|Did you ever have that idea? You know, the one that started off as a random thought that sounded so perfect when it rattled around in your head? How the idea got parsed, shared or acted on are another thing altogether, and this, is where the inspiration to this post may be found. Namely, the inaction that follows many brilliant ideas that one could claim as there own.|
Except for the fact that someone else acts on that idea and will gladly take all the credit for you.
One of the great things about social media (and there are many) is how opinion and insight become a part of the collective conscience. And the amazing way organic thoughts and opinions are co-opted rather simply through the function of sharing, and facilitated through the break-neck speed of syndication. One of the best reasons to monitor social media has to do with the way knowledge transfer and shifts in cultural awareness can potentially translate into new and marketable insights and technologies.
There are many everyday examples of social media sites that have taken those thoughts and ideas shared by the crowds to the next level. In the category of pro-consumer resources, there are, to name just a few, review/testimonial sites, fan sites and hack sites (in the context of a piece or body of work that produces something that is desired, wanted or needed by a community of users). The "hack" phenomenon is something that continues to fascinate because it gives us all a peek into both, the resourceful nature of consumers, and the democratized tendencies of social media.
So should it stand to reason that if a consumer needs to take their own initiative to make consumer goods function or work better, that this happens because companies aren't listening to what people actually want or need? Perhaps, and I think there is some truth in the details, especially when looking at the example of fan-sites and how they are able to capture the imagination and creativity of online audiences in ways that the companies who produce the goods being hacked never dreamed possible. In such situations, there is an inclination and maybe an overall tendency to overlook or shut out the ideas that take shape and form online.
It also stands to be reasoned that not all thoughts and opinions are going to be the next best social media idea, however neither should all of it be dismissed at wholesale. The value of having a trend, industry or brand monitoring strategy in place is found in gauging those opinions - it follows that the listening, teasing out of promise and meaning is where the best social media ideas are born. I've seen it go both ways, and more than I'd care to share in the direction of corporate blinkers and muted hearing coming in the way of something great.
Don't get caught looking away, otherwise what happens is the same deflated feeling that overcomes someone when they have a "hey, that was my idea" moment. Except when it happens with a social media idea that could have been born with a little investment in monitoring online thoughts or opinions, it's an alarm of lost opportunity that rings around the world. And you can bet that everyone online that you wouldn't want to see or hear it will be paying attention and taking notes.
I stumbled on a tweet earlier this afternoon which really caught my attention. I was reserved about blogging on the matter, but really felt the message to be too important to not bring it out in the open. It started with a tweet from Matt Ridings (@techgeurilla) which drew attention to a blog site which was scraping Olivier Blanchard's (@thebrandbuilder) blog post:
I don't want to draw any more attention than needed to the scraped post - suffice it to say that I found the idea of a company copying a post written by Olivier word for word on their own blog to be beyond belief. And as unbelievable as it may sound, it appears they have copied more than one of Olivier's posts.
Plagiarism by Any Other Name
In my second year of University, I decided to specialize in something so I chose to do a major in Public Policy and Administration. It was a fancier way of saying I was going to major in Political Science. The introductory core course was taught by a tough but fair professor. She was extremely bright, and was fast approaching tenure at the University.
It was nearing the end of the school year, and she had been prepping us for weeks on a paper that was going to make up a huge part of our grade. Because it was a core course, we needed to score a B or higher in order to stay in the program, and while I probably made it sound like a bird course, it was actually a fairly competitive program, only second to the University's business program.
Many early warnings and instructional sessions took place leading up to that important paper - everything from the "how to's" of writing an essay right through to proper attribution and sourcing of reference material. York University defines plagiarism as "the practice of claiming, or implying, original authorship of (or incorporating material from) someone else's written or creative work, in whole or in part, into one's own without adequate acknowledgement."
I'll never forget the feeling when I entered the classroom and watched/heard the department head giving a very serious and stern lecture the day we were expecting our essays back. 70% of the class had been caught for plagiarizing - that amounted to close to 200 students. I was panicking so hard that day, trying desperately to recall what I had written, and hoping I wasn't one of those students. Thankfully, I wasn't, and many not only failed the course, but were facing academic probabtion due to the severity of the offense. I'll return back to the rest of this story later in the post.
Uniqueness and Creativity
With the amount of social media monitoring we perform, it isn't unusual to stumble upon scraped posts originating from servers sprawled all over Eastern European countries. In cases such as these, copyright on the Web can be tricky business because laws written in one country carry little or no weight in other parts of the world. This particular incident is a little different from the kind of blog scraping we see, and that's because it points to a marketing and design agency based out of Portland, Oregon. And yet despite the fact that it's a company on American soil, it would seem that many of the back and forth chats with Olivier and Matt earlier, online scraping and/or plagiarizing isn't anything new and it's happened to quite a few other well known bloggers.
