Social Media thoughts

Twitter follow spam is getting smarter, but still making mistakes


Twitter spammers are getting smarter but they still make dumb mistakes. All of these accounts don’t look suspicious at first glance.

It’s in the details

  • No bio is a tip off
  • No website is another big tip off
  • All followed in a row which is a little weird
  • All have just a state name as their location
  • Three of the accounts all have the same recent three tweets
  • The top two tweets repeat words “restaurant steak” and “discounted concert tickets” twice. No people talk that way on Twitter. (humans try to save characters)
  • Lastly all the accounts use the same short URL’s. Just going to the + in shows all the other accounts using that URL. Take a look at, anything look familiar in the conversations area?

Come on spam, I know you are learning but really? I give the people props for being more subtle but they still have a long way to go before fooling a real human.

Social Media

IUE 2009 Social Media Panel Discussion

After the January Refresh Detroit meeting where I was on a panel talking about social media, I was asked to be on a similar panel for the then upcoming Internet User Experience 2009 conference. This week I attended IUE 2009 and the panel was a great success!

The panel consisted of

  • Christopher Barger, Director, GM Global Communications Technology.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director, Web Communications, Wayne State University.
  • Kelly LaVaute, Social Media Director, Quicken Loans.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager/Ingenuity Engine, Biznet Internet Solutions.
  • Steve Schwartz, CEO Guy,, and Co-Founder, Alfa Jango, LLC Software & Marketing.
  • Moderator: Tim Kiernan, Co-Host for the wildly popular Design Critique podcast.

There was no live stream or recording of the panel but Zachary Spencer rocked out an almost word by word transcript of the whole discussion.

In preparing for the panel they asked for a position statement from each of us. I decided to post mine below to get your thoughts.

Position Statement

Higher education institutions are working to understand the best way to leverage social networks to get the attention of prospective students. High school and even middle school age students are spending more time on social networks interacting with peers and companies they trust.

The more time prospective students spend online the more they ignore traditional media and commercials. DVR’s and MP3 players are letting these users bypass traditional advertisements. Companies and universities now need to start evaluating where they spend their ad dollars and resources.

Social media exposes the truths about a company or university regardless if it is good or bad. In the social space users are in control and are not afraid to speak their mind. University administration may not be open to exposing these truths. Because of the traditional nature of universities getting buy in is tough. Spending the already limited resources on an untested and unknown ROI of social media can be a difficult task.

The universities that do embrace this media and can navigate it appropriately, have the ability to tap into a wealth of motivated advocates that can essentially promote the university for them. On the other hand universities that go into the social space without a game plan or by thinking too traditional, have the potential to be pushed out and their advocates could turn into protesters.

The simplest thing for a universities to do is search and discover what is already being said and posted about them. Some administrators would be amazed at the content that is already out there.

Without being present in the social space, any negative comments or posts will go unanswered and all the user’s followers will see them as truth. Being in the social space allows universities to control their brand and respond to any misconceptions or answer any questions users may pose.

The best recommendations for a product or service are ones by friends or family. When a user has 800+ friends online and they post a message, it goes out to those 800+ friends as a recommendation. It is scary to think but news that use to take weeks to tell all their friends now only takes seconds online.

With the high spam detector that middle school and high school students have, universities have started creating positions for community managers and social media experts. Ensuring they are using the most appropriate tactics to interact with prospective students. The social space is essential for universities to be apart of, but strategy and experimentation are key to their success.

event Social Media

Social Media Panel Discussion Wrap Up

Refresh Detroit held a Social Media Panel Discussion on January 21, 2009 that I was lucky enough to be part of. It was the first time I had been part of a panel discussion and it was a great experience.

Refresh Detroit Social Media Panel

The panel consisted of (from left to right):

This free event took place at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There was ~30 people who attended from various industries, they came to get a better understanding of social media and how they can leverage it.

The questions brought out not only the direction and how to for beginners but also the best practices and case studies of the advanced users in the social media field.

