Monthly Archives: January 2011

Poor passwords, poor security

Surely folks don’t use these passwords do they? A worrying infographic from Column five media

I’m all for the part about creating a strong password that is easy to remember.  I hum my password to myself every time I log on… Yes it’s a song and my password changes to different lines of the song when I change it… Smile 

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Mutual following–Useful or not?

So is Tweepi really useful?  It allows me to unfollow those users who don’t follow me back, follow users who are following me, and clean up the list of people I follow in Twitter.


I’m not so sure.  I don’t think that I should slavishly follow everyone who follows me on Twitter.  it leads to the insularity that I talked about the other week.  It doesn’t let my network grow.  It doesn’t bring me into contact with new people.  It doesn’t move the experience forward at all…

I strongly believe that in order to get a great set of social interactions and expansion of knowledge, then it’s really important to extend your network, not compress it.

Tools like Facebook and LinkedIn need to have a symbiotic ‘Follower / Following’  relationship.  You have to accept the connection to add the person to your network.  Twitter allows you to have inequality in your relationships and extend your network and that brings new opinions into your network

Do you think Twitter should have a more symbiotic relationship – where you only follow those who follow you?  or should you continue following folks who will never follow you?  That’s the way I think it should be…

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Getting paid to tweet about products?

I’m encouraged that the UK Office of Fair Training are clamping down on Tweeps  and bloggers that are paid to be effusive about products whilst not admitting that they receive payment.  The use of Twitter reaches new heights for communication (there were 6,939 Tweets per second sent on January 1st according to the Twitter blog).  People are communicating more, and celebrities have a huge set of followers.  So should they append tweets with ‘ad’ or similar to show that they have been paid to do this?

In companies like Microsoft, bloggers and Tweeps receive a salary, so it’s natural that they would enthuse about company products.  Their opinions are (generally) their own and they put a personal perspective to the standard PR campaign about the product.  But celebrities don’t tend to work for companies so is it right that they get paid to talk about consumer products.

Look at the TV adverts.  The voice over, or the ad itself shows celebrities talking about the product.  They don’t explicitly say that they are being paid to advertise the product.  We’re intelligent enough to assume that they are.  So why do the OFT need to get Tweeps to ‘explicitly state’ that they are promoting products.  Surely we all just assume that they are being paid when they enthuse.  or are we assumed to be so dim. that we blindly assume that they love these items AND have been paid for them?  Did all of those women actually buy those dresses they wear at the Golden Globe awards or the Oscars?  Surely not…

But does the fact that these celebrities endorse brands, and enthuse about them mean that  we’re going to be more influenced by them and buy goods?  We’re much more likely to buy products recommended by our peers (figures vary from twice to  4 times more likely to do this).  But are we more likely because a celebrity endorses the brand.

Do we now class these celebrities our peers and our friends just because we follow them on Twitter? 

There are new rules for online advertising that are coming out in March and they now include User Generated Content (UGC) on web sites.  Here’s a snip from the code


When the new code comes out in March 2011, will Tweets from paid celebrities be included in the CAP remit?  Will it change the way that Facebook page campaigns work.  It will be interesting to watch things develop…

Perhaps I’m too cynical – but I’m less likely to buy something that a celebrity has endorsed  – whether they are paid for endorsing the product or not.  I’d much rather consider something that one of my first degree connections has enthused about. 

Or AM I too cynical?? Smile


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Insight into your web design

This caught my eye – especially as I’m fascinated by fonts after seeing this book about fonts on Amazon

(Large version here…)

I’m not sure what this web design says about me – or what it says about my website designer.  It’s a nice infographic though.  Thanks to Six revisions for the work…

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Your business ‘social graph’

I’ve been playing with the LinkedIn analytics feature at LinkedIn labs and I had a look at the relationship that all of my LinkedIn connections have with each other graphically displayed graphically using InMaps


The small cluster on the left are a few business contacts I’ve made through networking in my local region.  None of them are into technology, so there are minimal connections to the rest of the group.  In the bottom left are my women in technology connections, from the CWT, and from the project team members.  But the main part of the cluster is for the technology connections I’ve made, from Microsoft employees, current and past, community leaders and technical business associates.  You can scroll into the graph and see the detailed links in between each connection and map out who is connected to who.

It’s also useful for me to be able to reconnect with folks that I haven’t connected with for a while – and delete connections that I shouldn’t have connected to in the first place…

A nice little visualisation tool from the team at LinkedIn.  Thanks guys..

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The state of social

Interesting stats on social media from Krishna’s blog (originally from eConsultancy)

Certainly food for thought – especially for companies that aren’t managing their costs and can’t calculate their social media spending.  They obviously need a  strategy and plan Smile

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Crisis What Crisis?

This is an article that I wrote for the January edition of IT Now which was published this week


imageYou already know that social media is changing the way you find information and will fundamentally change the way you interact online.  But with the media focus on errors, mistakes and PR disasters, how do you reassure your executives that if things do go wrong, you have an effective and workable process in place to mitigate the effects if it occurs at your company?

Many companies also don’t have an effective crisis management plan in place.  They have no procedures to deal with an online or crisis catastrophic physical event involving their employees and the results can be devastating. Therefore, companies that are starting to use social media for communication or customer support should consider having a comprehensive structured procedure to cover all possibilities, potential issues and aspects of managing a crisis.

