Social Media Scandals, Scams and Security Updates

Brands got a rude awakening this week. Turns out, social media is not as secure as the Defense Department. Or even a pre-school, really.

“Twitter has a problem: While the social network is trying to woo brands and advertising money to its platform, companies’ Twitter accounts keep getting hacked.” – CNN Money

 

Twitter Hack

Photo by: Photo Giddy

The Twitter “leak fiasco” started back in 2009, when personal accounts of Twitter employees were hacked. With an increasing number of accounts and services related to Twitter it became very difficult to manage the huge amount of data. Therefore, the system without an extra security features appeared to be fragile and easy to break into. It was Fox News’ twitter account next. The portal with more than 2 million followers was hacked in 2011 and, therefore, assassinated.

During the last week, scary news about major brands being hacked came out and now we are all waiting what’s going to happen next. Jeep and Burger King’s Twitter accounts have been broken into.

Social media is by far the best one-on-one experience you can give your customers – no other media allows brands the opportunity to directly communicate with their customers in any sort of efficient manner. But brands seem to have forgotten they didn’t build the social platforms they prize but rather tuned-in to a conversation already in progress. Despite the recent Twitter security update, social platforms are not reinforced with the secrecy and security ad agencies offer that brands have taken for granted for so long.

Marketers should keep in mind the nature of the beast. Social media is a technology meant to gain its own momentum thanks to its viral nature, the same type of draw that lures hackers. Short of social media platforms completely revamping the structure of their site, marketers need to be hyper-mindful of their own security. In case of breach, social media marketing agencies should have a plan in and always remember to maintain a sense of humor and camaraderie in the aftermath of security failures – even with competitors.

— Co-written by Elena Nadtochiy & Ashlie Forchione

Talk Nerdy To Me – Nerd Nite Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s newest event aims to bring together two of the greatest things about growing up: feeling comfortable in your own skin and the ability to legally enjoy an after-work drink, in moderation. Nerd Nite is a growing global phenomenon that brings together self-proclaimed nerds in a relaxed bar setting where they can share interesting informational nerdy presentations.

3D Printing Example at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor

Photo by ashlieforchione

I had the opportunity to get involved in Nerd Nite Ann Arbor in its early stages. My sister, a developer/nerd, and some of her friends made it their mission to organize the first ever Nerd Nite in Ann Arbor. I went at first to support her; while they had invited nerds they knew, the ‘Bosses’ (Nerd Nite organizers) weren’t sure how many people would actually show. One invited nerd even digitally muttered their uncertainty about the event – there would be girls there, and alcohol. How nerdy could it be?

How very nerdy, indeed. At least 20 people had to be turned away at the door – all the extra standing room only spots were taken well before the first presentation on Nanotechnology. Though some nerds waited in another area of the bar, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next two presentations on 3D Printing (see above photo) and Data Visualization, it was to no avail. No one even left the presentation area for fear of losing their spot.

At the end of the first night, I knew Nerd Night Ann Arbor would be bigger than my sister ever hoped. So, I did what any good sister-nerd with digital marketing know-how would do. I offered to help manage their social media outreach, and get my digital-nerd on. See, while digital and social marketing is a job field I’m pursuing, it is also a passion of mine. Something to get ‘nerdy’ about, as any good-fitting job should be. The facebook page and twitter are already exploding. I’m geeked to see what we can do for the next event this February.

If this post has got you feeling nerdy, geeked out, or put you in touch with your inner poindexter, check out Nerd Nite Ann Arbor or just talk nerdy to me.

Mixed Feelings on the New Facebook Graph Search

Facebook has revealed its latest attempt to stay ahead of the game with what it calls its “Graph Search” feature. After much criticism regarding its current search engine, the company has finally decided to improve its strategy. Although the initial news of the development came with much excitement, there are always skeptics who will have something to say.


The new search method comes with many benefits for big brands, small businesses, and the average Facebook user. Very specific searches like “Friends that live in New York” will produce answers. You can even submit multiple searches at once. For example “Friends that live in NY” followed by “that like Sushi” will narrow it down even further. This provides Facebook users with more tailored results based on their needs.

