Twitter goes for Olympic gold

Hell breaks loose today. For a couple of weeks, 14.700 athletes are competing in 26 Olympic Sports and 20 Paralympic Sports, in front of 21.000 journalists and over 10.8 million ticket-holders. After tennis in Wimbledon, and the Tour de France, the Olympic Games are going to aggressively take over, cannibalizing most media coverage for the time to come.

Global top sport is our panem et circenses, our bread and games; London is our Coliseum. Old gladiators will falter, new young wolves will eagerly struggle for world domination, most will fail miserably.  Cheaters will be publicly lynched, superheroes will be born overnight, and humanity is hoping for some serious drama and catharsis.

The Games are heaven for the sports lover, but a nightmare for someone who is not interested. But fan or not, you will experience the 2012 London Games. Sweaty, good looking youngsters will be all over screens, radio waves and social media channels. Infographics will total the medals per country, color and gender ; 3D boosted graphs will show how humanity just got faster, stronger, better and generally enhanced.

While all media are competing for their share of the cake, it is already apparent that the big media winner of these games is going to be Twitter.  True, TV is still the old and uncontested King of Games. But Twitter moves in for Olympic gold. Tweets can be shot from the hip, while mobile: it’s lightning fast, lovely short. For weeks teams, athletes and sport influencers have been polishing up their twitter channels, and established twitter rules and protocols. London is ready for a media war, and the weapon of choice is Twitter.

The first human casualty was already sent home in a virtual bodybag: Greek triple-jumper Voula Papachristou was ejected from the Greek Olympic team for a bad racist joke. The Hellenic Olympic Committee said through AP that Papachristou was “placed outside the Olympic team for statements on Twitter contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.” Isidoros Kouvelos, head of Greece’s Olympic mission, added, “We are not here just to get medals, but to promote the Olympic ideals, to show our character.  It’s the same as violating fair play.”

Twitter is deeply entwined in the Olympic 2012 fabric, proving Twitter CEO Costolo right in his endeavors to position it more as a platform than as a service, with a special focus on events and gatherings.  Costolo positions his Twitter as the ideal social platform to make an offline event vibratingly  live online. The Twitter buzz around the Olympic Games will be one of the proof points for Twitters current valuation of over 8.5 billion dollar. The stream of tweets that will be generated during the Games puts the San Francisco based company in direct competition with all other media companies.  Twitter certainly getting a big part of the coverage will push advertisers and marketers into looking at the former micro blogging service in a very different way.  Proven reach, engagement and readership can and will be cashed in hard marketing dollars.    “We don’t have any problem, we don’t think, monetizing Twitter. Period,” Dirk Costolo said to the Wall Street Journal.

While the Twitter Golden boys dream of cash, the Olympic athletes dream of gold.  But their lives just got more complicated. Before, you had to jump far, run hard, fly high and be able to playback your national anthem with a misty smile. Now you also need to Tweet well. Coaches, journalists and decision makers are analyzing tweets, and if they do not like what they read, there will be hell to pay.

Pinterest is not a strategy

Shall we agree to some simple rules? Shall we be open, honest, and right in your face at all times? You’re up for that? Nice. Here comes: Pinterest. It’s not that big of a deal. Honestly, do not get overly excited. From my high perch here at Porter Novelli Towers, it looks like every couple of weeks, some new social media channel tackles the world, and is rewriting history. Myspace. Google Wave. Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Foursquare. Gowalla. Quora. Pinterest. Yammer. Path. Heatmap. Instagram. Yelp.

Some are long forgotten now, others thrive, and some hang on for dear life. But every couple of weeks we go through the hype cycle of yet another network, yet another way of sharing content and precious pieces of highly private life. It’s a bit like the Beatles coming to town: Giggles, groupies, T-shirts and lots of screaming. If you were a Foursquare skeptic, you cannot miss this concert: go Pinterest, go, woohoo!

But it does not crank up my adrenaline a bit. O, I love playing with the new tools. I love redoing my profile, linking it, trying it… nagging about it, and most often: throwing it away. Only the strong tools survive. But I’m getting immune to the excitement of the new shiny tool. Show me what is behind it: is it location savvy? A content curator? A picture sharing tool? An interaction platform? An online virtual Rolodex? Is it a steak knife? Or a Swiss Army knife? What can I use the tool for?

