Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'twitter'

A Twitter User’s Take on Self Promotion

twitterI’m the first to admit, I’m not a social networking guru. Though really- anyone who calls themselves a guru probably isn’t an actual expert. (I’m not an expert, but if I were, I would never call myself a guru)

What I am is someone who has been on Twitter for 6 years now. Six years! In the last two years I’ve begun to follow a lot of people promoting their own work (writers/musicians/filmmakers, and I’ve noticed that a few have social media habits that make me hit that ‘unfollow’ button and in some cases block them.

Problem #1 – Spam.

This one actually falls into a couple categories. There are people out there who spam their followers. They don’t just do a daily post (or two) to promote their book/site/album, they do it several times during the day. Personally, I understand posting twice during the day- you’re trying to hit the night owls and the ones who use Twitter during the day. It’s just good business. But any more than that, and you’re harassing your fans and friends.

Then there those who spam strangers. This week I had a guy promoting his Kickstarter send me a tweet out of the blue “Please help fund my kickstarter [LINK]“. I looked at his profile, and he sent that exact tweet to at least a hundred people that day. And immediately I decided I wasn’t going to even give it a thought. One of the tricky things about Kickstarters is that you have to already have an engaged audience. Success in crowdfunding relies on you having people who will help get the word out to their friends- not picking people at random. To me, it felt just like getting a robocall. I didn’t block the guy- instead, I pointed out to him that if he’s going to tweet strangers, he might want to rotate through a few different phrasings to avoid his account looking like a bot. He thanked me for the advice, which I didn’t expect.

If you are going to reach out to people do or don’t follow, personalize your tweet. Let them know you think it might be relevant to their interests. Don’t just pick random people.

Oh, and then there are people who spam hashtags. It’s one thing to find a relevant hashtag that gets activity and use it to share your work. Just don’t overdo it. I do the weekly #momchat on Twitter (Tuesdays at 12PM-1PM EST) and monitor the hashtag through the week- it usually gets some interesting parenting links. But right now there’s a PR firm that tweets the same link using #momchat 6 times a day. And it isn’t even a parenting link.

Problem #2 Auto-DMs

I don’t know what idiot decided that Auto-DMs were a great way to market. Sure, it’s a way to get a message to someone, but it sends a message that you don’t want. It tells the people who just decided to follow you that you only see them as a market. You don’t see them as people.

These are the problems that get under my skin. If you use Twitter, what gets your proverbial goat? Share it in the comments, and I’ll update the post to include them!

Is Klout Still Relevant?

In this space, I’ve talked about Klout’s change to their algorithm. For a lot of social media types, it’s been disastrous- since companies who hired them wanted to know their personal Klout scores to use as a gauge of effectiveness.

Then it came out that Klout created shadow profiles for you if someone you’re connected to is on Klout. Say you’re a friend of mine on a social network. When I use Klout, in order to discover if you helped or hurt my score, it calculated your score even though you aren’t actually on Klout. And it doesn’t just spider and then dump the data- no, it actually creates a full profile that’s just waiting for you to join. If you don’t want them to have your data, you can opt-out.

I’ve long giggled at my Klout topics. For awhile I was considered knowledgable about Sean Connery and Sausage. All because I tweeted that my youngest says sausage as shaushage. Like a tiny Sean Connery. I might have said this a couple of times- but because it made my friends laugh enough to RT and reply, suddenly I became an expert on it.

My topics are now fairly sensible. Comics, Writing and Celebrities are my top three. But buried in my topics is Cars. Yes, I have mentioned Cars frequently- but not really the kind you drive. Usually I tweet about my boys’ love for the Cars movie franchise. Or the toys. Or I share stories that took place in my car. Which hardly makes me an expert.

A friend of mine is an expert in Magic. As in Magic the Gathering. But every time I see that on his Klout profile, I wonder if Klout knows the difference between magic done by magicians, and MtG.

Also, Klout drops your score if you don’t tweet regularly. I’ve had my score dip down over the weekend.

Why am I sharing all this? I want to remind people that Klout is useful to see how you tweet and see how it might affect your reach. However, if you’re just in this to have a high Klout score, you’re approaching it wrong. Use social networks the way that you feel comfortable. Make connections, network, and promote. But don’t change what your gut tells you because someone’s algorithm thinks it isn’t the right way.

