Category Archives: Twitter

Calling All Batman Fans!

If you’re a fan of the Batman, then you’re in for a treat (and possibly the largest hide-and-go-seek game… EVER).

Warner Brothers has released a new viral campaign for “The Dark Knight Rises” and has created a brand new trailer due for a July release. But in order to see the trailer, Batman-fans (or ‘Bat-fans’) need to help the Gotham City police investigation track Batman down through hundreds of graffiti pieces placed strategically around the world. Yes, you read that correctly – the world.

Batman is played as a felon and wanted for a kidnapping, assaulting police officers and being responsible for six deaths. But fans of the previous movie know that Batman is innocent and is only taking the heat from Harvey Dent/Two Face (am I right?). But to the police, Batman is “armed and dangerous.”

These graffiti pieces distributed around the globe are essentially leaks that help to reveal the trailer, one graffiti art work at a time. How? Police officers (aka you), help to unlock trailer frames by Tweeting or sending an email that act ( as “photographic evidence of graffiti related to any movement in support of the vigilante’s return.”

This is a great example of encouraging participation from a fan base on a global level (those metrics are going to be huge!), especially with the help of social media and the incredible power of technology today.

And isn’t this one of the most prized offerings of social networks like Twitter and Facebook? Not only is the entire world in on this mission to achieve a common goal in a clever and entertaining way, but the idea of mobilizing brand evangelists to ‘particpact’ (participate and act) with a brand is now the way of building relationships.

Good news for us – no more sitting on the sidelines. The brand-consumer relationship is thriving under a two-way street, with brands guiding us to unleash our creativity, but also allowing us to take the lead and tell more of our own story, how we want it to be heard. This is participaction at its finest.

May the hunt for the Batman begin!

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Why KONY 2012 Makes a Great Case Study

Imagine you watch a 30 minute video on YouTube and you suddenly become a social activist.

Well, you don’t have to imagine it. This is what happened to millions of people across the globe in less than two weeks.

With one simple click of the mouse, users were introduced and became aware of a story occurring somewhere far off in Africa, about a war lord turning thousands of children into military zombies.

Here’s why this campaign makes for an interesting case study.

A few days after I shared the Invisible Children‘s KONY 2012 video on Facebook and tweeted the news on Twitter, I received an e-mail from Amnesty International (who I subscribed to). The e-mail started off telling me about how although this is the first time the world has heard about Joseph Kony, Amnesty has known about him for years – they just did not have the tools or know-how on how to execute the celebrity attention is he receiving now.

The KONY 2012 video that went viral reached over 80 million hits on YouTube in two weeks time. The utilization of celebrity appeal, charity, a 30-minute film and the power of social media have transformed online engagement to political activism (see below).

How the hell did this happen?!

For one, it’s a great conversation starter; the sheer curiosity factor fuelled massive discussion (we’re talking global here). Some 30-minute video was circling the web about a war lord in Africa and it was a big deal. People would ask, “But who is this guy?” and “Have you seen this?” and share videos with their friends.

This simple curiosity turned into a willingness to not just educate, but investigate what was happening. Who is Joseph Kony? What is he doing and where is he? Why are people talking about him? What is Invisible Children? How are people talking about Kony and the cause? Who is he effecting? When do we act? Can we act? Is he relevant to me, and now? (Covered the five Ws? Check).

And it sure as hell helped to get celebrities involved in the social media realm, tweeting and re-tweeting their concerns and support over the KONY 2012 video. Oh, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are supporting the Invisible Children cause? This is even more share-worthy.

Moreover, The Uganda Speaks campaign first tweeted by Al Jazeera English last Tuesday,is asking people in Uganda to tweet their opinions about Kony 2012. One interesting respondent tweeted, “There is a total disconnect between the invisible children and the community they claim to serve. Why make Kony famous? You cannot make a wrong person famous. Stop Kony, then what?” Exactly. Then what?

If the goal of Invisible Children was to raise awareness about the issue, then the campaign was a success. Not only did they receive positive feedback and support from millions, the charity also received backlash about having ulterior motives and unfair fiscal distribution. But as my graduate professor once said, “As long as they’re talking about you, you’ve got a fighting chance.”

