Reblog: Twitter Joins Team “Do Not Track”

May 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM (Happenings, work) (, , , , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

This week, micro-blogging site Twitter announced support for Mozilla’s “Do Not Track (DNT)” feature. DNT, available to Firefox users (other major browsers such as Safari and IE offer similar capabilities), gives web-surfers the chance to opt out of sharing cookies with participating sites. Frequently, these cookies are shared with advertisers, who use the information to target specific demographics, based on their web history. For instance, there’s a Royal Caribbean advert atop my Gmail inbox, likely as a result of email correspondence about my upcoming vacation. They’re also used to customize browsing online, based on your cached preferences – hence why weather.com generally knows where I am before I even have to search the site.

While the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t officially decided whether or not it’s supporting DTC, it did have some nice things to say about Twitter’s decision:

“Twitter’s use of ‘Do Not Track’ in its new feature is good news for Twitter users and a meaningful step toward broader adoption of a strong ‘Do Not Track’ system that will give consumers simple, comprehensive control over online tracking,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “Hopefully other companies will follow suit.”

Twitter was quick to praise the FTC’s comments.

“We applaud the FTC’s leadership on ‘Do Not Track,’ and are excited to provide the benefits of ‘Do Not Track,’” Robert Weeks, a Twitter spokesman, told CNN (via CNN).

No surprise that this announcement is making waves across the internet, given that Twitter is moving against other online moguls such as Facebook and (somewhat less so) Google, who are more renowned for ruffling more than a few feathers with privacy updates.

Mashable points out that there’s a trade-off when it comes to DNT:

Do you prefer ease of use and customized user suggestions or more anonymity from web services? According to Mozilla, 8.6% of desktop Firefox users and 19% of mobile users are choosing the latter, with nearly half of those users reporting they feel more safe surfing the Internet with Do Not Track enabled.

In Twitter’s case, the article continues, it’s looking like DNT will only affect the suggested accounts to follow. Given that I never really understand the site’s recommendations, I wasted no time in opting in for a small slice of web privacy.

Thoughts on Twitter’s support for Do Not Track? Is it much of a change? Do you care? Give us a shout in the comments.

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Reblog: March 6, 2012: #AskVan! Meet Todd Van Hoosear

March 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM (Happenings) (, , , , )

This post originally appeared on RaceTalk.

Almost a year ago, we hosted our first RaceTalk tweet-sourced interview with local Twitter legend @BostonTweet. The premise was simple: we asked him a few questions, then we asked him some of yours using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet. The results were definitely interesting (and perhaps a little amusing), to say the least. Now, we’re finally bringing it back: give it up for Todd Van Hoosear (@vanhoosear)!

In addition to loving underwater basket-weaving and moonlight walks on the beach (I don’t actually know if either of those are true), Todd wears several hats: Fresh Ground Principal; Society for New Communications Research Fellow; #BUNewMedia Adjunct Professor (Terrier pride!); Social Media Club Boston Founder (@SMCBoston); Launch Camp Organizer; Publicity Club of New England VP Social Media; TEDxSomerville Planner. And no, he doesn’t sleep, as far as I know.

Given his background, if I didn’t know any better, Todd knows a thing or two about social media, so of course I’ll be asking a couple questions about that. I will also be asking him about is favorite flavor of beef jerky. I will leave the rest up to you. Between now and Tuesday, March 6, tweet questions for Todd using the hashtag #AskVan – we like to keep it simple here – and at around 8:00 p.m. that day, we’re going to ask him as many of those questions as possible in front of a live studio audience. I mean his New Media & PR class at Boston University.

Got a question for @vanhoosear? Tweet using #AskVan between now and Tuesday night!

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Reblog: Google Sneaks Social into Search

January 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Happenings) (, , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

How’s that for alliteration? This week, Google began incorporating Google+ content into search results naming it Search Plus Your World – poetic, I know. Said Amit Singhal, a Google fellow who oversees search: “What you search today is largely written by people you don’t know; we call that the faceless Web. Search Plus Your World transforms search and centers it around you.’’

I’m not sure I like this idea. When I want to find my friends and their content, I’m going to go to the online source, be it their blog, YouTube page, Google+ profile (rare as that may be), or Facebook page. When I go to Google, I want the faceless Web. I want Google to provide me with searches that are as unbiased as possible, with most relevant/popular links showing up first – not some exchange I had with my second cousin on Google+. A real-life example: I like to periodically Google my name to see where I stand in the World Wide Web. Which blog posts come up, tweets, event attendee lists, competitive ballroom dance results and convicted doppelgangers are going to make their way to Page One (and yes, all of those things have been or are on Page One)? Today, I saw a whole bunch of my own posts via Google+. Not exactly useful to me.

