Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Detecting the fake followers

In my last post I discussed on how people can buy fake twitter followers. In this post I will try to elaborate on tools that will let you know whether any particular account has fake accounts or not.
Each tool that you might encounter might have different approach to determine the portion of fake followers but it it should give you overall idea about the followers. Generally speaking, according to NBCNews 1 in 10 Twitter accounts is fake.
The first tool I want to discuss is You can specify any account and the duraction (Today, Last week, Last month, 3 months) and it will display the chart with number of followers within this period of time. Let me show you the person that basically bought most of his followers, meaning the majority of them are fake. Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Paul Ranni.

A quick statistics on the account: 5949 Tweets, 23 Following, 74 690 Followers.
I encourage you to go to TwitterCounter and check his stats. According the the chart above the peaks show tha on November 1, 2013 Raul got 37 567 (!) followers. Overnight! It looks like a good increase, right? Well it just looks like. The next day he loses 42 210 followers. Perhaps Twitter algorithms detected the fake accounts and deleted them. But Paul Ranni is a serious guy - the following day he comes back and compensates the loss with new 22 668 new followers. Anyway, this game between his followers and Twitter algorithms has been there for a while.

Now, let's test his followers with another tool - All you need to do is log in with your twitter account, specify the account to analyze and wait for the results. Well, surprisingly the tool gives Paul Ranni 94% score so the November ups and downs are not included in the audit. But this audit was generated 6 months ago.

Let's audit someone else. Someone we all might now - like Johnny Depp. Why Johnny Depp? I just like pirates of Caribbean. So  according to TwitterAudit only 62% of his followers are real.

But don't let this percentage fool you. This is just an estimate based on a 5000 randomly selected followers of Johnny Depp. He has over a million followers so it would take TwitterAudit long-long time to analyze each follower. The service tries to identify the fake followers by examining their profile, number of tweets, last tweet and ration of followers to friends.  The company realizes that it is not the most accurate way to determine the fake followers, but this is the algorithm they came up with.

What about you? How do YOU spot the fake followers on Twitter?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The cost of Twitter follower

We talk a lot about measuring social presence and determining who is "popular" on twitter by their follower base. I am not really into twitter and obviously I don't have many followers. But what If I wanted (or you wanted) to cheat and gain some extra followers in order to look more "reputable" in the online world.

Photo by:  Dustin Diaz
First things first - I went directly to mr. Google and searched for buy twitter follower. 300 million results. Not bad. That means that there is a good market for that and perhaps this market has been driven by a demand from the online community.

It turns out that this type of service has been there for a long time now. Twitter Follower Service - is the official term for it and there are hundreds and perhaps thousands service providers in this business. The site that caught my attention was - it basically gives you the Top 5 service providers with the review and pricing. Being a student you always pay attention to the price and try to get the most out of your dollars. It looked like had the best deal and I started to look at the pricing. So 1000 Twitter followers will cost you only (drum rolls) $9! It is not even a cent per follower! Pay securely with Pay-Pal and within 2 and 4 days you will have 1000 additional followers. Of course it would not generate any re-tweets and engagement - just numbers. But did't we decide to go for numbers only?

The same website can also boost your Youtube video views, Vimeo video views, Soundcloud plays and Pinterest followers, likes and repins.

Another question would be whether we should do it or not? I personally think that It is not a good idea but as i said, i'm not into twitter. Some people might feel they need it and for those there are plenty of options. But my advice would be - Don't Rely on those numbers. The practice shows that the numbers don't stay there long and over time those accounts are either deactivated or disappear.

In my next post I will try to do the opposite - will try to identify the fake followers of people with large follower base. Stay tuned...

When countries block social media...

The term "Twitter revolution" became widely known after the Arab Spring but not many people are aware that it was first used during the 2009 Moldova unrest. After these events many leadership of some countries started to see "foreign-owned" social media websites as a serious threat to their national security. It seems to be that the more authoritarian the country, the more there is a probability of blocking social media websites or at least some of them. 

