Results tagged “Social Media” from Bill Benac

Marketers goes where the eyeballs are. We look at "social" media, so how can we be surprised by the invasion? But I'm still disappointed when I encounter blatant gaming of the channels that supposedly are trusted sources of information from "people" like us.

L7sWA[1].jpgLet me introduce you to Anne Waterhouse. She lives in New York, and judging by her photo, she's a lovely mix of saucy and innocent (who isn't drawn by that?), and she is of modest means (just like the rest of us!). She tweets as @annewaterhouse about things that interest her nearly 2000 followers. It's good content. Funny posts from Failblog, smart content from Alltop, tech goodness from Mashable, and helpful tips from Lifehacker.

The problem is she isn't real.

I met Anne because yesterday she tweeted about a short video that my cycling buddy made. She picked it up from thought-leader Guy Kawasaki's blog. "How to make better presentations in 2:53 " she said.

Cool! Kawasaki likes Marc's video, and someone shared it on Twitter. When I looked at her Twitter page, I was surprised by the pace at which she posted. How could she consume so much web content? Who was she? Her profile revealed little. I scanned the timestamps, and I realized she had posted in each of the preceding 24 hours. Ah, she's superhuman and doesn't need sleep?

The constantly changing Twitter API now allows you to access the latest 200 tweets from a person using URLs like this: I grabbed her tweets and extracted the timestamps using this:

grep -i pubdate tweets.xml | sed s/".*<pubDate>"//g | sed s/"<\/pubDate>"//g > timestamps.xml

I then brought those into Excel and made histograms by day, then combined them to show all three days overlapping. This amazing woman tweeted 200 times in the past 37 hours. Check it out (or download spreadsheet):

Okay, fine, she has some automated tool that retweets the RSS feeds from her favorite sites. Some of her tweets like this one are generated by That doesn't mean she's not real. Is a real person behind these? Maybe she talks with her friends too? Well, no. In these 200 tweets, I used grep -v to filter out messages that didn't include a link as would come from the RSS feeds, and there was nothing left. I filtered for "@" mentions of other users and found none.

Who set this up? Is this the creation of one of the websites that she links back to? Are they trying to drive their own traffic? The idea is clearly a good one, based on the thousands of people following these garbage tweets. Is there a marketer/exploiter out there who discreetly sells this to websites? "Give me $500 for your own @annewaterhouse. I guarantee she'll share interesting content and garner a following, and this will drive traffic to your site." Does that exploiter use the metrics available from URL shortener sites that generate the links to then charge its customers advertising? "Give me two cents per click into your site." Do they go to the trouble of using so many URL shortener services to make it look less automated?

And to think my friend and I were pleased that she shared a link to his video. Well, I guarantee Guy Kawasaki is real, and he's the one whose opinion matters. Now let's stop thinking about social media and learn how to give better presentations when we're dealing with real people:

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