The Most Hated Man on Twitter

Tim JamesHonestly, I’m surprised this didn’t get more buzz.

We’ve seen celebrities utilize their twitter popularity for good causes. Drew Carey and Drew Olanoff combined forces to raise money for Livestrong. Ashton, CNN and Oprah had their exciting fly net twitter race thing.

Daniel Tosh used twitter a little differently. On his show Tosh.o, he did a segment he called “Is it racist?” in which he showed this video from Tim James’ campaign for Governor of Alabama.  After reassuring us that it was in fact, very racist, he then tells the audience to tweet their thoughts to James on his twitter account: @TimJames2010.

Don’t bother looking up the account…it’s already been taken down.  I don’t think any amount of PR could weather that shit storm.

Luckily, twitter doesn’t forget, and a quick search for his twitter name will show you that people are STILL sharing their thoughts with James (the episode aired over a month ago on June 17, 2010).

You can watch the whole video it here.

Within seconds, James’ reply stream was flooded with messages of hatred and anger.  Tosh even responded hilariously to some of the tweets on the blog.

James abruptly became the first individual (using twitter) I’ve seen get ridiculed on such a large scale on twitter.  In a flash, he became the most hated man on twitter.

Of course the fact that he had a twitter account is what opened him up to this attack.  Because people could @reply him, they felt like they were talking to him, not just about him.

Think about this power.  The power to immediately drown someone’s reputation using the web.  You can’t search James’ name on twitter without some ruthless attacks coming up.

Makes you think about the power individuals have on the web today…and the importance of using that influence responsibly. [insert spider man quote]

It’s also a reminder that by creating an account on twitter, you are opening up a new communication line directly to you.  If you make a mistake, whether you want to use twitter to listen or not doesn’t matter.  People will tell you what they think if they want to…

…or if comedy central tells them to.

Should Your Community Manager be a Leader?

Photo cred: Steve Jurvetson

Does a Community Manager need to be a leader?

I asked this question and god a lot of different views after a really insightful conversation with Teresa Basich on twitter.  I think that leadership CAN play a role in community management in a number of ways, but it is not a pre-requisite.

When talking about something as broad and undefined as “Community Management”, you’re going to get a lot of varied angles.

The Community Manager can be a leader in the space.

When I think about this, I think about people like DJ Waldow, the Community Manager for Blue Sky Factory.  People view DJ as a leader in the email marketing space and so his participation in the “email marketing community” will drive potential customers to their service.

I think about people like Andrew Hyde who until recently was the Community Director for TechStars.  Andrew has become a leader in the startup space, starting projects like Startup Weekend (which is so awesome), and so by participating in the start-up space, he drives more recognition and credibility to TechStars.

This obviously isn’t all they do, but I see it as a big part.

If your Community Manager is a recognized leader in the space, their influence can really help your brand.  Imagine if Seth Godin emailed you, personally asking you to write about his project on your blog.  Chances are, you’ll give that email some real consideration.

The Community Manager can be a leader for the brand’s community.

When I think about this role, I think about Ryan Paugh, the Director of Community for Brazen Careerist.  Ryan is extremely active within the Brazen community.  He drives conversations, acknowledges loyal users and is constantly interacting.  He is the leader of the Brazen community in my eyes.

I think about Erin Bury, the Community Manager for Sprouter.  Erin hosts events for entrepreneurs, interacts and drives the community within Sprouter.  She too is a leader for her brand’s community.

This gives the community a central person to turn to with their feedback, and questions.  It gives a face to the brand.

The Community Manager should be a leader within the company.

See Andreana Drencheva’s post that reminded me of this one.

This is an important one. I think that whoever is driving your company’s community efforts should be a leader within your company.

They should be someone who has the authority to make decisions and influence other decision makers.

They should be someone who can take the needs of the community and implement them quickly.

They should be a leader in the company because when they interact, it makes the customer and community feel more entitled.  It lets the community know that you care about them.  If your intern is talking to me on twitter, I feel a lot less connected to your brand than if I’m talking to the CEO.

With that said…

I don’t think that the community manager absolutely has to be a leader.  Or at least, there are different ways to look at it.  I think one great method is the “Lead from behind” method (Thanks Alexa).  It’s about understanding what drives a community and providing the resources for it do grow.  It’s about identifying the natural leaders in your community and letting them lead.

A Community Manager might have more “behind the scenes” responsibilities, depending on their goals.  If they’re more strategy focused, they may just need to be savvy in putting the pieces in place.  They may have more of a marketing focus, working more on campaigns.

