Monthly Archives: October 2012

Hashtag etiquette and netiquette – Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS)

Hashtag etiquette

Have you ever wondered what proper hashtag etiquette is? Do you know those that overuse hashtags for some sort of tracking or not knowing how to restrain themselves? I bet they have Virtual Gratification Syndrome, or VGS for short.

There are numerous articles already in existence but in the age of ROI, tracking and social analytics it seems that posts are being padded.  Mainly when the posts are set to auto tweet.  Think back to LOL and the little emoticons that now have so many you have no clue what they mean.

but there are those that I like to call “Over-Hashtagers.” They add hashtags to their tweets, their status updates, posts on other peoples’ walls, emails and text messages. These enthusiasts sometimes even have more than one hashtag to add to whatever it is that they’re saying, but at that point, no one really reads what they’re saying anymore because it is riddled by so many hashtags.

This was a great summary of overhashtaggers from The Minaret at the end of 2011.  It emphasises in the article that overuse often drives people away from reading your posts or understanding exactly what you are trying to share.  I know I have been guilty in Instagram but that is the way searching is still done in there for public pictures.  But for tweets, Facebook posts and blog updates I refrain.  I believe that proper keywords, categories and titles will convey what you want and get the search engines to find you.

If your organization is tracking your every post and using some form of ranking on hashtags then you are doing something wrong.  Think about customer engagement, not how many times a hashtag shows.  Think about generated content and how long a user stays on your site. There is much more to finding information than a subject line with seven hashtags.  Another point is that when an event is over, there is a reasonable amount of time to continue using the tag itself.  Like summaries and thoughts.  There is also a point where it is way too early.  Both of these points apply when the posting has nothing to do with an event, but everything to do with driving only statistics for usage of a particular tag.

Speaking of that, make sure to go read all the posts on Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) from my archives.


MoviePass is something you should pass on enrolling with


I received information on MoviePass, a service to let you see unlimited movies for a monthly fee, and was instantly interested. Then disappointed.  It sounded like an awesome plan based on the fact I see a bunch of movies.  After getting feedback from friends and digging in I found out not many people should be joining this plan.

The first thing to stand out is that the terms of service specify you may only see a movie one time.  Yes, I said one time!  When there is a good movie I may see it with different friends a few times over.  I understand not seeing multiple movies per day, but never the same show?

So let us start from the beginning.  You sign up for the MoviePass service (if you really want in after reading all this here is a link) and receive a 30 day trial where you may cancel with no penalty, but must pay for any movie costs over the monthly fee of $29.99.  So if you see 4 movies that are $10 each in the first 30 days then attempt to cancel, you would owe an additional $10.01 (the $40 – $29.99 membership fee).

If you decide to stay with MoviePass past the 30 days you pay $24-39.99/month for a calendar year.  You may then cancel with no penalty after the 12 months.  If you decide to cancel during the 1-12 moth period you have some additional fees to pay.  There is a $20 cancellation fee (which is strangely 2/3 of a monthly fee) and the cost of any movies over what you have paid in monthly fees.


Once you are using the service there are more rules:

You agree to choose the movie title, theater, and showtime on the day of the performance

So this means you cannot plan even a day in advance to see a movie.  A day starts and ends at 2am per the site rules.  Movies may NOT be 3D, IMAX or specialty. Otherwise they currently let you see a movie at any time of day.  In the forums I also found this interesting twist that not only must you order the same day, but then also use the card within 30 minutes of ordering the ticket through the app.

Reading the Terms of Service I ran across a gem not found on the other sites I used when investigating the service:

Subscription fees may be increased by MoviePass to reflect changes in standard ticket prices, inflation, MoviePass’s costs, and additional taxes and costs not imposed by MoviePass. Any changes will take place at the end of the period for which fees have been paid, and will be introduced in the next billing cycle.

What the hell?  So your monthly fee and contract is totally up to them and is not a lock or guarantee for the year cycle. This goes against what I would expect.  They are betting you do not use the service as much as you pay and what current prices are.  You are betting you will see enough movies a month to pay for and exceed the fee.  But at any time they can just raise it to account for that.

They can also cancel your account at any time if they feel you are not acting appropriate.  Like sharing it, miss a payment or they suspect fraud.

MoviePass may suspend the subscription and temporarily deactivate your account at any time for any reason or none whatsoever
In addition, if the $ (dollar) amount of tickets redeemed during the length of subscription exceeds the total subscription fees paid thus far, the user will be responsible for the difference.

You may also not buy tickets via Fandango or other ticketing sites.

It is possible to see a couple new movies every week but this might raise a flag on your account. It is also possible that the cost of amount of movies you see plus the $20 is less than the subscription fees you have paid.  If this is the case you get nothing back. They keep that.  If you go over then you pay.

If you happen to lose your MoviePass card it will cost you $10 to get a replacement.  It seems the MoviePass card is basically a debit card they keep stocked with funds and only works at theaters that Discover Card is accepted for now.  Also do not accidentally select the wrong time or miss your movie. NO refund and it counts for not only that days movie but seeing that movie one time.

There is also a huge Terms of Service section on BlueRay and DVD rentals that make no sense as I see nowhere that they actually do that service. I know they tried to launch a year ago and failed, but I wonder if they are also going after Netflix now or did before.  They also had a second attempt by printing vouchers at home but this allowed theaters to reject them as well.

