Tagged: social media

Situation Normal, All Trucked Up

Remember the golden days of social media, when you could call a tweetup for no good reason at all and the best and brightest would just show up and hang out?  Well, they’re back. It’s lunchtime in America and the economy’s turning a corner.  People with jobs are willing to take a long lunch on a Spring day to visit food trucks. I think @StevenL57 started it, I coined the hashtag #TruckUp, and @JeffCutler called in the elite twitterati. We met up at Mei Mei Street Kitchen in Copley Square by the BPL.

Huge line at Mei Mei Group Shot at the BPL

Thanks to JeffCutler for the pics above. Estimable guests included @wdipilato, @hybernaut, @HenryDuLaurence, @khopper, @marrsipan, @iamreff, @linji, @BostonFoodFan, and probably others I missed.  Notable noshows included @tangyslice.  Enough celebrity spotting, let’s talk about the host of honor: the Mei Mei Street Kitchen.  Run by three siblings, Mei Mei serves “creative Chinese-American cuisine made from locally sourced, sustainable ingredients.” [side note and shameless plug: local and sustainable food is what Sprout Lenders are all about, and they just opened their summer round of loan applications]

Most Truckers ate from the top half of the menu, the scallion pancake sandwich melts.  Using a scallion pancake like a tortilla or roti is a serious bit of genius in my book.  I had the Porko Rosso at least in part because that’s also (almost) the title of a Miyazaki film.  The sandwich is pulled pork, brie from vermont, and cranberry sauce.  Sounds pretty local, and it’s also pretty delicious. The pork was savory and super tender, the cranberry sauce sweet but not too much so, the brie held it all togehter.  My only nit would be that there was some runoff from the sauce that made the whole thing a little hard to eat by hand.  You also get a side of siracha ketchup.

On the side, I got a deep fried braised beef and rice ball, sort of like an arancini.  Super crispy on the outside with lots of salt, and almost melting inside.  I also heard good things about the double awesome sandwich, the black and blue, and the sichuan spring asparagus.  My tab came to a reasonable for a Boston food truck $10 with a bottle of water. The #TruckUp rolled on to other Copley trucks but I had to get back to the office. Check the other guests’ streams for more truckery.

Mei Mei also wins at operations.  I was a little worried when I saw five people in the truck, but they worked together admirably and processed orders efficiently and apparently were really enjoying themselves doing it. Lots of food trucks are on twitter but I’ve never seen one use the medium like Mei Mei.  They picked up on the #TruckUp during the planning last week and tweeted their excitement about it.  They replied and retweeted, and thanked us all for coming to the #TruckUp.  But the icing on the social cake is this: they put the tag – and many of our handles – on their board on the truck. Maybe I’m easily impressed, but that seems like a serious real-time marketing win.

It was an honor but also sort of uncanny to see my twitter handle in print – or at least in chalk – in the real world.  When I placed my order I gave my name as limeduck and got a hearty greeting and somebody said, “that’s a good name for a sandwich!” Stay tuned.

Fair use of photos: a no-pin situation?

It’s the eve of the Facebook IPO, a few weeks after the Instagram sale, and I’m still trying to figure out Pinterest.  Is it three syllables or two?  But seriously, what does a wildly-popular site built on appropriating other peoples’ images mean for content creators?

I don’t often google myself but in the wake of the not so great blogger scone photo brouhahah, I’ve been in the habit of checking TinEye Reverse Image Search once in a while.  I tried searching Pinterest, and sure enough, found a handful of pins from this very blog.

It seemed unfair that folks were pinning my work when I didn’t even have a login to the site to join the conversation.  Shortly after I whined about it on Twitter, my invite came through.  (The screenshot here is from after I joined; the first image is my own pin, but the others were there before.)

One thing that’s interesting here is that of the photos pinned from limeduck.com, two are not my own work – the shoes and the pillow.  I think I did a good job, at least with the pillow, of giving attribution and linkage, but once the photo gets pinned, the credit, such as it is, goes only to me.  I’m a little disappointed that most of the pins are just stuck in collections without any comments – more acquiring and collecting than really discussing – but it’s early yet.  Maybe the channel will become more social over time.