Flattery or Dishonesty
As a sideline observer to this whole notion of "imitation as the best form of flattery" I must admit that I find nothing flattering about it. Outside of the ethical wrongdoing, I'd have to think that the worst part of being caught plagiarizing is that you're really admitting you don't have anything unique or creative to contribute. But how is an offender made to realize that ripping off material and claiming it as their own is unacceptable and does more reputational harm than good?
It appears in this case, the best thing to do would be to communicate with the company, requesting that they either alter their approach or altogether stop scraping content that doesn't rightfully belong to them. I've read suggestions about reporting scraping sites (i.e if they use AdSense, reporting it to Google) or alerting the hosting company they use about their activities. I'll leave the litigious aspects of copyright infringement to the lawyers.
Make Waves and Drown
Currently, a search on the title of Olivier's post shows 6 of the top 10 results referring to the original post. This 60/40 split makes me wonder whether situations like this hurt bloggers search rankings. Whether or not they are aware of the scraping, I'd have to believe that content readers will figure it out most of the time for themselves. But with all the changes in social media influencing search rankings, and Twitter spam getting its fair share of the credit that in the past would more appropriately reward blogger originality and creativity, is there an SERM risk in allowing incidents like this to go on without penalty? And what, if anything, can be done to stop it from happening?
Going back to the story about the students from my University class who were caught plagiarizing, they didn't fare all that well after being caught. In fact, there were rumors that many of the students parents ended-up complaining about the situation, which unfortunately led to the professor being dismissed from the program, and not getting tenure. In retrospect, it seems entirely unjust that the professor was caught in the crossfire, especially when all she wanted to do was make sure our academic prosperity was founded on principles of honesty and integrity. The experience left a permanent impression about the consequences of plagiarism, and this most recent incident with copying Olivier's blog post leaves me wondering whether the social Web's evolution will be built on unearned reputations, false claims of ownership, or rather, the kind of imagination and creativity which will give it dynamic staying power, and eventually rids scraping and plagiarism for good.
It's day 51 according to CNN and with all the coverage on the BP gulf-spill it has become impossible to not consider the magnitude of this catastrophe. I struggled with the idea of posting on a topic which is taking a significant environmental and emotional toll, but it's one that had me thinking about sharing two hot button topics - online reputations and auto-sentiment.
This discovery started back in April when I tweeted about auto-sentiment, and joked how saying sorry seemed to imply a degree of reputational liability:
The link in the tweet was referencing how a number of tweets which included the word "sorry" were automatically flagged negative using Twitter Sentiment's search tool.
I referred to it in a joking manner then, and in the past I have certainly made my views and opinions known on the role of forgiveness in social media. No doubt that there certainly has been enough coverage on the accuracy of auto-sentiment or lack of the same - with the more extreme views calling for a complete overhaul.
But the question then still rings true now: isn't auto-sentiment human assisted and directed algorithmic reputational scoring anyway?
Sadly, it seems to have taken a "BP gulf spill" to Fonz-smack the auto-sentiment jukebox:
I've always believed silence being far more damaging than openly admitting you made a mistake. With BP's "media management" or lack of accepting blame in this catastrophic event, perhaps we find the previously sinking accuracy of auto-sentiment turning the tide with spot-on timeliness.
Anyone who has ever been tasked with the duty of monitoring social media would have little if any hesitation endorsing it as an enabler to informing business strategy and decision.
A sentiment which I and others unanimously agreed with - in fact shortly afterward, @Marc_Meyer mentioned he had a good friend at IBM who he would talk to. If you're reading this Marc, please feel free to tap me on Twitter if it turns into a chat hosted by your friend.
Now while the folks following the #monitoring chat yesterday all seemed to get how social media monitoring fits into the business intelligence (BI) category, I've had a few experiences that would suggest otherwise.
Now before I jump into describing the flipside, I believe it would be valid to draw in some of the overtones on this subject. There is the whole traditional analytics vs. risk mitigation that brushes across the social media monitoring and sentiment analysis landscape. And then, there is a collective wisdom that warns about regulation, efficiency (or lack thereof) of managing volumes of data and requiring human review and double checking for precision, consistency and accurate analysis.
These are all fundamental elements in understanding how social media monitoring ought to evolve to be versatile enough to tackle any/all business needs and requirements. A worthy footnote in the discussion concerns the matter of regulation - on this @deanmeistr tweets:
I especially liked @deanmeistr use of the word cautious, because that is exactly the correct term to describe my experiences in talking to business intelligence folks.
On to the housekeeping: social media as a whole gets a bad rap, and the truth is a lot of the flack is justified. The same rap sheet that follows traditional media concerning honest, unbiased, unsanitized joursnalism sometimes applies here, however even more concerning is that a growing number of people think social media equals quick and easy cash, with no effort required. Insert sponsored posts into the mix, and you get honesty and accuracy thrown under the BI bus.
