Tag Archives: money

4 Ways To Screw Brands & Influence Metrics

I just learned something big, folks, and I want to share it with you. Because we’re friends, and because I think it’s hilarious.

Twitter users have long seen the advertisements that pop up in our streams. Framed as “Promoted” or “sponsored” tweets, these can be anything from Walmart touting their friendly business practices to BP talking about what a good job they’ve done cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill to Seaworld protesting the documentary Blackfish. They can also include political messages, ads from mom & pop stores and more.

It turns out that the brands only pay to pollute your stream when you engage with their message:


promoted tweets only cost money if you click, favorite, retweet or reply

As someone who generally clicks “dismiss” when obnoxious advertisers force their paid tweets into my sightlines, I now realize I’ve been going about this all wrong. The key isn’t to wipe the brand off my timeline, it’s to engage with the brand so I cost it some money.

Now, every time you engage with a brand, you run the risk of spreading their message, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each method of engagement:

1. Retweet

I think this one is a bad idea. It sends the offending brand message out into your timeline, subjecting your followers to their message and potentially making it look like you want more people to be aware of the ad they’re pushing out. Since they don’t pay unless your followers then interact with the message, it gives them some degree of free advertising, depending on how far your tweets reach and what kind of user you are. For social influencers, this can amount to giving a fair amount of free advertising. If you want to run ads for other companies on your feed, that’s fine, but at least go to a site that’s going to pay you for your tweets, and see if you can get money from brands directly.

2. Favorite

This is one of the least obnoxious ways of engaging with the message. Click the star below the tweet, and voila, you’ve just cost a huge corporation some money! Sure, it may only be a few cents (or a few fractions of a cent), but every little bit helps!

3. Reply

This is my favorite tactic, especially when I’m in a bad mood. For example, every time I see a paid tweet from Seaworld denigrating Blackfish as propaganda, I write back asking why, if the facts in the documentary aren’t true, Seaworld hasn’t yet sued the filmmakers for libel. Sometimes I even put a period in front of the tweet so that, while it’s still a reply, my followers can see me engaging in this way with the brand. Good for as many hours of fun as the Seaworld social media team has to give!

4. Follow

I’m not entirely clear on how this works: do you have to follow the brand for a given amount of time? If you follow, unfollow and re-follow, do they have to pay twice? Obviously one doesn’t want corporate doublespeak filling up one’s timeline, but if I get an offensive promoted tweet from the NRA or a right-wing conservative PAC, I don’t mind following them for a minute or two, then unfollowing them, if it means using up some of the Koch brothers’ money.

Now, I’m not going to go as far as to advocate the creation of sock-puppet accounts solely for the use of trolling major brands and costing them money, but if you’re interested in throwing a monkey wrench into the metrics these companies are using to suck up your time and attention, it might be worth a laugh to futz around every now and again with the four metrics mentioned above.

And of course, the follow-up question is…do the same rules apply on Facebook?



Getting paid to write.

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In today’s blog, and in light of the issues I’ve read about online and e-published authors have had in getting paid, I wanted to say a few things about writing and getting paid for it.

I hope you’ll excuse me if I meander around a bit. Money for the fruit of my soul is an emotional subject.

I got paid on Thursday for a job I did last fall.

Due to a miscommunication, I never realized they’d requested an invoice.

Within days of raising a question about payment (uh…Monday?)…the money hit my account.

I’ve been wondering what was going on since at least October; I remember having a conversation with a friend who was part of the same project around then. And now I’m kicking myself – why didn’t I just ask the producer at the time, why did I step back and not bring up this question of payment earlier?

I didn’t want to seem pushy or petty. But asking “Hey, what’s up?” at a point sooner than four months after the fact would have saved a lot of time, and that would have been nice. As evidenced by how quickly we figured out what was up once I opened my mouth.

Anyway, I’m meandering.

What I wanted to say was this: it felt SO GOOD to get paid for something I’d written because I *felt* it. The piece I was paid for landed in my lap like a flash of inspiration, and having it produced (even abroad, even when I couldn’t go to see it) gave me the most wonderful, settled feeling in the world.