As an aside, I’m against using the same tweet message again for anything. Even if you’re asking someone to buy your book- at least try to make it a little different. That way it doesn’t seem like you’re just copy/pasting it. I was recently followed by an author, and I followed them back. They tweeted the exact same tweet at multiple times during the day. It wasn’t even a plug for their book. Just a statement. So I looked back at their tweets. They plugged other authors’ books and shared quotes from authors… but there was nothing about themselves in their feed. (Perhaps I found the first author bot?)

I don’t need to know everything about your life. I don’t want to. But if there’s no personality to your Twitter stream, I’m not going to stick around. I’m here because I want to make connections. If you’re just here to promote, that’s fine. But I’m not going to stick around.

Alright, people- what are your pet peeves when it comes to Twitter? And as far as the first part goes… do you still have any faith in your Klout score? Or are you just hanging around for perks?

Day 17 of NaBloPoMo

Fallout from allegations.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the troubling allegations coming out of Penn State. That Jerry Sandusky, an assistant coach, allegedly* sexually assaulted several children over the years- in Penn State properties. It was reported to college officials, and nothing was done to report the crime to police.

Joe Paterno, Penn State’s revered coach was involved (in that he reported it to someone at the college, not the police, almost a decade ago and nothing was done). He stated he’d retire at the end of the season, but was rightfully fired by the school.

Yes, rightfully. It doesn’t matter what a good coach you are on the football field- what sort of human being are you if you don’t go above and beyond for the children that had been harmed and those who might be harmed?

Weirdly, Penn State fans rioted at the campus. That’s right. They were upset that Paterno was fired, saying he deserved more. So did those children.

I can see that he had a long career, and it’s a shame that this might be what he’s remember for. It doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be held responsible for essentially assuming that something was being done, even though it took years for Sandusky to be barred from the campus. We’re all accountable for what we do and don’t do. Even people who were probably about to retire.

As an odd coda to this story, last night Ashton Kutcher tweeted his outrage at Paterno being fired. Saying that Penn State had no class. Considering that Kutcher now fights against child exploitation, it seemed odd. By his own explanation, he hadn’t really been watching the news (I’m not sure how he hadn’t heard about the Sandusky case) so when he saw Paterno was fired scroll on ESPN he assumed it was for football and tweeted immediately. When he came back to his feed, it was to a bunch of angry replies, then he realized his mistake and tried to apologize.

Having read his first apology, I admit it didn’t make much sense- I thought he was trying to imply his feed was hacked. He’ll be using a service to tweet for him, instead of the logical thing- pulling up a news site or news aggregator to see what the deal is before saying something stupid. But then, I’ve never really been a fan of Kutcher- on the web or off.

But back to the main point- if you suspect that a child is being molested, it’s your duty as a human being to make sure that the police find out. If we all did more than just the bare minimum when it comes to helping others, the world would be a much better place.

*Yes, allegedly. Here in this country it’s alleged until someone’s convicted.

Day 10 of NaBloPoMo

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: Social Networking Stuff.

First, there’s a repost going around Facebook that’s sort of overstating a new feature. Secondly, Twitter got a bit of a revamp- let’s call it New New Twitter (Which I guess would make it the Ramona of Twitter versions). But let’s go over Facebook first.

ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS of your contacts are now on facebook! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. you will see ALL PHONE NUMBERS FROM YOUR CELL PHONE (FB friends or not) have been published. TO REMOVE, go to the right column below Phonebook Contacts, and click on “this page.” please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published. -The copy/paste I’ve been seeing all day.

When you use Facebook’s app on your mobile, it’ll ask if you want to sync your contacts with Facebook. If you decided to do this, all the contacts from your phone will show up in Facebook. That way, when you get phone calls from FB friends, you’ll see their profile pics. And when your future contacts sign up for FB, it’ll let you suggest you add them.

This information is not viewable to the world. The page that you see with the numbers is only visible to you. If you want to opt-out, go to your FB app and turn off the sync feature. Then, follow the directions in the message and your phone’s contacts will no longer be listed.

You’ll still be able to see anyone who put their cell phone number in FB and shared it with you. If you’d prefer that nobody see your phone number, from the Accounts drop down menu, click on Privacy Preferences, click on customize settings, and if you scroll all the way down, it’ll let you select who can see your phone number. This applies to your profile and to who can see it from the Contacts list. It keeps pulling it from my mobile app, so I set it to be visible to “Only Me”. Voila. I even had TheBoy verify it for me.

The other news story of the day is that New Twitter got an upgrade to New New Twitter. Remember how you used to have a tab for @mentions and another to browse through Retweets (you could see all RT’s, posts of yours that were RT’d and RT’s by others)? No more. Now the @username tab has absolutely anything that has to do with you. Yes, it is now the most narcissistic (yet utterly useless) tab you’ll find. In it, you can see a stream of every @mention, who followed you, and who retweeted or favorited your tweets.

