Social Media Spam Twitter

Avoiding Twitter Spam: How Not To Get Hacked

In the last few weeks, Twitter hacking has run rampant and social spam is spreading faster than ever. While there’s no way to truly ever guarantee you’ll never be affected, most of it can be avoided with some simple insight and a healthy dose of precaution.

Spoiler alert: Stop clicking on links.

What follows is by no means a definitive list, but these tips should help you avoid falling victim to an obvious spam attack and prevent you from subjecting your friends and followers to the same. I’m not revealing any great mysteries here, especially if you’re a veteran Twitter user, however, I’m constantly surprised by whose accounts are spreading spam. It usually means they fell for one of the tricks below.

DM Spam: The most pervasive technique out there right now is a Twitter DM (Direct Message) that comes from one of the people you follow, and contains a link to a purported picture of you, or something that you won’t believe somebody said about you. This attack preys on your insecurities that someone out there is talking trash, or having a laugh at your expense. And it can be especially effective because it comes from someone you follow on Twitter, and presumably have some sort of relationship with, virtual or otherwise.

DM spam can be tricky, since comes from someone you know well, and therefore the message may seem authentic. But all it means is that they were likely fooled by the same scam, clicked the link, then ended up passing along the attack.

The lesson? Don’t click on links. You’ll likely just end up passing that DM along to everyone who follows you.

  • If you get such a DM, delete the conversation, and if you want to be helpful, send an @reply to the offending party and let them know their account is sending spam; they may be unaware it’s happening in real time. Tell them to delete the conversations, and change their password ASAP.

@Reply Spam: The other common method is just a regular @reply to your account from a spam bot. Twitter spam bots (automated accounts) are relatively easy to pick out, although they’re getting more clever and convincing of late. But as a general rule, their avatars are usually blurry photos of attractive women, or the classic blank egg logo.

Before clicking on any link, go to that users profile page, and look at their timeline. What else are they posting? While spammers continue to try to make their bots look and feel more human. Some spam bots will copy tweets from humans. Others will report on social media news as if they’re a social media guru, then sprinkle in spam links every so often.

A few clues that they’re spammers:

  • They repeatedly post the same links and content over and over again.
  • Their posts are non-sequiturs.
  • They post non-conversational @replies.
  • They have zero or very few followers, but a ton of tweets.
  • They’re still using the default egg avatar.
  • They post about making money from home, or other classic spam topics.

So, to recap: don’t click on links. Any other tips I’m forgetting?

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Perks of the Job: Legends Interviews

No matter how cool your job may be, it’s still a job and sometimes you need a reminder of how lucky you are. Well, I got one of those this week when I had the chance to catch up with a trio of Celtics legends, guys who paved the way for the NBA stars of today.

Dave Cowens, JoJo White and Satch Sanders were among the Celtics legends in town for the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s Summer Soiree event last week, and the guys were gracious enough to give us a few minutes for the Celtics digital media outlets. They’re classy guys who enjoy talking about the old days and the legacy they helped to create.

Not every team has this type of history, so we’re fortunate to have so many true icons of the game at our disposal. It’s an honor and pleasure to chat with them and help share their stories with our fans online.

Dave Cowens

JoJo White

Satch Sanders

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Facebook News Feed tweak: UI enhancement or ad platform?

If there’s one thing that drives me crazy about Facebook, it’s their penchant for making drastic changes without notice, or giving user the opportunity to opt out, or ease into said revisions. Their latest revamp of the Chat tool comes to mind; constantly logging me into Facebook Chat whenever I log into Facebook is not only intrusive, but seems like a privacy issue as well.

With that said, Facebook has recently made some other tweaks that are less intrusive, and actually seem to serve some utility. By nature, Facebook has a pretty low signal-to-noise ratio. If you’re being updated about the happenings of 400 “friends”, not to mention a handful of brands, you’re bound to be inundated with notifications in which you’re not particularly interested.

Facebook - Related Instagram posts

Facebook has started to consolidate your news feed items by type, grouping multiple posts from third-party services like Instagram together to cut down on noise.