Google did say that Google users will be able to toggle between integrated posts, just personal posts and just standard, but unless Google suddenly gets access to Facebook content and can cache the entire social web in search results (which will likely never happen, because why would Facebook and Google cooperate, and if they did, how much of  a privacy fit would that cause?), I still don’t see the point.

What do you think of Google social integrating with Google search? Good? Bad? Huh?

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Reblog: Paula Deen and Her [Deep] Fried PR Strategy

January 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Happenings) (, , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

For all two of you who don’t already know, Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. Sounds like a stretch, I know. All those deep-fried Twinkies could not have possibly had anything to do with it. What’s drawing even more attention though is that not only has Ms. Deen been tucked away in the diabetes closet for three years (more on that below), but she has also timed her announcement with a deal to promote a diabetes medication. In the words of Ad Age contributor Eric Webber, “the irony has not been lost on the public,” and while this may result in some bad press for Paula, it’s also bad press for the industry. Webber does a great job explaining why this is bit of a booboo for all of us PR kids (so read the article), I wanted to highlight a few particularly good points.

Bad timing Deen’s claim that her limited knowledge of the disease kept her from going public says one of at least three things: 1.) Her doctors lied and told her she has something WAY more exotic than diabetes, 2.) she doesn’t know how to use Google (in which case, I have a great site for her friends to check out), or 3.) she had plans to time the announcement so that she’d be a prime candidate for a lucrative spokesperson deal.

Two steps back The do-gooders of the branding industry are fighting a seemingly endless battle against the stigma that people in PR, marketing and advertising are all soulless spin doctors who are only after dollar signs. Admittedly, there are folks who are only in it for the bottom line, but it certainly isn’t standard. As Webber put it, it gives the industry a black eye.

Celebrity endorsements “But, of course, I’m being compensated for my time,” we hear from Deen when asked about how she’s benefiting financially from the partnership. “That’s the way our world works.” Again, with the making us all look like money mongrels, especially when it comes to celebrity partnerships. There’s a common assumption that celebrity spokespeople are sell-outs, but Webber reminds us that not all of them are about the contracts. Some, like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, may not have agreed with Deen’s perspective.

Paula Deen, diabetes, Type 2, fatty foods

Not sure if Deen and her team have been sitting on their hands in the three years that they’ve had to plan for these announcements, or if they thought that the Boy Scout motto of always being prepared didn’t apply to them. I’m guessing at least one person involved in this strategy (or lack thereof?) is scratching his head saying “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” What do you think was going on during the planning stages?

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Winners from Beer Summit’s Winter Jubilee

January 22, 2012 at 7:13 PM (Events, Food, Happenings) (, , , , , , )

Yesterday was a magical day filled with lots and lots of beer, thanks to Beer Summit: Winter Jubilee. I’ve been to a couple summits in previous years and of course find new, interesting things at every one. The Jubilee, however, seemed to be a special treat: I have never had so many delicious beers at once. Great job, brewers! That said, a couple brews stood out that I’d like to share so that you can taste and enjoy, as well.

dark winter aleBrewery Ommegang Adoration If there was a “Best of Jubilee Award,” Adoration deserved it, hands down. I love Belgian dark strong ales, and – I can’t help myself here – I adored Adoration. It was the perfect beer to warm you up on a cold winter’s day, with the perfect blend of coriander, cumin, mace, cardamom and grains of paradise. Ales like Adoration make me tolerate all the crappiness that can accompany a New England winter.

Long Trail Double Bag I actually wouldn’t have gone to Long Trail’s booth had my friend not insisted we go. It’s not that I don’t like Long Trail – I’d just never had it and had other breweries I wanted to visit. But, not being one to turn down something new, I gave it a shot. Double Bag is another strong ale with a notable alcohol content (7.2 percent abv) that you don’t notice when you’re drinking it. Good for drinking at home without having any plans to go outside.

beer, Sam AdamsSamuel Adams Whitewater IPA The kids at Sam Adams hold a special place in my heart because the first beers I really started drinking were the Boston Lager and the Octoberfest. If you’re friends with me on Untappd, you’ll see that I still drink more Sam than anything else. It’s a brand loyalty thing. Anyhoo, back to Whitewater IPA. I’m actually not crazy about IPAs and usually lean toward maltier beers, but there were apricot notes that softened this beer enough for me to drink and even enjoy. Well done, Jim and co.

