Trolls Without Borders

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What is a troll? Scandinavian mythology describes them as ugly, dangerous, annoying, human-like creatures that possess magical powers and live in dark places. Although not magical, present day internet trolls share the rest of these characteristics with their mythological relatives, in addition to one more –  they are very dangerous.

Internet trolling began as a benign exercise in self-amusement.  In the early ages of “trolling”, internet trolls would invade discussion forums, chat rooms or blogs with the express but ultimately harmless purpose of drawing an emotional response from the readers/visitors and later engaging in heated arguments with as many possible users.

However, the destructive appetites of these trolls soon proved insatiable, and insulting innocent commenters that simply wanted to express their opinion was simply not enough to satisfy it. Therefore, to expand their horizons they began targeting, well, everyone and everything. Proof of this are the well-known internet memes, which are images with satiric content that spread “virally” from one person to another via the Internet. Memes spare no one – you can find memes that contain images of grandmas, puppies, celebrities, political leaders, the pope, the mentally challenged, and even gods – no one is safe from internet trolls.

But why are trolls so dangerous when it seems like the worst they can do is give you a headache? Well, if you’re one of the people who believes that, you’re wrong. You might think of internet trolls as just a bunch of nobodies that hide behind a computer screen and try to hurt everybody to compensate for their real-life frustrations and insecurities, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong. However, internet trolls are powerful creatures, and they know it. They can bring down people, organizations and even companies in the blink of an eye.

Internet Trolls don’t need much to hurt companies. Although they are not magical themselves, they live in a magical place that allows them to do everything they want. That magical place is called the internet. All they need is an internet connection, a device with a browser, and a bad day to take their frustrations out on everything and everyone.

Here are some examples of companies that had well intentioned marketing campaigns that did not take into consideration their natural enemy, the trolls:

These campaigns went horribly wrong and ended up causing great damage to the brand of their company and the people involved in it.  It is not easy to estimate the monetary losses that companies suffer because of trolls with these types of campaigns, but to get a rough estimate, Twitter offers different types of advertisements: promoted tweets, accounts, which might go up to $4.00 per interaction, and a sponsored trend cost $200,000 a day. The McDstories hashtag was taken down after 2 hours of activity, and had thousands of interactions, therefore one could estimate that internet trolls cost McDonalds around $250,000 in just a couple of hours.

The “internet troll virus” is a contagious one. It can infect anyone in seconds, immediately turning them into an angry and strongly opinionated troll. In the real world, this is referred to as ‘Mob Mentality’. All it takes is one individual to rally others behind and idea, whether it’s good or bad. Influencers with many followers in social media can reach thousands and even millions of people across the globe in just seconds, turning a group of individuals with nothing in common into an angry mob ready to bash anyone on the internet.

Even though there are physical borders in the real word, there are none on the internet, with the exception of some countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China and others. The clear majority of countries have no restrictions on the content a user can post online, therefore everybody from basically anywhere can access the information. These conditions make trolls especially dangerous since they can target companies from anywhere in the world without getting on an airplane.

In conclusion, beware of internet trolls, they are waiting for you, to make fun of your hashtag, turn you into a meme, and give you their unsolicited in-expert opinion. Next time you think of an internet troll, don’t just imagine a sweaty, greasy, single man that lives in his mother’s basement and spends all his spare time trashing you on social media – remember that a troll can be anyone. Even you!

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How to Find and Build Business Contacts Internationally

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Welcome back to our last installation of the International Marketing Channels blog!

Today we will discuss how to build and retain professional business relationships with partners abroad. Hopefully, this will serve as a quick go to guide when thinking about building contacts abroad. This information will be based on internet research and will provide advice from different sources and organizations. This is mostly suitable for businesses in the United States but should be similar in other countries.

According to Entrepreneur.com:

  • Contact your states Commerce Department which should offer import/export assistance
  • Use a sourcing agent
  • examine industry research through the Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA) and trade groups specific to your industry

FITA has comprehensive business directories on many source countries, while the Export-Import Bank now offers larger capital loans for small global traders. The U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key Matching Service introduces entrepreneurs to U.S. embassy officials overseas, who then introduce Americans to local suppliers.

