The New Rules For Unfollowing Someone

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I cut down on the social media clutter in my life. Consider this a follow-up. Its a guide to which people you should stop following on Twitter. You know who they are. 1.) They Tweet about the spam they receive - You know those people who Tweet sarcastically "Well, looky here! Another email from a Nigerian prince! My lucky day!"? They're part of the problem, not the solution. Its like giving spammers extra coverage.

2.)They Tweet about bacon -  I'm so sick of bacon-related humor.

3.) They Tweet about dieting - If you have to tell people about it, the diet isn't working.

4.) They Tweet about going to the gym - Like with the above, if you're working out that much, I'll notice the results when I see you in person. If not, why bother talking about it?

5.) Their Tweets are nothing but updates from other networks - I hate using the terms "engage" and "participate" but I mean c'mon - if you're not going to engage on Twitter and participate in the conversation there, what's the point?

6.) They Tweet about how they're working late - We all work late sometimes. Don't act like you're the hero taking a bullet. Besides, maybe if you cut down on the number of Tweets you sent out a day you wouldn't be at work so late.

7.) They Tweet about #FollowFriday - I don't think I've ever followed someone as a result of Follow Friday, or ever been followed as a result of Follow Friday. The whole thing is a waste of time.

8.) They use that "Twit Longer" service - The whole point of Twitter is short messages. If you can't handle that, get a blog.

9.) They constantly Tweet at celebrities - Sometimes its cute when an old person does it, but otherwise it just gets annoying. And what's the best thing that will happen if Kanye notices your Tweet? He'll Tweet you back? And then what? Nothing, that's what.

10.) They make lists like this one about the rules for Twitter.

Have any more? Leave them as a comment and I'll update this post with them.

When Social Media Becomes Work

Talking with my friend Mike Kennedy recently, I realized that social media have invaded my job. My personal and professional lives are colliding! Blogging and reading blogs have become part of my job description, and there are small Twitter and Facebook communities among my co-workers (including me) and higher-ups. I talk to my boss on Twitter—weird. These things used to be solely personal pursuits—stuff for friends and family. Now I do them at work? Yuck!?

I'm sure this is nothing new to many of BlogCampaigning's readers, but it was a bit of a shock to me, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm happy that my company has started a blog and that I get to write for it. I think it's great that we're actively, if tentatively, pursuing a social media strategy. I've even written some posts on how social media affects the workplace (we're in human resources publishing, so you know).

I think my surprise arises from an artificial barrier that I had built dividing The Internet and its Many Diversions and Modes of Communication including Social Media, from E-Mail and Proprietary Closed Systems and their Singular Purpose of Doing My Job. What I mean is that I previously thought The Internet was for leisure, and one only used it occasionally for work. But in an instant, I recognized that this was far from the truth, and I was thus in some sort of work-leisure limbo. (It's clear now that this realization was building for some time.)

So what now!?

I don't really have a problem with social media entering my job. In hindsight, that was clearly inevitable. This episode has just made me realize that I will now have to deal with all of the mixed-up things that come next: delineating work time from leisure; maintaining a professional web presence; managing the time I am working...

I guess the question is: does this situation even really change anything?

Sure, that barrier has fallen down, but does that mean my behaviour or life will change? I don't know the answer to that yet.

--- Update ---

I think I might have figured it out. The thing is, I already spend a lot time at the computer; I don't like that it has intruded into so many daily functions. If I want to read the news, I go to my computer. If I want to see what my friends are up to or talk to them, I go to my computer. If I want to listen to music or look at photos—computer. If I want to write—computer. Recipes, directions, phone calls, videos, communication... You can probably guess that I don't have a Blackberry or iPhone or some other piece of fancy portable gear. Maybe that's my trouble but I'm not sure.

I have two problems with spending so much time at my computer: guilt and headaches. On the one hand, it just doesn't feel right staring at a digital screen for as long as I do each day; on the other, I feel unhealthy doing it. You could say, "Get a Wii Fit!" But I'm pretty sure that's missing the point. I want to do all of those leisure activities, but I don't want to sit in one spot all day, staring into the bright light, to do them. I want to leave my house!

So I wonder, what is the solution? Am I just waiting for the right technology to come along to allow me to do all of the things I want to without feeling like I'm attached to a machine? Do I want to give up technology altogether? Let me tell you when summer comes around.

TweetLevel - Another Attempt at Twitter Rankings

TweetLevelIn light of Twitter's rapid growth, there has been lots of discussion about Twitter authority and rankings. Should rank be gauged by type of followers, number of followers, Twitter activity or none of the above? Edelman PR recently launched a new beta site which allows you to calculate your "TweetLevel" by combining scores on popularity, engagement, trust, and influence. After spending some time inputting different names into the ranking calculator, I am still left wondering what purpose this site is intended to serve. The rankings also kind of disturb me. For instance, the number of ReTweets a user gets carries a heavy weight when calculating trust and influence. For fun, I put in @FoxNews and @PerezHilton and saw that their trust levels are both fairly high. Does that mean Fox News and Perez Hilton are trustworthy, unbiased sources of information? Not really. What I think this calculation leaves out (and I stand to be corrected) is what comes before or after the ReTweet. Another thing that bothers me is the popularity rank which is based mainly on number of followers. Again we come to the questions of quality versus quantity. Some markets and industries are so niche, that the number of followers really doesn't matter. What matters is the content they are contributing to their community and how they interact. It's also important to ask: who are these followers? Maybe there are only 50 of them, but maybe those 50 are top-level executives or decision makers within their organizations or industries.

