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Twitter Hijacking – Don’t Get Caught Out

1 Apr

JoshCheesman
@JoshCheesman

I thought when I started writing this article that I might be coining the term ‘tweetjacking’. Alas, a quick Google revealed I’d be beaten to the punch (although the accepted definition is slightly different from what I plan on using).

Basically, a Twitter hijack (henceforth Twitjack) is when someone imitates another person – usually a celebrity – on Twitter. Hence why, for example, David Mitchell is listed on Twitter as @RealDMitchell. When it’s done to a company or product instead of an individual it’s known as brandjacking.

Fonejacker

It's basically like being this guy, except they don't have to be as talented,

There are various reasons why someone might do a twitjack – to get attention, to spite the person they’re doing it for, some kind of psychotic delusion that they actually are that person – and it’s all too easily done. After all, I can say my name is Tom Cruise, and Twitter can’t do anything to stop me, because that might be my real name. And if I then upload a picture of Tom Cruise and start making posts about Hollywood and scientology and why tall people suck, well, then it’s hard for anyone to know it’s not really Tom Cruise (unless I make it very obvious). There’s no obligation on Twitter to provide any kind of identification when you create an account.

How does this affect me?

Unless you are a celebrity, it’s very unlikely that someone’s going to Twitjack you. But let’s look at things from the other side of the equation.

If you’re a journalist, Twitter is a great resource for finding out the comments someone might have on a particular issue if you can’t get hold of them on the phone. But, if the Twitjacker is subtle, you may end up attributing a comment falsely, and that could potentially land you in all sorts of trouble (posting a tweet and erroneously linking it to a particular figure  could potentially count as libel).

How to Avoid Being Burnt

Luckily, a few simple steps and a bit of common sense will stop you from making any drastic mistakes. Here’s what to do if you’re not sure whether a Twitter account is genuine or not.

First, and this sounds really obvious, but read through a few of their tweets, You don’t have to read every one, but maybe say 20. Look for anything that that person would never say in public – if you find a Twitter account for David Cameron where he’s posted that he’s planning on spending the weekend shooting immigrants, then chances are that’s not actually the PM. It might not be obvious for one or two posts, hence why a quick scroll could save you a lot of hassle later.

Of course, sometimes you may be dealing with a celebrity whose comments are so ridiculous that it would be hard for someone to invent something more outrageous – *cough*CharlieSheen *cough* – in which case you have to look for other clues.

Check that person’s official website, if they have one. If they do, they may have posted a link to their Twitter account there.

If there’s no clue on that front, then check their number of followers. If you think it’s Brad Pitt and he has less followers than you, then the chances are that you’ve got an impersonator (or possibly Tyler Durden).

Also look at when the account was created – if it was just after a major story broke about the celebrity, then the timing is probably a little  too perfect.

Once again, it’s mostly about common sense. If you’re really not sure, probably best to err on the side of caution and not run the comment. Better than being made to look a twit by Twitjackers.

Twitter. Does your boss check you out?!

1 Apr

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

I went for an interview yesterday, for a work-experience placement at ITV. I was up to date with current affairs, the political situation in Libya and I had been watching ITV news all week. Enough, maybe, but I definitely would have prepared even more if I’d thought about the concept of my interviewer following me on Twitter?! One thing I hadn’t given any thought to was the state of my Twitter page. My profile, what does it say about me? Well I’ll tell you. The picture I have is of me lying on a bed in Beijing, waiting for a foot message. (From my traveling days.) There is nothing rude or inappropriate about the photo, just perhaps not the most professional photo I could have chosen. Also, I have a relatively low number of tweets (for a trainee journalist I suppose)…20 tweets to be precise. I am following 170 and am followed by 57….hardly 497,085 but a good start?!

Damn you Piers Morgan!

Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt sightly self conscious about any of my tweets, even though I don’t think I have ever ‘tweeted’ anything particularly offensive and/or controversial!  Quite the opposite in fact. In my opinion I use social media for what I believe to be all the right reasons. Journalistically I follow others who are in the know, I absorb the news feeds, I keep up to date with all the latest developments in current affairs and most importantly (in my view) I am able to find information and people, that I wouldn’t be able to, anywhere else. A good example of this was a recent package I produced for local TV station a month ago. For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal the participants name, but he essentially gave me a lot of helpful and perhaps controversial pieces of information all through Twitter. What I am trying to say here is; just because I don’t use Twitter to report about my every moment, my every outing, my every meal (who would be interested anyway?) That doesn’t mean I am any less interested in social media. Perhaps I should tweet more. Perhaps I should spark up a debate with Lord Sugar…that should up my followers if nothing else!

Throughout all of my blogs, I have discussed the importance of social media in online journalism, AND, (you’ll be pleased to hear) I remain committed. I don’t see papers as ‘old news’ (excuse the pun) and I don’t want everyone to replace newspapers with twitter but what I do think is we have developed an amazing platform on which to transport information….to the world!

A website I visit regularly is www.mediahelpingmedia.com stresses the importance of social media in online journalism. One bit of advice I picked up on recently was the following statement.

‘Try to offer original, stimulating and compelling content’

Watch out for my new and improved tweets..!

Also, I got the placement, so either I managed to impress at interview, or perhaps he hadn’t seen my Twitter page ; )

Business and social networks II – the end of social media’s infancy

1 Apr

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

Jonathan Salem Baskin is a well-known US Global Brand Strategist and author. He recently wrote about how brands understand their communication on the social web, and it makes a claer point: it’s bad news for the commercial Big Dogs. Pepsi lost its position as number#2 soft drinks (music to the ears of Coca-Cola!), after having cut its investments in TV advertising in favour of a massive social media campaign, and Burger King axed its collaboration with CP + B.

I think you should consider that the news might augur the end of a fad. No, not the end of social media, but rather the beginning of the end of social media’s infancy. Maybe it’s time to stop talking unseriously and get serious for real. Technology has utterly changed the ways consumers get and use information, and it has completely disrupted how companies create, share and collect it. We’ve had a good run of years in which this revolution has prompted quack science, theory and some good ol’ fashioned mercenary selling, most of it by smart, earnest people who believe that new technology also changed human nature and the very purpose of business function. It did neither. People still need and do the same things they always did, and companies still need to sell to them. Pretending that conversation has any value apart from the meaningful, relevant and useful information within it — fad ideas, like “content” is anything more than a silly buzzword, or that anybody wakes up in the morning hoping to have a conversation with a brand of toothpaste or insurance — is no longer credible in light of the latest news

I agree with the Jonathan’s point of view: saying that social media is key an advertising sense clearly marks the beginning of a more serious chapter for social media. We all know what to do with a Facebook page, we know that having influence on Twitter is no longer a winning strategy in itself, we know how to recognise a true practitioner, and most importantly, we also know that long-term prospects are favourable to the development of a business presence amid the internet’s social circles.

When the day comes that social media bloggers are all community managers, and engagement measures become slightly more standardised (to show to brands that their cause won’t necessarily lead to onsumer buying), one might be able to argue that the social media industry and its followers have entered a fully-matured golden age. For now, the age of reason will suffice.

Social Media 101: How to Use Twitter, Part 3

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

So, here we are once again for the third and final chapter in our Twitter odyssey. Having covered the basic philosophy of tweeting, here are a last few tips to help you rise above the rest of the Twitterati.

Part 1
Part 2

VAT – Value Added Tweeting

Investor and author Tim Ferriss wrote a blog post about using Twitter without letting it dominate you. The advice is sound, but mostly along a different track to these articles (the focus is on being able to manage your time on Twitter rather than the substance of your actual tweets).

However, Ferriss does make a good point with the fourth tenet of his creed (“fourth tenet of his creed”? Why am I speaking like a Biblical prophet?):

“Don’t post unless you add more value than the attention you consume (both yours and others).”

Moses

To be fair, these kinds of things would sound cooler coming from Biblical prophets.