Consider the problems that Toyota had earlier this year with vehicle product recalls and issues with brakes and accelerator pedals.  Toyota initially had no plans in place to deal with communications with customers and remained largely silent until the crisis had escalated to global proportions. The media speculated on what was happening, community forums were reporting stories, complaints, and criticism of the company. Toyota had an estimated 10% wiped off the value of the brand.  When the crisis continued to grow people were kept well informed by blogs and Tweets.  But these messages seemed to have come too late to keep the reputation of the brand.

This type of issue, and others like it, could be minimised by implementing an effective brand monitoring program that watches for change of sentiment about the brand, and looks for spikes in user engagement or dissatisfaction.  This approach could avoid nascent PR problems which might go unnoticed by the brand. Early action by the brand can turn issues into non-issues due to early engagement with customers.

Engagement and proactive conversation which reduces the customer’s pain and keeps them informed is a good approach to minimising the effects of a crisis.  If you keep your customers satisfied by regular communications they will turn to your channel and not turn to the media for information.  When issues arise, companies who keep the media and customers informed will avoid speculation about what is happening.  In December 2008, Ford had an issue with a long running Ford fan site called the Ranger Station. Ford sent the owners of the site a ‘cease and desist’ letter requesting that they dropped the use of the name ‘Ranger’. The news spread like wildfire across many Ford user forums which quickly looked like Ford’s actions were turning into a PR disaster. Scott Monty, Fords social media manager systematically minimised the effects of the PR firestorm within 24 hours using social media channels.  Scott satisfied the customers’ needs to know what was going on in almost real time, keeping the community informed and happy.  This stopped speculation on other 3rd party web sites and drew attention right back to where the news was happening – from the team that was involved – at Ford.

Usual PR diversionary tactics and tricks – delay, deflect, defend weren’t needed at all – and this helped in the crisis management strategy. What worked much better was honesty, candour and total transparency – which is a much better tactic.

Having an effective crisis management plan in place is important and all outbound communicators need to be aware of the new procedures. But adding it to your employee terms and conditions without any proactive approach will not work when a crisis hits.  Your policy amendment needs to be rolled out to each and every member of staff but what’s the best way to go about this?

Here are some considerations for implementing your crisis management plan.

  1. Educate everyone in the company.  Offer half day training sessions tailored to everyone in the business, or offer online e-learning.  Make the training mandatory and phase it in over several weeks to make sure you train everyone in the business from the C suite to the admin team. Everyone needs to be aware of the new policy and how it will affect them.  Make sure your training rollout includes provision for new members of staff joining after the training has completed
  2. Set expectations.  Although everyone throughout the business will not be using social media in their day job, they need to be aware of the impact that it might have on the business and they will need to become brand advocates offline.  With the growth of your online brand presence they might get questions offline, and need to be able to know how to deal with any questions about policy, strategy etc.
  3. Roll the policy.  Make sure everyone signs the amendment to their terms and conditions.  If they are going to use social media, then they need to be trained first – so they can help and guide others who may be new to corporate blogging / social media activities etc.
  4. Put a process in place so that any outbound communications by anyone in the company is done with the knowledge of the line manager and HR. 
  5. Find someone within the organisation to become the social media evangelist.  Often the company doesn’t realise the commitment they have already invested in the company, so to having a great communicator on your side is invaluable.   They will help communicate your strategy to the execs.
  6. Have a centralised list of people who do outbound communications so you know who to direct your communications to inside the office.
  7. If you have the resources, monitor each employee’s use of their chosen business social media channels to be able to proactively respond to any issues that may occur.
  8. Have an effective crisis management plan in place.  Involve the Communications team and the PR team.  Make this plan part of your social media policy.
  9. Make sure you have enough people who can listen to the outbound stream to detect if a crisis develops and act accordingly.
  10. Revisit the plan and make sure it’s refreshed often.  Unlike the employee handbook, social media changes often so you need to be flexible.

Having an effective and workable plan in place will mitigate the issues if a crisis occurs. After all, the difference between a crisis and an emergency is that everyone is drilled in emergency procedures (think fire crews and cabin crew).  With an effective crisis management plan and procedures in place, you can add your social media emergency drill to your standard implementation plan, drill everyone and make everyone aware of what they need to do when – or if the crisis arrives.

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Do you ‘really’ trust your Facebook friends?

Heck,  someone else I know has been fired from her job for posting things on her Facebook profile.  This time, her profile was secured so no one outside her immediate circle of friends could see her status updates.  But with requests from friends coming in to your Facebook account on almost a daily basis, do you really ‘trust’ all of your Facebook friends?


Last week, Facebook opened up the application interface allowing more people to see your personal data.  This time it’s your phone numbers and addresses, which will make it easier for developers to create location specific applications that target your home location.  The problem is that lots of social games like Farmville and Mafia wars rely on you having hundreds of friends to make your gaming presence stronger and operate as a group.  the challenge is that, unless carefully managed, these friends could potentially see status updates that you’d rather they didn’t see.

I often get asked how I manage to have such a public profile and a private life and how I share information with folks I’m closer to than the wider circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.  I create lists and categorise my Facebook connections to put them into these lists which have different layers of visibility to my data.  To create a list, click on Account, Edit friends and Create a list


Give the list a name. I’ve called this new list Family only


And the new list appears in the set of lists I’ve created in the past


So now, when I update my status, I decide whether to send it to everyone, close friends or to folks I don’t know.  Clicking on the padlock on the status bar brings up the dialogue box to set the custom settings



And if all this seems too much of a hassle to do – then delete the friends that you don’t completely trust – or don’t say anything controversial on your Facebook page.  Being fired is the least thing that could happen – you might end up on the front page of one of the tabloids when a friend turns out to be less of a friend that you thought they were…

Now Jacque – you have no more excuses Smile

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