Tag Archives: Twitter

Spam going down


By nleong,   July 30, 2012

Today’s post comes from Norv Leong, Director of Product Marketing at Actiance.

No, I’m not talking about one of America’s most beloved (or perhaps ridiculed) canned foods, but rather, the elimination of about half of the world’s electronic spam recently, thanks to a coordinated effort from several ISPs spread across the globe.  Their efforts wiped out and crippled the Grum and Lethic botnets, respectively, which together accounted for about half of the world’s spam.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Everybody that has ever touched a computer has likely received some kind of spam in their email inbox.  It’s annoying and never seems to go away.  Just goes to show that there will always be evil lurking in cyberspace.  I’m talking about folks who are solely focused on wreaking havoc, stealing passwords, launching denial of service attacks, or hacking into computer networks of some of the most secretive agencies in the world.  Whether they do it for fun, cuz they’re bored, or on someone’s payroll, I do not know.

The bottom line is that all individuals and companies have to be on their guard and not underestimate the importance of having the proper security measures, settings, and policies in place to combat the evildoers out there.  Nowadays, the wildfire proliferation of social media and other Web 2.0 sites has proved to be prime hunting ground for spammers (check out a blog entry we did earlier on this topic).

Passing along malware is no longer the domain of email; it’s now spread to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.  One thing that’s different about these sites (vis-à-vis email) is that they require a connection, friendship, or link to be established before you can receive content.  That wasn’t the case with email.  For instance, if Stevie were to receive a link from his buddy, Timmay, via Skype, Steve’s probably gonna click on that link since he trusts Timmay.  That link might not in fact be from Timmay, but rather, from some spammer in Estonia.

So, it’s all well and good that the amount of spam has been cut down for now.  But, like Wile E. Coyote’s lifelong pursuit of the Road Runner, I’ll bet a bomb shelter’s worth of Spam that hackers will continue to think up elaborate malware schemes that will make the Grum and Lethic botnets look like starter kits.

Tweet ownership: Who owns what?


By nleong,   July 9, 2012

Twitter’s in the news again, this time with the court system involved.  Last week, a US court ordered Twitter to fork over the tweets of a guy that was arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest in New York last October.  Why’s this a big deal?  Well, to date, Twitter has staunchly maintained that its users’ tweets belonged to the user, not Twitter, meaning that the tweets are protected free speech.  So, Judge Matthew Sciarrino’s ruling was noteworthy because it tosses that notion out the window.  Speaking of windows, Sciarrino said, “If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.”  Ouch.  I can see the ACLU sharpening their knives now.

This is but one example of the many grey areas created by the social media phenomenon.  Another case is that of Eagle v. Edcomm.  This one is truly scary because it involves a lady’s own LinkedIn account.  Quick recap on the facts of this case:  Eagle was an Edcomm employee for quite some time but was eventually fired.  Edcomm changed the password to her account, effectively blocking access to her own account!  Edcomm claimed that Eagle developed, maintained, and expanded the LinkedIn account for Edcomm’s “sole benefit and use.”  Eagle got back control of her account and Edcomm then sued Eagle for “misappropriating” the account and the contacts within it after she got fired.  If you aren’t rolling your eyes in disbelief yet, you should be.

The above cases haven’t been decided yet, but already, the issues they raise have huge ramifications.  The collision of social media for personal use and for business use is becoming ever more inevitable.  Increasingly, many industries are witnessing the use of an individual’s social media accounts for both personal and work purposes, especially since sites like Facebook and LinkedIn allow individuals to have only one account.

Regardless of how the above two cases end up, the key takeaway from both is the importance of having a social media policy in place that CLEARLY states what is owned by the company and what is owned by the employee.  Try to be as specific as possible because these types of policies, along with employment agreements, tend to be upheld by the courts.

To toot our horn a lil bit, Actiance saw this coming some time ago.  We published a white paper at the beginning of the year that outlined some potential grey areas of litigation involving social media, and lo and behold, one of those grey areas we highlighted was ownership of LinkedIn profiles when used for business purposes.  Yup, sometimes we get lucky and other times we just “get it.”

We’ve got attorneys, social media marketing pros, and ex-regulators on our staff, so we understand the legal and regulatory issues around the use of social media in the workplace.  At the very least, we aim to educate and enlighten folks on the “best practice” use of social, so you don’t end up arguing your case in front of a jury.

European Election Twitter – How Social is Changing Opinion Polls


By actiance,   May 24, 2012

In France it is forbidden to publish “by any means” the results of electoral surveys the day before and the day of voting. In the run up to this year’s presidential election the State prosecutor’s office were quick to remind news outlets and the general public that it would impose the €75,000 fine on anyone breaking this 35 year old law.