TweetLevel Values

If you have a few minutes to spare, take some time to play around with the calculator. Its a fun toy and can calculate a number of different values, but ultimately I can't see it impacting my decision making process. Even Edelman notes that this tool will not solve the "influence problem".

twittergraderPerplexed by why a company would devote time and resources to developing this tool, I reached out to Mike Volpe from HubSpot. HubSpot developed a similar Twitter ranking tool called Twitter Grader (along with a suite of other grading tools) as a marketing strategy to increase its brand awareness. When asked what purpose the tool served, Volpe noted the following:

1. Helps HubSpot analyze data and share findings with its market (as seen in these first and second Twitter reports)

2. Generates leads for HubSpot products and services

3. Integrates information into their own social media monitoring tools

4. Allows other services to use the Twitter Grader API in their offerings

5. Helps companies/organizations find top users by city, top organizations, and other users by keyword search

So far, it seems like these tools provide some insight and help get you started on your initial research, but they shouldn't be used as a shortcut to building out your Twitter profiles and lists.

To determine if someone is worthwhile, there is really only one main characteristic to concern yourself with and, unfortunately, no calculator can gauge it for you: are they tweeting something YOU are interested in? In other words, are they providing you with useful and relevant information? Are you benefiting from their tweets and interaction with them? The best way to determine this is by reading some of their recent tweets and engaging them. You might find they are worthwhile, and you might find that they are total duds; either way this isn't something that can be calculated, much the same way you can't throw a picture of your best friend into a website and see if they're worth keeping around. Relationships, both on and offline, take time to cultivate and understand their worth.

Stop Reading PR Blogs

Earlier this year, I suggested that PR students wanting to get involved in the online world should avoid starting a PR-focused blog. Now, I'm going to suggest that we all stop even reading PR blogs. They aren't that representative of the real world—the wilds of the internet.

Rather than focusing on how this tightly knit community (I believe David Jones referred to it as a "circle-jerk" on Inside PR) does things and communicates, why not spend that time getting more involved in understanding the way actual people use the internet?

Learn how your clients' audiences look for things online. Learn about what they're interested in. Become passionate about what they are passionate about, or at least try and understand their passion.

I'm willing to bet that most of you don't spend your evenings re-reading your old PR textbooks (nor do you buy the latest version every year), but that you probably do browse your region's daily newspapers on a regular basis.

Do you have any idea how few people care about RSS feeds? How many of your friends (outside of those involved in the communications industry) actually care about Twitter or even understand what it does?

Forget case studies. Forget best practices. When is the last time you did something truly new and interesting?


What does Twitter do? (Part 1)

I've been using Twitter now for a few months, and I still have little idea of it's purpose—or if it even has one. At it's base, Twitter is a simple way to share and receive bits of information, the modern currency. It's like a data marketplace—a microcosm of the internet itself, and more manageable than the world wide web. But I like that it has undefined boundaries, and that users have come up with new uses for it. I don't go out of my way to read about Twitter's development on technology blogs or whatever. I have my interests (technology and internet culture among them), and I read about them semi-regularly; but I don't have the time or the interest to consume or sort through all of the blather, opinion, and predictions about something like Twitter, which I would prefer to explore myself.

That said, here are a few of the ways in which Twitter has changed my internet and information consumption behaviour.

1. Interest-targeted information I never had a selection of specific blogs that I would visit regularly to find news on a certain topic. I retrieved stuff from the internet mostly via news sites (e.g.,, search engines, and aggregators (e.g., Digg and Reddit), each of which serves a particular purpose for finding information. Google news was my main news source for a brief while a couple of years ago. I also began using Google Reader to follow with pitiful—make that pathetic—regularity my friends' blogs.

These all might have their own purposes, but I found them inefficient because they forced me to visit a website and scan through bits of info for what I wanted to read. I had heard of RSS feeds, which could send interesting links directly to a central location, such as your e-mail or a web application like Google Reader, but I was too lazy to bother figuring it out, and besides, Facebook had captured most of my internet attention; and with Facebook, I could share information as well as receive it.

This was all before Twitter. I looked at Twitter last year some time and thought, like just about everyone else on the planet (that's facetious western arrogance, by the way): "What is this nonsense? Who cares about what everybody/nobody has to say about their nonsense lives?" I hardly realized that millions were already paying attention to others' nonsense on Facebook all day long. But Twitter just seemed too simple and pointless: why would anyone actually want to know about what others were doing or, you know, thought about stuff?

Well, I was wrong. I mean, I still don't care about what most people are doing or what they think about stuff—my use of Twitter has actually made this abundantly clear. I also note that recently (even before Twitter) I've been using Facebook far less than in the past. The thing is, now I can "follow" "twitterers" who "tweet" information in which I am interested, as well as my friends—those who are currently taking advantage of the service—and all of that information goes to one central place, where I can scan it with far greater ease than before.

For example, I used to visit Digg, which aggregates user-submitted stories from the web, placing the top stories (by users' votes) on the "front page". This is incredibly useful, but the content is still all over the place. Current events and world politics are combined in an unholy mixture with pictures of cute animals, celebrity "news" and UFO and crop circle sightings, and eventually, I found myself disillusioned with sifting through all of the stuff I wasn't interested in. As for friends' blogs, as I mentioned, I simply didn't look at them very often, probably because I was spending my online time scanning Digg.

Twitter allows me to narrow the scope of my information retrieval. I follow certain news sources and blogs that mainly focus on local (i.e., Toronto) news, for example:

Torontoist for general Toronto news, mostly written by local independent journalists BlogTO for more general news NOW Magazine for the "alternative" news Urban Toronto) for a great look at Toronto's history and future

Some of my other interests are satisfied via:

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Tech news, commonly involving Google at myunblinkingeye News about all the good food we produce in Ontario from Foodland Ontario

I follow friends (including the writers of BlogCampaigning):

Justin Broadbent, a terrific artist, illustrator, photographer, and videographer Angie Johnson, fashion designer and Montréal boutique owner extraordinaire Tyson Bodnarchuk, another terrific artist and Montréal boutique owner extraordinaire

And I even follow the odd celebrity: Neil Gaiman, writer of fantasy and science fiction Rainn Wilson (kind of), via his "big questions" blog, Soul Pancake

I could go on, but I fear that I'm already pushing the boundaries of attention, and will raise the ire of my fellow blogcampaigners with my first post.