However, if the goal is to arrest KONY by converting a quarter of the globe into Invisible Children’s own army-to-the-rescue and overthrow the political system, then they’ve got a lot of work to do. As Malcolm Gladwell argues, “Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.”

From the launch of the video on March 5th, forward to almost a month later, over 100 million people have now seen the short film. Awareness about Kony and the LRA has increased tenfold and people have shared their thoughts and opinions about it.

All that is left now, is action. It’s great to have an idea, but it doesn’t mean much if there are no plans to execute. As  Madeline Bernstein of Technorati writes, “Knowing is better than not knowing, but clicking is not action.”

And in case you either haven’t seen the video through some social network or haven’t heard people talking about, first I’d like to know where on Earth are you. I’m kidding. But seriously.

Secondly, if you’re interested in watching the 30 minute long video, you can watch it below:

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Made For Social


Social Media Saviours

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Follow Back Y’all

As I signed onto Twitter the other day and started my daily routine of following people who follow me, I noticed that the demographic of the Twitter population I follow has changed.

Perhaps an obvious reason is the amount of Twitterers I follow (5,500 something or other). At one point, I was following just my friends. Then I expanded my social Twitter circle and followed people I am interested in (i.e. social media, advertising, travel, sports… and possible Jersey Shore characters… but that’s besides the point).

I fell into what I thought a health pattern of following back the people who followed me – not just because I was being social but I also thought I might pick up some interesting new learns on the way.

But then it came to the point where I noticed the gargantuan amount of irrelevant content that was being pushed through my feed (“irrelevant” defined in terms of information that did not pertain to my own personal interests or values). Thus I began to ask myself: does reciprocity pay off on Twitter?

Well, to a certain extent it does. It becomes a game of ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ and a decent amount of information is exchanged on a one-to-many or many-to-many platform. Sounds like a good time gad by all, right?


From my own observations (that may also seem quite obvious to other Tweeps), when you start getting followers that hit around the 5,000 mark – or perhaps even earlier – the content becomes overwhelming and you eventually reach that “digital-age-old” question of quantity vs. quality.

In fact, there is so much content on Twitter that a lot of it seems like gibberish to me. You know, the “#FOLLOWBACK I ALWAYS FOLLOW BACK.” That’s great and all, but more of this content is becoming less relevant to me – or maybe I just can’t find relevant information in all this clutter.

But with every person that follows me, am I not being “social” if I do not follow them back? 

It is my personal duty to follow everyone who follows me, for the sake of respecting the social phenomenon on Twitter and for cherishing the idea of reciprocity.

But there is a point where the line must be drawn, and that is perhaps not just personal relevance (which many of you practice), but more so of watching my reputation.

I’m all for travellers, advertisers, hip hop artists, social media nerds who want to follow me and very open to other ideas that may spark my interest or fuel curiosity, but I start to get a little hesitant when someone completely out of left-field (and inappropriate) follows me… if you catch my drift.

Although one of the main ideas of social media is being social and responding to people accordingly, there comes a point at which amidst all the social clutter, one might consider re-evaluating their contribution and value to their social niche. One also might consider a heavy gate-keeping.

My tweet may not be relevant to a particular audience, but it sure is valuable (I hope!) and respectful to the social circle I am a part of. So you can judge for yourself where I fit on your social graph…

Critic? Nah.

Crowd-pleaser? Maybe.

Passionate social media nerd? Most definitely.

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Funny Tweets on SOPA/PIPA Blackout

“Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.”
My expletive word exactly.
This was the introduction to a note posted on Wikipedia’s sombre and sorrowful-looking site, followed by another message:

“For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

And this explains all the “censored” photographs when signing onto WordPress and Wikipedia beginning at 12 this morning. Some major brand names, including Google, WordPress and Wired, are partaking in an information blackout and censoring their content from their viewers.

The reason behind the blackout is the proposition to help US companies fight against brand and trademark theft. SOPA and PIPA, both laws to prevent Internet piracy, are threatening creativity, open source movements, and essentially, the freedom of speech on the Web.

