My Fellow Ello

Ello’s promise is that it will not make money from selling ads or user data. The anti-Facebook social network launched last year with these promises; to make these even tighter, ir converted its legal structure to a Public Benefits Corporation. This means that Ello is a for-profit organization, but an essential part of its philosophy to benefit society. The company sees money and profit as a means to make social impact. Ello wants to provide users the opportunity to connect without other companies seeing them as products that can be bought and sold. According to Ello Doesn’t Have Ads, “Collecting and selling your personal information, reading your posts, and mapping your social connections for profit is unethical. Every new feature on an ad-driven network is either a new way to gather more data about you (which can be sold), or show you more ads (which are auctioned), or both.” Thus, Ello’s motto is to do the right thing by making the product beneficial to users themselves, not to other companies. In this way, we see a company reflecting what care ethics is about.

Without advertising, the company says it will make money out of premium extra features, like profile customization. This model is not new and, in some cases, it has proven to be profitable. As a matter of fact, it’s widely used in the gaming industry, known as the “freemium model,” in which users play for free, but pay for extras. The concept is if you want to get the best rewards or features, you have to pay money; users pay to enhance the experience. Clash of Clans and Game of War: Fire Age made enough money last year to buy Super Bowl ads. Sounds good, right? It’s important to note that only 1.5% of freemium revenue comes from these purchases. Also, this model doesn’t mean that these apps are free from advertising. As a matter of fact, according to a survey by App Annie and IDC on 2013, 50% of app revenue comes from in-app advertising and that percentage is expected to increase in 2017. There are two possible scenarios regarding data mining here:

  • It doesn’t mean that no one is using data; it’s used internally to enhance user experience
  • With the information above, we see the success of the gaming apps does imply using advertising as an important source of revenue, thus user data is sold.

In my opinion, this model might work for gaming, but not for social, especially if the social network offering an ad-free experience has no attractive features and functionalities that may motivate me to try it or even consider leaving Facebook because that one is better. In order for Ello to profit from the extras, it needs to increase its user base. As of October, they had 1 million users, to which they just added 250,000 more. The rollout has been limited because the platform is unfinished and they have decided to add features along the way. They have missed a very important thing, if not the most: the app version. Considering the growth of mobile usage, how come they leave this for 8 months after launching?

Just recently, Ello added the ability to post videos from other sources like YouTube. In Ello Is Becoming a Real Social Network, Even as Tech Media Pronounces It Dead, John Koetsier touches on this point by saying that this new ability to share video does include ads, not from Ello, but from YouTube. I wonder what platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud will be able to do regarding advertising, considering the fact that they will be able to know where traffic comes from. Technically, Ello is not selling information, but it’s providing an open forum for others to take data from there. Ello was able to tackle this with a feature on the settings menu, which you can turn off to avoid embedded media.

I think at this point, this limits the user’s ability to connect organically; to create and celebrate life just like Ello wants. It’s a cool option and it strengthens their position about no ads, but then it’s also a barrier for sharing information. If I’m an artist and want to share my video from YouTube with my friends, then it means not everyone will see them. What will happen when people are able to use hashtags? Doesn’t this give outside sources access to content related to a hashtag? I wonder up to what point can they keep this promise, when content like hashtags are part of a universal database.

I honestly love Ello’s philosophy and I like the intention of creating a company with a sustainable model that wants to do social good by intending to protect people and providing a platform strictly for connecting with other people, not products. The freemium model they expect to use for added features and customization sounds like a great idea, but why will people pay for something that they can have for free in the platform which billions of people use? In order to capitalize on this, they must focus on what’s different and try to make it really different. If there is the equivalent of a newsfeed, what feature does my product have that makes me different? Snapchat and Instagram did this. They both have feeds, but Snapchat decided to erase content and Instagram decided to stick to enhancing the photo sharing process. It’s a matter of differentiation…..and launching the app as soon as possible. As soon as they are able to increase its user base, we will be able to see if these promises also result in a sustainable company.

