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You will never get my Facebook password. Never.

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A lot has been going around lately about employers asking job candidates for their Facebook passwords. Apparently they’d really like to be able to nose around a little, see what you’re into, who you’re friends with and such like that. I’ve never met anyone who has had this happen to them, but it doesn’t surprise me to hear that it is happening.

Employers have strange ideas about where their place is in relation to their employees. We’ve seen many cases where employers have attempted to gain access to employees’ LinkedIn profiles, their personal email accounts and more — all under the guise of protecting their business. And in nearly every case that’s been brought to court, judges have sided with employees.

See, there’s a fundamental expectation of privacy one has when using their own email, Twitter, Facebook…whatever. Yes, everything I do on any social network can be made private to the whole world. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. I choose who to share with, and when to share it.

To be honest, I have nothing on Facebook I’d be embarrassed of — and that isn’t the point. I don’t trust Facebook itself, and so I choose to refrain from sharing too much of a personal nature there. I don’t allow others to post on my wall, don’t overshare, and use it primarily for keeping track of old schoolmates. Even so, would I allow an employer to peek into it, even once?

Not a chance.

We don’t bring our personal mail in for our bosses’ perusal, do we? We don’t deliver our cellphone bills to them to look over who we’re calling. And we don’t give them audio recordings of our dinner tables at night. There’s a reason for that: It’s none of their business.

Sure, an employer may be worried about what types of things their employees post on Facebook, and if your job candidate is found to have blasted their ex-job repeatedly and publicly, it could give you pause. But courts have ruled several times that Facebook postings are protected under free-speech provisions — even if they are negative statements about the workplace.

The bottom line: If anyone asks for your password, the answer is no. Always.

Sorry, but I need more important friends (or, how I learned to stop worrying about my Klout score)

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Sorry, Twitter friends, but I need to network with more important people. It’s not that I don’t like you. Really. You’ve all been so fun and informative. Unfortunately, your Klout scores are dragging me down.

Apparently, the new algorithm changes on Klout take into account not only what I do in my social networks, but what you do as well. And, frankly, you guys just aren’t keeping up. So instead, I’ve decided to follow Justin Beiber and Oprah. The plan is to tweet smarmy things to them all day, until one of them finally retweets me.

Just kidding.

Over the past month, though, I’ve been monitoring my Klout score and how it relates to certain of my behaviors. My verdict? Klout continues to be mind-bogglingly bad. And if you’re still paying attention to your score, you need a life.

Twitter was ablaze yesterday with complaints about the new algorithm. Seems folks were unhappy that their scores dropped — in some cases significantly — after the change. Mine dropped 10 points. Why? Well, from what I can tell, several of my friends “lost influence.” In addition, several people are no longer included in my “immediate influence network.” Okay…

Let’s get to what’s messed up about this:

Among those no longer in my immediate influence network? My brother, a coworker who sits five steps away from me and a client. I dare say I have at least some influence with those folks. At the very least I can influence my coworker with a spitball to the head, or my brother by passing the rolls over dinner.

Among topics I’m influential about? Media, Quinoa, Bacon, Social Media, Puppies, Los Angeles Lakers. Admittedly, I talk often about media and social media. Quinoa makes the list because I once asked a Twitter acquaintance what it was. We had some back and forth. Then I received a few +Ks as a joke. The Lakers? They were a topic of discussion one night with a friend. Frankly, I don’t find myself “influential” in any of these topics. Or any topic. Then again, influence is not my goal on Twitter.

And that brings me to the point of all this:
If you use Twitter to exert or gain influence, please leave.

I can already hear the community managers and workplace social media experts now: “But Dan, that’s what we do for a living. How are we supposed to *insert random goal* for our brand lol?”

I understand where you’re coming from. You’re just wrong.

Using social media to gain influence (or, better yet, get a number that supposedly correlates to influence) is like boiling water in a toaster. Besides the fact that you’re using the wrong tool for the job, it’s dangerous.

