My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 021210

From the home office in Vancouver, where I’m preparing to compete in the snow blogging competition…

#1: Twitter’s location information would come in handy during the Olympics. Choose to follow tweets of only those in your time zone.

#2: Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley (@dens) describes the future of participating in location-based social applications http://post.ly/Mft6

#3: Fascinating study of Twitter spammers, and how they compare to legitimate users http://bit.ly/bFkd6l > Hard to tell difference

#4: The Importance of Managing Your Online Reputation http://bit.ly/a7i5mx by @VenessaMiemis > Strong, comprehensive post

#5: Goal Setting Stimulates Employee Innovation (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/cuKC9u #innovation #e20

#6: RT @mvandall MIT-Sloan 4 keys to driving innovation: Measurement, experimentation, sharing & replication. http://bit.ly/cH9khC. Spigit got it right!

#7: In light of Toyota’s quality issues, do you think they abandoned the “million employee ideas” somewhere along the line? http://bit.ly/a3iX9K

#8: RT @SmartStorming You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London #innovation #creativity

#9: Nice word: “heterarchy” a formal structure, represented by a diagram of connected nodes, without any single permanent uppermost node

#10: Chocolate chili recipe http://bit.ly/aXn4kd > Hearty chili with an exotic quality. @cflanagan @justinmwhitaker @cubba #superbowl

Being Upfront Gets Better Results than Trying to Sneak It By

Credit: dbking

I’m generally not tracking the “post ads to your social networks” movement, be it sponsored blog posts or tweeting ads to your followers on Twitter. There is one aspect to it that I think is most important: disclosure. Robert Scoble has a post up, More thoughts on in-Tweet advertising, where he notes that he unfollowed people on Twitter who were running ads:

So, I unfollowed and won’t be looking back. Actually I unfollowed Pirillo too. I don’t think he’s disclosed everything clearly or explained where his ads were coming from and until he does I’ll stay away.

His perspective reminded me of an experience I had years ago in the late 90s when I worked as an investment banker for Bank of America. It taught me the right way to disclose unsavory facts.

Selling a Superfund Deal: The Wrong Way

You know what the Superfund is? It’s the federal government’s program to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Throughout America, there are parcels of land with dangerous materials in them. Superfund is there to help get them cleaned up.

We had a client, a rising star in the software world, that need financing for a new headquarters in Mountain View, CA. A headquarters built on a Superfund site. That designation, from 8 years before, meant the land had been declared a hazardous waste site. By the time of the deal, the site itself was cleaned up, and was in an “operation and maintenance” phase. Its status was sufficient for the company to build on. But anything with “Superfund” on it is a big red flag in banking. And we knew it.

I was in the debt financing unit, and I worked with our real estate group on this one. After deliberating, we decided to bury the Superfund status deep in the materials selling the deal – in the prospectus, in the deal presentation. Act essentially as if it was a non-event.

Which at this point, was true. The property was clean and ready for development.

It was also a mistake.

Other banks got to the Superfund status of the site as they went through their analysis of the deal, and saw that it had an afterthought treatment. They didn’t like that.

And they didn’t participate in the deal at the levels we had expected. We got stuck with a larger percentage of the deal than we wanted. We scrambled, got one other bank to join and accepted holding a larger portion of the deal.

Wasn’t a pleasant experience. Nope, not at all.

Selling a Superfund Deal: The Right Way

It’s not often in life you get a chance to rectify a mistake so readily. But I did. Several months later, the software company approached us to increase the deal size, by nearly double. You might imagine the trepidation that request caused internally.

To raise double the amount, after having a number of banks turn us down, meant we were going to have to go much deeper in the market. It wouldn’t be easy.

We decided to do it, but with a big shift in approach. We led with the Superfund status. Put it out there, and directly address issues. Create a separate write-up that specifically addressed the Superfund status, the remediation efforts, and the reasons Bank of America was comfortable with it.

When I got out there and presented the deal at the prospective lenders meeting, I talked in detail about the Superfund site, upfront. Amazingly, no one got up and left the meeting. They seemed to take it in stride.

And the result? Easily got the larger deal done, and even increased its size a bit.

Lesson: Don’t Be Cute

What did I learn? People aren’t stupid. Treating them that way is a sure recipe to piss them off. Scoble’s comment illuminates that fact.

I’m not saying openly declared ads will be welcome, but for sure trying to slip ’em in to the tweet stream is the wrong way to go. There is a “right” way to go about this advertising thing, if it’s going to happen. Acknowledge people’s concerns, and address them intelligently. You’d be surprised the effect that has.

Don’t make your Twitter account a hazardous waste site.

UPDATE: I received an email from the EPA’s Superfund program manager regarding how to find information about Superfund site. I’ve posted it in the comments below.

Three Signs They’re Going to Send You Twitter Spam

Twitter SPAMThe other day, I saw a Twitter follow notification in my email inbox. Looking at the basic information twitter provides – number of followers, tweets and people followed – my intuition started to kick in. Then, looking at this user’s account, I had a hunch.

He was going to auto-DM me.

Sure enough, several hours later this auto-DM hit my email:

Thanks for the follow. I look forward to your updates. Hope you find something fun or interesting.

I figured I’d record here the three traits that tipped me off to the impending Twitter spam.

