Archive for March, 2012

Coping With Twitter’s Unfollow Bug


I originally posted this on Techcrunch, and cross-posted here on the Web Strategy blog.

If you’re like me, you may have noticed that Twitter may be arbitrarily, randomly, and haphazardly, unfollowing people you fully intended to follow. Similarly, if you’ve ever noticed your friends and contacts unfollowed you, it may have caused a sense of confusion, dread, or self-insecurity. Before one spirals into a series of apologies or deep-depression, it’s likely not your fault, (whew!).

What’s causing this? I’m not sure, so I asked my proper contacts at Twitter who responded “This is a bug, and our team is working to fix it.” They also sent me a link to their support FAQ, which indicates the known issue. I’ll leave it to the team at Twitter to get this resolved, but in the meantime, let’s discuss how we can cope with this industry phenomenon.

Imagine this bug in the physical world: Your dear Aunt Margaret wasn’t invited to your wedding due to mail parcels gone missing, or your executive wasn’t invited to your big presentation meeting because your address book deleted him, or you couldn’t call your best friend to let them know about your funding announcement because his contact info went missing.

The act of following someone in Twitter is an important social indicator for at least three reasons: 1) A follow suggests the individuals content is worthy of listening to and you want to hear their thoughts –even the most mundane ones 2) It’s an important indicator that you’re willing to engage in deeper conversations by receiving direct messages and 3) At a broader social perspective, this is a gesture this person is in your broader social clan, your kin, your affinity.

Importantly, in my line of work (and probably in yours too), direct messages have become a mainstay of communications with clients; in fact, some overloaded executives ask me to DM them, rather than email them. In more than one case has a qualified business request come by direct messages requesting my research and advisory services. Unlike the overloaded email channel, direct messages are an important opt-in business communication channel of higher quality signal.

Despite the business communication opportunity losses, there are broader social impacts that may relationships around you. Just a few days ago, one of my dear colleagues Susan (@Setlinger) pointed out that she wanted to send me some information, but noticed I had unfollowed her and half-jokingly wondered if she’d offended me. This wasn’t any passive-aggressive maneuver by me, I had full intentions to follow her, and quickly apologized and refollowed her.

Yet, I wonder how many business, personal, and casual relationships are strained by the bug haphazardly unfollowing. It causes us to give pause and question the stability of the Twitter infrastructure, usage of my personal data and social network, and what important messages I may have missed from my trusted Twitter network.

So what can you do? If you find that you’ve arbitrarily unfollowed someone in Twitter (or maybe you need an excuse to escape the ex), and you’re in a potential embarrassing situation, I recommend bookmarking this blog post, and sending it your apparent victim, explaining the situation was out of your hands. Hopefully no relationships were damaged, and we can continue happily twitter-ing with relationships salvaged.

I’d love to hear from you, have you been a victim of the bug? How are you coping?

Related Links: My findings spread to Telgraph, Huffington Post, Mashable, Verge, cnet and many others.

Employers Shouldn’t Request Facebook Access –Instead Provide Governance and Training


Companies should empower their employees to safely use social networks by first guiding, training, and rewarding

While love struck teens are quick to share their Facebook passwords with each other, now a rash of corporations, colleges, and even government employers have been requesting that current employees and future candidates share their personal information by exposing their social networking accounts. Why do companies require access to this information? They seek to find out exactly how the individual behaves, or represents the company or previous company. Imagine being an interview and getting to the final stages then the recruiter offers a job offer with the only requirement access to personal social networking sites, “If you’ve nothing to hide, then its not an issue, right?”

Facebook made statements on how individual privacy was important, and released a statement on how they would: “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action”.  They then followed up that they would not take legal action by clarifying that: “While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users”.   No clear solutions were provided, other than a shaking finger.

