April 2018

Back in February Facebook confirmed that they were trialling a new upvoting/downvoting system for public comments, similar to that used by Reddit, with a select group of users in the US. Despite some criticism from users who dislike the addition due to its potential to be used in a negative fashion or concentrated against undeserving individuals as a form of abuse, Facebook are trusting their user-base to use the feature in the way it was intended rather than a form of ‘dislike’ button, which they insist it is not.

Rather Facebook insist that the new feature is being added with the intention of “supporting better comments” by highlighting comments deemed to be “helpful or insightful”. They are hoping that this will improve public discourse on the platform and create a safer, more enjoyable environment for users.

“Our hope is that this feature will make it easier for us to create such spaces, by ranking the comments that readers believe deserve to rank highest, rather than the comments that get the strongest emotional reaction,” a spokesman for Facebook told the BBC.

Based on the emergence of the new buttons in various tweeted screenshots, we can assert that the newly expanded trial appears to be taking place throughout New Zealand and some parts of Australia. There is no word as of yet on when the feature will be rolled out on a global scale, or indeed if it ever will be, so for now we will have to wait and see. I do have my doubts however; the internet has long been home to trolling and abuse, and I expect the individuals who carry out such acts to take to this new avenue of expressing disapproval with glee.

Pinterest has over the years morphed into a platform with rather specific uses which are fairly consistent across much of their 200 million-strong user base. It is arguably most often used as a source of inspiration for endeavours such as livening up your cooking or perfecting your hair and beauty routine, with a study conducted by Pinterest themselves showing that 70% of their users search the platform to discover and save various looks and styles.

Hair and beauty tips feature prominently on the site and many influential fashion bloggers maintain a presence on the platform, but with so much imagery flooding the platform it can be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for. Apparently, one oft-reported difficulty relates to finding makeup and beauty products that correspond to a specific person’s skin tone, as many brands now specialise their products in such a way to ensure a better match.

In an effort to help in this regard, Pinterest engineer Laksh Bhasin announced in a recent Medium post that the platform will begin rolling out the beta version of a new search feature which enables users to refine results according to a given skin tone range. This filter is only available on searchers relating to specific beauty terms for rather obvious reasons.

With any feature such as this privacy was bound to be a concern; one which Pinterest have addressed by assuring their users that no information will be stored as a result of these searches. The slight downside of this is that you will have to select a skin tone range for each individual search, but it does mean that you are free from targeted ads and data-mining stemming from your use of the feature.

So how exactly does this work? Detecting a skin tone within an image is problematic to begin with, as variables such as lighting, shadows, prominence and blurriness may all create inaccuracies. Human evaluation would of course be the most reliable solution, but by the company’s own admission there is simply too much content on the platform to make this a viable option. Instead, Pinterest turned their attention to a method that works at scale; namely machine learning.

Making use of a third-party Face AI library from ModiFace, a company specialising in augmented reality and machine learning for beauty applications, alongside deep neural networks, the development team were able to produce successive algorithms for skin tone detection. Pinterest then passed results through their own human evaluation platform, named Sophia, in order to gather additional data and further perfect the machine learning algorithm ahead of launch.

For now the feature is limited to just four skin tone ranges; however the company plans to expand these ranges moving forward.

“As new Pins are added to the system, we incrementally run the skin tone detection algorithm on just those new Pins, so we continue to increase our coverage of skin tone data and improve results,” wrote Mr Bhasin.

Microsoft, being the giant global corporation they are, has a lot of money to throw around. Nonetheless throwing $26bn into the acquisition of professional networking platform LinkedIn was seen as a bit of gamble by many, as LinkedIn is far from the most profitable social media platform out there when compared to the likes of Facebook; however it is perhaps the most focused of the major players, and therein lay its value.

This value was recently demonstrated in the SSU 2018 Social Media Use Survey, in which LinkedIn ranked at number two - second only to Facebook among social media platforms - in regards to usage, spending & ROI. Microsoft were certainly confident of good prospects when they went ahead with the deal back in 2017, and soon began releasing a slew of integrations such as incorporating LinkedIn data into Office 365 programs including Outlook and Word. Now it seems their confidence has been validated as the company recently released their financial results for Q3 2018, ended March 31st, in which LinkedIn was a stand-out performer.

The results show that “LinkedIn revenue increased 37% (up 33% in constant currency) with continued acceleration in engagement highlighted by LinkedIn sessions growth of over 30%”. This brings revenue figures up to a whopping $1.3bn for LinkedIn alone. As for Microsoft’s larger Productivity and Business Processes segment, of which LinkedIn is just one part, this accounted for a staggering $9bn of the company’s $26.8bn in total revenue for the quarter.