In the last few weeks, Facebook’s begun grouping news feed updates by type, i.e. all Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter updates are appearing together. They may be from different people or different “circles” of friends, but if six of your friends post Instagram photos to Facebook within a few hours, Facebook is grouping them together and hides all but one (presumably, the most relevant) update. I’ve been unable to find any confirmation behind the methodology used to pick which photo Facebook shows you, but we can safely presume that EdgeRank has something (or everything) to do with it.

While it doesn’t appear there’s a preference for unfolding these types of updates by default, and this behavior may annoy some users who will have to click to expand all of their Instagram-related updates, this would seem to be useful functionality.

Perhaps more interesting, however, is a new type of grouping I discovered Friday night as the Red Sox and Yankees were battling at Fenway Park. Facebook grouped three posts containing the words “Red Sox” from two of my friends and one brand that I follow. They were collected under the heading, “Billy and 2 other friends posted about Boston Red Sox“.

Facebook - Related Instagram posts

By grouping posts from your friends together by topic, Facebook is creating a new opportunity for brands like the Red Sox to get in front of new audiences who may not have been exposed to their Facebook presence. If your friends are talking about the Red Sox, there’s a strong chance you’re also a fan.

This was interesting for a number of reasons, the least of which being that my friend Billy is a loud-mouthed Yankees fan who mentioned that life was good because it was the beginning of August and the “Yankees and Red Sox are playing each other for first place.” More relevant was that Facebook grouped these status updates and included a link to the Boston Red Sox fan page.

Presumably, the next time the Kings of Leon play the TD Garden here in Boston, Facebook will group posts from my friends who are bragging about going to the concert and couple those status updates with a link to the Kings of Leon fan page. That activity could lead to additional ticket sales or incremental growth for the KOL fan page.

It’s a clever way to consolidate noise while helping brands grow their fan pages when they’re highly relevant in a specific community at a specific time. What’s not clear is whether this new feature is part of the “Sponsored Stories” ad product that Facebook introduced earlier this year. If you’re unfamiliar, Sponsored Stories creates ads in the sidebar that include your friends’ updates saying they went to Starbucks, with a link to the Starbucks fan page. Starbucks has paid for this ad to appear, and it’s one of many ways they continue to grow their Facebook fan base by targeting the friends of fans of their Facebook page.

So is this new News Feed functionality a new advertising platform (or an expansion of Sponsored Stories), or simply a consolidation mechanism?

My guess? It’s probably both.

Think of it like Twitter’s trending topics functionality, but with a much more viral impact. After all, if my friends are fans of the Red Sox or Kings of Leon, there’s a good chance I have interest in them as well. And while the traditional Sponsored Stories layout in the right hand side featuring a logo is an obvious ad, this new consolidation of related topics is a much more subtle approach that could prove more effective at generating click-throughs and “likes”, simply because it doesn’t look like an ad.

Either way, it’s an interesting development for the News Feed that’s got monetization potential for Facebook — if they haven’t sold it already, that is.

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10 Questions on Social Media with Our Lady Peace’s Jeremy Taggart

While social media’s established a strong foothold in the sports world, I’m always fascinated by how every day people use it. You know, people who aren’t digital marketers, public relations reps, journalists, or @Ochocinco, for that matter.

Along those lines, one of the cool things about Twitter is that you can interact with people of all walks of life, and people with whom you’d otherwise probably never come into contact.

Before last weekend, the only time I’d “interacted” with Jeremy Taggart, it was a very one-sided experience. I’d went to go see his band, Our Lady Peace, at the Webster Theatre in Hartford, CT for a small concert with about 1,000 other people. Taggart, 36, has been drumming for OLP since 1993, and has played on all seven of the band’s studio albums.

Jeremy Taggart - Our Lady Peace

Jeremy Taggart has been drumming for Canadian rock band Our Lady Peace since 1993.

