The matthewsm1th.com 2012 Annual Report

2012 was a slow year for my blog, but the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared an annual report that makes me feel like an internet all-star. Some of the numbers seem ridiculous (7,700 views? Really?), but if it’s online it has to be true.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite part, the “How did they find you?” section:

Some visitors came searching, mostly for gillian jacobs plastic surgery, gillian jacobs plastic surgery before and after, fridge logos, and sassy black woman.

Apparently, I need to blog more about Gillian Jacobs and make unsubstantiated statements about the plastic surgery she has yet to receive.

Overall, I’m not sure there’s much value here, but it’s a cool little infographic that can be digested in two minutes. I hope you enjoy it and Happy New Year!

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Social Media Chutzpah Hit List

Recently, I was lunching at Chez Panera when I got rubbed the wrong way. No, it wasn’t you, Phoebe the Cashier – you’re aces in my book. It was the guy who asked for a cup of water and then filled with Dr. Pepper at the soda dispenser. His poor choice in soft drinks aside, who does that? The guy buys a $12 lunch and he thinks it entitles him to free soda, six ounces at a time? Seriously, who are these people?

senifeld meme

After a few dozen head shakes and eye rolls, my thoughts turned – as they inevitably do – to social media. What are some of the ballsy, unethical or just plain rude techniques employed on various social media platforms? What rubs me the wrong way? What pisses me off?

This is my no means a comprehensive list; I hope you’ll add your thoughts in the comments below:

  • Auto DMs. All of them. Without exception.
  • LinkedIn invites without context
  • Instagramming every meal (sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich)
  • Private conversations held in public forums. Just because I’m Facebook friends with two girls from high school doesn’t mean I need to see the back-and-forth of their Friday night planning.
  • Calling yourself a “guru,” “ninja,” or “tsar.” (Oddly, “czar” is ok).
  • Not crediting your source material
  • Emoticons. If you can’t say what you mean with words, it’s not worth saying.
  • Synching the same message across multiple platforms
  • Broadcasting without listening or engaging
  • Repeating the same message over and over again. If I wanted to hear a broken record, I’d own a record player…and records. Yeah, I’m going to have to come up with a new metaphor.
  • Outdated technology metaphors. This list is crashing like my Treo 650…am I right, folks?
  • Debating politics on Facebook. No one has ever changed his or her vote because of a well-worded wall post.
  • Censoring criticism (or simply dissenting opinions) on the pages you manage
  • Speeling misstakes
  •  Using interns to run a corporate social media account
  • #TeamFollowBack
  • Using a Yiddish word in your title without providing a definition
  • No avatar (or profile picture)
  • An avatar that’s a logo (unless you’re managing a corporate account)
  • An avatar that’s a cartoon version of you. Hey, I like Mad Men and the Simpsons as much as anyone, but my avatar is my real-life obnoxious face for a reason.
  • An avatar that is from 15 years and/or 85 pounds ago. This isn’t online dating.
  • An avatar that has someone else in it.
  • An avatar that has someone else poorly cropped out of it. Really? You can’t find *one* decent headshot?
  • Misunderstanding your network’s privacy settings. I’m looking at you, Randi.
  • Abusing #hashtags because you #think they’re #fun. They’re #not. And you’re not #cool.
  • Asking for RTs all the time (every once in a while is cool, but don’t be the boy or girl who cried wolf). Side note: please RT this post!
  • Deleting your mistake in the hopes that no one saw it. This is the internet. Someone saw it. And screen capped it. And now that mistake has been posted somewhere else. Sorry.
  • Buying followers
  • Sharing overly personal details on your professional networks (sharing professional details on personal networks isn’t always advisable, but it’s rarely as obnoxious)
  • Connecting on LinkedIn with someone you don’t really know and/or with whom you have not worked
  • Complaining about those brands that have wronged you without ever praising those who have done right by you
  • Vaguebooking
  • Unfriending or disconnecting in the heat of the moment. Even with an ex.
  • Over-sharing your Foursquare check-ins
  • Mistaking social media buzz for a verified news source.
  • Humblebragging without ironically pointing out your own Humblebrag
  • Mocking someone’s religious or political beliefs. Disagreement is cool. Debate is usually OK. But there’s a reason we don’t call this “anti-social networking.”
  • Anti-social networking
  • Not posting a bio or “about me” page
  • Consuming without adding to the discussion. Read an interesting blog post? Add a comment (hint, hint).
  • Shameless self-promotion

CAPTION CONTEST: Martha Stewart

Last December, I ran an epic caption contest about that one time, at band camp, when Yo-Yo Ma met a wombat. Yeah, that really happened. Take a minute and click the link. Good times.

