Posts Tagged 'social media'

Social Media – Sometimes it pays to say nothing

Repost from The Social Penguin Blog.

You’re an idiot and your product never works, I’m so never buying here again

You suck…

Ah social media, a happy place where everyone loves each other and no one is ever nasty or mean. Your brand is adored by all and the only things people have to say about you are sweet and nice. Of course the reality is that you are just as likely to be subjected to sarcastic, rude and down right abusive comments in social media as you are anywhere else. The big difference in social media is the speed (light speed it seems at times) at which things can turn ugly if you don’t have some guidelines in place to help.

Having clear terms of engagement is something that’s often skipped over when considering social media policies. (If you have them at all that is.) Most times it’s left to your own judgement when deciding who you should and shouldn’t respond to and if you haven’t invested any kind of training in to the staff who manage your social media you may end up like these cautionary tales.

The easiest way to stop this kind of mistake from happening is to provide your staff with guidance that clearly outlines, in a step by step process, exactly what action you should take for different possible types of comments you are likely to encounter.

Thankfully someone has already done that for you.

Airforce Principals

US Airforce Web Posting Assessment

Back in 2009 Capt. David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency made this flowchart available, outlining how members of the the US Airforce should respond to any comments online discovered about the Airforce. There have been many attempts to change (or shamelessly rip off) this chart since 2009 but in essence it remains unchanged because it works well. As much you want to it tells you not to respond to that sarky comment, be a grown up and ignore it.

As smart and witty as your response may be, you just aren’t going to change this person’s opinion and are likely to make things worse by trying. It can be frustrating walking away in some situations, especially if like me your knee jerk reaction is to respond with exquisite dry sarcasm, but it really is for the best. If you refuse to engage then these people can’t get deeper under your skin. The chart helps you identify these potentially toxic situations so you can avoid them like the plague and although it’s meant for blogs it works just as well with other social media channels too.

The one problem I have with the chart is that it advocates “monitor only” or ‘report to your boss’ for some of the worst kinds of posts. I’m talking about the about the kind of posts that are frankly unacceptable anywhere, the ones that threaten, harass and intimidate. Sometimes people forget there is a human being at the end of the a faceless social media account and a simple polite message can be enough to get them to stop. (Though just remember how easy it is to take screenshots of private messages) If not, all the major social media channels have ways of reporting abusive behavior. You shouldn’t be subject to abuse in your workplace, even through social media which is why you need to take action if it becomes a recurring problem.

If only we could convince everyone to be nice and polite online, then no one would have to worry about responding to negative posts. Do you think if I baked some cake for the guys over at 4Chan they’d give the trolling a rest?

Social media and healthy snacks? Sounds like a winner to me

As you may have gathered from the amount of baking I do my office get treated to baked goodies rather a lot. It leads to problems at this time of year as many of us have realised that Christmas (and the inevitable office party) is not actually that far away. With party dresses in mind all sweeties, cakes and biscuits have been banned from the office until further notice and we are ushering in a era of healthy snacks. (I’m already being called a fascist for hiding the biscuit barrel and rumours of a resistance smuggling in cookies has reached my ears and its only been 2 days so far.) So my friend offering me some vouchers for really could not have been better timed.

For those not in the know Graze is a website that promotes healthier eating by sending you nutritious nibbley snacks in the post. Perfect for your desk, they’re a cheap and healthy way to fight off the mid morning and mid afternoon snacks that so often end up being crisps and biscuits. Its vast and varied product range means that there is something for everyone and it’ll take awhile to work your way through everything. But what has really had me excited is it’s a company that feels like it was made for social media (oh come on, who get’s excited over dried fruit and nuts?)

This is something that screams word of mouth marketing and the free vouchers you get when you sign up ensures that those who you do talk to about it sign up to try for themselves. (The voucher gives you the first box free and the second half price.) A great example of this is my office. I heard about this from my friend in London who gave me one of her vouchers, I use this to get my own account and my own set of vouchers and now 4 other people in my office have signed up. Perhaps a big part of that is the fact Graze send your box to your office and nothing seems to generate excitement more than receiving a package at work. There is also an element of school lunch boxes here, with calls of “ooh what did you get? I had that last time it’s yummy”. A bewildering commentary for those in the office who haven’t signed up and therefore not experienced the “pina colada fruit mix”. Graze have also made it easy to share codes via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook so you can encourage your virtual networks to try it too.

Graze have made themselves easy to share and easy to recommend but they are also easy to like. You’ll receive an email the day your box is delivered asking you to provide personal feedback. The foods you loved Graze will send more often and the ones you hated you’ll never see again. Graze gradually learn what you like and dislike but you get to try a whole bunch of stuff along the way.

My Graze Box

My Graze Box

I’m pretty hooked already, though I’m unsure just how long I’m supposed to make these boxes last. So far my box has only lasted three days however I was thoroughly overexcited about the whole thing and may have wanted to try everything immediately. Perhaps once the shine has worn off a bit I’ll be able to give a more accurate estimate of how long a box lasts.

