Posts Tagged 'Twitter'

December 5, 2013

How to Report Abuse to SoftLayer

When you find hosted content that doesn't meet our acceptable use policy or another kind of inappropriate Internet activity originating from a SoftLayer service, your natural reaction might be to assume, "SoftLayer must know about it, and the fact that it's going on suggests that they're allowing that behavior." I know this because every now and then, I come across a "@SoftLayer is phishing my email. #spamming #fail" Tweet or a "How about u stop hacking my computer???" Facebook post. It's easy to see where these users are coming from, so my goal for this post is to provide the background you need to understand how behavior we don't condone — what we consider "abuse" of our services — might occur on our platform and what we do when we learn about it.

The most common types of abuse reported from the SoftLayer network are spam, copyright/trademark infringement, phishing and abusive traffic (DDoS attacks). All four are handled by the same abuse team, but they're all handled a bit differently, so it's important to break them down to understand the most efficient way to report them to our team. When you're on the receiving end of abuse, all you want is to make it stop. In the hurry to report the abusive behavior, it's easy to leave out some of the key information we need to address your concern, so let's take a look at each type of abuse and the best ways to report it to the SoftLayer team:

If You Get Spam

Spam is the most common type of abuse that gets reported to SoftLayer. Spam email is unsolicited, indiscriminate bulk messaging that is sent to you without your explicit consent. If you open your email client right now, your junk mail folder probably has a few examples of spam ... Someone is trying to sell you discount drugs or arrange a multi-million dollar inheritance transfer. In many ways, it's great that email is so easy to use and pervasive to our daily lives, but that ease of use also makes it an easy medium for spammers to abuse. Whether the spammer is a direct SoftLayer customer or a customer of one of our customers or somewhere further down the line of customers of customers, spam messages sent from a SoftLayer server will point back to us, and our abuse team is the group that will help stop it.

When you receive spam sent through SoftLayer, you should forward it directly to our abuse team (abuse@softlayer.com). Our team needs a full copy of the email with its headers intact. If you're not sure what that means, check out these instructions on how to retrieve your email headers. The email headers help tell the story about where exactly the messages are coming from and which customer we need to contact to stop the abuse.

If You See Phishing

Phishing abuse might be encountered via spam or you might encounter it on a website. Phishing is best described as someone masquerading as someone else to get your sensitive information, and it's one of the most serious issues our abuse team faces. Every second that a phishing/scam site is online, another user might be fooled into giving up his or her credit card or login information, and we don't want that to happen. Often, the fact that a site is not legitimate is clear relatively quickly, but as defenses against phishing have gotten better, so have the phishing sites. Take a minute to go through this phishing IQ test to get an idea of how difficult phishing can be to trace.

When it comes to reporting phishing, you should send the site's URL to the abuse team (also using abuse@softlayer.com). If you came across the phishing site via a spam email, be sure to include the email headers with your message. To help us filter the phishing complaint, please make sure to include the word "phishing" in your email's subject line. Our team will immediately investigate and follow up with the infringing customer internally.

If You Find Copyright or Trademark Infringement

If infringement of your copyright or trademark is happening on our platform, we want to know about it so we can have it taken down immediately. Copyright complaints and trademark complaints are handled slightly differently, so let's look at each type to better understand how they work.

Complaints of copyright infringement are processed by our abuse team based on the strict DMCA complaint laws. When I say "strict" in that sentence, I'm not saying it lightly ... Because DMCA complaints are legal issues, every requirement in the DMCA must be met in order for our team to act on the complaint. That might seem arbitrary, but we're not given much leeway when it comes to the DMCA process, and we have to be sticklers.

On our DMCA legal page, we outline the process of reporting a DMCA complaint of copyright infringement (primarily citing the statute 17 U.S.C. Section 512(c)(3)). If you don't completely understand what needs to be included in the claim, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice. It sounds harsh, but failure to submit copyright infringement notification as described above will result in no legal notice or action on behalf of SoftLayer. When you've made sure all required evidence has been included in your DMCA complaint, make sure "copyright" or "DMCA" are included in your subject line and submit the complaint to copyright@softlayer.com.

