Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'social networks'

It’s not you, it’s Klout.

If you’re on Twitter with a fairly geeky network, you’ve probably heard people moaning about their Klout scores changing.

Klout is a site that gauges your influence over various social networks, and today they unveiled a new algorithm. For people with high scores, it wasn’t uncommon for them to drop as many as 20 points.

Why? Well, their algorithm is a secret, but from what they’ve hinted at- it was unfairly giving weight to elements it shouldn’t have. The only frustration I have is that when Klout discussed these changes, they’ve said they’re being more transparent, at the same time they haven’t actually said much of anything.

Blizzard is a good example of how to change things without giving too much away. When they roll out a patch and alter skill trees for a game class, they say that they noticed the class was overpowered because of this skill and so they’ve altered it. It tells you what the problem was, but doesn’t tell you how to play the altered class. It’s up to you to figure it out. There’s no reason that Klout couldn’t say, “We noticed that it was raising your score if you were just linked to a lot of networks, even if you don’t do anything on them.” That doesn’t tell you how to raise your score now, other than putting in some work on other social networks.

Realistically, a high Klout score shouldn’t be your goal. Focus on building an active network of like-minded people, RT posts that are relevant to you and you’ll get some real clout.

In one of my last Wired Mom posts, I talked about Twitter, and my rules for using it. I thought I’d add one more thing to think about here.

Be extremely careful about using unusual characters in posts. I follow a writer that uses characters (ASCII, not the literary kind) to plug his books. The posts include the title, his name and a link to his website (which unfortunately looks like something designed in 1995 on Geocities), which has links to the various places you can buy the book. If you’re viewing it through Twitter.com, you can see the characters just fine- and the title looks properly epic.

On the other hand, if you’re viewing it on your phone or through another program- usually all I see is a row of boxes. I suppose what I’m saying is that you should be extremely careful about what sort of tweets you use them in.

Awhile back, Dylan Meconis started telling a story using Twitter (archived here at Dame Jetsam). She posted the musings of a woman shipwrecked. Then other people joined in as characters and the story continued. But a good part of it used upside down characters.

However, there’s a big difference. These were story tweets, and meant to be viewed in a web browser. The author I mentioned is trying to sell a book. Books which can be read on any device now. Why would I click on a link to buy a book if I can’t even read the title in the Tweet?

If you’re promoting your own work, you already know that you have to think like an ad executive. Part of that isn’t just finding a way to break away from the pack to be noticed, it’s making sure that your efforts work as widely as possible. If you’re selling ebooks, you want to make sure that your efforts can be seen on any mobile device- they might be intrigued, read your pitch and click on the links you’ve provided to download your book right away. On the other hand, if you’ve muddled the pitch, it’s far more likely that they’ll just scroll by.

Have anything to say- agree, disagree? I love conversations.

The Wired Mom’s Rules for Twitter

I know, I’m not an expert on Twitter. I don’t have a zillion followers. But I do use Twitter regularly, and follow a wide variety of people- friends, companies, celebrities.

After almost 5 years on Twitter (I know, I can’t believe it), I’ve set up these rules for myself that I use as a little bit of a guideline for who I follow.

1. Don’t be shy! I know, this probably seems as funny advice coming from someone with social anxiety issues. But Twitter really only works if you want to engage people on a personal scale. A big pet peeve of mine is when individuals and brands just post messages and don’t seem to reply to people. Think of Twitter in real life terms. Would you want to hang out with someone who only talked about themselves and never actually talked to you?

2. Use DMs sparingly. Direct Messages are a great way to take conversations private. They’re necessary to share more personal information like emails or phone numbers. But a lot of users overdo it.

I don’t want to get a thank you DM for following you. You might think it’s being polite, but I see it as impersonal because you likely have a plugin auto-tweeting it for you. But that isn’t as bad as the next one.

I don’t want to get DM ads. Plug your site/product in your stream, not my Inbox. A lot of Twitter users have it set up so that they get emails or texts when they’re DM’d because they think of them as being more important. Do you like getting ads in your email or text messages? I didn’t think so. I got one this week from a gentleman plugging the application he’s created… “because I’m a tech savvy mom.” There was absolutely nothing to make this something he couldn’t have just @replied to me with. I could understand if there was a coupon code. But it was an out and out ad, and I unfollowed him immediately.

3. Don’t follow everyone who follows you. This is where I probably veer from everyone else, but I follow people I want to engage. A lot of people will follow you because they want you to use their service or visit their business- but followers are just a number. To me, if I see someone that follows everyone who follows them- it seems like they’re just on Twitter to get an ego boost. I would much rather have a smaller circle that I really interact with than follow a ton of people who probably don’t care much about me.

I know, there are some great clients out there that allow you to follow a lot of people using lists… but make sure it’s something you can handle if that magic client bites the dust.

4. Don’t beg. Nothing weirds me out more than the people who tweet celebrities and beg them to follow them. Guess what, if you want a celeb to follow you, begging them repeatedly to follow your account is probably just going to get you blocked. (I also stay away from people who beg celebrities to follow them)

5. Be yourself. I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than I am. I’m a lot of things, so I’m all over the place. I’ve read a lot of people that say that isn’t the way to build your personal brand… but screw it. It’s me. I’m a geek, I only sort of game (My favorite game will always be Ocarina of Time), I have two kids, I cook, I cheat on my gluten-free diet. I’m not going to limit myself to talking about just one of them to be “more successful.” After all, I’m on Twitter to have fun.

