It’s come to this: firms having practice Twitter meltdowns

Jacobs is the kind of Silicon Valley founder that makes the rest of them look bad. He gets drunk in public, gropes women at the bar, and is having an affair with an unpaid intern. And to top it all off, he’s scheduled to speak at South by Southwest tomorrow — at a panel about women and technology.

Fortunately, Jacobs isn’t real — he’s a simulation organized by a company named Polpeo. Polpeo, a subsidiary of the social media management firm eModeration, specializes in a novel new corporate exercise: the simulated brand crisis. Police officers train for various crises all the time; so do airline pilots. But most corporations don’t — even as the rise of social networks allows bad news about them to spread globally at record speed. More than a quarter of brand-related failures typically go international within an hour on social media, according to Polpeo, and a year after the crisis passes, more than half of companies haven’t recovered their share price.

Protect the brand or die trying: inside a fake social media crisis – Casey Newton, The Verge (20 March 2015)

Read the full piece to see whether you’re convinced this is a real thing. And if it is, maybe it’s a shame because when companies blow up on Twitter you feel they’re showing us their real sides.

Get back on Facebook, Twitter and the rest

I’m not convinced by this. Here’s my take on social media: use it for fun and if anything else happens like work offers, great. If nothing else happens, you still had fun.

Plus, this stuff is fun. There is a reason why so many of us are drawn to it and then find it hard to break the habit and the reason is that is fun. If you haven’t used any social media then it seems daunting, but then the next thing you know you are watching for those Likes on Facebook or those retweets on Twitter.

Different social media networks suit different people and also we change. I lived in Twitter for a long time but now I’m more a Facebook user. No reason. Some people love LinkedIn though the rest of us wonder why.

So use it and don’t feel guilty about it. But writer Julie Schwietert Collazo argues that we should use it more and she gives several reasons. Here’s the one that leaps out the most:

I get work on social

If you’re still skeptical about spending more time on social, consider this: At least $12,000 of my 2014 income can be directly attributed to work I landed via social media contacts. And that work consists of a variety of assignments, from a translating project I got through a Facebook group that netted $8,000 to an $800 article for an in-flight magazine I was able to write after a friend who follows me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram made a referral.

I’ve found that finding work on social networks is relatively simple and doesn’t involve any of the “strategies” that make so many writers want to bail on social media. I follow and engage with editors on Twitter, join professional interests groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and generally just try to be transparent about my needs to followers and friends on all my platforms.

Spending time on social doesn’t mean you have to constantly “brand” yourself. If you make an effort to tune out some of that digital noise and focus on bring productive, social media won’t seem like a guilty pleasure or a time-suck. My life is enriched just as much by online relationships as it is by those offline. And for that reason, I’ll be spending as much time online in 2015 as I did in 2014.

Why Freelancers Should Spend More Time on Social Media in 2015 – Julie Schwietert Collazo, Contently (26 February 2015)

Read the full piece for more.

Ello me hearties

Imagine Facebook without the ads. Twitter without the –

– actually, just a quick aside. Have you noticed how visually Twitter has changed? When it was spot at the bar, when I loved Twitter, it was all text, all the time. Now I look at the feed and it’s predominantly images. Feels like a very different service and I’ve now been so quickly and readily drawn back in to it.

Maybe that is why Ello is interesting.

I think this new social media platform sees itself as less a Twitter without ads and more a Facebook without them. Currently it’s very sparse and minimalist and apart from how I could do without all the writing being in Courier, I’m oddly warming to its cold white starkness.

I just don’t know what I’m doing. Right now you have to be invited and I haven’t figured out how or whether I can invite you. So I can’t say come on over, but I can say you should go take a look at its front page and see what you think.

Note that if you type in the URL, it’s “”. Watch that your browser doesn’t automatically complete that as .com since is something else altogether.

It’s something else.

When you are on Ello, look me up, would you? I’m on as williamgallagher

Love at first iteration: gaming your way to a partner

I adore dating companies because they are so fascinating: if a dating business does its job well, it immediately loses two customers. I’m a nut for romances anyway so on the one hand you have the delicate tinderbox of when two people meet but then on the other you have a business that might have to fail in order to succeed. Or even survive.

Then with online dating there’s the fact that it was once something you wouldn’t admit to. (You’d go on ITV’s Blind Date and be matched up by Cilla Black, fine, but you wouldn’t admit to using online dating, nooo.)

Plus online dating seems a bit geeky, somehow. I know it isn’t and we all know how deeply personal and intimate technology can be – friendships are made and lost on Twitter – and as writers it can’t shock us that the typed word can have so much power. But the notion of ticking boxes and saying your ideal partner must have GSOH, it’s geekily clinical.

Amy Webb, who I just realise has quite an appropriate surname given how she’s written about using the web to find love, has, er, written about using the web to find love. But Brain Pickings describes her as “mathematically-driven” and Webb went full-on, geek-out analytical:

After a series of bad dates following a major heartbreak, [Webb] decided to take a quantitative approach to the playing field and started systematically recording various data points about her dates, revealing some important correlations. After one particularly bad date, she decided to formalize the exercise and wrote down everything that was important to her in a mate — from intellectual overlap to acceptable amount of body hair — eventually coming up with 72 attributes that she was going to demand in any future date. She then broke down these attributes into two tiers and developed a scoring system, assigning specific points to each. For 700 out of a maximum possible 1800, she’d agree to have an email exchange; for 900, she’d go on a date; for 1,500, she’d consider a long-term relationship.

Love in the Age of Data: How One Woman Hacked her Way to Happily Ever After – Maria Popoca, Brain Pickings (31 January 2013)

The full piece on Brain Pickings includes a page from Webb’s handwritten notes (which curiously includes a bit saying “year: 2050” and also “have to get military experience” which all feels like a different story altogether). And it recounts how Webb could’ve stopped there but instead took the next logical approach and analysed herself.

She also analysed the statistics of women on online dating and, actually, some of that is really depressing. I’m a man and statistically I am supposed to prefer blondes, I’m supposed to be turned off by powerful women. I don’t like this bit. But I really like how Webb ripped all this online dating apart to get the guy of her dreams – and, spoiler, she did it – and in doing so really revealed a lot about us.

Online dating firms claim to have these great personality-matching algorithms but Webb shows how they can of course only go by what we tell them. And, worse, what the other person tells them.

She found ways to get around that artifice, perhaps by creating artifice of your own but still. She broke down online dating into what works – and as you read what she concludes, you’re going to be thinking about yourself. Specifically, about yourself on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and all the rest. Never mind dating, what she’s found is alternately useful and eye-opening about the image we unconsciously present of ourselves.

Do read the full Brain Pickings piece for, as ever, Popova has written a really good article about all this. But then go read Webb’s book: Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match.