Tag Archives: twitter

Blissful Listlessness

27 Nov

If indifference is a hinderance (see Severance),

And omniscience can be contentious,

Then, perhaps a consonance: omniscient ignorance.

Consider the consequence. Blissfulness?

Listlessness.

Afield, Ahead

“Afield, Ahead.” See more photomontages at my 500pxFlickr or Pinterest pages.

Thanks to Pavel Konoplenko and Angelique of Afmarcom for the inspiration on this one. Join us 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays for the #AskAngel Twitter chat.

Blogchat: Sundays on Twitter

23 Nov

There’s one thing I’ve really gotten into the social media realm lately: Blogchat. This is a chat on Twitter where folks talk, er… tweet, about blogging-related topics.

Blogchat - Sundays at 9:00 p.m. EST on Twitter.

Graphic by me via iPhone, using Hipstamatic & Phonto

I’ve made so many connections there, garnered blogging tips, and become more adept at Twitter by taking part. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in getting more from blogging (as a blog reader, I assume you may have an interest). Once, I even helped suggest a topic for an upcoming chat:

To participate, follow the hashtag #blogchat on Twitter, stay on topic, and keep hitting “refresh” on whatever means you use to keep up with the conversations. It’s fast-moving, so using a tool like TweetChat or HootSuite with multiple columns or tabs can be very helpful, although I’ve navigated it successfully just by using Twitter from the browser, or even by iPhone. It’s led by Mack Collier and happens every Sunday at 9:00 p.m., U.S. Eastern standard time. Recently covered topics include time management for bloggers, copyright issues, and using images.

There’s also a monthly open mic for non-specific blogging-related topics. Even if you don’t specifically participate 0r prefer just to listen in, that’s totally fine. You’ll probably still pick up a tip or two, and it’s a good way to see how the conversations flow.

Participating has encouraged me to explore other Twitter chats, and I’ve found them consistently beneficial, especially given the breadth of perspectives from some experienced and friendly folks. Try it sometime – and have fun chatting.

What do you think? Have you ever participated in a Twitter chat? What are some other resources you recommend for blogging advice and ideas? Let us hear from you in the comments.

American Apparel’s “Bored During the Storm?” Campaign: PR Stunt or Well-Intentioned Goof?

1 Nov
Really, American Apparel?

American Apparel Advertisement

It would seem obvious these days that capitalizing on catastrophe via social media is in poor taste. So why would an otherwise savvy brand like American Apparel appear to be doing exactly that?

Given the very poorly received efforts of Kenneth Cole during protests in Egypt, you would think other retailers would have a clue by now, right?

It’s one thing for a business somehow connected with a major upheaval to approach the line between altruism and marketing. And it’s certainly a fine line. Consider American Express’ Sandy-related communication efforts for its travel customers:

But it’s another thing entirely to risk the appearance of piggybacking on disaster for advertising’s sake. Sure, it gets some buzz, but is it worth all the backlash?

As reported by Huffington Post:

CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over American Apparel’s marketing team capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake. Part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going,” he told Business Week. “People shopped on it. We generated tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but we’ll probably lose a million dollars from this (storm) event at a minimum. We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.”

And here’s another take from American Apparel’s representatives, via Fashionista:

When reached for comment over email, an American Apparel spokesperson told us, “Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place.”

So, is this really a big deal?

However in poor taste it may now seem in the wake of Sandy’s devastation, American Apparel’s approach was not in mean spirits, even though it’s easy to characterize it as such. The company has a history of corporate responsibility – along with a history of pushing the envelope through its marketing for PR purposes. And it serves them no purpose whatsoever to appear flippant or dismissive. Upon investigation, it’s clear they don’t wish anyone further misery from Hurricane Sandy, what with their acknowledging as much in the subsequent damage control. As reported by ABC News:

Ryan Holiday, spokesperson for American Apparel, responded to ABC News in an email:

“For us, this is about us working like crazy to get and keep our stores open. We’ve got employees who can’t work when stores are closed due to weather and the biggest Made in USA factory in the country that sits idle–we would never try to offend anyone or capitalize on a natural disaster, this was simply an effort to mitigate some of the effects of the storm on our business.”

Fair enough. So what next?