While LinkedIn is still operating at a loss, this is largely due to long-term costs associated with the $26.2bn acquisition that will decline over time, bringing LinkedIn steadily back into the green. LinkedIn stands as Microsoft’s single most expensive buy in their history, so they will certainly be hoping this proves to be true.

In a call with investors on Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses LinkedIn’s performance, stating, “From the start we recognised the opportunity for LinkedIn and Microsoft to combine forces and create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce and enable professionals to be more productive and successful. A little over one year in we feel great about the value we are delivering for members, customers and shareholders. Our integration model has helped LinkedIn accelerate growth while retaining its member-first ethos.”

Much has been said of the potential downsides of social media use, with various studies linking excessive screen time to a myriad of issues ranging from drops in self-esteem to full-blown depression. This is obviously an important subject to explore, and one that carries substantial ramifications for generations both current and yet-to-come. As such, it is always reassuring to see new studies delving into the issue.

On such new study, recently conducted by a team from the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Essex University and University College London (UCL), aimed to explore just how social media use may affect the psychological wellbeing of its users, and how factors such as gender may exacerbate or lessen this problem.

The researchers analysed the happiness levels of nearly 10,000 girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 15, ultimately concluding that girls who spent more than an hour a day on social media from the age of 10 were more likely to suffer problems than their male counterparts.

Societal pressure seems to be the primary cause, as girls have long been subject to increased scrutiny regarding the way they look and behave. The researchers suggest that boys appear less affected by the damaging effects of social media simply because - generally speaking - they are less inclined to compare themselves to others, and place lesser importance on the number of likes they may receive on a Facebook or Instagram post. Other issues such as cyber-bullying and a lack of sleep also play a role, the researchers added.

Specifically, the study found that 10% of 10-year-old girls spent one to three hours a day on social media, compared to 7% of boys, with this figure rising to 43% and 31% respectively by the age of 15. Among both boys and girls happiness levels fell during this time, but the reduction was greater for girls. Emotional wellbeing among the older female participants was associated with how much they interacted on social media from the age of 10, which was simply not the case for males, the team concluded.

In line with their results, which are among the first to clearly demonstrate a link between gender, social media use and emotional impact, the researchers are now calling for increased regulation in the industry, suggesting time limits for children and health warnings like those seen on tobacco products.
Dr Cara Booker of the ISER said of the results, “Young people need access to the internet for homework, for watching TV and to keep in touch with their friends, but a body of evidence is emerging to show that substantial amounts of time spent on social media on school days is far from beneficial, especially for girls.”

Professor Yvonne Kelly, Professor of Lifecourse Epidemiology at UCL, added, “For girls it can be about how many ‘likes’ they are getting. That may be less important for young boys. Another way could be through encountering cyber-bullying. The more time spent online, the more likely they are to come across negative stuff. 

“The third is the impact on sleep. If you have your phone by your bed and it buzzes, few of us have the willpower to resist getting that little kick that so-and-so has got back to me.”
For more information regarding the study and its results, please visit the UCL Website.

With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming on the horizon and coming into effect as of 25 May 2018, many prominent companies across various fields are beginning to take steps designed to protect themselves from the heavy fines that accompany violations of the new legislation. The latest to show their hand in this regard is the popular Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp, making it one of the first online messaging services to act in response to the upcoming changes.

WhatsApp have announced that in order to comply with the terms set out by the GDPR, which bans the processing of personal information of children under 16 unless a parent or legal guardian provides consent, they will simply raise their minimum age for users to 16 and effectively prohibit any users from whom they cannot gather data from using the service altogether.

Outside of the EU where the GDPR will have no effect, WhatsApp’s minimum age will remain at 13; a clear indication that their primary concern is the gathering of data for advertising and monetary purposes, rather than user experience.

Particularly unclear is how exactly the company plans to enforce the new age limit as they have never asked users to disclose their date of birth and they have already stated that this “will not change with the new update”. Basically they will in effect continue to gather data from underage users whom they know are making use of the service by lying about their age, but by covering themselves in their terms and conditions they can do so without penalty.

As for parent company Facebook, their flagship platform will do things a little differently. Users of the site under the age of 16 will be directed to a parent or guardian who can then give the company permission to gather data; if permission is not granted these users will not be subject to targeted advertising, nor will they be allowed to include and religious or political views on their profile.

“These teens will see a less personalised version of Facebook with restricted sharing and less relevant ads until they get permission from a parent or guardian to use all aspects of Facebook,” the company said.

Many if not most of the world’s most prominent social media platforms are riddled with countless numbers of fake accounts and bots, which impact not only upon the quality of use and reliability of information for users, but also the financials and trustworthiness of the platform and larger company. With ‘fake news’ being the buzzword of the moment and allegations of political interference running rife, there has never been a more pressing need to mitigate this ongoing issue.