I will say that the new @username tab has a lot of good information- but there’s no way to refine it. I liked being able to see a list of what tweets of mine were retweeted, as well as all my @mentions & @replies together. Twitter, if you see this, a drop down would be nice.

There’s also the activity tab. Want to see who the people you follow, retweet and favorite? Now you can spy on them. I use this phrase intentionally, because it’s more than a little creepy. Do you really think that Wil Wheaton wants everyone to see someone he follows? No. Hopefully there’s an opt out for that that doesn’t make you make your entire profile private. (Yes, I know I can just see who they follow by clicking on their profile… but then that means I have to want to spy, not just have it handed to me by Twitter)

Obviously, I’m not entirely happy with these changes. I don’t mind the @mememe tab as I’m calling it. I just wish there was a way to refine it so that I can see what I’m looking for right now, not everything.

Your thoughts? I don’t mind changes to websites- but the lack of refinement and spying factor of the Activity tab make the Twitter changes a bit odd to me.

Update 8/11: I logged in this morning to find that I no longer have New New Twitter with my account. Obviously, I can’t say what’s going on with it- if maybe they’re testing it through different accounts. But at least I can find what I’m looking for quickly. Phew!

Update 11/8: New Twitter is back. And the @username tab now has a button you can check to only show mentions.

The Wired Mom: What’s up with Twitter?

Yes, I am The Wired Mom. Not just because of my addiction to caffeine, but because I don’t seem to go anywhere without my phone or my laptop. Need I remind everyone of my birthday weekend, where TheBoy and I rejoiced because they had free wifi at our hotel?

Anyways, I use Twitter. I joined it 4 years ago, though admittedly, it took awhile before I was using it daily. I see it as an easy way to share thoughts on my mind that wouldn’t fill out a blog post and to share links I find useful.

At some point in time, you get to the point where you have a lot of people you follow. I’m hovering around 190 right now, and it’s everyone- from friends and family, to bloggers I like, artists I enjoy, writers, geek celebs, news agencies, chefs and food trucks. And I like following them all.

Keeping up with everyone through Twitter’s website would be difficult. I’ve come to rely on TweetDeck, which is a third party client that lets you tweet and see your Twitter stream divided up by your lists. You get context all of a sudden, and it makes keeping up so much easier.

However, Twitter doesn’t like these third party apps. On Friday, Twitter sent a note to developers that included this quote from Ryan Sarver (their director of platform), “Developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.”

I love you Twitter, I really do. But it’s statements like this that make me cringe. I have a long dislike of companies that decide that ultimately they know what’s best for you.

I have no options with Facebook. I can post statuses through other clients, but for the most part it’s hard to really interact with people unless you visit its website. With third party apps for Twitter, I can customize my experience so that I’m getting the most out of Twitter and easily keep up with everyone. It’s the beauty of Twitter having such a simple information stream. It’s infinitely tweakable.

I think most people fell in love with that, too. I understand that as a company, Twitter wants to make a profit off its own apps, but unless they find ways to offer some of the features that these third party clients offer- they mind wind up alienating companies and people with much larger fanbases.

So there you have it Twitter. Either find a way to accommodate the features that the 10% who don’t use your own apps want… or just embrace it and focus on making Twitter a great experience. After all, a 90% adoption rate is pretty darn good.

The Power of Social Networking

'You underestimate the Power of Social Networking.'

Wow, last week was a slow blogging week. Not intentional, I assure you. As I blogged, the little guy had a rough week, which meant that I had less computer time and mostly wanted to go straight to bed as soon as they were in bed.

He seems to be doing better- either that or I finally figured out how to help expedite the end of his tantrums. I’m not sure. But somehow we’ve settled into a groove.

But that has nothing to do with social networking. This does. Yesterday morning, a food stylist was on a flight and was pulled from it for questioning before take off. Why? A passenger had noted his “Atom Bomb” tattoo across his fingers and felt he was a flight risk. He explained that Atom Bomb was a nickname, and was allowed back on the flight. But he tweeted about it. His followers shared it, and it spread like wildfire. I’ve yet to see any sort of statement from Delta.

When I shared this link, a family friend shared that she sat next to someone who had recently been reading a book on Islam, but left it at home because he knew someone who’d been pulled off a flight for doing so. I understand that people are still afraid of terrorism, but we’ve become so terrified of something that isn’t so much a risk anymore that now we’re profiling individuals based on their appearance.