Determined not to be silenced, it didn’t take Twitter users long to come up with an alternative plan using the hashtag RadioLondres, originally a war time broadcast from London to occupied France during WWII to counter Nazi propaganda and deliver coded messages to the French resistance. Soon enough tweeters got into the war time spirit and made up their own humorous codes for others to decipher.

As the hours started to tick away on the final election day it soon became apparent that  it wasn’t just politically minded citizens using the hashtag, but spammers and malware writers were also taking advantage of the number of people following Twitter’s trending topic. With Tweets abound with funny images – my favourite is the red Ferraris heading across the Swiss border, it was easy to see that caught up in the drama of the election many people would be tricked into clicking a bad link. According to a recent article in The Register cybercrooks are moving away from using email to carry out spamming and social engineering attacks and focusing more on social media, something that is very apparent if you’re a regular watcher of trending topics.

But what really got me thinking was what would be the legal implications for an organization of someone using their work laptop to post or retweet “illegal” content. And would it matter if they were in a different country? In the UK it would come under Vicarious Liability and it appears that France has a similar law under Responsabilité du fait d’autrui. Vicarious Liability makes an organisation responsible for the actions of its employees during the course of their employment and would include using work equipment and the fact that such an action maybe expressly forbidden is not necessarily a defence.

Fortunately it seems as if French Prosecutors have decided not to pursue the people that might have infringed the law, though quite how they expect to enforce it the future remains to be seen. Communication and broadcast technology has changed beyond all recognition from when the law was introduced in 1977 and rather ironically measuring social media sentiment, could be the new opinion poll.

Earlier that week across “La Manche”, the London Mayoral Elections were taking place. In the UK there are no such restrictions on reporting exit polls and one firm predicted the Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone split fairly closely by analysing social media conversations. Though the methodology is still in the early stages to be as accurate as the current exit polls it’s interesting to see how social media is affecting our lives in sometimes surprising ways.

Where’s the line between private and public data?


By Jae Kim,   March 23, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed, the line between private and public data seems to be disappearing.  Traditional notions of privacy are broken down by the pervasiveness of social media.  New Internet users, especially teens, use social media as their primary mode of communication.  This next generation of Internet users communicate via SMS and Facebook, share photos on Instagram, and watch YouTube videos from their iPhones.  Online communication and interaction is natural to them.

User education is needed on what is private
and what is public and how to ensure the right option is chosen.

However,  if you look at the privacy aspects of data, there is a paradigm shift in how user data is treated.  Email and instant messages are clearly personal data meant to be shared with people that we are directly communicating with.  Back in the day, this would be analogous to sending a letter via the United States Postal Service and making a telephone call on a traditional landline.  On the other hand, posts made on Facebook and Twitter are visible to just about anyone.  When you publish a post, you don’t really know who will see it – much like tacking a piece of paper to a cafeteria  bulletin board.  There is no privacy.

The blurred line between public and private has led to questionable practices such as demanding Facebook passwords to screen employees or students.  What today’s Internet users have to understand is that privacy is dependent upon the communication channel in use.  Sending a message on Facebook (public) vs. sending an email (private) mean different things.  Your intent, or expectation of privacy, should be expressed by your choice of communication medium.  Yet, this is often not the case.  Because users have become so accustomed to communicating via social media platforms, they forget that unless they specifically choose their audience (via blocking or setting up lists of who can see the data), what they post is in the public domain.

What’s interesting, and somewhat alarming, is that this same confusion over public and private communications is happening at the enterprise level.  The line between internal communication and external communication is increasingly difficult to discern.  In the age of BYOD – Bring Your Own Devices – most employees have a smartphone with LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter apps, among others.   In fact, many individuals utilize apps that manage all of their social platforms in one handy location, such as Seesmic, or  it’s too easy to confuse the line and make the mistake of sharing too much information or using the wrong medium to communicate with people.  At the same time, the need for a flexible tool that supports both modes of communications with clear safety measures is that much higher.

Belbey Blogs: Blow Your Own Horn


By Joanna Belbey,   March 1, 2012

The other day, on my daily walk at 7am, I saw a beautiful new cruise ship heading up the Hudson. She was surrounded by low flying helicopters, NYPD Fire boats spraying water a hundred feet in the air, and a flotilla of small boats. Magnificent.

I was unable to read the name on the bow and kept wondering, whose ship is this? As she passed lower Manhattan, she blew her horn. Nothing unusual in that. You see, many Captains sound their horns as they pass where the Towers fell, to honor the dead. However, instead of a long mournful blast, this was the first 5 notes of “New York, New York” (My- litt-le-town-blues).  My fellow walkers stopped and clapped and smiled, and yet we still wondered, whose ship is this?

