Is It Dangerous To Have An Opinion in a Social Media Era? by Carlos Alguera

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Author: Carlos Alguera

Personally, I do not care for most of the subjects people passionately debate; in fact, I wish I was more like my friend Madison, who I firmly believe is physically incapable of caring about anything.

But I noticed a new trend, one in which companies and people are harmed because they do not align with a certain set of opinions. Some recent examples of this are Uber, the transportation service, whose market share and stock price took a hit because of its negative involvement with the travel ban or Under Armour, the apparel company who got public retaliation from the public and the athletes they sponsor when the CEO of the company spoke in favor of president Trump.

This begs the question: is having an opinion dangerous? Well the answer might be, yes.

According to experts, Homo sapiens appeared about 100,000 years ago. And despite the Kardashians, humankind has made incredible progress. We conquered fire, discovered the wheel, tamed animals, erected buildings, and created ice cream.

Sadly, one evolutionary trait that has alluded humanity is the ability to get along, or at least disagree peacefully. The concept of “Agree to disagree” is an endangered thought and instead we live in an era of “you’re either with me or against me”. Completely made up studies show that an increasing number of people cannot understand the concept of a non-binary opinion—you’re either a liberal or a conservative, you like Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, you like pineapple on pizza or you hate it.

We might be in the presence of the next step in human evolution, the Homo-Annoying, a not so distant relative of the Homo-Troll, and the species that will force the Homo sapiens to extinction. While the Homo sapiens, who used spears, arrows, and fire to hunt its pray, the Homo-Annoying uses electronic devices, social media, and mob mentality to attack his foes.

In order to understand this new creature, I risked my own mental sanity to conduct research since the sightings of the Homo-Annoying were more frequent during the election process in the United States. Although I must admit I had a preference on who I would’ve liked to have been the president, but as a non-citizen of the United States, not only could I not cast a vote, I couldn’t have cared less who was the winner of the election. That being said, I did take advantage of this situation to talk to some people about their opinions, and in certain cases, I tried to push their buttons to see how they would react. Although it was entertaining at first, I must say it soon got boring and annoying.

During this great time for debate, I got called many things by my right-wing friends such as a communist, ignorant, Mexican, and I was kindly invited to leave the country in a couple of occasions. These were not only my right-wing friends who had less than kind words, my left-wing friends called me Machista, a capitalist, racist, and again, Mexican. They even said I could get deported if I didn’t support the crusade.

After finishing the experiment, there was one question that still loomed large: where did this new species originate? Although there is no conclusive information, experts believe it was birthed in California. One thing is certain, it has proven to travel large distances and reproduce at an alarming rate. But, fear not—I will provide all the information you need about this new creature.

The Homo-Annoying, and his cousin, the Homo-Troll share certain traits such as being dangerous, reproducing easily, and using social media as their weapon of choice. However unlike the Homo-Troll, a creature who targets people or companies for the pleasure of it, the Homo-Annoying is a reactive creature. If not engaged, it will not attack. Another notable difference is their hunting habits. The Homo-Trolls are similar to sharks even though they are known as a solitary species, there are instances in which they form packs and attack a large prey. In contrast, the Homo-Annoying is more similar to lions, who normally attack in packs, but are still known to engage multiple targets at the same time if necessary.

Additionally, the Homo-Annoying seem to have three subspecies such as:

Sport HA: This is the first subspecies of the Homo-Annoying found by scientists. It is said to be as old as television. Normally encountered in sporting events, bars, or anywhere that sports can be debated, this subspecies is known for trash talking, drunkenly insulting the rival sport team, players or fans. Of them all, it’s the least dangerous one. One example of this is Hunter Pence, a player of the San Francisco Giants, who must endure constant insults for his appearance.

Political HA: There are more sightings of this subspecies during election year. In the early stages of the election process, they are broken into smaller groups who vigorously attack anybody who dislikes their candidate of choice, labeling any opposition as ignorant. As the election process goes to its final stage, they separate into two teams: the right wing and the left wing. At this stage they are more dangerous since they have organized into larger groups. An example of this would be AirBnB. The company decided to air a super bowl ad that they conveyed a message opposing president Trump’s immigration ban. Trump supporters quickly called for a boycott.

Social Issues HA: As the most dangerous of the three subspecies, this Homo-Annoying is driven by its core values, and violently attacks anybody who disagrees with them. Even if you agree with their cause, the slightest agreement with anybody that opposes their crusade can easily turn them from friend to a foe. An example of this is Starbucks. The coffee giant decided to take a pro-stance in the heated debate of gay marriage. This decision outraged their conservative clients and they decided to boycott the company, causing their stock price to take a hit. It was not long until those who were on Starbucks’ side decided to boycott the boycott and the stock price quickly recovered.

To deal with the Homo-Annoying I recommend:

  • Do not engage. If you can avoid these types of people, by all means do.
  • If not engaging with them is not an option, stay away from the previously mentioned subjects.
  • If you find yourself being dragged into a dangerous conversation, try to stir the conversation into a more pleasant subject.
  • Do not agree just to avoid the subject, you’ll look condescending and that infuriates them even more.
  • Lastly, if you’ve been dragged into the situation and you can’t manage to escape, change your name, move to another city or kill them before they tell their friends because you’ve just made an enemy for the rest of your life.

In conclusion, the Homo-Annoying is a dangerous species that can take many forms. Its natural enemy is itself or anyone that disagrees with them, whether it’s a company or a person. Do not take this creature lightly—not having an opinion will not keep you safe from them, the Homo-Annoying is the next step in evolution. And, as any evolved species, the first thing they do is exterminate its predecessor.

Be afraid, be very afraid. They are taking the world by storm, just look at who’s sitting in the oval office.