I don't want to turn this into a finger pointing session, however we can't overlook the fact that the FTC's decision to crack down on blogger payola compounds this perception problem.
I also want to express the fact that I have my own opinions on the subject, but rather than choosing to express them openly and potentially stifle the discussion with my own biases, I genuinely am interested in hearing the opinions of others on the matter.
What sorts of things can we do, say or demonstrate to change this external perception towards social media, and show others that social media monitoring deserves the attention of key influencers in the business intelligence community?
|I was directed to a TechCrunch's article by @autom8 (thanks for the link share Autom). The sentiment seemingly promoting this idea of overlooking indiscretions and one's online reputation. I also noticed @andybeal tweeting about the article, describing how|
the era of "desensitized online faux pas" (something he thinks will inevitably happen) might already be here.
I might be alone, but I find the title and overall sentiment to be quite distressing and dismissive. Look, I get how forgiving a faux pas happens within social media, but the act of forgiving or reconciling more serious transgressions and/or missteps is not a given, and is something that still requires earning audience trust. And I also understand how people forget with the passage of time - one only needs to cite an example of the way political blunders become a distant memory come the next election.
Perhaps what the article (and @andybeal's tweet) is suggesting is a reputation management future where the social Web is inundated with so many human transactions and experiences that the negative incident ratio of a company or brand becomes less important in informing consumer choices.
The slippery slope to all these ways of thinking is a reputation scattered in the wind, and a misguided, reckless abandonment of common sense, where we actually begin to buy this notion that audiences will tolerate a brand that appears to be stumbling too often out of a hot kitchen scenario, with a reputation constantly in need of a fix.
It's one thing to forgive a faux pas, and altogether a different story when you're promoting the idea of overlooking indiscretions at wholesale. I can't help but think that this view is akin to promoting heavy drinking behind the wheel while driving an online reputation monitoring and engagement strategy - NEVER a good idea.
|We often describe topics that are awkward or uncomfortable to talk about with others in a social setting as "elephants in the room." They are weighty and heavy topics requiring a thoughtful and attentive exchange of ideas and opinions to stimulate|
the kind of discussion capable of teasing out working solutions. Overlooking or ignoring the elephant is never a wise thing to do.
Over the last few years we have been noticing a significant absence of dialogue concerning malware threats and its potential hinderance on social media monitoring. A recent Cisco report touches on this topic in an effective way and I would suggest visiting the link to read more on the topic. There are many important insights to draw from the posts interview format, but the one quote which really caught my attention was this:
"So a couple of things here strike me. One that strikes me is that the criminals obviously are going where consumers are going. Consumers want more online banking, the criminals are going there; the consumer wants to be active in social networks, the criminals are going there."
After reading this statement, it makes logical sense that threats of malware will follow us in areas of the Web where consumer conversations are most likely to happen. If the threat of their potential emergence hinges on the people factor, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and every corner of the online terrain, wherever people are likely to meet and converse can potentially become targets and primary places for suspicious activity.
Taking this concept toward the path of logical conclusion, if the goal of monitoring is to catch every online mention, it will not be a question of how or why, but when and if we are capable of responding to the attack quickly and effectively when it happens. Overlooking its importance now will inevitably arouse an untenable level of scrutiny directed at vendors, consultants and firms offering monitoring solutions and services. Unless a dialogue exists where we can trace and pick apart the types of suspicious activity going on in social media, we can't possibly understand what hit us, much less be able to reason or explain how it was allowed to happen.
In the last year, there has been a noticeable and overarching preoccupation with measurement and ROI, and if real effort and investment is being earmarked towards making advancements in the brand reputation and social media monitoring industry, then the threat of malware in social media is an important topic we cannot afford to exclude.
In the interest of initiating the dialogue, I will link share a past post where we talk about something we call malware-roulette (7th paragraph from the top). We've also voiced our concern with url shortening services. In the past year, we announced our move towards using our own proprietary url sharing service because we had noticed several of our past tweets being flagged as suspicious when appearing in Google search results.
Since 2008 we have put in place a quarantine area where suspicious link activity can be safely stored and analysed by our team. None of these incidents appear in our client consoles. We do report more serious cases to our clients in the interest of keeping them informed and for preventative reasons, on the off-chance they happen to stumble on these incidents while surfing the Web outside of our system. Both the quarantine and reporting mechanisms help to ensure the effective monitoring of patterns suggesting the online replication or mirroring of incidents. The single best ally to safeguarding our subscribers from malware threats is our offering of human review. This step on its own is what allows us to effectively sniff out and block any/all incidents that computational algorithms, filters and machine logic aren't suitably equipped to detect.
We'd like to hear your opinions, suggestions and even working models that have effectively helped you remove the threat of malware from the task of social media monitoring.
RepuTrack™ monitors online media from Web sites, blogs, message boards, forums, chatrooms, microblogs, social networking sites, video and images worldwide.
To schedule a free online-demonstration of RepuTrack™, click here.