What’s your take?  Does a Community Manager need to be a leader?

How Geo Technology Can Be Used for Control

Photo cred: Jose Maria Cuellar

“Technology … is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Check in sites like foursquare and gowalla are taking the web by storm. The concept of sharing your location with others would never have made it a few years ago. Today, people are literally racing to check in the most.

It’s a game! It’s fun. You check in, earn badges, compete against your friends and others, and if you’re the best there may even be physical rewards waiting for you.

Awesome. I love it. Privacy has changed and we need to accept that. Just enjoy the new technology!

I want to pose a different situation though. One where instead of checking into locations for fun, it becomes a requirement.

It can start with society’s establishments that utilize control today. Parents, teachers, coaches etc…

  • Can a coach use foursquare to make sure his players are going to the gym to work out?
  • Can a teacher user Gowalla to see if their students are in the library the night before a test or out drinking? Can they require that you check in instead of taking attendance?  Perhaps they need to attend a play outside of class and the teacher requires they check in when they get there.
  • Can a parent know every place that their kid goes to by making them check in where ever they go?
  • Can the police track convicts who are out on parole?

Take it a step further and look at geo-fencing.  The concept behind geo-fencing is pretty simple; areas are separated by “fences”.  When you cross a fence, your mobile device can automatically receive or send out a notification.  It can also automatically check in.  This way, others can know when you enter, and when you leave a location.

Apparently, parents are already using this to see when their kids leave school.  As soon as they cross the fence around their school, their parents can receive a notification.

Mix geofencing with rfid technology, and you can come up with some crazy stuff.  My friend Alex Tan gives a great example:

“Imagine my refrigerator knowing that my rfid tagged milk was just thrown away, syncing to the cloud and telling my mobile device about my updated shopping list. Then when i get to the store, using geo-fencing, it launches an app to tell me what I need to buy and where it is in the store.”

This IS the future.  The potential to use these technologies to enhance our daily lives is immense.  But the potential to control out daily lives is equally immense.

What if, instead of using technologies ability to track everything in your life for fun, or for utility, it was used by  an entity that had authority over you?  With RFID’s, you won’t even need to have a smart phone.  Anything can be tagged.  RFIDs can be implanted in people.  What if police implanted these chips in criminals?

My point isn’t to come across as one of those “Big Brother is coming” freaks.  Rather, it’s to get you to think about the technology you’re using today and realize its potential.  Realize it’s capacity for entertainment and utility, but also its capacity for other things…for less benevolent things.

When control isn’t in our hands, how will geo technology be used?

8 Privacy Observations: All Your “Surface Information” are Belong to Us

Photo cred: Frog Design

Woah…Are you crazy bro? You’re going to check in?! But, everyone will know where you are! What if they want to rape or rob or…omg… what if there’s a creepy stalker dude just following you everywhere taking pictures to use in internet sex pornos?!

…wait, you don’t care?

1. “Surface information” is public property.

To this point, we’ve known privacy to mean that ONLY the people that we choose to bring in, will know things like your middle name, your location, the things you like, the things you hate, where you go at night, and who “it’s complicated” with…

We’ll call this “surface information“.  Surface information is the demographics of an individual.  It’s the type of stuff you add to your facebook profile.  If you’re still holding on to that information like it’s the key to your humanity…give up.

This information is no longer private. Privacy as we knew it is dead.

2. The kids and their rap music.

Think millenials are the ones changing the concept of privacy? Just wait…  Millenials’ children will have an entirely different view of privacy.  They’ll know the “innovative” platforms of today as the norm.  They’ll be raised with the understanding that their surface information is not their own but rather that of their networks.

There is a clear human need to share and connect that, with social sites like facebook and twitter, has knocked our previous perception of privacy and interaction on its ass.  I’ve witnessed this transformation throughout my life.  I can only imagine what’s in store for my kids…although if I have a daughter, she’s going to be locked in her room until she’s 18 and all tweets will have to be approved.

3.  The tools are coming.

So now that we know people love to share stuff, and connect with people based on the stuff they share, we will continue to build tools that allow for this human need to flourish.

As more tools are created to connect people and share information, more people will connect, and more information will be openly shared.

Foursquare is a new generation of technology that allows people to share information.

And it won’t stop there.  An interesting new startup was born out of Startup Weekend NYC recently.  It’s called Data Dough, and it allows people to “Take back the CASH companies like facebook and twitter make off of YOUR data!”.  People already love to share useless shit about themselves.  Imagine if they could actually make money by doing so…  Privacy what?

