Is Technology and Data Spooky?!

Let’s be real. Technology is getting creepy. It’s the scary teacher from grade school that somehow always knows what you’re doing even when she isn’t even looking at you. It seems to be watching our every click spanning the vast universe of the Internet. Companies are focusing on developing technology that processes all of our data to make inferences that could help them turn us into customers, or more importantly, into advocates for their brand. Recently, a brand we’re all familiar with, Netflix, held a competition that rewarded a million dollars (no one we knew won to note) to the group that could create an algorithm that could create better movie suggestions for their members.

It is becoming more and more noticeable to all of us we know; the advertisements on Facebook are generated by endless data based on your profile and pictures posted. Did you notice if you’re wearing a certain brand or piece of clothing that you’ll somehow get an ad with that same information in it? It’s all about targeting, but that’s almost scary targeting! (They’re watching you)!

We have now a developed generation that focuses on individuality, and this evolution inspires us to publicize ourselves on social platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, among others. The science behind this data as stated above is rapidly growing due to the high demand of how to use it despite how complicated it is. Going back to the Netflix competition, out of the thousands that entered their competition, only two teams were actually able to create algorithms that improved movie suggestions by ten percent. Acquiring data is easy, but making successful inferences from all of that data is the hard part. But even the smallest improvement can make a large difference by using data properly, which is why companies aren’t afraid to invest.

We’ve been thinking about that a lot on our end here at B Culture Media. How can we help the industry understand what to extract, or more importantly, what to put in place to make that extraction of data all the more usable from the get-go? And, how can we help them understand to the ‘T’ what their target audiences’ want so that all those ad monies are spent wisely. We feel it’s a bit like being Beauty from “Beauty and the Beast” and you have all of this amazing food enticing you to “be their guest”, but instead of that cute dancing cake, now it happens to be advertisements for billions of things you can put into practice to give you lots and lots of data…but, at the end of the day, what does that all translate into? Sales? Growth? Advocacy? What are you Mr./Mrs. X Brand actually searching for?

That’s what makes us understand that we’re circling around back to the technology/data days that existed before the Internet craze started. We need to fully understand the depth of a business, what they need to accomplish, and put into place strategies and metrics to ensure that the “cool” marketing recommendations using innovative technology will actually help an entire organization meet their business goals. Big data is useful, spooky targeted ads are useful, but you have to understand first as to why it’s useful and what you want out of it. I mean, of course besides tracking traffic to a website and the numbers of fans on social channels… those are easy!

@natbdold

@claudiavon

Would You “Like-A-Hug”?

What’s better than logging into Facebook, to discover that there’s a new message in your inbox, or a dozen friend requests waiting for your approval? Social media has become an integral part of our lives, something that we literally thrive on.  But what would you think if the social media craze turned physical?

A project by designer Melissa Kit Chow, does just this. The “Like-A-Hug” jacket combines Facebook, design and fashion, creating a groundbreaking piece. Let’s say someone likes your recent post about cute cat hats; for every comment or like the jacket inflates, giving the person wearing it a “hug”. Did you just receive a “hug?” With a simple hugging gesture – send the hug back to the person who sent it to you.

Ideas like this take social media communication to the next level. Rather than just reading comments from your loved ones, get hugs that really show their feelings and affection for you. The future of social media and technology is still a mystery but thanks to Chow’s “Like-A-Hug” we know warm hugs and fuzzy things are in store.

@BCulture_CourtB

Coffeemeetsbagel.com

As you’ve probably heard via a Match.com commercial, 1 in 5 relationships begin online. That’s a pretty high number in my opinion, and depending on your perspective, the trend is good or bad. As a 20-something year old, I’ve witnessed several of my friends join online dating sites with mixed results, which may have something to do with our age demographic. Regardless of your view on the matter, it seems like online dating will only continue to gain momentum, constantly turning up new or more interactive ways to meet new people. Introducing coffeemeetsbagel.com.

Coffee Meets Bagel basically provides you with one match per day (a “bagel”), which you can pass on or accept. By capturing the excitement of limited time sale sites (Fab.com) and mixing it with the convenience of not having to sort through dozens of potential matches at a time, Coffee Meets Bagel may just be on to something.

If both parties accept each other, they are invited to enjoy a cocktail or appetizer or participant in other “first date activities” through a discounted daily-deal type promotion (LivingSocial.com or Groupon.com). Two birds, one stone! The idea that the ability to connect with that particular individual is based on a unique method and is only available for 24 hours is different, and may work better for more people.

The website was founded by three sisters (Arum Kang, Dawoon Kang and Soo Kang), is only available in Boston and New York City, and is free to join. 24 hours: go!