Staropramen Premium Lager Holy yummy, Batman. Owned by Spaten, who also makes my beloved Franziskaner and of course, Spaten Premium Lager, this is simply a very solid lager. Nicely balanced, it goes down easy and may be the lightest beer on this list (but don’t you dare confuse this with a light beer). In short, it’s just a bottle of satisfaction. I might even suggest it to my dad, the world’s pickiest beer drinker.

My only regret about Jubilee is that I didn’t make it to all the booths I wanted. I missed out on Notch, Backlash, Peak Organic and some other great breweries, but on the bright side I tried some new stuff, too. And really, isn’t that the best part of a beer summit?

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A Night of Delicious: Taste, from Boston Magazine

November 22, 2011 at 1:02 AM (Food, Happenings) (, , , )

Have I mentioned that I love the fruits borne to me by Twitter recently? No? Well… I love them. Most recently, I scored a pair of VIP tickets to Taste, “Boston’s premier tasting event,” brought to you by Boston magazine by way of a @BostonTweet freebie (woohoo!!). Given my love of almost all things edible, this was definitely something for me to salivate over. Last  Monday, I was lucky enough to sample bite-sized delights from 28 of Boston’s “hottest restaurants”* at the Museum of Science, and all I have to say is that I wish I was capable of eating more so that I could have stayed and enjoyed longer (being fun-sized does have its occasional disadvantages).

The munchables ranged from octopus to foi gras to borscht to frozen custard to bagels – no palate was left unsatisfied. I wish my phone battery hadn’t been drained at the event I attended earlier that evening, as educational as it was (thank you, PubClub), because it’s impossible for me to connect every noteworthy morsel to its respective restaurant, but at the very least, I can give you a list of the restaurants that participated in this fancy-pants event.

It’s okay to be green with envy. It was awesome. My only advice for next year’s event is to add high-top tables, because balancing a drink and a snack in a pair of heels is difficult without some assistance. Other than that, a pretty killer event, thanks to Boston magazine and for me, the magic of Twitter. God bless the Interwebs.

*Atlantic Fish, I don’t care if you weren’t there. I still love you.

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Ages Later . . . #AskBostonTweet Lives!

April 21, 2011 at 2:36 AM (Happenings) (, , , , , , , )

Remember that post I had stickied to my blog not too long ago, asking you very nicely to tweet your questions for @BostonTweet using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet? Well, you did tweet your questions, and Tom O’Keefe/ @BostonTweet was nice enough to to answer most of them – I would have asked all of them, but Twitter ate a couple.

The official video for RaceTalk is included below, but stay tuned for the director’s cuts, which will include bloopers (mostly me laughing hysterically and losing my place) and the questions that weren’t included on the agency blog. Enjoy!

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Richies Pizza: A Mini Brand Loyalty Case Study

April 6, 2011 at 3:48 AM (Food, Happenings) (, , , , , )

Let me tell you a little story about seizing a sub-ideal moment in customer service and turning that into an opportunity.

I originally found Richies, a pizza (and stuff) place in Washington Square when I was moving to my current apartment. At the time, I was actually hoping to get my first taste of Publick House, but for whatever reason that magical place doesn’t believe in opening its doors during daylight hours.  Oh well.  Anyhoo, desperate for sustenance (moving oodles of possessions up four flights of stairs does that to people), we meandered into Richies.  The food did the job, and the staff was more than welcoming. When a Richies Groupon made its way into Gmail, I was happy to buy two, particularly as I had recently gone cold turkey in my battle with my Dominos addiction.

Fast-forward four months and one of my two Groupons later. Once again, I had no food in my fridge, and needed some dinner on a late Friday night.  Unable to get through on the phone, I figured I’d place an order online. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like I’d be able to use the Groupon online (weird, given it’s an online coupon, but whatever), so I resigned myself for paying full price for my pizza.  After entering my credit card information, a confirmation screen told me I’d get my order in 60-70 minutes. A bit excruciating, but I knew I’d manage.

Fast-forward two hours – and no pizza – later. Cranky and hungry, I went to bed, figuring that the website flubbed and my card wasn’t actually charged.  It was.  A bit crankier, I called Richies tonight to see about remedying the situation. And remedied it was!

I quickly (and politely – always try to be polite!) explained my dilemma. Moments later, not only did Richies promise to refund my card, but when I asked if I could just get my pizza a few days late, i.e., today, they told me “Sure, definitely.” Oh, and it would still be free.