Recognising the need for substantial action, a team of researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and University of Washington, Seattle recently came together to develop a brand new method for detecting fake accounts on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Dima Kagan of the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering at Ben-Gurion University, who served as lead researcher on the study, stated in no uncertain terms that “rooting out fake users has never been of greater importance.”

The new method, published in the latest issue of Social Network Analysis and Mining, works based on a simple assumption; that fake accounts tend to establish “improbable links” to other users in the networks. Building from this foundation the process then comprises two main ‘iterations’ (defined as a set of repeating processes, utterance or commands) which each derive their basis from machine-learning algorithms.

The first iteration is used to build a “link prediction classifier”, which subsequently provides an accurate estimation as to whether or not two particular users were legitimately linked. The second then uses this data to create new meta-features which researchers then incorporate into a generic classifier which serves to detect fake profiles.

As it stands there are reportedly more than 200 million fake accounts on Facebook alone, with Twitter harbouring an estimated 48 million on their own platform. In Twitter’s case this constitutes around 15% of their active user base. With this in mind users, investors and advertisers alike will be hoping this study bears some meaningful fruit and can make some form of impact. The researchers tested the algorithm on 10 different social networks and it apparently “performed well” on both simulated and real-world situations, outperforming other similar tools and showing the potential to enhance cyber security applications, so prospects sounds good at present.

Where do we find the best recipe for an apple pie, shepherd’s pie or ceviche? The days of printed cookbooks lining kitchen shelves are all-but-gone, and now we turn to social networks; here we can find extensive information about any recipe, from the dish’s origins to various forms of preparation. Social networks also have a way of ‘ranking’ the best recipes, separating the sublime from the suspect. So, can we prepare a dish from any country at home? The answer is yes, as long as the supplies can be found where you live. Where this fails we can once again turn to these same networks to consult with friends or websites, finding substitute ingredients for cooking based on what we find in the local market.

What if we do not feel like cooking, but we nonetheless want to eat something extraordinary? There are countless community groups spread across online platforms, formed to allow members to exchange information or perhaps sell their products, and this does of course extend to food. This gives us access to a plethora of reviews and recommendations that can help you find any dish you desire in just about any city, as well as which establishment does it best. It does not matter if the dish is of English, Italian, Hindi, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican or Peruvian cuisine; it is very possible that you will find some place to eat it locally.

So how do we find out if a particular restaurant is good? As previously stated it is through these social networks that we can find the best places to taste international cuisine anywhere in the world. If we ask about a certain place, not even 10 minutes will pass within which a user gives us a favourable or unfavourable opinion about the place. There are always well-informed people in these networks, although there are also businessmen who recommend you a place because they were hired as ‘influencers’, so you must be wary of some recommendations.

The truth is that social networks can make us appear as experts in everything, especially based on our experience, and that is how we can comment on any issue. Just ask on Facebook or Twitter or type something in a search engine to find hundreds of answers about gastronomy. Tastes are always important because they give us clues about a specific target audience. Culinary tastes are one of the most important connections between human beings; around a dinner table you can do big business, have great romances, propose agreements and also plan wars. Bon appétit.

When Snapchat released their highly publicised redesign back in February, the overhaul drew a lot of criticism from some of the app’s most prominent celebrity figures such as Kylie Jenner and Chrissy Teigen, as well as platform’s the larger user base. The primary reason for this outrage? Snapchat had made the decision to separate stories posted by friends from those posted by celebrities and brands.
Img: Snap Inc.

Well after insisting ever since that the redesign would be granted some longevity, Snapchat have now reportedly backtracked and are testing another new redesign which will put stories from friends back on the Discover page alongside those from known personalities and brands. There will still be some level of separation however, with friends’ stories appearing on a different horizontal slider in a fitting compromise between the two approaches.

 The update was first reported by Recode, who speculate that the overhaul is most likely either an attempt to get the average user creating and sharing more stories, or an effort to get their users engaging with more publisher content by directing them to the same page for all types of content. The truth is likely a combination of the two.

A Snap Inc. spokesperson confirmed the test in an email to Business Insider, telling the publication, “We are always listening to our community and will continue to test updates that we hope will give Snapchatters the best possible experience on our platform.”

The app is currently being tested with a small number of users as has become the norm within the industry, and there is no word as of yet on whether it will ultimately be rolled out to all users.

Instagram’s Stories feature has done rather well since its launch and has arguably become one of the most-favoured features of what is by all accounts a highly popular and dare I say influential app. Users have long had one major bugbear with the feature however, namely the inability to upload multiple media files at once.

