New social media team member Lindsay at our ‘other office’ with Jinka and Tony with Tony at Zubi Bar – View on Path.
Every week we see friends, competitors, governments and large companies losing control of their personal or professional identity on Twitter. It can be personally embarrassing, materially effect your business reputation, or even bring whole sharemarkets crashing down.
Keeping your Twitter account safe is actually really easy. It requires no geeky skills whatsoever. There are basically two ways the bad guys gain access to your account, and both techniques can be easily thwarted.
Check shortened URLS before clicking on them
By far the most popular way to sneak access to your Twitter login and password is to send you a tweet or direct message (DM) containing a URL that leads you to a malicious web page designed to hoover up your details or run malicious code.
This strategy is made even more effective when the tweet or DM appears to comes from a person or brand you trust, when really it’s been sent because the person or brand’s account has already been compromised and is now busy replicating itself by reaching out to the Twitter accounts followed by the compromised account.
All the many variations on this trick rely on one thing: they try to get you to click on a link in the tweet or DM. They can only work if you click on the link. And the destination URL is commonly disguised using an URL shortener that shortens URLs like “http://www.thenewagency.com.au/blog/ohthosecrazyhackers” to “http://bit.ly/sJHs” so you can’t tell where the link is taking you to.
If you get a tweet or DM from a stranger, or a person or brand you’d ordinarily trust, do yourself a favour and use a ‘shortened URL checker’ service to inspect the URL safely before you click on it. Google “check shortened URL” and you’ll find lots of great free tools, or use TNA’s recommended tool, Unfurlr, from the lovely folks at Mailchimp. Just copy the tweet and paste the URL into the Unfurlr form and it’ll tell you whether the full URL is likely to lead you where you expect it to, or to somewhere potentially malicious.
There’s an even easier way — these attacks are always run by bots, and bots don’t answer when you ask them, “Hey, did you mean to send me this URL? Just checking before I open it”.
Bots, malicious code, and all of that is very impressive, but there’s an easier way to get unauthorised access to your Twitter account: guessing your password.
Create an unguessable password
A lot of Twitter accounts have passwords that are easy to figure out if you have access to a software program that can create millions of combinations of words drawn from a dictionary. If you’re the kind of person who likes an easy-to-remember password, or if you need to share a password with someone else to manage a Twitter account for your business, there are ways to design a password so that it’s easy for humans to remember but hard to computers to guess, and this XKCD cartoon is a great guide.
If easy sharing isn’t necessary, take your security up a notch and get a computer to create and remember unguessable passwords for you. At TNA we use and heartily endorse 1Password on our Macs, iPhones and iPads (there are versions for Windows and Android too).
1Password’s price varies according to the number of licenses you need, but we’d happily pay twice as much as it costs. 1Password remembers all the logins and passwords you already have, and keeps them securely stored on all your devices, so that logging in on your desktop or laptop is as simple as clicking on a button on your web browser toolbar (or flicking back to the 1Password app on your mobile/tablet).
It also creates unguessable passwords in a single click from that toolbar button when you sign up for a new service, and automagically remembers a new password if you change it.
Best of all, you can use a free Dropbox account to store and sync your logins and passwords automagically across all your devices — change your password from your Mac and it’s already updated when you go to login from your iPhone. “Made of win”, as the young social media professionals used to say (at least until we started saying it too).
Use a professional tool
If you’re a social media professional or in a communications role that includes some social media work, you should really spend a little money and signup for something like HootSuite. In addition to providing workflow scheduling and reporting for your social media it adds its own layer of logins and passwords for each member of your team.
At The New Agency we often manage our clients social media accounts for them, and using HootSuite allows us to keep their master Twitter login and password details safe by just giving them access to their HootSuite login and ensuring their HootSuite passwords remain secure.
What about Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc?
In general, all this advice also applies to other social media accounts— don’t use guessable passwords and don’t click on links until you’re sure what they point to.
The next wave in protection for your online accounts is two-factor authentication, which relies on keeping track of all the browsers on all the devices you use to access your social media. When a new browser/device is used, a confirmation (usually a PIN-like number) is sent to your pre-registered mobile phone number and you’ll be asked to enter that number into the new browser before being given access to the social media account.
