What A Twitter Fake Follower Now Looks Like

By Rob  |  18 Aug 2014, 01:45pm  |  Category: Social Media

Over the last couple of weeks we have been doing some research on the current state of Fake Followers on Twitter. This is so we could begin updating our algorithms to offer a better and more accurate service. And last week we released our first update -- refinement will continue for the next month or so...

To do our research we purchased some 'Followerz' from a well known spammer for our test account @FakersApp -- about 1,000. The research has revealed a number of interesting trends...

First of all, and most importantly, the Fake Follower bots have become much more sophisticated. One thing to note is that profile and image data is being completed much more accurately.

In addition each bot is not spamming to the same extent they were. The modern bots are following a few hundred accounts rather the 1,000+ accounts of 'yestayear'... The lack of followers still remain but the relationship between follows and followers is no longer quite as extreme.

Some interesting new spam flags have appeared though. If you look at the tweets that many of these accounts produce they rarely make any sense nor have any relationship to each other. But most telling is that none of them contain links. We're not quite sure why this is but we believe it may have something to do with phishing filters that Twitter may already have in place.

And finally another interesting development seems to be that the spammers are beginning to use private accounts. This would make some sense as it means tools like ours can't then analyse any of the content produced by these bots. Quite how this works with Twitter though we're not sure.

As should be clear the Twitter spam landscape is continually evolving and our work will have to continue if we are to keep on top of this issue.

We hope this info is useful and if you have any thoughts on these issues let us know at @StatusPeople.

Speak soon!

 

 

Fakers App Now Mobile Friendly!!

By Rob  |  2 Jul 2014, 10:30am  |  Category: Update

It's been a very busy time over the last month or two. We have had some serious DDoS issues to deal with that have seriously affected the availability of our app. This has very much hampered our ability to improve our services.

Thankfully though we have resolved many of these issues and service has normalised. And I am happy to announce that we have found the time to role out some significant design improvements to our sites.

They are now all mobile responsive which should make them far easier to use on your different devices. In addition we have made some improvements to our databases so they work a little quicker.  

Overall your experience of using our apps should be much improved. But of course we're always looking to make things better so if you have any feedback please let us know. Tweet us @StatusPeople or email at info@statuspeople.com.

And of course there are plenty more updates on their way.

Speak soon.

Disruptive Capitalism: The Rise of the Social Consumer

By Rob  |  24 Jun 2014, 10:30am  |  Category: Social Media

The rise of the social consumer is happening. For the first time in human history the consumer is gaining real power over the corporations that exist to serve them.

But to this day many have hold the view that the consumer is merely a victim. The play thing of evil corporations and complicit governments. Views like the ones held by American Labour activist Cesar Chavez have been widespread...

"Who gets the risks? The risks are given to the consumer, the unsuspecting consumer and the poor work force. And who gets the benefits? The benefits are only for the corporations, for the money makers."

Some corporations exploit and do bad things. But it is a gross oversimplification to suggest the consumer is or ever was docile, stupid or without power.

As the famous advertiser David Ogilvy said...

"The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife."

A more modern turn of phrase might be to say...

"The consumer isn't a moron. They are your life partner..."

But I'm sure you understand what Ogilvy was suggesting. You don't think the people you love are morons so why would other consumers be morons..?

It is fair to say though that for a long time -- certainly since globalisation kicked up a few gears after WWII -- that the tables have often been balanced in favour of large corporations.

The average consumer lacked good information about the corporations they consumed from. The means of communications with large companies were overly structured and stratified. And at times there was a lack of choice and there was certainly a lack of consumer 'solidarity'.

However with the rise of the internet and particularly social media this is changing -- quite significantly.

Let's put this in context. 15 years ago very few people knew what a search engine was or how to shop online. Most thought the internet was a haunt of geeks. And dial up was hardly impressive. But last year Google turned over $60bn and Amazon made $75bn.

Just 10 years ago no one had heard of social media. Today Facebook has over 1bn users and turned over nearly $8bn last year.

And to look at it another way, since the rise of the Internet $40bn or 2/3rds of the market value of print media has vanished -- gone elsewhere.

We are also seeing a new generation of entrepreneurs with very different social attitudes rise to prominence. They have a more 'liberal' approach and seem to believe they can use their businesses to truly change the world.

Google's slogan says "don't be evil". OkCupid blocked the FireFox browser because Mozilla appointed a CEO opposed to gay marriage. And even more recently Elon Musk of PayPal released over 250 patents for his electric car company Tesla -- to increase innovation and competition in the industry.

We might even call this neo-philanthropism. And this can be seen in the generosity of many tech founders. Bill Gates is a prominent example. But just last year super-nerd Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, gave $992m to charitable causes.

