Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do You Have Fake Twitter Followers? Clues to Aid Your Investigation!

I am going to get a bit off subject this week. Along with my knack for writing engaging content (~cough~) I have a set of ethical guidelines and a spoonful of good ole' sincerity that I use when trying to connect with my readers, customers, and social media fans. I'm not sure where this general concern for the human condition has disappeared to lately, but I came across some blatant "abuse" on Twitter that startled me. I AM DISGUSTED BY IT. I was instantly compelled to take a break from posting about tiki culture, sound design, or music in general so I could share my concerns with my readers (many of whom are fellow Tweeters). 

I was recently asked by a company to assist with the implementation of their social media. I make no claims as a guru of web culture or as a master of social marketing at this point in my career! I just wanted to help this company and develop my skills along the way. The company I offered the assistance to already had a solid Facebook business page and a Twitter account among other things. 

When I reviewed the company's Twitter account I noticed some odd things when I was checking out the followers. Look at the image below and see if you notice anything awkward:

At first glance, nothing appears odd. This is what most Twitter "followers" look like. Profile descriptions consist of short and sweet blurbs that make attempts at professionalism, humor, and kindness all in one fell swoop in a freeze-frame of 160 characters. The images all look like regular people as well...the same thing you would see on Facebook. Now look at the screenshot of these "Followers" :

Notice anything out of the ordinary? Several of the brief descriptions are identical with separate images! Are we being fooled by Twitter users or even worse...web-robots? Are companies beefing up the number of followers they have by adding "fake" customers or followers? We saw this in a nationwide news story this political season with the revelation that 92% of Newt Gingrich's followers on Twitter were phony. Now, the company I am working for was most certainly a victim of some sort of spam-bot or "Twitter-follower" genie. I'm 100% sure they did not intend for their Twitter page to be a falsification of their business status and image. Now, the question lies: Do I think that some less-than-stellar companies are using this method to gain a wider following and increase their audience? I am positive! They are the new real-estate brokers of this decade! I imagine we all have a huge bursting bubble of social media to look forward to thanks to these people! Below are more examples of trickery that I noticed:

Notice that there is no interaction on this user's part. Fake? Ummm...yes.

Over 750 followers on this company's Twitter account had absolutely NO TWEETS! These individual profiles must not be winning popularity contests either because they all had somewhere in the range of 2 - 12 followers. 

The point of Twitter and other similar social platforms is to get your message across and spread the word. Somebody likes what you post and shares it with their friends. These people aren't intending to share anything! What's even more odd is that the number of people each fake Twitter profile followed ranged from 80 - 92 every time. It's my belief that even more personal businesses, small businesses, large companies, and even corporations have been targeted by this same sweep. The goal is obviously to get people to follow them back and in turn increasing the number of followers they have. It leads me to believe that all of these accounts are linked to one account and in turn beef up that one account with each follow. Definitely an ethical and privacy concern here!

The same description and picture with a different name? Seriously?!!?

Now, I am not against a company using tactics. I'm not against subtle nuances or gestures that give a company a competitive edge. Consumers have the right to decide what advertising they succumb to; the scope of advertising as a business depends on that very thing. I'm sure that this practice is common knowledge amongst the industry which is a huge reason I'm turned off by it. What I am suggesting is that individuals and businesses that utilize these social tools distinguish themselves ethically by noticing when these sorts of things happen and by following through and doing something about them! Pay attention to the people you are conducting business with and verify that they have ethical standards. You could be the one getting screwed! Pay attention to who your customers are and give them credit. They are NOT stupid. Just as YOU wouldn't watch a movie that seemed to have an awkward storyline and just didn't make sense, your customers will see your company as illegitimate or untrustworthy in the long run. Consumers are smart! It will turn them off. Trust me. In these times of misdirected honesty and falsified trust consumers want nothing more than to deal with a truthful business.

Take the time to verify your customers on your social media accounts. Make sure they are real. The true gem of social media is the interaction! You will never get there with a bunch of clones that claim to be a "devoted bacon enthusiast" or a "typical food ninja." Are you catching my drift?

Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of all these followers is to individually block them or report them for spam. If you have a whole boatload then it's going to take some time for sure. After you have reported or blocked all the fake followers click on your account settings and turn Tweet Privacy ("Protect My Tweets") to on. You will be asked to enter your password to make the changes to your account. This is COOL TO DO. I promise. Then exit out of settings, go back into settings and turn off your Tweet Privacy. When you visit your home page again you will notice that the number of followers have decreased and the unwanted followers are no longer there. Now you can start legitimately building a loyal and tangible base of Twitter-ees to follow you!

There is always going to be that bad apple: the guy that works diligently to create a virus so they can see the downfall of Apple, the internet hackers who use what could be skills to steal identities and secure information, the traitors that release government secrets on Wiki-Leaks or elsewhere, and so on. Chances are that if one or two of these exist on your profile then it just could be new users who haven't gotten the hang of it. You'll know the bad apples when you see them. Be vigilant with your accounts. They define you or your company. Distinguish yourself, your company, your idea or whatever by simply getting back to the basics and using common sense. If they aren't your friend or haven't proved themselves to be legitimate then DO NOT give them the benefit of becoming a part of your network!