I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s so much cheaper than buying “healthy desk food” from a supermarket, it’s nicer too and they take the hassle of buying it out of the way by mailing it to you. So in the spirit of recommending and sharing if you would like to try a free box you can use this code to get one

Happy snacking!

I’m on a writers holiday

It’s not quite what you’d imagine. If I personally didn’t know better I’d have presumed I was going off to some sort of stately home or camp to immerse myself in the ways of writing (for a reasonable fee naturally) in much the same way that people go on cooking holidays.

In reality I’ve actually been taking a break from writing things as trying to provide content for 3 different places was burning me out a bit. Usually I’ll be humming the “Murder She Wrote” theme in my head as I hammer merrily away at my keyboard but recently its felt a bit forced. The good news about taking a break is having loads of free time to remember all the fun things you did before you gave your life over to the higher power that is Social Media.

Crocheted Baby Blanket

Crocheted Baby Blanket

In my case it meant I had the time to make this beautiful baby blanket for my friend who is having her first baby in a few weeks. The non writing activity doesn’t stop there though; I’ve made a batch of cakes every week, read about a dozen books, started running again in the evenings, finished a load of video games and devoured 4 seasons of the West Wing on DVD. Wowee free time is fun!

Worry ye not for this kind of fun wasn’t meant to last and I’ll be returning to my old crazy workaholic self in no time at all. I’ve even managed to write around 300 words of an article for The Social Penguin Blog though it’s currently reading so saccharine sweet (and utterly unlike me) that I’m beginning to entertain the fact that I may have been possessed when I wrote it.

Social Media Analytics – A beginners guide to free tools

Back in April the Social Penguin blog featured my very first guest post on the analytics behind Illegal Jacks successful use of social media marketing. It caused a bit of a stir at the time because I jokingly called analytics’s a “black art” because whilst it incredibly easy to do, a lot of people are still intimidated by social media analytics. In a bid to try and dispel some of those misconceptions I’m going to a closer look at some free online social media analytic tools that anyone can learn to use themselves.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

It’s a common mistake these days, because the majority of the tools and platforms can be accessed free over the internet, but social media isn’t free. Organisations forget that they have to pay someone to do all this work, either in house or through an agency, and engaging with people properly through social media can eat up a lot of hours. This is why your analytics are so important, so you can show a decent return on investment on the time (and money) you’ve ploughed in to it. So if you are going to use these free tools to measure your campaigns be sure to account for the time you spend doing it.

How often should you gather metrics?

It depends really on how active you are in social media. If you are only using it for buzz monitoring then once a month would be acceptable. However if you have an active campaign I would recommend every 2 weeks as a bare minimum. One of the major limitations of these tools is the restrictions set in the Twitter API which means they may only be able to search back 30 days, (in some cases it’s as low as 7 days) so after that time you won’t be able to access those figures. It’s best to do a little digging around on the Twitter API Wiki and find out just what the current API limits are so you won’t be caught out by the restrictions and lose your metrics.


One of my favourite tools to use when trying to track hashtag usage is Tweetreach. The tool will provide numbers and graphs detailing a search terms exposure and also can provide the information in a handy downloadable pdf format (great for storing your metrics offline.) Searching back through 50 tweets it will give numbers on impressions, top contributors and whether people saw the term as a tweet, retweet or @ message.


Tweetreach showing EdCMBE stats

One of the major draw backs to this service are the restrictions, the search function is limited to only the last 7 days and if you want to include more than 50 tweets you have to fork over money. (Even then the paid for service is still limited to 1500 tweets.) However Tweetreach does get major points for explaining in plain English where the get their numbers from and how you should interpret the figures. In an area that many find confusing it’s great that some tolls go out of their way to keep it simple and explain everything to you.

Social Mention

Until recently I used to be a big fan of Ice Rocket for satisfying all my buzz monitoring needs, now Social Mention has stolen its place. Social Mention is essentially an aggregator for user generated content that will search over 80+ social media sites for the search terms of your choice. You can choose to separate your search in to only things like blogs, comments, videos etc or go for an overview of your search term on all channels.

Social Mention

Social Mention showing the Social Penguin

It also has a wealth of information about the content it has found for you. Sentiment is a really useful tool that looks for at whether the mention was positive, negative or neutral and it also provides a list of keywords associated with your search term. Other great features include the ability to set up email alerts for search terms and being able to easily download your data in to a csv file. The only gripe with tool is that it presents numbers on things like “strength” and “sentiment” without telling you how it calculated them. This means these numbers could be pulled from anywhere (like out of the clear blue sky or a magicians hat) and you have no way of knowing how credible they are.