Honestly, I probably would have let this slide if it had been the flight crew who were concerned. Or if there had been some sort of comment that was paired with his tattoo that made the passenger think he might be a risk. But it wasn’t. It was one person who looked at him with his tattoos and judged him based on it.

Another friend of mine brought up that like Kevin Smith and SouthWest Airlines, that this was aided by his status as a well known food stylist who was followed on Twitter by celebrity chefs. I’m sure it caused it to spread more quickly, but it’s not like individuals haven’t had their stories heard because they weren’t celebrities. All it took was a catchy video, and the musician whose guitar was destroyed by United Airlines was making the morning news circuit. And Monica Gaudio wasn’t anyone- but it only took a few days for her story about Cooks Source stealing her material to spread across the internet and ruin the magazine.

I’m sure that being a celebrity helps- but honestly, so long as your story is relatable it doesn’t take much for it to go viral. After all, you just have to click Retweet or Share and suddenly, you’re sharing it with all of your friends/followers who can pass it on just as easily. See? That’s the power of social networking. (Admittedly, not all of us regularly crash websites like Neil Gaiman, but you know- we all have reach)

You’re kidding right?

It can’t be Saturday already. It seems like it was just Monday, even though that was one of the longest weeks I’ve had in ages.

The rundown- my oldest started the week with a cough, after a total of 7 days at preschool. It seems like it should be a record. He never spiked a fever, he’s just been coughing. Of course, it didn’t help that on Tuesday night he started clearing his throat. It was almost like a nervous tick- he wasn’t really aware that he was doing it. Of course, that did more damage to his throat than the coughing. So from Wednesday on, he basically had no voice. I didn’t pull him out of school- other than having a tiny squeaky voice, he was completely fine. His teacher agreed with me (especially since he was only there for a few hours).

I also didn’t get much sleep. The coughing would wake me up (though it didn’t wake my sons up). And if the coughing didn’t wake me up, then the nightly 3 am meowfest from Zorro would. It was worse than usual, and last night it dawned on me that Zorro was concerned about my son, so he was trying to wake me up so I’d check on him. I’m serious! When I got up to get my son something to drink, the cat would follow me downstairs to get the drink, then up to my son’s room then back into my room. All while doing an odd meow. I swear, he’s more dog than cat.

Just so this isn’t a bunch of whining, here are the things that made me laugh/smile this week: Read More…

It’s Tuesday already?

You know, nothing makes me laugh more than comment spam. Seriously! Sometimes it’s the typos, sometimes it’s that it was obviously translated from Russian to some other language and then English. But mostly, it’s that my blog has plenty of posts that these comments might apply to- but not on the post it was submitted on. Case in point, today’s gem:

Thank you for such a fantastic blog. Where else could one get this kind of info written in such an incite full way? I have a presentation that I am just now working on, and I have been looking for such information.

Barring the “incite full” typo… this could be a real comment! Except that this was posted on my post for Oven Fried Chicken. I suppose that someone could be doing a presentation on chicken recipes… but yeah. Not likely.

Yesterday was the 25th Anniversary of Super Mario Brothers (in addition to the birthday of TheBoy). There were plenty of tweets about it, but Wil Wheaton’s made me laugh. Then today, he blogged about a Twitter exchange that made it even better.

Now believe it or not, I started this blogpost to share that my oldest son is in preschool 5 days a week now! When we signed him up for preschool, we had him in for 3 days a week, half days. It boggles the mind that there are full day preschool classes, really.

But on Friday, I was told by his teacher that the preschool director wanted to talk to us. As we waited for her, I worried. Had they lost our check? What was wrong? Ultimately, it was that the teacher felt that Drake wasn’t ready for their pre-K class and they wanted to put him in a regular preschool class. When we were signing him up, I had been told that the pre-K class was for older children. I wasn’t told that essentially it was for the kids who’d already done preschool- so they knew letters, numbers… and could write already. So obviously, I agreed. Had I known that? I never would have put him in it.

He started with his new class yesterday, and seems to be doing well. The teacher seemed surprised he couldn’t use scissors. I explained that he hasn’t used scissors before, since he has a little brother who’s only 2 and both of them tend to do everything together. But she’s going to work with him and I’m going to get him some of those safety scissors that don’t cut anything, so we can practice at home.

Things sure have changed since I went to preschool. I don’t remember anyone expecting that I knew how to do anything, except sit still, play nicely and that I could use the bathroom!

Tomorrow: Summarizing the schedule. What it used to be and what it is now..

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