Companies Should Examine How Advanced Corporations Prepare for Social Business
Facebook didn’t clear up the solution, so here’s how I would approach the situation if these were clients I was working with, instead I would reference Altimeter’s recent research on How Advanced Corporations Prepare for Social Business (Report) and highlight how companies like Intel, Dell, Adobe, HRBlock have prepared their companies through a series of programs including governance, policies, training, and beyond. Companies should follow the social business hierarchy of needs, and should:

  • Start with Governance via Policies that are Easy to Understand. Provide Clear Policies on what’s expected in employee behavior on social networking, and what’s not expected. A clear FAQ, like Cisco’s social media program guidelines, should be offered free of legalese.
  • Offer an Internal Training Program for Existing and New Hires. Secondly, offer training programs, both like Intel’s Digital IQ online course for employees, supplemented with an online quiz in order to be a certified Social Media Professional (SMP. As well as offer ongoing training programs, and in person peer based learning sessions like Dell’s social media and communities (SMaC) university.
  • Reward Good Behavior and Foster a Culture Of Safe Enablement. Finally, rather than penalize employees for bad behavior, instead reward them like Salesforce has rewarded internal employees, dubbed the “Chateratti” for helping each other, and the top 25 were invited to a leadership offsite event.

A knee jerk reaction of companies is to either ban access to social networks (an ineffective strategy due to proliferation of mobile devices) or to break down trust by not empowering employees to do what’s right by demanding access to social networks.

Update: Augie Ray has similar thoughts, broken out by viewpoints for Employer and Employee

Altimeter Open Research Report: The Rise of Digital Influence


Altimeter Groups’s latest Open Research report (available on creative commons for you to download, use, and share) is now available from analyst Brian Solis. This report, which challenges the way that companies measure influence points out how tools like Klout, Kred, Empire Avenue and beyond.

[Physics Measures Both Potential and Kinetic Energy. Similarly, Digital Influence must measure Both Social Capital (Potential) as well as Actual Influence (Kinetic)]

In fact, companies are quick to add influence metrics into their social support systems, and marketing prioritization despite having full understanding of how these measurement tools actually create their indexes. This report, written as a playbook for businesses focuses on how to benefit from desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence. The report also helps consumers and academics understand how influence is scored and how these scores affect online reputations.

Open Research Highlights:
We practice Open Research, and hope you use it, share it, which enables us to create more. Here’s some key insights from the report, that drew my attention.

  • Influence is largely misunderstood, in fact the report makes a nod that these tools like Klout, Kred actually measure social capital — not your influence but instead, your potential for it.
  • None of the vendor services evaluated in the report measure true influence. Today’s software algorithms track social capital and topical authority based on online activity
  • The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns.
  • The report evaluates 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for Digital Influence as defined in the report – not every service is designed to provide a total solution for every business need.
  • The report includes an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and to define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.

Figure 2. Social Capital's Path Toward Actions and Outcomes
The report demonstrates a path how businesses should properly measure the impact of influence –not just look at an index number. Note how the further to the right, it actually demonstrates the outcome of the influencer, their network, and what actually happened.

Figure 7. Influence Tracker Features: Reach

Above is a sample: Dive into report to see feature comparison of all vendors, which breaks down feature comparison by: Score, Reach, Influencer Relationship Management, and beyond.

Related Discussions
I’ll cross-link to thoughtful discussions reviewing the report below

Learn about Altimeter’s three business disruption themes and upcoming report agenda to learn how our research will the industry forward.

Edit: I updated the post to include the phrase about potential and kinetic energy based of a conversation with Richard at Dell.

People on the Move in the Social Business Industry, Mar 18, 2012


Both the submissions on this job announcement board, as well as available social media positions at corporations continue to pour in. In this continued digest of job changes, I like to salute those that continue to join the industry in roles focused on social media, see the archives, which I’ve been tracking since Q4, 2007.


People on the Move in the Social Business Industry:

