Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spot on @badjerry L88K "worms"

rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:56
@KevinAlcena ;)
Dr. Kevin Alcena (@KevinAlcena)
2011-02-23 23:55
@rockingjude That Good!
rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:54
@KevinAlcena Thank you...I needed that ~smiling xoxo
Dr. Kevin Alcena (@KevinAlcena)
2011-02-23 23:53
@rockingjude The Oracle has spoken! To all my twitter family the spiritual sacred order will guide you, prote… (cont) http://deck.ly/~Zvf8e
rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:50
@KevinAlcena I will/am.... xo
Dr. Kevin Alcena (@KevinAlcena)
2011-02-23 23:47
@rockingjude be true to it my dear friend!!
rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:45
@KevinAlcena I may be sporadic but I have a mission ;))
Dr. Kevin Alcena (@KevinAlcena)
2011-02-23 23:44
@rockingjude Yes must not go my dear!!:)
rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:43
@KevinAlcena that's very beautiful Kevin~I'm not going anywhere~hugs
Dr. Kevin Alcena (@KevinAlcena)
2011-02-23 23:39
@rockingjude Ever since the day I met you my world has changed for the better! With you by my side my pains tu… (cont) http://deck.ly/~b2MEf
rockingjude (@rockingjude)
2011-02-23 23:38
I am the Mercury http://bit.ly/f1cI1c and the pain~

edd, edm

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Conversocial & the Benefits of Social Media Management Tools | B2C Marketing Insider

Conversocial & the Benefits of Social Media Management Tools

Following on from our social media management tools wiki we thought it would be nice to catch up with our friend Joshua March, CEO and co-founder of Conversocial about his tool, social media management and the value to brands and businesses.

What do you feel is the most accurate definition of a social media management tool?

Social media management covers quite a wide area. Conversocial focuses on the core communication management through social channels, in terms of team workflow, content publishing and engagement analytics. We call Conversocial a social-media-management-system.

It’s also important to differentiate monitoring tools, that look at what people are saying about you, to management tools, which help with what people are saying to you. In our opinion, if people are saying something directly to you it’s much more business critical than if they’re talking about you generally on the web.

Why do you think they are valuable to brands or businesses (ie, time savers etc)?

Social channels like Facebook and Twitter are different from other marketing channels in two important ways. First, distribution is largely governed by fan engagement. No matter how many fans or followers you have, if they don’t like your content, it won’t be seen.

Almost all engagement with brands happens in the newsfeed – fans rarely go to a Facebook page directly. Facebook explicitly holds updates in the newsfeed for longer if they get more engagement such as comments and likes; and in Twitter, @replies and re-tweets directly increase visibility in the feed. So engagement with content is key – but how do you know how to increase this? Measuring and analysing engagement is therefore key – otherwise brands risk losing out of most of the value in social channels. If they’ve spent a lot of money to build up their fan base, this value can be huge.

Secondly, the nature of social channels is two way. Companies are used to having separate marketing and customer support channels – but in social these are the same. The more you push a Facebook page or a Twitter account for marketing, the more customers will use it to ask questions or grieve their complaints. But, responses from the brand are usually public, and directly from the brand – not a private email from Jenny in customer services. This means that new tools and processes are needed to manage this relationship between the two functions; without it, companies are at series risk of jeopardizing both the marketing value of social channels, and their customer relationships.

Social media management systems like Conversocial also of course save time and make team management easier; but this is secondary to ensuring the marketing and customer services are managed effectively for maximum value.

What do you think is the most accurate way of tracking social media activity without using a tool?

The key metrics are to compare not just fan growth, but also the engagement with content. There’s no use in increasing your fan base if they’re ignoring what you’re saying – unengaged fans have no value.

Explain how Conversocial works and why it is an effective tool for social media management.

Conversocial is a website that connects to your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. It provides tools to help publish content, measures the engagement with content via our own metric – IPM (interactions per thousand fans)- and makes it very easy for a team of people to manage all the incoming comments from fans in terms of moderation and community management workflow.

We work really hard to keep the system as simple and intuitive as possible to allow minimal training, with the tool being very fast to use. One of the moderation teams for a large media brand who use Conversocial for all their fan pages state that they can moderate 1,000 comments an hour using our system, which is pretty fast!

For reporting, we also try and just focus on the most important and useful data – ie the key engagement stats – rather than overwhelming users with everything available. We want to give real actionable data that allows customers to straight away start enhancing the content they publish and increase the engagement with fans, as well as making it easy to generate reports.