And then the Captain blew her horn again. The first seven notes of “When You Wish Upon A Star” rang out across Manhattan and New Jersey. Of course! Disney. And yes, when we looked more carefully, we could see Mouse Ears on the smoke stacks.

As it turns out, Disney’s newest cruise ship, the Fantasy, was making her maiden voyage from Germany, stopping in New York City to be christened, and then heading to her new home port of Port Canaveral.

So what does this have to do with social media? Everything.

We are beginning to shift the conversation from “No, we’ll be out of compliance” to “How do we do this well?”. We’ve learned social media is just another form of electronic communications and needs to be treated as such. We’ve also learned that once we have crafted our in-house social media policies and procedures, there are technology solutions such as Actiance Socialite, that we can trust to mitigate risk and keep us in compliance.

Now’s the hard part.

As marketers, how do we integrate social media into our corporate marketing strategy? After all, it’s just another tactic at our disposal. Over time, the tactics have evolved –  public relations, direct mail, telemarketing, trade shows and events, email, websites — but, we’ve learned that to be successful, each marketing effort must reflect and reinforce the personality of the corporate brand and each point of contact must be part of a cohesive strategy. At the same time, we also must take the time to understand our audience so that we can version the message so that it resonates with our customers.

That’s exactly what Disney did. Through research, they uncovered the tradition of blowing the horn while passing the site of the World Trade Center. They then versioned the message to resonate with all New Yorkers by playing “New York, New York” and then reinforced their brand with a sound that is instantaneously recognized as Disney, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Brilliant. And entertaining.

So using this example, Disney’s integrated marketing campaign generated press coverage by creating a special event, their website highlights the new ship (http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/), they tweeted about it (@DisneyCruise), and they are running sweepstakes and sharing video of the inaugural voyage of the Fantasy on their Facebook page (Disney Cruise).

How will you integrate social media into your marketing strategy?

Free speech alive and well in Kansas


By nleong,   December 6, 2011

In an amusing tale of free speech and the Internet, Emma Sullivan, a high school senior from Kansas, tweeted that the governor of Kansas “sucked.”  (Editor’s note:  the author, Norv, is clearly in his element with this blog entry and “amusing” of course depends entirely on your point of view.)  Instead of just dismissing it as an instance of free speech or teenage angst, Governor Sam Brownback’s staff went so far as to chase down the teen to extract an apology from her.  Leery of the PR implications, the governor himself apologized for his staff’s over-zealousness. (Editor:  OK, Norv, I see where you’re going with this one.)

What makes this story so relevant is the intersection of free speech, social media, and government intrusion.  The proliferation of social media sites makes it easy for folks to chime in with their thoughts (good or bad) on everything from politics to sports to their favorite ice cream flavor.  It’s the essence of free speech.  However, where is the line drawn between protected and unprotected speech?

Google searches, monitoring software, and good ol’ fashioned word-of-mouth make it easy to find individuals and their comments railing on government.  A teenager tweeting that the governor sucks is a much different ballgame than a parolee posting on his Facebook page that he intends to detonate some explosives at the federal building next week.  However, it does raise the discussion point that when it comes to the Internet, does anything truly ever go away and will Emma still be remembered as the high school senior who… well, you see what I mean, I’m sure.

State and local governments are themselves still feeling their way on how best to leverage social media, which has emerged as a highly effective mechanism to engage with constituencies and to provide a transparent avenue for the exchange of information.  Already, the states of Oregon, North Carolina, and Florida have specific guidelines on social media usage and other states are sure to follow.

So, while it may make you chuckle to hear someone say that their governor “sucks” (and mind you, I live in a state where the Governator did his thang for several years), the implications are real.  Privacy is a misnomer when it comes to social networks; free speech is one of our most cherished rights; and the role of government in society will forever engender passionate debate.

The Facebooks and Twitters of the world just happen to represent new platforms for folks like Emma to express themselves.

Suck or not suck?

Lessons Learned from the Arab Spring


By nleong,   November 16, 2011

While the Arab Spring was unfolding, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was taking note.  For those in need of a refresher on Middle Eastern politics, it’s been nearly a year since mass protests starting sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa.  Dictators fell, civil unrest ruled the day, and social media played a hand.

Huh, come again?  What does Facebook and Twitter have to do with Middle Eastern despots?  Well, given the reach of social and its ability to spread the word quickly and cheaply, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the protesters turned to social to galvanize the masses and “bring the ruckus.”  And ya know what. . . it worked.  Dictators fell in Egypt and Tunisia, Gaddafi’s dead, and Syria and Bahrain are moving towards more openness.