On the Refresh Detroit Web site they posted the summary of resources and references.

In addition the entire panel was recorded and is available below.

Audio provided by VC Web Services:


Social Media Panel Discussion – January 21, 2009

refresh-logoInterested in social media? Do you want to hear me speak? On January 21 Refresh Detroit is hosting a Social Media Panel Discussion at Washtenaw Community College. It is a free event and open to the public.

Learn about the opportunities social media brings for individuals, companies, and social causes. Find out how to use social media to

  • engage your customers
  • grow your career or business
  • drive social change
  • and more


  • Kevin Krason, President, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Founder of Biznet in 1994, Kevin’s strong leadership and business savvy have led Biznet to become one of the most successful web development companies in Michigan. Kevin’s skill at getting everyone on the same page has been instrumental for Biznet in establishing long term client partnerships.
  • Shauna Nicholson, Marketing Manager, Biznet Internet Solutions
    Working exclusively in online marketing strategy, Shauna is known for her insight on social media marketing, Shauna is a resource for metro-Detroit businesses who want to leverage the most powerful online tools available. By transcending the social media hype and pairing reality-based business and marketing strategy to the tools, she positions clients to effectively secure measurable ROI.
  • Ken Burbary, VP Digital at BIG Communications
    Ken has been involved in web development and interactive media his entire professional career. Constantly learning, he soaks up as many new pieces of information as possible. He’s equally passionate about both business and technology innovations driving his industry.
  • Nick DeNardis, Associate Director of Web Communications at Wayne State University
    Nick oversees a staff of eight dedicated to web communications at Wayne State. He has initiated and maintains all of the university’s current social media initiatives. He hosts the video blog EDU Checkup where he reviews a higher education web sites live. Nick is also a .eduGuru writer and an active member of the higher education web community.

Where: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan. We will be meeting in Room 121 at the Morris Lawrence Building (map). Plenty of free parking is available adjacent to the building.

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cost: Free! Open to the public.


Social Media

First Steps to Justify using Social Media at your University

There has been a lot of talk about how to Implementing Social Media on your campus. Yesterday with both Kyle and Rachel from .eduGuru posting videos and then a slew of twitter activity about it.

The controversy came from how to start using social media, whether you should get approval first, what kind of strategy to use, do you even need a strategy?

What it comes down to in my opinion is support. No matter the size or your position at the university you must be able to justify spending your time in a medium that is right now is a mystery to most administrators.

Step 1: Become an observer

The first step to get this support and justify using your time in the social space is to listen to everything you can. Become a “Social Media Observer”, listen to all the positive and negative. One tool to do this is the Social Media Firehose, it finds almost too many references to your university by name/url. Seriously the “Wayne State” pipe finds on average 320 references per day. Seems like a lot but not everything is someone commenting positively/negatively about your university.

Step 2: Pass that information along

You will come across prospective/current students with comments or question about your university. If you cannot answer the question directly send an email to someone you know who can and ask them to help. Cross your fingers you will get an appropriate response, often if the student is not asking the question directly to the institution it is not looked at as important.

Once you get a response sign up for that web site with either your name or your university’s name and post the response. Be completely truthful and transparent, if you are signed up as yourself explain who you are or if signed up as the university let them know you are here to help.

Step 3: Social media is about customer service

In addition to the response always give the user a way to reply back or reference existing web pages, phone numbers/email. Let them know you are here to help and they can contact you any time. I am big about being that single point of contact, taking in the request doing all the research and running around then getting back to the student.

Being consistently present and helpful builds on the relationship. It shows your university cares and a great place to come and study.

Putting together justification

After a few successful or unsuccessful questions/answers write it up, put something together that doesn’t have to be huge just a one page summary of how you did it, what you found, who you sent it to, their responses and if the student replied back. Shoot it off to your boss or who ever you think will find this information helpful and explain to them how much time it actually took out of your day (hopefullly not a lot), and how much it helped not only the student but also the university to recieve feedback.

At the very least it will get social media on the radar of the administration.