• Our Friend the Faceclutcher
  • Conspiracy Media Group is a social research and communication strategy agency.

    We focus on finding insights amidst the noise and guide clients in how those insights can but used to move their business forward.

Invasion Of The Twitter-Snatchers

We posted recently about the growing volume of bot-generated posts in social in general and on Twitter in particular. Good piece on slate about this “artificial stupidity”. It’s relatively harmless to the average jane/joe but for businesses who are paying for social listening tools it’s a real problem as an increasing quantity of what they interpret as relevant volume is utter bullshit.

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina.

The vapidness of the results from social listening tools are a dirty little secret of the industry, the equivalent of the fake clicks that are a big part of online media, but eventually this issue puts at risk social listening as a research tool. Hopefully Twitter fixes things before it gets damaged beyond repair.

The Twitter Analytics Mess


A few years ago blogs became disastrous for social analytics. The blog content farms like Demand Media corrupted blogs as a source for analytics until Google changed the algorithm and cleaned it up.

Twitter is suffering from the same issue now. Bots and other high-volume oddities have clogged search results and rendered broad analytics virtually useless. Trust us, don’t trust Twitter results via social listening tools. They’re generally full of odd spam and bot-crap.

This isn’t Twitter’s only issue for use in analytics. The network increasingly feels like a PR Newswire source and less like a true environment for social exchanges. This combo of Bot-spam and Newswire-centricity has us depending less and less on the network for getting real insight into consumer point of view on a brand or a topic. I imagine us leaving Twitter out if it doesn’t get cleaned up soon.

Gluten-Free Social Marketing

My wife came home with $300 bucks worth of Gluten-Free food from Whole Foods last week. All basically identical to the $250 of regularly over-priced food we get from Whole Foods every week. She also bought a cookbook called gluten-free girl and the chef.

I had heard about gluten-free of course but mostly because of a couple friends who have kids with Celiac Disease. Lately though it’s everywhere. I don’t know whether it’s a fad or something sustainable but I love the way it’s been marketed. Both in general and by the woman who wrote the book about gluten-free cooking, Shauna James Ahem. There’s a nice article about how she marketed the book by Dianne Jacob

She seems to have done four things right:

1) She spent her time in the community. Shauna has 42,000 Twitter followers and 15,000 Facebook fans. She talks to them every day. Pros and cons, recipes, Q & A’s, curation, it’s all there. And she did this community engagement first.

2) She writes a blog, called of course, gluten-free girl. Producing longer form content is critical in the social space for becoming an influencer and leader on a topic. It can’t all be curation. Even if your long form is point of view. Ahem’s is recipes and the stories, all of which then flow through other bloggers through Twitter, and to her community through Facebook. It’s perfect.

3) She wrote a book. This is wonderful not just because she sells a book, but because for the social community the book is now big news. Bloggers are dying for news, and content, and interviews etc. Ahem has just created a trifecta of new content for the entire social system. From big foodie bloggers to the regular joes and janes like us trying to figure out how we’re going to eat healthier.

4) She went out to the community and engaged in an interesting and newsworthy way. Instead of a traditional book tour Ahem went to NYC and had a picnic in Central Park with her social community. Ditto in San Francisco at Dolores Park. Guess what, this isn’t just engagement with her fans, it’s also NEWS for the blogging community to report on.

All four of these components put together is the perfect model for every marketer. Engage with the community, create and curate content, do things that are newsworthy and cycle it all back through the system over and over again.

Twitter: From Stupid to Brilliant in 12 Easy Months

In the last year or so we’ve seen Twitter go from feeling like the silliest, most irrational element of our social marketing efforts to being the most thoughtful and rational.

To a large degree this is due to the way in which the blogging and journalist community at large is using the system as a content feed. But it’s not just the pros using it more rationally it’s also the truly socially active and influential who are using the “What’s Happening Now” effect to help them stay on top of things in the world they care about. Very different than the origins of Twitter usage.

Simon Dumenco from adage covers this transition nicely in

Who’s Got Next?

In the beginning there was America Online and there were chatrooms and websites and it was good. Everyone was sending “electronic mail” which was nice and then they were sending “e-mail” which was even better but then we started sending “email”, and well, that was the absolute BEST.


Napster had a decent run there for a while there, didn’t it? But Napster of course ruined everything, by convincing people that they could have something they love, something they need, for free. And now anytime we have to pay a red cent for ANYTHING digital we are up in arms. But alas it was too good to last and Napster never really figured out a way to make it as a legit business.



Which brings us to The Book Face. Originally conceived as a way to digitally remove people’s faces and preserve them in book form, it was soon re-strategized as the world’s largest storehouse of 80s haircut photos.


In digital terms Facebook actually grew pretty slowly. Unlike Napster you heard about Facebook before you were allowed to have it. And this forbidden fruit vibe made it irresistible. Pretty soon you were using it for everything you used to use electronic mail/e-mail/email for — pictures of your kids, long-lost videos of that cool band you used to like, your cat’s super-cute fall wardrobe, you name it — you aint e’ing it you’re F’ing it.


But lately doesn’t it maybe kinda feel like we’re at a “what’s next?” phase? Maybe it’s the privacy stuff, maybe it’s Diaspora, maybe it’s natural/digital selection, maybe it’s all (or none) of the above.


Speaking of Diaspora, the open-source for the Facebook alternative is now available. Is this the FB-killer? Could be. The screenshots look awfully familiar but sometimes that’s the way it is with digital innovation. Zuckerberg even called Diaspora a “cool idea”.


I could end way wrong on this but Diaspora feels like a band-aid. It’s an open-source patched-up version of something everyone already has, which is possibly something everyone will flock to. But not for long.  I feel like the next move will be something with mobile at its core. Like some sort of Facebook/Foursquare/Twitter/Pandora mashup, built FOR mobile (rather than a mobile version of an existing dealie).


Marketers like to tell their clients to spend $ on Facebook in large part because that’s where their audience is. This is also true with individuals. Sure we all have outlier holdout friends but they’ll buy the Farmville soon enough.


But by the time they do will the party be over? Clearly there’s been a sea change at Facebook, and that Zuckerberg fella has decided that it’s as fun and challenging to figure out how to monetize the thing as it was to create and nurture it. Fine. It’s his baby. And hey, he had a pretty good run.


Twitter’s Growing Up?

We managed a campaign recently for a very fun and active social marketing effort in which Twitter played a big role. It played a significantly more powerful and specific role than we imagined possible.

The client we were doing work for has a very large and passionate fan base and we thought Twitter would be a place those fans could keep an eye on what our client was up to during the content distribution phase, participate in the effort as they saw fit, and basically keep a pulse on the community. And that happened for sure.

What really took us by surprise is how quickly and efficiently the professional channels became a part of the Twitter base. With only a little bit of outreach Twitter became the most efficient social press relations and retailer relations tool we used. Particularly for consistent story and content distribution throughout the effort.

Now it is possible that Twitter has been this efficient for awhile but it was hard to tell during much of the frenzy over the last year or two. As some of that consumer frenzy and volume has disappeared we’ve discovered a whole new Twitter emerge. And she’s all grown up.