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Why Do Your Parents Use Facebook?

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When did Facebook stop becoming cool? Probably when your parents joined and you gave them that mercy add of their friend request.

Social media websites and platforms have only been around for the last 10-15 years but it has made a huge impact on our day to day lives. From the way we communicate to the way we travel, social media’s presence is ever growing.  Because there are so many different forms of social media, the way it is being consumed is so vast that there are many differences among users by age and location.  So why is this important and what value does it give to you? Knowing the way each demographic consumes media has different business implications and changes the way business functions.

Let’s start with looking at how different age groups use social media. There are four main age groups that we are going to look at. Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964, Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976, Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995 and Gen Z or Centennials: Born 1996 and later.

In a report created by the Pew Research Center, Andrew Perrin describes that although Millennials are still the most likely to use social media, usage among Baby Boomers as well as Generation X has increased significantly to where 65% of that population has adopted and currently use at least one form of social media. Furthermore among the ages, the way they consume and utilize that media is extremely different.

Baby Boomers as well as Generation X have been found to share the most content on Facebook and social media, and around 18% share content more than once daily.  Baby Boomers are 19% more likely to share content compared to all other age groups and the most popular forms of social media among Baby Boomers and Generation X are Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.  http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/facebook-sharing-content/

Millennials are still the most likely to use social media with about 90% having presence on at least one form of social media platform and their demographic has the highest usage rate on 4 of the 5 main social media platforms(Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest). . Facebook’s largest user base is Millenians with the highest usage rate,  but Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers usage is steadily growing to be on par/ equal to that of Millennials and it is predicted that much higher activity will stemming from the older generations. Additionally, Millennials are more interested in creating original/ user generated content to try and brand themselves, and are moving towards platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to do so.

Lastly Generation Z is a completely different social media users. Most of Generation Z does not have Facebook and mainly use platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and messenger apps. Furthermore, individuality is common theme and value that Gen Z values and thus platforms such as YouTube, Kik, and the now non-existent Vine were extremely popular among Gen Z.

Here, as well as the beginning of this post, is a highly informative info graphic that sheds more detail into each generational use of the different social media platforms.

So why is this usage important?

By knowing how each age group acts on social media, marketing towards them can be much more targeted an effective. For example if I wanted to sell a product or gain brand awareness for a product geared toward Generation Z, I would not want to be placing ads on Facebook where their user-base is weak. Knowing your audience and huge and by writing this I hope to help provide better insight into each age’s mind.

Sources:

http://www.incite-group.com/data-and-insights/how-different-age-groups-behave-across-social

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/social-media-generations

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/8-key-differences-between_b_12814200.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-beall/5-things-every-company-sh_b_12918636.html

http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/facebook-sharing-content/

 

 

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YOU’D NEVER GUESS THE SECRET BUSINESS OF CLICKBAIT

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Oxford dictionaries describes click-bait as “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page”. It’s those articles that have headlines like “You’ll never believe what Kim Kardashian did” or “Nicki M’s Paris Fashion Shocker”. Websites like BuzzFeedPerez Hilton, and UpWorthy are notorious for this type of media and with Buzzfeed gaining revenues of $167 million in 2015 its an important concept to understand.

Click-bait or more humbly known as ‘content marketing’ has transformed the way media that new media is consumed. But why is click-bait important? If people are so frustrated with it why does it still exist?

In an article published by Marketing Insights written by Marguerite McNeal, she discusses the psychology behind this new type of media. The information gap theory of curiosity tells us that there is a disconnect or mental gap between what we know and what we want to know. When we see such sensational headlines, it peaks our natural curiosity and once we click and find out what that “secret” is, that gap is filled and curiosity is satisfied.

This Youtube video explains the theory further and why it has such a strong presence in our world.

 

Now its difficult to quantify if there is an actual profit or monetary advantage when click-bait is used, however the numbers don’t lie.  In an example highlighted by McNeal the same YouTube video, advertised with modest vs click-bait titles garnered  1 million vs. 17 million  views.

However this leads to the frustration of consumers and content creators alike. Why? Many of these articles don’t actually contain substance are only meant to keep their viewers for a 15-30 seconds, whereas sources of credible factual information that don’t utilize the click-bait tactics have hard time finding internet traffic and views to their website.

But those opposed to ‘content marketing’ state the the consequences of click-bait without any substance or value has negative long term effects for revenue and viewership. In order for content creators to create a long term relationship with their viewers, it is necessary to add substance to what is being published otherwise consumers feel disappointed and mislead. Furthermore the old adage ” first impressions are everything” truly holds its weight in these scenarios. It has been shown that consumers don’t trust the credibility of the sources that utilize click-bait for the sole purpose of web traffic.  Additionally the lack of content deteriorates the brand reputation in the consumers mind and makes the consumer less likely to visit the websites for future purposes. BuzzFeed and UpWorthy both write about current events and BuzzFeed even has its own News section, however, since the reputation has been muddled by their extensive library of surveys to “figure out what flavor of potato chip you are”, people will not and do not trust the validity of their news reporting. Additionally YouTubers who mislabel their titles with stories like ” I ALMOST DIED” are finding commenter backlash for misleading their subscribers are are experience a decrease and/or stagnation in both following and viewership because of it.

But do I see click-bait losing its presence in the future? Absolutely not.

People will always be curious and not all click-bait tactics are all bad. In order to gain viewership of your content there needs to be some attention grabbing element  in order to captivate your audience. Furthermore blogs like this one contain tags, links, and other visually stimulating media in order to create traction.

Therefore my two cents on the matter of click-bait would be: Don’t be afraid to use the attention seeking methods in order get people to view your content. However, HAVE CONTENT. Be informative, and use credible information.

 

 

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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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