What platforms does Conversocial cover?

Right now it covers Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and Facebook comment wall plugins on third party websites. Coming up we have plans to integrate YouTube.

How are you different from other social media management tools on the market?

Our key differentiator is our focus on increasing engagement and large-scale moderation of Facebook pages. There are quite a few tools out there that help with general management of Facebook and Twitter, but none that provide the engagement analysis we do, or that make it so fast and effective to moderate.

Who do you see as your main competitors?

We view CoTweet as our primary competitor; however Vitrue, Buddy Media, and Hootsuite are all in similar spaces, depending on the client requirements.

22 Social Media Management Tools – A Wiki In Development | B2C Marketing Insider

22 Social Media Management Tools – A Wiki In Development

Social media management tools can help businesses listen to, manage, measure and respond to conversations about their brand on the social web.

With more and more social media management tools springing up on the market, it’s hard to keep track of what’s out there. So we’ve come up with a list…

Please think of this list as a kind of “wiki” which we will add to over time. We hope it will eventually become a useful social media management tool resource.

  • Argyle social: Social media marketing platform that helps marketers measure and justify the social channel. The system is built on a tracking and URL-shortener giving the user the ability to track social conversions on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Awareness : On-demand social marketing software  to help brands publish, manage and measure across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, foursquare, and WordPress.
  • Buddy Media: platform of tools allows for Facebook page management and engagement.
  • Context Optional: cross-platform social marketing solution to efficiently build, manage, monitor and measure brand presence across the social web.
  • Conversocial:  helps increase engagement, manage interactions and respond to customers on Twitter and Facebook. It also helps plan  updates and enables you to assess what type of content resonates the most with your fans and followers.
  • CoTweet: enables companies to engage in marketing and response-driven customer service activities on Twitter.
  • Expion: a unified database that aggregates and tracks all employee and customer social interactions to help profile customers, identify advocates and critics, track behaviors and create best employee practices.
  • Hootsuite: one of the few tools that currently allows users to integrate and update across 10 social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc .
  • Involver: provides marketers with a “social markup language”, SML™, an engagement platform and customizable social applications from which to create and monitor content.
  • KeenKong: offers a dashboard like management tool that not only aggregates the conversation from Twitter and Facebook, but tries to make sense of it from Natural Language Processing.
  • MediaFunnel: offers offers brand monitoring, scheduling, multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Objective Marketer: a social media marketing and campaign management solution to engage and reach users on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social channels, it aims to make it easy f to manage multi-channel communication while providing comprehensive analytics and reporting.
  • Postling: allows for  blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts to be managed from a single system.
  • Shoutlet: offers a multi-user application that helps build, engage, and measure social media marketing communication via one platform.
  • SocialTalk: provides integration with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and MoveableType.
  • SocialVolt: a complete social media management platform that integrates the tools needed to engage with clients on the social web.
  • SpredFast : according to Jeremiah Owyang’s blog, (a great resource for finding out more about some of these management tools) SpredFast aim to position their product as collaborative campaign management and offer features such as scheduling content, and features that integrate with events and social stream like features similar to Friendfeed.
  • Sprinklr: Sprinklr’s SIREn (Social Intent Revelation Engine) platform is a comprehensive enterprise grade SaaS social media management system.
  • Strongmail:a traditional email marketing platform that tracks the multi-stage sharing activity of a campaign all the way to conversion and provides feedback on Facebook fan page wall posts.
  • Syncapse: product portfolio includes SocialTALK, a hosted SaaS solution that helps enterprises create, publish and measure their social media content strategy and posting schedule.
  • This moment Distributed Engagement Channel: the system allows you to publish content, moderate user-generated comments and track and optimize channel performance.  They also have features such as ID integration, media handling, and reporting.
  • Vitrue:  integration with Facebook and Twitter, they offer scheduling features, and the ability to link multiple Facebook pages together.

The Importance of Engaging Your Twitter Followers and Facebook Fans | B2C Marketing Insider

The Importance of Engaging Your Twitter Followers and Facebook Fans

An article earlier this week in The Daily Beast outlined a comprehensive study on how exactly Facebook decides what to show you from your friends’ updates in your Top News feed. These findings are especially interesting to businesses that are spending time and resources to leverage Facebook (as well as Twitter) as an integrated piece of their marketing strategy.