Well that’s about to change with the release of Instagram’s latest update, which finally allows users to upload up to ten photos or videos simultaneously. This enhanced ease-of-use will be of particular interest to those who like to carefully curate their stories as they will be able to preview the media as a whole beforehand, and for those who are often forced to wait for a stronger internet connection before uploading.

In a blog post announcing the update, Instagram explained exactly how the new feature will work:

“Go to upload media and you’ll see a new icon at the top right corner of your screen. Tap it to begin selecting up to ten photos or videos from your gallery. On the edit screen, you’ll see a preview of all the media you’ve selected lined up at the bottom, you can tap each one to edit individually with stickers, text and all the other creative tools in Instagram Stories. When you’re done, all of the photos and videos in your preview will upload at once in the order you selected them.”

That’s not all however, as the new update also makes it quicker and easier to add location stickers to a photo or video when uploading them to your story. Say you’ve had to wait a while to upload and have now strayed a little from the location in question’; the new update will allow Instagram to suggest location tickers pertaining to places near where the media was captured, rather than your location at the time. As Instagram say, this makes it “easier to tag that great taco spot, even if you didn’t exactly remember what it was called.”

It’s fairly safe to say that Twitter’s position among the leading social media platforms is not quite as secure as their rivals over at Facebook for example, at least from a financial perspective. The company often fails to post a profit, and so when Twitter did post their first profit in 12 years for the final quarter of 2017 it was seen as a highly promising sign; nonetheless the company were still expected to return a net loss in the following quarter, largely due to the ongoing abuse and overabundance of bots on the platform.

However it would seem these predictions were made in error as Twitter bucked expectations throughout the first quarter of 2018 and instead reported a net income of $61m. Though this figure is down from $91m for the same period of the previous year, it is still well above expectations and has already had an impact on the company’s prospects with share prices rising by more than 6% in pre-market trading.

The number of monthly active users on the platform also increased over last quarter, rising by 2%. This, along with a 21% increase in revenue as compared with the same period last year, peaking at
$336m, will do much to reassure both investors and advertisers alike.

“The first quarter was a strong start to the year,” commented, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. As for what Mr Dorsey believes prompted this period of growth, he says it’s all down to their brand new framework for thinking about the “health” of online conversations in the wake of repeated and ongoing scandals. He states, “This holistic approach will help us more effectively address these challenges by viewing them through the broader lens of the health of the public conversation, and we’re encouraged by our initial progress in this area.”

We’ve spoken many a time recently about all the criticism directed at Facebook, not only in regards to user privacy, data handling and all the hot-topic subjects of the moment, but also their long-running battle to find the right balance in regards to what content should and should not be allowed on the site. All too many times Facebook have ended up in the headlines for failing to remove hateful, extremist or otherwise inappropriate content, and the same is also true of the reverse; the company are just as often accused of over-censoring the platform and removing content that in no way violates their terms.

In an effort to alleviate this issue once and for all, Facebook have provided further clarity on the policing process used to decide what’s allowed on Facebook by publishing the internal guidelines used to enforce their Community Standards.

Monika Bickert, VP of Global Product Management at Facebook, explained the reasoning behind the guidelines’ publication, writing in the official announcement, “We decided to publish these internal guidelines for two reasons. First, the guidelines will help people understand where we draw the line on nuanced issues. Second, providing these details makes it easier for everyone, including experts in different fields, to give us feedback so that we can improve the guidelines - and the decisions we make - over time.”

In addition, Facebook are also making it easier to appeal a decision when you feel that content has been mistakenly removed for nudity/sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence when no violations were in fact made. Basically if your photo, video or post has been removed because it violates Community Standards, you will be notified and given the option to request additional review. This will lead to a manually-conducted review of the content in question and if a mistake is then deemed to have been made, you will again be notified of this and the removed content will be restored.

“We are working to extend this process further by supporting more violation types, giving people the opportunity to provide more context that could help us make the right decision, and making appeals available not just for content that was taken down, but also for content that was reported and left up. ,” Ms Bickert explains, “We believe giving people a voice in the process is another essential component of building a fair system.”

Cision, a leading global provider of earned media software and public relations services, today released the results of their 2018 State of the Media Report. The global survey of 1,355 journalists reveals the biggest trends and challenges facing journalists today against a backdrop of increasingly volatile political and social public opinion, and provides some rather interesting insights in the process.

