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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

November 7, 2013 70 comments

Google Plus Logo

A few weeks back it was announced that Google+ was finally going to allow regular users to adopt Vanity URLs for their profiles and rid themselves of URLs like https://plus.google.com/105175761337711150993/posts (yes, that’s my real Google+ URL). Sounds great, right? Finally the common folk would be given on Google+ what most other modern social networks had from the outset, the ability to pick our own screen names and have a URL to link to which isn’t ridiculously unwieldy and next to impossible to remember.

All sounded fantastic until you went to the Google+ Help page and read their “Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs” file. The second one reads:

“You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.”

So wait, I have to use the one Google approves for me? I can’t be Google.com/+TheDanLevy which is  my screenname on darn near every other social network I use? OK, well maybe they’ll lighten up some day and I’ll be able to change it, right? NOPE! Check out the sixth rule in the red box below

Google Plus Vanity URL Rules

“Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it.”

I was feeling a bit pessimistic when I read that but friends who are way bigger Google+ users assured me, “You can request a different one if you have a valid reason” and “There is flexibility… You just have to request it…” so I decided to see what Google did when they finally got around to offering me a custom URL. Well, today that finally happened!

Google Plus Vanity URL  Notification

The notification appeared at the top of my Google+ profile page and I clicked the blue button excitedly. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw what Google was offering me as my Custom URL. Read more…

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Pics From When I Met Michael Nus, Casie Stewart, & Other Awesome Folks At #KloutTO

February 7, 2013 2 comments

My friend @MichaelNus recently wrote a post on his blog called “The Day I Met Chris Brooker.” The post, which I’m given to understand will be one of a series, is a great post by a superb gentleman about @cbrooker, someone whom I cannot begin to express enough praise. Chris Brooker is a really special human and I am privileged to know him. Nus’ post brought to mind the day I met a bunch of different people involved in social media and tech in Toronto (I refuse to call it the “Social Media Scene” or the “Twitterati”) and then somehow it got brought to mind last night by a complete different person in a completely unrelated manner.

It all started when Sandy aka @sassygirlcanada tweeted this:

Which led to my friend Raymond Motee aka @FunkyBarrister replying with this:

That tweet brought me into the conversation and brought to night the aforementioned night when I first met in the real world people from Twitter. The night was an awesome one hosted by Klout. They called it #KloutTO (yes, amazingly that hashtag search still brings in results from June 2010!) and I met a bunch of stupendous individuals many of whom I count among my friends today including Team SidewalkHustle: @TristanBanning & @HawleyDunbar, Casie Stewart (@casiestewart), Michael Nus, Chris Brooker, Joallore (@clickflickca), Dave (now @BlueFoxCA and not in Toronto but he had a different Twitter handle back then), and many others who right now I can’t remember that I actually met them on that day. I went that day even though I wasn’t an “influencer” which was the reason Klout was throwing the party for the influencers and due to a partnership with Virgin America Airlines and was immediately welcomed into this group of the “cool kids.”

I tweeted this with that rush of fond memories warming my brain: Read more…

Twitter In The University/College Classroom

April 11, 2012 6 comments

Bored students in lecture hall MP900443256

This past summer when I was at York University for the Rogers Cup I got to talking to a Health Sciences professor – Professor Christopher Ardern – about social media and its place in a university class. There are the obvious uses for many types of social media in a college setting such as creating a group on Facebook so people can keep in touch with one another and with their Teacher’s Assistant(s) and/or Professor without “friending” them.

However, being the huge Twitter addict that I am I soon found the conversation veering towards that social media outlet. (OK, I steered it there.) Professor Arden told me how he would be teaching a higher level course with a smaller class size than any first year or second year classes. It was then that I asked him if anyone had ever tried using a hashtag for the course to foster discussion between different students in different universities taking a course on the same subject matter and he told me no one ever had.

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class mp900422591

The way I pictured it as I was discussing it with him would be a after consultation with the professor’s peers teaching similar (or even the same) material they could agree on a hashtag. This predetermined hashtag would then be written into the syllabus and given to each student in each of the university classes at the beginning of the course. The hashtag could then be used to “increase the size of the class” by adding students from different universities to the conversation. As well, it would be beneficial because although each class is learning the same material each professor has his or her own teaching style and method of explaining concepts. Students would be able to have the benefits of more than one person explaining concepts to them so if they didn’t quite understand one professor’s method, another’s might make everything clear to them.