In short, the more you interact with your customers and the more they interact with you, the more likely you are to show up in their Top News feed. This may seem logical but I see lots of companies that spend the majority of their time updating their status but not actually interacting with their customers. So if a company has 10,000 people who have Liked them on Facebook and they send out a status update saying they are having a 20% off sale, odds are virtually no one will see this. Unlike Twitter, status updates don’t guarantee any visibility whatsoever.

The study also found that posting links show up more frequently than just posting status updates. This makes sense, as Facebook gives more weight to updates that will drive user engagement and users are more likely to click on links. A status update that includes a link to a landing page for your 20% off sale is more likely to make it into your customers’ Top News feed.

Additionally, user engagement is even higher for posting photos and videos. This means posting a photo or video related to your sale is more likely to be seen by your customers than just a link or a lonely status update.

But the best way to increase your chances of showing up in your customers’ Top News feeds is by getting them to engage with you. This means commenting on what they’re posting and trying to find creative ways to get them to comment on your posts. If you post interesting links to your blog, post them to your Facebook account as well. Those 10 customers who comment today are 10 customers who may see you’re having a sale next week. Engagement equals visibility.

Lastly, The Daily Beast found that (not surprisingly) the more friends someone has the harder it is to break through to their Top News feed. This means that targeting engagement towards your customers with 200 or less friends will be more effective than those with 500+ friends. This same strategy applies to Twitter. Your customers who are only following 50 people are more apt to notice your tweets than those customers who are following 500 people. There’s a lot less noise to get through.

The big takeaway here is that if your resources are limited and you only have a few hours a week to spend on social media, you should spend that time engaging customers that are the most likely to see the content you are posting. This means people with fewer friends and followers. You should also keep in mind that updates on Facebook may not be seen at all while on Twitter your updates are at least visible even if they get lost in the noise – this is why it’s a good idea to tie your Facebook and Twitter accounts together so whatever you post on one shows up on the other.

Author: Keith Baumwald is Director of Marketing at GroundLink, a travel startup based in Manhattan. Follow Keith on Twitter @keeftronics

Popularity: 12% [?]

Social Media: Signs of Addiction | B2C Marketing Insider

Social Media: Signs of Addiction

Social media has made a great impact on our everyday lives. Its widespread use and convenience are now becoming reasons for addiction.

Most common in teens and the middle aged, the excessive use of this is now an issue all around the world.

Some signs that show SM addiction :

  1. You go online first thing in the morning.
  2. You spend more time online than sleeping.
  3. You retweet some non-sense tweets every single time.
  4. You tweet or post everything you do, even if no one is asking you.
  5. Your followers and online friends know where you are at the exact moment because you have posted “Here at ….”
  6. You have accounts on 3 or more social networking sites and log into them on any given day.
  7. You memorize the trending topics on twitter.
  8. You have several lists and groups of friends.
  9. You post something across all your accounts on different sites at the same time.
  10. You once tweeted “I will never use Twitter“, or posted “I am not posting on Facebook“.
  11. You comment on status updates for the sake of commenting.
  12. You hate whales.
  13. You’re still reading this.
  14. The only birds you know are blue birds.
  15. You use twitter in the classroom and tweet about your teacher.
  16. You use Facebook more often than texting.
  17. You can relate to some of the items.
  18. You are disagreeing with me that you are a social media addict.

There are more signs of addiction to SM but I would like to finish and publish this post (i’m not writing a book). I’ll just leave you with these few items to ponder on. Are you one of THEM (I’m not an addict)? I’ll tweet about this.

60 Signs You’re Addicted to Social Media & Twitter | B2C Marketing Insider

60 Signs You’re Addicted to Social Media & Twitter

60 Signs Youre Addicted to Social Media & Twitter Late night tweet sessions. Foursquare swarm parties. Panera Bread meetings at 9 pm and Facebook moments that make you laugh so hard you cry. Your baker knows it, the mailman knows it. You like tweets and they like you. The baker thinks you’re talking about cupcakes and has no idea what Twitter is.

The key is to find the balance between social media addiction and insanity. It’s okay to tweet all night as long as you have some good tweeters beside you, right?

Check out these 60 signs to determine if you may be in fact a social media addict.