Two-factor authentication can be a little unwieldy for a social media account shared by a large team from multiple computers and phones but it’s ideal for a single social media professional or for your personal accounts.
Twitter is working on ‘two-factor authentication’ and Google and Facebook already offer it. If you’re representing your personal business or a bigger brand on Facebook, learn how to add two-factor authentication right now. If you’ve got lots of YouTube videos or use GMail for your work email, consider using it there too.
Did you find the hidden message in the URLs in this story?
Watch TEDxSydney live today at http://www.TEDxSydney.com/live while The New Agency team help produce the event
Ask anyone who attended the Startmate pitch events in Melbourne and Sydney this month, and they’ll tell you: these were some of the best startup pitches in the Australian startup community.
But don’t ask us, ask them.
Next week, The New Agency’s Alan will head to Silicon Valley with this year’s Startmate startups to help make investor introductions, do further pitch training, and generally help them hit the ground running in the US — the biggest and most competitive startup community in the world.
Got a pitch that could use a little work? Let us help you nail it.
If you watch a lot of online videos for education or research, you’ll find VideoNotes a really useful tool.
It’s as simple as this: sign in with a Google account (VideoNotes uses Google Drive for storage) and then paste in the URL for a…
Great free way to take notes about a video you’re watching. Works with most online hosted videos
A common mistake for brands new to social media is to define success in terms of building followers (on Twitter) or likes (on Facebook).
It’s an easy trap to fall into, since in traditional marketing, the larger your audience, the greater the brand exposure and perhaps, more sales.
Social media is different in that the value of the audience is in the connections — not just audience x frequency, but audience x frequency x interactions.
The value of their interaction with you is greater than the value of your interaction with them, and how you respond is of still greater value.
But the value of a number of people who once followed/liked your brand and never interacted again? Well, it approaches zero very rapidly.
How do you build the growth in valuable interactions? The first principle is to listen first — what interactions are already occurring among the audience you’d like to reach? How can you support and grow those interactions?
You wouldn’t walk up to a group talking at a party and launch straight into “Hi, I’m [Name], who wants to be my friend?”
Instead, you’d stand and listen for a while, understand the conversation, the positions being taken, the motivations of the participants.
Think of social media as arriving late at a party, and needing to find a conversation you can be part of. How are you going to get somebody’s number? It won’t be by shouting yours to everybody in the room.
Some more great tips relating to Twitter here.
Made of awesome: Ros Lawrence, Penrith girl and sister-in-law of Torsten, one of the TNA team, is also a world-champion extreme whitewater kayaker.
Among the affordable rewards for sponsoring Ros is a guided kayak up the Nepean for $150 and a guided raft down the whitewater course at Penrith for $200.
The New Agency will match total sponsorships contributed by our clients and friends up to $2,000 – that’s a group of 10 for whitewater rafting! Just forward a copy of your sponsorship receipt email to anybody at TNA and we’ll keep track of the progress here.
Shit. You’ve got thirty minutes between your kid’s bed time and a Skype call with your offshore dev team to record a video pitch tonight — the kind of thing accelerators, pitch events and investors increasingly ask for these days.
The past year of your work and the next few years of your startup’s life could depend on this. You don’t have the money, time or videographic friends to do a great job.
How do you do a good-enough job?
Assuming you’ve got the actual pitch written, memorised and rehearsed, here’s some practical tips for shooting it and getting a good-enough result.
Be Han Solo
You might be a team of three or four, but adding more people to your shoot makes everything vastly more complicated with lighting, shooting and sound levels. Choose your best team member and keep them in front of the camera. Don’t even be tempted to have other team members lean in and wave. It’s just too distracting for the people reviewing your business opportunity and is too prone to be funny in the wrong kind of way.
What do I shoot it on?
Having access to a great video camera, tripod and directional mic would be great but that’s unlikely to be the case and will in any case mean you spend all night importing, editing and re-editing the shoot. This is near-enough-is-good-enough time.
This is one of those times you get to congratulate yourself for going Apple: the camera in your iPhone 5, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is going to be fine, and iMovie for OSX or iOS is good enough for editing in a title and any Keynote, PowerPoint or PDF graphics you might need to make your case.