Social media’s intent (outside of making money for the services themselves) is to attract folks who want to connect with other folks. And of course businesses want to be where the people are, so social media experts were invented to get money from businesses and teach them how to ruin social media services in order to influence customers. Or potential customers. Or something. Jury’s out on that still.

Those social media experts have to prove their expertise somehow. And proving that to businesspeople who are used to relying on numbers can be difficult. Used to be that you could brag about the number of Twitter followers you had. But as I showed in this post, those numbers are meaningless, even for Twitter rock stars like Chris Brogan. When Klout came along, it offered the promise of a grading system to prove, definitively, who is the biggest deebag on Twitter. I mean, who is the most powerful Twitterer of them all. (In case you were wondering, it’s Justin Bieber, who has a perfect score of 100).

The problem with Klout is that it isn’t really clear what it’s measuring or why it considers those metrics important. Worse than that, it’s wrong. I know nothing about quinoa, and yet I’m the second-most influential person in the Klout-o-sphere on the topic. I’m not even kidding.

Chris Brogan has a Klout score higher than that of either Pepsi or Microsoft. Does that make sense?

After a month of paying attention, I’m ready to walk away from Klout, other than perhaps to throw down some +K for funsies every once in awhile. Because the experiment taught me something really important: I’m not on Twitter to be important and I’m not important because I’m on Twitter. I’m just there. And I don’t need a number to validate the importance of my friends, either. Despite what Klout says, their worth to me is beyond measure.

There really are no rock stars in social media.

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I’m about to break your heart, and I don’t even care. It’s for your own good.

I’m enthralled lately by all the discussion around Chris Brogan’s decision to unfollow all 131,000 people he was following on Twitter. It’s mind-numbing. Seriously. Just the comments on the blog post he wrote about it drive me crazy. And at this writing there are 415 comments — about 10 times what he normally gets per post.

A little about Chris: He’s a blogger, who’s amassed 190,000 Twitter followers. You can hire him to talk to your company about using social media. He’s even written a book. You can read a lot more about him on his blog. He’s basically one of those guys who has made a career of selling himself as a social media expert. He teaches people how to use the stuff. Supposedly.

When I started seeing little things pop up online about how he was unfollowing 131,000 people, I was amazed — not over what he was doing, but the reactions. Some people were angry. Some were understanding. Some were confused and hurt.

Me? I laughed.

I laughed because as Chris explained his rationale, I saw the man behind the curtain — the one you aren’t supposed to pay any attention to. The one pulling all the levers and twisting the nobs that create smoke and bluster. And that man wasn’t a wizard or rock star. In fact, he’s probably worse at social media than you or me.

See….I didn’t need to follow 131,000 people to realize you can’t follow 131,000 people. Sure, you can click that button, but you can’t pay attention to them. So Chris Brogan wasn’t following you. Not really. In fact, this guy who preaches engagement really wasn’t engaging those he followed at all. He put out his “content” and replied when people mentioned him. But unless you were talking to or about Chris Brogan, he wasn’t paying attention.

But Chris didn’t perpetrate the “Great Twitter Unfollow Experiment of 2011″ because he doesn’t know how to use Twitter. He did it, he says, because he’d “started receiving over 200 direct message spams a day.”

If you use Twitter, you know you can’t get direct messages from folks you aren’t following. So Chris Brogan was following enough spammers that he supposedly received 200 spam messages daily. Why was he following spammers?

I told you awhile ago about my own little Twitter experiment, where I used some spam bait and gained 60 followers in a matter of a couple of days. If you want Twitter followers, there’s an easy trick I learned from my friend Freddy: Just use keywords that will draw the attention of bots. It’s true! And to keep those “followers” (who aren’t really real at all), you just need to follow them back. You know who ends up with a LOT of fake followers? People who tweet about social media. That’s because their tweets are loaded with phrases Twitter bots love.