@BCulture_Matt

5 Tips to Surviving Google Penguin

Amidst the destruction left by Panda, Google introduced the world to Google Penguin in April, leaving many troubled and anxious as to what was coming. In a nutshell, Penguin is an algorithm designed to eliminate black hat SEO strategies and web spam. Penguin’s central purpose is to encourage quality content with the goal of promoting an enjoyable online social experience for all users. Duplicate or suspicious will be flagged and the appropriate person(s) notified of the findings. To avoid the Penguin blues, here are 5 tips to effectively combat the system.

  • Create and publish authentic content on all platforms. Change things up as you use various platforms, so content is relevant and credible.
  • Automated backlinking systems are trouble. Avoid it like the plague.
  • Ditch all “spammy” tendencies. Don’t spread yourself too thin or cut yourself short. All published information, notes and comments should be relative to the subject.
  • Exercise balance and restraint when using keywords and phrases. Commonly referred to as “keyword stuffing”, this former SEO method is extremely limited, thanks to Penguin.
  • Be prepared. Before carrying out anything, layout marketing strategy and know where you’re headed. Create a guide to keep the project on course and moving in the right direction.

Most people view Google Penguin as another disruptive bump in the online world – but by applying these tips to your marketing strategy, your chances at getting flagged are significantly lower. It comes down to a single fact:  Audiences want to connect with fellow humans, not spam bots.

@BCulture_CourtB

Your Brand’s Transparent, Whether You Like it or Not

So, you have decided your brand is not ready to be scrutinized on the social web. You don’t think your product has matured and you say you are still in the “we are not ready” phase when social media and online communication is brought up at your board meetings. Guess what – that’s not up to you!

Do a quick search on any of the search engines, or better yet, go to Addictomatic and see what pops up when you enter your brand’s name.

Shocked? Your brand is already everywhere and you haven’t even hired someone yet to launch your brand on social sites and put together a social media strategy. Your customers, advocates, haters and past employees are saying all sorts of things about your brand.

It is time your brand “Harnesses the Internet” as Jay Baer and Amber Naslund would say. Customers are not only critical of your products and services, but now with the power of social media, they are critical of your brand, it’s employees and the culture that you exude. “Having a great business or product to sell is important. But if you’ve truly got something of value to offer, the how and why you go about doing that are every bit as critical as the what.” – The Now Revolution

Customers are not only giving recommendations online and telling friends in their network how horrible of an experience they had at your restaurant, but keeping a close eye on the whole experience that they are having with your brand. Not being on Facebook and other tools that your customers prefer to use in their everyday lives is one of those judgments placed upon you. You say your brand isn’t ready, but your customers are! It is no different than you having a party at your house and not serving any food or beverages because you think your guests will not “need” it. However, your guests are probably depending on food and or drinks and by not offering it, you are tarnishing their expected experience.

I made two visualizations of my social graph to give brands an example of just how far my opinions can go. The first (TouchGraph Facebook Browser) is just my Facebook network (direct and extended) and the second (Friend Wheel) is my social graph and it’s reach. The Friend Wheel shows that my out of my 400+ Facebook friends, I have over 9k links and people who are touched by my social actions. Pretty powerful!

The TouchGraph Facebook for Brittany Long

TouchGraph Facebook for Brittany Long

 

The Friend Wheel for Brittany Long

The Friend Wheel for Brittany Long

Here is the Hierarchy of Buying from UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. It outlines how customers buy online and is one of the eye opening reasons that your brand needs to engage your customers online and fill their social needs.
Buying Hierarchy

It isn’t enough to just monitor your brand’s presence online, you must let your customers into your brand culture and product quality in a genuine way so they will share it with their friends.

-@beadiful4you

The Communication Evolution

Communication EvolutionJay Baer said it best “…businesses have always adapted to the new forms of communication…telephone, fax machine, emails, websites and all other communication modalities, in many ways social media and communicating with customers via social media is the next evolution in the communication technology chain. We have changed our businesses tremendously to respond to telephone, emails, websites, etc. and we haven’t done jack in terms of transforming our business in result of the social media evolution. Not transforming your business to meet the real-time challenges from social web is going to hurt…” – Six Pixels of Separation with Mitch Joel #239

He’s right! Why have brands been so guarded when it comes to social media? It is just another form of communication that our customers are using to record and share their entire lives…why not have your brand be a part of that?

Here are some of my favorite stats regarding communication methods that marketers have used in the past and how social stacks up to that.

Years it took to reach 50 million users:
RADIO – 38 years
TV – 13 years
INTERNET – 4 years
iPod – 3 years
FACEBOOK – added 100 million users in less than nine months!
iPod downloads hit 1 Billion in nine months!
– Source Social Media Revolution

By the way, Jae Baer and Amber Naslund just released their book – The Now Revolution. They claim it is not just another social media book – but more a book about the impact of social media. My digital copy is on my iPad and I will be blogging as I read through it. Stay tuned…

@beadiful4you