Trademark complaints do not have the same requirements as copyright complaints, but the more information you can provide in your complaint, the easier it will be for our customer to locate and remove the offending material. If you encounter unauthorized use of your registered trademark on our network, please email copyright@softlayer.com with details — the exact location of the infringing content, your trademark registration information, etc. — along with an explanation that this trademark usage is unauthorized and should be removed. In your email, please add the word "trademark" to the subject line to help us filter and prioritize your complaint.

If You See Abusive Traffic

Spam, phishing and copyright infringement are relatively straightforward when it comes to finding and reporting abuse, but sometimes the abuse isn't as visible and tangible (though the effect usually is). If a SoftLayer server is sending abusive traffic to your site, we want to know about it as quickly as possible. Whether that behavior is part of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack or is just scanning ports to possibly attack later, it's important that you give us details so we can prevent any further activity.

To report this type of abuse, send a snippet from your log file including at least 10 lines of logs that show attempts to break into or overload your server. Here's a quick reference to where you can find the relevant logs to send:

  • Email Spam - Send Mail Logs:
    • /var/log/maillog
    • /usr/local/psa/var/log/maillog
  • Brute Force Attacks - Send SSH Logs:
    • /var/log/messages
    • /var/log/secure

Like spam and phishing reports, abusive traffic complaints should be sent to abuse@softlayer.com with a quick explanation of what is happening and any other details you can provide. When you submit a complaint about abusive traffic, make sure your message's subject line reflects the type of issue ("DDoS attack," "brute force attempts," etc.) so our team can investigate your report even quicker.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, these are just four types of abusive behavior that our abuse department addresses on a daily basis. Our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) outlines what can and cannot be hosted using SoftLayer services, and the process of reporting other types of abuse is generally the same as what you see in the four examples I mentioned above ... Send a clear, concise report to abuse@softlayer.com with key words about the type of violation in the message's subject line. When our team is able to look into your complaint and find the evidence they need to take action, they do so quickly.

I can't wrap up this blog of tips without mentioning the "Tips from the Abuse Department" blog Jennifer Groves wrote about reporting abuse ... It touches on some of the same ideas as this post, and it also provides a little more perspective from behind the lines of the abuse department. As the social media gal, I don't handle abuse on a day-to-day basis, but I do help people dealing with abuse issues, and I know a simple guide like this will be of value.

If an abuse-related issue persists and you don't feel like anything has been fixed, double-check that you've included all the necessary information and evidence in your correspondence to the abuse team. In most cases, you will not receive a response from the abuse team, but that doesn't mean they aren't taking action. The abuse@ and copyright@ email aliases function as notification systems for our abuse teams, and they correspond with the infringing customers internally when a complaint is submitted. Given the fact that hundreds of users may report the same abusive behavior at the same time, responding directly to each message would slow down the process of actually resolving the issue (which is the priority).

If everything was included in your initial correspondence with the abuse team but you still don't notice a change in the abusive behavior, you can always follow up with our social media team at twitter@softlayer.com, and we'll do everything we can to help.

-Rachel

March 22, 2013

Social Media for Brands: Monitor Twitter Search via Email

If you're responsible for monitoring Twitter for conversations about your brand, you're faced with a challenge: You need to know what people are saying about your brand at all times AND you don't want to live your entire life in front of Twitter Search.

Over the years, a number of social media applications have been released specifically for brand managers and social media teams, but most of those applications (especially the free/inexpensive ones) differentiate themselves only by the quality of their analytics and how real-time their data is reported. If that's what you need, you have plenty of fantastic options. Those differentiators don't really help you if you want to take a more passive role in monitoring Twitter search ... You still have to log into the application to see your fancy dashboards with all of the information. Why can't the data come to you?

