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11.02.2016In the world of social media management, sometimes you encounter people who don't quite get it. And that's OK. But sometimes you encounter the "collateral damage" that those people do. So, here's a brief Public Service Announcement on how Twitter blocking works, and might have unintended consequences for you and the people who rely on you.
Here's the background: I had seen an interesting exchange between two Ed Tech personalities: Shelly Terrell publicly complained that someone had @-messaged her (a public "nod" or "head's up" on Twitter and other social media platforms). She asked that they direct-message her instead.
That's a really odd thing to say.
Sure, you can use Twitter however you want to, but that's really not what it was designed for. Or, at least, it's unusual to complain that someone is using a key notification feature of it; @-messages were really early innovation and were quickly folded into the platform.
Since Twitter is a public forum, and is designed to be public, and this was a strange conversation to be having in public, I thought it was worth a mention:
Eric M. Larson (@emlarson)
It was just a throwaway Tweet, I didn't give a second thought.
This morning, I encountered a tweet about a conference. Actually, it was a retweet about a conference, thanks to SimpleK12. And the strange thing was that the tweet content showed up as "This Tweet is unavailable."
That stands out as unusual.
So I clicked through, and it turns out that Tarrell blocked me.
"Blocking" on Twitter is much more aggressive than "Muting". If you got tired of seeing my tweets related to Richard Marx, for totally-not-quite hypothetical example, you could "mute" me and I simply wouldn't show up in your feed. It controls what you see. But a "block" actually prevents any contact, including the fact that the blocked person can't see anything that you post.
But there are two problems with that.
The first is that a blocked person can totally see everything that you post, simply by not being logged in to Twitter. Unless you have a private Twitter feed, which means you're using Twitter in a sanctioned but totally different way than the public stream it was built to be, blocking doesn't make any sense. It's a placebo against bullying and harassment, but there are plenty of other options to engage in bullying and harassing if someone's stream is public.
The bigger issue in this case is that the block will follow down a re-tweet path, and people who retweet you might not even have their tweets displayed to people they intend.
Let me explain.
Terrell is keynoting a conference. SimpleK12 mentioned that in their Tweet and linked to it, but Twitter couldn't display Terrell's content to me (because she blocked me, and that's what blocks do), so I got the "This Tweet is unavailable."
But what the conference host might not realize is that their re-Tweets of Terrell aren't even visible to those in their target audience (me) if Terrell has blocked them.
"Really? No way!" Yup.
Here's an example. Here's what they are recent tweets look like to those who haven't offended or antagonized Terrell:
That's since looking Tweet! Good headline, promotes Routledge, tells me Shelley Sanchez is the keynote speaker. Well done!
But that's not what I see. What I see is:
Without knowing enough about Twitter to know how its Blocking feature works, that just looks... Broken? Incompetent? Expired? Cancelled?
It certainly doesn't get my attention or encourage me to spread the word about the conference.
This doesn't affect me in the least (if it weren't for scheduling conflict, I still couldn't attend this particular conference in Ontario because I don't have a current passport), but most conference organizers wouldn't opt to hire a keynote speaker who has a propensity for running around trying to throw hoods over potential attendees' heads.
So, how do you fix this? Two things:
1) Choose keynote speakers with a social media persona that works for your goals, not against them.
2) Screenshot valuable content and include as a photo, not merely as a retweet, so that your post has a visual element that carries through to your readers regardless of other users' account settings.
6.29.2016Darin Delaney at a "social media in small business" event sponsored by the BMO Harris bank branch in Burnsville, Minnesota. At the time, he mentioned the Social Marketing and Networking Meet Up group that he co-leads, and I was all set to go... until I got sidelined by a cold the morning of. (One of those "Wake up at 8:00 a.m., make a couple calls and emails to cancel appointments, go back to sleep for what you think will be just awhile, wake up again at 3:00 p.m.) kinds of colds; had I not gotten a flu shot, I'd have sworn it was the flu...)
Fast forward to June (June?!?) and I finally made it to one of their monthly events. Today. (What happened to March, April and May in my world?)
I decided that rather than keeping my notes private, I might as well post them publicly. It's social, right?
Featured speaker and social marketing specialist Janet Johnson spent nearly two hours filling us in on Facebook ads. The case-study was Darin's "Affordable Inflatables" website. Amit Singh participated with lots of interesting affiliate-marketing insights, as did Sam Romain from Dominate with SEO. There was a wide variety in the audience of a couple dozen, and because I'm terrible with names (Dale Carnegie would be disappointed in me... and if he were still around he would probably tell me that by name!) I remember very few of them. One that stuck was Stephanie Slaughter, not only because she asked a good question along the way but because the name doesn't seem to match with her field of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. (Who wants to be poked with needles by someone named Stephanie? Let me know when you get that joke.)
I'll transcribe the rest of my info. in shortly, but at least now you have the who-does-what info.
5.11.2016I FOUND IT! After years of pondering in the back of my mind, I found an article by Clay Shirky that summarizes what I’ve been seeking for years:From: Larson, Eric M.
Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2010 10:00 AM
Subject: Collective Action and "opting out"?Hi, Clay! At last week's AllVoices webinar you mentioned a really interesting concept in passing: That the studies/experiences in the "psychology of collective action" show that that people tend to "opt out" when the participation rates are unknown.In other words, "Gee, I don't know how big a deal this is, so I guess I won't go" -- which would be the flip side of, "Wow! It sounds like that thing is going to be popular; I'd better be there!" (Or maybe, "Gosh, it's going to be a tiny group; I'd better go to help them out"?)Here’s the closest thing I’ve found so far, from later that year…THE CONSERVATIVE DILEMMADisciplined and coordinated groups, whether businesses or governments, have always had an advantage over undisciplined ones: they have an easier time engaging in collective action because they have an orderly way of directing the action of their members. Social media can compensate for the disadvantages of undisciplined groups by reducing the costs of coordination. The anti-Estrada movement in the Philippines used the ease of sending and forwarding text messages to organize a massive group with no need (and no time) for standard managerial control. As a result, larger, looser groups can now take on some kinds of coordinated action, such as protest movements and public media campaigns, that were previously reserved for formal organizations. For political movements, one of the main forms of coordination is what the military calls "shared awareness," the ability of each member of a group to not only understand the situation at hand but also understand that everyone else does, too. Social media increase shared awareness by propagating messages through social networks. The anti-Aznar protests in Spain gained momentum so quickly precisely because the millions of people spreading the message were not part of a hierarchical organization.With the loss of Posterous, I’ve lost some of my comments. My original blog post is still up at:The response I got from Peter Fleck (buried in my email now) gives fodder for later research:I dug around a bit, Eric, but I think Shirky is summarizing some of his work indirectly. I found places he speaks to collective action like Chapter 7 of "Here Comes Everybody" (about street protests in Leipzig) and I can sort of understand the "opt out" statement in the light of the "everybody knows that everybody knows..." framework.This Wired interview might also be useful:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/08/clay-shirky-is/And this podcast maybe although I haven't listened.
http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2008/10/shirky_on_coase.htmlUltimately, I think you have to get through to Mr. Shirky himself.Peter
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