Whether Chris Brogan knew it or not, he was padding his follower count with bots and zombies. Do your own little investigation and scroll through his list of followers. It’s not as impressive as you thought, is it? As we all know, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. After amassing a decent number of followers (and a reputation for following back), you can brag about how many Twitter followers you have…and then get more Twitter followers. And then write a book.

To save you the trouble, I’m not a social media rock star. I’ve got a few hundred followers — not a few thousand or several thousand. I’m just a guy who hates bullshit. Don’t author a book called “Trust Agents” and then be disingenuous about how many real Twitter followers you have and how you got them. Don’t tell me you had to unfollow everyone because you had too many direct messages. And don’t tell me you can’t manage to keep up with all the replies you get — that has nothing to do with the number of people you’re following.

At best, if you give him the benefit of the doubt, Brogan’s clueless when it comes to using Twitter. At worst, he’s no better than Newt Gingrich — padding his numbers to look more popular and more impressive than he really is. Honestly, now, would he impress you if he had 100 followers? 200? A social media expert with 200 followers isn’t much of an expert, is he? I mean, that’s like a rock star who’s never gone platinum…

Absolutely.

Nickelback is an inarguably terrible band. It is also the best-selling band of the past 10 years. The numbers don’t make them good at music; the numbers just make them rich. The record industry has done an excellent job marketing terrible crap. On the other hand, our garages are filled with amazing musicians who will never sell anything.

I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again: Beware social media experts. Especially those who seem to market themselves well. Because when your money’s gone, do you really want to tell people you spent it on Nickelback tickets?

Do you?

Social media experts really don’t understand social media.

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There. I said it.

I follow way too many social media experts on Twitter. Too many folks who want to teach your company how to be successful in social media. They promise you heaps of good fortune with your Facebook page and they’re super excited to do your tweeting for you as well. There’s a whole industry now built around these folks, and regardless what they call themselves, they really have no idea what they’re doing. If they did, they wouldn’t be doing it.

Social media platforms weren’t really designed for business; they were designed so folks like you and me could connect with each other, share little things and basically keep in touch — in a superficial, but somehow meaningful, way. As these sites attract users, they also attract businesses — especially those who want the Internet equivalent of a storefront on Main Street.

Problem is, the goals of a business and the goals of an individual in social media are severely different. I choose to use Twitter to connect with folks, whether I know them in real life or not. Facebook is the place where I maintain a loose connection with old classmates. LinkedIn is for keeping in touch with colleagues. Businesses, on the other hand, use social media for two reasons. Those who do it closest to correct use social media to respond to customer complaints, join conversations about the brand, monitor chatter about themselves. But the majority are there to sell.

I can already hear you: “OMG, Dan. What’s wrong with that lol?”

The problem is companies and organizations overestimate their customers’ desire to engage with them. Sure, I love Pepsi and my BlackBerry. I follow both on Twitter. But I don’t engage with them. I don’t remember the last thing I read from either company. But that’s not the point…

Remember in high school how you and your friends found that perfect spot to hang out? No parents or cops or teachers…it was a place where you’d sit back, chat, maybe even sneak a couple of dad’s beers and share them in the summertime. That’s how most social media sites start. They’re little clubs where the cool kids hang out.

Imagine you’re at your little hangout and suddenly a McDonald’s opens 20 feet away. And then the AT&T store opens next to it. And an auto dealership. And 30 social media experts open storefronts, all surrounding you. Suddenly you can’t even talk to your friends without wading through all these businesses, and they all keep trying to get your attention. And of course your parents and teachers show up, because they’ve all heard your hangout is cool. After awhile, you and your friends just decide to find another place.

That’s what social media experts are bringing to social media.

Myspace was cool at first. Everyone connected with each other. You kept in touch. You shared pictures and songs and everybody was happy. Bands all wanted Myspace profiles, because it made getting a web presence easy. Then businesses all wanted to be on Myspace, because that’s where the kids were.