So, to wrap up: maybe you're not an information junkie to the extent that I am, but if you use the internet to seek useful or interesting information for personal or professional use, and you find you're not satisfied with your current methods, I recommend you give Twitter a try. It's not difficult to understand and use, and it should be even easier for people who are already somewhat social-media savvy.

Let me know if you've got questions. I probably won't be able to answer them, but I'd like to hear them!

Upcoming: Twitter as human-powered search engine—the new (better) Google!? Twitter as hyper-modern communication tool—not just for nerds!

CNW Goes Big On Twitter

CNW Group has always been committed to getting our clients' news in front of journalists and the media. For years, the only way to really do this was via the news wire. When fax machines became an accepted way to send and receive news and information, CNW Group embraced that technology to reach members of the media. Similarly, when email became a popular form of communication, CNW offered interested parties the ability to subscribe to our clients' news via portfolio email. The same, too with our categorized RSS feeds. The point is that as technology has changed, CNW Group has changed with it in order to make it as easy as possible for both members of the media and the general public to get news and information from our clients.

That's why I'm excited to announce that we've officially launched hundreds of unique Twitter accountsto distribute our clients' news over Twitter. The accounts are based on our existing news categories, and all releases posted on our website and over the wire will also go out on anywhere from one to four of these accounts (depending on how the release is categorized).

By breaking the news into these seperate categories, we're making it easy for interested parties, be they members of the media or the general public, to find and follow the type of news they are interested in. Similarly, by offering news via the traditional wire, by fax, by email, by RSS and now by Twitter we are making it as easy as possible for people to get news from us.

Read the official news release from CNW Group about this, or check out the full list of accounts at


(note: Although I am an employee of CNW Group this post, like all my posts on BlogCampaigning, reflects only my own personal views and opinions and not those of my employer)

Twitter is the RSS dream made real (follow @BlogCampaigning!)

Twitter is the RSS dream made real. (I repeated the headline here because I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied with having written it.) If you're reading this post, you're probably pretty hip to the RSS scene (I know that the majority of BlogCampaigning's readers read it via RSS). But you're not mainstream—you're probably a PR Pro with a Penchant for Social Media, one of my Blogging Brethren, a Conference-Attending Corporate Communicator

RSS never really caught on because even the simplest analogies made it sound complicated. I mean, between Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication people can't even seem to agree on what it stands for.

But Twitter... people seem to instantly grasp the concept of Twitter. They understand the idea that if they "follow" an account, they get updates from that account. No messing around with moving the subscription URL to your RSS reader.

Professional communicators should always try and make it as easy as possible for people to access their message, or at least make it possible for their audience to access the message in the manner they prefer.

While some people might frown upon feed-based Twitter accounts, I'm all for them and for that reason I've set up As I feel fewer and fewer people are checking their RSS readers and moving more towards their Tweetdecks, Twitter homepages and Twhirls, I want to make sure they're still able to easily access the freshest BlogCampaigning posts. Hardcore BlogCampaigning fans probably don't want to be bothered with the daily chatter that fills my personal Twitter account—they just want the hottest news from the BlogCampaigning team.

Even if you don't want to follow the BlogCampaigning Twitter feed, you can still subscribe by email, RSS or even access the page directly (which, in case you haven't noticed, went through a redesign recently).

Applied to the greater world of PR, don't limit your campaigns to just a Facebook group, just a news release directed at traditional media, or just a Twitter account. Except in probably very unique cases, making your message accessible in only one place probably won't result in much success.

How do you feel about feed-based Twitter accounts? Is there a better way we can be getting our news out?


PS: Don't forget to follow @BlogCampaigning!

Must Love Death: German Social Media Lessons

The preface: The claim resurfaces regularly. I've written about it; others have written about it: in terms of internet and social media, Germany lags behind.

ReadWriteWeb just published an interview with Marcel Weiß, the editor of—one of Germany's most popular blogs—in which he explains that Germany is at least five years behind the U.S. when it comes to social media and its adoption by a larger part of society. Blogs are still considered to be suspect by a large part of the German public and have very little influence, and social news sites and aggregators attract very little attention.

He goes on to explain that

[B]logging and social media adoption in Germany is far behind similar trends in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Blogs are still considered suspect and have almost no influence over local or national politics. The mainstream media still likes to describe the Internet as a dangerous place, full of malware, porn, and scammers. While regular newspapers in Germany have also started to feel the pressure from the Internet (and every major German paper has a web site), the absence of a successful Craigslist-type site in the country has given the newspapers a longer lease on life than in America.

The reasons for this are very deeply ingrained in German society. Felix Salmon offers a short and comprehensible (yet also stereotyped) overview: basically, Germany's culture is the antithesis of what blogging is all about.

The blogosphere is fundamentally egalitarian, to the point at which the young and even the completely anonymous can become A-listers. At the same time, highly respected professors and experts often find themselves ignored, perhaps because they hedge themselves too much or are simply too boring to pay attention to. Germany, by contrast, is fundamentally hierarchical.

A bit of a generalization, but he's close to the point. I'd say this statement rather applies to culture. The use of mass culture in Germany is quite hierarchical as it reflects power structures. I will spare you the sociology behind it (see my post about Bourdieu and social media). Just this much: in contrast to American discourses, which embrace the internet as a genuinely democratic and—thus specifically American—cultural practice, in Germany this egalitarian appeal and integrative potential is perceived as a threat to milieus (and media) which still perpetuate restricted high cultural traditions (or the "right" use of pop culture) in order to gain social capital.