Because that’s what they are, all those shiny apps: they are social tools. I got an offer on Twitter from a GuruNinja, to establish my Pinterest strategy. My Highly Personalized Own Pinterest Strategy… for 24.000 dollar. Now I am a consultant myself: A good strategy is worth investing a ton of money in. But… shall we agree to some simple rules? Shall we be open, honest, and right in your face at all times? You’re up for that? Ok, here comes: Pinterest is not a strategy, neither is Foursquare, or Facebook. Or Twitter.

Strategy is what makes communications work. It goes back to what messages need to be tailored to your target audiences in order to drive behavioral change. Your Twitter, Pinterest, or press release are vehicles, tools, platforms.

So forgive me that I do not hop and down as energetic as I should each time a new tool is launched: I’m a strategist, you know. I am platform independent by definition, generalist by vocation, McGyver by nature, skeptic by choice. I will not bend my strategy to accommodate a tool. I go for the toolkit that suits my strategy best.

And…. –between us- Pinterest is the Gentlemint for girls, right? 🙂

10 Ways to ruin your Brand’s Reputation with Twitter



On Twitter, 140 characters make up a message. That’s not much and some businesses, especially small to medium-sized ones, still think Twitter is a no-go. They say it’s too short, too uncontrollable and too time-consuming.

At first glance, Twitter might indeed not seem an ideal communication tool, but in just a couple of years it has proved the world that sometimes “short” is powerful. From its genesis as a basic online SMS service, it has evolved into a world-encompassing communication tool; Twitter users generate more than 200 million tweets per day, and the microsite often beats the most sturdy news platsforms in the world with speed and accuracy. And don’t forget that close to 750 million searches are performed on Twitter every single day, making it a toup-four search engine.

Communicating in 140 characters can be extremely tricky, and when done in an unconsidered or trigger-happy way, a lot of damage to brand and reputation can be done in a heartbeat. Here are 10 ways that brands risk ruining their reputation on Twitter and, ultimately, across their marketplace:

1. You have the wrong handle. A good Twitter name should be short, catchy, simple and recognizable, and refer to your brand.

2. You’re nobody except an egg on a blue background. If you do not tell people who you are and what you stand for, you’ll never reap ROI. Use your profile to show what it is you do and what you stand for. Include your location and website, and remember to use the C3 rule: be catchy, concise and complete. Also know that the default Twitter background with the impersonal “egghead” avatar is not the road to success. Dress up the bride. Stand out. Be sparkling, inventive, inviting.

3. You’re a robot or a zombie. Communicating from a corporate pedestal and hiding behind a shiny logo gets you nowhere. People want to interact with people, not with a brand. This is the engagement part of social media; So mention in the profile who is tweeting on behalf of your brand. You’ll be amazed how much more interaction is triggered by having real people represent your brand.

4. You’re selling. If you only communicate about your beloved product all the time, people will unfollow you faster than you can press “send.” People are not interested in your sales talk or marketing language. They are interested in finding useful content, hearing smart viewpoints and getting helpful tips.

5. You’re boring. People follow you because they think you might share good information with them, or because they want to build a relationship with you or your brand. So give ‘em what you want. As a rule of thumb, divide your tweets in three buckets, one-third for conversing with people, one-third for spreading great content that others brought to you and one-third for bringing great original content to the platform. This optimal mix will allow you to boost followers, connect and engage.

6. You’re shy. Staying in your corner will not win any business or Twitter goodwill. Growing a Twitter account is hard work, and it requires commitment and a willingness to connect. The easiest way to get followers is to follow people. So search for and follow relevant accounts. So search for and follow relevant accounts. If you find someone interesting, check out who he or she is following and add some of these folks to your lists too.

7. You follow spambots and prostitutes. Tell me who you follow and I will tell you who you are, so be careful. When people start following you, it’s common courtesy to follow them back. That’s how a relationship gets started. Be smart about it though. Make sure you filter out the spammers, spambots, prostitutes and random bizarre people.