About three weeks ago, Hazzy stopped by my desk and asked if I'd help build a tool that uses the Twitter Search API to collect brand keywords mentions and send an email alert with those mentions in digest form every 30 minutes. The social media team had been using Twilert for these types of alerts since February 2012, but over the last few months, messages have been delayed due to issues connecting to Twitter search ... It seems that the service is so popular that it hits Twitter's limits on API calls. An email digest scheduled to be sent every thirty minutes ends up going out ten hours late, and ten hours is an eternity in social media time. We needed something a little more timely and reliable, so I got to work on a simple "Twitter Monitor" script to find all mentions of our keyword(s) on Twitter, email those results in a simple digest format, and repeat the process every 30 minutes when new mentions are found.

With Bear's Python-Twitter library on GitHub, connecting to the Twitter API is a breeze. Why did we use Bear's library in particular? Just look at his profile picture. Yeah ... 'nuff said. So with that Python wrapper to the Twitter API in place, I just had to figure out how to use the tools Twitter provided to get the job done. For the most part, the process was very clear, and Twitter actually made querying the search service much easier than we expected. The Search API finds all mentions of whatever string of characters you designate, so instead of creating an elaborate Boolean search for "SoftLayer OR #SoftLayer OR @SoftLayer ..." or any number of combinations of arbitrary strings, we could simply search for "SoftLayer" and have all of those results included. If you want to see only @ replies or hashtags, you can limit your search to those alone, but because "SoftLayer" isn't a word that gets thrown around much without referencing us, we wanted to see every instance. This is the code we ended up working with for the search functionality:

def status_by_search(search):
    statuses = api.GetSearch(term=search)
    results = filter(lambda x: x.id > get_log_value(), statuses)
    returns = []
    if len(results) > 0:
        for result in results:
            returns.append(format_status(result))
 
        new_tweets(results)
        return returns, len(returns)
    else:
        exit()

If you walk through the script, you'll notice that we want to return only unseen Tweets to our email recipients. Shortly after got the Twitter Monitor up and running, we noticed how easy it would be to get spammed with the same messages every time the script ran, so we had to filter our results accordingly. Twitter's API allows you to request tweets with a Tweet ID greater than one that you specify, however when I tried designating that "oldest" Tweet ID, we had mixed results ... Whether due to my ignorance or a fault in the implementation, we were getting fewer results than we should. Tweet IDs are unique and numerically sequential, so they can be relied upon as much as datetime (and far easier to boot), so I decided to use the highest Tweet ID from each batch of processed messages to filter the next set of results. The script stores that Tweet ID and uses a little bit of logic to determine which Tweets are newer than the last Tweet reported.

def new_tweets(results):
    if get_log_value() < max(result.id for result in results):
        set_log_value(max(result.id for result in results))
        return True
 
 
def get_log_value():
    with open('tweet.id', 'r') as f:
        return int(f.read())
 
 
def set_log_value(messageId):
    with open('tweet.id', 'w+') as f:
        f.write(str(messageId))

Once we culled out our new Tweets, we needed our script to email those results to our social media team. Luckily, we didn't have to reinvent the wheel here, and we added a few lines that enabled us to send an HTML-formatted email over any SMTP server. One of the downsides of the script is that login credentials for your SMTP server are stored in plaintext, so if you can come up with another alternative that adds a layer of security to those credentials (or lets you send with different kinds of credentials) we'd love for you to share it.

From that point, we could run the script manually from the server (or a laptop for that matter), and an email digest would be sent with new Tweets. Because we wanted to automate that process, I added a cron job that would run the script at the desired interval. As a bonus, if the script doesn't find any new Tweets since the last time it was run, it doesn't send an email, so you won't get spammed by "0 Results" messages overnight.

The script has been in action for a couple of weeks now, and it has gotten our social media team's seal of approval. We've added a few features here and there (like adding the number of Tweets in an email to the email's subject line), and I've enlisted the help of Kevin Landreth to clean up the code a little. Now, we're ready to share the SoftLayer Twitter Monitor script with the world via GitHub!