Key findings from the study include:
  • 56% of global respondents said fake news is making readers more sceptical about the content they read than ever before
  • 71% said they thought the public had lost trust. However, this is an improvement on last year, as this figure saw a 20% decrease from 91% in last year’s survey
  • 75% globally said ensuring content is 100% accurate is most important to their organisation - more so than being first to publish a story
  • 34% of media believe updated social media algorithms will be the most impactful technology on their profession while 21% cited AI and machine learning on the back-end
Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd commented, “It’s been both an extraordinary and challenging year for journalism - with the constant accusations of fake news and anti-media sentiment coming from many of the world’s politicians and a seemingly overwhelming supply of competing content, the profession has never been under such stressful times.

“As tested as the industry has been,” he continued, “it’s both surprising and hopeful that this year’s findings show signs that many in the industry feel that the public is slowly but surely supporting mainstay journalistic institutions again. In order to continue this positive momentum, brands and journalists must work together to tell engaging, credible and accurate stories that will resonate with the public and continue to help regain trust.”

The annually conducted report features findings and responses from a pool of 1,355 journalists and influencers, with the aim of tracking their evolving perception of the media and communications industries. Cision’s annual report highlights the key issues facing journalists today in the hope of helping communications and PR professionals drive better media engagement and results.
Click here to read the Cision 2018 State of the Media Report in full.

Arvinder Gujral, Managing Director for South-east Asia, Twitter Asia-Pacific 
The Singapore 1000 Family of Rankings, which incorporates the Singapore 1000, Singapore SME 1000, Singapore International 100, and Fastest Growing 50 Awards, is a prestigious corporate accolade which aims to honour the nation's top 1000 most valuable corporations and SMEs by annual financial performance. The annual event is in its 31st year, and now analyses more than 70,000 audited financials each year in order to ascertain the top 1000 corporations and SMEs in Singapore.

DP Information Group (DP Info), the official ranking body of companies in Singapore responsible for organising the event, recently announced the winners of the Singapore 1000 Sales/Turnover Growth Excellence Awards, and in a sign of changing times announced Twitter Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd as their winner for the Information and Communications category.

A first-time entrant to the Singapore 1000 Awards, Twitter were recognised for their remarkable growth in the region over the past 12 months. Arvinder Gujral, Managing Director for South-east Asia and Senior Director of Business Development at Twitter Asia-Pacific, thanked DP Info for the inclusion and said he hoped the award would help them to further establish themselves as a known brand in the region.

“Asia is a growth region for Twitter and we're pleased to be recognised as a part of the Awards organised by DP Info this year,” said Mr Gujral. “We see the annual S1000 rankings as a step to help us establish our footprint in the region and we appreciate the opportunity to connect with local business leaders through the Awards.

“We will continue to prioritise the highest impact work that makes Twitter faster and easier to use, improving our core ad offerings, and further expanding our business across new channels of demand to grow the region,” he concluded.

Amid the recent wave of criticism directed at Facebook regarding the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and general fears concerning user privacy, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has thrown his hat into the ring by calling upon social media companies to do more to protect the wellbeing of children, insisting that if they failed to do so then the government would force their hand with new legislation.

In a letter penned to several prominent social media companies including Facebook, Google and Apple, the health secretary slated the “extremely limited response” to concerns previously raised. He gave said companies a rough deadline of the end of April to resolve widespread issues such as underage use and cyber-bullying, before the publication of the government’s response to the Internet Safety Strategy consultation in May.

In his letter to leading online groups and corporations, Mr Hunt wrote, “I am concerned that your companies seem content with a situation where thousands of users breach your own terms and conditions on the minimum user age.

“I fear that you are collectively turning a blind eye to a whole generation of children being exposed to the harmful emotional side effects of social media prematurely.

“This is both morally wrong and deeply unfair to parents who are faced with the invidious choice of allowing children to use platforms they are too young to access or excluding them from social interaction that often the majority of their peers are engaging in.”

This is not the first time that Mr Hunt has attempted to publicly address this problem. The health secretary in fact met with many social media companies six months ago to discuss matters relating to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. The response offered by these companies however appears to be lacklustre, as Mr Hunt told the Sunday Times, “There have been a lot of warm words - and a few welcome moves to improve children’s online protection - but the overall response to my challenge has been extremely limited, leaving me to conclude that a voluntary, joint approach has not been sufficient.

“None are easy issues to solve I realise, but an industry that boasts some of the brightest minds and biggest budgets should have been able to rise to the challenge,” he added.

Social networks are an important means by which to interact with people who share our interests. Thus, groups are formed dedicated to disseminating specialised information on different topics, providing a varied flow of information which strengthens links and contributions regarding the subject at hand. These groups are highly varied, and may cover subjects/demographics such as: pet lovers, gastronomy, sports, music, travel, adventure, decoration and others. Among these ‘others’ we can find topics related to film and television.