8. You don’t keep your house clean. Once in a month, do some housekeeping. Look to see if you’re following the right people back and if you answered all messages. Decide whether or not to keep people on your follow list if they are not following you. Ask yourself if the accounts you do follow are relevant in your Twitter stream. If not, unfollow them. Also, accounts that haven’t tweeted in 90 days are usually stone dead, so unfollow.

9. You’re rude. Yes, you have the right to disagree with other people and have your own opinion. What you don’t have is a reason to be rude or impolite. Deal with the message, not with the messenger, and disagree in a pleasant style.

10. You’re lazy. Remember that point earlier about unfollowing accounts that are dead? You’ll be unfollowed if you aren’t a regular tweeter. And remember that once you starte engaging, you’re in it for the long run and should never stop. Your social capital builds with every single tweet.

BONUS TIP: never tweet when angry, drunk, in love, upset, confused or high on emotion. What you put out there cannot be taken back.

(Originally published in PRNews’ Digital PR Guidebook, by Danny Devriendt , buy it here ; republished on

Trusting Privacy settings is Bungee jumping without a rope…

You trust those bungee ropes blindly, don’t you? Think again… they might very likely hang you. An Indian summer drink this weekend resulted in heated discussions on e-identity, e-brand, and the very precious social capital. To my huge astonishment, a lot of people keep on posting shady, risky or downright provocative pictures and updates on their social networks “because they have set their privacy options right”. They post compromising pictures, half-drunk thoughts, angry ramblings, etc…. “because they have set their privacy options right”.

Bull. Here is some advice from a grumpy old timer: turn it off.  Set the privacy filters of all your social networks to the lowest protection. Throw those pictures and tutti quanti wide in the open. Let the entire Facebook community gaze at your holiday pictures; invite everyone into your Google+ circles, and get those tweets out in the open. Have a blast! Privacy was a myth of the 20th century…

Turning the privacy settings off will free you of that false sense of protection. It will make you think four times before posting. It will make you think if you really want your boss to see you without your tiny black bikini on an alcohol generous just-amongst-friends night. It will make you stop trusting your friends.

Because, trust me, friends cannot be trusted. The virtual ones I mean. These thousands of Twitter followers, these hundreds of Facebook people…. They are connections, not friends. And even at least one of your friends likely copy posts that privacy protected picture of you to someone else. If some people cannot keep a secret safe, than certainly not your pictures, most intimate thoughts… or wild frivolous fantasies.

So… turn those privacy settings off online, throw the curtains wide open! But, tighten your security settings offline. I have iron social media guidelines with my friends: on when the picture taking stops during that hot barbeque. And what happens with inappropriate taggers. If people do not want to be cast out of my social circle, they need to adhere to those rules. No pictures after dessert, no wild tagging… no exceptions. My way, or the highway. And yes, I check daily to see if everyone complies!

Trying to fix that crazy picture or sharp ranting is like trying to knit a sweater for a dead squirrel: it’s plain useless.

Have fun, offline and online… but let no-one check your rope for you. Only you can… 🙂


Social Networks: When trop becomes too much…

It must be the new 42 in my bio. I’m getting old. I’ve lost it, somewhere between the hipness and troubling youngness of 41, and the midlife grim of 42. I’m getting old. It comes with grey hair, faster cars and a certain reluctance to adapt to new things.

You want proof? I have not updated my Facebook profile picture for 6 months. And I still feel happy. And… I’ve given up on Social Networks. Seriously, I do not want to change. I have 6 email addresses. I only deal with two in earnest… the rest, I just automatically pick up.

I’m on all kind of Google stuff, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Bebo, Plaxo, Twitter, Friendfeed, MSN, Yammer, WordPress, Blogger, Delicious, Digg, Sphere, Tumblr, Foursquare, Gowalla, Heat!, 2nd Life!, YouTube, Spurl, ScoopIt, Netlog, Technorati, Flickr, Instagram, WordPress, Beknown, Evernote, Quora and a dozen other pieces of Social Sorcery. Honestly, I have more than I can handle, more than I can share, more than I can read.

What more do I need? Let’s be honest, the market of social networks is saturated. Yes, I daily subscribe to new ones. Yes, I do have a Google+ account. Yes, as so many others I fake to be everywhere at once. Bilocation is my middle name.  Reality is, if you look closely, that most of these networks are empty shells, populated by frozen avatars. Reality is, that you can only spend so much time on line. When I look closely, on most networks there is nobody home, but an automatic aggregator that faithfully mirrors a status update from another network.