Please note, by no means am I saying that being a crazed lunatic tweeter makes you a social media expert or guru. Nor am I endorsing such behavior. I am however, stating it happens to the best of us even if you don’t have the guts to admit it. Not all things on the following list can I say I have experienced, done or participated in. I will tell you that I have in at least half of them. Enjoy and please leave a comment with your own!! icon smile 60 Signs Youre Addicted to Social Media & Twitter

60 Signs You’re Addicted to Social Media and Twitter:

  1. You more often than not talk in 140 character increments.
  2. You forgot how to spell simple 3 letter words like “you” which you now reference as “U”.
  3. You go to the mall for an hour and come home with 10 new blog ideas.
  4. The grocery store clerk, mailman, dry cleaner, and Panera Bread head cook all know your twitter handle.
  5. You have a favorite seat at Starbucks and Panera bread.
  6. You have stayed past closing at least two times at either Panera Bread or Starbucks.
  7. You can’t remember the last time you went to the restroom without your Android or iPhone.
  8. You regularly sit down in front of your desk first thing in the morning while still wearing your jammies, to “send a few tweets” and then hit the gym. Unfortunately you’re usually still there at lunch time.
  9. You are the mayor of Panera Bread, Starbucks, the grocery story, drycleaner and your favorite burger joint.
  10. You refuse to do drive by FourSquare as you want to earn your badges the old school way!
  11. Your kids know the difference between a twit and a tweet.
  12. Your kids could easily describe a retweet, mention, hootsuite, and ping.fm to their friends who have parents who don’t tweet.
  13. Your spouse has threatened to divorce you if you don’t leave your cell phone at home at least one date night a month.
  14. You have real friends in Australia, the UK, Brazil and at least three other countries. You met them all on Twitter.
  15. You know many of your Twitter pals better than you do some neighbors.
  16. You no longer keep track of how many followers you have. It’s the relationships and conversations that truly inspire you.
  17. You love tweetups and don’t understand why the retirement home doesn’t want to host one for your grandma.
  18. Your kids come home from school and ask you how many hits their YouTube video received.
  19. You take a photo of your kids and the first thing they say is “no, you are not putting this one on Facebook or Twitter, seriously!”
  20. Your youngest kid has found a new marketing medium with his/her world of wonder color paintings…. twitter and Twitpic!
  21. You have worked an entire day or at least half of a day in your pajamas when you didn’t plan to do such.
  22. You get excited when a client asks for a social media policy.
  23. You want to do a back flip when you interview a potential new client and they already know what bounce rate is.
  24. You have completely stopped trying to talk even your favorite businesses to get on the social train. You figure it’s their loss, you have more business wanting to hire you than you have time to talk to.
  25. You have mastered tweeting, texting, reading a Inc. magazine and watching CNN all at the same time while on the elliptical.
  26. TV, who has time for TV? You have #FFs to catch up on!
  27. There are some people who tweet you in the morning that can simply make your day!
  28. You have officially stopped doing free lunches. Who has time for lunch anyway!
  29. You no longer attend networking meetings as you honestly don’t need any more clients at the present time.
  30. When you meet with a client now it’s more like an interview as to if you want to take them on or not.
  31. Life is to short to take on clients who simply don’t want to listen to what you know they need to do. If they don’t want to blog or update their website to the current century they can happily move on to your supposed “competitors.”
  32. Your 2011 calendar already looks like a twitter parade.
  33. You know what the tweet parade application is.
  34. You know your Klout score even if you say you don’t care about the numbers.
  35. You don’t send auto DMs.
  36. You took a picture of the Verizon Fios dudes and posted it to Twitpic when they fixed or installed Fios.
  37. You fall asleep on the laptop watching Jimmy Fallon at least once a week.
  38. You would honestly miss your twitter friends if twitter were to go down tomorrow.
  39. You wish people would quit sending you so many emails and just send you a 140 character tweet.
  40. You get excited at the thought of a blank wordpress blog post page ready for you to turn it into a masterpiece at midnight.
  41. When anyone in your neighborhood needs anything to do with the internet they call you.
  42. You still get emails from past colleagues wondering if you could “help them learn” social media. Although that would be much more fun than a “free lunch” with another broke wanna be client you unfortunately don’t have time.
  43. You wish you could spend the majority of your time tweeting for social good. Someday you will.
  44. You won’t let your kids come close to Facebook or Twitter as you know how addictive it can be.
  45. You now are addicted to twitter chats. You can type like a crazy bird with a bunch of other crazy birds.
  46. You get more leads via your online sales funnel than anything you do offline.
  47. Your business truly works on the weekend even when you don’t thanks to Infusionsoft and your favorite news syndication site (mine being Social Media Today)!
  48. You can tell the mood of the twitter verse from just a few seconds of tweeting.
  49. You can retweet that tweet in less than 2 seconds with your eyes closed.
  50. You want to hit yourself on the head every time someone tells you “my clients aren’t on social media.”
  51. You still love teaching newbies how to tweet. Nothing better than hearing those happy words with a big smile “I sent my first tweet!”
  52. You have actually had a client say after the first twitter training session, “now how do I do something to someone, I forgot?”
  53. You dressed as a twitter bird, YouTube channel, Facebook page or iPhone for Halloween.
  54. Your kids know what Friday Follow is.
  55. You have given up trying to get your family to understand what it is you do.
  56. You’d rather tweet than be nosey and look at the neighbors photos on Facebook like all the rest of your neighbors do.
  57. You ordered a custom license plate with your name and 140 on it.
  58. Movies, who has time to see a movie. You’re either with the family, at Church, at the beach or tweeting.
  59. You have written a late night social media addiction blog post at midnight and fell asleep in the middle of it (like I did on this one.)
  60. You made it to the bottom of this list.

