Uncle Ben’s Advice for Understanding Social Privacy

Uncle Ben was one of my great heroes growing up. He was right up there with Batman, Wonder Woman, and Mickey Mouse. However short his life was in the Spider-Man series, his legacy, and teachings was what helped create the Spider-Man we all know and love today.

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With Great Power…

Now how does this apply to you? With the internet being, well, the internet, privacy seems to be more of a luxury than a right. Anything you post can be found, and information given over the internet has the potential of being stolen via hackers (the bad kind, not like growth hackers). This article by Bloomberg Business week says it best,

Adults have long warned kids that if they weren’t careful, questionable behavior would end up on their permanent record. Over the decades, that record has become larger, more searchable, and more available to the public. “-Felix Gillette, Business Week 2013

Let’s dig a little deeper into what privacy means for people. According to this New York Times article, “It’s understanding what happens to your data, and having the ability to control it.” With data being freely given through social media, it seems easy to just get the data you want since it is so easy to access. Apps have used this data by sharing it in order to ‘help’ it’s users find anything from a store they are looking for, to potential dates in a nearby bar. However, having that amount of information out for everyone to see, can be extremely creepy; and really annoying.

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Check out this social media experiment done by Jack Vale.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P_0s1TYpJU&w=560&h=315]

He got all that information from Instagram alone! Should being social have to mean giving up your privacy rights? Where do you define the line of personalization and “creep factor”?

 

…Comes Great Responsibility

So with all these weary consumers not wanting to share information on the net, how can you, as a marketer, help ease their worries while taking their information? This is where the second half of Uncle Ben’s advice comes in; “responsibility.”  There are quite a few measures you can take to make sure that consumers aren’t feeling creeped out with all the data you are supposedly collecting.

1. Have Users Opt-In: While Spiderman doesn’t usually ask before saving someone, as a company, and a smart marketer, you should. Building a relationship with a consumer is just like building any other relationship: it starts with trust. Make sure the consumer feels comfortable with sharing information with you, and know that you will guard that information with your life. Don’t be like those creepy dating apps that just share your information with the world, ask and then execute. It makes everyone feel more comfortable.

2. Be An Open Book: Let users know what you are collecting and why. The one thing I love about Paypal is that not only do I know they have a lot of encryption software to safeguard my information, they ask me every step of the way if I am sure I want to share a certain tidbit of information. They then explain why they need that information, and what they do with it.  i feel safer because I know why they need my information, and I know exactly what they are using. Snap Chat was able to target this peculiar situation of privacy by allowing someone to see an image or video for only 10 seconds before it is destroyed, making an erasable social media.

3. When your users go, so does their data: Don’t have your users be afraid to delete an app or profile to your business because of the data you have accumulated. Once they are gone, their personal data is as well. Data is constantly changing, and you don;t need to hang on to personal information about a long gone client. Instead, you should focus on why they left.

Ultimately, being given this vast amount of information about people is a big responsibility on your shoulders, and being open, and honest is the best policy to making sure your clients feel safe sharing their information, whether organically or via a social media channel, with you.

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“You did good, kid” Wouldn’t you like to hear this from your customers?

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The Digital Game of Thrones

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I love articles that reference Game of Thrones. That show is so complex and really shows the politics, delicateness and finesse that comes with war and trying to be on top. So when Mark sent us this article to read on the major tech moguls being compared to my favorite tv show, I already knew it was going to be a good read.I highly suggest listening to the theme song as you read it.

Before I even finished this article, I already had mapped out who was who in GoT terms:

Microsoft: Targaryen family

Google: Stark family

Amazon: Tyrell family

Apple: Baratheon/Lannister family

Facebook: Dothraki (hey I thought it was funny…)

But in all seriousness, the battle of digital dominance has been raging for many years, especially after Steve Jobs (our iron king) died.

The article lays out a world at war, where land is replaced with market share, and battles are fought with advertising.

Turf Wars

The article mentions that just like R.R. Martin’s novel, these top companies have there own corner of the market that they are desperately defending while venturing out to conquer more. Google has been doing well, protecting their search engine market share , being the largest search engine provider in the world. But that isn’t stopping  Apple from trying to create their own type of search engine in order to become “Google-independent”. It’s hard to believe that these two used to be best buddies…kind of reminds you of a certain two.

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The Iron Phone

I think the most visible part of the war that we have seen is over the phone market. Everyone wants to have the perfect phone, the strongest rivalry being Google’s Android over Apple’s iOS system. Microsoft has been desperately trying to join in on this game by means of the Windows phone, but currently it is no where near the capacity of fans the first two have. Facebook and Amazon both are cruising along with these two, having apps on both systems, but that may change with the rumors floating around about Amazon creating it’s own phone. I don’t think Amazon would do well in that market; why try to establish yourself in an over-saturated market?  Especially when they are being pretty successful with their e-reader, the Kindle.