Since that time, roughly 284 pictures have been posted on the internet (give or take), but not until now has one warranted another caption contest. Ladies and gentleman, I give you M. Diddy herself, Martha Stewart.

Photo by Marissa Simon, a girl with whom I went to high school and haven’t seen for 20 years. God bless Facebook. You can find Marissa and her delicious-looking cakes at http://www.marisasimoncakes.com/.

What could possibly be running through the mind of our dear Martha? Well, friends, the options are limited only by your imagination. Like my last caption contest, the winner will receive a prize that I have yet to determine (yes, it might be another book. Reading *is* fundamental, you know).

The only rules are…there are no rules. Well, that’s not quite true. There are rules. But, you know, it’s a caption contest. Live long and prosper and don’t be evil and plagiarism sucks. Oh, and don’t talk about Fight Club. And, of course, yellow snow ain’t for eating. Trust me.

Submit your hilarious captions in the comments section below. I reserve the right to end this contest whenever I damn well please and all judgments are both entirely mine and entirely subjective.

The Day I Broke the Twitters

Yesterday, Twitter had a well-publicized downage, causing many discombobulated social media addicts to step away from their smartphones and catch a rare glimpse of that yellow ball of hot light in the sky. Needless to say, #whiletwitterwasdown quickly became a trending topic and speculation was rampant about how and why such a devastating “epic fail” could happen.

While the official story is that the two-hour outage was caused by a “noteworthy” double failure in Twitter’s data center, I can smell a ruse a mile away. You see, friends, Twitter’s data center is functioning perfectly. I know this because I know what really happened.

Twitter is covering up the real culprit: me.

Yesterday morning I tweeted a note about JC Penny’s Foursquare promotion that will donate $1 to the USO for every check-in through July 31. As you’d expect when social media titans collide (a major retailer, the world’s largest location-based application, a nationally-renowned charity and yours truly), the ReTweets came faster and furiouser than a Vin Diesel car chase.

That’s 32 (and counting) RTs in one day! Though I have no quantitative proof, I have it under good authority that I smashed Twitter’s RT record. The people from the Guinness Book are on their way over. Mr. Ripley has left several voicemails. I’m kind of a big deal.

In all seriousness, one seemingly innocuous tweet reached nearly 50,000 people, which *is* a big deal for someone with “only” 582 followers. While my tweet was merely intended to call attention to the meeting of two subjects about which I am passionate (social media and philanthropy), my name, brand and ideas were suddenly in front of thousands. Pretty cool, huh?

The takeaway is that whether you believe Twitter is a broadcast medium, a two-way conversation mechanism or simply the quickest way to stay in touch with what’s happening around our increasingly small world, using it to share your passions – while sourcing your content and giving shout-outs as appropriate – can yield surprising benefits. I’ve picked up a bunch of new followers in the past day (approximately 2% of my total followers). And, let’s not forget, the huge Klout bump I could expect from having my Tweet shared all over the interwebs.

What’s that? My Klout score decreased 0.15 since yesterday? Stupid Klout…

Four Reasons to Forsake Forecast

Last week, I went on a family vacation in Antigua. Since I’m a hopeless social media addict without an international iPhone data plan, I panicked – logically – about being disconnected from all my online personas. While I knew HootSuite would allow me to pre-schedule Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts before leaving the country, what about my location-based check-ins? Why wasn’t there an app that would allow me to schedule a check-in before arriving at a specific location?

That’s when I discovered Forecast, a service that bills itself as “a fun and simple way for friends to share where they’re going.” Not only would the application allow me to check in via Foursquare at a place and time in the future, but it would push check-ins to Twitter or Facebook with the click of a button (loyal readers – hi mom! – know I’m not a fan of this practice, but it is occasionally relevant).