While media and marketing analysts commend Facebook on their innovation, they predict that the hype will not last long enough to provide the company with significant results, monetarily or otherwise. Many critique the new search method by saying that Facebook is too late in the game with this improvement. Users are already too comfortable with their current search tactics, like Google, and they will continue to go about their regular ways even after the Facebook Graph Search is implemented.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook rolls out this advancement and more so how the social media world reacts to the change. There are always those critics who say the company has lost its “mojo” and is trying anything and everything to stay relevant. What many skeptics may fail to remember is that Facebook is one of biggest pioneers in the social media movement and if they want to innovate their search methods, they most definitely have that right.

Personally, were all very excited here at our social media agency for this latest Facebook development and eager to test it out!

photo credit: AJC1 via photopin cc

2012: Social Media’s Lacking Role on Black Friday

 

 

With many shops opening as early as 8 p.m. this past Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday did not have its same traditional role, as waking up at dire hours of the morning to get the best deals for one’s holiday needs. Online shopping goes away from this traditional Black Friday role, as well, but this past Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales were both up significantly  at 17 % and 21%.

Having many retailers marketing on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter now, one would assume traffic from such sites would have aided to these high numbers, but in reality this year traffic to retail pages via their social media sites was down sharply. Traffic via social media sites was down by 35% from last year. Looking for instance at Twitter, which drove zero traffic to retail sites as opposed to 0.02%  last year. This does not look too optimistic especially with growing user-bases on both Twitter and Facebook. These numbers need to get better; social media marketing agencies have their work cut out for them if social media sites are going to be a means of getting to users and the users in return acting on it.

Facebook’s New Privacy Policy

The night before Thanksgiving at around midnight Eastern Standard Time, Facebook sent out a notice regarding changes to its privacy policy, or as they like to call it, “Data Use Policy”. There are three main changes to the policy that are important to understand if you are going to be using the site:

  1. You are not going to be allowed to vote on policy changes anymore.
  2. Now, Facebook is allowed to share “information with affiliates”. Basically, Facebook will now be able to build unified profiles of users with information from all companies that it owns, like Instgram. Those drunken Thanksgiving Eve photos that you Instagrammed? Facebook can now use them to build a more complete profile of you and use that information to create an external ad network. 
  3. Additionally, Facebook is altering the way private messages function. They are in the process of changing your ability to block users from sending you private messages. Facebook wants to have filters for managing messages as opposed to the “Who can send you Facebook message” setting. Some are concerned that this will leave users with unwanted spam-like messages. 

You may have noticed a lengthy status update written in legalese cluttering your Facebook news feed for the past few days. As a response to these new privacy changes, many users have been posting a “copyright protection notice” as their Facebook status updates. This is not the first time a status like this has gone viral. However, nobody seems to realize that this is not effective on Facebook. The user agreement is the only binding legal contract between Facebook and user. If you are concerned about copyright, the best way to protect your work is to not post anything that you would not be willing to share with Facebook and its affiliate companies. If you are a business present on the social networking site, be sure to consult with a reputable social media agency for best practices. 

Be Approved & Be Known Online

 

Due to social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Users feel more comfortable to get free everything from free music, news, and communication with celebrities. Well what is also a plus about social media sites is you can get approval by your followers and friends, even if it is not in real time. Sometimes telling a joke does not get the laughs you want when you are hanging out with friends, but when you post it online it creates an uproar. Jeff Bercovici of Forbes Magazine calls this ‘virtuebragging’. People lately have been doing it with Hurricane Sandy and the Presidential Election, but you can do it about anything from a funny joke to a silly picture to share information you think is interesting and simultaneously get approval. This is a great positive about social media sites since you can influence others to see your ideas.

Social media agencies can definitely use this tactic to get the word about their clients in creative ways. ‘Virtuebragging’ definitely can go viral and get a message out, which is great tool personally and professionally. It can engage friends and it can engage one’s clients.

Have you heard of Threadlife?

Threadlife is the newest mobile video sharing app to hit the scene, created by former Zappos CEO Nick Swimurn and creative guru Ken Martin. Surprisingly, there is still a void in social media for practical mobile video sharing. Apps such as Viddy and Socialcam have tried to fill it, but neither have been able to take off in a big way.  Swimurn and Martin are hoping for Threadlife becomes the Twitter or Instagram of video sharing.