This hashtag could or could not be monitored depending on the preference of the different professors and students would understand this beforehand. This has the benefit, though, of being reliably from a different similarly accredited professor and not just off some random website or Wikipedia.

Professor Arden did mention after our talk that he was considering doing a trial run of my hashtag suggestion for his upcoming winter semester course. However, I never followed up with him (until earlier today) to see if he had tried it out. I will let you know what he says if/when he emails me back.

Any academics/students/professors out there reading this blog? Has this been tried already? What do you think of the idea? Let me know below!

Photos via Microsoft Office.

“Made To Share.” That’s Great! Where’s The Mention Of Sites We Should Be Sharing On?

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Made To Share

I am sure most Canadians who are reading this blog recognize the logo above. I have taken the actual brand name out but I am aware that most of you will recognize the brand that made these commercials.

The brand name, however, is the only thing I have taken out of this screen shot. As I discussed in my previous post on removing barriers to engagement I have to wonder how it hasn’t occurred to this brand to include some links or information to their social media presences or even their website. Nothing, nada, not a word written. The campaign is called “Made to SHARE” for crying out loud! How has no one suggested to this brand that they actually make things sharable!

Before I go on let me make clear that, yes, I understand the campaign’s point is to encourage people to share the product amongst their friends but the word share has taken on a whole new meaning. As well, the actual ad that prompted this post was based around the idea of a picture of a guy being shared around by his family and friends on different mediums (phones, tablets, and computers) so it is obviously being done via some sort of online sharing even if it is only being done via email (unlikely as that is in this day and age).

This kind of makes me want to bang my head on the wall over and over and I am not an advertising professional. Maybe there is something here I am missing something that is obvious to anyone actually in the business but to me it seems like a massive miss. Not only isn’t any information listed on the advertising spot as shown above, they don’t have a YouTube channel where they can put up for ready access all their “Made to share” advertising spots so people can….wait for it….SHARE THEM! 

Why? Please. Tell. Me. Why. It makes absolutely zero sense to me that they wouldn’t be attempting to convert this campaign by encouraging it go viral. Seems like a pretty obvious move to me but, again, maybe I am missing something.

Why Do Brands Expect Us To Find Them On Social Media?

January 20, 2012 1 comment

Find Us On Facebook + Twitter Logo

As the title of this post implies today we are going to talk about brands and how they expect the consumer/customer to interact with them. I have been seeing quite a few ads and commercials recently where the advertiser wants to show their 21st Century savvy and how they are available on different social media platforms but they do it like you see in the picture above. The announce to the world (or whoever is seeing the ad) that, yes, they are present on those platforms but they seem to think that we all like to play a game of Where’s Waldo with them.

Waldo via Waldo Wiki

Waldo via Waldo Wiki

 I mean, I loved sitting on trips with my family when I was a kid and opening one of the Where’s Waldo books but that was recreational and something to do when we were sitting in an airport/on a plane/in a car and had nothing better to do. The point of advertising and being present on the various social media platforms is so that the consumer and potential customers can engage with the brand/advertiser. Don’t make it difficult for us!

This shouldn’t be news to anyone either. Heck, I recently was in the the new shop on Queen St West called Community 54 where they have old arcade video games from way back in the day. One of those games, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey, was from late enough (1996) that they thought it relevant to mention that the game had a site on this newfangled thing called the Internet. But they didn’t just announce this fact, they didn’t put “WE ARE ON THE INTERNET” and expect people to go out and find them. If you look in the picture below you can see exactly what they wrote because I snapped a picture of it.

Check Out These WEB sites old arcade game screen 1996 Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey

They told people to “Check out these WEB sites” and then listed them. Done. Consumer can easily interact with those two websites assuming they had computers and access to the Internet. But at leas they didn’t lose them in the potentially interested person having to do any work to engage with the brand.

Some more examples below:

Coaster With Just Facebook & Twitter Logos

And

Union Station Toronto 20111208 Twitter not Facebook

To be fair, the second one of the above pictures, from Union Station in Toronto, they did point to the account @unionstationTO on Twitter for us to engage with but they didn’t bother for some reason with Facebook to do the same. My guess as to why this is is because they didn’t bother to get a custom URL for their page before printing up this signage (they have’t, it seems, bothered to register a custom URL even to this day). This is just laziness plain and simple (in my opinion).

