Tag Archives: twitter

A week ago Thursday, I took a break from writing to wander off to Twitter, as one does. A message came up in my feed, with an Instagram link, and I clicked to view. Without thinking twice, I immediately responded.

The tweet was sort of a social media snowball – Jonathan Adler’s company was tweeting an Instagram posted by ELLE magazine of one of his needlepoint pillows in their September issue. Ironically, both the new issue of ELLE and Jonathan Adler post-it notes sat on my desk as I was typing.

The pillow is one I have seen before. Stitched in a rainbow of sherbet colors are the words: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. A pretty boudoir pillow. An ugly message.

Kate Moss certainly wasn’t the first to say it, but three years after she called it her motto in a 2009 WWD interview, images of her with those superimposed words could be found posted across Tumblr and Pinterest and pro-ana sites that fill the web.

I have never myself had an eating disorder, but I know those who have struggled with them and those who’ve lost loved ones to them. I spent several years working for a renown ED author and first learned of the dangers of pro-ana sites – virtual cheerleaders for those with EDs, offering thinspiration through images, tips and tricks. Within the last year, any such images are now banned from sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. BANNED. And you know where else thinspo images are banned? Instagram.

As per their Terms of Use:

While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders…will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.”

Where fashion, design and social media intersect, doesn’t a certain level of responsibility need to be taken?

Brands know the power of social media. It’s why they create Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages and Pinterest boards. My tweet was immediately noticed, and responded to, by others who shared my concern. Some I knew, others were strangers.

While I had some good conversations with other Twitter users, not a word was said in response by Jonathan Adler or ELLE. To each person who said they were concerned, found it irresponsible, knew the pain of a loved one with an eating disorder – no response. The Adler account has a lot of followers, but you’d think that a concentrated number of tweets in a row to with both Adler and ELLE’s handles would have drawn notice. Twitter accounts are monitored. I thought they might delete the tweet. Realize it was foolish. No big show need be made. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Speaking of action, this last May, the editors of the 19 VOGUE magazine editions published worldwide, in partnership with the CFDA Health Initiative, announced moves to “ban models under 16 or those of any age with visible signs of eating disorders.” In reaction to this news, the following statement was made by The Hearst Corp.:

“Good health is something we strive to promote in our magazines, both in our fashion and beauty stories and in our features. We make every effort to educate our readers and present images that reflect strong, beautiful women.”

Hearst publishes ELLE.

You lose credibility with your readers when you promote the very thing you claim you don’t promote.

With all the recent controversy over what makes a good social media manager, one has to wonder if the people running social media for Jonathan Adler and ELLE consider what they’re doing?

I’m an Adler fan. My home is filled with his designs for bed and bath, books, pottery and paper goods. It dawned on me that a visit to my blog or my Instagram feed or Pinterest boards and you’d find Adler in all those places.

I wish I could say the pillow is witty. Wit is a wonderful thing. Except some things aren’t funny. Some things are too easily taken at face value and the humor lost leads to something dangerous. Some truly believe that being skinny is all that matters. That to starve is to succeed. That the words stitched onto that pillow are words of wisdom.

It doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to sell the pillow. It just means their social media people shouldn’t be posting it to Instagram. People, brands, everyone, need to read the TOS.

I love fashion mags and have a stack of September issues three feet tall I’m currently wading through. I want to believe that these magazines are planning to do what they say and that designers understand that the power of their influence. Especially in social media.

The greatest irony, if you can call it that, is that directly above the pillow is an image of Marilyn Monroe. Though unrelated, the two images seem such a ridiculous contrast.

Social media was abuzz this week over news about people buying Twitter followers. I thought this was common knowledge, but from the reactions I saw, I realized many were unaware. I’m happy to see that it’s being acknowledged and discussed. Sure, followers can be bought, but at what cost?

Purchasing social media clout is a bit like taking a shortcut to win a marathon. The only victory, if you can call it that, is getting away with pretending to be better at something than you are.

Across the web, you can buy followers for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. They’re relatively inexpensive. Forbes reported sites selling a thousand Twitter followers for $17, while last fall,this Inc. article broke down some eBay options.

So, what caused the breaking news and a flurry of tweets and Facebook posts this week? All it took was a free, web-based, third-party Twitter app to raise awareness about the need for social media quality control.

On Monday, Fast Company published a story about the StatusPeople Fakers app bringing a bit of what they called “Twitter shame” to social media. StatusPeople wanted to call out those who “buy followers in a vain attempt to build legitimacy.”

I saw a certain level of concern as people tweeted and posted, realizing that an app could possibly reveal numbers we trusted could, in fact, be wrong.

Fakers doesn’t tell you if someone has purchased followers, but it does reveal what percentage of followers one interacts with, how many are bots and how many accounts are inactive. You don’t have to sign up for an account; as a third party service you sign in with your Twitter account.

The app has some limitations, as the measurements are made from a sampling of 500 followers, but they state on their site that:

For those of you with 10,000 followers or less we believe our tool will provide a very accurate insight into how many inactive and fake followers you have.

If you’re very ‘popular’ the tool will still provide good insight but may better reflect your current follower activity rather than your whole follower base.

Apps that help you clean out your Twitter lists and eliminate followers who don’t interact are not new. This concept is somethign different. StatusPeople doesn’t want the Fakers to compromise Twitter integrity. They want users “to be able to spot them, and steer clear of them.” Whether people will change their behavior because they could face “Twitter shame” is yet to be seen.

Within 48 hours of the Fakers app taking Twitter by a storm came talk about changes at Klout. Changes in the algorithm by which they measure social influence were unveiled, causing some scores to rise and others to drop with positive and negative opinions shared accordingly.

We place so much value in numbers — followers, likes, stats, ranks, scores — without realizing how easily those numbers can be manipulated by purchasing followers or learning how to work the Klout system, as one Wired journalist wrote about in April.

When I spoke about Pinterest and leveraging social media at BlogHer ’12 in New York earlier this month, I couldn’t stress enough my belief that one’s social media value isn’t inherently based on numbers. That quality over quantity was important. Quality is harder to fabricate.

As a writer and as an editor, I am big on fact checking. I want to know where to get info and who are trusted sources.

If someone has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, why do we so easily allow that number to validate them, without anything to support it? It’s an odd sort of hero worship, and it reminds me of the post Morgan of the818 wrote called Social Media Is a Warm Gun. An important reminder that people with big followings are not always reputable sources.

Social media does allow for Wild West behavior. People have the ability to present themselves as whatever they want to be. I doubt that, before the 21st century, so many people had bios and business cards that defined them as experts. But we trust this expertise based on…numbers.

Perhaps we need the option of using social media platforms without disclosing numbers. Before platforms like Twitter and Klout existed, back when blogs were stumbled upon in the literal sense, people read them because the content mattered to them. The quality was right there on digital paper.

Sometimes these numbers are a bit like going to the home of someone who has to tell you the how much everything costs. A painting isn’t any nicer because I know it cost three thousand dollars at auction. But knowing the number often makes us feel we are supposed to admire it for that reason, and not simply for what we like about it.

Let’s place less value in social media numbers and more in content that inspires, educates and informs us. Let’s connect because we like what we see, not because we’re think we should based on numeric value.

If StatusPeople’s Fakers app is the beginning of a shift toward transparency in social media, let’s find the silver lining here. There is a tremendous amount of talent online. If we, as bloggers, continue to produce the best work we can, than the opportunities that blogging brings will remain possible, regardless of the social media number du jour.