SoftLayer Twitter Monitor on GitHub

The script should work well right out of the box in any Python environment with the required libraries after a few simple configuration changes:

  • Get your Twitter Customer Secret, Access Token and Access Secret from https://dev.twitter.com/
  • Copy/paste that information where noted in the script.
  • Update your search term(s).
  • Enter your mailserver address and port.
  • Enter your email account credentials if you aren't working with an open relay.
  • Set the self.from_ and self.to values to your preference.
  • Ensure all of the Python requirements are met.
  • Configure a cron job to run the script your desired interval. For example, if you want to send emails every 10 minutes: */10 * * * * <path to python> <path to script> 2>&1 /dev/null

As soon as you add your information, you should be in business. You'll have an in-house Twitter Monitor that delivers a simple email digest of your new Twitter mentions at whatever interval you specify!

Like any good open source project, we want the community's feedback on how it can be improved or other features we could incorporate. This script uses the Search API, but we're also starting to play around with the Stream API and SoftLayer Message Queue to make some even cooler tools to automate brand monitoring on Twitter.

If you end up using the script and liking it, send SoftLayer a shout-out via Twitter and share it with your friends!

-@SoftLayerDevs

August 29, 2012

Demystifying Social Media: Get Involved

A few weeks back, Kevin handed me The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk and said we should give it a read. I'm only halfway through it, but I thought I should share some of Vaynerchuk's insights on social media with the SoftLayer blog audience while they are still fresh in my mind.

The best summary of The Thank You Economy comes straight from its pages:

"The Thank You Economy explains how businesses must learn to adapt their marketing strategies to take advantage of platforms that have completely transformed consumer culture and society as a whole."

The book looks at how human nature hasn't changed, but everything else has. The rise of social media is as game-changing as the radio and the television were, and that presents a combination of challenge and opportunity for businesses. In Vaynerchuk's words, "What we call social media is not media, nor is it even a platform. It is a massive cultural shift that has profoundly affected the way society uses the greatest platform ever invented, the Internet."

I've been "in the trenches" with SoftLayer's social media presences for over a year now, and I realized that I take advantage of the fundamental openness of the company. Vaynerchuk urges businesses to dive into social media, and he shares some of most common reasons companies aren't getting involved — I could list all eleven reasons here, but you'd probably recognize them all as excuses you've heard.* The common theme: People (and companies) fear uncertainty, and while that fear is understandable, it shouldn't be paralyzing. The opportunity and necessity of engagement outweigh the excuses.

When you clear all the hurdles preventing your entrance to the world of social media, you need to execute. Vaynerchuk explains how "Cultural Building Blocks" of a company dictate that company's success in social media, and while they aren't exactly an Easy Bake Oven recipe to viral success, they are profound in their simplicity:

  1. Begin with Yourself
  2. Commit Whole Hog
  3. Set the Tone
  4. Invest in Employees
  5. Trust Your People
  6. Be Authentic

The "trust your people" and "be authentic" building blocks resonated the most when I thought of how SoftLayer's social media is managed. The level of trust my boss has in me is both refreshing and challenging, and I find myself working harder to prove I deserve it. A cynic might read that sentence and scoff at its over-the-top positivity, but I'm as honest as I can be ... And that's an example of the challenge of being authentic. SoftLayer employees are passionate about their responsibilities and the company culture, and that kind of enthusiasm is so rare that there's a tendency to assume that it's manufactured.

If I see someone talking to us via social media about a bad experience at SoftLayer, I'm more concerned about changing their experience than I am about what they share with their social network. Often, when I follow up with those customers, when the problem is resolved, it's amazing how surprised people are that someone actually took the time to make things right. I want to hear if someone has a bad experience because I take pride in turning it around. Are we "in control" of what people say about SoftLayer on social media? No. We are in control of how SoftLayer responds to what people are saying about us, though.

