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About half of your brand’s followers are likely fake

12 Jun

So your brand is on Twitter and you want more followers… but how useful are they to you if nearly half of them turn out to be bots?

A study by Marco Camisani Calzolari
, a corporate communication and digital languages professor in Milan, into 39 brands on Twitter showed up to 46 per cent of followers were likely to be automated bots.

He used an algorithm to determine the behaviour of followers, based on key indicators of what was likely a bot.

The academic analyzed feeds of 39 international and Italian brands, including @DellOutlet, @BlackBerry, @CocaCola, @IKEAITALIA and @VodafoneIT.

While the study sample was relatively small it raises some questions about brands obsessions (and individuals too) with numbers of followers, especially when nearly half of them are fake. One wonders if brands are deliberately gaming the system to give the illusion of bigger followings.

As one observer pointed out:

Twitter should be able to crack down on this a lot more than they already are. If a professor can singlehandedly come up with an algorithm to detect bot accounts, why can’t Twitter do the same and remove these accounts? Unless, of course, they can and they’re afraid of what might happen if they open Pandora’s Box.

Twitter, news and #auspol

28 May

It’s getting harder to know where tweeting ends and where news begins, or even that there is a difference. As politicians take to tweeting to let their views be known and journalists continue to break news on the social news site, the function of traditional media is constantly under threat.

One of the value propositions put forward by news organisations is their ability to confirm, with authority, that which social media can’t.

It was interesting then to see AAP copy run across Fairfax and New Limited sites, which began:

LIBERAL MP Kelly O’Dwyer has suggested Australian-born citizens should get priority to become parliamentarians – apparently forgetting her own leader was born overseas.

The story was based on a tweet by O’Dwyer, in response to the outrage over Gina Rinehart receiving Government approval to use 1700 foreign workers for a mining project in WA.

The tweet read “Sen. Cameron says we should prioritise Australian workers before bringing in foreigners. Does this also apply to Senators?”

The tweet is really open to a number of interpretations, and some quite the opposite of others. It seems odd then that a rather large assumption was made about its meaning and run with, without seeking any confirmation from O’Dwyer as to what she actually meant.

The AAP copy was picked up, largely unchanged, and ran across Fairfax and News Limited sites without any further question.

Later, O’Dwyer  responded to a tweet by Matthew Lesh (@matthewlesh) which said that “@KellyODwyer‘s misunderstood point: Cameron is hypocritical when speaking against overseas born workers in Oz, as he is one himself. #auspol,” with “Finally someone understands the irony.#auspol”.

Politics aside,  the irony is that the tweet’s meaning was clarified on Twitter, but not until news organizations had spread a rather inaccurate version of it, based on nothing but speculation.

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, that twitter has led the political news cycle.

Government whip Joel Fitzgibbon took to twitter to quell media rumours of him canvassing votes for Rudd.

Asked by ABC’s Latika Bourke on Twitter if he had “any comments on reports you are gathering numbers against the PM?” Fitzgibbon replied “I thank my colleagues for the publicity but no one does more to support the PM and the Government than me!”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was apparently satisfied with words of support from Fitzgibbon on Twitter.

According to the AAP piece, asked whether Mr Fitzgibbon’s tweet was enough to settle the issue, Gillard said: “I think his words are clear.”

“It’s not the vehicle as to how they’ve been disseminated but what they say.”

And with that the PM very nicely summarised the problem facing the media.

The impact of social media on photography

14 May

Getty Images, one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of still imagery, video and multimedia products, has launched its newly redesigned The Curve: Technology and Telecommunications, a multimedia research report on visual trends shaped by the democratisation of technology and the rise of social media

In a multi-part series, The Curve explores three key themes around the world’s visual transformation and the changing role of photography, powered by the marriage of technology and telecommunications.

The second issue of The Curve: Technology and Telecommunications slated to go live later this month, will examine connectivity, identity and creativity providing insight on the cloud, content management, the personal information economy and more. The June issue is the final component of The Curve: Technology and Telecommunications, and will analyse content by digesting trends for distinct demographic segments, geographies, education uses and more.