I think people will react positively, just like me, initially. I loved the idea and the concept, but once I got a chance to play with the platform, I couldn’t find anything interesting or too different, so I never used it. Also, it will take a while to see if there will be consequences for all social media, but I can say it makes me think about Path, another social network which tried to deliver a similar ad-free promise to protect privacy, but with a price people were not willing to pay. I think there is a fine line between protecting and not protecting users on social media. They’re all businesses and they need to make money, sometimes sacrificing what they initially say they will protect.

The Act of Moderating on Social Media

“A single tweet can create a ripple that expands into big waves, whether harmful or helpful.”-Daniel Threfall

In How to Effectively Moderate Social Media, Threfall makes this statement, which helps explain the importance of social media moderation. The purpose of moderation is to lead conversations. On social media, this involves keeping an eye on what people are saying on our social media pages, so that we can keep a safe, peaceful, and collaborative environment, rather than one characterized by offensive, potentially dangerous, and out-of-line comments. The role of the social media moderator is monitor, track, listen, and respond, when necessary and according to a company’s social media policy. In the end, the aim should be to develop and maintain relationships, so the strategy should be to take actions that work in favor of this, rather than against. The social media moderator faces many challenges, depending of the situation. There are also many possible ways to address different comments, as well as unlimited choices, including deciding not to respond, deleting a comment, and responding publicly or privately. There are also many choices regarding what to say and how to say it, in terms of tone and language.

Below please find two hypothetical examples of audience and customer comments and my approach regarding moderating these. My recommendation is to respond to both online, right at the place they customer posted the comment. This, in my opinion, serves to respond to others who might have the same concern. Also, it’s a way for companies to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think it’s the opportunity for a company to demonstrate how serious it is about its business.

Example #1

Customer comment to a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response: “Hello (insert customer name). Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We sincerely apologize for this situation at our restaurant during your visit. Cleanliness is one of our of top priorities and I can assure you that steps are being taken with members of our team to address and correct this issue, so that it does not happen again. (Insert customer name), we value you as a customer and would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come back to our restaurant and give us another chance. If you wish to contact me directly, you can call the restaurant (phone number) and ask for Celeste. Have a great day!”

Example #2:

Message to a mainstream news network: “Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.” (Let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)

My response: “Hello (customer name). Thank you for taking the time to write us about how you feel regarding our reporting about the Middle East. Our mission is to conduct reporting that is characterized by impartiality, fairness, and justness. We value the members of our audience and would like you to continue tuning in to our station. Please feel feel to contact me directly by email (insert email address) if you would have additional questions or concerns. Thank you and have a great day.”

Both responses are honest, genuine and address the specific areas which are under attack. Also, both mention how the company values those two areas as part each company’s mission and vision. Finally, both responses offer an opportunity to take the conversation outside, if there are other areas that need to be addressed. Since both user comments address sensitive issues like restaurant cleanliness and biased reporting, I think it’s best to address it publicly in general terms and then offline. Address the areas in such a way that people acknowledge someone is listening to them, but never go into too much detail either, because that may irritate the user even more.  Responding in a genuine, sincere, and authentic way yields respect.

Why I trust Oprah

I trust Oprah Winfrey, both online and offline. She earned by trust many years ago because, not only she is genuine and transparent, but also she is intimate, helpful, knowledgable, and reliable. I’ll add to this equation that she is one of the most selfless persons I’ve ever known. Yes, she has a huge media empire that makes a lot of money, but she uses that fortune to help others and to touch our lives by handing us the tools that we can use to be better persons; to grow as compassionate human beings. I trust her so much that I think what she says is what’s right. Oprah is committed to making a better world. The first webcast that I ever saw and the one that helped me get through a very rough time when I lost my dad was Oprah and Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth. My relationship with Oprah started when she had the show and now extends to social media networks. I follow Oprah on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

We discussed Steve Rayson’s trust formula, which is as follows:

TRUST= Authority x Helpfulness x Intimacy/Self promotion)

Taking a look at each of these variables, I can say that they are present at Oprah’s social media accounts. Let’s begin with authority, which means someone is knowledgable and demonstrates it, in this case through quality content. For example, on Facebook, Oprah has devoted content during the past month to Selma, a movie she produced about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about his fight against discrimination of black people being able to register to vote during 1960’s. The content we see is meant to create awareness about this situation by educating us. Her knowledge about this, which is important to her because we’ve seen her advocating for equal rights, moved her to launch this campaign on Facebook, which is educational and is how she demonstrates not only how much she knows about it, but how much is her commitment to this cause. She posted this video just this week, Because of Dr. King, in which many people expressed how his fight and achievements influenced their lives:

