Tag Archives: josh cheesman

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.

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Remember when nostalgia was the key to social media? I’m not sure I do…

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

Do you remember TaleSpin? The cartoon with characters from The Jungle Book, except they were in a 1920s setting and Baloo flew one of those planes that could land on water? And do you remember the theme tune?

Awesome. Now that’s a great intro. What were your favourite cartoon opening themes? DuckTales? Bucky O’Hare? Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? Ch-Ch-Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers?

… It’s OK., I’ve not lost the plot. I was just making an effort to stir a bit of nostalgia in the likely demographic of the blog. Why, you might ask? Because according to a new article, nostalgia is one of the most important tools in a social medi-ite’s arsenal.

(You don’t get tools in an arsenal, do you? Well, I guess you might if you were some kind of slasher movie tool box killer. Hey, remember all the old slasher movie killers? Freddy, Jason, Mike Myers before he started doing comedies…)

Yeah, I’ll admit I was trying to do the nostalgia thing again.

“A New Goldmine in Social Media”

So like a said, an article published yesterday claims that nostalgia is “the new golden nugget of social media”.

Golden Nuggets

Pictured: nostalgia.

Using the suspciously made-up sounding example of Michael the baker and his Facebook page, the author talks about how even simple references and questions help foster warm feelings and fun conversation with the online community. It’s done from the point of view of a business getting itself out there, but the article is phrased in terms of community interaction, which is a crucial aspect of being a journalist on the web as opposed to on TV or in a newspaper.

I’m a little sceptical of whether nostalgia is that persuasive a factor in gaining social capital. I mean, there’s only so long you get by on the good will of pop culture history, especially in journalism. Our business is telling people what’s new, not asking them to remember things that are old.

Besides, the internet is drowning in nostalgia, especially for the children of the 80s and 90s (case in point: the fact that I was able to get video clips of all those theme tunes with a minimum of searching online).

On the other hand though, a bit of nostalgia every once in a while can be a powerful tool. In this day and age, with so many websites providing news content, you need to make yours stand out. And if you reference Thunderbirds in a story about the International Rescue Corps, or use a picture of the Emperor from Star Wars to talk about the “dark side” of social media, maybe that’s just the hook you need to get people into your story.

So, let’s finish up with the obligatory question  – do you remember a news article that you read primarily because there was something fun or nostalgic about it?

Lou Kerner: The First Wall Street Social Media Analyst

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

First off, when I was writing this title (the most straightforward one I could think of – it helps search engines find your material), my mind immediately went to the new film version of Marvel’s patriotic peacekeeper, which is titled Captain America: The First Avenger. I’m pretty sure though that no one is planning on making a blockbuster film called The Wall Street Social Media Analysts. Pretty sure.

But anyway, enough of hypothetical financial superhero crossovers, let’s get to the meat of the article. Last week, Private Equity Hub sent out a press release about Lou Kerner, who they say is – yep, you guessed it – the first Wall Street social media analyst. (The press release is blocked by a pay wall, but you can get the gist of it here.)

I’m going to interrupt the flow a bit here just to clear up an ambiguity – when I first read “Wall Street social media analyst”, I was unclear as to what it meant. Were they saying that Kerner was the first person on Wall Street to analyse social media companies, or that he was the first person to analyse Wall Street via social media? It turns out, they meant the former – Kerner speculates on the stock prices of Twitter and Facebook and whatnot. However, he does post financial comments on Twitter (@loukerner), so technically both are true.

But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so Lou is apparently the first social media analyst on Wall Street. I have to admit, this struck me as a bit odd. Why? Well…

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

I guess the thing that most took me by surprise is the fact this has only just happened. I mean, Facebook’s been around since 2004. I first became aware of it in my first year of university (late 2009), and by the end of the academic year it was massive in the UK (Compete.com had already ranked it the most popular social media website in the world in January 2009).

The point I’m making is, why did it take so long for the business world to notice that there might be something in this social media malarkey? That maybe it was something worth reporting on? That maybe there was some money to be made form it? I mean, Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook, for those of you like me who couldn’t be bothered to see The Social Network) became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2008. You’d think that’s the kind of thing Wall Street would hear about.

The Social Network

I mean, I know I didn't see it, but come on, the film of his life won three Oscars.

And it’s not like Lou Kerner stumbled across this stuff over night. He definitely knew about Facebook – he offered to buy a stake in it when Zuckerberg was still at Harvard (Will Wall Street’s social media analyst roll eyes or turn heads?). He’s been talking to the press about the importance of social media since 2003. And yet when he said two years ago that Facebook would one day be worth $100bn he was laughed at.

It seems to me that the world of business – and business journalism – needs to get with the programme. (Or should that be program? Sorry, grammar joke.) I’m not saying social media is the be all and end all of economics, but Facebook is now worth $85bn. Lou Kerner is going to do very well for himself if he stays as Wall Street’s only social media analyst.