Your business needs to be active in social media.

You don't need a "social media team" or a budget or a strategy ... You need to be passionate about your employees, customers and products, and you need to make time to reach out to your community — wherever they are.

What roadblocks have you run into when it comes to your business's social media engagement? If you've been successful, what tips could you share with me (and the rest of the SoftLayer audience)?

-Rachel

*If you're toying with the idea of social media engagement or you're working for a company that hasn't embraced it yet, it's worth it for you to buy The Thank You Economy to read how @garyvee dismantles those excuses.

September 30, 2011

What's Your KRED?

SoftLayer loves startups. The culture, the energy, the potential ... It's all good stuff. As you may remember from my 3 Bars 3 Questions interview and our Teens in Tech profile, one of the ways we support startups is through an incubator program that provides a phenomenal hosting credit and a lot of technology know-how to participating organizations.

In San Francisco, one of the flagship programs we're excited to be a part of is called PeopleBrowsr Labs, a startup accelerator geared toward technology companies in the area. As you sit in the PeopleBrowsr office, the brilliance in the air is almost palpable ... Young companies doing innovative things with everything they need to be successful at their disposal. One of the fringe benefits for participants in PeopleBrowsr Labs is that they're actually rubbing elbows with the PeopleBrowsr team as well ... Which is almost worth the price of admission.

In addition to the Labs sponsorship, SoftLayer is also the infrastructure provider for PeopleBrowsr and its unbelievable data mine of information. They've got every tweet that's been tweeted since early 2008, and they've been able to take that content and make sense of it in unique and interesting ways ... And that's why we stopped by for a visit this week. Last night, PeopleBrowsr officially launched Kred, a dynamic and innovative social influence measurement platform, to a LOT of fanfare (see: TechCrunch).

In the midst of the launch-day craziness, we grabbed Scott Milener, PeopleBrowsr SVP of business development, to have him explain a little about Kred, what differentiates it from the other social influence measurements and what it means for users interested in engaging more effectively with their social networks. Check it out:

With the clear success of the announcement, we want to send a shout out of congratulations to the PeopleBrowsr team. It looks like a phenomenal leap forward in understanding social engagement, and we know it's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what we'll see coming out of the PeopleBrowsr office in the near future.

If you feel a little jaded by the social influence measurements you've seen, Kred's transparency and community-centricity should be refreshing: http://kred.ly

-@PaulFord

September 16, 2011

Social Marketing v. Social Media - And Them Cowboys?

Once again the Dallas Cowboys let a game they weren't supposed to win slip away from them in the 4th quarter. Again it was Tony "oops" Romo that had a hand (or "didn't have hands") in the loss. I can't blame it all on him as I saw many problems that led up to the defeat. I, as a master football coach of 4-6 year-old flag football, could write multiple paragraphs on that subject, but because this is a social media blog, I will get back on topic.

After last night's "4th quarter of doom" that probably led to crazy nightmares for my sleeping kids (I may have been yelling loudly and often), I decided to open Twitter to see what everyone in the world thought about the game. I have to admit I was a little shocked at how many Cowboy haters are out in the wild. Of course the game was trending, and the conversation was ... diverse: You had your die-hard Cowboy fans that were saying, "Shake it off, you weren't supposed to win anyway." You had your fair weather fans that were saying, "Great, another season opener loss, I guess I'll follow the Texans instead." You had the fans of other teams that were saying, "Haha, the Cowboys lost again – Go (Insert your team here)!" And, of course you had the pure Cowboy haters who were saying, "#$%^#$%^#$ the Cowboys they #$%#$% and #$%# and then #$%#$%. Eat it!" I would say most were Cowboy haters, and most of the tweets were not even close to being rated PG-13.

Stay with me now ... I'm finally onto the real topic.