Twitalyzer is all about information overload, looking at individual twitter accounts it provides percentages and average figures from impact to references, assigns your account a personality and even lets you compare your metrics to other users. The drawback to all this information is that it can be overly technical and hard to understand if you don’t have a background in communications. For example; Velocity, as defined by Twitalyzer, is an indication of the relative frequency at which a user publishes updates in Twitter…which is of course just a fancy way of saying “how often you tweet.”


Twitalyzer showing me

When using twitalyzer the onus really is on the user to pull out the information they need, and whilst it’s great to have all these numbers I’d question just how useful they are to the average account owner.

An honourable mention has to go to as an up and coming analytics tool. It’s still in beta though I’ve had a play around and been very impressed at the presentation, transparency of data and the kind of stats it’s providing. It’s definitely one to watch once it’s finished testing. You may have also noticed the absence of any mention of Hootsuite‘s inbuilt tools, this is because they are part of a dashboard app rather than a stand alone web app. However the tools available through Hootsuite are very good and if you want to read more you can check out a great review of them at the Attacat Brain.

Things to avoid

I won’t name and shame here but whilst there are some fantastic tools for you to use there are also some really bad ones to avoid. The worst offenders are tools that give your account a score or rank…because they’re totally worthless. You may be impressed by something that’s scoring you high but remember the likely hood is that its only based on the last 30 days of usage so you never get to see that score in context of your entire history. I should also mention they are easily abused, I’ve seen developers using their own tools to claim they to have higher scores than accounts with over 500k followers, nothing quite like blowing your own trumpet is there?

You should also bear in mind that all these tools are dependent on the Twitter API for reliability of service, if Twitter is cruising a failwhale these tools will not give you accurate results. Finally if you decide to try out other tools for your metrics avoid things that are still in beta, it’s fine if you’re just having a look around and testing the software, but you want to be using tools that will be as reliable as possible for consistent metrics. (They also may not ever make it out of beta testing.)

The way of the future

As Bob Dylan sang the times they are a changing, the same goes for social media analytics. Twitter has been purchasing companies like Smallthought Systems to bring in the expertise to integrate analytics tools in to the Twitter service. There haven’t been any hard announcements yet, just lots of massive hints on Twitter’s development blog, so no one knows when this will be available to the public but it’s sure to knock a lot of competition out of the ball park. It’s definitely worth watching the Twitter Blog for further information about the kind of metrics this service will offer Twitter users when it does launch. It’s definitely a project we’ll be keeping an eye on and giving you a review of its services when it launches.

Check out the original post over on the Social Penguin blog for the comments attached to this blog post and please feel free to add your own to the mix.

Guest Blogging at the Social Penguin: Our guide to Social Media Analytics

Check out my latest post over at the The Social Penguin blog this week, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the free online analytic tools I used in my first guest post back in April on Illegal Jacks social media campaign. Social Media Analytics isn’t a “black art” and I’ll dispel some of the myths by looking at 3 tools that are incredibly easy to use.

Check it out here and remember to add your comments, Dave the Social Penguin likes to hear your thoughts.

Plinky makes writers block a thing of the past

Example of a prompt from Plinky

I’m sure it happens to everyone who keeps a blog at some point, you want to write a post but find yourself at a loss for something to say. Your regular weekly post doesn’t appear and you let it slide for awhile while you try to conjure something interesting to write. Before you know it its been three weeks since your last post and suddenly you’re haemorrhaging readers.

Fear not if this scenario is all too similar to you, help is at hand.

Plinky is a service that provides you with daily prompts, to answer questions like the one above, that you can spin out and develop in to a post for your blog. The prompts themselves are suggestions from the network of users which makes the end result feel almost like a large crowdsourced blog post. The service also show’s all the other blog posts that people made from each prompt which makes for fascinating reading. It always amazes me at how many different responses you can get to the same question. Never being one to miss an opportunity for shameless self promotion, this function is also a great way for other like minded people to discover your blog. If you live and die by your weekly traffic figures it might be worth giving Plinky a try just to be featured on their answers page.

Plinky Answers

Examples of some answers

Once you have your answer written Plinky also help you find pictures, add an introduction and come up with a title so your answer becomes more like a blog post. The great news is that Plinky also works as a plugin with WordPress, so if you have a WordPress blog you can publish your shiny new post straight to your account. This means even the inherently lazy have no excuse not to be blogging as Plinky have made it as easy as possible to create and post.

The only draw back is that this service wont really work on purely professional or business blogs as a post on “something you lost and want back” doesn’t really belong there. However Plinky is a relatively new service (it’s just become part of Automattic) so it’s worth keeping an eye on for future developments.

What do you think of Plinky? Would you consider using the service and can you think of any great prompts for everyone to write about?

Guest blogging at the Social Penguin again.

I’m featuring on The Social Penguin blog this week, talking about the rise of Egosurfing and why it’s not just for the narcissists among us. It features some really insightful research by the Pew Research Centre on managing your internet image.

Check it out here.




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