Most of the others are food pics, pretty disposable in my view, but one, the ferris wheel, is something I’d venture to say almost approaches art.  It’s a film photo that I scanned, and it’s also one that’s gotten around on the internets a bit and even been the basis for some derivative work at Deviant Art.

Although I’m irritable about sloppy photo borrowing, I’m also a fan of fair use.  I found out that you can ban pinning of images from your site with a simple bit of code,

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

but I’m not going to do it, at least not yet.  I’m not a professional photographer and this blog is pretty much here for my own entertainment, so the stakes are low for me.  People who make pictures for a living are surely more concerned about this.  If museum curators behaved like online content “curators” it would be a curious world, wouldn’t it?

Compare Flickr.  For all the almost-greatness and killed-by-yahoo hoohah, Flickr is a site for photographers to share their work – on their terms.  Flickr has done a good job of giving users choices about copyright and creative commons licenses, and also offering levels of privacy for photos and groups of photos.  In the last couple of months, Flickr has moved from site-wide nopin to a pin button available at the option of the Flickr user.

Like Flickr, Pinterest actually hosts the photos.  Unlike Flickr, Pinterest holds the photos in the account of the person that pinned them, not the person that created them.  I could delete this blog tomorrow and those pins would still be there. It’s also interesting that (so far as I can tell) Pinterest images do not show up in image search via google or TinEye.

Flickr has the power to get pinning done right, and I hope that it carries over to individual content sites like this one.   Flickr pins  go to the image in the photostream in question, but some of the pins from limeduck go to the image instead of the post.  That’s probably a result of image search, but it would be nice if Pinterest could work on that.  Even if they don’t do it for artists, they’ll eventually have to do it for commercial partners.

Will Pinterest ever mean much to social marketers? I’m doubtful of that, but I think it already means something to visual artists, but I’m not yet sure if that something is good or bad.

Social media mystery: the case of the 5000 follower intern

So we were hiring an intern.  Hiring might be a strong word since we’re not planning to pay this intern, but I digress.  So I’m reviewing resumes and sometimes if somebody looks promising, I check out his or her Twitter account.  It is at least in part a social media internship, after all.  So one candidate comes to the top of the pile and she has over 5,000 followers on Twitter, no small feat.  Or so I thought.

5,000 followers is neither here nor there by itself, but this person was following only 30 people and had under 100 tweets in just a few months on Twitter.  Reading the tweets, I was not super impressed: almost all were links to various marketing and social media articles, no added commentary, no @ replies, no real value add from information or entertainment.  How do you get 5,000 followers with 100 mediocre tweets in a few months?  I was pretty sure there was only one possible answer: cheating.

A phone screen confirmed, the intern candidate had paid some shadowy service to deliver followers.  It was, she said, an experiment to see if having more followers would make it any easier to get noticed or get her message out on Twitter. Purists – and even semi-purists – can be horrified all they like, but here’s the thing: it works.  5,000 followers and 100 tweets over a few months gives you a higher Twitter Grader score than mine with about 1,000 followers and 5,000 tweets over more than four years. Maybe that says more about Tweet Grader than it does about buying followers.

So if you’re still in the habit of judging people by the quantity of their following, or using follower quantity as the raw materials of social media scientific inquiry, or to create dubious metrics like TweetGrades, beware, not everything is as it seems.

And the intern?  No decision yet, but I give her points for scientific method.  If she’d done a double-blind study, I’d be willing to double her salary.

Three questions and the fourth dimension of LBS at SMB

I was chatting with Boston fixture Joselin Mane and LBS Elder Eric Leist at Social Media Breakfast (organized by the estimable Bob Collins) this morning while pondering the use of altitude information by Foursquare, we stumbled on an interesting question: Location Based Services know where you are (duh) but do they know what time it is when you’re there? The answer is obviously yes, but the real question is are LBS using that information in any useful way?

Businesses want you to check in at their location to do all that brand and community stuff, but mainly they want to you buy things. Therefore, we reason, just like LBS would prefer not to let you check in if you’re not really there, they should also not let you check in if the business is not open at that particular time*.

Eric mentioned some Foursquare promotions around sporting events and television shows that were only available for checkins during the time of the event or show, so the infrastructure probably exists.  The tough part is building the huge database of opening hours, holidays, emergency exceptions, private parties, etc.  On a side note, it’s odd and frustrating that opening hours are so often hard or impossible to find on business websites.  What’s up with that?