Social Media
What I saw on Twitter last night was real Social Media to me. It was current, real time, opinionated, cool and sad all at the same time. It encapsulated the thoughts and reactions of the public to something that was happening or just happened. Why is social media cool? A couple of weeks ago when the earthquake struck the northeast, people were saying that they received tweet updates of the ground shaking and notifications that an earthquake hit seconds before they felt the tremors in their area. Think about that and how many possible uses that has in lots of different industries. X happens, Y needs to know about it right away, Z tweets it or posts it on Facebook (or any of the 2000 other social apps out there), and like magic you have the information almost before you are supposed to. That's viral social media.

Social Marketing
Social Marketing isn't nearly as sexy. It's only and exactly what it sounds like. We do it at SoftLayer: You see tweets from us talking about press releases, new products, our new website, our new international locations and some of the other value we provide to customers because we know how easy it is to miss some of the best stuff in the noisy social sphere. It helps us build our brand and helps with awareness by getting our name in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise. It drives traffic to our website and straight to our order form. It is significant to our bottom line.

The challenge with this kind of engagement is that the volume of content can seem overwhelming to some. Some customers only want to hear the viral social media kind of stuff with up to the minute news (which is our vision for @SoftLayerNotify), but it's tough to abandon the social marketing piece because it's been so measurably successful for us.

With that being said, we want to hear from you about what you like and don't like about our social engagement. What you would like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Do you like it? Do you hate it? We're definitely listening ... Well as long as we're not busy getting ready for the next flash mob.

-@skinman454

June 9, 2011

Postling: Tech Partner Spotlight

This is a guest blog with David Lifson from our partner Postling. Postling is an ideal social media management tool for small businesses. Postling's dashboard allows the user to take control of their online presence by aggregating all of their social media accounts in one place. David will be sharing some social media tips and tricks in a separate blog in the near future.

This guest blog series highlights companies in SoftLayer's Technology Partners Marketplace.
These Partners have built their businesses on the SoftLayer Platform, and we're excited for them to tell their stories. New Partners will be added to the Marketplace each month, so stay tuned for many more come.
March 16, 2011

Everything Counts - Social Media Measurement

Here I sit on another flight back to Dallas, and I just finished my movie. What's the best way to spend the rest of the "air time?" Viola - another blog! Your heart is likely aflutter as you wonder what on earth I've come up with to post this time.

After rummaging through the topics bouncing around in my head, I figure it's time for another Social Media blog. I've been tasked with defining the ROI for our social media strategy. Sounds easy, right? You'd be surprised.

Sure, our social media work is well planned out. Our team includes one full time ninja and a few other utility players that span other departments. Our strategy includes all kinds of tactics which we use to let the world (or our corner of it) know about speaking engagements, conferences, new product releases, updated product releases, changes to our website and portal, maintenance windows, outages, etc. (I'd get into more specifics about the tactics, but they are so classified that even I don't know many of them).

So with something so defined and so well thought out, it must be really simple to see if we are #Winning, right? Well not really. Just the other day at the IDC Directions 2011 in Boston @erintraudt, used a great quote from Einstein to explain exactly how difficult it can be to quantify your results: "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." Every good marketing boss would love to be able to say, "We tweet this, we Facebook that, and we get this and that out of it every time," but as you know, it just doesn't work that way.

I will say that after listening to the panels and hearing how the big companies are attacking social media, I think we are years ahead of them in the game. The big ideas they are coming up with are things we tried two years ago, and we already know the pros and cons of those approaches.

I might not be able to hand you a spreadsheet with exactly how many sales and a given social campaign will have on our brand, but we're starting to use a lot of pretty cool tools (some from our customers) to start figuring it all out. Maybe the ninja should be put on the case too.

What do you use to measure social media impact of your campaigns? Do you have a product or service we can check out?

What I can tell you is this: Our first concerted twitter campaign went much better than expected, and while I'm not at liberty to share many details, we think reaching a lot of relevant people who engaged with our content is a distinct measure of success. Even better: We paid less than $2.00 to do so!