Photo by: compujeramey
Initiatives as Open Net Initiative constantly monitor the situation with countries that restrict access to social media websites.  China is known to block most of the popular social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, but on the other hand Chinese government extensively uses the in-house social media to communicate with its citizens. Unfortunately, other countries don't have the same technology or political will to directly engage in discussion with civil society. It did not take long time to report that the recent news about Iran unblocking social media was just a technical glitch and Iranians were again deprived of Facebook and Twitter.  
Photo by: OpenNet Initiative
There are different reasons why these countries try to restrict access to information. Some are afraid of opposition using social media to organize demonstrations, some want to isolate their citizen of outside world and its influence. Nevertheless, in a post-cold-war world  of modern technologies all these attempts of different governments are faced with resistance of online activists. Due to such technologies as anonymizers or anonymous proxies, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)  and such projects as TorProject there always be a way for people to get connected to the rest of the world.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blog #1: Open Innovation Examples & Articles about them

Open Innovation & Crowdsourcing Examples

After some readings from Blackboard I was impressed by possibilities of crowdsourcing platforms and I found these following two websites, where you can find valuable additional information:

 1. Open Innovation & Crowdsourcing Examples: 

2. Top 10 articles on Open Innovation in 2013:

Here I would like to compare principles of Open and Closed Innovations:

Closed Vs Open

Principles of Closed Innovation
Principles of Open Innovation
Talented people with expertise in their field are work for our organization.
Not all talented people working for our organization. We need to interact with talented people, active both in our company, and its outside.
To profit from our Research & Development, we must invent something by ourselves, develop it to the level and bring the product to the final result.
Significant value can create external
R & D, internal R & D are necessary to get some of this value.
If we make the discovery ourselves, we can first enter to the market.
To make a profit we don’t need to carry out research itself, which is based on their results.
The company, which brings innovation to the market first, will win.
Creating a perfect business model is more important than the first exit to the market.
We will win if we will create the most of industry’s best ideas.
We will win if we will use the both best internal and external ideas.
We must well control our intellectual property against competitors, who can use our ideas for their profits.
We should profit from the uses by other of our intellectual property, and we have to buy the intellectual property of other companies each
times when it fits into our business model.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is there a Twitter sweet spot?

In the few months that I have been on Twitter I have found it immensely useful. At the same time, my Twitter stream has occasionally been overtaken by a single user, crowding out other tweets and leaving me feeling slightly overwhelmed. My colleagues recently submitted a post entitled "Information Overload in Social Media" (11/12/13) and I'd like to try and respond to some of the issues they raised, focusing solely on Twitter.

First, the issue of content. I read something several weeks ago that suggested the following breakdown for individual Twitter users:

  • 1/3 original content or reaction to news or information, reflecting your professional interests
  • 1/3 retweets of information or news that your followers are likely to appreciate
  • 1/3 personal, non-sequitur content (for example - what you are doing, where you are, random thoughts or statements) which provides insight into you as a person
I find this content recommendation rather agreeable and it also reflects what I'm seeking from the people I'm following on Twitter. There are some exceptions, of course. Celebrities have license to tweet about themselves almost exclusively. There's more tolerance for it since they are expected to engage in promoting their own brand, whether highlighting their rarified existence or relating their everyman experiences (celebrities put their pants on one leg at a time too!). And organizations, notably professional ones, lose credibility in my eyes if they start tweeting topics outside their realm of expertise or content simply unrelated to their mission.

Now, the question of quantity. In my limited experience, I would have to say that I find the sweet spot to be somewhere between 5-10 tweets per day per follow. Assuming 16 waking hours in a day, that means tweeting in 1.5 to 3 hour intervals. In reality, the window is much smaller than that, so the key would seem to be spacing out tweets rather than sending them in blocks. The reality is that I'm a mother and full-time student which is overwhelming enough without replicating the experience online (Yes, @MomsRising, I'm looking at you. Love the mission, loathe the tidal wave of content). Dear colleagues, what is your Twitter threshold?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Morass of measurement and metrics

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.  
As a previous and (hopefully) future employee in the public sector, this course has provided a basis for understanding and effectively utilizing social media. One question that has occupied my thoughts throughout the semester we discussed in class today - measurement. In my field of practice, public health research, we obsess over measurement - quantitative versus qualitative, degree of validity, sensitivity and specificity - the list goes on and on. For every program dimension or intervention component there is a corresponding measure, oftentimes several. In that vein, it surprised me to learn that government is generally not measuring the impact of social media.