So of course, I went straight to Twitter to see how many Tweets and hashtags were trending and trying to get my attention – and some of them were quite funny:

Trend: #iftheyshutdowntwitter

Trend: #factswithoutwikipedia

Trend: #thingsbetterthanSOPA

Trend: #StopSOPA

I guess you can always rely on Twitter to lift your spirits in some challenging times in the Internet world! Hopefully Twitter doesn’t blackout out too…

And if you are interested in standing up against Congress to not censor the web, you can sign Google’s End Piracy, Not Liberty petition. Save your right to freedom of speech on the Web!

Seen any other hilarious Tweets from the SOPA/PIPA blackout? I’d love for you to share!

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The famous Twitter trends are few unique aspects within the social network, and the one key that made it all possible was that little hashtag sitting ever-so quietly on your keyboard.

And it has so much power.

Its power lies in a universal conversation, where Twitter users can hop on the net (what the kids are calling it these days), and participate in a real-time conversation about a shared passion. And this is all possible with a simple #.

Topics can range from anything to everything, including sporting events like the Superbowl, current events like #Occupy (probably 2011’s most famous social media revolutionary), and even Justin Bieber, who, according to Ad Age, was ranked the top Twitter trend for 2011.

For one, the #trending occurring on Twitter not only provides an easy avenue for people to communicate, but it also raises awareness about topics, products, services, brands and companies on, to a certain extent, a global scale (so long as you have a Twitter account).

Users can also use the hashtag to increase brand recognition within a captive, engaged audience that is included in every Tweet. Each user that participates in trending Twitter conversations is tweeting not only to that group, but their followers as well, thus increasing word-of-mouth, increase your following and to a lesser extent, brand advocacy.

Even now, we are starting to see the popularity of that little hashtag – sitting above the number 3 on your keyboard – penetrating networks outside of its own (the most obvious being Facebook). Although users are well aware that the social network does not provide the same [marketing] advantage as Twitter, Facebook users are still treating it as such.

The power of the hashtag has its advantages, but it does have its downfalls (though not many). Some Twitter users overuse hashtags and creating more Twitter gibberish, including #OneTimeAtBandCamp and #ImSoExcitedForSnow (you won’t be able to find these on Twitter).

Another downfall is the misuse of hashtags. Some companies forget to do their Twitter research and pick a trend that has been seriously abused by its users. Take Wendy’s for example. Their Where’s the Beef? campaign with the little old lady sitting in front of oversized bread buns and barely-there meat was indeed hilarious.

Even more amusing, however, were the tweets coming from their – perhaps poorly chosen – hashtag trend #HeresTheBeef. You can only imagine what people were saying about their burgers.

The advice for hashtags, then? Have fun, but be wise. Twitter users, if following the rules, can seek great benefit – whether recognition or monetary compensation – if playing by the rules. If disrespected, however, they may feel the wrath of their own doing – becoming your best friend or your worst enemy.

Who knew the little # can pack such a big punch?

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Introducing Tout and Keek

Ever wanted to show people what you’re up to, rather than sending it out to your followers in 140 characters? Well, your dreams may have just come true.

Introducing Tout and Keek, two micro-video blogging websites that bring the experience of social sharing to the forefront.

Users can capture video on their mobile devices (iPhone, Android, iPad or webcam) in 15 to 30 seconds or less and send it out to friends and strangers in participating social networks. You could even call them the Twitters of video.

And like Twitter, when a user sends out a personalized video to their friends and followers, people can reply back with comments. Keek has branded “keekbacks,” which are the equivalent to replies back to other Keek videos.

Like Keek, Tout users capture “Life’s moments” in real-life, real-time (with full blown, colour, sound and emotion, all in one). Users can reply, #trend, “re-tout,” share and ‘like’ (sound familiar?).

Both micro-video blogging systems have the ability to help build relationships (as well as brands), but on a more personal level than their friendly neighbour Twitter.

A higher level of intimacy is added as well, as we are now not only giving a face to a name, but an action. People are opening up windows (or videos) into their lives where others can peer in, illustrating our ever-evolving desire to use social networks to communicate on a much deeper level than was originally planned for us.

So far, Tout and Keek seem to be mere trends and have yet to catch on with the popular vote of the original micro-blog, Twitter. As of now, both social systems represent (to some extent) certain niche markets, and only time will tell – and perhaps popularity – if and when Tout and Keek will catch on and swim up mainstream.

