Feb

17

2021

Pros and Cons of the Social Media Algorithm Age

Algorithm Meaning

Before I can begin breaking down the pros and cons of social media algorithms, it’s important to know what an algorithm is. The dictionary definition is, “a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps …” If you apply that to the computer and its inner systems, it essentially means that there are directions the computer system has to follow in order to receive and process data. This set of instructions or algorithm plays a large part in how search engines and their results work. What you probably don’t realize is just how many things you wouldn’t be able to do on the internet without algorithms. For example, without an algorithm your email wouldn’t know where to go; your smartphone wouldn’t be able to function; and websites such as travel sites or GPS mapping systems would not exist and your social media accounts would be overwhelmed with content.

Social Media Algorithms

If you spend any time on a main social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram, you are experiencing the outcomes of an algorithm every day. If you think back to social media over the years, you might be able to remember how you viewed posts. Most likely you saw posts on your feed in chronological order, starting with the most recent post and working your way backwards. However, more recently, Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels have changed their algorithms to alter the image feed showing you prioritized posts. The algorithm prioritizes posts from groups that users care about.

After reading the above, you are probably realizing that algorithms are and can be a good thing. They are an incredibly useful tool that plays out in the background of your life, accomplishing tasks without your knowledge. However, some algorithms play a more prevalent role in your day-to-day activities, good and bad.

Pros

  • Targeted Social Media Marketing Ads:

  • You may have noticed that lately you are seeing ads for trendy shirts from your favorite store. It catches your eye, so you scroll through the products that are advertised. The next day you see the same or a similar ad. An algorithm is monitoring what you found interesting by how long you hovered over something, what you clicked on and other information it collects. This is useful because it allows you to create your own style, while finding products easier that you are actually interested in.

  • Relevant Family Content First:

  • Based on your behavior, Facebook or Twitter might put posts from your closest friends or family at the top of your feed because those are the accounts that you have interacted with the most. This can be helpful in keeping up with people who live far from you or that you aren’t able to see. The algorithm is working well in this case, as social networking was the original intent of social media platforms like Facebook.

  • Pertinent Content:

  • Whether it’s clothing, articles, videos or whatever else you are on social media to find, algorithms can be helpful in matching the best content for your interests. This helps you to waste less time on social media and spend more time on the information that fascinates you.

Cons

  • Addiction:

  • According to Forbes, social media platforms are designed to be as addictive as possible … For example, the average 16–24 year old spend three and a half hours every day looking at low-quality content such as clickbait articles or scrolling without a purpose.

  • Depression/Anxiety:

  • Evidence is growing for the argument that social media is causing unhappiness in people. As reported by the Child Mind Institute and quoted in several recent studies it has been found that teenage and young adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 percent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time. Social media algorithms can play a part a part in showing you repeatedly the same type of content that you have been interacting with. So, if you’re going through a hard time and have been liking sad tweets, the algorithm will continue to show you more sad content.

  • Bias Media or Articles:

  • “They (social networks) align content and advertising around what the algorithm deems important to us. They stoke our cognitive biases, said or unsaid vulnerabilities. And they create engagement or activity around those things because they are extremely charged. As you share, others share back. And make no mistake, that’s all by design,” Brian Solis, digital analyst at Salesforce said. This can be dangerous in the realms of politics and social issues. Looking at one-sided information can cause closed mindsets and lead to division between people.

What Can You Do?

It is important to recognize that algorithms and your behavior on social media is driving the content that you see on a daily basis. While you have seen that this can be good because there is so much content out there that it could not manually be sifted through, you should also recognize some of the faults that exist within them. Seek out content that you wouldn’t normally, spend time pursuing different ways of thinking and look around for opportunities to expand your horizons.

Become aware of how much of your data is being given to these sites on a daily basis and then if that bothers you, you can change your behavior accordingly. Most people don’t know this, but you can actually change your social media privacy settings to restrict, as much information as possible, the data networks can gather from you. Remember that even if you do restrict your privacy settings on platforms, they can still collect and use what’s called “platform” data. This means they can still use the content that you read, like, click or hover over.