  • Congrats to long time Tech blogger Eric Eldon now the Senior Editor at Techcrunch, which is part of the AOL family. I’ve known Eric for a number of years and his rise within the blogosphere has been the rising trajectory. Congrats Eric.
  • Sameer Patel joins SAP as an Executive focused on advancing Social Enterprise Strategy, congrats to SAP, it’s been great knowing Sameer and we’ve interacted on a number of ocassions.
  • Adam Singer joins Google, as Product Marketing Manager of Google Analytics.  I’ve known Adam for a number of years and he’s been a thought leader in his space, and I’m excited to see this move, congrats.
  • Jessica Lee joins Marriott International as director, digital talent strategy. Jessica has joined Marriott International in a newly created role to lead digital strategy for all talent related initiatives. With a toe dipped in the water of all things digital including leveraging social gaming for recruiting, Jessica will help Marriott jump in fully to explore all the possibilities of engaging potential talent in the digital realm for its 17 brands, presence in 70 countries and nearly 4000 locations.
  • Julio Viskovich joins HootSuite as Corporate Sales Trainer responsible for developing and delivering a successful sales training program for HootSuite Media Inc.
  • Stephanie Schierholz joins Raytheon Company as Social Media Manager Stephanie will serve as the day-to-day liaison between the Raytheon brand and its external, online communities.
  • Tiffany Monhollon joins ReachLocal as Senior Manager, Content Marketing Manager focused on company and product social media presence; manage company blogs; oversee social media policy for employees; manage content marketing team in creation of learning center and premium content like infographics, ebooks, videos, presentations; support marketing of company social media and web presence service
  • Donna Itzoe Long joins Raytheon as Interactive Media & Design Senior Manager develop comprehensive online and social media strategy for the company’s IIS business.
  • Tiffany Monhollon joins ReachLocal as Senior Manager, Content Marketing Manager company and product social media presence; manage company blogs; oversee social media policy for employees; manage content marketing team in creation of learning center and premium content like infographics, ebooks, videos, presentations; support marketing of company social media and web presence service.
  • Alicia Boknevitz joins 7Summits as User Experience Designer creating compelling community experiences that engage target audiences by meeting their special needs
  • Richard Ciardo joins 7Summits as Senior Software Engineer developing integrated collaboration and community solutions inside and outside the experience
  • Kent Heberling joins 7Summits as Developer producing cutting edge user interaction implementation with JavaScript, HTML5 and more
  • Eric Porres joins Rocket Fuel as CMO oversight for marketing operations
  • Jeff Cowen joins 7Summits as Strategic Account Director Developing lifetime custom relationships in higher education, Financial Services, and Healthcare
  • Frank Nichols joins 7Summits as Strategic Account Director Developing lifetime custom relationships in Manufacturing, High Technology, Telco, Consumer Products, and Retail
  • Denise Terry joins RingCentral as Head of Social & Corporate Communications Transform us into a social enterprise, enable engagement within and with customers
  • Baochi Nguyen joins RingCentral as Senior Manager of Social Strategy Manage social strategy and the Social Center of Excellence
  • Kevin Daniels joins Mass Relevance as Director of Product Management drive forward product strategy and roadmap
  • Shaun Dakin joins EDF – Moms Clean Air Force as Social Media Director All social media strategy and tactics for this groundbreaking advocacy program
  • Bill Piwonka joins Janrain as VP Marketing Bill will oversee all marketing activities for Janrain.
  • Jonathan Nafarrete joins Blitz Agency as Director of Social Outreach Will lead social outreach and digital PR.
  • Cullen O’Brien joins 7Summits as Vice President of Account Services In his role, O’Brien will work with clients to understand their business objectives and apply 7Summits’ industry-leading social business services and knowledge to craft solutions that meet those objectives.
  • Ashley Quincey joins Agency Oasis as Business Development Director Ashley is spearheading all the new business development efforts for Agency Oasis; A full service digital marketing agency that specializes in interactive marketing campaigns, website design and website development.
  • Bryan Sise joins Lithium Technologies as Director of Product Marketing, Social Media Bryan will be responsible for marketing and product strategy for Lithium’s social marketing solutions, LevelUp Facebook applications, and social media monitoring technology.
  • Michael DiLorenzo joins Rue La La as Vice President, Audience Development Recruited to acquire, activate and monetize retail consumers through social, mobile and extended digital networks.
  • Christopher Fleener joins The New School as Social Media Director As Social Media Director, I plan and oversee a comprehensive social media strategy for The New School in New York City.

Submit a new hire:

Seeking a job?

  1. See the Web Strategy Job Board, which includes paid submissions from the top brands in the world.
  2. Social Media Jobs Facebook Group
  3. Social Media Jobs by Chris Heuer
  4. Social Media jobs, filtered by SimplyHired
  5. Social Media Job Network by James Durbin
  6. 25 places to find social media jobs by Deb Ng

Additional Resources:

Please congratulate the new hires by leaving a comment below.