Some other good sources are:

  • Trade Information Center (TIC) at the U.S. Department of Commerce
  • export training at Export Small Business Development Centers
  • Directories of overseas buyers can be found at www.export.gov and www.buyusa.com , two websites sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department.
  • Another good site is the U.S. Export Institute’s site
  •  You can also find partners in a particular country by calling or e-mailing the U.S. Embassy there.

Remember that caution should be taking when dealing with international partners and meeting in person is always recommended.

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Railroad Transportation (of Energy) in Russia

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Hi again,

      Welcome to our second to last installment in this exciting Marketing Channels blog which deals with the Global Market! Today we will discuss Russia. Considered as part of the BRICS economies and certainly making headlines frequently Russia is located between emerging Asia, the troubled Middle East, and mixed Western Europe. Below is a map which includes the Russian railroads.

Railroads in Russia

This map is interesting for several reasons. First, you can see the extent to which Russia approximates the Nordic countries, western European countries, eastern European countries, middle eastern countries, China, and Alaska. In addition, it helps to think about these as either oil producing (such as Norway and Alaska) or oil buying countries as most of the rest are. The Railroads mostly help to transport oil and gas through western Europe which is densely populated. Some railroads also lead to China.

It is important to remember that most of Russia’s revenue is from energy (around 68%). Currently, Russia was in the process of building an oil pipeline to southeastern Europe but instead redirected it to Turkey due to tensions with the west.  According to the US Energy Information Administration:

Russia is the second-largest producer of dry natural gas and third-largest liquid fuels producer in the world. Despite its significant reserves of coal, it produces only modest amount of coal. Russia’s economy is highly dependent on its hydrocarbons, and oil and gas revenues account for more than 50% of the federal budget revenues.

This is important for two reasons.

First, all of this information is important for business that rely heavily on energy. Energy intensive businesses would probably benefit from the proximity to Russia or one of its railroads. This includes businesses anywhere on the supply chain; from manufacturers of oil extraction machinery to refinery of oil to auto makers and producers of petroleum based products.

Second, businesses probably would not want to invest in Russia unless it is oil related. We have seen that Russia has been expropriating companies such as McDonald’s due to political tensions. Russia’s economy is also too dependent on energy so unless a company is in that industry they should not expose themselves to such risk unnecessarily.

But, if we have learned anything it is that where there are risks there is opportunity. In the future, when clean energy grabs hold of market share and climate change warms the north these railroads might provide transportation to numerous different industries from China to the rest of world. Or who knows, maybe Russia might still become a superpower.

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Consumer Preference in Asia Pacific – Online Shopping vs. In – Store

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Hello,

Thank you for your continued support and for reading our blog!

Today we would like to discuss e-commerce in Asia-Pacific. This is important because as companies look to expand for growth, China and India are the two largest markets in the world. Combined they represent greater than 2 Billion people and more than 30% of the world’s population. In addition, sales increasingly occur online; especially in developing countries where the percentage of connected consumers is growing substantially.

 

Asia

Total online retail revenues in 2012 was $ 156 billion in Asia- Pacific. The apparel, accessories, and footwear segment are the fastest growing. The electronics segment enjoyed revenues of $ 30.7 Billion. Each segment accounts for about 20% of total revenues. Much of the growth comes from China, Japan, and South Korea. Much potential is expected from India in the future.

Total revenues are expected to keep growing at a diminishing rate with expected total revenue of $394.5 billion in 2017. Although there exists strong rivalry from low switching costs and many players the growth alleviates the competition. Asian internet penetration was just 27.5% in 2012. Security is a big factor in choosing online retailers and practicing loyalty. Increasing ease of use and search has increased price competition. All in all there are few barriers to entry due to low fixed costs, little regulation, and easy access to suppliers. Large retailers are mainly undifferentiated while smaller companies cater to niche groups.