For now, check out today’s most popular Tout to give you an idea of just how cool this thing is…

The Florida Cloud Machine

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Social Media Saviors

Amit Gupta, a tech entrepreneur recently diagnosed with an acute form of leukaemia, is reaching out to family, friends and strangers to find an appropriate bone marrow donor to help save his life. But he isn’t using the traditional route to search for a request.

Gupta found a way to test the strength, social responsibility and the altruistic character of the online community by asking social network users to contribute to his life-saving cause.

As an Indian-American, Gupta’s chances of finding a donor are 1 in 20,000, due to the under presentation of South Asians in the US donor registry. Thus reaching out to anyone willing to help across as many social media platforms as possible would hopefully increase his chances of finding a donor.

So far, Gupta has reached an impressive 17,700 on Twitter, 13,000 supporters on Facebook (with 422 subscribers), and a plethora of group support systems on Flickr, Tumblr and several other social media platforms.

With his followers, Gupta began organizing “swab parties,” where people responding to Tweets, Facebook messages and the like met in physical tech centres, including Google and Facebook. At these gatherings, prospective donors swab the inside of their mouths to collect their DNA and the information is sent to a testing lab to be registered in the national bone marrow registry, where they can be called upon at any time a match is found.

But relying on others, particularly strangers, has it’s downfalls. Calling on an  anonymous donor who showed up to your swab party a month earlier may have decided not to donate after all, since there is no personal connection for him/her to you and your situation. While some are more altruistic than others and donate for the sake of a good cause, others may not feel as comfortable with the idea of donating to complete strangers.

On the positive side, the ability for online social activity transcending into the physical realm has proved to be an enabler for turning people’s remote dreams into actual realities. Society has reached a point where we can call on strangers from a distance, even with a sense of urgency. In many ways, we are putting a lot of trust in our community and relying on its ability to lend a helping hand – whether it is to ask your fans to ‘like’ something or to ask your fans to help save your life.

David Hunt, chief medical officer of the national co-ordinator for health technology in the US Department of Health and Human Services, offers perhaps one of the more significant features of social networking:

The wonderful thing about social networking is it can create that sense of trust between elements of communities that have traditionally been relatively marginalised.

The diversity of respondents and the ability to congregate them under one roof (both friends and strangers of different nationalist) – and the speed in which we can do so – is quite remarkable. Before, this might not have even been thought of, and the time to complete such a feat would take a lot longer. But thanks to social media for being, well, social, people of various ages, races and connections all over the world will be asking others to help save their lives, one tweet at a time.

Based on Kate Dailey’s and Matt Danzicoh’s Amit Gupta and the Social Media Search for a Cure.

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@UnitedAirlines are you even listening?

In my last semester at Texas, I took a Marketing course titled “Customer Insights” (it is just as it sounds). Throughout the semester, we were given the assignment of keeping a blog and updating it every one to two weeks based on a particular assignment provided by the professor.

One assignment required us to write about a positive or negative brand experience that had a meaningful impact, and I was almost too smitten to write about my sub par experience with United Airlines. Sorry folks, but this story does not have a happy ending. My encounter went something like this:

My first time flying United Airlines was a year ago. I got on the plane, put my luggage in the overhead compartment after finding my seat and got settled in with a good book (I highly recommend Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer), until it was brought to my attention by another passenger that I was sitting in his seat.

Just as I got up to switch seats, a flight attendant barked, “Excuse me ma’am, but you need to stay in your seat.” I told her that there was a seat mix-up and just settling into the other aisle. She gave me a scolding look and said, “Well then you will be needing to do so quickly because the plane is about to take off… Could you please hurry so we can all get into our seats?” Her sour face made frightened passengers avoid making eye contact with her, never mind asking her for water.

I figured, however, that this was my first experience with United Airlines and everyone has their off days, so maybe it was just that one flight attendant that had a bad day and couldn’t possibly represent the entirety of the company. But I spoke too soon.

One passenger was playing loud music but had his ear phones on, so no one was really bothered – except the flight attendant, who poked the man on the shoulder, scolded and embarrassed him. When he came around with water, he did not offer any to the gentleman playing the music. Even after the passenger complained to the pilot (who was somewhat understanding), the flight attendant refused to apologize and walked off.