Warning:

Newbies to social media, do not try these things at home. Caution should be taken as you enter the world of social media. Make sure you surround yourself with fun, authentic people so that when you are up late night writing blog posts, tweeting and Facebooking you will be surrounded with others just like you. It will give you a false sense of security and sanity which is better than none at all.

Add You Own:

Please add your own social media addict traits. What are the crazy things you do as you live your life as a corporate, small biz or entrepreneur lover of social media?

The Post With All Of 2011′s Tablet and iPad Market Forecasts (Charts!) | B2C Marketing Insider

The Post With All Of 2011′s Tablet and iPad Market Forecasts (Charts!)

Sometimes I feel like I’m back in my high school-era data entry jobs. I’ve collected and charted all of the publicly-available forecasts on the tablet market for 2011 and beyond. Note: This is up to date as of February 22, 2011 (though please notify me of any new/missing forecasts).

It’s also an update to an earlier post I made last November that ranked analyst forecasts for 2010 in order of bullishness.

As I did with my iPad Enterprise & School Deployment List, I may eventually open up the entire Google Spreadsheet for public viewing. In the meantime, here are some charts for your visualization pleasure.

Wall Street’s 2011 Tablet Market Forecasts

Tech Research Firm Forecasts for 2011 Tablet Market

A few things jump out:

  1. ABI Research’s Jeff Orr, who I respect a lot, has the most dour forecast by far.
  2.  The raging bull award goes to FBR Capital’s Craig Berger, who had the cojones to make his 70 million forecast almost 4 months ago. Second place goes to Rhoda Alexander of iSuppli.
  3. I had a theory that well-known analysts or those from the big banks or market research firms would be incentivized to put out cautious numbers for fear of being burnt. With Apple blowing out its Christmas iPad sales forecasts, perhaps they now fear being burnt for being too cautious. See Gartner, iSuppli, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, who are all on the high side.
  4. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray is one of the better-known Apple and iPad bulls. Yet, his latest 2011 forecast for the overall tablet market puts him on the low-end of the market.
  5. There’s no noticeable difference between the average of forecasts between the banking and tech analysts. Both are about 50 million for 2011.
  6. Similarly, there’s no noticeable pattern of forecasts increasing over time, as there was with the 2010 forecasts (when analysts were playing catch-up to the iPad’s strong demand).

And here’s the iPad market forecasts for 2011:

Some notes:

  1. The iPad forecasts fit my theory that the raging bulls will be the smaller, lesser-known analysts/firms with less to lose: Wedge Partners, DRAMexchange, Caris & Co.
  2. Belying his reputation as Apple’s cheerleader on Wall Street, Gene Munster actually has the lowest iPad forecast for 2011. Maybe we should start calling him a Google Bull?

Klout Doesn’t Measure What Really Matters | B2C Marketing Insider

Klout Doesn’t Measure What Really Matters

A few days ago, my good friend Joe Ruiz (@SMSJoe) asked me a question. He asked me how I stay connected with everyone that I do. It’s a question I get now and then. As serendipity would have it, the answer plays perfectly into this weekend’s #usblogs theme, which is how to improve Klout offline.

A bit about Klout

Klout seems to be the topic that won’t die. I am as guilty as everybody. I’ve written about my distaste for the whole concept of Klout, I’ve done a presentation exploring Klout with a more unbiased approach, and now I’m doing this post. Just this week, Mark Schaefer quoted an excellent exploration of Klout from the Boston Globe, Trey Pennington wrote a satirical post about things that are wrong with Klout, and Mack Collier wrote a post taking off on Trey’s post.

That’s a lot of content – and this is by no means an exhaustive search.