My advice for American Apparel right now:

  • Turn your affected stores into recharge-stations with power strips and free wi-fi for all so someone can tweet some good about you. Buy generators if necessary. It won’t cost much and ROI would be huge.
  • Give 20% off to ANYONE, nationwide, referencing the ad for the next week to capitalize on the viral nature of the campaign, requiring a tweet or Facebook post with hashtag #aacares or similar. Cost to you: minimal.
  • Donate 20% of profits for the next week to northeast U.S. chapters of the Red Cross. Yes, this will cost some cash, but there’s no arguing with a monetary statement.
  • Just  be proactive somehow to make this right. Or risk being one of the “don’ts” of social media. Better to be one of the “OK, we get it” stories instead.
What do you think? Is this a PR blunder or a marketing gimmick? Are you more or less inclined to shop American Apparel now? Do these suggestions make sense, or is there something you would recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.

The Month in Review, Twitter-Style

30 Sep

rsmithing at TwitterSo I’ve committed to writing at least one post per month on social media. Sometimes it happens organically, sometimes deliberately. This is one of those deliberate months, what with this being the final hours of the month. But this is a good one – in fact, it’s the very best… of my Twitter over the past few weeks.

Man, I love embedding tweets

Here are some of my favorite tweets I crafted this month, to give a little more depth to the hyper-fleeting nature of our favorite micro-blogging platform. Oh, and you should follow me on Twitter if you’re at all amused by any of this…

Started off this month with a visit to a local winery, Divine Llama Vineyards. Made for a sweet photo-op and a Foursquare moment:

These haikus inspired by my frustration with MS Office evolved into a full-on blog post but were Twitter gold initially:

I’ve also taken to posting my favorite songs occasionally via the excellent Soundhound app:

In the middle of the month, I attended a great webinar by Mark Schaefer, and had several great twitter-interactions meanwhile:

And finally, I commemorated the annual Talk Like A Pirate Day by getting into #Pinchat completely in pirate voice:

What was your best tweet this month? Did you discover any great new Twitterers to follow? Do you participate in Twitter chats or share updates though other networks? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Apple Apologizes for Maps. Incredible.

28 Sep

Apparently, Apple isn’t completely deaf to the chorus of boos over its new Maps application. This morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a formal apology letter to customers for the disappointing performance of the company’s iOS Maps app, the replacement for the highly-functional-yet-made-by-the-enemy Google Maps. PR done right, I say. See what you think:

Letter from Apple CEO Tim Cook apologizing for Apple Maps app.

I’m impressed with Cook’s candor and the fact that this letter even exists at all. As the letter itself notes, world-class products are the company’s focus – not recommending the competition (!!!). I’m not an Apple fanboy, but given the company’s monolithic, top-down communication style, secrecy of product development, and oft-stated focus on being the best, this is truly remarkable, even becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

Maybe the company has learned its lessons from the iPhone 4 antennagate debacle and China manufacturing coverage? As the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones noted earlier this year, “Perhaps a subtle shift in Apple’s PR strategy under its new leader is already under way.” Now it seems there’s more evidence of this being the case.

Let’s hope they’re as swift to actually improve the Maps app. Given this sensible PR move and the other obvious improvements of the iPhone5 and iOS6, I’m optimistic.

What do you think? Was Apple right to recommend the competition and come clean? Or is it too little too late? Have you used the new Maps app successfully, or has it left you directionally baffled? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Stuff You May Have Missed – August 2012

31 Aug

I make it a point each month to write at least one post in each of the six categories here at my blog: photography, social media, PR, technology, music and writing. It’s my way of keeping myself accountable for having a productive blog, and these are topics I’m interested in on a personal level. Most months I’m able to do this without thinking, since the posts are topics I’m into anyway, but sometimes I’ll go more into one than the other. I’m happy to report that this month has been happily well-rounded, with several posts covering all of the categories we favor at rsmithing.com. In case you missed them, here’s a review:

Single Image Sundays & More

In photography, the Single Image Sundays theme dominated, with posts about a wasp, a restaurant, Mars, and my first-ever re-blog. The WordPress platform has this one-click feature that lets you easily include another WordPress post into your own blog, which worked perfectly this month as The Savoia (which happens to be done in WordPress) featured my artwork this month, which was quite an honor.

I constructed this image for my post about Twitter with the results of a Google image search for “Twitter Logo” and “Wrench.” Then I used Pixlr to edit the two together.

Social media-wise, we started off this month strong with a post about 5 Really Useful, Really Easy Twitter Tools. What’s even better is that I’ve since discovered more, and will likely be doing an update. Some Twitter developers even reached out to me because of the post, including setting me up with a premium account (full disclosure in the case of JustUnfollow), which was very kind and a pleasantly unexpected surprise. More to come on Twitter tools, for sure.

