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The future of social media analytics

Crimson Hexagon, a global social media analytics company based in Boston, recently launched in South Africa in partnership with YouKnow Digital.

To celebrate the launch, NATIVE VML hosted an event entitled ‘The future of social media analytics’, where Marian Cramers, director strategic alliances EMEA at Crimson Hexagon, gave insights into where social analytics is headed.

With image-based social networks on the rise, the latest being Instagram, Pinterest and more recently Snapchat, businesses are increasingly adopting social media analytics tools to gain insights from social data, particularly images, to drive strategy.

Crimson Hexagon is one such company providing insights for brand strategy and market research, allowing brands, agencies and non-profits access to consumer trends, purchase intent, product attributes, drivers of sentiment, competitors, and the like. It holds the world’s largest repository of social data anywhere, with 850 billion+ posts stored in its warehouse.

Its technology is rooted in an algorithm designed by Gary King, a professor at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. “This algorithm will always be the heart of the platform,” said Cramers, “but it keeps evolving and, although it was designed for text-based analytics, there’s a new world out there and that world is Snapchat and Instagram and all of those images.”

She quoted Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, who said, “Photos are no longer just a means of capturing a moment, they are a means of communicating.”

If you look at the trajectory of social media platforms over the years, they’re increasingly becoming more about images and less about text. Camera-enabled smartphones, the low barrier for self-expression, and the ease of curating content are just some of the reasons for this.

Context is the real issue

Crimson is moving passed the point of sentiment and the advanced emotional attachment, to a contextual understanding of images, the stories they tell and their brand implications.

Some emerging use cases discussed are:

  • A more robust audience and campaign analysis
  • Brand affinities
  • Content ideation, creating and curation
  • Identification of most effective/real influencers
  • Product development
  • Scene/action recognition to identify growth opportunities

Cramers referred to an image featured at the London Olympic 2012 opening ceremony, quoting inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s tweet, “This is for everyone”, which was instantly displayed in LED lights attached to the chairs in the arena. And that’s exactly what this is.

“It’s important that you keep seeing the bigger picture because that is where the future lies, and it’s also where the interesting angles are that will make you future proof.”

Source: Biz Community, article by Jessica Tennant (http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/669/149626.html)

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Effective Ways to Generate Leads Through Digital Marketing

Lead generation is at the heart of all businesses. Entrepreneurs and marketers are constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to enhance their lead generation strategies.

Building a strong base of customer leads is crucial for every business. Numerous digital marketing tools have surfaced over the years to aid in the process. Each of these tools plays a major role in putting together an effective lead generation strategy.

The number of Internet users worldwide has been found to be 3.5 billion. If your business relies primarily on local customers, chances are, your potential customers are a part of this figure. Here are some effective strategies that can help you generate more leads through your digital marketing efforts.

Request for Reviews

The power of online reviews is immense. Did you know that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Consumers have increasingly been turning to online referrals before making a purchasing decision. One of the best ways to leverage this is by asking for reviews from your existing customers. You can ask your customers to fill up a short form on your website for this purpose.

In addition to that, you can claim your business’s listing in top review sites and ask your customers to post a review there. More the number of positive reviews, better will the prospects for your business.

Conduct Online Contests with Special Offers

A special offer works as a bonus to motivate a person to take action. If you plan on conducting a contest, you can consider offering a discount to the consumer who wins it. Additionally, you can also provide an offer at the end of a survey or a request for review.

The offers can be as simple as a discount on a product or a service that your business provides. For example, if you have a car dealership, a discount on private number plates can be quite effective. A gift certificate can be used as well.

Such campaigns can be highly effective in attracting new leads for your business.

Leverage Social Media

With 2.1 billion active social media users, this platform is a goldmine for lead generation. Most of your potential customers are quite likely to be on social media. Therefore, leveraging social media should be given maximum priority.

For example, you can consider investing in engaging content and posting them on various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. Instagram can also be used to post pictures and short demo videos of your products etc.

There are numerous ways to increase social media engagement for your business. Social media sites provide marketers with an opportunity to initiate interactions with customers. Additionally, this also helps in building credibility and trust.

Create a ‘How-to’ Guide

Many consumers may be confused with the services and products that your business offers. This is where a ‘how-to’ guide becomes relevant. It simplifies the information that you wish to convey to your existing as well as potential customers. A complex process can be broken down into simple steps to help your customers understand it easily.

You can consider creating an engaging blog post for this purpose. You can post an infographic, an article or even an e-book. A short video can also be highly effective. It is advisable to include a call-to-action at the end of the blog post or the video leading to the relevant page of your website to enable customers to take action.