Oprah has the power to summon and call together a huge number of people so that they can show their gratitude. Judging by the amount of fans Oprah has (10 million+) and most of the responses to this message, we can see how someone with authority moved people:

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In terms of intimacy, I can say that on social platforms, Oprah has opened the doors to her home, the most intimate place. She has also allowed us to see how she spends Christmas, when she picks fruit and what she’s having for dinner. She is warm and friendly enough to make us part of her daily life. Another example, is how committed she is to meditation, which is a great tool that portrays is important to her, thus she shares how it makes her human. Finally, intimacy is also about sharing what’s meaningful to you. Here are come examples of how this intimacy is reflected on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts:

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In terms of helpfulness, there is no doubt that Oprah’s mission is to help others, and on her social media platform she continues to do that. She shares information about the multiple projects she runs to help others. Some may see this as self promotion, but I see it as a way to ask people to contribute to the lives of those in need. For example, in collaboration with Teavana, she launched the Oprah Chai Tea last year to support educational opportunities for young people. This item is sold at Starbucks, so she has dedicated some efforts on social media to promote this, which has a bigger end result than just making money. Take a look at the post below in which she personally went to Starbucks to enjoy the drink and posted the photo. Because we are talking about help, please note the comments people wrote and how one of Oprah’s community manager took the time to reply. One of them is a question to which they replied.

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I think Oprah actively participates on her Twitter account and engages with people. It’s not a customer service forum, so there is not so much she can help with. Still, she takes time to respond. In the example below, she responds Tallulah to a post about the Chai tea, with a comment about sharing it with a friend. This is a way of helping too!

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I could continue to give examples, but I’m sure by this time, it’s very clear how the reasons I trust her are reflected on how she behaves on the platforms, thus bringing me closer to her. She promotes her meditation sessions with Deepak Chopra, for example, but they are all meant to help us grow as human beings. I say it again, I trust Oprah.

The Rules According to Pinterest

Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Its Terms of Service include the Acceptable Use Policy, which follows a different format regarding the rules people must follow when using social networks. We have evaluated Facebook’s, Twitter’s and Ello’s terms and conditions. In these three, the rules consist of a list of what we can’t do.

What’s different with Pinterest is that after each rule, there is both a short and long explanation of what the rule means, as well as examples (in the form of pins) of the types of posts they allow. Below is the first example of one of the sections of this document:

Stuff you can’t post

You aren’t allowed to post anything that…..

  • Is sexually explicit or pornographic, exploits or presents minors in a sexual way, or promotes adult sexual services

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Why did Pinterest feel ethically responsible to elaborate on each one of the rules in such a way that people understand the message more easily? Why did they want to ensure that this message in particular, regarding the rules is clear? I would say their intention is to obtain consensus from users regarding what surrounds each matter (in this case nudity) in order to maintain the sense of community that we clearly see on Pinterest communications. This document is different that the Terms of Service, which has a language and serious/legal tone. Terms of Service was probably written by a lawyer. The Acceptable Use Policy was written by a member of the Pinterest community. Your neighbor is talking to you, not a lawyer.

When you see the title of this section (Stuff you can’t post), you immediately get that Pinterest is talking to a friend. You’re still going to get the don’t do this format of the rules, but in a more informal tone. The short version is for just like me who don’t like to read and the long version is more poetic, honest, and clear. Pinterest’s concern with these types of pins is the well-being of the community. They say they don’t mean to define art (after they mention that artistic nude photographs are ok). The company wants to make it clear where the boundaries are and clarifies that what the want to do what’s good for its community. “We focus on what might make images too explicit for our community.” The implication of this is based on utilitarianism. Lets do things that keep the most people happy. By taking a look at the language, you see they want to protect their relationships (care ethics) with their followers by carefully explaining what they need to avoid. They are using pins, which is the essence of this social networks. In what other possible way could they have explained this better? I’m not sure there is another way! On the other side, going into this amount of detail to explain something may represent more material people have to question the company; more space for interpretation.