I'll take those kinds of results any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

-Skinman

Categories: 
December 14, 2010

SoftLayer Social Media Adventure

If you've been watching @SoftLayer and following our posts on Facebook, you know that we've been spreading the holiday spirit by giving away "swag bags" to our social networks. At this point, we've shipped packages full of SoftLayer goodies to exotic locations like Germany, New York City, India, Southern California, Ireland, Brazil and Flower Mound, TX.

For our first few giveaways, we asked our followers to post a phrase like "I love @SoftLayer! They're Bigger, Better, Badder. For hosting that rocks: http://softlayer.com/." We got a great response, but that task was a little too easy. To make the next set of giveaways a little more challenging, we started asking SoftLayer Trivia questions and rewarding the first correct responder. The content of the questions spanned the spectrum from SoftLayer-specific facts to off-the-wall esoteric trivia.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • At Parallels Summit in Feb, four SoftLayer employees caught something. What was it and how has it been used?
  • A SoftLayer executive shares his name with a Houston-based rapper. Who is he?
  • What is SoftLayer's ASN? What is the server capacity of our Dallas facilities? IPv6 addresses are how many bits?
  • The SoftLayer "3 Bars" logo is based on a seven-layer model. What is it? What are the seven layers? What is the most common protocol you hear of from it?
  • In the holiday song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," what did "my true love" give to me on Day 11?

What kind of swag are we talking about here? I thought you'd never ask:

As you can see, we're not just sending out pens and paperweights.

Don't be sad if you're just now learning about these giveaways ... As it turns out, this blog post is your opportunity to get in on the action. Last week, we teased the idea of a "Social Media" adventure, and here it is.

The first ten participants to complete all of the tasks below win their very own swag bag.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling us which one of our data center locations you'd choose for your next server and why.
  • Visit our Facebook page and leave a post on our wall with your favorite feature of SoftLayer's offerings
  • Post a Tweet that includes "@SoftLayer is awesome" and #socialmediaadventure
  • Click through to the YouTube page for the video above and leave a comment on it like "SoftLayer's hosting rocks!"
  • Send an email to khazard@softlayer.com with your blog comment author name, Facebook name, Twitter handle and YouTube username so we verify you've completed the adventure.

If you've had a tough time finding that perfect present for the person who has everything, the SoftLayer swag bag might be exactly what you're looking for. Instead of circling the mall for half an hour looking for a parking spot, you'll complete our challenge in about five minutes, and your SoftLayer gear will be on its way to you.

On your mark. Get set. GO!

-@khazard

December 13, 2010

Kevin Smith Gets It

I am a Kevin Smith fan. I admire him on a number of levels – his movies entertain, his podcasts with Scott Mosier (Smodcasts) are a funny, albeit twisted, trip into the unknown and his on stage performances / monologues / Q&A sessions never fail to please. Kevin is also a prodigious Twitterer (11,994 tweets and 1,716,849 followers).

My appreciation for Kevin and Scott Mosier has clambered up a notch following this article on Techdirt. Read the article and watch the embedded video and I think you will soon see what I mean. Smith and Mosier, for lack of a better phrase, ‘get it’ or perhaps they backed into things and ‘got it’ once it had happened. They understand the notion of building an audience; they understand the idea that it is tough to build something and monetize it immediately. In a world driven (supposedly) by instant gratification, they have introduced the word patience.

While it seems antithetical, there is a certain truth to this – there are very few businesses that went viral and surged to terrific profitability as soon as they started to Tweet or became active on Facebook. For 99.99% of businesses, audience takes time to build, which means that success takes time to come. And oftentimes, it does not come at all despite best efforts.

Twitter, Facebook, and podcasts are all part of a toolbox that, if used properly, can build something much more valuable than the stand-alone channel. As Techdirt author, Mike Masnick, points out; Smith has been able to build something that he can monetize by giving away some goods free. He has taken the time to build his audience and now he is reaping the rewards by monetizing other, ancillary efforts.