Focus on SEO Strategies

Organic search is one of the most vital source of traffic for businesses which primarily relies on the proper utilisation of the right keywords. Therefore, it is important to have strong keywords in your website’s landing pages that rank well in Google search results.

You can also consider focusing on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign to see immediate results. Google AdWords is highly effective for this purpose. You can choose specific keywords and pay only when someone clicks on them to go to the relevant landing page. Depending on the performance, you can adjust your budget.

These strategies are highly effective in generating valuable leads for your business. That being said, it is important to track the results of your efforts and adjust them accordingly to ensure that favourable results are generated from the strategies that you implement.

Source: Business Zone, article by Kent Charlie (http://www.businesszone.co.uk/community/blogs/kentcharlie/effective-ways-to-generate-leads-through-digital-marketing)

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How do some of the biggest startups stay on top of international teams?

For many startups from countries like Australia and New Zealand, the relatively small size of the local market pushes them to go global, and quickly.

That mindset means learning how to manage offices in multiple countries, time zones and languages — something that requires some quick adaption.

Using such tools also means she can stay away from formal emails, which she views as draining. “I think one of the biggest indicators of teams that have low trust is very long emails that take a long time to get a small point across,” she said.

A video call or a quick message on chat works a lot better to establish trust when you can’t physically be in the same room.

While a company like Atlassian, which makes workplace software such as the chat platform HipChat, has perhaps a technological advantage in managing international teams, it too faces some unique challenges.

Dom Price, head of R&D program management at the company, told Mashable Australia its teams are highly distributed. Not simply in Atlasssian offices in Australia, the U.S. and Poland, but also remote teams who might work from home in France or even Tasmania.

The company, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in late 2015, still maintains a large office in Sydney.

“You’ve got to hire the smartest people where you can find them and they’re not always on your doorstep,” he said. “We have to face that problem every day.”

One strategy the company has chosen is using open documents — what Price called having “one version of the truth.” That means no matter what changes were made overnight, when employees arrive in the morning, they have access to the latest version of everything.

Price, who works in Atlassian’s Sydney office, also emphasised the importance of personal contact whenever possible. “We’re not afraid to fly people around the world, just to have that face to face connection,” he said.

Cardinal agreed that meeting in-person is invaluable.

“I think that if anybody is going to take on the role of leading teams in different locations, if the company is not going to invest in travel, I’d think twice before doing it,” she said. “Meeting in-person helps digital relationships from there onwards.”

The quality of that travel is important, however. It’s necessary to avoid what she called “flyby bombings.”

“You come in and try and solve everything and fix everything because you’re physically present. I think that’s a quick way to undo everything you’ve built up,” she said. Instead, she advised having a beer and getting to know people.

Understanding cultural differences, as well as time differences

No matter how global the company, each location is going to have its own methods and rituals, where one region’s workplace culture may not always translate.

“I find Australian businesses have this nice kind of scrappiness,” Price said. “Sometimes when you take that message to other countries or cultures, it doesn’t always carry the same weight or gravitas.”

Setting out loose guidelines for work interactions, including having no phones in meetings, can help with that. As well as ensuring cultural details are appreciated. “With our Polish guys, they love structure, and so we always make sure we have an agenda for our meetings with them,” he explained.

All these online mechanisms and global hours mean it can be tempting to always be online. Nevertheless, Price pushed back on blaming the tools.

“We build our tools to be default always on, always open,” he said. “We have to make sure people don’t abuse that and don’t confuse that with thinking you always need to be on.”

In his view, the ability to switch off should be part of company culture as well as come from personal discipline. For some of his team’s work, that can mean working at the time that’s best for them.

“We have some rough business hours, but given the nature of what our business is, I want them to solve the problem when they’re in their zone,” he explained.

While she said she was lucky there was only a small time difference between Australia and New Zealand, Cardinal suggested it was still important to try and not bother people when they’re not expected to be at work, as well as keeping on top of their personal details.

“You have to make a conscious effort to remember things like birthdays, and maybe when they’ve gone above and beyond, because you don’t have that face to face as a reminder.”

“It feels like you’re married to 10 people at once,” she laughed.

Source: Mashable, Article by Ariel Bogle (http://mashable.com/2016/08/17/australian-startups-international-teams/#.PA2.bhbcPqd)

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Top 3 Sources To Learn How To Invest In Startups Like The Professionals

Investing in startups used to be the privilege of business angels and venture capitalists. With a plethora of equity crowdfunding platforms now available to a greater pool of angel investors, it’s more important than ever to create resources for new angel investors to access the knowledge of seasoned business angels and venture capitalists, who have been investing in startups for long enough to know the pitfalls. Here are some of the best sources of information on how to invest in startups.