Content Wars

There are a couple parts of this war that need to be addressed.

The article mentions that the biggest competitors in the content war has been e-books. Amazon and Apple both have separate ways of getting content out to it’s customers thanks to cloud services, but Amazon, being known as an electronic marketplace, is dominating the industry, with Apple only taking in 5% of the market share. Apple has been trying to coax publishers over to their side however, by making fees smaller, and giving more freedom to rights as opposed to Amazon.

Next there is content-sharing. Here I believe Google has a bit of an advantage, since they own Youtube, the biggest provider of video content in America. Thanks to their YouTube partnership program, and various advertisement affiliates, they were projected to make $4 billion in revenue in 2012, and grow 20% each year from there.  However there difficulties in monetizing their users has been Apple’s strength, with their I-tunes.

Now you are probably thinking, “Why is Facebook included in this war?” Dothraki guys. They are the largest social network in the world, so once they find a stable way to monetize their users, they will be one of the biggest threats to these companies. They have been doing pretty well too, coming back from a disappointing 3rd quarter and monetizing their users in 2012 with $64 million revenue. My Dothraki comparison doesn’t seem that far off now, does it?

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Conclusion

It seems as if this battle’s main issue is finding the best way to monetize audiences and pulling them to their side. It feels a bit like high school elections actually, only with a lot more advertisements in your face. So will we see an end to this war, and finally have a new King? The article doesn’t believe it will have an end soon, and I agree. There are too many factors that play into pulling ahead as the leader, and with so many ‘third party’ options, people will stay divided on who they want to do their business with for a long time.

As the battle for the iron throne continues, I will be sitting back, waiting for Khaleesi to come riding in on her dragons to take everybody out. Who that is has yet to be seen, however I feel that it may be Yahoo, they just acquired Tumblr, and we all know how massive that army is.

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So, do you agree with my family assignments? Have a different idea on the tech wars? Do me a favor; read the full article here, and comment back here on what you think.

NFO: News Feed Optimization with EdgeRank

So I was scrolling through my News Feed when I saw something rather interesting:

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As you can see, while I am seeing a post from my friend, I also am seeing a link from College Fashion about Thor 2 inspired fashion. So why am I seeing this? That would be EdgeRank doing it’s thing.

What the heck is EdgeRank?

Edgerank is a fancy algorithm by Facebook that determines what posts are shown on each user’s News Feed. It’s all a part of News Feed Optimization(NFO); a way to make sure that your business’s content is being seen by your fans without having to pay for an ad. Posts are ranked via 3 variables:

Affinity: Your relationship to your users. Now what does this mean as far as rating posts? It means that our posts are based on both personal interactions and network interactions. Depending on how much you interact with a certain user (or page), the more their statuses will show up on your News Feed. Additionally, the more times people ‘like’, share, or comment on your posts, the more likely they will continue to show up on people’s news feeds.

Weight: how important EdgeRank assigns your post based on the post type(text, image, video, etc). If you are posting pictures and videos, those are usually ranked the highest. Things with links are second, and text is dead last. Remember though, it’s all about relevance; if the post has no relevance to a user, it won’t show first thing on their News Feed.

Time Decay: How old your post is. The longer the post is on Facebook, the lesser the chance it will show up in someone’s News Feed. However, this isn’t a black and white type of deal; some users don’t spend every waking moment on Facebook, and only check in every once and a while, so to them, it’s new and relevant information. 

The graphic below shows the nifty equation(brought to you by Batman):

Facebook Edgerank

Since 40% of users spend their time on the Facebook News Feed alone, it’s important that businesses get that coveted spot on a user’s News Feed. Because of this, companies like Post Rocket, are were offering NFO services to businesses, so that they can rank higher on Facebook (granted they closed down August 2013).

Do I Need EdgeRank?

It depends a lot on what your social media strategy is. People have said that EdgeRank is dead, but I think of it like online advertising, it’s simply evolving.  I would like to point out that as the algorithm changes, so does the factors. These three are still included, but there are over 100,000 factors that play into what users sees. But it’s not like Facebook ever changes right?

EdgeRank essentially is protecting it’s users. Users hate spam. So posts about liking pages or checking out companies that show up in our News Feed that aren’t related to us? Yea, that’s spam. And Facebook will make you pay for that (Sorry Mark Cuban). If you want to stay relevant on Facebook, and gain a bigger audience, EdgeRank will be beneficial. The more relevant you are, the more users will like and engage your page, the more viewers who engage, the higher you rank with EdgeRank. In addition to that however, every user  has a unique affinity; so their is no secret hack to get to every possible user you want. So it goes back to strategy. What do you want out of your social media?

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