Twitter is Too Big for Ashton

“Up until today, I have posted virtually every one of my tweets on my own, but clearly the platform has become too big to be managed by a single individual.” –

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did I read that right? One person can’t keep up with their own Twitter account?

Apparently that’s Ashton Kutcher’s new opinion based on the fact that he got panned for what E! described as an “ill-considered pro-Joe Paterno tweet.” So, just because he gets bad reactions to one tweet he’s going to turn over his twitter account to his PR team? Seems a bit over-reactive to me.

Surely he can’t think he’s the only one who’s tweeted something they regretted. I’ve done it myself, albeit to a much smaller audience. The fact is, many have gone before him (James Andrews). Some have had a hard recovery, but most been able to overcome, a few even capitalize (Red Cross), on mistakes.

“A collection of over 8 million followers is not to be taken for granted. I feel responsible to deliver informed opinions and not spread gossip or rumors through my twitter feed.” –

Now that I can agree with, although I have to suspect due to the continued existence of celebrity rags at the grocery checkout, a great many people who follow someone like Ashton are actually hoping for a bit of that gossip.

To me, the strength of twitter has always been the ability to eliminate barriers and connect with people directly. Granted, someone with eight million followers is going to have a hard time going 1×1 with them all, but at least he was trying.

Not a big follower of celebrities on Twitter, I did still love the way he, Demi and other members of their family and close friends embraced the platform and seemed to understand that same strength I see. But, now that appears to be lost.

“While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I’ve come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I’m going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content. My sincere apologies to anyone who I offended. It was a mistake that will not happen again.” –

Whether or not a fan or a follower, I still feel this is a loss. Don’t run away Ashton. I mean, it’s not like you can’t say or do something stupid somewhere else (Rolling Stone, Oprah’s couch). Keep twitter real.


Lessons Learned from a Muppet Hangout

In case you missed it yesterday, Google+ launched their first official pages. Pages are extremely similar to profiles, but are for businesses and have some key differences from personal profiles:

  • Pages cant add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned. Learn more.
  • Pages can be made for a variety of different entities whereas profiles can only be made for people.
  • The default privacy setting for elements on your page profile is public.
  • Pages have the +1 button.
  • Pages cant +1 other pages, nor can they +1 stuff on the Web.Pages cant play games.
  • Pages dont have the option to share to Extended circles.
  • Pages dont receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
  • Pages cant hangout on a mobile device.
  • Local pages have special fields that help people find the business physical location.

I was fortunate to be part of a great team that had been working for many months behind the scenes to prepare the +Dell page for launch day. One of the things weve been planning related to the page launch is more hangouts.

Several Dell employees, and our iconic leader Michael Dell, have already been holding Google+ hangouts for a while now, but we thought a few timed to the new page launch would be a good way to showcase what makes G+ different from our pages and accounts on other social networks. We werent the only ones thinking that.

Its time to put on makeup. Its time to dress up right

Another thing that would probably be hard for you to miss lately is the fact that those timeless Muppets have a new movie coming out. They were also quick to leverage G+ pages to help promote that movie and soon after launch announced that they would be doing a hangout.

So, with three nine-year-old girls excitedly watching over my shoulder (this is soooo exciting! oh, I need to fix my hair! I LOVE the Muppets!), I eagerly logged into Google+ at the appointed hour. I knew there were limits to how many people can get into a hangout, so I warned them we might not get in, but got rather excited myself when it looked like we might.

I soon realized that what we were viewing, however, was not an actual hangout, but rather a video stream of a hangout just between the Muppets and their real-life co-stars not a hangout with the general public as I and the more than 16,000 other people who at that time had circled the Muppets page expected.

It didnt take long for others to begin to realize this, too, and a flurry of negative comments began:Comments on the Muppets G+ Page

Some visitors, obviously new to G+, thought the video feed was cool because it was supposedly live, but those familiar with G+ knew it wasnt a real hangout there was no join the hangout button on the Muppet page.

So, we walked away and enjoyed our dinner. If it was just video, we could watch at our convenience.

But, about 30 minutes later I returned out of curiosity and found that they had switched to a real hangout. Of course, it immediately filled with the maximum of 10 people. I still kept hitting the try again button just in case I got lucky, but apparently only one person ever left the hangout, so only a total of 11 people actually got to hang with the Muppets. At least two, possibly three, of them apparently work at Google — a fact that was quickly noticed and drew comments.

Tips for a more celebrational, Muppetational hangout

So, what are the lessons learned here for other brands and businesses that want leverage hangouts?

Dont promise more than you can to deliver. If it had been clearly stated to be a viewing of the cast hanging out with each other, the confusion of visitors wondering how to join, and their subsequent disappointment when they realized they couldnt, would have been avoided.