Here you can find groups populated by fans of old TV shows (for example - Star Trek, Coronation Street and Monty Python’s Flying Circus each maintain a healthy online fan base), as well as newer offerings such as Game of Thrones,  The Walking Dead and Stranger Things . All these shows have an established mythology created and/or accepted by the group, though the level of devotion to these programs of course varies. The same thing happens with cinema; fans display a level of devotion toward certain genres or even a specific film or series. There are also groups dedicated to sagas such as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones or - one of the most popular - Harry Potter. It is interesting to observe what happens with these fan pages and their interaction; they are all seemingly hunting for information, or looking for some extra detail to feel special. This is something that the studios take great advantage of to create fidelity. Now the film studios market the movies through these networks, giving very specific details about the performance, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes extras that make us feel closer to the product.

The circuit used to promote a film is currently varied, incorporating exclusive events, premieres in different cities, interviews, and advertising across all media. We can buy the soundtrack, books and related comics, video games, action figures, toys, promotional clothing and even food and drinks related to the title. It is a great mechanic that is used to great effect by these studios in their quest to capture the interest of the public.

Information and commercial offers flood the networks with colourful ads. We must watch the movie, buy the music, have the action figures and the books, wear the clothes of the film while we play the video game eating a hamburger and a soda that promote the title.

So how can an outsider to this fandom use these communities to sell a product? The key is to get a little creative. For example, if we are before fans of Star Wars we can sell products that tie in references to this mythology. For instance a dog groomer may promote their services using a tagline along the lines of, “Han, don’t be ‘Solo’, walk in the street with your dog in Chewbacca fashion”. This is just to give an example of how important it is to know your audience and their interests.

When it comes to using social media for professional purposes LinkedIn is arguably the first platform to spring to mind, and for good reason. LinkedIn differentiated itself from its rivals from launch by focusing on our professional lives rather than our personal ones, becoming a hub for networking and recruitment. As such those who were interested in portraying themselves to potential employers and/or clients in a particular way spent the time to carefully curate the content of their profiles; however a newly published study from job search site Simply Hired suggests that LinkedIn may not be the best platform to focus on after all.

The study found that while just 29% of hiring managers will look at an applicant’s LinkedIn profile when discerning their viability as a candidate, 38% will scour through other social media accounts such as Instagram and Facebook. While this may seem somewhat illogical given that LinkedIn was created specifically for purposes such as these, the reasoning given by recruiters does make sense.

The problem as far as LinkedIn is concerned is that when applying for a job, you will in most cases have supplied the recruiter with a copy of your CV. LinkedIn profiles often mirror these documents and offer little else in the way of insight into the person in question. Sites such as Instagram and Facebook, which are generally used in an entirely different manner, give them a better idea of who you really are.

“LinkedIn is a great platform, but if you have someone’s resume, you’re probably not going to find much else about them; it’s pretty replicated,” says Carly Johnson, Project Manager at Simply Hired. “Instagram and Facebook show a living, breathing person. It’s great to have a second level of information.”

Furthermore, posts, comments and even who people choose to follow on social media can offer valuable insight into their core beliefs, quirks and overarching personality. They can also reveal potential problems or red flags. “You want to make sure candidates aren’t rude or offensive toward people,” says Ms Johnson. “Also, do their personal opinions fit with your culture?”

While far from all recruiters will look at social media platforms when hiring, the study did reveal that more are opting to do so that previously thought. In line with this revelation, Ms Johnson offers a warning:

“If you have a public account, you’re better safe than sorry,” she says. “Make sure you’re comfortable with anyone seeing what you’re posting, from a friend to a future employer.”

As the high street reported the steepest year-on-year drop in footfall since 2010, UK online retail sales grew by a storming +18.9% year-on-year (YoY) in March, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Marking the highest year-on-year growth since November 2016, March’s results round out a hugely successful first quarter, which saw average growth perform well above the 2018 forecast (+15.3% vs. +9%).

A number of key factors helped drive the month’s online sales – starting with the continued cold weather from the ’beast from the east’, and ending with the early Easter bank holiday. Far more significant of the two, weekly analysis showed that growth doubled in the final week over Easter - surging from a steady +13% to +27%.

While all sectors showed year-on-year growth in March, there were a few standout performances. Likely linked to the bank holiday weekend, Clothing as well as Beer, Wine and Spirits saw increases of +17.2% and +27.3% respectively. For Beer, Wine and Spirits this was the highest jump in the last 5 years. Perhaps less predictably, Electricals also had a very strong month, reversing a 5-year trend of decline to record growth of +21.9%. In a month where Samsung launched its Galaxy S9, this could signify a concerted effort by smartphone manufacturers to increase their promotions.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, stated, “It’s possible to read this month’s results as a simple story of online continuing to benefit from the decline of the high street – which is nothing new of course, but it may be that we are seeing an acceleration of this as we’ve moved into 2018. At the same time it could just be a blip – Easter falling in March will likely have pushed up online growth (and, by extension, it may come in far lower in April) plus the weather has at times brought heavy snowfall and prolonged rainfall.