In the public relations realm, I covered recent activity of Foursquare, wondering if its time has passed, and considered whether their recent PR efforts can get the buzz going again. Since writing that post, I’ve gotten interesting feedback from some like-minded users of the app, but overall, the jury is still out.

For technology this month, I wrote about the Mars Curiosity rover in anticipation of its landing on the Red Planet. Several weeks prior, I’d discovered this excellent video, “Seven Minutes of Terror,” which naturally got my space-geek senses tingling. I even chatted it up on Twitter with some people at NASA, which was totally fun, and further demonstrates the immediacy at our fingertips thanks to social media:

 

Actual people at NASA interact with a random blogger on Twitter via shared excitement over sending a laser-shootin’ robot to Mars. I don’t care what anyone says; that’s cool.

Melodysheep Autotune Magic

Music was a highlight this month, as I interviewed John Boswell, the man behind MelodySheep and responsible for the excellent remixes of Bob Ross, Bruce Lee, Mr. Rogers and Julia Child that have been going viral lately. This was my favorite post by far of the whole month. A few weeks prior, I’d discovered his amazing musical montages, so I thought I’d see what happened if I emailed him some questions – he graciously answered and is a cool dude. Look for great things from this guy in the future. In the time it took to answer my questions and get back to me, Boswell produced this outstanding tribute to one of my personal heroes, Bruce Lee:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud-AUboZl3A%5D

 

Finally, writing this month was a quick blurb and graphic I constructed for an inspirational phrase that appeared in my brain one day: It’s better to be ambitious than ambivalent. It was a fun way to incorporate text into a visual creation, something I used to do quite a bit but have backed off of lately. Also, I really believe that statement, so I’m glad to be sharing it with others.

There you have it, the month in review. Any of these stand out to you? Any comments to add to any of these? Do you keep an editorial schedule? What is your system for posts? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Foursquare: Do or Die Time?

17 Aug

Here’s something interesting: I often look to the media for blog post ideas, but this time it seems to have happened in reverse. Case in point: a few weeks back I heard a broadcast from Marketplace Radio speaking to Foursquare’s CEO. Amazingly, just a few weeks prior I asked this very question on LinkedIn: “Has Foursquare’s time passed?” There were several good answers and a general consensus that it’s too early to tell.

Not long after I posted my question, Foursquare released a major update to its mobile app and got its PR machine cranking. What’s interesting here is that both Marketplace and I shared the same thought: Foursquare was introduced in 2009, gained massive popularity, and has been gradually cooling off ever since. Is that a sign of its having peaked already or just the fleeting attention span of the digerati?

Life After Death of the Check-In

“Life After Death of the Check In” -Jon Mitchell via ReadWriteWeb

Earlier this year, months before any of this, Jon Mitchell of ReadWriteWeb did this excellent and provocative article on the death of the check in. He rightly notes that it can be overkill:

…it’s a mundane performance of “I’m at the grocery store!” which is annoying noise to one’s friends and followers.

I started using it in early 2011, out of curiosity and to have something to do – like taking photos – while waiting in line at places or making art out of routine trips to places like, well… the grocery store. Hey, at least I try to make my activity interesting – but I sure as heck do NOT post every single update to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Grocery Store Art

I took all these photos of my local grocery store with my phone for Foursquare check-ins.
I always try to include a photo with each one. Hey, it keeps me entertained.

Businesses Could be Using Foursquare Better

Here’s the secret ingredient: Photos. Include fun photos of your storefront, employees (smiling, preferably), specials, or a behind-the-scenes view of what’s going on. These kind of unique details draw people in, and it can certainly be endearing to customers. I’d love to see an “ask us about this photo” post at some place I check in, then feel like an insider when I take them up on the offer. I’d be getting to know the business better, and maybe even getting a special deal.

I’m glad to see Foursquare innovating and I look forward to what’s next. The real test will be adoption. It won’t be genuinely interesting  until more businesses and users get in on it and get creative. I just hope the next major developments don’t take as long – and with any luck they won’t. I’m sure Foursquare itself has also surely noticed its buzz decline, like Marketplace and your humble author.

What do you think? Are you on Foursquare? Have you been on it and lost interest? Have you ever gotten a deal somewhere because through the app? Let us hear from you in the comments!

5 Really Useful, Really Easy Twitter Tools

7 Aug

5 Really Useful, Really Easy Twitter ToolsHere are five Twitter tools to give insight or new functionality to your Twitter experience, without requiring much more than a login on your part. These utilities are so self-explanatory, I hardly feel the need to add descriptions. But that’s what makes them worthwhile: instant benefit and utility with minimal explanation.