Thank God for automatic status updates! Thanks for update mails, because, how many social networks can you really, truly handle? If I roam through Google+, I see mostly automatic updates. Do people need it on top of their Facebook and other Networks? And what is expected of me? That I link the people that I’m already linked to on a dozen networks yet again? Another invite? To do what exactly?

I’m getting old and tired. Yes, I’ll sign in on your new network. Send me an invite, it’s ok. But I’ll download an aggregator and CRM tool to centralize my online presence faster than you can say nerd.

I can. I’m 42. So many things to do, so little time…

Keep your hands off my web! – When Social Web becomes Social Tissue

Scientists just discovered that by enhancing the human skin with spider DNA, it becomes bulletproof. It literally can stop a bullet. Spider webs are that strong. The Ethiopians have since the dawn of time a saying: “when spiderwebs unite, they can tie up a lion”. Ancient wisdom and modern technology agree, once more.

The Social spider web is all over the news lately. From playing a highly romanticized role in the Arab Spring revolution, to triggering the Vancouver riots, the riots in London, the cleanup  in London… social media have been put at the very roots of social community engagement happening in real life. Tweets, Blackberry messages, Facebook pages and instant messages were identified as the initiators of communities taking action: from overpowering governments and attacking police forces, to peaceful cleaning up of London suburbs that looked a bit like Beirut in its worse days…

Strangely, the same politicians that voiced their support to the Arab crowds using social media as a backbone for their revolution, were the first ones to threaten to pull the plug out of the very same social networks when crowds started to voice disagreement in Tottenham, London, Vancouver and tutti quanti. One social uproar is clearly not the other one, is it? UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron even threatened to shut down Social Networks altogether, and has summoned executives of Blackberry, Twitter and Facebook to his office to discuss their part in the social unrests.

The powers that be tighten the thumb screws of the social networks in a desperate move for more control (and ultimately even the right of excluding individuals, or temporary closing down a network) – An attitude that certainly would be loathed by the same people if some Eastern, Middle Eastern or African government would try the same thing.

But as soon as things go terribly wrong, like the Belgian Pukkelpop drama, the earthquake on the US East Coast, or the regions plagued by Hurricane Irene, social networks seem to have become the one communication web that allows a steady stream of information. @DHSjournal, the twitter account of the Department of Homeland Security tried to free a tortured and melting mobile phone system by encouraging people via twitter to favor social media to contact friends and loved ones, and to stay away from the phone.  In Belgium, social media were used as well to set up help actions for bewildered teens, as to organize lists of who was ok, or not.

Should the alert police officer have a fully loaded iPhone next to his gun? Would that be a good addition to the survival kit?  – Social media is rapidly becoming one of the fastest and most reliable ways to communicate “to many”, one of the quickest ways to send out messages to an audience. It is a bullhorn on steroids. Instead of finding ways to control, should event organizers, governments, fire departments, police forces, and worried parents alike not better rapidly embrace their use, and learn how to benefit from this social spider web that connects a growing amount of people?


Tweeting Fridges and my line in the sand

I admit: I am a geek. Even worse, I’m pretty proud of it. The latest technologies, the latest products and techy gadgets: I want them, I want to play with them, I want to try them.

I talk to my car, listen to the voice synthesizer of my smartphone, and let semi intelligent machines determine and direct a big part of my life. But… to my astonishment, there are limits…

In the #SxSW blogger lounge they have the creepiest thing, the end of civilization as we know it. It features Samsungs tweeting fridge.

Now, in a world where more than a terrabite of new content is being uploaded to the cloud every couple of minutes, and where sifting through data to find relevant data becomes more and more difficult, I am wondering if we’re waiting for household machines to clutter our contentspace.

Mind you, my fridge can send me an sms, our a mail… but I honestly think that the fact that I am out of my favorite flavor of ice-cream is not really of your business. Machine-to-human updates are ok, but they are not social…. So they do not belong in the social ecosphere.

Austin Texas: I draw the line on line-dancing, and tweeting fridges. There.