And now for the grand finale. The last time I flew with them was last New Year’s (my parents had booked the flight for us). As we were yet again late for boarding and takeoff (their usual routine), a very angry flight attendant started screaming at the entire cabin to start moving seats to balance the plane. At this point, I was more scared of her yelling and pointing at us to switch seats as fast as possible than the possibility of having a lopsided plane…

My reaction to these experiences (second to the boycott), went something like this:

Surprise, surprise, there was no response and I continue on with my pledge to avoid the United brand in many ways as I can.

Rant over.

To be clear, this post was not a space created for the sake of crying over a bad United Airlines experience. Not this time. Let’s bring it back to social media. If we are to examine the definition of social media, in simple and blunt terms, the obvious dead give-away is the word social, which is what people often take for granted when managing their social network accounts. Case and point? United Airlines.

I cannot tell you the amount of negative (and harsh) Tweets and Facebook comments I’ve read from both friend and strangers about the bad customer service/lack thereof United seems to be striving for. Most complaints begin with customers reaching out – and lashing out – to United through social media (if face-to-face doesn’t suffice), with the result of their concerns being ignored.

The idea of social media is being social. It’s not about the ratio of how many people are following you and how many people you follow on Twitter, or the amount of friends ‘liking’ your wall post. It’s about the genuine, naked interaction and engagement between companies and their customers. At least pretend to be an emotional human being that has empathy for others instead of a cold, invisible corporation hiding behind a big, red curtain somewhere in Kansas (props to those who got the Wizard of Oz metaphor).

Even at the micro level, companies really have to be careful about who is managing customer service relations, including their content management systems on social networks. I was really impressed to read a positive experience a customer had with Dunkin’ Donuts. The gentleman recounts, “No sooner had I grabbed my coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru attendant, it spilled all over my white dress shirt and brand-new car. An improperly secured lid was about to impede my morning meetings.” And so, he needed to vent:

In 140 characters of a Tweet, Mr. Lerner received a reply in five minutes, notifying him that @DunkinDonuts was following him on Twitter: “Five more minutes and they had tweeted at me to send a direct message with my phone number. Five minutes later they called, asking to know which Dunkin’ Donuts this happened at and what my experience had been. They took my address and a week later I received a $10 gift card.”

This is what we call not only great customer service, but it reflects the definition of what social media is. Listening. Understanding. Responding Appropriately. Following up. Not only do the rules of marketing apply to the Web (the customer is always right), but there was an immediate response to fix whatever was ailing the customer at a given point in time.

Handling negative reviews in this way helps to turn complaints into a new product, service or brand experience to make it more enjoyable, which makes you more reliable, responsible and trustworthy as a brand. Not only will you be able to build and maintain a strong relationship between you brand and the customer, but you will hopefully retain your loyal customers.

We could all learn a thing or two from both United Airlines and Dunkin’ Donuts experiences – and it’s not just learning that you have to pay $5 for that jelly-filled snack on the flight next time. If this attempt at reaching out to United through a social venue doesn’t get their attention, I might have to resort to making one of these:

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Twitter Jokes About Blackberry Outage

The picture here pretty much sums up Blackberry‘s impending doom: customers are crossing over from the dark side and switching to the iPhone (Steve is probably smiling in his grave right now).

I was on Mashable yesterday and an article about Top 10 Funniest Tweets About the Blackberry Outage caught my eye (for the reason that I also have a Blackberry and suffered its consequences…).

RIM has dealt with one hell of PR disaster after Blackberry went through a blackout in Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America (yikes). And Twitter users were all over this (and some ready to fire when they finally got their Internet working on their Blackberry). Tweets about the outage flooded the network, including these witty remarks:

“Great news for Blackberry users: a solution as been e-mailed to you.”

“Now is a good time to e-mail Blackberry spouse things like “Reply if it’s not okay for me to use savings to buy a boat.”

“One positive of the #Blackberry crisis – my personal trainer can’t get hold me. #OrderingBurgers”

“By far the worst part of this #blackberry outage is that I have to admit that I have a Blackberry.”

So what do you think? Is Blackberry toast, or does RIM have some ingenious plan up their sleeve that can outdo the iPhone? I have a hunch that chances are slim for RIM to recuperate, but I guess only time will tell (because your Blackberry sure won’t…ouch).

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