Dont expect everyone to know how a hangout works. Google+ is still relatively new, and even those who created accounts before now have probably not leveraged all the functionality. When the real hangout did start, many commented on the frustration of having to download a plugin. Let everyone know theyll need to prep download plugin, check microphone, etc.

Explain how streaming can help others join the fun. Until the limits are raised on how many people can join a hangout, video streaming is a beneficial way to allow more people to see whats happening. Position this as an alternative, though, rather than using it as the primary means of communicating. Engaging with others is the primary goal not pushing out content.

Dont fill all your available spaces with your own people. Maybe the Googlers in the Muppet hangout had the same opportunity the general public had to join. Or, maybe they were providing assistance because the Muppet team wasnt well-versed on how to conduct the hangout. Either way, it left a bad impression and is a warning that with such a small limit on how many can join a hangout, you dont want to fill it up with your own employees and create an image that youre only talking to yourself.

The main thing is lots of up-front communication to your audience. The more they know about what will be happening and how best to participate, the smoother everything will go. And, be sure you’re interacting directly with people to avoid the impression one fan expressed by describing the Muppet hangout as “a media/pr blitz with little consideration for the fans.

Im sure there are others out there with more experience than I have with hangouts, though, so any and all other tips you have for a celebrational hangout are welcome! | Lessons Learned from a Muppet Hangout

Would You Encourage Your Child Break the Law?

On first look, the headline of this post may seem like a black & white answer, but it’s really a loaded question according to some of the latest research released by social media scholar, youth researcher & advocate danah boyd.
Unintended consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

The recent release of  “Unintended consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act‘” by boyd, Eszter Hargittai, Jason Schultz and John Palfrey generated a lot of interest.

The blog All Facebook said that doing so was maybe “not as bad as parents buying beer for their kids under age 21 or cigarettes for those under 18,” but all three do require parents displaying a lack of respect for rules to the children they expect to follow their rules.

One commenter on that blog asked “how else are they going to stay in touch with their friends in this digital age?” Several others felt it was OK if they were actively monitoring their child’s site and had the account password (as if that couldn’t be changed when the kid decided to lock mom out).

But another raised a great point: “While I know that it seems safe to have a child on facebook and parents say they are monitoring their childs FB …I don’t know how many are ACTUALLY doing it. Or how many know how to effectively protect their child on facebook.”

This one, however, is the comment I think gets back to how grey the answer is to the seemingly black & white question I posed: “I have never thought about if i would break similar age rules in other areas. In almost every other area i would never even think about breaking the rules. Interesting why it’s ok with me with facebook… ”

So what rule is being broken? Well, there are really a couple of them. First is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mentioned in the research. This Act became effective back in April 2000 and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
It basically says that if a website has visitors under 13 and collects any information from them it must use “reasonable procedures” to ensure they are getting permission from the child’s parent. These procedures may include:

  • obtaining a signed form from the parent via postal mail or facsimile;
  • accepting and verifying a credit card number;
  • taking calls from parents on a toll-free telephone number staffed by trained personnel;
  • email accompanied by digital signature;
  • email accompanied by a PIN or password obtained through one of the verification methods above.

All of those, however, require a certain amount of administration and personnel to manage that many social media outlets do not have or want to hire to make sure all the kids under 13 have parental permission. That’s why sites like Facebook simply say they don’t allow anyone under 13 on them.

And that is the second rule being deliberately broken by 68 percent of those surveyed in the research that reported their child joined Facebook before the age of 13.

It’s worth noting that this research was supported by Microsoft Research. This gives Digital Democracy the feeling that “this study is an industry-funded attack against the current FTC proceedings that will ensure that children cannot be targeted via mobile and location data services or be the victims of companies engaged in behavioral targeting.”

But, whether you are for or against COPPA, the fact that half (55%) of parents of 12-year-olds reported their child has a Facebook account, most (82%) knew when their child signed up, and most (76%) also assisted their 12-year old in creating the account should make you stop and ponder.

My own nine-year-old girl has friends who already have Facebook pages, so I’ve faced the request join those numbers. My stance is that the rule is 13, so not until she’s 13. Not to cast any stones at others, but simply because I want to set an example for her to follow rules.

Even though that’s my current position, we’ve still already had frequent talks about what she should or shouldn’t share online. Those who remember when the two of us were touring kids virtual worlds will know why. Although many protections are in place and as much as I try to monitor (like many parents of young Facebookers), I know I can’t always be there, so talking early and often is my plan.

What’s your plan for preparing your kids for online interactions? All suggestions welcome!