Here is another example regarding pins that contain any information or content that’s illegal:

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Big Data and Consumer Experience-Netflix

Netflix is a good example of a company that benefits from leveraging on Big Data and enhances the consumer experience with their product, in this case, the streaming service. For this assignment, I will focus on how they used Big Data to select one of their original series, House of Cards. I will also discuss how they use Big Data to enhance the consumer experience by learning from their behavior while using the product, including pausing, rewinding, abandonment, as well as replaying scenes. In my opinion, they are leveraging on Big Data in as successful way in order to create and personalized and meaningful experience to the consumer. They have been able to make consumers like me think that when I log to my account, the experience will be a really close reflection of my interests.

Before giving the green light for House of Cards, Netflix already know they would have an audience for that show. They were so positive about this that they didn’t ask for the pilot first, which is usually what happens; they went straight to the 13 episodes. How could they be so sure? Based on the data they obtained through their subscribers they knew that many of them watched The Social Network, a movie produced by the show’s producer, David Fincher. Secondly, the British version of the House of Cards was well watched. Finally, subscribers who watched that version of the show had also watched movies with Kevin Spacey or directed by Fincher. I don’t have to say that the show proved to be a success in terms of viewership and the increased number of Netflix subscribers. In this case, they were able to establish this based on Big Data obtained from their own customers. I have to add that they must have also figured out that people love political drama shows. Based on data too, they decided to produce not one, but 10 versions of the trailer, each targeted to different audiences, according to their viewing behavior. By doing so, they were able to talk to viewers based on what they knew they like, so they could draw the series to their attention.

Netflix also uses Big Data to enhance consumer experience. I’m a subscriber and heavy user of the Netflix streaming service. I now wonder I must be driving them crazy. A month ago, I just started to watch Mad Men and immediately got hooked with the show. However, since I watch it on weekdays at night, I tend to only watch 2 episodes before falling asleep with the TV on. Because each time one episodes finishes another one begins automatically, I wonder if as soon as Netflix notices that the next day I watch the shows again, they get that I fall asleep based on the time of they day I usually watch and its relationship with the pattern. They also know that I hit pause at 10:00pm to take my dogs out and then continue to watch the show. The reality is that these patterns give them a lot of information about my usage.

Netflix also uses Big Data collected from their subscribers to give recommendations. According to How Netflix Uses Analytics, they also put tags to shows, like according to level of violence, theme, gender roles, and very specific information, such as the professional career of the main character. They make meaningful usage of this data because it tells them what people like to watch. Since the whole point of this service is to maintain people interested in finding content, they use this data to determine how they can do that. It is no coincidence that I don’t usually have to search for shows using the “search” feature because Netflix effectively predicts what I would like to watch next. Now that I mention this search button, I wonder all the possible information they could obtain from people who use it.

In my promotional products business, I use data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. The first one provides information about visits to my website, including audience, interests, behavior, and technology, among others. In terms of behavior, there is the possibility to see which users are new and which are returning visitors. This is extremely valuable because that should give me an idea about whether or not my website design is attractive, if it’s user friendly, and if content is relevant. I do have to make some assumptions, but I can establish trends using this data so I can make changes, if necessary. How do you use Big Data?

AT&T’s It Can Wait Campaign

AT&T’s “It Can Wait” is an example of a well-structured public relations campaign (which won The Public Relations Society Best of Silver Anvil Award in 2014) and a nice attempt by the company to create awareness about the danger of texting and driving, particularly among teens. It definitely boosts the company’s corporate image and positions it as a responsible corporate citizen. No doubt. According to It Can Wait Overview, the results of the campaign so far also reflect that it has been successful in terms of impressions, app downloads, pledges, page views, reach, and media integration. However, it has failed to translate those results to reducing the number of people who actually decide to quit texting while driving. In other words, AT&T has not been able to convince people to take action, which in this case means not texting while driving. According to the results presented on the article AT&T’s anti-texting campaign: lots of impressions, zero sucess, conversions have been little or none.