 Basically, this kind of leads back to parts 1 and 2. If you expect someone to read you tweets, you have to make it worth their while. Ferriss gives three examples of how to do this:

  1. “Add value if you consume attention.” As I said in part 1, no one wants to know about the mundane details of your boring life. But if you can add something of use your tweeting becomes much more valuable. Ferriss gives the example of providing the address of the restaurant where you got a great burrito instead of just saying you had a nice meal. But you can look at this in the context of journalism as well – don’t just say something like “David Cameron doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, add a statistic or something to prove it. Don’t just blog that violence is kicking off at a protest, tell people on what street it’s happening.
  2. “Use the tool for its best purposes and ignore the rest.” Put simply, use Twitter for what it’s good at – publicising small bits of information to a wide audience. Don’t try and use it to make a lengthy argument about economic policy – write a blog post (which you can of course link to on Twitter). Don’t try and use it to co-ordinate an article you’re writing with a small group of colleagues – start a Facebook group.
  3. “Linking is fundamental to adding value.” Why bother making several tweets covering all the interesting things in an online article when you can just link to that article? Linking not only makes people curious as to where the link goes (as Ferriss says), but for journalists it serves another crucial purpose: it allows you to back up the 100 character statement you’ve just made.

 If you’re taking up space on someone’s feed and not providing any value, don’t be surprised if they decide to stop following you.

Think Beyond Yourself

Another good article is Nate Whitehall’s Top 5 Ways NOT to Use Twitter. Essentially, most of Whitehall’s points come to down to one thing – don’t think about what you want to say, think about what you’re saying to everyone else.

So don’t constantly promote your own articles, promote ones from other people as well. Pose questions, respond to other people’s tweets. Not only will this be more interesting to your followers, it will help you build social capital.

Also, Whitehall advises thinking beyond just saying what’s happening where you are, and posting a picture on TwitPic. Yes, it’s terribly cliché, but a picture paints a thousand words. That’s really something you should utilise when you’ve only got 140 characters to work with. Allow your followers to engage more with your situation.

Final Advice

So this is the end of our little miniseries on producing better tweets. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and to finish off, here’s a final thought about using Twitter. If you take nothing else away from these articles, take this.

Just before you tweet, read back what you’ve said (this won’t take you long), and just think: “would this interest me if someone else posted it?”

(And if you only see one movie this year… you’ve got to get out more often.)

Twitter in Parliament

27 Mar

Ian Kearney

@iankearney

Earlier this year Twitter users were given permission to Tweet from inside the courts and now, as of yesterday, MP’s have been given the go-ahead to Tweet from inside the Chamber.

Yes I am aware that MP’s have been doing this for quite some time but the Procedure Committee have just given it the official go ahead so its safe to see we will be seeing a lot more of it now as MP’s battle it out in the obligatory popularity contest that will ensue.

Despite what the critics had to say the report dismissed them by saying:

“Banning [mobile devices] from the Chamber might make the House appear out of touch with modern life and would mean that those in the Chamber would be the last to know of breaking news widely available on the internet.”

“MPs should be allowed to use handheld electronic devices, such as iPads and smartphones, in the Chamber of the House of Commons provided that they do so with decorum and regard for others.”

All this raises a few issues. Will we see Tweet-happy MP’s spending more time hashtagging then paying attention in Commons? Will the house of Parliament look more like a classroom full of texting teens than a government? Will the public be able to sway parliamentary business by Tweeting their MP’s?

There are both positive and negative consequences of this decision and I am sure it wont be long before we start to see the results whatever they may be.

Social Media 101: How to Use Twitter, Part 2

26 Mar

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

Greetings faithful social medions (I have no idea why I just came up with that phrase, so don’t ask me), and welcome back to the (somewhat belated) second part of our guide to using Twitter in a cleverer fashion and not like, well, a twit.

Part 1

So in the last article, I said that if you want to be a proficient tweeter (or twitterer, or twerp, or whatever), you have to talk about something other than yourself. But what? Well, that’s what I’m going to cover today.

It’s all about USP

Mark: You’ve brought a snake?
Super Hans: Yeah. All these young spunks swarming about, you need a USP to gain a market share.
Peep Show, Episode 6.5

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. It’s a concept that comes up a lot in our Online Journalism courses, and one that I personally feel should be the core mantra of any blogger, and by extension, any micro-blogger.

Manta ray

I said "blogger's mantra", not "blogger's manta".