Here’s the main thing that bothers me about Klout. Despite all arguments to the contrary, it seems that Klout scores rise the more you tweet. Icing on that cake is how often you get retweeted. I’ve been taking a bit of time off Twitter over the last week or so, and my Klout score (I just checked) has dropped 3 points. In essence, to the point of the #usblogs theme, to get klout, simply being online is a good start.

I have a problem with that.

It’s about real connections

I don’t want to downplay the importance of Twitter for today’s online marketers and business people. It’s immensely important, not to mention pretty darned fun and interesting a lot of the time. But (and to quote Pee Wee Herman, everyone has a big but), you find that the more you get connected on a real basis with people, the less you center your communications on Twitter.

A lot of my communicating with people now happens on their blog sites, on my blog site, in emails, on Facebook, on the phone, or all kinds of other places. We wave to each other in the stream, but if you were to judge my relationships with some of my best buddies, like Suzanne Vara and Maya Paveza, merely by what you see in the Twitter stream, you would probably not think there was much going on there.

That is really how I stay connected with people, and I think that’s how people stay connected to me as well. It’s really not a conscious thing for me. I have been fortunate enough to build relationships via Twitter that I truly care about, so following up with that person is a pleasure, not something I check off of a checklist. Does that connection mean that we support each others’ blog posts? Sure. Does that mean that we tweet each other when we can? Yep. But Twitter – the thing Klout measures most – that’s not where the heart of the online world is headed. To me, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the online world – that’s your really nice car. But you’ve got to be going somewhere exciting for it to be truly worthwhile in the end.

Building Klout offline

Klout emphasizes what it calls “influence,” which has become a tired and controversial buzz word in this space. In my experience and in watching other people who just continue to grow and blossom online, influence is a side effect – a happy coincidence. It’s the relationships and what you do to keep and grow those relationships that really matter. It’s reading a post for someone before they publish it. It’s promoting someone’s e-book to help them out. It’s checking on someone who seems down. All of the things that Klout can’t touch and doesn’t try to touch are what matter the most to me. It may not all be offline, but it’s out of the range of Klout’s radar.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your take!

Image by Franque de Win. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Franque

Social Scoring and the Business Case for Blocking Twitter Spammers | B2C Marketing Insider

Social Scoring and the Business Case for Blocking Twitter Spammers

Judging by her school-issue personal photo, Twana Florance appears to be a mild-mannered, middle-aged matron from Twin Falls, Idaho.  But there is no Twana Florance. Twana is probably some teenager in a Third World country hired to propagate and populate fake Twitter accounts that will later be sold on eBay.

Twitter has done a good job clearing out most of the porn stars and MLM hacks who almost brought the service to its knees by mid-2009. But the new breed of spammer is hiding behind a tender smile like Twana.

For the time being, it’s the stupid tweets that give it away but the spammers will probably get around that soon too. What does it hurt?  What does it matter if spammers trick you into following them?  Believe it or not, blocking spammers like “Twana” might actually lead to important business benefits in the future.  Here’s why.

Social influence and spam

A few months ago my friend Steve Dodd made an interesting observation. Chris Brogan, one of the top five social media bloggers in the world who currently carries enough Twitter followers to form a small nation, tweeted out about a specific issue … and I did too. Steve — who has a great analytical mind — noticed that my message, sent out at the same time, was re-tweeted about the same number of times as Chris. However, the number of RT’s compared to my number of followers was a vastly larger ratio compared to Chris.

“If a higher percentage of people re-tweet your message, wouldn’t this indicate that you are more influential than Chris?” Steve asked.

At first I dismissed this as a mildly-interesting aberration but the more I thought about it, the more I think Steve might be on to something.

One of the reasons Chris has so many followers is that he typically doesn’t block any one. Chris stated at a speech I attended last year that “half the people who follow me are spammers and porn stars.”

In the old days (six months ago) of social influence, having a large number of followers — no matter who they are — was a status symbol. But in this age of algorithms and Klout scores, simply having large numbers of non-human followers could work against you because that “conversation ratio” is going to be a measure of influence.

Here is what the new social scoring systems are reflecting: Spammers don’t engage. Spammer don’t re-tweet. Having spammers among your list of followers will drive your social influence score DOWN.

Ethics of blocking spam

From the beginning, I have done my best to look at the profile of every person who follows me to determine whether I should follow back, just let them follow me, or if I should nuke them.  I probably block about 25 percent of the people who try to follow me because I attract a lot of crap I guess! Yes, this takes a little extra work, but the 18,000 people who follow me are legitimate, real people to the best of my knowledge.

