Tag Archives: twitter

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?

 

 

Wanna Write? Gotta Write.

This is a companion piece to a piece I wrote about treating the artistic process like an industrial/mechanical one over on Jesse Abundis’ ARTISTS UNCENSORED blog. That post was inspired by a request for inspiration, and its response, below:


First, what is it to be “in the zone”? I had written about being in that precise place in this blog entry, which I posted a day or two before. Being in the zone is comparable to flow.

But it doesn’t always come easy, and sometimes it just doesn’t come. Sometimes – often those times – there are external conditions necessitating a piece be written. It’s for a magazine or a website, or a class paper. You want to make sure you have a relevant piece of writing on your site when visitors from another blog come calling.

In this hypothetical, we’ll say the situation is this: an article you wrote on another site is being  published, and you want to talk about how writing something on demand is a skill writers need to develop.

That’s when you rely on your craft, your writer’s toolkit. That’s when you force yourself to be disciplined and focused.

Cancel plans.

Jot down ideas.

Make an outline. (God I hate making outlines.)

Take a break. Come back, look at what you’ve written. Evaluate it. Re-arrange your ideas.

Then trust yourself and start writing.

You may delete every word for an hour. You may feel self-conscious about every point your argument strikes. You will, I guarantee, have to go back and read the thing multiple times, probably print it out, possibly even read it aloud – and add and delete sections that you missed or rambled on in the first time around.

In the end, you’ll have written something. Your best work ever? Maybe not. Something that communicates your point? Hopefully.

The process is more complicated in a creative endeavor – more the territory of writing exercises and accessing your subconscious than just working with craft, because a writer’s emotional connection to their work is so clearly reflected in it.

Capturing that lightning in a bottle is a blog entry for another day.

The 99 Report: Gun Discussion

http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx

From http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx.

Just finished up a discussion with the ever-delightful Allie McNeil (@watergatesummer) over on her podcast/internet radio show, “The 99 Report.”  Check it out if you have the time – I call in about 8 minutes into the broadcast and we chat for the full show.

There’s a brief technical mishap midway through, but we got things back up and running within a few minutes, so don’t let that put you off the rest of the show.

Take a listen – we discuss gun violence, Gabby Giffords and her new SuperPAC, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Breaking Bad, Columbine, my award-winning first play (1999’s POST), connections between art and violence, conversations on twitter and more.

Happy New Year! Where I’ve been, and where I’m going in 2013.

Photo Credit: Leah Alconcel

Photo Credit: Leah Alconcel

I hope you and yours had a wonderful end of 2012 and rang in the new year with more enthusiasm than I did – I conked out a little after 11pm EST and didn’t manage to greet 2013 until about 9am this morning.

Time for a quick look back, and a longer look ahead.

2012 was a packed year. I published HOT MESS, had short stories featured on blogs and in Amazon E-Book collections, put together a collection of Zombie Haiku, talked a lot about feminism and vaginas (both here and in public), organized readings, took major artists to task over unethical business practices (with results!) and more.

It was a year of both excitement and disappointment, of keeping things in perspective, of working on myself and how I relate to the world. My cousin and his girlfriend got married, and I fell off the Low Sodium wagon hardcore shortly after (funny how having a size 14 dress to fit into can motivate a girl!).

I wrote about physics, I wrote about politics, I wrote about gun control, I broke 100K tweets (don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed about that), I edited a novel, contributed to a round-robin short story, got some help prettying up the blog, shared my self-publishing experience, interviewed innovative theatre producers

In other words, it’s been a busy year.

What’s up for 2013?

For the first time in years, I’m kicking off with a more-or-less clean slate. The writing projects I had planned to carry into this year are either at good resting points, or they’re not going forward due to external circumstances. I have an idea for a feature I’d like to play with, and I’d like to do more theatre work this year (last year, my short play MILLENNIAL EX was performed as part of Glasgay UK in a program of short works on marriage equality, and that’s re-whet my appetite for playwriting after a small break for other formats). I’m going to continue publishing my produced plays, which will join POST and Playing It Cool over on Amazon, just as soon as I lock down cover art for the new pieces (and by the way, if you’re interested in doing cover art for my plays, please let me know).