No Manners… No mercy…

It might just be me. I grew a bit older, so maybe my tolerance level is fading. I feel I’m slowly turning into a Jeremy Clarkson of social media: as he phrases it so nicely himself:  I’m turning into a grumpy old man, a Social Media Troll.

TrueTwit and other validation systems are driving me bananas for instance. It’s perfectly ok for you to check me out before following me, but do not expect me to click on a nitwit automated system. And… what is up with these protected tweets. I thought Social Networks where about being social. So you want to be open and caring, and sharing, but on invitation only? That’s fine. Use mail. Set up a club. Go away. Using protected tweets puts you in the ridiculous position of being the only dressed one on a nudist beach. If you want to read what others say, show your thoughts to the world? What makes me grinding my teeth is when a “protected tweeter” follows me, and I try to return the courtesy… grrr.

And sharing content from others, without giving credit where due? Duh? Where are your manners? To me, it’s a creepy form of intellectual stealing. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.

Before my raising blood pressure dives into the dangerous red, one last one: Twitter snobbism. It drives me nuts, gives me the raging bimbam. I talked with a Twittering politician earlier this week, asking him why he did not follow 98 % of his followers. “I do not have to”, he said: “I use Twitter as a broadcast medium”. I certainly hope that his followers will return his favor, and will massively un-follow. It’s a bit difficult “broadcasting” when no one is listening.

It’s even #more #difficult #“broadcasting” #when #you #put #a #hashtag #before #every #single #word Or You Just Decide To Start Every Screaming Word With A Capital Letter OR EVEN WORSE YOU ARE SCREAMING ALL THE TIME. I’ve had it a bit.

From now on, there will be no mercy. Quarter asked, nor given. No manners and I’ll un-follow you into sweet oblivion, erasing all your pitiful existence out of my digital life. I know you will not care. But I will feel better.

Unfollowed? It’s not me, it’s you. Really.

So I got some nice piece of hate mail because I unfollowed someone. It happens: occasionally, I rip the weeds out of the herby green garden of my precious Twitterville. Nothing serious, just me quietly slipping out of an internet connection between two consenting adults. I cannot see Joey going ballistic because I stop watching Friends. But this Twitter Joey did.

*sigh*. After calling me lots of interesting names (since when is “intellectual” a swear word?) he signed off with the killer question: “what did I do wrong that caused you to unfollow me”.

The nice guy in me wants to go the easy way: It’s NOT you Joey, it’s ME. But I need to be fair to myself. Joey: it IS you.

Your profile is not filled in. You have not tweeted in a 117 days. By my standards, you’re Cyber dead.  RIP Joey.

Out of courtesy, I follow everyone back by default. And there is indeed stuff that can cause that little click on the red unfollow bottom. I hate automated DM’s. I’m notorious impatient with everything that even reeks of spam. I do not want to know how to get another couple of thousands of new followers. I have no room for call girls, lady boys and latex underwear sellers. I hate rude and racist people. I do respect your religion, but I do not want to appear on your “to convert” list. If you have anger issues go to a specialized doctor, but keep your ranting out of my stream. My life is way too short for Trolls that nag on all and everything. I do not need extra inches down-there, thank you very much! If you’re fake, shallow, uninteresting or boring… if you’re live tweeting the scores of your favorite baseball game.  I cannot deal will personalities that have an ego bigger than my computer screen. I will even unfollow you when I cannot detect a frizzling interesting personality. Or if you’re Justin Bieber.

See? It IS you! 😉

#use #hashtags #wisely

I get my social media streams funneled into my brain through five screens. Content comes in swiftly at a nice steady rate of about a tweet/post/second. Do not worry. If your content is remotely interesting, challenging, funny, edgy, groundbreaking or special… I will notice. I have a decent, well-equipped army of filters, aggregators, spam detectors and fluff busters.  None of the spam shall pass. None.

But I do get the flying green space invaders looking at messages, tweets and posts that get seeded by #’s. I know hash tags are a useful thing. I love hash tags. Heck, I use hash tags. But I would love it if people would just use them wisely, with caution. Not all the time. Not #everywordbelongsbehindahashtag you know. And if you need a hash tag so #yourmessagelooksfunny, maybe you should redefine the metric fun system.

O well. #maybeImjustgettingold.

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