I am not implying that all business is equal – there are few comparisons to Kevin Smith that make sense for most business beyond the fact that everyone is producing something and trying to sell it. But I think the lessons are the same across most businesses – audience is not instant. In fact, I am not sure that it ever was (that said, I suppose beer was probably close to an instant success when the Egyptians invented it and stated to hieroglyph about it. It was probably the rage of Alexandria in short order). Simply beginning to Tweet and expecting instant success is a fool’s game. However, starting the game with the notion that Twitter, Facebook and whatever is next are useful tools to build toward success, forces a deal more patience and an almost deliberate approach. Here we can find success. Not overnight success for most, but success nonetheless.

As the saying goes recognizing the problem / challenge is half the battle. All we need to do now is figure out what to do next. I am working on it.

-@quigleymar

November 18, 2010

Tweet Tweet ... Tweet?

If I've timed this submission right, I'll be the first person with a byline on the SoftLayer blog from the new SoftLayer office in downtown Houston. I'm part of an esteemed group of new employees who had The Planet business cards until last week, and I'm excited about the opportunity to subject a new group of readers to my abundant arsenal of esoteric references and feeble attempts at humor. I've joined SoftLayer's marketing team, and I'll be focused on our social media outreach.

Don't worry, this post isn't going to feature any of those "I like long walks on the beach, red wine and dinner by candlelight" introductory tidbits you usually get when you meet a new person on a blog. We're diving right into the good stuff. Today's topic: SoftLayer on Twitter.

If you've been around for a while, you already know a lot about SoftLayer's official Twitter accounts, but because a new crowd of customers might be checking out the InnerLayer for the first time, let's step back and look at each account. By sharing our purpose for each of our accounts, you know what to expect when you click the "follow" button.

@SoftLayer: http://twitter.com/softlayer
This is the big kahuna. The @SoftLayer account is your primary company contact on Twitter. If you have a question, send it to @SoftLayer. If you want information about a ticket, send it to @SoftLayer. If you want a haircut ... you should probably go to a barber. Because @SoftLayer account has the widest reach, you'll learn more about the company and our offerings here, and when you need a response from SoftLayer, this is one of the first places you should look.

@SoftLayer_News: http://twitter.com/softlayer_news
Now that the merger is complete, we have more than 76,000 deployed servers in 10 data centers with more than 1,500 Gbps of network connectivity. Wherever we go, we'll be making waves, and the @SoftLayer_News account will try to keep up with all of our coverage. When we post a press release or announce a product, followers of @SoftLayer_News will hear it first.

@SoftLayer_Sales: http://twitter.com/softlayer_sales
@SoftLayer_Sales is where we teach the art of bonsai tree trimming. Actually, that's a lie ... Unless you can think of a server sales-related question involving bonsai tree trimming, you won't read anything on that topic. It's actually your one-stop shop for SoftLayer server specials and your Twitter contact for anything and everything sales-related.

@SLChat: http://twitter.com/slchat
A new addition to the SoftLayer Twitter team, the @SLChat account is designed to help us communicate directly with users. With more than 24,000 customers, we might have several simultaneous conversations going at a given time. Previously, if you reached out to us on Twitter, we'd reply to messages from one of the accounts above, but as our user base grows and our Twitter follower count increases, we don't want to spam those primary channels with updates that may only be relevant to one customer. By adding @SLChat, we're improving the signal-to-noise ratio on all of our other accounts.

SoftLayer is built around a social media culture. If you know where to look, you'll see our executive management team checking in at the office and retweeting great press coverage we've gotten. Those updates can be fun and interesting in their own right, but they point to an even more important truth: As a company, we want to be engaged with our community so we can learn from it. If you've got something to say, we want to hear it. Post a comment, send a DM, tweet an @ reply, leave a wall post, send a carrier pigeon ... We're listening.

-@khazard

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