But of course change does not occur without its problem. The rise of the internet has led to the rise of big data and the ability to track vast amounts of information about individuals. And while most companies may only use it to annoy us with adverts the data can be used for far more sinister purposes.

Government's around the world are very interested in this data. And I would argue not because they wish to protect us from the 'terrorists'. But because it provides them with incredible insights, power and the ability to control society. One might argue it has the potential to turn the average bureaucrat into one of Plato's philosopher kings...

All clouds though have a silver lining. And one can argue that without the internet WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden could never have happened. We also have far greater exposure to what our government's get up to in far off lands. And as with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant we can see the very real and very brutal consequences of their actions like never before.

So while this change is not a bed of roses. Or at least we must remember all roses have their thorns. To suggest something significant isn't occurring is quite simply ridiculous. We are at the beginning of the greatest social and technological change since the industrial revolution. Quite where this will take us we can't be sure.

However it is already beginning to affect us. Particularly in the way we consume. On the surface and on a fundamental level consumption hasn't changed. We still buy things we need, want and don't need from trusted suppliers. Often this is to our benefit and occasionally not.

But at no stage previously has the consumer had more choice, more information and more power. And this is having a significant impact on companies and corporations.

One important change is the rise of the niche consumer. Consumers can now live their lives without the need to engage with the major corporations. Platforms like eBay which allow anyone to sell anything to anyone now turn over $16bn and support a global economy of 'market traders'.

Millenials, those born after 1979, have very different attitudes and buying habits to older generations. Research shows that 72% of them now research products online before they purchase in store. One third only purchase what is necessary and refuse to pay full price. And 32% don't buy from companies who have distasteful social practices. Put simply Millenials are more informed and take more care over their purchases because for the first time, they can.

As American retail expert and Forbes contributor Robin Lewis says...

"Having thousands of places to shop quickly right at their fingertips, or in a niche boutique conveniently located across the street, Millennials are increasingly pursuing special, exclusive “just-for-me” products — because they can. Given this shift in behavior, why would they want to go to a store selling clothes that appear on the bodies of millions of their peers?"

This growing level of choice the internet offers and consumer demand for exclusivity is leading to more competition and less stability for companies and industries.

We've already seen the collapse of chunks of the traditional music industry. Stores like HMV and Woolworths have disappeared and been replaced by platforms such as Spotify. An App that gives music fans far greater control and choice over the music that they listen to.

New Taxi Apps like Uber and Lyft are causing outrage among our corporate friends the black cab drivers. Because the cost is lower, the service is of a higher standard and the process far more efficient for everyone.

Even the bastion of corporate, regulated monopolism -- British banking -- is under threat. Platforms like Zopa allow people to borrow and lend among themselves. PayPal is almost doing away with the need for a bank account. And crowd funding websites like KickStarter and Indiegogo allow businesses and individuals to raise capital directly from consumers, fans and investors.

Never before have so many companies been under so much threat. And that's without discussing BitCoin...

A second very important aspect of this process is social media. Which is driving forward the concept of the social consumer.

This new consumer shares the purchases they make and the experiences they have with their friends, connections and followers. A reciprocal process that helps better inform everyone about the marketplace and increases consumer 'solidarity'.

Twitter and Facebook have played a significant role in this. Imagine imagine them like a ticker tape. Not for stock prices -- but for everything. Where is the coolest new place to eat? Twitter. Which politician has said something stupid today? Facebook. Which celeb slept with their brother's wife? Twitter. It's all their, a constant flow of useful and trivial information shared between peers.

Nearly 90% of Millenials now use Facebook and as research shows 50% of consumers have made a purchase based on an online recommendation. And over 90% of people have been influenced by online word of mouth or recommendations from people they know.

In addition the social consumer can now engage with companies in an open way that they control. This means that businesses can no longer hide bad service. 30%-50% of social media users now use it for customer support or to engage with brands because it's quicker and they're more likely to get a decent response. Companies now know the potential reach of a complaint or review is infinitely greater than ever before. And this is breaking down the traditional structures of communication.

There are many wonderful examples of the power of social media. For example, regardless of your opinions on corporation tax, when it was revealed that Starbucks had paid very little in the UK they knew about it. Very quickly. Their #SpreadTheCheer hash tag was hijacked resulting in profanity laden Tweets appearing on big screens at the Natural History museum in London where they sponsored the ice rink.

And ultimately this helped lead to Starbucks making the unprecedented decision of paying more corporation tax. Something they were not obliged to do on any level -- legal or otherwise.

But its not all negative. Gate crash and viral marketing have allowed good and clever companies to connect with more customers and in far more innovative ways than ever before.