1. Following/followed by several thousand

This is something you often see. They’re sporting several thousand followers, and they’re often following the same number back. This high number is your first clue (yeah, I’m guilty here). If they’re somewhat new, they’re following several thousand, while only a fraction are following back.

2. Bio has one of the 7 deadly terms

Marketer. Coach. Speaker. Expert. Affiliate marketing. Social media. Multilevel marketing.

See one of these terms in the bio, and the probability of an auto-DM spam just increased 500%. Something about these folks. They got a Twitter lesson along the way that says you need to “engage” your audience on social media. You know, with a personal auto-DM.

3. They followed you, out-of-the-blue

This is the last trait. Somehow, you hit their radar. Not sure how. Maybe it was word you used in a tweet. An @reply exchange with someone they’re following. A search on your bio.

This is the final, most important trait. They have several thousand followers. Their bio has one of the deadly words. And then they find you out of the blue.

You see these three traits, and the probability is high that you’ll be getting that auto-DM in your email a few hours later. Of course, if they do, you can get back at them. Hit ’em with the “return-DM“.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 062609

From the home office in Buenos Aires…

#1: Early criticism of veracity of MJ story was that it came from TMZ. Does TMZ misreport or lie? Or do people just not like what they cover?

#2: Reading – How to approach open innovation: With lessons from P&G http://bit.ly/EjcSp by @lindegaard #innovation

#3: “As strongly as you & a few like-minded people feel the impacts of info overload, a lot more people just don’t care.” http://bit.ly/9OnX4

#4: CLEAR, the service that used biometrics to fast-track you thru airport security, is no more http://bit.ly/cAxSY Another biometrics firm dies

#5: Reading these Dachis posts today http://bit.ly/13RFri I get the sense the firm is consultancy, not technology @peterkim @armano @jevon

#6: RT @VMaryAbraham McAfee/Lockheed: Top-down mandate needs to be done carefully. Otherwise it can hamper e20 rollout. #e2conf {How?}

#7: Reading: The secret sauce to successful Enterprise 2.0 adoption http://bit.ly/7oLP5 by @oscarberg

#8: Self-spam? Colleague CC’d himself on an Outlook email. Outlook put his email into its spam folder.

#9: Blind? :-p RT @hottweeters @bhc3 Are your legs tired? Cuz you’ve been running through someone’s mind at http://www.hottweeters.com/bhc3

#10: My 5 y.o. son asks: Is there infinite of anything. My answer? No, everything is finite. Right?

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 121908

From the home office in Short Pump, VA…

#1: “Each year there is more information created on the Web than in all the previous years combined. ” Jim Breyer of Accel http://bit.ly/12nH3

#2: Per a Yahoo product rep, the average search session lasts 15 minutes http://bit.ly/eSrr

#3: What a lovely bitchmeme we have this weekend…and in case you’re curious, here’s Dave Winer’s definition of a bitchmeme: http://bit.ly/MYJm

#4: It takes 6-9 months for a blog to get fully ramped up in terms of readership per @duncanriley http://bit.ly/W0LO

#5: Great story of a Best Buy meeting where a raging Twitter conversation happened while the room was respectfully quiet http://bit.ly/FkKM

#6: 60% of e2.0 vendors will be bought or go under in 2009, according to Gartner http://bit.ly/Acyg >> Oy!

#7: Today is my one-year anniversary of Twitter. First tweet? “Trying to get warm-n-fuzzy about Twitter…” http://bit.ly/fss2 Accomplished!

#8: Office 2007 – really, really confusing if you’re used to Office 2003 or prior versions.

#9: FriendFeed got a spammer attack, the team quickly took care of it. One thing I wonder: why do these spammers always have such bad grammar?

#10: My sister just earned her PhD in linguistics this morning from Georgetown. Way to go Helen!

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22My+Ten+Favorite+Tweets+-+Week+Ending+121908%22&who=everyone

Spammers on Twitter and FriendFeed: Really a Problem?

Spam is a well-known issue in the email world. Personally, I’ve set up an email account used specifically for some online applications requiring an email address, just to manage the inevitable spam that will result. Spammy comments on blogs are also an issue, which Askimet handles nicely on wordpress.com.

But is spam an issue on Twitter and FriendFeed?

Two things I’ve recently read discuss the issue of spam hitting those services. One is on TechCrunch today, “Twitter Starts Blacklisting Spammers“. From the post,

You know you’ve made it as a communications medium when you start attracting spammers. On Twitter, the problem is getting bad enough that the service is starting to blacklist people who spam other members.

The other was more a question in one of the comments on another post on this blog:

I would just add that, although I love FriendFeed, I would not be surprised to see, as FF gets more popular, it too is overrun by silly people and spammers, to where its traffic sent is huge but equally as useless. These social sites go through a lifecycle of usefulness to pointlessness on their own.

Am I missing something here? If someone is spammy on these services, you simply unsubscribe. This isn’t email. Someone can’t start sending you spam on Twitter or FriendFeed just because they have your member URL. I do see spammers subscribe to me on Twitter, but I never subscribe back. I don’t see their spam.

I can understand the service providers wanting to manage this. But for members, the beauty of these tools is their permission-based nature.

You can’t spam me unless I let you.

UPDATE: Good discussion of this on FriendFeed (here). Mitchell Tsai notes the possibility of comment spam on FriendFeed.