Also: Germany experienced its greatest push towards modernity under the Nazis, the first party to embrace mass media for propaganda purposes in a kind of reactionary modernism, which makes the whole field... suspect.

Anyway, the result of all this is: Germany indeed does lag behind.

My Problem:

I was confronted with this fact very recently when an old high school friend of mine asked me to help him promote a movie he produced, by means of social media. The movie is in English (in fact it's supposed to take place in the U.S.), and aims at an international audience. Here, two mindsets collided.

It had to explain what a Facebook fan page was, why we want to get a Twitter and a Flickr account, etc. Once everything was set up, the next step was to explain how everything worked. It was a social media crash course.

I suppose Twitter alone would warrant a whole night of instructions (if the other person has no idea at all): What are the basics? How do I contact people? How, why and when do I send direct messages? Wait, I can change the background? I woke up to ICQ (yes, ICQ) messages asking me why a # was in front of a tweet. And what the hell is Follow Friday?

At this stage, we didn't even discuss the "proper" use of Twitter yet: engage in conversations, be nice and say thank you, look for Twitter users or bloggers who are interested in the romantic horror comedy splatter genre and get them to cover you... If someone does an interview or writes a review, see if the person has a Twitter account and add them... A sample conversation: "One of the singers from the soundtrack is following us." "Did you follow her back?" "Why?"

And so it went on. I was the one who's supposed to update the account. Andy, the director, attended the film's premier in Montreal. Lot's of potential there in terms of Twitter. But he had no idea about it either. So apparently it was up to me... (sitting at my office desk in Germany, writing my doctoral thesis, not really having the time to monitor any coverage of the movie). It was going to be a long way. I really hope my friend realized how to use Thwirl by now...

"BTW, it would be nice if Andy could take some pictures and could upload them on Flickr. I also installed a plug-in to display the latest Flickr uploads on the Facebook page" "Uh... he doesn't know how to. And why do we need Flickr in the first place, I thought we could upload photos on Facebook!" "Yaaaaah, but..."

The problem was: my friend's German mindset, not being acquainted with any social media or its principle at all, collided with the world out there.

But, to give credit were credit is due: he seemed to be learning—in terms of the basic idea at least.

While having a beer at a bar, the producer told me what kind of trailer they would produce and how they would introduce the people behind the movie in little clips; how he would ask the director to film movies with his mobile at festivals and put those on Facebook and Youtube—basically share the experience and engage people, let them become part of the project and involve them in the process of getting the whole thing started. Or as he put it "Keep zings reel!"

We were getting there. Slowly.

I invited all my friends on Facebook to become a fan of the movie, while my friend sent out an e-mail to the 150 people of the (German) movie team. All of a sudden 2/3s of our fan base came from Australia—apparently hardly anyone of the team was on Facebook!

In short: please become a fan of Must Love Death and follow us on Twitter!!


The Twitter Journalist

A few weeks ago, I told Jens and Heather that I didn't want them to write any more posts about Twitter ("its been done to death") so I'm breaking my own rule here.

Over the weekend, I started thinking about how Twitter is becoming a primary way for people to get their information. Then I started wondering why we aren't seeing any journalists covering stories exclusively on Twitter. I imagine it would work much the same way that we sometimes see television or radio journalists covering breaking stories: they stay on the scene, and provide constant updates whenever they get additional information. Much of their reporting is observational, but other information comes in by way of eyewitnesses and official reports.

It looks like  Mark MacKinnon had the same idea - he's been Tweeting live from Bangkok as the city "disintegrates."

Since he works for Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper, I doubt that Twitter will be the sole way that he'll report his story. However, I'm sure that people who have been following his updates on Twitter will most certainly read any in-depth story he writes about the situation for the Globe & Mail. The text of some of his tweets will also probably make it into any final copy he writes, and I'm sure that he'll be aided by other Twitter users on the ground providing him with additional information.

In all, it sounds like a win-win situation.

Are there any other examples of journalists using Twitter as their primary way to report on one story?


Bourdieu and & Social Media Experts: There is no Right or Wrong

Editors Warning: This post is a little heavy on the academia. Casual readers might want to give it a pass. But if you're like us and think that French philosphy can be mindbending-fun and enjoy dissecting mass culture, then by all means give it a read.

Pierre Bourdieu's seminal 'Distinction' is one of the works I centre my thesis around. In it, he describes how cultural distinctions function as social distinctions with aversions to different lifestyles becoming one of the strongest barriers between the classes: High-cultural snobs looking down on the mass-culture consuming lower orders.

Surely it can be argued that mass-cultural forms enjoy more acceptance among socially dominant classes than they used to. Just look at your parents' record collection. However, there's still a crucial difference in the way it is dealt with amongst different social divisions. You will have to talk about it in the 'right' way, you have to be in the know. You can't just watch Tarantino movies because you enjoy the blood and action but because you consider them to be operas of violence which function as a postmodern metaphor for whatever.

Only when you 'get it' does mass-culture guarantee cultural capital (the knowledge, experience and or connections one has had through the course of their life that enables them to succeed more so than someone from a less experienced background), which then can be converted into different kinds of capital: social capital (= connections), symbolic capital (= the capacity to impose the means for comprehending and adapting to the social world by representing economic and political power in disguised, taken-for-granted forms) and economic capital (= money).

This reminds me of how self-proclaimed social media experts claim how they 'get' something like twitter and you, the ordinary user, don't. They turn democratic means of expression into something restricted.

'I claim to get twitter, have the authority – due to my expertise – to impose this legitimate vision on other people which secures me more followers and influence.'

To paraphrase Bourdieu: It's about a small elite, homogenous in its possession of 'legitimate' educational credentials; the control of these instruments allow the decoding of 'restricted' art, guaranteeing access to higher and highest ranks. The result of this was a feudalist society, dominated by a 'cultural nobility' whose political economy of symbolic power relied on the perpetuation of aesthetic not everyone has access to; they became the means of self-reproduction and self-legitimation of the dominant social classes and placed individuals and groups with different cultural socialisations within competitive status hierarchies. As specialists, the elites transformed relations of power into forms of disinterested honourability, giving them the power to render things sacred. 'Holy men of culture', set apart from ordinary mortals by inimitable nuances of manners, used their symbolic capital to impose the means for comprehending and adapting to the social world. Their 'worldmaking' power had the capacity to impose the 'legitimate' vision of the social world – respectively the 'right' use of Twitter etc.

That said: Most 'social media experts' have been doing this for ages and have tons of experience; so adhering to their vision of the world can certainly be beneficial. Also, most of them genuinely believe in what they preach, there's no cynical calculation behind it. Akin to the 'false consciousness' of the Marxist tradition, the 'social media nobility' derives its legitimation precisely from this genuine belief that it represents higher and more worthy forms in the inventory of human endeavour than material pursuits.

However, ultimately there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way of using social media tools. We all have different goals and often it's rather about common sense than 'legitimate visions.'


The Media isn't Dying, it's Changing.

A little while ago, someone started a Twitter account with the name TheMediaIsDying. Although their bio says that their aim is to help "flaks pitch better and update lists," they seem to take delight in reporting they primarily seem to report on stories of print, broadcast and web outlets that are folding or cutting staff as a result of the rapidly changing media and economic landscapes.

To make the claim that the media is dying is to make the claim that it will no longer be possible to receive news or entertainment.

Yes, I'd agree that the traditional media is probably dying. I feel that I'll probably see the death of the traditional, printed newspaper in my life time. In fact, I can't believe that it isn't dead already. Someone wiser than myself once made the point that if today you proposed the idea of printing out thousands of copies of a general assortment of news every night, then hand-delivering them to people's homes early each morning, you'd be laughed out of the room. It is an outdated business model.

But that doesn't mean the newspaper industry will die, only its printed form. The websites of major newspapers are and will continue to be a primary source of information for many people. Thanks to the hard work of people like Mathew Ingram (and despite the head-in-ass stance of people like Christie Blatchford), newspapers will evolve to meet the needs of an online world.

The same goes for other forms of media. While JPG Magazine might be folding, how many great photography sites and online photoshop tutorials have you come across?

As I Tweeted earlier, For every print publication that @themediaisdying reports dead, how many well-written, unique websites pop up?

Did the invention of the printing press kill off the spoken word? No. It just meant that hand-lettered books were no longer necessary, and it gave more people access to literature and information.

Did the invention of radio kill off the written word? Again, no.

Did television indeed kill the radio star? No, but it might have forced some radio stars to adapt to become more television-friendly. And it also created a whole knew breed of radio stars.

Did the internet kill television? Again, no. If you're like me, you might not use an actual television set but you probably still enjoy watching television shows on your computer or portable device.

As a result of cringing and loving to hate almost every single tweet that @themediaisdying makes, I've started an alternative twitter account to spread good news about any media organizations,  journalists, broadcasters, writers or videographers that are getting by just fine and adapting to the change we're seeing in the media world.

So if you've got any stories about how the media is changing (rather than dying), hit me up by emailing or on twitter: @mediaischanging. (and feel free to follow me on twitter, too. I'm @parkernow)

The media isn't dying, it's changing.

viva la media!


Twitter and the Canadian Telcos

About a month ago, Twitter was forced to disable the ability for users to get updates on their mobile phones in Canada. According to Twitter, the Canadian carriers were effectively doubling their charges to Twitter every month. I don't blame Twitter for disabling this service due to the cost.

However, I think the move on the part of the Canadian wireless companies was a stupid and greedy one (do they make any type of moves?), especially in light of the recent news that text messages cost them pretty much nothing.

Anyone receiving an update from Twitter via text message on their phone (either an @ reply or direct message) would be much more likely to respond via their phone, being charged for an extra text message. The end result would probably be more text messages sent, and therefore more revenue for the phone companies.

It is unfortunate that something could not be worked out, but I look forward to the solution Twitter says it is working on.


Building Your Twitter Empire

This post was written by Heather Morrison, an Account Executive at CNW Group. She is new to the world of social media, but learning quickly. She's also the captain of my dodgeball team. -Parker

I am fairly new to ‘Twitterville.' logging in for the first time back in October. As a new user I remember how daunting the experience was. Looking at some other member profiles, with their thousands of followers, I wondered how I would ever get to that level. 2 months later, I am still nowhere close to being part of the Twitter elite, but I have noticed a steady a rise in the number of my followers.

For everyone who is new to the game, looking for some ‘newbie’ advice, here is what has been working for me. For all of you ‘Senior Twitizens’ out there, any added other advice is most welcome.

1. So you’ve signed up and chosen a user name, now what? Personalize your Twitter page. Include a picture of yourself, location, bio, and add character to your background design.

Remember that Twitter is about building your personal brand, and as with all branding, packaging goes a long way. Photos and personal information will tell people about who you are, and what you are about; potentially increasing the number of followers on your list.

2. Start Networking. Look at the contact lists you already have – friends, their follower lists, and colleagues are a good start. Once you follow them there is a good chance that they will reciprocate and follow you back

Bloggers are also a great resource when starting out as many will provide constant updates and have a keen understanding of how Twitter works. Most will include their Twitter profile on their blog or at the end of their posts.

3. Look outside your social network. I found that sites like and are helpful for finding specific people or industries. is great for key word searching.

By sifting through some of these results you will find other people who are interested in the same topic or industry as you. Follow members you feel are most relevant and some will follow you in return.

4. Tweet! Now that you have some followers start tweeting. Make your voice heard throughout your network. Provide your followers with informative posts on topics that interest you, making it part of your daily routine (at least a post or two per day).

Being a regular contributor to the ‘Twittersphere’ will make you more available to like-minded users. When they are searching out topics of interest, they might come across your posts and decide to add you, allowing your twitter network to grow.

5. Market yourself. Don’t be shy! Give out your twitter account to various parties when an opportunity presents itself. Add it to your personal and professional email signatures and/or business cards.

6. Pay attention to conference/event #hashtags. As Twitter becomes more mainstream, it provides a good back channel of information, quotes, facts, and opinions for various events and conferences. I can attribute most of my recent growth to conference/event participation. By searching out the hashtag ( you will find all the people who were twittering at that event (and what they were saying) and can add them to your list. For more information about the benefit of using hashtags and twittering at a conference, check out this post by Jeff Cohen.

7. Give it time. Success doesn’t happen over night. It will take time to grow and cultivate your social network. Track what works for you, and keep at it.

Help Heather build her Twitter empire by following her - she's HMorrison there.

Take Your Kid To Work Day

Since yesterday was "Take Your Kid To Work Day," there were a number of 14 year-old students hanging out in our offices. I don't know if it was because I am closer to their age than some of my other coworkers, but I was asked to spend an hour talking about social media with them. Of the five, four had accounts on Facebook. Of those four, one of them had not checked it in about a year, two of them checked their's once per week and the other checked daily. Interestingly enough, the one fellow that didn't have a Facebook account had a far better understanding of how the internet works than the others - he used Torrents all the time, and was the only one to use and customize Firefox.

None of them had MySpace accounts. None of them had ever emailed a YouTube video to a friend, but they had all sent videos to friends using MSN Messenger. Messenger also seemed to be something they spent a lot of time on - rather than browsing the web, they were just talking to the same people they talk to at school (the instant messaging feature of Facebook was totally lost on them - none of them used it or really knew how it worked).

Napster was like a myth to them - when I asked them about it, one of them said "Didn't that used to be a company or something?" and they were in disbelief when I said it would sometimes take days to download a song.

Near the end of our time together, I asked them about cell phones. Their eyes lit up at this, and they all pulled out their phones. They told me that they text each other regularly, and only one of them seemed to get the distinction between regularly spelled words and phrases and the 'txting' short-hand that is often used in text messages. They also thought it was crazy that I didn't have a cell phone until I was 24 and moved to Japan. ("Is that because your parents wouldn't pay for it?" one of them asked me).

None of them new what they wanted to be when they grow up, and I said that was fine - they were only 15. Any jobs that they think they might want now will have drastically changed by the time they graudate university and start a career. The good part is that there will be a whole bunch of new jobs that don't exist right now, or that we aren't even really aware of that will be perfect for these kids.

Another thing that I thought was interesting was that they didn't have the enormous media diets that I thought they would. When I asked what websites they normally visited, they told me that they normally just visited the websites of the companies that they liked (mostly video game companies) to check for new products. They aren't reading blogs, and they aren't using search engines as much as you might think they might.

I'll admit that five is hardly a representative sample, but it was still great talking to these kids and finding out what they thought of new technology. I hope that they were able to learn as much from me as I was from them.

Thanks also to everyone that chimed in on Twitter as I was explaining that to them - I think they understood, but I don't think they thought Twitter was very cool. In a few years time, they'll probably be hooked into something way better.


PS: These kids also referred to Mario Kart 64 as "the original Mario Kart."

Jens' Blog Roll

As I'm still working on my Ph.D. dealing with videogame perception in Germany and Australia my blogroll naturally differs from Parker's: It's pretty game heavy probably not as surprising or original. Anyway, here're some of my regularly frequented blogs: Gamepolitics: "Where politics and video games collide". The essential source for legal matters, censorship debates, game legislation issues, politicians' stand on digital games, all things Jack Thomspon and games trying to bring across a message. Well written and easily accessible despite the sometimes demanding subject matter.

Destructoid: Founded by hardcore gaming fans for hardcore gaming fans. Taking itself and the industry not too seriously yet surprisingly insightful, they are not afraid to advance unpopular opinions – out of conviction and not for the attention. Also features a community that is actually able to exchange interesting thoughts without adding too many insults. (One of the few sites whose users didn't threaten to kill my old lecturer and friend Jason Nelson after his project "Game, game, game and again game" got covered)

Screenplay: The Australian authority on digital games and my main resource for Australia related gaming news. Offers good interviews with those involved in the (Australian) industry and keeps a close eye on policy developments. Best enjoyed in combination with Tsumea, one of the main resources for Australian and New Zealand game developers.

Popurls: Technically not a blog but a feed aggregator collecting the latest stories from digg, delicious, reddit, metafiler, stumbleupon, slashdot, wired… Incredibly addictive yet also a great social graph of the web.

Twitter: a whole bunch of microblogs by a whole bunch of smart people.

Since I spend the longest part of my day either reading or writing I try and relate some of the stuff I come across in old-fashioned books to issues that are relevant to blogcampaigning, especially since whatever occurs in the tech/PR/game world are not isolated incidents but imbedded into a social frame, e.g. a post I still would like to work on is how social shopping is an expression of the aesthetization of everyday life caused by a shift of the fundamental semantic of society away from an economic paradigm towards a psycho-physical one… (Parker's note: I'm only letting you write that post if you use regular words)


Making Money with Twitter?

A few weeks ago, I started following DVD Quotes on Twitter. Who ever is running the account will send out a Tweet beginning with "WMITF?" (short for "What Movie Is This From?") followed by a quote. The first person to reply via Twitter has a chance to win a free DVD. Sometimes instead of a quote, they'll send a link to an image from a film. When someone wins, they'll congratulate them publicly, ensuring that the winner gets their own 140 characters of Twitter fame.

When I first started following them, they had around 3,000 followers. Now, they've already got over 5,000. These aren't just 5,000 people putting their business cards in the fishbowl on the counter of a Subway restaurant in the hopes of winning a free lunch for their office. These are 5,000 people who are actively reading the Tweets that DVD Quotes is putting out there.

Just yesterday, I noticed that they sent out a Tweet alerting their followers that the winner of the next round would win an Iron Man DVD courtesy of linkbee, a service that purports to earn you money for sharing your links on social media sites.

Now, I'm not quite sure if linkbee is advertising on DVD Quotes or if linkbee is actually behind DVD Quotes but either way it is a great approach to marketing via Twitter. I know that I won't mind reading a bit of marketing text for the chance of winning a DVD. If its well targeted and doesn't become spammy, I can see this sort of thing working well.

Whether people eventually get sick of this kind of advertising, or whether other companies adopt this method remains to be seen. What matter is that linkbee seems to be one of the first to do it, and I applaud the move.

-Parker Mason

Getting Started Online Part One: Twitter

Getting Started Online

Over the course of the summer, a bunch of my friends have started to express interest in starting their own blogs.

One group of friends feels that having a blog will help create an online presence for their band, A Northern Drawl.

Another friend created a blog to share her stories of late-night debauchery and celebrity searching in Toronto.

My friend Sarah asked me to help her set up a blog for her trip to South America.

And my new roomate told me that he wants to start a blog to use as an online resume for his video work (I'm hoping that my other roommate will resume writing the always-excellent T-zero blog about Toronto culture and breakfast now that he has returned from an overseas stint).

In short, they all want an online presence for themselves and since I'm known amongst them as "the guy that knows stuff about the internets," they've come to me for advice.

While I'll be happily helping them when I get a chance, I thought I'd also share some of the advice I'm giving them with the readers of BlogCampaigning. Hopefully you'll be able to give them some additional advice, or point them in the right direction when you think I've lead them astray.

My advice for starting off has been that they should get a Twitter account.

Why? Because Setting up an account on Twitter is a lot like starting a blog.

Following people, having them follow you and experimenting with some of the tools that work with Twitter are a great introduction to how things like RSS and other social media tools work. For example, I showed my roommate how he could set up an account on The Hype Machine (a website we both think is pretty sweet) so that everytime he favorited a song there it would alert his Twitter followers.

Customizing Your Twitter Profile

Customizing your Twitter profile is also a good introduction to customizing your own blog and working with web tools. I've got nothing against blogs based on templates or Twitter accounts that use the default colors and background image, but I think that taking the extra step in customization is very important. Just as Seth Godin equates downloading and installing Firefox as the equivalent to applying for college or university. As he writes: "the kind of person that puts the effort into getting into and completing college is also the kind of person who succeeds at other things."
twitter colors

Customizing your Twitter profile will help you learn about image editing (as you decide what to use as your profile image and as a background image) and hexadecimal colors. If you aren't quite sure what you want your blog to look like, playing around with colors and images on Twitter is an easy way to get started.

Doing this sort of customization will also help people identify you more easily, and will help distinguish you from the legions of spammers (when was the last time you followed someone that didn't have a Twitter profile pic? When was the last time you subscribed to a blog based on an unmodified Kubrick template?).

Online Conversations

"I don't really get it," "how do I know who to talk to?" and "who is going to want to listen to what I have to say?" are three of the most common things I hear from my friends when I'm telling them about how to get started on Twitter.

My response to this is to just dive in and get started. I wrote before how I thought that Twitter is like an online cocktail party, full of different conversations that you can either choose to ignore or join (just like a real cocktail party). In both cases, no one cares if you are a wallflower and just listen. Chances are, they won't interact with you either. To be part of the "conversation" you'll have to speak up. In Twitter, this amounts to sharing links that you think are interesting, responding to things other people have said, or simply adding your own opinion ("conversation" in quotation marks because I'm cringing at how cliched that word has become even though it is the only one that works here).

Can you think of any other advice for them?

Maybe tell them directly - my roommate Claudio is @Clizz on Twitter, my friend Sarah's blog is Alpaca For Dinner, my colleague Jessica is @JessicaSine on Twitter and my friend Katie is @Vandertramp on Twitter (her website is Mischief, Mayhem, Parties and Boys). You might also want to check out A Northern Drawl - although the only have a MySpace page right now, I'm excited to help them promote their music and develop and online presence for themselves.

If you're in Toronto (or love it or are thinking of visiting) be sure and check out my other roommate's blog Tzero. It is especially great if you're looking for reviews of breakfast places in the downtown area.


Twitter 101?

A few months ago, I wrote an article for the CPRS Toronto publication "New Perspectives" about Twitter. It was published last week, and I've included it on my blog, adding links where appropriate. If you want to view a scanned image of the article, click here. If you want to view the article on the CPRS Toronto website you are out of luck (they list their Spring 2008 issue as the current one).

Twitter 101?

By Parker Mason

CNW Group

If you’ve been paying attention to the social media world these days you probably know that Twitter is the hottest thing since Facebook amongst the digerati.

At its most basic level, Twitter exists for you to answer the question “What are you doing right now?” in 140 characters. But what began as a simple way to update your friends (or “followers” in Twitter-speak) has evolved into something much more. It is being used to share everything from ideas and links to information about natural disasters and the scores at sporting events and it is taking over the world of online communications.

Twitter matters because it gives people a way of opting in to receive information while also participating in a dialogue around it. While a blog could be compared to a formal lecture with a comments section as a formal question and answer period, Twitter is more like a cocktail party. There are multiple conversations happening at the same time, and you can easily drift between them and either or participate as you wish.

At the recent mesh Conference held in Toronto, delegates weren’t handing out business cards or email addresses so much as they were their Twitter account names. Throughout the conference (and, it seems, most social media conferences these days), an entire background conversation was taking place on Twitter. Rather than waiting until after a speaker had finished, delegates were debating their points during the session. As one blogger wrote, “you weren’t at the conference if you weren’t involved in the backchannel on Twitter.”