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.)

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.

The Dark Side of Social Media: How the Internet Can Hurt Revolutionaries

24 Mar
Josh Cheesman

@JoshCheesman

Much as revolution has spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, the topic of social media and the revolutions in the Middle East has spread from Georgie to Ian to Caroline, and now to me. As the title suggests, I’m going to look at the third view on how social media has affected the revolutions – in other words, the dark side of the phenomenon.

Emperor Palpatine

"Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen it. Well, except Libya. I expected that to be over a week ago."

 So, what do I mean by the “dark side”?

In her post Social Networks: Demographics and Democracy, Georgie talked about how the role sites like Twitter and Facebook have played in the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, giving the angry youth a place to voice their concerns, and to organise themselves more meaningfully.

The day after, Ian countered that the role of social media had been overplayed by the Western press, and that few people in the rebelling countries even had Facebook accounts (Are we giving Social Media too much credit for the Middle East uprising?).

I’m not going to dispute either of those arguments, but there is another angle to consider here. Namely, that when you’re planning insurgency, the last thing you want is all your personal information readily available to anyone interested in looking.

“The World’s Greatest Spying Machine

Just a few days ago, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave a talk at Cambridge University in which he said that the internet was a great help to totalitarian regimes, allowing them to keep track of dissidents with ease.

“While the Internet has in some ways an ability to let us know to an unprecedented level what government is doing… it is also the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen.”

Julian Assange

"The internet can be used to uncover all sorts of private information. I should know, it's how I made a name for myself."

Assange referenced a failed attempt at a revolution in Cairo a few years ago that was organised on Facebook.

Unfortunately, it was precisely because it was organised on Facebook that Hosni Mubarak’s forces were easily able to round up the protesters after the fact.

It’s kind of like posting some pictures of yourself drunk on Facebook and then realising that you have your boss added as a friend. Except instead of a warning, the consequence is being beaten, imprisoned and tortured.

“It is not a technology that favours freedom of speech. It is not a technology that favours human rights. Rather it is a technology that can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen.” – Julian Assange

Beyond Egypt

The Cairo example Assange gave is not an isolated case. While most of the Western media has been trumpeting the achievements of social media in the Middle East, a few reporters have been looking at the negative effects in other authoritarian states.

Evengy Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World, wrote an article for The Globe and Mail called The dark side of internet for Egyptian and Tunisian protesters (obviously I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of Star Wars allusions when faced with this topic). The article starts by talking about two Iranians hung for posting video online of the country’s “Twitter Revolution”, largely ignored by a media focused on Tunisia and Egypt at the time.

While Morozov goes on to give a balanced account of how the internet can both help and hinder revolution (it’s interesting to note that she cites Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s access to an internet “kill switch” as a must for all dictators – a sign that they do fear the internet), she nicely outlines the reasons why the internet can be such a danger:

“The secret police can now learn more about those opposing the state by looking up their profiles – and their friends’ profiles – on social-media sites. The state ideologues can now bolster the legitimacy of the regime by creating suave new media propaganda and claim that it represents ‘the voice of the people’. Young people can be distracted away from politics by the new i-opium of the masses that is never in short supply online.”

Morozov has also been quoted in an article by al-Jazeera, The dangers of social media revolt. There, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Tunisia are mentioned as examples of countries where dissidents have been caught as a result of their Facebook or Gmail accounts.

The author, writer and blogger Jillian York, posits that this is not even necessarily a case of the government hacking in, but could be the result of undercover agents creating fake online profiles.

Even if this isn’t true, the possibility alone will make potential insurgents that little bit more hesitant to spout revolutionary rhetoric.

And moving beyond the Middle East, how could we forget our old friend China? Well known for its government’s iron grip on internet access, Chinese authorities last month foiled a planned simultaneous protest simply by putting under house arrest everyone who searched the word “Jasmine” (the failed protests were nicknamed the “Jasmine Revolution”) on Twitter or similar sites.

Again, if you’re afraid to even make a search, what’s the likelihood of you actually saying anything to challenge the state?

Final Thoughts

At a Question-Time-style debate at City University last Friday, Times columnist David Aaronovitch responded to Julian Assange’s claim that the internet was the world’s “greatest spying machine” by saying that it was a tool, completely neutral in and of itself, that could be used for both good and evil.

This is the point I think we should take away from all this. Yes, social media may have had a positive effect in the Middle East, but it can prop up totalitarian regimes as easily as it can bring them down. Maybe we shouldn’t be lauding Twitter as the herald of the revolution just yet.

You and Social Media: How Young Journalists Use Social Media (now with videos!)

25 Feb

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

Before Christmas, I made some very quick videos of some of our classmates on the TV journalism master’s course at City Uni. I asked them to talk about how they, as young up-and-coming journalists, use social media. Here are the results: