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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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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In the Event You Are Sending Me a Résumé . . .

August 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Musings, work) (, , , , , )

It’s been over 100 days since I blogged. I know, because LinkedIn reminds me every time I log in. It’s frustrating, and a little embarrassing. Given how many hours I spend looking at a computer daily, it’s easy for me to justify not wanting to spend any more time at one once I get home, but that’s no reason to be unable to post something at least once a week. So let’s try getting back to that again, shall we?

In addition to being uber busy, work at Racepoint has been great. Lots of media, writing, tweeting – you know, all that stuff that falls into an agency job description. What I didn’t expect was all the job inquiries I’ve been fielding. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I shout to BU that we’re hiring, I fully anticipate a handful of candidates recommended by my qualified friends over there. But now, there’s a new breed of job candidate I’m seeing: random internet people.</ominousmusic>

As a PR agency, we’re hiring about every 15 minutes or so, and what better way to fish for candidates who need to be social media-savvy than by fishing through social media? That’s right, I tweet job openings. Shamelessly. And often. The upside is that I get a lot of responses. The bad news is that those responses are not filtered. Whereas I knew my BU friends would never send me a lemon, on Twitter, I have no idea who’s going to be in each box of job-seeking chocolates. While there’s really no point in going into details on each #fail, I figured I’d share a couple things I’ve noticed on this short journey as an amateur recruiter. In the event you are sending me a résumé . . .

Spell my name right. Really. You want me to bother sending your information to the person who is actually responsible for calling you? Make sure you don’t mistake me for a Britney. Or Britany. Or Britanny. Or . . . oh, God. My fingers are starting to bleed just typing these.

That goes for my company, too. Do a Google search on my company. We exist. Racepoint Group. Not Race Point Group. Or The Racepoint Group. Crap, there go my fingers again.

Keep your resume to one page – and current. Unless you are detailing how you changed Poland’s opinion of Hitler through social media efforts – and, in that case, I’m not sure I want to work with you – there is no reason why your résumé should spill over a page. I have no problem reading 10pt font, and I’m pretty sure most HR folks accept that, too. Still running out of room? Maybe you should cut “Starbucks barista.” Unless you’re applying for a corporate Starbucks position, I suppose. Also, if you’re sending me a résumé in August 2011, I had better not see “Graduation expected May 2011.”

Follow directions. I hate cover letters. I sent out so many generic ones when I was job-hunting, but my best responses came from people to whom I’d just sent short, unrehearsed notes. Ability to smell fear? This is an example of a fun fact. Another one might be that you're an expert no-handed cartwheeler. Or that you like ducks.We all learned how to write a form cover letter in college, so we can all pick them out. You’re fooling no one. Thus, rather than asking random job candidates to send me their résumé and a letter of intent, I ask for the résumé and some fun facts. I don’t need a whole paragraph about how you spent a year in Zimbabwe building huts, but a bullet point would be good to know. I can always ask you about it later. Don’t have any fun facts to share? That’s okay, I guess (although you may want to seek work in a less fun environment), but please don’t ignore my request with a canned cover letter. If you do, I can assure you that I will not be sending you along to our recruiter.

I know, you learned about this at every single career panel you ever attended, but somehow, I still see these errors. I can only imagine what full-time recruiters receive, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. What are some of the doozies you’ve encountered on the receiving end of job inquiries? Go ahead, make me feel like I shouldn’t be whining.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai
“September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Dancing Machine,” Jackson 5
“Canned Heat,” Jamiroquai
“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” Modjo
“When I Get You Alone,” Robin Thicke

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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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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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Not-News Flash! 40% of Tweets Are Mobile

January 9, 2011 at 4:59 PM (Musings) (, , )

Yesterday, Mashable shared via Twitter’s CEO that 40% of all tweets come from mobile devices.  While it’s nice to have a referenceable percentage for those thrilling conversations at cocktail parties, this doesn’t really come as a surprise.  Upsurge in smartphone-adoption aside, we’re on our mobile phones more than ever – and tweeting all the way (for those of you who ridicule me for not having a smartphone ::coughs::, you can in fact tweet and check in via text).  Sure, official Android and iPhone apps make it easier to tweet, but what really makes the difference is that we’re finding more and more information that’s worth sharing: news articles, YouTube videos, Angry Birds board games, what I ate for breakfast, and so on.  Rather than deciding to wait until we get to our computers to post from there (and most likely forget about it by then), we tweet on the go.  The only part I actually found surprising was that the percentage wasn’t higher, but given that last year only about 20-25% of tweets were shared via mobile, it’s still some serious headway.

 

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Good For You, Twitter

May 24, 2010 at 4:58 PM (Happenings, Musings) (, , , )

This morning, TechCrunch posted an article about Twitter’s decision to prohibit all third parties from advertising within the tweet-stream.  My response?

Yay!

twitter birdOne of the aspects of Twitter that I really appreciate is the lack of adverts that I can’t control interrupting my feed.  If I decide to follow someone who turns out to tweet only in spam or product promos, that’s my own fault and it’s my job to either live with it or un-follow the account.  I could grow used to banner and sidebar adverts (because let’s face it, if you want to use the free version of anything, chances are you have to see an advertisement somewhere on the site): eventually I just learn how to ignore them.  However, if one shows up in the middle of a game, page-load or – gasp – tweet stream, it becomes a lot tougher to overlook.

TechCrunch linked to the Twitter blog as well as highlighted a key passage outlining the reasons for the decision (emphasis added by yours, truly):

First, third party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created. They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform. For example, a third party ad network may seek to maximize ad impressions and click through rates even if it leads to a net decrease in Twitter use due to user dissatisfaction.

Secondly, the basis for building a lasting advertising network that benefits users should be innovation, not near-term monetization. Twitter is uniquely dependent on and responsible for the long-term health and value of the platform. Accordingly, a necessary focus of Promoted Tweets is to explore ways to create value for our users. Third party ad networks may be optimized for near-term monetization at the expense of innovating or creating the best user experience. We believe it is our responsibility to encourage creative product development and to curb practices that compromise innovation.

It is important to keep in mind that Twitter bears all the costs of maintaining the network, protecting the Tweet stream against spam, supporting user requests, and scaling the service. Indeed, Twitter will bear many of the support costs associated with any third-party paid Tweets, as Twitter receives support emails related to anything a user sees in a tweet stream. The third-party bears few of these costs by comparison.

Granted, as a non-advertiser, my opinion isn’t exactly unbiased, but as a recreational user, I’m pretty happy about the announcement.  Good for you, Twitter.

Today’s Tunes
“Quiet Times,” Dido
“Mediocre Bad Guys,” Jack Johnson
“December Baby,” Ingrid Michaelson

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PubClub: Social Media Case Studies, Part I

February 25, 2010 at 10:40 PM (Events) (, , , )

On Tuesday, the PubClub hosted yet another marvelous event: Social Media Case Studies.  Of course, yours truly took one look at event title and signed up immediately.  Once again, the panelists were all not only knowledgeable practitioners of social media, but delightful individuals.  Below are the participants.

Publicity club new england pubclub logoDavid Woodrow, Gather, Inc.
Jennifer Jewett, Kaspersky Lab Americas
Stacey Howe, New Balance
Meagan J. Ellis, Kel & Partners
Marc Goodman, Comcast
Dan Abdinoor, HubSpot (moderator)

While my last PubClub event keyed in on the benefits of LinkedIn as a networking tool, this one focused a bit more on Facebook and Twitter as complements to a marketing strategy.  Our lovely moderator Dan Abdinoor of HubSpot, an inbound marketing agency, opened with a Seth Godin quote:

Conversations among members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.

hubspot logoWhile nothing new for me (or other social media enthusiasts in the audience), the quote is still one of the best to summarise why marketers and PR practitioners should give a hoot about social media as a necessary accessory in our professional repertoires.  No one is holding a gun to anyone’s head demanding that they create a Twitter account . . . but if they do, reaching out to their target audiences will be a heck of a lot easier.  The better you know your targets, the more likely it will be to get them to listen to you.

More specific to Twitter, Dan offered a few pointers on maintaining a complete profile before turning the mic over to the panelists.

Complete your profile.  No one cares what your name is.  Okay, that’s totally not true, but if you’re trying to build a Twitter following, you better have more than just your name.  Where are you located? What do you do?  Do you have a life outside of what people pay you to do?  Sure, you only have 160 characters to sum yourself up, but once you get the hang of tweeting, it’s easy.  For instance, here’s what I have to say about myself on Twitter:

Public Relations BU Grad. Little and blonde. Occasionally witty. Enjoy beer, wine, food, music and dance. Available for hire.

Gets the point across, right?  Give the Twittersphere a glimpse of what to expect upon following you.

Find people in your area of interest.  If you’re in public relations, chances are conversations with biochemists will be infinitely less interesting than with other PR practitioners.  There are countless Twitter applications that allow you to search for people in your area, industry, and so-on and so-forth.

Say interesting and/or useful things.  Unless you are a part of an exhibitionist muffin fetishist community, chances are few people will care about what kind of muffin you had for breakfast.  Talking about the news in your industry, or about what your clients are doing, on the other hand, may resonate a bit more with audiences.

Don’t auto-follow people back on Twitter.  They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps.  Do you have any idea how many spam-bots are on Twitter?  Make sure that folks who follow you are relevant to you before clicking that “Follow” button.

Each of the panelists shared his or her case of how social media was used to increase a brand’s online presence.  To discuss the cases themselves would turn this blog post into a novella, but I’ll share the significant points from everyone, starting with Stacey Howe.

new balance logo nbPeople have been talking for centuries; they’re just doing it faster now.  With the rise of social media, consumers have gained a direct line to the ears of businesses, something previously all but impossible.  Through channels such as Facebook and Twitter, consumers can converse with one another about their experiences with a product or brand, what their thoughts were on said product or brand, and if they’d recommend it.  If a business (like, say, New Balance) is smart, it will not only harvest this feedback and incorporate it into its marketing strategy, but it will also engage its audience through social media to better connect.  As a consumer, wouldn’t you be more encouraged to share your honest thoughts about a brand if you knew the people behind that brand were listening?

Marc Goodman piggy-backed off Stacey to talk about the benefits of real-time feedback in customer serviceComcast customers, are you familiar with @comcastcares?  Imagine: you have a problem with your service, and you tweet about it to @comcastcares . . . and a real person gets back to you.  Instantly.  Wow, suddenly you don’t find yourself cursing the existence of your cable provider!  Seriously, though.  It happens.  Social media turns companies (especially customer service reps) into real people.

I’m off to #SoxUp, but I’ll wrap up David, Meagan and Jennifer’s points soon!

Today’s Tunes
“Broadway,” The Goo Goo Dolls
“Everything You Want,” Vertical Horizon
“Hey Jealousy,” Gin Blossoms
“December (1995),” Collective Soul
“Ants Marching,” Dave Matthews Band

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“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Twit-ter . . .”

April 6, 2009 at 7:44 PM (Musings) (, , , , )

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Twitter is “a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices” (twitter.com).  As one Tweeter put it (whom I can’t remember, so unfortunately I can’t credit him or her), “If blogs, Facebook statuses and chat rooms were to have an orgy, Twitter would be the love child.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Below is a screenshot of my Twitter Feed:

My Twitter Feed.  Good stuff, right?

I love Twitter – as you may notice from that little section on the right – and find it useful for getting PR news, Boston news, friend news, promoting my blog and friends’ events, and chatting with my friends.  However, occasionally all the Tweets I receive can be a bit overwhelming (as one Twitter glossary phrases it, “Twitterhea”), so I’ll use TweetDeck to filter mass Tweets relevantly.  I was not thrilled when the new Facebook homepage took on a similar look:

Suspicious resemblance, no?

I have decided that there’s too much going on with Facebook for this layout to be a good idea.  For starters, I don’t care about all of my friends on Facebook enough to know about each of their updates (and considering some of the mundane things I post on Facebook, I’m pretty sure many of my Facebook friends could say the same of me).  For the entree, Facebook has so many more features than Twitter.  I can’t even remember what the old Facebook looked like before the News-Feed debuted, but I do recall that few users considered it an improvement.  However, at least the News Feed offered updates that may have been more interesting than “Chris is buying socks… finally.”  I could see what events my friends were attending, who had added a new mutual friend, and other stalkeresque such-like.  I doubt Facebook will revert back to the News Feed, but perhaps it would consider an option to filter updates, because, really, who cares about that guy who sat in the second row in freshman year biology that no one ever actually spoke to?  For Pete’s sake, he claims to have lost a contact lens!

Today, I decided to toodle through TechCrunch and discovered that yet another social networking site had fallen in-line with the Twitter doctrine: FriendFeed.  I don’t use FriendFeed, so I can’t comment extensively, but it looks like it could be TwitterExtra:

Come on!  It doesn’t even limit you to strict, 140-character copy!  And what’s worse, according to TechCrunch, the page updates constantly.  Again, it looks like FriendFeed offers too much to benefit from the Twitter layout, but not having an account, I can’t comment with confidence.  TechCrunch posted a video of the “short version” of the demo they saw, but when I saw that it was 17 minutes, I decided that I had better things to do.  However, I will post it below for those of you who have the time and interest.

In the meantime, I have to say that Twitter, although subject to the sarcastic criticism of folks like John Stewart (unfortunately I can’t remember the episode where he poked fun so I can’t link to it), is on the rise.  Less and less frequently do I receive the response “What the [expletive] is a Twitter?” when I mention it, and more and more often do I see and hear it referenced on the rare occasions when I’m near a television set.  And now, it’s even leaking into other social networking sites.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the up and coming social networking deity:

Today’s Tunes
“The Melee,” Beastie Boys
“Drink Whiskey and Shut Up,” Brian Setzer
“Falling In Love At a Coffee Shop,” Landon Pigg
“In the Light,” Led Zeppelin
“The Boy’s Doin’ It (Carl Craig Remix),” Carl Craig & Hugh Masekela
“Standin’ Round Crying,” Eric Clapton
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” The Rolling Stones
“Zoot Suit Riot,” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
“Plastic Stars,” Freezepop
“Closer,” Joshua Radin
“The Ballad of John and Yoko,” The Beatles

Fun fact: I didn’t realise that linking back to TechCrunch’s post would earn me a spot on the site (if perhaps only briefly).  Check it out!

I'm famous!  I'm famous!  Okay, not really, but it's still cool to see.

Don’t worry: I promise I won’t let it get to my head (I know it was automatically generated). This time.

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What Happens When I Network?

March 25, 2009 at 2:31 AM (Happenings) (, , , )

I win VIP tickets to an International Twitter wine tasting.  What else?  I’ll gloat about this more as I get more info, but here’s what I have so far for you Boston wine aficionados (taken verbatim from my quarter-page advert):

The Second Glass and Dig present:
Wine Riot
250+ wines, food pairings, crash courses, snob-free!!!
Friday, April 17th, 2009
Trade Tasting: 2.00 – 5.00 P.M.
VIP Riot: 6.00 – 10.00 P.M. ($65.00) – I’ll be at this one!!
With Special Sustainable Wine Tasting, International Twitter Tasting and More!

Saturday, April 18th, 2009
Riot 1: 1.00 – 5.00 P.M. ($45.00)
Riot 2: 6.00 – 10.00 P.M. ($45.00)

The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116

I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty stoked: this is the most that my business card has done for me so far.  If you’re planning on attending Friday night, shoot me a message!

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