Main Asia-Pacific players include:

  1. Alibaba
  2. Amazon
  3. Apple
  4. Rakuten

As you might know the founder the founder of Alibaba is now the richest man in Asia. The IPO valuation of the company speaks to the expected growth of the market. With increases in cell phone usage, internet connectivity, and wealth in Asia online shopping will surely increase its presence in the marketplace.

I hope this blog has served as a crash course in e-commerce in Asia-Pacific. The take away is potential, growth, and speed to market. All of this data was found in the market service Marketline Advantage.

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International Market Transportation Methods

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Good Afternoon All,

Welcome back to Chris and Gerald’s blog.

Today we’ll be talking about the different modes of transport found throughout the business world from the perspective of the largest exporter in the world. The transportation methods that are used include: Rail, Truck, Water, and Air. The decision of which method to use is very important to business executives as each method has their own pros and cons. This decision is also important when it comes to the type of good and how urgently the good needs to be transported.

The first method used by businesses are trucks. Trucks are one of the most commonly used transportation. Trucks are good transportation method for goods as they can be brought directly towards the customer place of business, or residence, whereas all other forms of business are limited in that respect and truck is also very fast though speed does tend to decline, once the truck leaves an industrialized area. The con of transport goods by truck is that it can be very expensive to transport goods especially depending on the type of good. For example, someone would find it very costly regardless of country, if a coal company or someone requiring coal were to try and ship the same amount of coal that a train can by truck, the company would be looking at using several hundred trucks to make the same delivery that one train can.
driving-moving-trucks-1

The second method of transporting goods found throughout countries world wide is by rail. Rail is one the most popular options when it comes to transporting goods in bulk across very large distances, an example of a good commonly transported by train is the coal, which was mentioned earlier. Though in the world that has the global market, trains are somewhat limited in terms of moving from continent to continent, but are still used quite commonly as it is a part of inter-modal transportation for company. Trains are usually the first step in bringing its goods to a port, and because it is only part of the process. Trains transport their goods in containers that are easily transported from the train itself to the next transportation method. A business would use a train because they can be cheaper, and more energy efficient than other transportation methods which is important if you are transporting goods long distances.

Train

The third transportation method that is perhaps used the most when it comes to exporting goods internationally, is shipping by water. If the business needs to ship a lot of items in bulk and there is really no time sensitivity to the items then shipping it, then transportation via the sea really is the best option. In fact, shipping via the ocean is used so much that there are now several different types of cargo ships used to transport goods, depending on whether they are bulk commodities, dry goods, perishable items, and liquids. Ships are an integral part of intermodal transportation, as they usually receive their containers from the trains themselves, and are then brought to the country where the delivery is to take place. Transit time ultimately depends on where port A and port B are. An example of this is, transporting containers via ship from a  United States port to a European port will typically take anywhere between ten to twelve days, assuming there are no storms or similar delaying conditions. So transporting by ships, is usually the slowest method, but the most economically viable option for bulk, non perishable commodity goods needing to go from continent to continent.

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The final transportation method used by international businesses is shipping goods by air. Using a plane is ultimately the fastest options, but is generally reserved for the most time-sensitive goods and orders. Other advantages to such a method include cheaper warehousing costs, reduced insurance rates, and much better control over inventory. The biggest con to air travel is that it can be very expensive, as the price for air freights depends on how heavy the shipment is, and how fast you want it to get to its destination. Heavy goods, that need to be transported very quickly will be the most costly. One other limitation commonly found when using air transport especially when transporting to underdeveloped countries is that air travel is limited by whether or not there is an airport of some kind.

Plane

Choosing a transportation method is very important when it comes to international business, which is why all businesses need to take some serious time to consider how their goods are transported. If you have bulk items that need to be transported across country lines, then trains or trucks are probably the best way. If their is no rush for goods to be transported then going by ocean would be the best option. And if your goods need to get to their destination as quickly as possible, planes are definitely the way to go. Well that concludes this look into the four different transportation methods when it comes to international marketing channels.

Stay tuned for our other blog posts.

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