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On Twitter, don't push contacts to retweet your messages

In the world of social networking, you can request friends or connections. You can request to join a group, join a game or a cause.

But please, don't request retweets -- especially via a direct, or private message.

This tacky Twitter move comes to us after we both received direct messages asking us to retweet a message. It came from someone we don't really know.

First, Twitter terminology for the uninitiated: A message on Twitter is a tweet. People "retweet'' by taking another person's message and posting it through your account. You give them credit by putting "RT'' and their username in front of the message. It's basically a way of passing along good information. Sometimes it's fine to ask the public for a retweet, especially if it's to try to get the word out about something important.

Example: I'm looking for a good window repair guy. Know anyone? Please RT.

But it gets tacky when you start sending direct messages, also known as DMs, to people you don't know very well requesting a retweet.

It puts the recipient in an awkward position and can feel like spam. A retweet is their prerogative. So unless you know that person well, don't guilt them into pushing your message out on their account.

Rbb Public Relations took an informal poll on Twitter and Facebook asking if it was ethical to request a retweet -- a strong word to use in our opinion -- which is probably why the results were practically split down the middle.

"I think the general consensus is it's tacky to request a retweet,'' said Michelle Catin (@mimi2point0), digital and social media manager at rbb. "Retweets are guided by the basic principles of public relations, and that's relationship building.''

The bottom line: don't put pressure on someone to pass along a message they might not feel comfortable promoting.

The best way to get a retweet is to share information that's compelling and valuable. If it's that's interesting, folks will retweet it on their own. Another tip: Tweets can't be more than 140 characters, but if you want it to be retweeted, keep your message to 120 characters -- that makes it easier to resend with your name attached.

You can read the full list of rbb's do's and dont's here. Post a comment with your own advice or experience in retweeting do's and don'ts.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 05:53 PM on August 31, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook announces privacy changes

After chats with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Facebook announced it will be making changes to privacy settings over the next 12 months. They include:

  • Better explanations in the privacy policy, such as reasons why they collect birth dates, the difference between account deactivation and deletion, how advertising programs work, and accounts that become memorials for dead users.
  • More encouragement for users to review their privacy settings
  • The creation of a new system for third-party applications to access user information. Facebook's release says it "will require applications to specify the categories of information they wish to access and obtain express consent from the user before any data is shared. In addition, the user will also have to specifically approve any access to their friends' information, which would still be subject to the friend's privacy and application settings."

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:22 PM on August 27, 2009 in Facebook , Privacy settings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fwd: To everyone who doesn't understand "Reply All"

Last week, there was an email "reply all" brouhaha that got a lot of attention from advertising & public relations blogs and on Twitter, which inspired this week's column:

Do you know the difference between ``reply'' and ``reply all'' on e-mail?

We ask because many just don't seem to get it. For the record, hitting ``reply'' sends an e-mail just to the sender. When you select ``reply all,'' it goes to every person the e-mail was sent to.

We all get tons of junk e-mail all day, but deleting the reply all chains is especially annoying. Last week, one incident hit a nerve across the country when New Jersey public relations consultant Beth Brody sent out an e-mail about a new social media guide for small businesses.

Brody sent out her e-mail at around 8:45 a.m. Later, in an e-mail to us, she said she inadvertently copied and pasted all the addresses she meant to send the e-mail as a list in the ``CC'' field, rather than the ``BCC'' (blind carbon copy) field, which hides the addresses of others who got the e-mail. That meant people who hit Reply All sent their messages to everyone.

By noon, I had more than 30 messages to her inbox from people -- many of whom simply said, ``Please take me off this e-mail list,'' before I also asked to be removed from the e-mail chain. (Which I did by hitting ``reply,'' rather than ``reply all.'')

Bridget was out of the office, but on her return came across some pretty ignorant messages. Someone joked that people who reply all should be stoned at an upcoming Online Media, Marketing & Advertising Conference, and one person used the F-word toward Brody.

No matter how annoyed you are, never hit ``reply all'' to a group using swear words or writing in an angry tone when you don't know which business associates or colleagues could be seeing those messages.

By early afternoon, many blogs had written about how frustrating it was -- and messages were being sent on Twitter complaining about the firm and the e-mails.