Podcasts

There are several podcasts by investors, usually by venture capitalists. Out of these I’d strongly recommend The Twenty Minute VC, a weekly podcast not to be missed. Unfortunately there are very few podcasts by business angels and even fewer by different business angels willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly rather than just their successes. My personal favourite is, naturally, Angel Insights – a podcast I commissioned when it became apparent how few such resources existed. A great starting episode is the recent How to become an angel investor: The ultimate guide by Harry Stebbings, which brings together the best of the last 50-plus episodes.

Books

There are two books I think are definitely worth a read for anybody interested in investing in startups. The best one I’ve come across in a while from the point of view of a business angel is Angel Investing by David S. Rose, CEO of Gust and Founder of New York Angels. In this book David condenses his experience of investing in more than 90 companies and shares what he’s learned along the way.

Another terrific book is Startup wealth: How the best angel investors make money in startups by Josh Maher, which includes portfolio strategy and lessons learned from great successes and spectacular failures. Finally, a great starting point is the guide How to start up investing in startups – a free PDF guide on the things you need to bear in mind when looking at early-stage investing.

Websites

Although this HBS article won’t teach you how to invest in startups, Six myths about venture capitalists by Diane Mulcahy makes you wonder why on earth you aren’t making the investments yourself directly via one of the investor-led crowdfunding platforms.

The history of angel investing by Tom Britton is a short read that will give you some fascinating insight into business angels; for example, did you know that the term ‘business angels’ derives from ‘theatre angels’, who were wealthy patrons of Broadway and received a share of the production’s earnings in exchange for their patronage?

Source: Forbes, article by Goncalo de Vasconcelos (http://www.forbes.com/sites/goncalodevasconcelos/2016/08/12/top-3-sources-to-learn-how-to-invest-in-startups-like-the-professionals/#55f875d26a22)

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Facebook Helps Develop Software That Puts Students in Charge of Their Lesson Plans

Facebook is out to upend the traditional student-teacher relationship.

On Tuesday, Facebook and Summit Public Schools, a nonprofit charter school network with headquarters in Silicon Valley, announced that nearly 120 schools planned this fall to introduce a free student-directed learning system developed jointly by the social network and the charter schools.

Rather than have teachers hand out class assignments, the Facebook-Summit learning management system puts students in charge of selecting their projects and setting their pace. The idea is to encourage students to develop skills, like resourcefulness and time management, that might help them succeed in college.

The Facebook-backed platform is entering the public school software market when rival tech giants like Google and Microsoft have already established big footprints in education, in an attempt to build brand loyalty among students early.

In June, Google said more than 60 million students and teachers worldwide used Google Apps for Education, a suite of free products that includes Gmail and Google Drive for document-sharing. Many other schools use Microsoft productivity tools and Skype, the videoconferencing tool, in classrooms. Amazon also plans to soon introduce Amazon Inspire, a site where teachers can share free instructional materials.

But the Summit-Facebook system, called the “Summit Personalized Learning Platform,” is different.

The software gives students a full view of their academic responsibilities for the year in each class and breaks them down into customizable lesson modules they can tackle at their own pace. A student working on a science assignment, for example, may choose to create a project using video, text or audio files. Students may also work asynchronously, tackling different sections of the year’s work at the same time.

The system inverts the traditional teacher-led classroom hierarchy, requiring schools to provide intensive one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help each student adapt.

This summer, more than 1,500 educators and leaders of public, private and charter schools participating in the program, called Summit Basecamp, attended sessions to learn how to use the system. Among the 19 schools that introduced the new learning approach last year, at least a few educators and administrators reported a steep learning curve.

“There were many points where we weren’t sure the Summit Basecamp model was what our students needed,” said Claire Fisher, the principal of Urban Promise Academy, a public middle school in Oakland, Calif., which introduced the platform in its sixth-grade classes.

By the end of the school year, however, 31 percent of the school’s sixth graders were reading at or above their grade level, compared with just 9 percent in the fall. That was a larger improvement in reading than students in seventh and eighth grades, which did not use the platform, Ms. Fisher said.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, were the catalysts for the partnership. It is the couple’s most public education effort since 2010 when they provided $100 million to help overhaul public schools in Newark, a top-down effort that ran into a local opposition.

The Facebook-Summit partnership, by contrast, is more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools. Facebook announced its support for the system last September; the company declined to comment on how much it is spending on it. Early this month, Summit and Facebook opened the platform up to individual teachers who have not participated in Summit’s extensive on-site training program.

Source: The New York Times. Article by Natasha Singer and Mike Isaac (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/10/technology/facebook-helps-develop-software-that-puts-students-in-charge-of-their-lesson-plans.html?_r=0)

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