What makes Threadlife different from previous attempts is the three second video limit, called stitches. Users create three second videos and “stitch” them together to create a video montage, called threads. Because the stitches are short and sweet the videos don’t become drawn-out and viewers are less likely to lose interest. Also, instead of profile pictures, the app requires three-second profile videos. In the future, the Threadlife team plans to include tagging and location-specific information.

Only time will tell if Threadlife will take off with mobile users, but I can already see the potential the social media agency could take advantage of. How do you see Threadlife faring against previous mobile video sharing apps? Do you see yourself using it?

Social Media Creates Buzz About Sandy

People all over the world are learning about the Category 1 Hurricane that hit the East Coast on Monday, October 29th, largely through social media sites. On Twitter, within 24 hours after the storm hit 3.5 million tweets were hashtagged: #sandy.  Also, a Twitter account was specially made for Hurricane Sandy called Sandy; it has all reports from government to news related to it. And on Facebook during the climax of the storm, the top words that were most frequently used were related to this Category 1 storm. YouTube accumulated videos to show people the path of destruction of Sandy on the account, Citizen Tube. YouTube offered, those that had no access to other news outlets, information about the storm as it was happening.  Not only were people made aware of Sandy’s destruction and where its path was going, but the government of New York and the fire department utilized social media to make residents aware of fires and safety issues.

It is interesting how social media is being used during Sandy for a purpose of making different people aware of different news about the storm. For those stuck in the East Coast, social media sites are helping these people stay safe. And people in other parts of the U.S. and world are getting informed about effects of the storm and how their loved ones who may be stuck in Sandy’s path are doing.  It makes me wonder how social media agencies are reacting to Hurricane Sandy.

 

Marketing via Instagram

Personally, I love reading how brands interact with their customers, and there’s tons of ways to do so with all of the social networks people are on these days, but one I never would have thought of?

You probably know what Instagram is, but if not, it is a photo-sharing mobile app that allows you to put vintage filters and effects on your photos. You can follow others, gain followers, “like” photos, and even hashtag them, making them searchable, just like hashtagging tweets. There are a few companies that are capitalizing on the uniqueness and flexibility of Instagram and using it for their marketing and branding, but letting users make it their own.

Tiffany & Co.
Last year, Tiffany’s launched an Instagram campaign that has the bonus of gaining three new filters for following them – Tiffany’s blue, peach, and black and white. This campaign also calls for users to post pictures of themselves with their significant other, tagged with the hashtag #TrueLovePictures.  Tiffany & Co has also set up a website that gives a live-updating website called True Love in Pictures that shows a selection of pictures from Instagram. Not only is this allowing Tiffany & Co. fans to take part in the experience, but it always gives them relevant content.

Comodo
A Latin American restaurant in NYC’s Soho, Comodo, has made the dining experience a social one, too, by inviting diners to take photos of their meals (as Instagrammers are wont to do) and tag it with #ComodoMenu, allowing their guests to “see” dishes and help them decide what they want, and seeing what their friends recommend.

There are a few other companies taking the relatively untouched marketing territory of Instagram, but a social media agency could do a lot to engage fans of a brand by making it interactive and letting fans engage creatively like this.

He Already Brought Sexy Back… Now He’s Bringing Back MySpace Too?

MySpace has long been outdated by newer social networks like the ever-dominating Facebook and Twitter. But a newly released video shows that Justin Timberlake has different plans for the forgotten website.

In 2011, Specific Media and Timberlake bought MySpace for $35 million. With a new design (similar to Pinterest), MySpace is almost unrecognizable from the site it once was. White backgrounds and horizontal scrolling give the website the facelift it sorely needed.

Also, instead of battling the social media giants, MySpace works with them. You can update Twitter or Facebook, find your friends from those networks and bring over videos and photos, all on the new MySpace.

Music also continues to be a huge part of the MySpace network, built with radio and playlist sharing. It returns to the original website goals of connecting artists with their fans.

When he purchased the failing website, Timberlake was quoted, saying: “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place” (ABC News).

While a noble goal, the real question will be: can it work? Can MySpace make a comeback? Will people return to the social network they already left behind, especially with so many other new networks to join?

Its a question every social media agency will want the answer to. Will MySpace join Facebook and Twitter in the social media campaigns or will it just become the musical connection that Timberlake dreams it could be? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see….