Getting paid for it today, seeing the money land in my account – that gave me a whole different kind of good feeling.

In our society, money is a potent type of validation. I remember the first time I got paid for writing something. A friend bought a short story I’d written. Later, I felt this kind of validation again when I earned money on my Fringe shows (most notably, “Stuck Up A Tree,” which is now *ahemavailableonKindle*). At the same time, we’re told not to ask about it – to the point where I put off a polite inquiry for four months! How crazy is that?

As a freelancer, a self-owned business, you – much like reporters – are advised to follow (up) the money. Nobody is going to think less of you for asking a question.

And trust me. Getting paid for a passion project? The best feeling ever.

2012 was a weighted year. When I got my 1099s for my self-published work in the mail the other day, the amounts added up to a very small sum. Even smaller, once I sit down, do the math, and send money to the writers, illustrators, designers, co-editors and charities owed for the last quarter or two. Having made a somewhat significant sum a few years ago thanks to commercial freelancing, I appreciate the difference between getting paid to write, and getting paid to write what you love.

But what’s left will still be more more than I made on my creative writing in 2011. Which isn’t a bad trend to be following.

Addendum: I asked for some advice re: photography for this entry, because I stress about things like that, and here’s the best response I got.

When you give away my money, don’t put that back on me. #HSBC #fraud #banking #howisthisonme

I woke up this morning (12/18/2010) and checked my bank balance, and found something curious and worrying – two checks had been cashed the night before, both for significant sums of money…but only one was signed by me. The other featured unfamiliar handwriting – and my roommate’s signature (of her own name)!

I woke up my roommate and showed her the check images, and she checked her own bank balance – which was unchanged – and we realized that she must have grabbed one of my checks by mistake. Both had been drawn on my account – though filled out in totally separate handwriting and with completely different signatures for different names – AND HSBC CASHED BOTH THE CHECKS!

Now, my roommate and I have already sorted out the financial side of this – but my attempts to get some kind of explanation from HSBC about how this could have happened have so far been met with total refusal to accept responsibility for what happened.

After spending 45 minutes on the phone with HSBC Customer Suckfest this morning (perhaps three minutes of which was actually spent on the line with an agent), I was flat-out told there was nothing the people on the phone could do to help me. (Although it took threatening to march into a local branch waving printouts of the two checks and complaining very loudly to get them to admit that much.) They implied that in order to get any kind of explanation, I’m going to have to file fraud charges against my roommate. Which I’m not going to do – obviously – although I think they’ve missed out on a serious point here regardless. She signed her own name – that’s not fraud, fraud is her signing my name. She’s not an authorized signatory on my account – so surely, HSBC, it shouldn’t matter whether she’s signed it, or Barack Obama, or Angelina Jolie signs their name on my check – NONE OF THEM ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE TAKING MONEY OUT OF MY ACCOUNT.

Am I wrong?

And here’s the thing, HSBC. You and I have a business relationship. We’ve entered into a contract that provides that you will protect certain aspects of my life. There is absolutely no excuse for providing funds and deducting them from my account based on the signature of someone who we both agree I did not authorize to withdraw funds from my account. Your Customer Service rep tried to say that this was something to do with the funds being deposited into a Citibank account – are you kidding me? Do you really think it matters if the request is coming from outside an HSBC branch? In fact, shouldn’t that make you even more cautious, in your own interest? Because guess what – now that money is outside of HSBC’s accounts, and I have a hard copy record of a check signed by someone in their own name on an account that we agreed should only be withdrawn from by me. You broke our contract.

Am I wrong?

So don’t tell me I have to file fraud paperwork, and don’t try to make this my responsibility or my roommate’s. Somebody on your payroll looked at that check, saw that the name printed on it, the name on the account, did not match the name – let alone the handwriting – that had been signed on the bottom corner, and said, “Yes, pay this out.”

I think I’m entitled to know who that was and how it happened, and I think you owe me some kind of explanation of how you’ll make sure this never happens – to anyone – again.

Am I wrong?