“If the strong growth is sustained into April, it would be tempting to conclude that we may have entered a new retail era – where store portfolios are going to be reduced faster under a far more radical programme of store consolidation than we have seen thus far, with digital transformation going high up board agendas and more ‘digital transformation director’ job titles appearing. But what does that mean for the high street? It’s important to remember that shopping centres have generally performed better than high streets recently, so it’s not that physical retail spaces can’t work. The question is – if retail were to start again entirely from scratch tomorrow, what would a retailer’s physical space look like? Would they be shops in the traditional sense, using all the space to market stock? Would we actually even create high streets again?”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement for multinational professional services and business consulting corporation Capgemini, also commented, “While the comparatively stronger growth of multi-channel retailers this month further supports the weather’s role in driving footfall away from the high streets, it also highlights the potential value and relevance of maintaining some form of physical presence in addition to a digital one. The trick for retailers is to figure out how the two can successfully work in combination, and what role each must play. We’re already seeing the start of this interplay in the trend for showrooming, but that is just one possible innovation of many.

“Regardless of a probable uptick in high street sales as the months warm up, this isn’t a calculation retailers can afford to push to the back of their minds till Autumn. Not only is the British weather far too unreliable for such optimism, but all the signs point to this being part of a much more intrinsic change in consumer behaviour that continues to gather pace. For those retailers who fail to evolve their approach fast enough, the gap in fortunes is only going to widen.”

Facebook have had a lot of negative press in recent times, largely due to the uproar surrounding the Cambridge Analytica Scandal which even progressed so far as to force Mark Zuckerberg himself to appear before the federal court. Well, cue another wave as Facebook recently announced changes to their terms of service which make them look more than a little shady in light of recent revelations.

 Reuters report that as of next month, Facebook are amending their polices so as to remove the platform’s estimated 1.5 billion registered users outside of the EU, US, and Canada from the protection offered by European privacy laws. As it stands these countries, which include parts of Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America, are governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland. However with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect from May 25th, Facebook seem intent on ensuring this is no longer the case by that time. These users will instead be governed by Facebook Inc. in the US, which is subject to softer privacy laws.

The motive is likely financial given that the new terms set out by the GDPR allow for fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue for companies in breach of the new regulations. After all, Facebook were only ever based in Ireland for financial gain in the first place, as they were able to take advantage of the country’s low corporate tax rates. Facebook themselves however insist that the change is being made in response to the privacy notices required by the EU, “because EU law requires specific language”.

Facebook have also hinted that they would apply the same privacy protections to users worldwide regardless of their location; however the change in policy would mean they are under no obligation to do so and while some may call me cynical, I would expect them to opt for profit over privacy.

Stephen Deadman, Deputy Chief Global Privacy Officer at Facebook, attempted to allay these fears when commenting on the policy change:

“The GDPR and EU consumer law set out specific rules for terms and data policies which we have incorporated for EU users. We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live,” said Deadman.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For many it’s a rather simple routine; grab a cup of coffee, flick through the newspaper, and perhaps catch up with friends and acquaintances on one of many social networks.

Social networks are the source of many a relationship in the digital age. This is true of both personal and business relationships, and as such not only you should think about marketing products in a traditional way, you should also think about how you may be able to capitalise on the various new kinds of networks that allow us to interact with our target audience.

Yummy Pets, for example, is the name of the social network for pets - this network was created in 2012 and has already been launched internationally. It is said that one-in-ten pets in the UK already has a presence on social networks, with Yummy Pets joining the ranks of other social networks of a similar nature including PetBook and MySocialPet. The interesting thing about all this is the clear advantages that relationship offers us here; specifically the ability to reach a public with different interests and a different sensibility.

Networks become more specialised places every day and you have to be aware of this. We can also find networks for gamers, for moviegoers, for music lovers, etc. Each of them represents a different demographic universe of varied needs. The important thing is to get to know this audience and find out what we can offer, and course how to most-effectively reach them.

The sensitivity of each demographic is different, as is their behaviour. Each group shows a distinct code of ethics and conduct, and can each hold drastically different views on matters such as what exactly constitutes ‘politically correct’. The necessary groundwork is no easy task at first, but after proper investigation we assure you that the results will be excellent.

Our individual interests can affect us in a profound way, rendering us sensitive to a certain kind of content. In much the same manner, we will also go out of our way to protect products, content, and ideals. Studying such behaviours from a marketing standpoint can often be the difference that helps us reach our business goals. To give an example, if I want to reach people who love Anime and Manga (Japanese cartoons and comics), I cannot take the idea of cosplay (people who dress up as their favourite characters from anime or other media) too lightly, or make it the subject of joke or ridicule. In other words, the important thing about all of this is to know your audience and what is important to them. If this is achieved, little by little we will make our way into the commercial market and above all into the hearts of our consumers.

In summary, the important thing is to get to know your audience; learn their likes, dislikes and various intricacies and only then interact with these new markets.

Online abuse has long plagued the Twitter platform, and given the very nature of such networks it is a difficult beast to eliminate. Twitter however continue to try, recently announcing their latest effort which will see them partnering with a research team led by Susan Benesch, Faculty Associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and J. Nathan Matias, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University, in a new collaborative study which intends to battle the issue not with force or punishment, but with transparency and education.

In a Medium post explaining the initiative, Benesch wrote, “Today Twitter will begin testing such an idea: that showing an internet platform’s rules to users will improve behavior on that platform. Social norms, which are people’s beliefs about what institutions and other people consider acceptable behavior, powerfully influence what people do and don’t do. Research has shown that when institutions publish rules clearly, people are more likely to follow them. We also have early evidence from Nathan’s research with Reddit communities that making policies visible can improve online behavior. In an experiment starting today, Twitter is publicizing its rules, to test whether this improves civility.”

The study will maintain full independence from Twitter in order to ensure the integrity of the research and its results. Privacy is also an obvious concern, one which the researchers addressed by assuring users that Twitter will only provide them with anonymised, aggregated information; the lack of identifying information will make singling out any individual impossible.

Whether or not the study will have any form of long-lasting effect on the rampant trolling and abuse that continues to blight Twitter remains to be seen, but it is at least good to see the company continuing the fight. Social networks should be platforms for the free exchange of ideas, not the unpleasant environments they all-too-often become for all-too-many users.

For parents, sharing photos of their children online is fairly common practice, with most parents reportedly posting more than 1,500 photos of their child before they reach the age of 5. This could however be a costly misstep that could have drastic ramifications for the child in question, maybe even placing them in view of a potential predator or paedophile.

This is the warning being given by the Child Rescue Coalition (CRC), who recently launched the #KidsForPrivacy campaign in an effort to educate parents about the dangers of oversharing on social media platforms. The non-profit organisation partnered with creative agency David&Goliath to create the campaign, in which they and their followers will take over all hashtags deemed to overexpose kids online, flooding them with images of children not in compromising scenarios, but instead holdings signs bearing the clear and simple demand of “Privacy Please”. The campaign will run throughout the entirety of April.

The CRC is also asking parents to go beyond a one-off hashtag campaign and also take some time to think about how they approach online sharing. They urge parents to ask themselves four simple questions before they share an image of their child online:
  • Why am I sharing this?
  • Would I want someone else to share an image like this of me?
  • Would I want this image of my child viewed and downloaded by predators on the Dark Web?
  • Is this something I want to be part of my child’s digital life?
“Once you’ve posted your child’s photo, you can’t have total control over it,” the CRC warns, “so think twice about sharing something that may seem cute or innocent. Together, we can bring safety to our children and other victims of child sexual abuse around the world.”

Further information about the campaign and the hashtags to be included can be found in the promotional video below, as well as the campaign’s official website. You can also follow the campaign on Instagram (@KidsForPrivacy), Twitter (@ChildRescueCo), or get involved using the hashtags #KidsForPrivacy and #PrivacyPlease.

It’s good news for baseball fans in the US as Twitter announced yesterday that they have renewed their deal with Major League Baseball (MLB), a deal that will once again allow out-of-market games to be broadcast weekly, free-of-charge, to Twitter users throughout the country.

In an announcement on their official blog, Twitter said, “A new Major League Baseball season is here as fans of all 30 @MLB teams were following every season-opening pitch on Opening Day last week. A historic Opening Day such as this is a reminder that fans around the world will turn to Twitter to follow their favourite teams, players and chatter about the news on and off the diamond in real time.

“No matter where their allegiances lie, all fans can count on Twitter for nonstop baseball action. Once again during the 2018 season, live streams of weekly @MLB games will happen on Twitter.”
Twitter will kick-off this year’s series of live-streamed games on Thursday 5th April, when the Texas Rangers take on Oakland Athletics at 3:35 PM ET. The full schedule for April can be seen below.

The weekly games will be available to watch on both desktop and connected devices via live.twitter.com/MLB and the @MLB Twitter account. Unfortunately for the overseas fans of MLB, the streams will be available in the US only due to the conditions of the deal.

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