While it may still be early days for Twitter, there are still millions of people using the service and the “backchannel conversations” happening at conferences are already happening with your clients. As with all spaces (online or not) people will be having these conversations whether you’re there or not so you might as well meet them there.

So who is already using Twitter?

Zappos ( is one company that has dove headfirst into the Twittersphere. The CEO of this online shoe-company already has over five thousand followers and is climbing up the popularity charts. Nearly every single employee is on Twitter, and all are encouraged to use the service to respond to questions or comments regarding Zappos. In the name of transparency, the company also has a page set up on their website that collects all mentions of “Zappos” on Twitter.

I’m quite proud of my CNW colleagues for embracing Twitter. When not traveling between Calgary and Vancouver, you can find Doug Lacombe, Vice-President, Western Canada, updating his Twitter feed by publicly fielding questions about the newswire business. At the same time, other members of CNW have used the service to find out more about what is going on at conferences or to simply share links with each other.

CNW Group has recently added a Twitter feed of releases being distributed by us in the Internet Technology category. Journalists and bloggers following the feed will receive a message with the headline of the release and a link to the full version on the CNW website at

How can I start using Twitter?

Like most online tools, the easiest way to start learning is to start using. With Twitter, you’ll have to go to to sign up for an account. It is easy to do, and once you’re there you can make use of all of Twitter’s features right from their homepage. However, using Twitter from their webpage is a little bit cumbersome. A much more elegant solution comes in the form of a program called Twhirl ( Rather than forcing you to refresh your page in order to get updates from your friends, Twhirl automates the process and turns Twitter into an easy-to-use messaging program.

When you’re there, you’ll start seeing how you can integrate your Twitter account with your account at a number of other online places like Facebook.

Parker Mason is the Web Content Specialist at CNW Group, a global leader in news and information distribution services for professional communicators. Follow Parker on Twitter at

The Decline of the PC Market and its Impact on Communication: Microblogging to the Fore?

If one feels homesick for the future Japan seems the country of choice. Now you can witness a trend that might be an indicator of how our way of communicating is going to change. As Newsvine reports the PC's role in Japanese homes is diminishing, as its once-awesome monopoly on processing power is encroached by gadgets such as smart phones that act like pocket-size computers, advanced Internet-connected game consoles and digital video recorders with terabytes of memory. Writes Newsvine:

Japan's PC market is already shrinking, leading analysts to wonder whether Japan will become the first major market to see a decline in personal computer use some 25 years after it revolutionized household electronics — and whether this could be the picture of things to come in other countries.

One of the reasons for the decline of the PC market is the increasing popularity of sophisticated mobile devices such as cell phones. According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs more than 50 percent of Japanese send e-mail and browse the Internet from their mobile phones. The increased use of cell phones to access the internet obviously affects the websites itself. From the Newsvine piece:

The fastest growing social networking site here, Mobagay Town, is designed exclusively for cell phones. Other networking sites like mixi, Facebook and MySpace can all be accessed and updated from handsets, as can the video-sharing site YouTube.

If this really is the picture of things to come of course one has to ask how this affects blogging and its use for political campaigns. Content will have to comply to the nature of cell-phones with small screens and users used to short messages due to the lack of a keyboard. Consequently this makes a rise of microblogging likely. Already used by John Edwards and Barack Obama to inform their followers what they are up to at pretty much any given time and post quick event updates it also, as Asbjørn Sørensen Poulsen points out, "does seem to give the debate an edge when you are forced to express yourself in 140 characters".

While microblogging seems certainly seems a good way of keeping one's devotees up to date and very quickly reacting to new developments I think it might be problematic in the way that it adds to a shallowness of the process. It's not really based on exchange. To be forced to express oneself in 140 characters also comprises the danger of reducing politics to even emptier slogans and phrases, simplifying a complicated world.

As a complementary communication tool, microblogging certainly seems like a good idea. Tanding by itself though there are issues and challenges that need to be addressed if we really are following Japan in our communication habits.

(If that's ever going happen. As Parker reminded me by sending me this link to Deep Jive Interests the whole wireless-infrastructure of Japan is way more sophisticated than in North America or Europe and there's no sign – or demand for that matter – that this is going to change anytime soon. At least the "tremendous heritage in other technologies such as console gaming" is gaining foothold with consoles having overtaken PCs as the favorite gaming platforms).


News Doesn't Matter...

...Only the medium in which it was conveyed matters. Or at least that is the impression I get after reading a recent post by Dave Armano about how he used Twitter to report some teenagers heroically saving an old woman's life. Technorati reports that Armano's Twitterophilic post has 13 links to it (at the time of this posting), while the actual news site first reporting the incident only has 2 posts linking to it .

Similarly, Cisco recently issued a Social Media News Release. Both Shel Holtz and Todd Defren were quick to jump on the story, both with posts exclaiming how great Cisco is for having done this.

As Holtz points out, if you've got the material (text, quotes, images, website, video), it really isn't very hard to create or understand a Social Media News Release. "Why people are opposed to this simply baffles me," wrote he wrote on his post.

Todd Defren writes that he doesn't "want the Social Media News Release to be special anymore" and I couldn't agree more.

Part of the reason I'm so in favor of his statement is because I'm sick of hearing about how great these new communications platforms are. While Defren devoted one little quote to what the Cisco release was actually announcing, Holtz didn't mention their news at all (embedding the video, but only to show how easy it is).

As Marshall McLuhan once so famously wrote, "the medium is the message."

In the case of the current communications industry, it seems that the message is to blog, to twitter, to facebook, and to use social media in every way possible in order to continue discussing social media.

Just like studying McLuhan back in school, the whole thing is starting to give me a headache.