Has this happened to you or someone you know? Do you not agree with my take on using fake followers? Have any ideas or helpful advice based on experience? Please comment below!! Share this article with friends and family. Encourage them to be responsible in their business methods! They will thank you in the long run!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Have Robots Emerged Victorious? The Rough Marriage of Musicians and Motion Pictures

When the American Film Institute released it's 100 Years of Film Scores it became common public knowledge that the scoring of film is an integral aspect of the overall sound design of a project. Films that add music to increase or release tension, compound dramatic effect, or provide an ambiance of emotionalism to a scene such as Star Wars, Jaws, Psycho, and Chinatown have been applauded by viewers around the world and are still used and studied today as the foundations for successful scoring. The marriage of music and motion pictures was not a relationship that developed without turmoil, but it has reaped some benefits and offers up a potentially fascinating discussion.

Historically, the use of synchronized sound was generally welcomed in 1927 with the Vitaphone film The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. With Jolson's first synchronized spoken words audiences were captivated and erupted in applause. However, the film was not universally accepted as groundbreaking...especially by musicians. They described it as stagnant at best. They perceived it as a threat. Music in movies prior to the release of The Jazz Singer was performed by paid musicians in a theater environment, a tradition that rooted in nickelodeon's with a single organ or piano player accompanying silent films. As noted in a fascinating article posted on The Smithsonian website, artists and critics saw sound as robotic replacements for the performance of live talent. The cost of show's utilizing Vitaphone was vastly cheaper than the theater performances with an average difference in price of $2.25 - $3.00 in difference (astronomical for the times). 

Economic times and the onset of the Great Depression urged musicians to be cognizant of any threat to employment. In 1930, after setting a minimum wage demanding high payment for the recording of synchronized music (a difficult endeavor at the time), the American Federation of Musicians banded together to form the Music Defense League to address the displacement of orchestras in the motion picture theaters. They fought adamantly against what they referred to as "canned music" encouraging citizens to support live performance, a sentiment that is echoed in the music industry today with the advent of social media and "free music" services that limit earning potential for artistic endeavors. The AFM spent an unheard of $500,000 on an advertising campaign attempting to smear the recording industry.

The advertisements depicted robots as synchronized sound nurturing children, physically hurting musicians, or seducing weak female characters meant to personify movie audiences. A general concern about numbing the public to the power of artistic performance existed within the music community. Concern over profits and the decreasing number of employed musicians in the film arena were main concerns as well. Predictions, often dire in nature, were made regarding the public perception of the love affair between film and live music some of which ring true today albeit with a certain element of mediocrity.

TODAY THE DEBATE SHIFTS and I encourage you to share your comments. What contrasts do you see that exist today that make this a relevant discussion? Although a very small number of musicians are dedicated to film scoring today, I believe that technology has enabled the sharing of music to thrive. In regards to recording, the advent of digital technology has enabled musicians to soar creatively in addition to creating new genres of powerful and meaningful music. Sound designers have embraced technology and now incorporate thematic elements of music within the design of the entire body of the creative envelope. The performance of live music has once again become a staple in profiteering for musicians. The evidence abounds in the monetary successes of music festivals, concert tours, and live theater nationwide.  Even individuals and small businesses have been moved to create multimedia portfolios that are used to display their digital artwork, business products, or still image photography with the accompaniment of sound.

Although we may look back and laugh at this as we shuffle our iPods, blast our Blu-Ray home theater surround systems, and tune in to Spotify, this parallels several debates that exist today that generations after us may "LMAO" at [insert potential issue here]!! A successful marriage between technology and live performance is necessary to garner respect as both a musician and a sound engineer these days. 

In essence, it offers up a potential brainstorm session as to how the movie industry, sound designers, and musicians can develop a wonderful harmony or marriage to introduce live performance into the arena again. Show production technology, future advances in sound systems, and a willingness to explore artistic endeavors may be the ring(s) that unite us in the cause. Comments are encouraged and welcomed! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cool Photography Portfolio Idea: Original Score & Video

Need a cool idea for a photography portfolio? The Gangi Sound creates multimedia portfolios for individuals and businesses to separate themselves from the mediocrity of the mainstream.  My most recent work was for a photographer serving in the US Navy in Norfolk, Virginia and can be viewed below. My conviction is that socially, proficiently, and professionally utilizing multimedia formats within your portfolio, website, blog, etc. will help you stand out when marketing your talents or products. CLICK HERE for a great article on the benefits of utilizing social multimedia for business exposure. Want to know more about multimedia portfolios in general...CLICK HERE!!

This is a job I enjoy doing for people because it has so many benefits for both me and my customers. For the customer it's rather inexpensive (as it is a new service I am offering), very effective, and broadens the reach and scope of their portfolio, products, etc. The perks for me include original composition of music and sound and building quality relationships with people as a designer of sound and video. 


I keep my customers involved throughout the entire process. The process should take no more than 3 days provided full participation from the customer. All I require is a collection of original, high-resolution photos to get started. The process for getting those files into my hands will be shared upon agreement to commission the work. Together we will work to develop an appropriate theme and style for the audio using the pictures as our thematic basis. It's important to have this unification. I will then compose a customized score and submit it for customer approval. Once the music is approved I begin the process of video editing and again send as many drafts as necessary to the customer for approval. You are provided with a high-quality QuickTime video (.mov file) to use as you wish. I do credit my company with all the work in the video for artistic credit and take great care to make it a routine and very brief portion of the final project.

I have the ability to consult my customers on how to get maximum exposure for your video and charge very little for that element to be included in my packages. Above is an example of the work that I do. If you are interested in having something like this developed for your website, blog, business, or personal use, please visit the contact page of www.TheGangiSound.com and send me an e-mail including details of your vision for quotes.