In conclusion, this is a message to all Brands, Advertisers, and Marketers: Remove barriers to engagement don’t erect them.

Have you seen similar displays as I pictured above? Have you ever gone out and actually engaged with a brand afterward or did you just say screw it because it was too much work? Let me know in the comments below.

(And in case you are wondering, no I have never bothered looking into the above pictured brand’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. As well, here’s a link provided by the Way Back Internet Machine for Gretzky.com in 1998. I couldn’t get Midway.com because it just redirects to Warner Bros which bought their assets in 2009 when Midway went bankrupt.)

Brands: ‘Tis NOT Better To Have Loved & Lost, Than Never To Have Loved At All (Online)

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

20012.01.16 Tweet about Co Engage & Disengage

In his poem ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ 19th Century English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote:

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.

But this post is going to dispute that when it comes to corporate communications on Twitter. Well, OK, not really out and out dispute it because I wasn’t in love with the brand I am referring to in the tweet about (which you can find here) but I felt a little bit of poetry would class up the post.

What I was referring to in the tweet above is a brand who engaged with myself and a friend when we started talking about an article I read in LifeHacker. I thought this was one of the most brilliant things I had read that day and planned to give it a try when my friend told me about a product that does just this and she uses it all the time. I tweeted at the brand who makes the product in question – which as far as we knew was not available in Canada – and asked if it was available in Canada and the replied fairly quickly and told us that, yes, it was available in Canada.

To say we were happy is an understatement. I quickly went out to try and find this item at one of the chains mentioned and came up empty. I checked the chain’s online web catalog and came up empty. Each time I made a step following the advice of that brand I tweeted back at them what I was doing and the results. They never answered. It has been the better part of two weeks and still, they haven’t answered. In that time they have tweeted 15 times, the last time being on January 14th and not one time did they respond. (The first time when they did reply and tell us some info it took them about 12 hours.)

It would be one thing if they had never replied in the first place to our tweets, I would be totally fine with that because not every company and brand monitors all aspects of their social media presence, preferring to register their name and just leave it. This is the reality of the world we live in and no harm no foul if that’s the case. It would also be, sort of OK if they only came on once a month to respond to queries and hadn’t been online since the day they told me and my friend their product was available at Chain X and weren’t present to see my response. But they have been available, they have been present, they have been not only tweeting but interacting with other Twitter users and ignoring me is just bad for business. Doing this makes me feel as if I were talking to the Volcano Insurance Salesman that Peter dealt with in an episode of Family Guy from a long while back (best quality I can find.)

Do you think pretending not to be there while answering and interacting with other people is really going to have a positive response? It won’t. You’re just pissing potential customers off and ruining any relationship you may have had with them.

I have waited a while (more than 10 days) to write this blog post because I wanted to give the brand a chance to redeem themselves. They haven’t.

Better to not be doing it all than to be doing it wrong.

Does Your Twitter Bio’s Disclaimer Actually Accomplish Anything?

January 14, 2012 1 comment

Hello My Name Is tag angle

I have seen it time and time again on Twitter in people’s bios. They are all attempting to cover their butts and say that the things they tweet are their own and personal and nothing to do with their work. I hate to say it and burst many people’s bubbles but you’re wasting a bunch of the 160 characters that Twitter gives you to write your bio.

The BBC published an article about a court ruling early in 2011 that a woman claiming she had a reasonable expectation of privacy and that her tweets were not for public consumption (except those who followed her) was wrong.

I have asked people who are labor lawyers (in Canada) if such a disclaimer would actually protect someone if they said something objectionable on Twitter and the consensus has been a resounding no. I am not a lawyer and as far as I know this exact case has never been adjudicated in Canada but I have been told such a disclaimer would be completely useless. As long as you are employed somewhere you are going to be affiliated with your employer. Your views, no matter how personal you think they are, when you express them in public they become public and a part of your online identity. If that identity includes any link to your employer – or if your employer knows about your Twitter account – then I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it won’t matter when your boss calls you into their office if you have that disclaimer up. It won’t make it any harder for them to fire you. It is about as legally effective as the coat check sign which insists they aren’t responsible for your items when you leave them with the coat check – they are and you are. I have yet to hear of a case where someone wrote something objectionable online and they were given a pass by their employer because they had that disclaimer up.

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