As I normally do around this time of year, I’m moving diet and health back to center stage: went grocery shopping yesterday and have gone back to only buying low sodium foods and healthy, nutritious snacks. We’ll see if that lasts much beyond my first day at work.

I spent a lot of time in 2012 on my mental health and well-being, and plan to keep moving forward with that in 2013.  I’d like to travel more, and have started trying to reconfigure finances so this is more than a pipe dream. I’d like to get more involved in activism and political issues – something I did more of in 2012 than I had in 2011, but still an area where I want to contribute in the future.

Thanks to everyone who helped make 2012 a memorable year – here’s to making new memories in 2013.

 

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Let’s Talk About Guns

Thank you to ponsulak via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

photo credit: ponsulak via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is there to say about guns?

I don’t own one. I never have. My grandfather owns what I think of as a rifle (although given what I’ve learned about how I think about different types of guns, that may not be a specific enough term*) and the running joke is that when he has stories about crows, deer and other animals getting into his garden, you can always bet the story will end with, “And then I shot it.”

It didn’t make sense to me that one of the reasons people defended the use of “assault weapons” was because they were necessary for hunting. So I did what any self-respecting geek does.

I asked about it on Twitter. The tweet has, of this writing, had 111 retweets and 59 favorites. It also sparked a storm of replies, the answering of which has sent me over my rate limit three times in the last 18 hours.

 

 

A lot of replies were from angry NRA members and tackled one of my favorite topics – the specificity of language, and how we make it impossible for ourselves to communicate. As it turns out, the phrase “assault weapons” is read as an umbrella term by those who know their stuff – and it covers both legal semi-automatics (which can be modified into full automatics, although this is illegal) and illegal, expensive fully automatic rifles.

And a lot of people do use legal, semi-automatic guns for hunting. First surprise of the night. But hardly the last.

While some people replied to the tweet and discussion with blatant trolling, others stopped to get involved in the chat. I’ve been trying to keep track of those people, and have made a public list called “Discussing Guns” on twitter; I’ll update that list as I go.

After the first day or so of discussion, there are some points we seem to have found consensus on, from both sides of the debate. They are:

1. The 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is as fundamental to the US as the right to free speech, or the separation of church and state. Some gun owners had fast reactions to the conversation that came out as, “Don’t take away my gun.” My interest in the discussion was in no way related to the idea of taking away any guns that are already in the hands of responsible gun owners.

2. More gun control is not the same as better gun control. There was widespread consensus that what we need are more effective laws, not more regulation.

3.  Participants had vastly different opinions on what steps can be taken to achieve better gun control in America. This is an area where we need to have further civil discussion/brainstorming, and where innovative responses may be required. Thus far the conversation has included ideas from policewomen, volunteer fire fighters, ex-military and other NRA members, as well as hearing those who do not own or participate in a culture that includes guns as part of their everyday life. Suggestions have included SROs and arming teachers, better mental health checks, the idea of “ammo cards” and more. I raised a question about what kinds of penalties are currently in place for people who own guns but don’t secure them properly, since there are cases where guns are stolen from licensed users. It was pointed out that there are already background and mental health checks in place, although a statistic was brought up regarding gun sales for cash at shows. Statistics were presented on gun deaths vs. other kinds of deaths, although they were from 1997.

One serious issue I’ve noticed in this region of the debate is that for many people who don’t use guns, having children in close proximity to guns makes the children less safe, whereas those who are familiar with “gun culture” feel that there is more safety with guns around than not. This is an area where compromise might be challenging. Many on one side feel it is there right not to be in the presence of guns. I personally agree with that point of view. I can’t scream “fire!” in a crowded building despite having free speech – where does the limit of one person’s freedom end, and another person’s freedom begin? I don’t know how we can dig into this area of the discussion, and we may not be that far along yet, but it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at by both sides if progress is going to be made.

4. Mental Health Care is coming up over and over again. Everyone seems to agree that more care needs to be available for those with mental illness, as part of a responsible culture that includes gun ownership and use. So far there has been no notable resistence to the idea of developing a system in tandem with increased access to mental health care, although there is not consensus on what form that might take. Some have raised the question of how mental health care services could be improved while also being paid for. Definitely an area worth further discussion, and as both NRA members and mental health activists have an interest in providing better care to our country’s mentally ill, it might be worth it for them to have a narrow discussion around that issue.