How do I set it up?
Angle and elevation is everything: shooting yourself sitting, whispering up close to the camera on your monitor is ‘so YouTube’ and definitely not the look you need. You want to have the camera roughly at eye level or just under when you’re standing facing the camera, and you’ll need enough space to have the camera 2-3m from you, giving you enough room to keep your hands in shot when you go for the big gestures. You should leave about 20% of the vertical length of the shot clear above your head, and that should mean your upper body is in the frame down to the waist.
Assuming you don’t have a tripod adapter for your iPhone, a MacBook is a little easier to setup, since you can adjust the camera angle more easily with the MacBook’s display hinge, you can see yourself in the screen so you can setup without any help, and it’ll sit up stable on a pile of books on top of your dinner table. A MacBook also comes with more disk storage to save and edit the video.
If you’re using the iPhone, use some gaffer tape to secure it to something like a tripod or a stack of books to keep it still. Secure it in the horizontal position so you can shoot in 16:9 format. Download and install iMovie for iOS if you don’t already have it — $5 and it’ll shoot 720p at 30fps in your front-facing camera — adequate resolution for the purpose and you’ll be able to see yourself in the shot to make sure you’ve got the camera positioned correctly.
Lighting and sound
Obviously, don’t do this in the room facing the freeway, in the same room as your room-mates playing HALO or your partner watching Game Of Thrones, or while your toddler bangs your shins with a rubber hammer. You need your mojo on and focused, and background noise will not only kill your mojo but also distract your intended audience from your message.
Try to shoot in a room without aircon hum, and with minimal flat hard surfaces on the walls (eg concrete or brick) because they create echoes and boominess. If you can hear some echo, and the rest of the building is quiet enough, try leaving the door open a little — that circulation will cut boominess a little. Or temporarily gaffer tape a rug or some beach towels on the hard surface walls (obviously not those in shot).
Make sure the room is lit only gently from above — gaffer tape a little baking paper across those hard fluorescent lights if you need to soften them a little. Now try to add another light of about the same magnitude behind the camera, and facing you, to light your face and help you stand out from the background. A reading lamp on a flexible stalk is often great for this.
Make sure you’re standing in front of a plain background — no windows, wall hangings or pictures. Make sure what you’re wearing doesn’t clash with your complexion, and if possible, neither does your background.
Here’s a quick snap of Tony from the agency looking relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera (actually wondering why the hell he’s being asked to pose like this). Other than the fixed, uncomfortable expression, the pink shirt and the back of the office chair in shot, he’s now set up to do a good-enough-for-pitching video.
Remembering we’re aiming for a good-enough result, don’t over-edit your video. It’ll make you stand out against the other video pitches, but it’s more likely to do so in a negative than a positive way.
Shoot several takes, and cut together the best version of each key section of your pitch to make one great pitch (unless, of course, you’ve nailed it in one of your takes!). The best transition to use in your edits is a brief dissolve — you don’t want the transition itself to attract attention, and a dissolve will let the audience know you’ve edited something without calling undue attention to it.
Add a fade in from black to the beginning, and a fade out to black at the end, and don’t be tempted to add any sound or theme music. If you’re using iMovie for iOS, choose the Modern, Bright or Simple themes in Project Settings. If you feel the need to title the opening of your video, keep it low-key and simple and please, use Helvetica and not Comic Sans! ;-)
In most pitches you’ll have the opportunity to upload your slide deck separately, so unless there’s an important concept that’s best explained visually, don’t insert slides from your deck into your video — it’s harder to do than it seems, and most visuals are hard to see if the viewer is watching in a small default player size.
What did we miss?
Disagree with our advice? Got more tips you can share from great pitch videos you’ve made? Let us know in the comments below.
On Twitter, it’s OK to have an account under the name of your business or brand. But on Facebook (or in this case, LinkedIn) creating an account under your business name and then asking others to connect with you betrays a basic misunderstanding of how social media in general — and LinkedIn in particular — should work.
The editor of 21st Century News needs some expert advice on how to market their brand in the 21st century. And some brand marketing advice on how to create a brand name that’ll last more than 99 years!
Hang on tight while we grab the next page