I also caught glimpses of a gift program but the links did not work.  Reading the web they are looking at up to 90 day gift programs.  This would allow them to offer service as an excellent holiday gift.  But would you be exempt from paying more than the value and no cancellation fees? If so I would buy myself gift packs all year.

What are your options?

Buy movie tickets in bundles from your own local chain.  Most theaters offer discounted bundles that allow you to see almost any movie (some restrict discounts till after opening weekend) over and over too.  Here is an example of a St Louis chain with bundles.

Sites like DealFlicks that work like a Priceline for flights.  You get discounted tickets to a time/date/show and pay up front in return for the tickets.  Everyone wins.  DealFlicks in not in every city, or even close at this time, but I see that idea taking off to fill those empty theater seats and times.

Side note, it seems that MoviePass is hiring and even offers tons of beer and the guy in this forum (halfway down) does some great math analytics

LinkedIn app for BlackBerry OS 7 launches and still sucks

UPDATE on Oct 25 2012: The reviews were not showing correctly and were for version 1.5 quoted below.  It seems that the article only specified the new version under the note section at the bottom of the article. I am happy to report users are liking it.  New post being completed now.

I have previously used the LinkedIn application for BlackBerry and was horribly disappointed.  With the newer devices being on the market for some time, LinkedIn finally updated their app to support BlackBerry OS 6 and 7 and still failed.  Complaints started right away and their star rating began to drop even more.

LinkedIn for BlackBerry

Courtesy of BlackBerry blogs

Can't even log in... Blocks immediately... Going to delete this app.
This sucks. Donkey balls.
Works for a while and then locks out. Then nothing resolves except resetting!
It appears that LinkedIn seems to have stopped supporting this app. It provides very basic functionality
(e.g. ability to add connections, access messages, see certain updates), but does not provide access to
many other features (e.g. Groups, endorsements). This app also runs as a background task, with no option
to turn it off. Updates that are on my desktop sometimes take hours to be reflected in the mobile app.

As you can see, people are disappointed that a business oriented device is not getting the development effort of a business oriented social network.  I have been disappointed for some time with the evolution of AppWorld and this is no surprise. I would expect the BlackBerry team to provide resources to developers at large companies to offer free apps with excellent performance and capabilities to strengthen the platform.

See my other posts on TheSocialNetworker that discuss AppWorld

Fring updates Android client and disappoints users

Fring, a multi way mobile video chat service, updated its Android client today in Google Play yesterday and has users screaming. The main change was a new authentication procedure from username/password combination to an actual mobile phone number authentication. This means multiple device installations were broken and people need your phone number to connect.  From their updated listing in Google Play we find


VOIP, video, chat, call, group, IM, free, free calls, cheap, voice, SIP, dialerFree Calls and Group Calls: Voice, Video & Texting

** New! Phone number registration instead of username /password **

While many immediately started dropping reviews in the Google Play store to one star, others made an excellent point of privacy and usability.  Here are some samples from the User Reviews section:

  • Sorry for now. I’m going to use other voice call services after 3 years of my fring usages. I was loved it.
  • I don’t feel comfortable linking my phone number. No longer going to use Fringe.
  • Bad update. I prefer having a real username and password to having this linked to my number. I have multiple devices and now I can’t use this. Revert please!
  • Waiting for friends to update in order to communicate with them? Isn’t that a bit heavy-handed?
  • Just 8 months back I rated this app 5 star and gave excellent comments.Everything changed now after this latest update. The app is not the same anymore.


Even I previously reviewed Fring and sang praises about the quality of the multi-way chat on a mobile device and even posted a screenshot of the reviving TheSocialGeeks podcast crew as shown in the image on the right.

While the quality of the service remains the same in this update, the ability to interact with your contacts has greatly changed. You must wait for users to upgrade, contacts automatically sync from your phone with the new permissions and some have lost contacts all together.  A few users are reporting issues with their phones or even getting it to uninstall.

They have also apparently raised the requirement that you have a minimum balance in your paid account to use the SIP features.  A new $3 minimum has been enforced where users could previously carry just enough credit to make land line type calls with Fring. I can understand how they want to simplify credit management, much like Skype does, but it seems that users that has money cannot use it unless they add more.

Anthony Farrior (Wild5tar on Twitter) has made a quick YouTube video showing exactly how his new interface changed.  He does not see the video interaction at all.  Here is what I found after playing with it forever.

  • The registration system was broken.  You could not get a confirmation or it gave errors.
  • The system for using your phone number removes multiple device support and changes privacy for the application
  • Until it syncs your contacts, the options for many of the features like video calling are not available to you
  • If the user has not updated to the new version the video is not available.

I went to the Fring blog and found no mention of the update, issues or communication from the team there.  I then headed to Fring support and managed to find a new video they did a few days ago showing how registration now works.

They show the input of your phone number and the SMS you must receive.  It also sees the previous install and then migrates your existing contact list over. Some users above are stating it is also syncing and sending them back to Fring each time the app starts.

I would personally hold off from updating to this release until some fixes can be applied and we get some more answers from the Fring team.