When I adopted this strategy, I didn’t have social scoring systems like Klout in mind. Ejecting spammers was just the right thing to do (and still is) for four reasons:

  1. My Twitter Tribe matters. If I follow you, I choose to do so. No auto-follows, ever. Before I follow, I have read your bio, some of your tweets and probably clicked your link. I have a quality audience and it’s staying that way.
  2. I want an audience to be proud of. This probably sounds old-fashioned but I don’t want to do anything in my life that I wouldn’t be proud to disclose to my children. And if they examined my Twitter audience, I would not want them to see a bunch of nymphs peddling their videos. Anybody can see who you’re following. What does your audience say about you?
  3. I want to protect you. If I block the spamaholics I keep them from my tweets and I keep them, in a small way, from you. I see so many of these folks who copy “Follow Friday” lists trying to lure followers. No. Stay away from my friends dammit.
  4. Because I just do not want to play that game. I’m not going to be passive and imply that what they’re doing is OK.

The business case for blocking

Blocking sends a message and that’s important. But I increasingly believe that having a quality list of followers who actually exist and care about you is going to make a difference because measures of social scoring are going to be a big deal. I recently wrote about the importance of Klout scores and other systems that will emerge. If you missed it, please read it because it’s an important trend that is even having an impact on SEO strategies.

And by the way, Chris (with 167,350 followers) has a Klout score of 84.

Me?  I currently have just 10 percent of the followers Chris has but have a Klout score of 76. My hypothesis is that the quality of my followers is one contributor since I do not pretend for a minute to have the reach or power of Chris Brogan.

I don’t want to turn this into a debate about Klout or its social scoring competitors. Whether you or I philosophically agree with what they do is irrelevant because these systems exist, are growing in importance, and we need to deal with this fact dispassionately.

My point is that there might be a legitimate business case to support a strategy of blocking spammers, as well as an ethical one. What’s your take on it? Does this make sense to you?

Mark Schaefer is a marketing consultant, author and college educator who blogs at {grow}. You can also follow him on Twitter: @markwschaefer.

Feds seek new ways to bypass encryption | Privacy Inc. - CNET News

Another option, Cox said, is to ask software and hardware makers for help, especially when searching someone's house or office and encryption is suspected. "Manufacturers may provide us with assistance," he said. "We've got to make all of those arrangements in advance." (In a 2008 presentation, Cox reportedly alluded to the Turkish government beating a passhprase out of one of the primary ringleaders in the TJ Maxx credit card theft investigation.)

Sometimes, Van Buren said, there's no substitute for what's known as a brute force attack, meaning configuring a program to crack the passphrase by testing all possible combinations. If the phrase is short enough, he said, "there's a reasonable chance that if I do lower upper and numbers I might be able to figure it out."

Finding a seven-character password took three days, but because there are 62 likely combinations (26 uppercase letters, 26 lowercase letters, 10 digits), an eight-character password would take 62 times as long. "All of a sudden I'm looking at close to a year to do that," he said. "That's not feasible."

To avoid brute-force attacks, the Secret Service has found that it's better to seize a computer that's still turned on with the encrypted volume mounted and the encryption key and passphrase still in memory. "Traditional forensics always said pull the plug," Van Buren said. "That's changing. Because of encryption...we need to make sure we do not power the system down before we know what's actually on it."

A team of Princeton University and other researchers published a paper in February 2008 that describes how to bypass encryption products by gaining access to the contents of a computer's RAM--through a mechanism as simple as booting a laptop over a network or from a USB drive--and then scanning for encryption keys.

It seems clear that law enforcement is now doing precisely that. "Our first step is grabbing the volatile memory," Van Burean said. He provided decryption help in the Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez prosecution, and the leaked HBGary e-mail files show he "went through a Responder Pro class about a year ago." Responder Pro is a "memory acquisition software utility" that claims to display "passwords in clear text."

Cox, from the Justice Department's computer crime section, said "there are certain exploits you can use with peripheral devices that will allow you to get in." That seems to be a reference to techniques like one Maximillian Dornseif demonstrated in 2004, which showed how to extract the contents of a computer's memory merely by plugging in an iPod to the Firewire port. A subsequent presentation by "Metlstorm" in 2006 expanded the Firewire attack to Windows-based systems.

And how to make sure that the computer is booted up and turned on? Van Buren said that one technique was to make sure the suspect is logged on, perhaps through an Internet chat, and then send an agent dressed as a UPS driver to the door. Then the hapless computer user is arrested and the contents of his devices are seized.