Despite its lofty goals and my high expectations, Forecast was a significant disappointment. Here are four reasons why:

1. Scheduled Updates and Accompanying Updates are Pushed Separately – take a look at this Tweet:


On February 28, I scheduled a check-in for March 9 – a time I expected to be out of both cell and data range. I scheduled the update to be pushed to Twitter. And it was…on February 28! Can you think of a less relevant Tweet? If Forecast can schedule my check-in for a specific time at a specific place, shouldn’t it also be able to synch the corresponding Twitter update?

2. It’s Mobile-Based Only – while scheduling check-ins on-the-go is a convenient feature, why can’t I schedule them from my laptop as well? Forecast’s non-mobile display is a largely blank and aesthetically unpleasant display; why did its developers ignore static users?

3. It’s Not What it Claims to Be – Check out this push notification:

Instead of automatically checking me in to my location, Forecast asked me if I was actually at the location…then it required me to open the app to verify my location…and only then would it actually check me in! Without data (which I purchased midway through my trip) or Wi-Fi, I would never have received this notification, and thus, would never have been checked in. If I want a reminder to check in to specific locations, it’s much easier to use my native Calendar app than it is to program through Forecast’s bulky interface.

4. It’s All Sizzle and No Substancewith esteemed authorities like Mashable promoting the service as one of the “Hot Apps to Watch at SXSW 2012,” Forecast should have something new to offer. But hey, why develop your product when you can just hire a good publicist, right?

*****

To Forecast’s credit, I Tweeted a complaint about problem #1 and received an @ reply within minutes. But a responsive community manager isn’t enough to smooth over the inherent flaws in Forecast’s platform (especially since I was asked for recommended changes and then never heard back from said community manager).

Forecast is an interesting idea with the potential to become a valuable service. But until its designers undertake some substantial remodeling, I’m afraid it will remain an unFOREtunate and largely FOREgettable application.

Ugh. Word play. Please FOREgive me.

If ‘Community’ Gets Cancelled, Which Actor has the Most to Lose?

When news broke last weekend about Whitney’s untimely passing, I had a simultaneously morbid and uplifting thought: “After losing the star and namesake of one of its primetime sitcoms, will NBC bring back new episodes of “Community?”

Alas, as you no doubt know, it was Whitney Houston who died…not Whitney Cummings. And while I have nothing against the comedienne and alleged TV star (besides that damned laugh track), Cummings’ self-titled show is part of the logjam of quality television that compelled the Peacock Network to put its edgiest, most critically acclaimed and social media revered property on indefinite hiatus.

What’s that? NBC has pathetically bad ratings? No one watches *any* of its scripted programming? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

With rabid fans salivating about the fate of their favorite pop-culture infused show, I was certain that NBC would do the right thing and find “Community” a timeslot. Yet, as the weeks and months have passed since the initial hiatus announcement, the sitcom’s prospects seem more and more dire.

And so, if “Community” truly has fired its final paintball gun, we must think about those who will suffer the most – the actors. Which of the seven key players has the career stamina to fight on and continue shining in the bedazzled limelight of the business they call show? And which are destined to be nostalgic answers on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card?

In descending order (from “guaranteed success no matter what” to “you may want to get that GED after all,” I present the cast of “Community” and their likelihood of future Hollywood employment:

7. Joel McHale – quite simply, the dude is a star. Anyone who watched “The Soup” knew years ago that McHale is a happy-fun-time bloke who oozes charisma. Good looking without being threatening, he also has a quick wit and awesome hair. No, he’s not George Clooney, Brad Pitt or yours truly, but McHale will have little trouble finding work for the foreseeable future.

6. Alison Brie – at first blush, Brie doesn’t look like much of a Hollywood heavyweight. But her roles in not one, but two adored shows (insert inevitable “Mad Men” reference here) have proven that (insert inevitable “more than a pretty face” cliche). She has taken Annie Edison from the shy, mentally unstable girl of Season One to a woman with soul, depth and grown-up charm. There aren’t many actresses who can so artfully walk the line between sweet and sexy…and that’s why Brie will be working consistently for years (you know, until she turns 30. Then, it’s plastic surgery or Tuesday night book club with Sherry Stringfield).