So, why the concern from DHS?  Simple.  What happened in the Middle East could happen in the States as well.  Anyone remember Timothy McVeigh from the Oklahoma City bombings?  Or the Unabomber?  That’s precisely the type of activity DHS is worried about.  The Arab Spring showcased the power of social media and it opened some eyes at DHS.  Social networks can be a treasure trove of intelligence information, and now DHS is keen to leverage social to keep tabs on potentially dangerous elements and threats in society.

Welcome to the social age.  Spy movies will never be the same.  The next time you see Bond and Bourne, they might be checking their Twitter feeds to see where the bad guys are.  Problem with this is “how do I know this information is accurate or reliable?”  This conundrum pre-dates social media and has always been a concern for all the government agencies and departments dealing with intelligence.

As DHS is still trying to figure how best to monitor social networking activities without running afoul of privacy laws, now might be a good time for them to start looking towards technology as an ally in the fight against threats, be it cyber or old school.  With a deeper understanding of today’s technological capabilities, DHS will be better able to formulate appropriate social media monitoring guidelines and perhaps avoid Oklahoma City and Unabomber-type tragedies in the future.

Failing that, give Jason Bourne a call.

Not all pictures are worth a thousand words


By actiance,   October 25, 2011

Charley Barth of the Department of the Navy would certainly agree with this subject line, contrary to the popular maxim of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”  That’s because since October 2010, the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) has maintained that social media records should be archived, if the platform in question adds value, e.g., inviting public comment or other collaboration opportunities.  Just taking a “snapshot” is not enough.  In Barth’s mind, a snapshot is “just a picture of a page.”

Furthermore, being able to capture context of communications is critical too.  The Federal Records Council’s social media subgroup found that public-generated content in a government forum was just as important as government-created content.  So, capturing comments and entire conversation threads becomes ever more critical in the eyes of Barth.

Fortunately, there are technology solutions available today that can capture exactly that.  Actiance Socialite can record content posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as comments, in context.  Transcripts are presented in a conversational format such that, if you’re a reviewer or compliance officer, it’s very easy to grasp the nature of a conversation taking place over social media channels.  No need to sift through a voluminous content management system or archiving platform to piece together a given conversation.  Everything is presented logically and contextually, simplifying the separation of the wheat from the chaff.

There’s a whole lot of chatter and noise on social media – it gives us all a mouthpiece.  Sometimes, finding that nugget of information, say, that thread on the benefits of stem cell research, can be challenging.  But, with the appropriate solution, finding and presenting information seamlessly can make folks like Barth sleep easy at night.  Governments worldwide have a reputation for inefficiency and a plodding nature, but with the right tools and policies, this one of ours might well become the poster child for how to properly and effectively record social media content without stifling government transparency and public engagement with its agencies.

Certainly, George, Thomas, and the rest of the Founding Fathers would be proud of that.

If I “Watch” it, is it an endorsement?


By Joanna Belbey,   September 26, 2011

Facebook introduced “Gestures” this week, modifying it’s “Like” button to something more neutral such as “Watched”, “Listened” and “Read”. This was done based on recent research by Facebook that revealed that users, particularly teenagers, hesitate using the “Like” button as they view it as an endorsement.

However, teenagers aren’t the only ones concerned by the “Like” button.

As Financial Services firms begin to draft their social media policies, many have been considering blocking the use of the “Like” button on Facebook and LinkedIn, or Retweeting on Twitter, for exactly the same reason: they want to avoid the appearance of endorsing a third party.

In fact, this has been the topic of many lively conversations during the Social Media Compliance Workshops we’ve conducted across the country (more on that soon). Compliance professionals worry about the risk of the appearance of endorsements and marketing professionals bemoan that blocking those features run counter to the conversational nature of social media.

Recent guidance from FINRA, including Regulatory Notices 10-06 and 11-39 and the earlier 07-59, Guide to the Web for Registered Representatives, has clearly warned that content from third parties may be attributed to their firm it it’s been “explicitly or implicitly endorsed or approved” (or per the SEC, has been “adopted” or become “entangled”).

And for Financial Services firms, that means that they would be responsible for that content as if it were its own. All of which means additional record keeping, oversight and supervision of the appropriateness of the content and retention of communications. Bottom line: the perception of endorsements mean additional risk, something that firms would like to avoid, especially in the beginning stages of using social media.

