put a robot in control of its Twitter operation to automatically respond to questions.

“A big social media team costs money, so we put our feed on autopilot to save you cents on every ticket,” the airline explains on its Twitter site.

You can’t make this up.  What have we learned about marketing over the last ten years or so?  Your list of words might include “conversation”, “listen”, “personalized”, and any number of other terms that are diametrically opposed to a robot.  Tweet something to Spirit’s “customer service” account and you get the same automated message as the last guy:  a link to a website with FAQ‘s and a list of phone numbers.  While I haven’t actually called any of those numbers (since I refuse to set foot on a Spirit flight ever again), one hopes that there is an actual human on the other end.   Which raises the obvious question – if you’re paying for CSR’s for one channel (the phone), why not do so for another, more convenient and widely used channel (social media)?

Here is yet another business decisions that’s selfish.  Spirit thinks it can save money by not paying someone to work on social, and will allegedly pass those savings on.  You believe that?  If so, I have oceanfront property in Arizona for you.  If a track record shows us anything, this is a brand that will find a way to wring every last penny out of its customers (first to charge baggage fees, first to charge carry-on fees, first to charge to print a ticket, first to charge to pick a seat – shall I go on?).  How stupid do they think consumers are?

Put Spirit’s move in this context from today’s Media Post:

Overall, 47% of tweets about the five biggest U.S. carriers (United, American, Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue) were negative, compared to just 20% positive, Crimson Hexagon found. The total volume of tweets mentioning these airlines has increased 209% since January 2012.

Is that a channel you want to ignore as an airline (or any other brand)?  Is the message “talk to the hand because the ears ain’t listening” really how any brand wants to be perceived?  Robots? I think not.  You?


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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Huh?


Our Foodie Friday Fun ventures into pizza today. You might have read or heard that Dominos has made it possible to order a pizza via Twitter. That’s right – no more picking up the phone and dialing. Now it’s just pick up the phone and tweet out an order. If you’re a regular, all you might have to do is send out a pizza emoji. According to this piece in USA Today, Domino’s Twitter ordering system will make it the “first major player in the restaurant industry to use Twitter, on an ongoing basis, to place and complete an order.”

Русский: Коробки для пиццы.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can laugh or shrug your shoulders, but this is important.  First, Domino’s focus is squarely on convenience for their customers.  One hears the word “frictionless” a lot when technology is being described and this is the epitome of making it easy for your customers to buy your product.  This isn’t new for Domino’s either. The company has invested tens of millions of dollars in technology and now employs more than 250 IT staff. A big part of what they do: trying to make it easier for consumers to order pizza.  It’s not just Twitter – they have ordering capabilities for a bunch of devices, including smart televisions and smart watches.

It may also be a seminal moment in social commerce.  Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms have been trying to figure out inoffensive and profitable ways to integrate commerce into social media.  While it’s not happening yet, one can easily see Twitter demanding a slice of the pie (see what I did there?)  from each order placed via their platform.

Most of what I like about this is that Domino’s is making the technology work for them and for their customers.  They’re not threatened by disruption – they’re embracing it.  No more Yellow Pages for listings?  No Blockbuster to partner with for dinner and a movie?  Move on.  As the USA Today article concludes:

Doyle says that Domino’s will continue to look at platforms “where people are spending time” such as Facebook and Instagram. “This certainly will not be our last platform.”

That’s their (smart) approach.  What’s yours?

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Filed under digital media, food

Get Out Of My Face

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of going to a web page and having a video autoplay. It’s one of the most annoying things publishers do, in my opinion. Putting aside that it can be a bandwidth hog, chew up your mobile data plan and hang a page as it loads, inevitably you’ve forgotten to mute your machine or phone and a blast of unanticipated noise can be startling at best and embarrassing at worst. Yecch.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s in that context that I read something this morning from an AdAge and RBC study on marketing. I’m sure you’re aware the Facebook has rolled out autoplay video ads. Oh joy. Well, according to the study (as reported via eMarketer):

While just 9% of US marketers said they already purchased autoplay video ads on the social network, the majority were somewhat (33%) or very (21%) likely to purchase such placements in the next six months. This put the percentage of respondents who viewed autoplay video ads positively at nearly two-thirds. The strong interest supports RBC research released at the end of August 2014, which estimated that Facebook would sell $700 million worth of autoplay video ads this year alone.

I love that 2/3 of marketers view the ads positively.  Where is the research on how consumers feel about them?  Yes, I’m aware that you can turn off the autoplay (click here to learn how) but the default on both the web and the app is to let them play.  It’s not just Facebook either.  Twitter, YouTube, and others are testing the same thing, albeit just autoplay videos (no ads – yet).

Maybe it’s my New York attitude but to publishers offering autoplay content or ads and to the marketers who buy them I say “get out of my face.”  Make your content interesting and engaging, not intrusive and annoying.  Romance me, don’t assault me.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who longer visits certain sites due to their use of autoplay nor the only one who has disabled the feature wherever I can.  I’m still not sure why I should have to do that in the first place.

What are your thoughts?


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Filed under digital media, Huh?

I’m Confused

One of the newsletters I receive linked to a couple of articles today which deal with the same issue from opposing points of view. I’ll lay out what they say and I’d love to hear what you think.

The issue is how to deal with social media posts made by employees on the employee’s personal pages. On one side we have an article from the AP called “How to handle an employee’s offensive social media post.” On the other we have The Atlantic with a piece called “A Social-Media Mistake Is No Reason to Be Fired.” The former calls for swift action (read that as termination); the latter urges leniency. Here is the reasoning behind each but I think you see why this is a confusing issue for many of us in business.

First the AP piece:

Whether it’s comments about news events, long-held beliefs or a bad joke, an employee’s offensive posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can damage a company’s image and profits. If the comments are racist, homophobic, sexist or against a religious group, tolerating discriminatory comments puts an employer at risk for lawsuits and losing customers.

Clearly, if posts of this sort are placed on the company’s pages, I’m in total agreement.  There is no middle ground – the person needs to be fired.  But what if, as is the case in some of the examples cited in the article, the employee is posting on their own page during non-work hours?  Are we as business people responsible for the political and religious beliefs of our staff?  What right do we have to regulate those beliefs and, moreover, what about the first amendment protections each of us enjoys?  The article says that many employers have taken to monitoring their employees’ personal pages to make sure that there’s nothing there that would be detrimental to the company.  Fair?

The Atlantic, on the other hand says:

Here’s what corporations should say in the future: “Sorry, we have a general policy against firing people based on social media campaigns. We’re against digital mobs.”

But note the one exception built into what I propose. Sometimes people do stupid things in the public eye that relate directly to their jobs… generally speaking, Americans ought to be averse to the notion of companies policing the speech and thoughts of employees when they’re not on the job. Instead, many are zealously demanding that companies police their workers more, as if failing to fire someone condones their bad behavior outside work.

The piece deals with the public shaming that bad actors often suffer.  The author believes this is punishment enough and is generally a short-term issue while a termination has long-lasting effects, well beyond the scope of the bad behavior.

So where do you come out?  Can you see why this is a confusing issue?

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Filed under digital media, Huh?