Quick Tweet: The State of Community Management in 2011

Great report by Edelman Digital and The Community Roundtable on the state of community management in 2011

http://ow.ly/4skjI

Epsilon: NOT Such a Negligible Effect

From Ancient Greek ἒψιλόν (epsilon, “the letter Ε”), defined in the context of computing as “A negligible effect.”

But also, Epsilon is an online marketing unit of Alliance Data Systems Corp., servicing over 2,500 clients via the distribution of permission-based emails.  On Wednesday (March 30), Epsilon announced in a short statement to its clients (not to the public) with no details other than ” a subset of its database was accessed externally” resulting in email addresses and names being stolen. And far from having a negligible effect, this may represent the largest security breach in the history of the Web.

What does this mean to you? At a minimum it will lead to targeted unsolicited emails being sent to you in greater frequency and quantity.

I started to get wind of the problem when I received two emails from retailers I have dealt with online, but haven’t interacted with in many months, Brookstone and Disney Destinations. Then I saw other people mention on Twitter receiving similar notices from TiVo, Kroger and other brands. There had to be a common denominator and it was Epsilon.

How widespread is the breach? Hard to tell at this point, but according to Neil Schwartzman, chief security specialist for CASL Consulting, “It is the biggest breach we have ever seen; and to say no financial information has been stolen is, well, understating the massive breach and concern.”

Here’s only some of the 50 brands whose customers are affected (note the many financial institutions):

  • 1-800-FLOWERS
  • Abe Books
  • Ameriprise Financial
  • Barclays Bank
  • Best Buy
  • Brookstone
  • Capital One
  • Citi
  • Disney Destinations
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Hilton
  • Home Shopping Network (HSN)
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Kroger
  • Lacoste
  • LL Bean
  • Marriott Rewards
  • McKinsey & Company
  • New York & Company
  • Robert Half
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • Target
  • The College Board
  • TiVo
  • US Bank
  • Visa Card
  • Walgreens

Got spam? Blame Epsilon (yes, I know they aren’t the only causal factor, but they’ve now further sullied the ecommerce waters). It’s important to note that the companies listed above and others caught in the maelstrom are not to blame. They contracted with a well-known service provider with a stellar client list. It is reasonable for them to have felt confident that a company whose stock in trade is in email communications to have safeguards in place to protect their data.

As for reparations, blogger and former co-worker during my AOL years Joe Manna says, don’t expect anyone to pay for your inconvenience based upon past incidences similar to this one:

“This is the work of offshore hackers where laws are weak, jurisdiction is limited and tracking people down is near impossible. Don’t expect anyone to get arrested, because the hackers are global.”

One more thing —  as of this morning (April 4) the Epsilon web site shows no mention of the breach even as the story is exploding online naming them as the cause, letting their clients take the blowback (and the blame?). The story went public on Friday and so the social web has had three days to spread the story without company response. It appears Epsilon needs a social media professional on staff to help modernize its marketing and public relations.

Again, old thinking or as we in social media say a PR #FAIL.


Follow the Epsilon not-so-negligible fallout: Targeted Google News Search

1% of Twitter Users Are Power Users – This Is News?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

So, 200K of Twitter’s 200MM users responsible for 50% of all tweets.

What part of the 90:9:1 rule comes as a surprise to them?

http://ow.ly/4sjOa

Of Kenneth Cole; Twitter; and Crossing the Line

“The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones.”
– from ‘Julius Caesar’ by William Shakespeare

By now you’ve heard about this tweet issued by fashion designer Kenneth Cole where, in an obvious case of insensitivity, he tried to connect the world-changing events in Egypt to his spring line:

Ouch! And for this he has rightfully drawn the scorn of the Web. That’s what he did wrong.  You know it, I know it and he  knows it.

What he did right next was to remove the offending tweet,  but not try to cover it up; instead he acknowledged the mistake and apologized publicly within a few hours:  

When negative reaction persisted, he did so again, more extensively. Still, “the evil lives on”, these days in the form of first page Google search results.

But, as inevitable as that sounds,  mistakes will be made – so create an action plan now for handling the blowback.

Cover-ups Never Work

People always ask me how to remove negative social mentions online. The truth is they can’t be summarily deleted. Manipulating social media to obfuscate the truth never works. I can cite examples. The social space is in many ways self-correcting, and the truth will out. Always. The best tactic: do good things. And get those good things (thought leadership examples; blog entries; positive reviews of personal appearances) published online. Get them in front of key influencers and, this is vital, do everything while maintaining three core principles:

Accuracy; Integrity; Transparency

Social media reputation management does not work any other way. Don’t let the good be interred with the bones of the brand’s or individual’s reputation when crises hit. Be both reactive and proactive.

Of course, the best way to handle a PR crisis is to avoid them in the first place. As a brand, Kevin Cole is known for being socially relevant and supportive of social causes — often in a controversial way. As such, his brand supporters and loyalists will not likely be affected by this social media faux pas compared to those for whom he was an unknown.

In a sense, he’s lucky that it was he who made the intended-to-be-pithy-but-ultimately-offensive remark. Had a social media manager in his company done this he/she’d likely be looking for a new job.

But then again, in the hands of a professional, maybe the mistake would have been avoided.

Full disclosure: In a past life I worked for El Greco Leather, a company owned by Kenneth Cole’s father and run with his two brothers. I never had any direct contact or dealings with Kenneth (though I do wear his shoes)

Mark Zuckerberg,TIME Magazine Person of the Year — But Not Mine

Mark Zuckerberg TIME Person of the Year 2010In a year full of the famous and infamous, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is TIME magazine‘s Person of the Year.

While you cannot debate that Zuckerberg and Facebook made news on a global basis in 2010, I don’t agree that his selection was the most worthy.

Let’s talk about impact. True, Facebook is the most impactful social network worldwide, but even with 500 million members, that’s still only about 7% of the world’s 6.9 billion population.  A large number to be sure, but why recognize him now? A hit movie? A killer ‘60 Minutes‘ appearance? The fact that the “enfant terrible” of social media appears to have finally grown up?

Newsworthy, yes, but surely others were more deserving. Love him or hate him, my choice is Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks site who have made a far more serious impact worldwide not only on government and the military, but also on the state of journalism itself. For that matter, strong arguments exist for former BP chairman Tony Hayward or, for group recognition, The Unemployed American. It wouldn’t be the first time a group was the “person”.

Take it from me, a former co-winner of TIME’s Person of the Year (2006).

Updated Feb 4, 2012: My apology to Mark Zuckerberg (among other things) 

Groupon Rejects $6 Billion Google Offer

Groupon Rejects $6 Billion Google OfferFull article at All Things Digital

Updated: Quitting Twitter for Charity Doesn’t Make Cent$

Updated Dec. 7, 2010 (See end of entry)

Want to raise $1 million? Just ask.

Alicia Keys has convinced other celebrities, including Lady Gaga; Justin Timberlake; Kim Kardashian and Ryan Seacrest, to quit Twitter and Facebook in order to raise $1 million for a worthy charity, Keep  a Child Alive — vowing not to return until they reach that goal.

To me, quitting two of the most effective platforms for raising funds, in order to raise funds, is wrong-headed. This chart shows why:

keys, gaga, timberlake, kardashian, seacrest twitter and facebook

Twitter and Facebook followers @ 11/30/2010

The numbers say it all… Read more of this post

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