6. Obey Wheaton’s Law. If you don’t know Wil Wheaton’s (@wilw) law, it’s simple. Don’t be a dick. It’s a good rule to have anywhere, not just the internet.

So those are my rules, Internet. I tend to try to follow people that seem to feel the same way I do. I take chances on following people I don’t know personally, and try to interact with them. I care less about the quantity of followers I have, but the quality of the ones I do.

Think I’m crazy for my rules, have a couple you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!

The Wired Mom: What’s in a name?

Okay, I guess this Wired Mom is a thing now. Awhile back I thought I’d write a tech blog from the POV of a mom, but I just couldn’t populate a blog full time. So… I guess I’ll just do these posts as they come up and make a category so that you can weed through my tech posts quickly if that’s what you’re looking for.

What is in a name? Since the internet began, people had to figure out what name they were going to be known as. What AOL address they had, chat handles, etc. Some people used their real names from the start, while others preferred pseudonyms to hide behind. I had both. I actually was able to get my initials+drake on AOL, and had a screenname that I used for posting around. I was 10thIndian, as I loved reading Agatha Christie. That lasted until I found Livejournal and started to post using Wingedkiare, or variants of that s/n. That’s also when whitneyd surfaced.

Then came Facebook, which asks users to use your real name to connect. Though there are a lot of people who don’t. One of my “gaming friends” is named Lily Evans. Last week she had another Harry Potter related name. It’s just how it is. Where Facebook asked you to use your name, Google Plus insists. Plenty of users found themselves locked out of Google Plus because they weren’t using their legal name on the service.

Admittedly, I do not use my legal name. I write under my maiden name because that’s the name I first started to write as. Also, my parents gave me a perfect stage name, so why not use it? It gives my husband and children a little bit of extra anonymity, which I like.

I do see the downside of using legal names. It makes it easy to stalk someone, when we’re all using real names on the internet. Blizzard (the gaming company best known for World of Warcraft) tried to make their boards use real names, and the players became extremely upset. Female gamers, who had been harassed by male players (yes, it happens, see: this site which collects gamer reactions to female gamers across various platforms. NSFW) complained, and after a Blizzard moderator posted using their real name, people dug up any and all information about him that they could. Blizzard decided to make it an opt-in program, rather than mandatory.

Not only that, but it blurs the way we can separate our online personas from our real lives. Once upon a time, I had a job in advertising and was writing fanfiction (some of it a bit racy) at the same time. Did I really want our clients to be able to find that out about me just by Googling? No.

Some say it’s as simple as not using the service, which is true in a casual way. But if you’re a writer, artist or musician- why should you be barred from using a service simply because you prefer people to know you under a certain name? Are they going to Jay-Z go by Shawn Corey Carter?

I do understand that Google wants to keep there from being 400 people pretending to be Justin Beiber, or from saying that they’re the Coke Polar Bear Cub… but why force people to stop using a name that they’ve already branded themselves as on the internet? What if I’d written that tech blog, and you knew me as The Wired Mom? Why force me to call myself Whitney Drake when nobody would knew me as that?

I really enjoy using Google+. I’ve met a lot of wonderful writers, artists and musicians. I can’t imagine how many more I’d get to meet if Google would relax their name policy.

Probably the best (and geekiest) way to explain Google+’s naming policy from Ryan Estrada. Click to view it full size.
By Ryan Estrada

Ping.

This week, Apple released Ping. It’s a music social network built into iTunes. Given the number of social networks out there, I knew plenty of people who wanted to know if it was even worth signing up for it and giving it a shot.

For those of you, I tried it out, and here are my thoughts.

What the heck is Ping, anyway?

Ping is a social network built into iTunes. You create a profile- show off 10 songs or albums that represent you, and let it show off the reviews you write on iTunes, the purchases you make, or even songs you like. You can follow friends and artists and comment on their updates. The artist profiles seem to integrate their Twitter accounts, but for everyone else- what shows up is based on how you use iTunes and the comments you leave.

Privacy and you

It asks you to use your name, but you can set your profile to three settings- public, private and leave me alone (well, that’s what I dubbed it). Essentially, you can have it so that everyone can see your actions, only those you approve can see your actions… or you can sorta play with Ping, but nobody can follow you.

My Thoughts

Ping seems like it has a lot of potential. But because they’re only concerned with what you do in the iTunes store- purchases, rating, etc… there’s not much to do. I just rated my Scott Pilgrim vs The World soundtrack, but it doesn’t show up on Ping. Unless I go into the iTunes store itself and start making notations there- it won’t show up. (Equally annoying, when you set up your profile, it chooses 10 tracks from those you’ve purchased as representative of your taste. You can set them yourself, but be forewarned, it’ll only let you pick from tracks on iTunes. So as of right now, you can’t show that you’re the #1 Beatles fan)

But it does let you comment on your friend’s profiles- on items they’ve purchased, commenting on their reviews.

However, there is one BIG problem. All you need to do to play around on Bing is have an iTunes account. All you need to get an iTunes account is an email address and password, you don’t even have to click an authorization link. So as of right now? It’s a spammers paradise. On nearly every public artist, there are tons of links for winning free iPads or iPhone 4′s.

If you’re looking for some place to check in now and then and see what your friends are buying, it’s great. If you want to follow along artists (keep in mind, there aren’t a bunch of artist profiles yet), I’d wait. Not just because of the limited selection of artists- but because of the spam issue.

To sum up? Neat idea, but it seems like the execution wasn’t really thought through.

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