What we couldn't figure out was why people -- especially a few who had e-mail signatures that claimed they were social media experts -- kept hitting the ``reply all'' button and adding to the problem. This is 2009: Don't people understand by now how ``reply all'' works?

It wasn't a technical glitch. Niala was able to respond directly to remove herself from the list, as well as e-mail AdAge's Ken Wheaton, who threatened to blog about every person who hit ``reply all'' on the chain.

Beth Brody said in an e-mail interview with us that she started her own blog as a result -- the first entry apologizes for the e-mail. She said she's learned that when you make a mistake like this, ``social media is the easiest way to get your apology out quickly.''

This was an extreme case involving 350 people. But it's still annoying in smaller doses, when co-workers "reply all'' for unnecessary messages. In a work email, it just adds to the clutter, and makes you look like a fool.

So do us and your coworkers a favor, and forward this on them -- individually, please.


Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:46 AM on August 25, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Fan Pages can link up with Twitter

Facebook to twitter For folks who manage Facebook Fan Page accounts, you can now have every post you make on Facebook also post on Twitter by linking the accounts. You can read more about it on the Facebook blog, or sign up to link the accounts at Facebook.com/twitter.

But to those that want to do this to save time, I'd suggest you give it some thought before you link the two accounts. Niala and I have been saying this forever: The two networks are different communities, and sometimes you should customize a post for a certain network.

For example, Twitter only uses 140 characters. Facebook can take more characters. If you post on Facebook, there's the chance that the post on Twitter could be cut off.

And the reverse -- copying a Twitter post into Facebook -- is annoying to Facebookers since Twitter posts are usually filled with @replies and #hashtags... something that only exists in the Twitterverse.

If you link the two accounts, tell us what your experience has been.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

What annoying Facebook posts are you guilty of?

Are you The Friend-Padder? The Town Crier? The Sympathy-Baiter? Check out this great story by CNN highlighting the 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.

...A recent study categorized 40 percent of Twitter tweets as "pointless babble," and it wouldn't be surprising if updates on Facebook, still a fast-growing social network, break down in a similar way.  Take a CNN quiz: What kind of Facebooker are you?

Combine dull status updates with shameless self-promoters, "friend-padders" and that friend of a friend who sends you quizzes every day, and Facebook becomes a daily reminder of why some people can get on your nerves...

Read the full story here. Even if you have good intentions when you make these posts, keep in mind that some of these habits make you look annoying... and if you have co-workers and bosses as Facebook friends, you probably want to avoid annoying them by sending "Food Flings" and invites to "Which Twilight Character Are You?" quizzes.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 10:23 AM on August 20, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LinkedIn glitch won't let you customize invites

Update: When I logged in to check today, the problem has been fixed.

I was at an AAJA conference last week. As to be expected, I came home with a pile of business cards. I was trying to be organized about connecting with people quickly, so sat down at the end of the work day to start adding connections to my LinkedIn network.

Linkedin logo Bridget and I always talk about how we like to personalize our invitations that we send out - to remind folks where we met them, and also to further the connection.

To my dismay, when I started sending out messages, the system immediately defaulted to the standard, somewhat lame "I'd like to add you to my professional network" message as soon as I selected how I knew the contact - it didn't let me customize my message.

I contacted the folks at LinkedIn, so said they're aware of the bug and working to fix it. In the meantime, if you're sending out messages out there, be warned that what you're stuck with is the standard default message.

I'll update this as soon as they fix it.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:13 PM on August 18, 2009 in LinkedIn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Twittering while traveling

We were out of town last week -- Bridget was at Disney World, and I was at the annual Asian American Journalists Association convention.

Perhaps it was Poked kismet, but while we were gone, both of us encountered the same question different ways: Do you make yourself vulnerable to thieves if you advertise, either via Twitter, Facebook or another social networking site, that you're away?

WishYouWereHere Each of us Tweeted -- and posted Facebook statuses -- that made it clear we weren't at home. Because neither of us live alone, maybe it's not as much of a worry.

But we've seen Tweets that say things like, ``Looking forward to my weeklong vacation with the family!'' And that's what led us to think that providing too many details might not be the best idea.

The whole nature of Twitter is that it's immediate; although people drop in and out of conversations, it's about what's happening at that instant.

Some of the most popular conversations on Twitter involve posting photos of something cool you've just seen or sharing information from a conference.

So it seems wrong not to share these kind of things.