4. Businesses are starting to see the value in social platforms.

This means they’re more willing to pay to reach people on social platforms.  This means social platforms are more willing to sell your information.

When facebook made some this stuff automatically public, people had a fucking conniption. It was the end of the world. Our sacred information was just out there for anyone to have their way with.

Thing is, this information really isn’t worth much to us and is no longer considered worthy of hiding. In fact, we want people to know this stuff. We want others to know who we know, who we hang out with and as much of this “surface level” information as possible.

It actually makes our lives better when businesses know our tastes.  I can stop getting shitty ads about losing 50 pounds in 5 days and start getting more shitty ads about getting 20000 twitter followers in 15 minutes.  Much more targeted.

5. It’s not up to you.

You can try your best to control all of your surface information.  Unfortunately, we’re in an age where information is very often, crowdsourced.  That means that if you don’t post up pictures of yourself, someone else will. Anything you do or say in public is fair game on the social web.  So  unless you want to live like a hermit, you’re probably just going to have to accept it.

6. Augmented reality + facial recognition = everyone knows everyone at the surface.

Check out the image at the top of this post and the other sweet designs that Frog design came up with for augmented reality in our day-to-day lives.  Now realize, that the technology already exists, and this is not too far away.  The potential implications are vast, and will undoubtedly, redefine our perception of privacy in the next 10 years.

7. But don’t worry, you’re relatively safe.

As  documentation technology becomes increasingly engrained in society, the ability to do evil without being caught decreases greatly.  There are more eyes watching you so it’s harder to commit crimes without being seen.  More eyes watching means more information can be safely shared.

Try mugging someone in a major city and running away.  You’ll be more evidentially fucked than BP on earth day.

8. Real secrets are still yours to keep…even more so!

Privacy is becoming black and white. Some things you share with everyone, and other things you share with no one.  That means that the information you hold near and dear to your heart are more safe than ever.

Why?

People think that because they know your surface information, that they know who you are.  People are lazy, and so if they can convince themselves that they know everything about a person from checking their facebook page and a quick google search, they won’t dig much deeper.

That’s all I got.  You might disagree but it’s a clear trend in my eyes.  What are your thoughts? …or are you keeping them a secret?  Smart ass.

Don’t Hire a Community Manager for Their Network

Photo cred: Paul Walsh

I’m not going to get into the debate about the definition of a “community manager”. For the sake of this post, lets consider it someone who’s job is to product content for an audience, interact with that audience, and take care of the internal community.

There’s a trend in who’s being hired as community managers. They’re usually young, they “omg love love love” social media, they’re already active in the company’s target market and they have already established a large network.

I’m going to talk about the last part.

Now I understand why having an established network can seem appealing to a company. Let me address some of the assumptions that I see pretty often.

“If they can build a strong network around their personal brand, they can do the same for our brand.”

  • No. Well, maybe… Building a personal network is very different from building a company’s brand. The core difference is the motivation.  You don’t have a boss demanding that you show results when you’re building a personal brand. You’re not doing it for anyone but yourself.
  • “By hiring this person, we automatically get their network to become part of our community”

  • No. Well, maybe… Sure, since the person you’re hiring is passionate about your company, they’ll want to share it with their network. They can’t just automatically convert their friends into fans of your brand though. Their network might be an “in” for your brand, but it will have little long term value for you if the person doesn’t give their network (and the rest of the brand’s audience) something to share and support (aka they don’t do their job well).
  • “But their network supports them so much now. They think the world of them!”

  • That could certainly be a good sign. It could also be a sign that this person is reliant on their network to get things done. “Community management” isn’t calling in favors to your friends. It takes a lot more business knowledge.
  • “They speak at a ton of events! Now they can go talk about our company at those events”

  • No, well sort of. They can’t just go up and talk about your brand the whole time. It will however, bring great credibility to your brand as they’ll be representing you, as an “expert” voice in the field. I’m sure they’ll slip a couple plugs in there too. Just don’t think that you can replace their usual content with information about your brand.
  • There are just a few of the common misconceptions about the value in hiring a community manager with a big network. Remember, you’re hiring for a position that requires as much business know-how as it does “social” know-how.

    Having a large network is a good sign that the person knows how to connect with people, and that they’re committed to their career.  If you hire a community manager strictly for their popularity however, you’re making a heavy investment for a very short-term gain.