Review of Twitter Helpers

I’ve used each of these consistently, so I can personally vouch for their value. Each is good for a different function, and while not necessarily the most feature-rich, the benefit is immediate and actionable — those are the criteria I’m evaluating for the purposes of this post. See if you agree.

1. Dynamic Tweets

Before I started using Hootsuite (not detailed here because it’s slightly more intricate), I was a longtime user of Dynamic Tweets to schedule tweets. You pick a date, compose your tweet, and you’re all set. It works especially well for recurring tweets, such as yearly holiday-themed tweets.

2. ManageFilter

Does it annoy you when someone doesn’t follow you back? Hey, it happens. Check out ManageFilter to see who’s not following you back , when you started following them, and other useful details that can help weed out your stream.

3. TweetStats

If you’re a visual learner like I am, you’ll love TweetStats. It’s a detailed, informative representation in chart form of how your Twitter activity looks to the outside world. It’s a good way to keep tabs on what you’re sharing, and to help balance your efforts if needed. NOTE: TweetStats is sometimes buggy or slow to load, but it’s worth the wait — just let it do its thing and try again later if it gets stuck. In the meantime, If you’re looking for something similar but not as detailed, check out Tweetcharts.

4. InboxQ

Here’s a super-handy tool for finding questions being asked on Twitter, based on subjects of your choosing. Did you just write a cool blog post about photo sharing networks as alternatives to Instagram? Maybe you’re making a sweet Pinterest board of awesome iPhoneography? Just enter some associated keywords and you can easily engage with like-minded folk on Twitter.

5. Fakers – by StatusPeople

Ever wonder how many of your followers are bots or spam accounts? This utility will break it down for you by percentage.

>>> Impress your friends: share this on Twitter! <<<

What do you think? Have you ever used any of these utilities? What are some Twitter utilities you like that aren’t listed here? Let us hear from you in the comments!

National Moth Week: Mmm… Sugar Water! [VIDEO]

25 Jul

 

This recent visitor was very cooperative during a quick photo shoot, so I wanted to give him a reward. After some investigation, I learned moths like nectar, aka liquid sugar. So I went to the kitchen, poured a tiny bit of sugar in a spoon, dissolved it in water, then poured some next to him to see what happened. Obviously, it was quite tasty — watch that tongue go! Afterward I set him free into the night with a full belly. For more moth fun, check out National Moth Week, and the hashtag #NationalMothWeek on Twitter, Flickr, Google Plus, and Instagram.

Photos from this photo shoot:

Click for more like this at my Flickr photostream

The Moth King

What do you think? Are you participating in National Moth Week? Have you ever actively attempted to feed an insect? Did you know moths have tongues? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Virgin America Gets PR Right

12 Jul
Click for full-size

Unauthorized Bedtime Nonsense – Click for full size at Pinterest

Safety can be fun, even for big businesses like airlines.

I’ve written in the past about how refreshing it is to see a big company get public relations and customer communications right. In that case it was  Delta Airlines endorsing their mile runner superfans. I’m pleased to report another discovery of a similar company offering up some positivity and humor with their own messaging: Virgin America.

During a recent #PinChat on Twitter, the featured guest was Jill Okawa Fletcher, Virgin America’s Director of Social Media. Ms. Fletcher was sharing insights about Virgin’s use of Pinterest and I immediately referred her to my pin of Virgin Atlantic’s wacky insert card campaign (at right). We then had the following exchange:

And Ms. Fletcher then referred me to Virgin America’s easygoing in-flight safety video:

 

Corporate Wackiness Can be Entertaining

As you may know, I’m a big geeky fan of this type of thing, and true to its brand spirit, Virgin makes the most of an opportunity here with its captive audience. Yes, safety is important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it.

Coincidentally, back to Delta…. I first noticed this in Delta’s in-flight safety video, where an attendant’s shiny tooth actually goes “ding!” after demonstrating proper use of a seat as a floatation device. That’s so funny to me just because it’s very subtle and wacky in an otherwise fairly standard video. I’m such a fan that once on a Delta flight, I was ready with my phone to get a picture of the exact moment… voila:

Delta Airlines Safety Video - Ding!

My favorite part of Delta’s in-flight safety video. The guy’s smile literally sparkles. And makes a “ding” sound. Brilliant.

What do you think? Can you name any examples of companies having fun with their otherwise serious messaging? Does this influence your perception of the company or a brand? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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