Where’s Myspace today? Overrun by businesses, musicians and celebrities. My own band still has a page there, and our only friend requests come from TV shows, movies and businesses. It’s over, people. Businesses are just standing around in Myspace land, begging each other to buy.

The same is happening on Twitter and Facebook, where social media experts, in order to keep themselves in jobs, continue to push the importance of a business being involved in social media. Unfortunately, that one little fact shows just how little they understand about social media, and their own role in destroying it, one site at a time.

The sad part is that I agree that companies need to have Twitter and Facebook accounts. I think we’ve come to a point where you’re silly if you don’t. But never once have I seen anyone point out just how bad businesses are for social media. Our social media experts never say “Listen, we should be on Twitter, but we have to realize our mere existence on Twitter will surely hasten Twitter’s demise.”

That, folks, would be an honest, and knowledgeable, expert. Anyone out there ever heard that? I bet not.

Twitter is not for chatting (a rant).

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Twitter is a pretty cool service. I really like how easy it is to connect to people like this guy or this lady and also these other people who tweet interesting things. I also use it to follow headlines, keep up on my beloved Yankees and catch the latest tech trends.

That, in a nutshell, is what Twitter is about: connecting with people, sharing and consuming in short, 140-character bursts. The consumable is a feed of information. In my down time I scroll through my feed on my BlackBerry, just checking on what my tweeps are up to.

A few months ago, I started noticing a few folks I follow actively participating in Twitter chats, little discussions anyone can join by simply following a hashtag and tweeting their thoughts, also using the hashtag. If you’re a chatter, you probably think this is pretty cool, and I see your point. I really do. Unfortunately, you’re wrong. It isn’t cool. It’s downright rude and shows a degree of ignorance and disrespect for your followers. That may sound mean, but hear me out.

First, if I follow you, it’s because I’m interested in what you have to say. I expect your posts will be directed to your audience — including me. When you’re in a Twitter chat, it’s as though I’m standing attentively next to you while you talk to someone else. If 30 of your followers are in your chat and you have 2,000 followers, you are not holding up your end of the trust relationship you have with 1,970 followers.

Second, if I happen to be following several people involved in a chat, it’s like a herd of buffalo just stormed through my living room. Your decision assumes that the space belongs to you for that time period, despite what anyone else thinks.

I find it interesting that a large number of these chats are attended by people who should know better: professional social media types, community managers and the like. These are people who regularly preach the virtues of listening to your audience, being attentive to the concerns of your customers, actively engaging in conversation. But when it’s time for a Twitter chat, they’ll chatter away, blissfully ignorant that they are doing the opposite.

The other night, I’d had enough. A Twitter chat had so dominated my feed that it made Twitter impossible. I let the chatters know I was unhappy. The response was a link to this blog post, which, in effect, tells me that my options are to get over it, unfollow the chatters or use a third-party client for Twitter. A big point of the post is the author sees plenty of things that annoy her, so why should she worry about who she annoys?

The problem with those suggestions is that they put the onus on the rest of us to take the buffalo out of our living rooms, when few would argue that the buffalo belong there in the first place. They should be grazing somewhere else. This post has some excellent suggestions, all of which were summarily rejected by chatters.

In a back-and-forth on Twitter with the author of the first post, I was told there are about 250 chats, with 30 to 500 participants each, which I was told should prove their popularity. But even if each of those chats had 500 unique participants, the total number of chatters on Twitter would be 125,000 — a statistically insignificant number, considering the estimated 160 to 190 million Twitter users. So, again, why should 99.9 percent of us be forced to change?

Perhaps the most galling thing I’ve read from chatters is “If you don’t like it, don’t follow me. I don’t care.” First, if you don’t care, I won’t follow you. Second, if you don’t care whether anyone follows you, or whether your treatment of your followers drives them away, you’re doing it wrong. Care what people think. Value them as followers and allies. Respect and cherish their attention.

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