5. Chevy Chase – the cast’s only star when “Community” debuted, Chase’s fame derives from work performed before most of the sitcom’s fan base was ever born. Maybe he’s often overrated as a comedic lead, but as a supporting player, he’s top notch. Besides, as long as those “Caddyshack” residuals keep rolling in, Chase can afford to choose only the plumpest of roles. Hopefully, that means he’ll finally commit to the long-awaited sequel to “Cops and Robbersons.”

4. Donald Glover – initially written as a one-dimensional ex-jock, Glover’s Troy Barnes has transformed beyond the lovable simpleton with a heart of gold. No less of a pop culture authority than Rolling Stone has declared Glover to be a triple threat, and hey – my friend’s older brother used to read that magazine so it *has* to be true! Plus, perhaps more than any of his cast-mates, Glover has embraced the meta appeal of “Community” through various social media star turns (not to be confused with Star Burns).

3. Danny Pudi – TYPECAST ALERT! TYPECAST ALERT! Pudi plays a *very* specific character – he’s got brown skin and a disability (Abed has Asperger’s, right?). Such a mix can often be the recipe for one-hit wonderism, but Pudi has enough ethnic ambiguity (he can play characters from the Indian subcontinent AND those from the Middle East!) that he should be able to find post-“Community” work. Plus, he’s so damn likeable that Pudi will find an audience…even if it’s not as wide as the ones enjoyed by some of his peers.

2. Yvette Nicole Brown – once you’ve seen one sassy black woman in Hollywood, it’s likely that you’ve seen them all. But Brown isn’t just a stereotype…did I mention she can sing too? What’s that? You’d be surprised if the sassy black woman couldn’t sing? Now who’s being racist? The truth is that while Brown hasn’t shown much acting depth on “Community,” she did epically dress up as a Pulp Fiction’d Samuel L. Jackson…and that counts for something in my book.

1. Gillian Jacobs – shockingly, the “Community” cast member with the lowest career upside is the pretty blonde girl. It’s not that Jacobs in untalented, but unless a future script calls for a “slightly younger Elizabeth Shue type,” she has no discernable talent to set her apart from thousands of other actresses in Hollywood. That means if you’re a fan of Gillian Jacobs AND Cinemax After Dark, 2018 will be a VERY good year for you.

Sorry, Britta, but you really are the worst.

Why I’m Opting Out of #FollowFriday

Any social media expert/ninja/guru worth his or her salt will tell you that engagement is the key to getting results out of online activities. And yet, at the end of every work week, the Twitterati collectively engage in one of the least personalized and most automated of interweb interactions.

I’m talking about #FollowFriday. And I want out.

Last Friday, as my stream was flooded with #FF messages, I tweeted out a thought:

Millions of people are tagged each week in #FF posts. That sounds like a nice idea, but  most of the Tweets are really just a list of names without context. If I want to know who you’re following, I’ll visit your profile page. I believe that – for many of these users – #FF is a ruse by which they fish for reciprocation; after all, it’s impolite to not return a compliment (or at least say thank you). #FollowFriday – once a way to learn about new users on an emerging social media platform – has devolved into a system in which people solicit ReTweets and mentions without generating useful content.

Of course, not every #FF is a selfish act masquerading as benevolence. My friend, Jen Price, tweeted at me that she enjoys the practice. “When #FF is done well, with a reason for following, I find new people to follow. I appreciate the introductions to new folks.”

Jen is right…when people share details and make introductions, #FollowFriday can be a valuable tool. It’s just that 99% of #FF messages ignore that basic common sense. I’ve seen some people use the hashtag #WhyIFollow, while including a bit about the person. Ephraim Gopin has been known to use the hashtag #YFF (the Y is for WHY) and do the same thing. Aren’t these tactics more helpful?