Is SXSW Getting too Large? Video with Leo Laporte


This Week in Tech by Leo Leporte is one of the top shows featuring tech trends, new gadgets, and business and social trends. In addition to our host Leo Leporte, it featured Jeff Jarvis, Gina Trapani, and myself. The timing was great, I was invited as the only member of this group to give a recap of SXSW, which Leo proclaimed it’s “too much”. Gina and Jeff chimed in, and we discussed the location based apps, celebs, brands, and even how I stopped a fight with an LED flashlight (I often carry this 300+ lumen Fenix) in a dark alley (minute 25) until Leo started to distract me by wiping pie all over his face.

Overall SXSW is getting really large. Too big? Hard to tell. If you’re going there to network, meet others, and experiment with new technologies in an active petri dish, this is a good place. If you’re there to foster intimate discussions, launch products, or host large events where you have mindshare, this is not it. I often say SXSW is the physical manifestation of Twitter fleeting conversations in a rabid manner leave your head spinning. This is also a great time to kill off a product, as Gowalla shuttered their doors, and no one noticed. On the other hand, this is a sign that the industry is maturing, as more brands, large software companies move into this space. If you want to learn about the four observations at SXSW, here’s my wrapup.

We even discussed the internet of things, around Samsung’s Wifi fridges, Nike FuelBand, and data coming from watches and beyond. At Altimeter, we’re researching this disruption and label this trend as the “Sentient World”

Beyond the SXSW coverage, we discussed Google trends, privacy, and new forms of body data, you can see the embedded video below, or view the Twit site. Later, Leo gave me a tour of the most sophisticated podtech studio (they’ve over 6 sets) and a very sophisticated setup, deep programming, and a professional –yet fun– staff of 20+ folks. If you’re a company seeking to reach tech enthusiasts, it’s worth taking a look at their partnerships, this is a sophisticated operation.

Upcoming Altimeter Research Report: Integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned


By Altimeter’s Rebecca Lieb, Industry Analyst and Jeremiah Owyang, Industry Analyst.

If consumers don’t differentiate between “Paid, Owned, and Earned” so why are marketers segmented by different departments and have separate agencies that do each?  Does a ‘social media agency of record’ actually slow progress?  Can a marketing effort be more effective if all of these methods are used together?  These are exactly the questions we want to answer.

I’m very pleased to announce a new research project by Altimeter Group involving myself (Earned, Owned) and Rebecca Lieb (Paid, Owned), our NY based analyst who knows advertising, agencies, and has written both a book and a recent research report on content marketing. My expertise is Earned and owned media, while Rebecca is more proficieient in paid and owned. Together, we will tackle the topic of how we see paid, owned and earned converging.  In fact she’s shared her perspective about how we’ll approach this joint report together. This report flows under Altimeter’s research theme of the Dynamic Customer Journey (more on that broader theme soon)

Five reasons the market demands this report:

  1. Earned (social content) has become mainstream. We’re past the point of experimentation. Nearly every industry requires mass deployment.
  2. Facebook’s recent announcements clearly indicate earned content is now becoming paid, and owned content needs to be paid to achieve mass appeal within an FB page
  3. Inside companies we’re seeing the corporate social strategist cross the aisle to work with direct marketers. Advertising agencies are extending their budgets into the social world. Political and coordination issues will emerge as they come together.
  4. Brands that integrate paid, owned and earned media will benefit because they will reach customers in the most effective manner.
  5. Consumers don’t consciously differentiate between ads, corporate content, and what their friends say, but instead indiscriminately use a variety of content sources.

Want to get involved? Altimeter seeks to interview and take in case study submissions from a variety of brands, agencies, technology providers, and third party topic experts, email briefings at  If you want to receive an email copy, sign up for our newsletter or follow the Altimeter Twitter account, and be notified when this report, and others, are published.  Also, if you see some notable examples of paid owned earned already happening (the Old Spice Man comes to mind) kindly let us know in comments or send us an email and we’ll take a look.  You can see our other Open Research reports on Content Marketing, Mobile Apps, Enterprise Social Networking, Analytics and more on our research report page.  We publish them under Open Research creative commons so they can be widely read, adopted, and shared.

Between her Ad and content background in NYC, and my focus on earned/social in Silicon Valley we’ll be the dynamic duo to put these questions to rest.

Update: Altimeter is hosting a Tweetup in NYC to discuss this live on April 12, and in SF on April 3rd