At the same time, there are limited options for capturing the return on investment, especially for the public sector. The dimensions discussed today, such as citizen engagement, are not easily measured and even more difficult to correlate to social media strategies. In behavioral research, it generally requires either surveying, directly observing, or objectively measuring participants' behaviors. To what extent is this an option in the public sector? In addition, we generally collect data on all other potential moderators of behavior in order to rule them out as the cause of behavior change. It seems rather daunting in light of the many influences on individual behavior and concerns of privacy.

Luckily, these issues have not kept many federal, state and local agencies from establishing a presence on social media platforms, which suggests their leadership is more forward thinking about the potential benefits despite a dearth of data. Such is the nature of technological innovation in this day and age which finds policy and research playing catchup. At any rate, it is likely just a matter of time until market forces and academic research respond to the need for social media analytics in the public sector.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blog #3: Information Overload in Social Media

When discussing on the final project, our team went through a question that we found interesting but is seldom discussed on our class: information overload. We have focused a lot on how to provide sufficient information, but if fact, information overload also brings negative influences.

The first question is how detailed should the information be. Take the example of a NGO that is planning to provide information to its volunteers about an event on social media. Since volunteers are only a part of the audience, too detailed information may be so annoying for other audience that they will “dislike” it. But if the NGO doesn't provide the detailed and trivial information, volunteers may discontent because they do not get sufficient information. Our solution is to put more information on volunteer group page and less in public page, but we are wondering if there is better idea.

Similarly, frequency of tweeting or posting on Facebook is also necessary to be controlled. With tons of interesting things happen on Facebook and Twitter, an organization needs to show up from time to time on social media; otherwise it will be easily forgotten. But if they occupy all your News Feed, you will also not like them (actually I myself have dislike some pages because they are too “noisy”). So, is there a best frequency to show up?

Besides quantitative aspect, qualitative aspect is also important. Usually, most organizations will not always posting things directly related to themselves, but will retweet or talk about something else, for example, providing some tips. However, is it appropriate for a police department to provide recipe everyday (this is a real example in a city of China)? What is the ideal proportion for “unrelated” information?

Here I just throw out some questions about information overload. We can have more discussion on them.

Social media measurement class

Our next class will focus on social media impact measurement. We want to explore what information about social media interactions public managers might want to see that can help them support the mission of their organization. We will focus on tactics, techniques, and technological skills.

  1. In preparation for our class, please think about what the information is that you as a (future) public manager would like to receive to know that the resources invested in time and personnel make a difference to the public. In what format would you like to receive this information?
  2. As a public service employee charged with the use of social media on behalf of your organization, how would you prepare your business case to convince your superiors that social media helps to support the mission of your government organization?

As you prepare the readings for our class, please think about these issues and leave your questions here on the blog in the comment section to this update.

Friday, November 8, 2013

With mood of the people upbeat about social media, it is also important to know what is return on investment for social media. Public sector expenditure is met from taxes paid by citizens, and as a responsible administrative machinery, one should have clear and satisfactory answer ready as to what we achieve by investing in social media. However, impact of any investment made in the public sector is difficult to measure, and social media can not be exception to it.
While measuring the impact of social media, one should not consider only short term benefits. Long term benefits, which are not visible at the early stage, should also be taken into account. Donna L. Hoffman and Marek Fodar have rightly held that impact of investment for social media should be measured in terms of number of visits to and time spent for blog comments, facebook updates and twitter pages etc.
So far social media is concerned, one has to change his/her mindset seeing returns in terms of monetary benefits only. Developing meaningful engagements with citizens takes time, and therefore result of social media usage present a fair picture only if a long term view is taken. We have to change our mindset viewing social media as just another communication vehicle. The shortsightedness prevents more valuable aspects, such as citizens' inputs, coming to fore. From a knowledge management perspective, one has to accept that knowledge is easily shared and managed by social media, benefits of which are difficult to be measured. The rapid growth of social media has revolutionized how people communicate and collaborate, and this can not be measured in quantity.    