Even after acknowledging the small numbers of folks who do it “right,” the sheer majority of bad #FF Tweets has pushed me to the breaking point. I appreciate each and every time I’m mentioned in someone’s #FollowFriday tweet, but please know that I will never again publicly thank you or RT your mention. It’s not that I don’t care…it’s not even that I don’t think you legitimately enjoy the content I generate. It’s just that I think there’s a more genuine way to point your audience in my direction, especially if you think my Tweets, blog posts and/or ideas would interest them.

Groucho Marx once famously said that he would never be part of any club that would have him as a member. The #FF Brigade is actively evangelical and would accept anyone with its ranks…isn’t that reason enough to be wary?

What do YOU think? Do you participate in #FollowFriday? Do you RT your #FF mentions? Why or why not?

The Only Social Media Resolution that Matters

This week I’ve read scores of articles and blog posts listing year-end social media resolutions, tips, tricks, best/worst strategies and more. On the cusp of the New Year, it’s normal to look back and look forward, but the trend is more than a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ll make it easy for you; there’s one thing you should resolve to do in your social media efforts, one word that runs through all of 2011’s best practices and will be part of every single social media success story in 2012.

That word is engagement.

Perhaps it’s not earth shattering, but in 2012, individuals and brands can no longer afford to just “be on” social media. Using social media platforms to simply broadcast a message is unacceptable; those who put effort into building their communities will (and already do) matter more than the ones that are only interested in selling and promoting.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t do social media well without being social.

Lose your automations. Give credit for your inspirations. Follow/friend/circle liberally…but not so liberally that you miss potentially interesting content. Listen more than you talk. Show gratitude. Be serious without taking yourself too seriously.

There are hundreds (thousands?) of social media platforms, and it’s likely that 2012 will see the birth of many more. With a million channels to connect, it’s easy to forget that there’s only one way to build something that matters. Engage and you will reap the rewards.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope to hear more from you in 2012 than you hear from me…and I wish you and your families happiness, health and success.

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Credit Where it’s Due

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the fifth and (thankfully) final installment.

Pardon my French, but Twitter is one big circle jerk.

Maybe that’s overly crude, but I think you know what I mean. A particularly interesting or valuable link can be shared dozens, sometimes even hundreds or thousands of time. When you follow many people in a specific sphere of influence, it often seems like the same people are sharing the same links from the same websites over and over again. Except there’s a major difference in how some of us share links, and even though it can feel like there’s no law on the “Wild West Internet,” there’s one rule that too many people have no problem breaking.

If you didn’t write it, credit the person who did. No exceptions.

Let’s examine how a specific link was shared by two different Twitter accounts today:

5 Social Media Articles to Unwrap and Enjoy Today j.mp/uJtYwn via @pushingsocial

— Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) December 23, 2011

Stanford Smith writes for (and runs?) Pushing Social. He wrote the article and Tweeted the link, including his own handle. Was that redundant? Perhaps…but perhaps not when you consider that Michael Corley read Stanford’s post and thought it was valuable enough to Tweet WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION.

I have nothing against Michael Corley and feel a little bad for calling him out like this. Michael, if this gets back to you, I hope you realize two things: 1) it’s not personal; and 2) it’s unlikely that anyone besides the two of us know about this blog post.

I realize that 140 characters is a significant limit, but there’s always room to credit an author. Sometimes you want to squeeze an editorial comment into your Tweet, but I promise, your audience does not appreciate your personal opinion nearly as much as the writer appreciates getting recognized for his or her efforts. In fact, I believe that leaving out the author (or at least, the website) from your Tweet is akin to plagiarism.

That’s right, I said it. Plaigiarism. It’s an ugly word, huh?

Image copywright is likely owned by Fox and/or Matt Groening. But who cares, right? It's the internet. I invented Bart Simpson!

I urge you to remember this lesson the next time you share a link on Twitter. Writing is a cumbersome, often unrewarding task. Even if you’re not technically claiming credit for someone else’s work, an unattributed link *feels* like that to the author. Believe me, linking to an article without crediting its creator is a naughty, naughty no-no.

It’s the season of giving. If you think something is valuable enough to share, don’t be a Scrooge and deprive credit from its source.

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Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you and your family have a warm, safe and happy holiday season. Thanks for reading!

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

12/21 – Social Media Interns

12/22 – Breaking a Promise