How great is that? No back-talk, an explanation* accompanied by genuine humility, and a speedy recovery.  Had this exchange gone less pleasantly, I probably would have contacted Groupon and asked for a refund on my second (unused) coupon. Instead, I’ve been reminded of the great customer service at Richies, and even after I’ve used my final Groupon, I’ll definitely be calling them back.

*As it turned out, Richies closed early that night, but the website was still operating up until the usual closing time. The restaurant is working on syncing that all up.

Richies
1632 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 739-1114

 

Totally Unrelated Shameless Plug
This Thursday, I’ll be interviewing the one and only @BostonTweet for RaceTalk, my agency’s blog. I’ve got a few questions for him, and I’m sure you do, too.  So between now and then, tweet your questions for him using the hashtag #askbostontweet. Thanks!

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Now’s Your Chance to #AskBostonTweet

April 4, 2011 at 7:51 AM (Happenings) (, , , , , , )

I recently started writing for my agency‘s blog, RaceTalk. Following my first post not too long ago, I eagerly sent my mother a link to show her that yes, my college degree wasn’t going to waste. She Emailed me a short while later to say that she learned a lot from my post, and oh, by the way, she found a typo.

Thanks, Mom!

I haven’t been discouraged from contributing to RaceTalk, though. Rather, I figured I’d just work around my flawed typographical skills, and switch to a new media platform: video. Onto the meat of this post.

Many of you who read my blog are active on Twitter, or are at least familiar with it. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Tom O’Keefe, or more likely his Twitter persona, @BostonTweet.

BostonTweet was created […] as a way to create awareness for local business in a down economy.Got questions for @BostonTweet? Tweet 'em to #AskBostonTweet! Tom developed BostonTweet in November 2008 when the financial markets were at a precipitous decline and his two former startups had become worthless after the crash. Fearing that Boston would become a 1929 ghost town, O’Keefe created BostonTweet to make sure everyone knew that our favorite restaurants and bars were still open and needed our business for survival. Needing a very economical platform to promote local business, Twitter was hands down the best application to talk about everything Boston.
— Gotta love “About” pages, right?

Anyhoo, over the last couple of years, @BostonTweet has developed into somewhat of a hyper-local Twitterlebrity, with almost 30,000 folks following him on Twitter for updates on Boston goings-on, including special events, Boston city-living, food and drink deals, burritos, and his whereabouts. While we have oodles of social media gurus telling us how businesses can benefit from social media, we’ve got a guy in Boston who is demonstrating it before our very eyes.

Now, if you’re at all like me, you may have a couple of questions for this guy: how was the idea of @BostonTweet conceived (why not Facebook, or a blog or forum), and what made it take off the way it did? Can a man truly live on burritos and beer alone? What’s next for social media-fueled citizen journalism? And seriously, what’s with the burritos?

I have wonderful news for you: the man, myth and legend behind BostonTweet has agreed to a video interview (see, there was a point to the beginning of this post) on Thursday evening, April 7. Between now and then, tweet your questions for BostonTweet using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet. We’ll pick out a few gems to answer on Thursday evening, then post his answers to your questions – and a couple of mine – on Friday, April 8. Start tweeting!

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Facebook: Social Wal-Mart?

March 24, 2011 at 2:00 AM (Happenings, Musings) (, )

Last week I had the privilege of writing up my first post for my agency’s blog, RaceTalk, entitled “Facebook: Social Copycat Extraordinaire?”  In it, I discussed how Facebook has gone ahead and tried to not only emulate, but own the best of every facet of the internet out there: video-sharing (YouTube), a free marketplace (Craigslist), a real-time news feed with the ability to tag friends (Twitter), check-ins (Foursquare), and most recently – at the time – deals (Groupon).

Are we counting down until we get Facebook credit gift cards like these in our birthday cards from Mom?For now, at least, the latest addition to the Facebook family is Facebook Payments.  As the company stated, “As is common in many company structures, we have established a subsidiary called Facebook Payments Inc. that helps handle payments to developers related to our Facebook Credits program.”  Even the title of the source article, “Watch Out PayPal, Facebook Is Getting Serious About Payments,” plays into my little conspiracy theory quite nicely.

Think about it: who else do you know tries to offer everything, and as a result, is somewhat frighteningly overwhelming?  That’s right: Wal-Mart!  What are your thoughts on the constantly growing Facebokolis?  Can it support its expanding palate of offerings indefinitely, and if so, can it beat all its original sources of inspiration?

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