A tiny US company called Dollar Shave Club, which allows men to sign up up to a monthly razor subscription, released a cheap advert on YouTube. It was called, "Our Blades Are F***ing Great" the video was so amusing that it went viral and has now been viewed 14m times. One cannot imagine how much they would have had to pay an advertiser for the same reach.

Oreo also used social media to great effect during the 2012 super bowl. During the game the lights went out for 34 minutes. Oreo responded to this by posting an image on Twitter with the caption, "You can still dunk in the dark". It resulted in 15,000 retweets and 20,000 likes. For a company that didn't pay millions to advertise at the Super Bowl this was a great result.

Social media, is not only giving consumers more power. As was the case with Starbucks. It’s also forcing companies to engage with their customers in a more real and innovative manner as can be seen with Oreo.

To sum up. While we must accept that the development of the internet and the growth of social media has not occurred without problems. And will continue to raise challenges we must overcome. It has and is in many areas leading to positive change.

It is leading to significant challenges for the corporate incumbents and is forcing many to change and improve. But ultimately it has given the consumer a lot more choice and information and as a result power. Something that can only be a very good thing for our market economy.

This was the basis for my talk at the Six Twenty Club hosted by the wonderful Christian Michel.

3 Social Customer Service FAILS By @BarclaysOnline's That Can Help You

By Rob  |  17 Jun 2014, 10:30am  |  Category: Tips

So recently I have had a number of problems with my Barclays Bank account. Not a surprise to many, I'm sure.

They keep blocking my debit cards due to payments they perceive as suspicious. This happened first as a result of one of the many regular monthly payments I make to various hosts such as GitHub. I know, who in tech has heard of GitHub..?

But on Saturday night the same happened after I tried to use Taxi App @Uber. Supposedly Barclays think @Uber are associated with International Terrorism or something... Maybe they've been listening to the London Black Cab drivers... Either way this left me stranded in North London -- I live in South -- with no money and no ride at 1 am... As you can imagine I was slightly annoyed.

So the following morning after a 3 hour journey home I once again took to Twitter to discuss this issue with Barclays. Here is the conversation...

As can be seen. The response from @BarclaysOnline is generic, does not attempt to engage with me and offers no solution to my problem -- or real sympathy. It almost looks automated...

This to me is simply awful. Their actions caused me actual real world problems. Thankfully I am a resourceful man, over 6 foot in height and have a particularly good scowl when required. So when wandering around Tooting on my own looking for another night bus at 3 am I'm usually ok. But imagine if I'd been a young woman...

Is Barclays response appropriate in that context? Probably not...

There are three rules to good customer service on social that I advise @BarclaysOnline to consider...

Engage & Listen: Your customers are actual human beings with actual problems. That's why they're on social media sites like Twitter. So treat them like human beings. Listen to their problems, try to understand the specifics and engage them in a conversation about it. Don't just talk at them or tell them.

Help: You can't always help your customer or user directly. But you can always attempt to. Once the problem has been defined. Connect them with the person or the the resource that can. This might be a free phone number with a specific person or department or a specific help page. Note this does not mean, "here's a link to our FAQ page"... And you certainly don't define the end point for the help process -- see above "2/2".

Value: You want to keep your customers. So show you care and value them. If you make a mistake hold your hands up and offer some form of compensation. It doesn't have to be a lot. Just a little something to take away the bitter after taste of poor service. Just because you work in a semi-monopolised, over regulated industry like British Banking is not an excuse.

If you don't wish to do the following, that is absolutely fine. Your company, your policies. But seriously if you're not going to take social customer service seriously just don't bother. It's only going to make you look even worse.

Start Up Opportunities at Silicon @MilkRoundAbout This Weekend

By Rob  |  7 May 2014, 02:00pm  |  Category: Social Media

I've been invited to attend Silicon @MilkRoundAbout this weekend. It's a great event for start ups and those who would like to work with or for them.

If you're interested in tech and meeting some cool people, why not join me there. And if you need a little more info, here is what the guys at @MilkRoundAbout have to say...

Silicon Milkroundabout’s Startup Jobs Fair is returning to the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London on the10th & 11th of May 2014.

The jobs fair matches vacancies at 150+ of the UK's hottest startups with the finest Product Experts, Designers, Tech Marketers and Developers in London. Take a peek at the jobs on offer.

Spend an afternoon chatting informally to established startup team members over a free coffee or beer!

Apply now at siliconmilkroundabout.com for a place. If your skills match the requirements for the roles on offer, we’ll invite you to come along! It's an exciting opportunity to explore working at a dynamic startup. And it’s 100% free!

Follow on Twitter @Milkroundabout
Join in the conversation #SMR7

Hope to see you there...

Speak soon