I’m sure there are better summaries of the event itself – notably the tweetstream – but I’ll mention a couple of things here:

Bob introduced Ginger Lennon of SMB sponsor Racepoint Group and she made it known that they are hiring.  I initially misheard her name as Ginger Lemon.  I bet that happens to her a lot, but it’s nice to know that companies are (a) hiring and (b) sponsoring Social Media Breakfast.

The impressive panel consisted of Sarah Armitay of MobextJohn Dobrowolski, VP of Fancy-Ass Titles at SCVNGR, and Nataly Kogan, VP of Consumer Experience at Where.com.  There were three questions that were not asked of every presenter, but perhaps should have been, in addition to the always-appropriate, “how the heck are you going to make money??”

First, asked by Adam Zand, what are you doing or what could you be doing for Movember?

I’ll take the liberty of generalizing to “how can LBS help with charity events that have no fixed place?”  I for one would be tempted to create a location called “my upper lip” for the purposes of Movember checkins, but I can see that being misunderstood.   I don’t think any of the panelists quite got this one, maybe they didn’t know enough about Movember or just didn’t want to cop to having no idea.  No shame in saying “I don’t know” if you ask me.

Next, asked by somebody whose name I neglected to note (please speak up if you read this), how does this play out for financial services companies?

Interesting in comparison to the first question.  How can LBS help businesses that are highly regulated, very concerned (I hope) with customer privacy, and sometimes not even doing business in physical space?  I’m not sure that I’d like to tweet “I just became the mayor of this ATM and now have lots of cash”   I think one answer here would have to be a tie-in to home mortgages, generally the largest financial transaction in your life.  But I also wonder if financial services are inherently anti-social or maybe just anti-location.  Not every fun and interesting social game concept is for every industry.

And thirdly, by No One You Know (on behalf of himself and several others), how are we supposed to let our tweenaged childen use this stuff?

The consensus was something like “you can’t use our service unless you’re 13″ accompanied by some hand-waving about digital natives and parenting.  I’m not qualified to speak on behalf of tweens or their parents, but it sounds to me like this hasn’t been quite figured out yet.  I’m confident that the nut will be cracked, not because anybody is worried about kid safety or privacy, but because tweens have disposable income and they’re mobile.  The gravitational pull of that money is very, very powerful.

* Checking in at a business while it’s closed in order to swipe the mayorship is a maneuver known as an Orli Perez. Especially if the business is a bakery. #justsayin

Social Media Plagues Six through Eight

I started the passover season with the first five plagues of social media, and despite a considerable transportation delay incurred by of all things a flood, I’m back with a few more plagues this Sunny Easter morning.  To refresh your memory:

  1. Spam
  2. Corporate Blogs
  3. Self-Appointed Experts
  4. Accumulationism
  5. Constant Partial Attention
  6. The Echo Chamber. Dance all you want on the grave of print, but at least when you went to the newsstand to buy your favorite rag, you had at least passing exposure to the headlines on the covers of opposing rags.  Creating personalized newsfeeds and groups of friends and followers lets us indulge our weaker impulse to attend only to those with whom we already agree.
  7. Social Media Exceptionalism. Exceptionalism as you may recall from the last couple hundred years of United States politics, is the belief that your thing is, well, exceptional, and therefore “does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles” [wikipedia] – this is more or less a continuation of PR Exceptionalism and Brand Exceptionalism, two great “we can’t/shouldn’t measure this program” belief systems.  I’ll grant that social media is by nature more measurable and that many practitioners are making good efforts to measure it, but exceptionalism still kicks in when the measurements don’t live up to what we hoped and we decide we must have underinvested or decide to call the program experimental. No more excuses, no more faith-based marketing, I say.
  8. Social Media Purism.  Or maybe I should call it Puritanism.  The idea that Social Media is All You Need and the related idea that It Cannot Be Mixed or Diluted with Other Modes and Methods have the ugly tang of fanaticism about them.  The flavor of the month is tasty, no doubt, but it’s not the only one.

Just two more plagues to go.  Stay tuned and stay ducky.