Harriet Harman Twitter Spam Victim

25 02 2010

The twitter ‘phishing’ scam has claimed the Leader of the House of Commons as one of its latest victims.  Harriet Harman’s twitter account @HarrietHarman has been sending out spam direct messages to her network including Tory grandee and twitter newbie Alan Duncan MP.

Harman and her colleagues deemed the twitter scam scandal of sufficient importance to be raised in parliament.  On discovering that her account had been hacked Harman tweeted at lunchtime today;  “last tweet genuinely from me was about Commons reform. Now changed password. Janet Anderson MP protested twitter misuse in Commons today”. 

Alan Duncan who has only been using twitter for a couple of days on receiving the scam DM sent a text message to Ms Harman which alerted her to the hack.  He commented on-line that the Times and the BBC had both contacted him about the story.

Now that twitter is deemed sufficiently important to be discussed in the house will the election campaign begin to move on-line?

Twitter Spam Attacks Are Back

24 02 2010

The Spam attacks that began plaguing twitter users from the end of October last year are back.

Thousands of twitter users accounts are being hacked and in an almost identical scam to last year hackers are using the accounts to send direct messages using phases like “this you?” of with links to sites offering sexual enhancements.

Affected users are the victims of phishing where they have been tricked into giving out passwords to the hackers.  Social media guru Jeremiah Owyang has reported that he is seeing lots of these DMs today.

Effectively the DM function of twitter is being systematically killed off as inboxes are now polluted almost entirely with a combination of spam and auto-DMs thanking users for following.   Somehow twitter needs to get a grip.

Affected users should change the password on their account or go to the connections tab in your twitter settings page and ‘revoke access’ for applications that are listed, particularly any you don’t trust or recognise.

Sorry is Not Enough in Social Media

19 02 2010

It seems that with the rise in public engagement that has naturally followed the growth of social networks, corporate bodies are in a desperate bid to be the first to apologise, humbly.

Admitting mistakes has always been one of the first rules in crisis PR handling.  Social media is however not the same conventional in crisis and issues management.  In the days of when conventional media were the sole channels at the time of a corporate failure, businesses could not control the message so they had to create a hierarchy of messaging.  The apology was quite rightly near or at the top.  Now sorry doesn’t seem to be the hardest word for top-tier executives it has become the easiest and sometimes the only word.

Now that corporate bodies can engage directly the messaging needs to be deeper and needs to answer the more complex questions that arise from a crisis situation.  With the recent Toyota recall, Miguel Fonseca, managing director of Toyota GB, apologised to customers in a video on the company’s website, apologised on the Today programme and generally echoed that sentiments of worldwide president Akio Toyoda, who was deeply sorry.

What businesses need to do is engage and explain.  When WordPress had a major outage last night the organisation used twitter to keep users informed of progress in restoring the site and service.  Here is a five point plan that could be applied to most crisis situations:

  1. Yes apologise, but don’t stop there move on to an explanation.
  2. Explain ‘what’ happened in the companies eyes
  3. Explain ‘why’ it happened – this may take time but is brand critical
  4. Communicate the steps being taken to rectify the problem
  5. Set up a dedicated and regularly updated communications channel.  This is the really important bit.  This could be a blog on the company website or perhaps a YouTube channel.  It needs to regularly updated and it needs to be open and honest. 

 When you explain things to people and convince them you are on the case they most will forgive.  A apology on its own is mereley regret for past mistakes, it says nothing about the future.

All the Buzz of a Google Press Launch

9 02 2010

The press conference has changing.  It has become a form of ‘event marketing’ and it is no longer restricted to selected journalists (and bloggers).  They have to be invited of course otherwise it wouldn’t be a press conference but they are no longer the exclusive channel for the launch message.  We can all attend the launch.

This change has already taken place in the technology sector with two major examples in the past week.  Apple, who have mastered the craft of the press conference event, launched the iPad, and today Google launched its new killer social networking application Google Buzz.

For me what was extraordinary about the launch of Buzz was that this morning I didn’t know it was about to happen.  I picked up the buzz around ‘Buzz’ on twitter.  I saw that the press conference was going to be channelled live on YouTube so I joined Jeremiah Owyang and the select few who were actually there and tuned in.  I realised immediately that Buzz would be big so I ‘live blogged’ over at PR Media Blog whilst the conference was still on, screen grabbed an image from the YouTube feed and posted my take a couple of minutes before the conference ended.

I subsequently discovered via @scobliezer that meant I had broken the embargo that the journalists attending had signed up to.  Surely, they broke their own embargo?

The Twitter Formula

9 02 2010

twitter-formulaIt is a common view that the optimum length for tweets should be the maximum length of 140 characters (including spaces and punctuation).  Wrong.

A key element of the success of twitter is the extent to which information can be passed on, or the use of the retweet as it is commonly known.  Despite the recent introduction of a native twitter retweet function, the retweet or RT was created by users and the original method ‘RT @username’  is still the preferred means of retweeting.   If other users are to retweet your microposts without editing them, there needs to be space left for them to do this within the 140 character limit.   Therefore the optimum length of a twitter message depends on the length of your username and the simple equations is as follows:

x = 140 – (y+5)

In this formula x is the optimum length of the message in characters and y is the number of characters in your username.  The five is the number of characters required for using RT @, including the space – plus an extra space before the original tweet (thanks to The Crocodile for pointing out the need for that final space).  Geektatsic.

Google Debuts Super Bowl Ad on YouTube

8 02 2010

Companies and brands spend millions on creativity and airtime to secure the audience and all round PR value of a TV advertising spot during the Super Bowl.  In fact it was a tech company that created the craze for high concept ads in the breaks during transmission. In 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh to the world during the Super Bowl with an ad directed by Ridley Scott.

No surprise then that Google chose this sporting event to launch its first ever TV ad, called Parisian Love.  Well, sort of.  In fact Google first launched the TV ad on YouTube, a service which it incidentally owns.   

A greater example of the blurring of boundaries between conventional and digital channels it would be hard to find.   This was one of a series of short videos that Google launched on YouTube a few months ago.  It was the positive reaction in that channel that prompted Google chiefs to air at during the big game. “It’s had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience” blogged Google CEO Eric Schmidt.  So in effect the decision to air this ad was at least in part, crowd sourced.

Whilst the concept is imaginative, a love story told with search terms, the execution is far from big budget, in fact it is a series of screen shots from the world’s favourite search engine.

Moreover this is a text book example of how offline media fuels online. Take a look at the YouTube stats. (to see the latest click here and then on the video page click on the Statistics & Data drop down menu below the clip.)  The video took  three months to gain a million views and then added another half a million overnight when the ad aired. 

Not many compared with the 100 million that view the Super Bowl on TV, but it is still early days for social media.

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