But “Unique Selling Point” sounds like business speak. What does it actually mean?

In a nutshell, USP can be summed up as: “What can I get from you then I can’t get anywhere else?”

You can’t just write a sports blog and copy all your content for the BBC sport site. Why would anyone read it? Why wouldn’t they just go straight to the BBC site themselves, which at the very least will have the advantage that they’ll have all the news up before you?

You wouldn’t do that. You’d add your unique insight  – funny, interesting, intelligent, heck, even just plain old obnoxious – to the stories. Or amalgamate news from several different sites. Or use your own contacts to get stories before anybody else.

But even that isn’t necessarily enough. Put simply, you have to be the best at what you do. You have to be, otherwise why would anyone be interested in reading your sports blog above every other one on the web?

And what’s the easiest way of being the best at what you do? Do something that no one else does. The thing that you do that no one else does is your USP.

USP Your Tweets to the Max

So as you might have guessed from the above header, this principle applies even to Twitter. You hear something, and you want to share it, but before you do, go through the following steps in your head:

  1. Is this story totally unreported?
  2. Do you have any new information about the story?
  3. Do you have an interesting thought to offer? Some facet that no one else has considered?
  4. Do you have a new quote from someone connected to the story?
  5. Do you have something funny to say about the situation?
The Chewbaccalaureate

What you find funny may vary from everyone else.

If you’ve gone through every one of those questions and the answer is “no” to every one, then, well, don’t bother tweeting it.

What should you do instead? Simple: retweet! Retweet!

Read Part 3 here.

Integrating TV and social networks.

26 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Multi tasking, multi media, multiple screens…..No longer does our generation sit down and watch a program from start to finish without tweeting our friends, or updating our Facebook status’. We actively switch our eyes from one screen to another, whenever we sit down to ‘watch’ a television program ! A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching the TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. It’s just the norm. Facebooking and Tweeting whilst watching the telly is something we all do. It is how we communicate our ideas and it gives the viewers a chance to give their opinion on something, or let the organisers or broadcasters know what their audiences are thinking. More importantly than that though is social media enables TV executives to engage with their existing audience.

Some would argue (me included) that the resposes from these sites are sources of journalism in themselves. However informal they may seem to a person sitting at home, they are confirmed reports on an issue, a person, a program and they shape the way broadcasters consider output. It also enables the broadcasters to act on what their viewers’ responses are. These comments and the feedback which is collected  is data journalism in its rawest form.

So let’s say it’s a parallel; social networks working along side television. Our generation of TV watchers have been the first to see social networks intergrated into TV. Regularly now, we are asked to tweet about a program or to send our responses to the program in via Twitter. Texting or calling chat shows, is most defintely old news. What we’re watching out for now is not only social networking in TV,(we see that regularly on ‘@Question Time, @BBC Breakfast, @Daybreak, @Channel4news or Sky’s famous @AdamBoulton &co!) but how the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be integrated to create an interactive show. However this is something very big and it has its complications. On 28th Febraury 2011 the ban on TV product placement, in the UK, was lifted. Thus allowing advertiserers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV for the first time ever..but what happens if social media complicates matters more?!

Say, for example, Colgate toothpaste is used in a popular soap opera such as Coronation Street (strange example I know, but bare with me!) Given that products can’t be given undue prominence during the show, and may only be given a fleeting moment on screen to avoid programmes becoming ‘brand vehicles’, could the association be further highlighted through social media? Could Colgate use social media in a way that utilises its connection with Coronation Street to help increase consumer recall?

It’s an issue which both concerns and exites me. On the one hand I think that it is an exciting development in the world of social networking! On the other it hasn’t yet been proved to be a success. In America NBC (The National Broadcasting Company) has created a brand new network loyalty program in which social media plays a starring role. ‘Fan It’ is a social media platform that rewards users who promote and discuss NBC shows. (on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc.) The endeavour is a network-wide initiative designed to leverage the presence of show fans on social networks and incentivise them with points for engaging with content eg. watching and ‘liking’ shows, chatting and recruiting friends. All in a bid to get their viewers interacting with the TV networks and subsequently getting more publicity and becoming more popular.