According to Beyond the like: What comes next in social measurement, there are other factors that brands should consider measuring, other than likes and shares. These factors are more specifically related to driving people to take action outside social platforms. Even though AT&T’s efforts for this campaign go beyond social media, the results are still not there. The number of pledges, app downloads, and impressions is not enough. The other problem is that, in measuring these results, AT&T seems to be more worried about the brand’s perception and imagery rather than on what is really important. The survey they did on Twitter clearly shows this. In my opinion, they are presenting these results to show this campaign is a success story. What they have not done, in my opinion, is implementing ROI stories in which people engage, not only by liking, sharing or commenting, but taking action.

Let’s take, for example, the one they are doing right now with Demi Lovato. There is a contest right now on the website in which users upload a photo of them doing a pose, dance or any other thing that might motivate their friends to use #X to let them know they are about to drive and cannot respond. Next, they say how they use #X. Once they submit they have a chance to meet Demi Lovato backstage. Sounds like an incentive, but again, does it really stimulate them to stop? They can measure how many entries they receive, how many people visit the website, but can they rest assured that those contestants actually will not text and drive? No.

 

 

One of my recommendations would be to integrate a calendar to their Drive Mode app, which automatically updates when the customer uses it everyday. Then AT&T can offer incentives to people who use it for more than one month, 3 months and so forth. Here, they can make sure they don’t cheat because everything is updated automatically. Some of the rewards would be in the form of discount on the bill, accessories, or free upgrades after using for 12 months. Another idea is to link information from this app to social media accounts so customers can share this information with their friends. Once their friends see that others are actually taking action, they might be motivated. In order for this to work, this app should also be available for Iphone!

Finally, in order to capitalize on the fact that a large number of respondents said they can stop texting and driving if someone in the car asks them to do so, AT&T can run a contest in which users submit Vine videos showing how the driver turned off his or her phone when he or she was driving others to a party. On a final note, the Marketing department needs to be in touch with other departments, such as Research or Operations to optimize the app and define other types of technology that might help have better results.

Project Runway’s #InstaRunway Challenge

 

Each week, the contestants of Project Runway participate in one challenge, which is usually themed, like the Red Carpet Glam in which they had to design a dress for Heidy Klum to wear at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Now the show is giving viewers the opportunity to become ““fashion ambassadors” by posting a selfie inspired on a particular challenge on Instagram, using the hashtag #InstaRunway. Each week, Tim Gunn will select his favorite photo, which will be featured on-air during an episode of Project Runway. This means a chance for viewers to share what is their appreciation of fashion for a chance to be on television! We normally see the contestants and judges dictating fashion and what fashion is; this is a great way of engaging viewers by giving them the opportunity to do that too!

Hashtags are very effective for creating and categorizing conversations. In this case, I think the show is looking for active participation in something directly related to the theme of the show. This campaign is not asking viewers to cast their votes; it’s asking them to demonstrate their perception of fashion, particularly related to the challenge on the show. This example would need an ROI story to measure both qualitative and quantitative results. Examples of qualitative data would include, in my opinion, how up-to-date are viewers with fashion, and if they know about fashion trends. Also, by taking a look at these photos, the show can determine if the aesthetic profile is in line with the viewer profile in terms of age and weight, men or women.

In terms of quantitative, they can measure if the ratings of the show increase because those who participate must watch the show to find out the winning look, number of posts (which will let them know how motivated people are to participate). They can also find out which themes draw higher participation, which will help determine the theme selection for the show. Finally, because the photos are uploaded to the  contest website, they can determine if traffic to the website increased, as a result of the contest.

One of the issues I have detected is that people are posting non-related photos using the hashtag. Why? Because they know Tim Gunn is watching! These people, some who seem to work in the fashion industry, are maybe aspiring to be spotted by him so they can be contestants of the show, for instance or for any other purpose. I think this distracts the attention from the main idea of the contest. After a couple of weeks, they would have to evaluate the total amount of entries and what percentage is relevant to the contest to determine if maybe some people want to use it for other purposes.

Another issue (that may be related to the first one) is if the hashtag has been used before for other purposes not related to the show. Looking at the Instagram page, I found some posts that are 24-weeks old, clearly not representing the current strategy. If this is a hashtag people have been using for other purposes and long before this story, they can consider changing the hashtag. In my opinion, these are the issues that may arise, all of them having a direct effect on measuring results.