Therefore, for now, firms are shying away from anything that feels like an endorsement and they are blocking that “Like” button”. But, with the introduction of Gestures, will firms allow now the use of more generic terms like “Watched” or the equivalent when they are released?

So what’s your view – and your corresponding attitude to risk?  Is Watched ok or a gesture too far?

Embracing Social Business


By Sarah Carter,   September 12, 2011

Not long ago we blogged about the proliferation of mobile devices being used by the next generation of consumers to access the new Internet and its impact on financial services. This was the topic of a recent webinar and accompanying white paper from Forrester Research, and it’s a growing concern for all businesses – how to create safe, effective marketing programs using the latest social media platforms that drive business in a measureable way.

I recently chatted with Erin Traudt, Research Director at IDC and their resident guru on all things social (Michael Fauscette , you’ll have to forgive me, I’m not lessening your guruness with that comment ;-) ) , about the marketing capabilities we recently introduced in Socialite Engage. Erin pointed us to two public Insight reports on the IDC web site that define a new kind of Social Business Framework:

“The democratization and socialization of media through the social web has turned anyone into a publisher, reporter and/or critic – subsequently redefining influence. The social customer, employee, supplier and partner each have a voice and the means to use that voice at scale. And people are listening.”

Source: IDC

IDC’s definition of social business is companies using emerging technologies (like Web 2.0 and social media) to make cultural and organizational changes to drive business. According to the IDC report, “Social Business Framework: Using People as a Platform to Enable Transformation,” there are four steps to implementing a social business:

  1. Identify the market factors driving the need for change to social business. Market factors can include such things as competition, brand awareness, customer behavior, and the economy,
  2. Recognize social objectives you want to accomplish and why they matter. Social objectives are linked to business goals and include such elements as customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement, and supplier engagement.
  3. Establish social outputs to support those social objectives. These are the mechanisms you use to share, such as tweets and Facebook posts. Content creation democratizes the process so customers and partners can join the conversation, and you have to consider your community as part of social output, i.e. those individuals who are connected in some way, ideally around your brand.
  4. Determine the platforms and applications you need to achieve your desired social outputs. These are the software tools that you need to build, deploy, and manage social applications, such as Jive, Lotus Connections, and Facebook, and, of course, tools like Socialite Engage.

As part of your social business strategy, you need to adopt business tools that measure the impact of social output and social media platforms. According to the IDC Insight report Determining the Value of Social Business ROI: Myths Facts and Potentially High Returns, most organizations don’t  even know how to calculate ROI for traditional projects, let alone for social business. Identifying metrics to monitor social media engagement allows companies to optimize customer acquisition, decrease customer churn, and create upsell and cross sell opportunities. But to do that, you need to be able to gain control of your social media program and measure the effectiveness and ROI of social media programs.

According to the latest Social Business Survey from IDC, there are five primary reasons that end users use social media as part of social business:

  1. Acquire knowledge and ask questions;
  2. Share knowledge and contribute ideas;
  3. Communicate with customers;
  4. Create awareness about company product or service; and
  5. Communicate with internal colleagues.

As part of your social business strategy, you need to think of the impact your social business program has on your social media audience in terms of:

  • Reach: How extensive is your online footprint and are you being effective at building an online following?
  • Impact: What part of your online community is active, pay attention to your products and messages, and influencing others?
  • Yield: How much revenue or new business can you link to active members of your social media community?

These are all factors we took into consideration in when we designed Socialite Engage. We understand that for certain industries it’s essential to not only promote conversation with preapproved content, but to understand how that content performs in achieving social business goals, and which channels are yielding the desired results.

As a firm, as a business, to gauge the effectiveness of a social business initiative, you have to be able to track aggregated engagement across different social media platforms, determine who your key influencers are, and how those influencers are affecting your bottom line. And that’s what we’ve done with Socialite Engage.  We’ve designed the means to identify and track key connections into Socialite Engage, and ways to track their influence. We’ve also built in analytics to determine how those connections are affecting business, which channels and messages are having the greatest impact on sales, lead generation, or whatever initiative you have determined will drive your social business.

Embracing social business isn’t just about improving customer relations and increasing sales, it’s about changing the very DNA of your people and the organization. Developing a social business strategy means empowering your people, your customers, your partners, and your suppliers with new tools that can impact your brand and reputation, as well as your bottom line. As a result, you need new tools to monitor the conversations and measure their impact. That’s what our next generation of social business engagement tools is all about.

Follow my experiences in beta testing Socialite Engage – as I endeavor to change the social behavior and the results of social collaboration of Actiance team members, partners and customers.  You can watch it all here – at blog.actiance.com (or follow us on Twitter @SarahActiance and @Actiance)