Getty Images’ research into visual communication for The Curve has unearthed a number of emerging industry trends that highlight how the merging of media and technology are democratizing content and encouraging connectivity through shared visual experiences. This research is supported by case studies and commentary from leading industry influencers, a brief overview and selection of which can be found below, with a more detailed analysis available online at www.gettyimages.com.au/thecurve.

From the Getty press release:

Photography: The Killer App and the Photographic Datascape

Social photography is altering the meaning of photography, and greatly affects how brands have utilised imagery to develop impactful, engaging campaigns. In 2011, 491.4 million smartphones were sold, up 58 percent from the previous year according to Gartner Research thus exponentially boosting the number of phones with instant photo-sharing capabilities. Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, believes that photography is the ‘killer app’ of web 2.0. Mirzoeff wrote in FOAM magazinethat new social sharing of personal photographs heralds a new age of the self-image—“photografitti.” Mirzoeff underlines that photography for creators, consumers, sharers and buyers has become the prime vehicle in social sharing because it’s an expression of self that is the most valued form of connection—the exact reason brands and advertisers look to engage with photo communities such as Flickr.

Cameras versus Camera Phones: Post-Snapshot

By examining Smartphone social sharing as the tool of the new snapshot, The Curve uncovers the driving forces behind the ‘authenticity’ trend. The digital snapshot of the new century is a kind of fast photography, improvised—more like an experiment than visual documentation—making it attractive to advertisers and brands. Photography as a democratic, widely available art form began with the family portrait and was originally commercialized as the ‘Kodak moment’ by the company who brought to the consumer market affordable photographic tools. It has since become the contemporary shorthand of everyday life with photo-sharing websites such as Facebook and Flickr. Digital enables the sharing of hundreds and thousands of photographs every hour, allowing users to create images, manipulate them, and distribute them as easily as exhaling.

After Authenticity

Authenticity is a cultural and social value and an aesthetic style that The Curve has been tracking since the Aspirational Environmentalism report on Green issues in 2005. Authenticity is an always-on attribute for brands, with marketers turning the volume up or down according to the prevailing social trends.

With a cachet of authenticity for a group of younger smartphone users, Samsung, who promoted the Galaxy Note with a Facebook campaign in association with street artist, Notasso, emboldens a wider, louder message for new technology companies—these brands are a catalyst, an engine for personal creativity at the very heart of taking photographs, which, in turn is driven by the snapshot forms of Flickr and Facebook, and the nostalgia filters of Instagram.

The Charisma of “Everyday”

From playing dress-up to reconstructing family history, photography is the pre-eminent medium for sharing, storytelling and self-expression and advertisers are tapping into this creative addiction. It reinserts the idea of the human hand in what is a cold, digital process and it is why certain kinds of retro-media looks have been popular, in campaigns such as the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, which was reintroduced to the market after a nine-year absence, with an ad that looks like it was a Super-8 home-movie from the 70s.

The mythology of the everyday and the nostalgia filters gives imagery an aura. It’s at the heart of the appeal of Sony Music’s Instagram – crowdsourced video for The Vaccines, and Ford’s Instagram ‘Fiestagram’ campaign. In a fast-changing world, the personal pictures taken, uploaded and shared assert an individual identity and a place in the world; the act of sharing is a way to connect as individuals with a larger community in a visual way.

Memory and Storytelling

One of the most telling signs of this shift towards photography as a medium for connection is1000memories, launched in 2010. It is essentially a way of recreating a family history through imagery in the age of digital image abundance, when shared photos quickly fall to the bottom of a newsfeed.   Dear Photographalso embarks on a journal of visual storytelling, in which the contributor finds an old photo and takes a photo of it, framed by the exact place the original was taken. The time elapsed between the two photos creates an emotional narrative, that unites generations and illustrates the story of connection.

The first issue of The Curve: Technology and Telecommunications is available online at www.gettyimages.com/thecurve or view the report as a PDF or via the iPad. Previous editions of The Curve include the Energy issue, the Finance issue, as well as a report focused on the Health and Wellbeing industry.