This has been a long discussion that shows little sign of slowing down, and the way in which people are participating is, for me (and hopefully others) clearing up a lot of the questions I had about why there aren’t easy solutions to what seemed, until yesterday, to be an obvious no-brainer. I’m grateful for the participation of those who’ve joined in so far and looking forward to seeing where this conversation goes.

Finally, since this is a summary of an extended and multi-faceted discussion, I encourage you to come over to twitter and check things out if you want to take part or have a fuller understanding of the live discussion. If you’ve been taking part and feel like I’ve missed a nuance, please point it out in the comments or let me know on Twitter and I’ll make an edit.

And finally, because we all need a smile right now, check out this BuzzFeed article: Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year.

 

 *EDIT: 12/17/2012) Are there solutions we overlooked in our initial conversation? Do you have new ideas about how to explore some of the areas of consensus found above? Please join the discussion via the comments, below; I ask that everyone take part civilly and in the interest of a useful exchange of ideas.

*EDIT 12:58 EST – Just spoke to @Texasartchick, a police officer and firearms instructor who has offered to provide a more specific definition about types of guns mentioned in this article at her earliest opportunity. Check back/subscribe for comments. Thank you! And BuzzFeed is on a role with this new post.

Site Stats: Why Analytics Are Awesome

If you follow me on Twitter (@girl_onthego), you may have noticed that I’ve been testing out scheduled tweets over the last week or so. Ranging in frequency from every hour to every two or three hours, I’ve re-posted old blog entries. Here’s what I’ve learned from watching the statistics on my site:

 – Those blog entries I re-posted did indeed see an upswing in hits

– The search terms that were finding my blog started to include older terms – for example, older theater reviews were picking up new hits when they hadn’t for a while.

– Depending on the frequency of updates, my blog saw traffic as much as 2-3 times higher than it would have on days when no new entries were posted.

– Nobody on my twitter complained about the extra posts. (Critically important, as it’s not worth pissing off loyal readers to get a few more blog hits.)
 

The fourth bullet point brings me to the main reason I chose to try this experiment: on Twitter, the stream of information can be such that users who aren’t logged in at the exact moment of a new blog’s posting may not see the link, particularly if they’re in a different time zone (or on the other side of the planet).

Thanks to Google Analytics (different from WordPress’ Site Statistics information in that it runs far deeper and allows multiple perspectives on statistical data) I can see where my site views are coming from – and this helped me to understand that while I have friends and readers on all but one continent, chances were that they weren’t seeing my tweets about new posts. (Of course, the best way to guarantee you never miss a post is to subscribe to new updates, per the link to the side of this entry.)

The costs of the re-posting experient? Time; about ten minutes’ worth a day to schedule a re-post every hour. The mental effort was minimal – choosing what to post, and how to frame it for new relevance. The benefits were positive – I tracked retweets via my phone’s Twitter app, and found new followers along the way. Plus, it relieved some of the burden on days when I was too rushed or too stressed to write up a new post by keeping my blog entries fresh enough to continue showing up in search results.

Overall verdict:? Success.

Edit: It’s come to my attention that a number of readers are trying to figure out how to install Analytics on their WordPress.com-hosted blog. The lack of ability to install Google Analytics onto a WordPress.com blog was what prompted me to move rlbrody.com to a self-hosted space. 

Getting Prettied Up

Lookin’ good.

You might have noticed that the blog has a new look. (Because that’s the kind of attention you pay to my blog, I know.)

Thanks to the generosity and help of Claire Ryan (@rayntweets), things are (I hope) a little easier to read and a little more interesting to look at.

I’m only about halfway through the transition, so until the next generation of posts makes its way through the system – the posts where I make sure to pick a featured image, that is – you can expect to see some random X’s in the format.

Please excuse the dust as it settles, and let me know what you think of the new design!

In the meantime, please read Eve Ensler’s excellent piece on the “Legitimate Rape” comments made by members of the US Republican Party. (Wouldn’t be me if I didn’t chuck those politics in, eh?) I’ve been thinking a lot about that situation and am still piecing together my thoughts.