Still, it always pays to be cautious about the fact that there are complete strangers out there watching what you say. There are millions of registered Twitter users, but anyone with Internet access is able to see public messages sent on Twitter.

So, maybe that just means eliminating some time elements. For example, is it really necessary for everyone to know how long you'll be away?

The security aspects of social networking extend to other areas, too. Everyone likes birthday wishes via Facebook, but we don't list our birth years, not just for vanity, but because of identity theft. That includes telling folks on Twitter,  "Oh, I turned 30 today!'' because then you just gave that information away.

I talked to the FBI about this and asked if they've seen any type of security problems like this so far. They said they've yet to hear about this actually happening -- the vast majority of Internet crime they deal with relates to fraud and identity theft, according to the Internet Crime Crime Complaint Center.

Still, we're curious: What other information do you shy away from sharing on social networking sites?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

What Makes a Great Tweet

Last week, at the Asian-American Journalists Association's annual convention, a panelist said something that stuck in my head: "I tweet to be retweeted". That's not always the goal for me, but I certainly don't want to be sending out Tweets that take up space.

To that end, here's a nice post by Mashable's Soren Gordhamer on what makes a quality tweet: basically, he thinks they can be categorized as being informative, humorous, personal or inspirational.

DearRobot2 My favorites are the tweets that are combos - especially the ones that make me laugh out loud - I'll call those tweets the humorous/personal hybrids.

I save some of them, especially ones like these from @DearRobot (that's a Twitter account that pulls Tweets that start with "Dear" and retweets them, to often hilarious results.)

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 04:30 PM on August 17, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook buys FriendFeed

Facebook announced today that it has acquired FriendFeed, a social networking type site that allows groups of people to create customized feeds of friend's content - basically, sort of like a social RSS feed.

According to compete.com, FriendFeed has a tiny amount of users compared to Facebook's dominant presence. (Here's a cool chart comparing Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed.)

Picture 3 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he admires the Friendfeed team for creating a "simple" and "elegant" service for people to share information.

"As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use," he said in a press release.

A note on FriendFeed's blog says the site will continue to operate as normal until they decide how to integrate into Facebook. Founded by four former Google employees, the company has just 12 employees. Facebook was mum on the price.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:41 PM on August 10, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Have an office chat about social media

After all the news last week about the NFL and Twitter, especially how the Miami Dolphins are dealing with things, Bridget and I decided to weigh in, in the hopes that companies and employees can begin a conversation about Twitter. It's two-fold, our message, designed for both bosses and workers, and it's appearing in tomorrow's paper:

Dear Employees: Your Tweets are making us, and your boss, reach for the Maalox.

It's clear that this age of instant communication is at least causing headaches, if not ulcers, for plenty of CEOs. That's especially the case when employees hooked on Twitter and Facebook don't think before they type and share insider information.

Employees need to realize that some conversations are privileged. Just because you're in a meeting about a new product, or worse, layoffs, doesn't mean you should be broadcasting details to the world, 140 characters at a time.

Dear Bosses: You really should talk to your employees about what shouldn't be shared.

If there's a meeting going on and you don't want people to talk about it publicly, say so. Not everyone has the mind-set that everything in a staff meeting is, say, private.

That's because many employees -- especially millennials like Bridget who spent all of their college years on Facebook -- don't always think about the consequences of sharing work information on social networking accounts. They don't see that there should be a reason for them to not share info, nor that there could be negative consequences to sharing what goes on in conference rooms.

No-Tweets-Football-MH202 Many companies -- or organizations, like the NFL -- say they are creating or have created social networking policies that spell these things out. Others have gone to the extreme of simply blocking social networking. Last week, the Miami Dolphins said they were clamping down on players and media tweeting during practice.

Companies shouldn't think of social networking sites as inherently good or bad -- they're just the most recent form of communication. So why not just actually communicate with your workers about what's appropriate and what isn't?

It is a two-way street. Workers should think about whether it makes sense to be talking about things that are public knowledge but sensitive, like layoffs or strategy.

Do you really want your boss to see you broadcasting not-so-great news about your company? How much of an asset are you if you're reminding the world of bad news?

And more importantly, why would someone want a complainer on their team?

Do you think we're being too extreme?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:45 PM on August 10, 2009 in Facebook , Sports , Status updates , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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