Configuring email notifications to be friendly but secure | Israeli Software

Configuring email notifications to be friendly but secure

February 17th, 2011 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

I have commented in the past on the generally low security level of Microsoft ASP.Net web applications which stems from the closed Microsoft monoculture and a product strategy that prioritizes ease of use over security and privacy by hiding features and functionality from the user.

In the course of a security audit/penetration test of a social networking Web site this week that was developed and deployed on Ubuntu, I was reminded yet again that we all have something to learn.  Even Linux geeks.

A common Web 2.0 rich Web application system deployment involves a Web server running php and postfix for delivery of  email notifications to Web site members. There are 4 key system requirements for such a deployment:

  • A. Deploy as a null client, i.e as a machine that receives no mail from the network, and does not deliver any mail locally. This is a hugely important requirement to not turning your Web server into a launchpad for spammers.
  • B. Rewrite the default Apache www-data@domain with something more meaningful like
    domain@domain.com without changing PHP code.   This is both a usability issue and a security issue, since it is a bad idea to advertise the fact that your Web site operations are clueless to the point of not knowing how to change default LAMP settings.
  • C. Provide a human-readable From: in the header so that the users of your great Web 2.0 social media app will see real names instead of your domain. This is definitely a usability issue unrelated to security.
  • D. Mask the email addresses of your users so that you don’t disclose personal information. This is a basic data security and privacy requirement.

Here is how you do it:

Configuring Postfix properly will enable you to have a mail server that does not receive mail from the network
and sends mail without the default www-data@domain in the Return-Path:

A. How to configure Postfix as a null client

See Configuring Postfix as a null client
1 /etc/postfix/main.cf:
2     myorigin = example.com
3     relayhost = example.com
4     inet_interfaces = loopback-only
5     local_transport = error:local delivery is disabled
6
7 /etc/postfix/master.cf:
8     Comment out the local delivery agent entry

Translation:
Line 2: Send mail as “user@example.com” (instead of “user@nullclient.example.com”),
so that nothing ever has a reason to send mail to “user@nullclient.example.com”.
Line 3: Forward all mail to the mail server that is responsible for the “example.com” domain.
This prevents mail from getting stuck on the null client if it is turned off while some remote destination is unreachable.
Line 4: Do not accept mail from the network.
Lines 5-8: Disable local mail delivery. All mail goes to the mail server as specified in line 3.

B. How to set Return-Path in mail headers
Rewrite default Apache www-data@domain with something more meaningful like domain@domain.com

We use the Postfix canonical address mapping for local and non-local  addresses. The  mapping  is used  before mail is stored into the queue and replaces all strings found in the header using a simple, yet very powerful find and replace strategy.

Step by step example:
I’m assuming you’re logged into the command line on your Ubuntu box as a non privileged user with sudo privileges
If you don’t know what this means – ask someone to help you.
1) Create a file using your favorite text editor, call it ‘canonical’ (the name is not important) and put in the following:
www-data@domain domain@domain.com
Each line is a /find/replace/ string, so you can use the canonical for almost anything, for example to replace
names like site_manager  with site.manager@corporate_email_domain.com
2) Convert it in db format suitable for Postfix
sudo postmap hash:/etc/postfix/canonical
3) Put the canonical definition into your /etc/postfix/main.cf file like this:
canonical_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/canonical
4) Reload the Postfix server
sudo postfix reload

C. Provide human-readable From:

D. Mask the real email address of the sender

Using PHP mail correctly will enable you to provide a human-readable From and mask the sender email address. In this little PHP code snippet, we assume that  $from is a standard PHP object with a name attribute, $site is a standard PHP object with an email attribute and $to is a valid recipient email address

$f = $from->name.' <'.$site->email.'>'; $headers = 'From: '.$f."\r\n"; mail($to, $subject, $body, $headers);

This is the minimal code to get the job done. More than this and you may be getting into trouble and certainly working too hard.

Most PHP developers use a framework like Yii or CakePHP or Elgg (if you’re writing a social networking application) that stores site-wide definitions like site email and site domain name. Make sure that you have the right value for the $site object. For example, in Elgg, the Site email address is site entity meta data and is set via the Elgg Administrator interface and not stored in a standard settings.php configuration file.

So, make sure you have the right value for the site email,  e.g. domain@domain.com or whatever else you need it to be, otherwise, you will be spending a few hours wondering why your code is not working.

Have fun and make sure you don’t forget that there are both users and attackers out there.