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Expression of Gratitude-Learning on social media with enormous opportunities

Expression of Gratitude

Learning on social media with enormous opportunities

I am submitting my last blog on my learning experiences on the web based social media technology. Our mind is only responsible for our growth or limitation. Before joining this class, I have prejudices about the social media and was not paying heed on the learning opportunities available in this field. After joining this class, the way our professor introduce the subject and the way she developed the learning opportunities are really amazing and eye opener to me.

Her selection of reading, subject selection for assignment and speaker selection for the class are really very calculative, interesting to learn and experience. The teacher within me has been highly influenced by all the tactics and enriched me. At the last, I would say that her first condition of bringing laptop or tablet in the class has created more opportunities for me. Last project compels us to look in to all the central theme we learnt.

The social media tools, its presentation by each group, the way all the sector of our real life i.e. state, market (economy), and civil society organizations are optimize their outcome while using the social media are amazing and eye catching.

I have come from India and the way I maintain my contacts their using this technology, say Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, Line at almost no  cost are all learning process and realize the capacity lies in the social media.

At the end, I would like to share, every technology has its pros and cons. It is depend on us- the human being- how we use this and all other technology.

Thanks Professor Ines Mergel, Maxwell School, and Syracuse University, Government of Gujarat, Government of India, the citizens of India and my colleagues for your contributions!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

blog post 4 - The White House and Twitter

This Reuters article does a fine job showing how important social media has become in governmental outreach ... but also discusses the risks that we have discussed in class. The article is long but have a look if you have time! The @BarackObama Twitter account is not actually run by Obama, but by a pro-Obama group called Organizing for Action, which poses many more (additional) risks than if it were run by the White House employees. 

Here are some key quotes I would like to share: 

"White House officials quickly began firing off a barrage of tweets on Twitter, which has become one of the administration's most potent and relied-upon weapons in trying to shape public opinion and media reports." 

"There are risks in the White House's Twitter strategy, said Tevi Troy, a presidential historian and author of "What Jefferson read, Ike watched, and Obama tweeted," a study of popular culture in the White House. While it is important for presidents to use the tools of the moment to reach out to Americans, it's also important to protect the stature of the office, Troy said." 

 ... "Security is also a risk, LaMotte said. Last week, the Syrian Electronic Army briefly hacked into a link-shortening service used in tweets from Organizing For America, the advocacy group that runs @barackobama."

So do we think that the White House has its Twitter presence under control or is it "only a matter of time before someone goes too far" ? 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Open Innovation
The reading 'The era of open innovation' by Henry W. Chesbrough is very interesting. It is worth
noting how in the later years of 20th century the 'closed innovation' was almost replaced by 'open
innovation'. The industrial giants of past years have taken a beating in terms of market valuation etc.
and the new start ups with innovative ideas funded by venture capitalists have taken their place.
Similar trend is visible in India also like elsewhere in the world. Very few people were aware of
Infosys Technologies(A global IT and ITES company based in India) in the beginning of this century,
and now it is listed on NASDAQ. It is fantastic to have innovative ideas from outside the
organization. That way, an organization may benefit from a larger pool of intellect in the society. In
fact open innovation is a symbol of mood of advancing together, which is a hallmark of 21st century.
It is really heartening to think in terms of not locking up one's intellectual property, but instead
finding ways to profit from others' use of that property through licensing agreements, joint ventures
and other arrangements. Henry is quite correct when he holds open innovation as incorporating the
ability to rescue 'false negatives'. The example of Hollywood as open innovator is also very
interesting which for decades has innovated through a network of partnerships and alliances. It
sounds funny, though is realistic, when a waitress is seen as a budding actress and a parking attendant
as a potential screenplay writer.