The band has enjoyed plenty of success, perhaps best known for their 2002 singles “Somewhere Out There” and “Innocent” off the Gravity album. They’re back in the studio now working on their eighth studio release.

As for Taggart, he’s one of maybe 1,400 people or so I’m following on Twitter, but one I follow with greater interest than most as the drummer for one of my favorite musical acts. But it became more interesting when I received a follow back from Taggart a week ago. I had DM’d him and thanked him for following, and a dialogue ensued, covering his interest in basketball and golf, and a few questions about when the band hoped to return to the Boston area.

When he’s not drumming for OLP, Taggart is involved in radio and TV programs, and also gives drum lessons. He’s a busy guy as you’d imagine, and he’s by no means a Twitter addict, but social media does have a utility for him, whether it’s for interacting with fans or just keeping up with the PGA Tour.

I emailed 10 questions to Taggart to learn more about what social media means to his life and endeavors. His measured responses are indicative of a busy guy who finds value in Twitter and other social media outlets, but also represent a realistic take on their overall importance in society. That’s something I think we tend to lose perspective on as digital marketing pros who spent all day living and breathing these technologies.

Tell me a little bit about how you first got into Twitter and social media. Have you always been into technology?

“Not much for the technology, but I’ve always had something to say. Twitter allows a tiny opportunity to be creative.”

You’re actively involved in TV and radio shows, and teaching drum lessons as well, so how does the medium work for you in those pursuits?

“It’s great for informing people with all of my endeavors. I’ve crossed Canada doing drum clinics; without Twitter and Facebook, nobody would have come. It was packed from people telling (other) people online.”

You follow a lot of sports related people on Twitter, especially golf, some humor feeds, and other bands as well. What do you think that people/feeds that someone follows says about them? And what do you get out of Twitter?

“For sure it says something. It’s one’s taste. I’m a drumming golfer who loves baseball and humor!”

How often do you check Twitter? Are you checking throughout the day, or just whenever someone tweets at you?

“Once a day usually.”

I see that points to your mySpace page. While mySpace gets almost no publicity these days among digital gurus, is it still a viable platform for musicians to connect with fans? And how do you see yourself or the band using Facebook, Google+ or newer social networks for connecting with fans and promoting albums and touring?

“That is just because I haven’t updated that site in a while! Social media is essential to bands nowadays.”

What does social media mean to a band like Our Lady Peace? You guys have enjoyed some major success through the years, but radio airplay and the music industry in general seems much different now, especially if you’re not a hip hop or pop act. Do you see social media playing a major role in how the band promotes itself these days?

Our Lady Peace

Our Lady Peace

“It’s free advertising for smart publicity departments. As much as I can’t stand the constant updating, it’s how we find out about things these days across the board.”

How much of an active role do you guys in the band take in this process? Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace’s lead singer) seems to be pretty active on Twitter as well, and if I remember correctly a few years ago, you guys let fans vote through your website on which album they wanted you guys to recreate in a live show…

“We all are pretty active. We have always done tests with fans to find out what they want, and they don’t have a problem telling us when we ask!”

Bands like U2 spend millions of dollars on elaborate staging and technology for megatours that play to 70,000 people a night, but can you imagine doing something like asking fans at an OLP concert to tweet in setlist requests, or using social media to change the live experience?

“We are pretty good at making our own set lists. There are boundaries. Ha ha!”

Being active on Twitter, do you find yourself having dialogues with OLP fans? How has that changed the relationship between a band and its fan base?

“It just makes it quicker and easier to get info to and from them. I’m not sure whether it’s changed anything though.”

And finally, Spiritual Machines contemplates a world in which computers and technology start taking over our lives, blurring the lines between man and machine. With all of the data that we’re contributing to social networks, and the rapid advance of technology, is that idea any more scary than it was when you guys released that album in 2000? Are we really screwed in 2029?

“We are getting close, and I’m sure we will eventually merge with technology. Everybody is so afraid to die these days it’s insane. Yes. Overpopulation will eventually be the straw to make the camel buck our asses off. Then the world will be able to breath again. That will be nice.”