To conclude, algorithms can have a good and bad place in our world. So it is important to be thoughtful of how you spend your time on social media and find out how you can benefit the most from the social channels you are on.

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Jan

14

2020

Transformational Storytelling & the Age of Distrust: A Conversation From Jordan Bower

We all have that one friend that can tell a story so well that the entire room listens to it. While some people are naturals when it comes to storytelling, there is no real secret to perfecting one’s storytelling abilities. What is a story to be exact? According to Jordan Bower, Chief Storyteller at Transformational Storytelling, storytelling is emotion. I can rephrase. Storytelling = emotions, it is what a person can or has experienced. Since everyone, at least the majority of people, has emotions, everyone has a story to tell. So how do you tell a good story? Like I mentioned earlier, there is no secret to storytelling but there are ways you can guide your audience on your journey that make it more appealing and here’s how.

Creation

Our stories come from our brains, our hearts, and our stomachs. This can be translated into facts, emotions, and instincts. These are three components that each story possesses and can build from each other. Facts support your story, gives it credibility to your audience. Emotions give your story a connection, a way your audience can relate to you or your brand. Instinct, aka your gut feeling, provides a unique and personal touch to your story. It is what feels right to you or how you handled a situation that no one else has done.

Prototyping

You have a story so now what? What is so great about a story is that it never truly ends. It can easily be picked up wherever it is left off because as all things do, it grows and develops. Companies are starting to transition away from a one-story brand and are creating a living one that is always changing. An example of this can be seen in Nike’s brand as it has multiple layers. They are for athletes, adventure seekers, fitness gurus, and athletic fashionista’s. Prototyping is a way for you to experiment on how you tell your story and how it progresses. It is where you will find the most failure and growth. But it is important to remain authentic and true to your story’s beliefs.

Self Reflection

Once you’ve settled on a narrative that you want to try, its time to move onto analysis or self-reflection. Sharing it with others, providing more research to support your stance, or reading and researching similar stories are great ways to grow your story’s strength. The stronger your story the more impactful it is. The more time you spend analyzing your story the better you will understand your audience and how it connects to your living brand. This isn’t, really, the final step as your brand is always moving and growing. You will find yourself going back to prototyping as your business model matures and as you mature as a storyteller. You will understand what works and what might need more work. Above all, have fun with it! It is your story after all. Show off your uniqueness, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your growth. Be silly or dramatic, play into your story’s emotions and become more connected to your audience. There is no secret to storytelling other than being truly and authentically you.

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Nov

13

2019

Technology vs Marketing: How Using Human Connection Can Help Your Business Grow

Most of us have seen movies where robot take over such as The Matrix and The Terminator. But it wasn’t those movies that freaked me out about robots, it is the fact I received 5 robocalls in 5 minutes early that day. It is not uncommon these days to get text messages from robots telling you to vote for a candidate or to sell you some sort of scam. And it does not just stop at the robot calls. They follow me, website to website, with the exact products I just happen to be browsing through a couple of seconds ago. Technology has given us the ability to track people so well that some software is adapting the ability to predict your behavior. And while I will discuss machine learning and its influence on marketing in a separate post, I want to focus on the importance of providing a human touch in an age that is so focused on technology.

“Over two-thirds of your marketing is done without you.”

Author of ‘Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins”, Mark Schaefer explains how people are not looking to companies to tell them what they need. Instead, they are relying on strangers to provide them that information, because we seem to trust strangers more than we trust companies. We let strangers drive us to the airport, stay in a stranger’s house, and even use an app to meet strangers. This isn’t a bad thing though. It shows us that humans trust humans. It has been like this since our existence. One of the best strategies of marketing is word of mouth. You trust what someone’s review or opinion is on a product rather than listening to the company tell you how great it is through a series of commercial ads. In the past consumers were drawn in by flashy gimmicks of how amazing a product was and all the cool tricks it could do. The simple fact is that most consumers don’t care about that anymore. When selling a product they aren’t looking for the flashy features, they care about who is making those products and the values the company practices.

“The focus has been on technology, not people”

Schaefer exclaimed. “Marketing is now about their (the customers) story.” What humans crave more than the basic needs of food, water, and rest is human connection and understanding. The best way to achieve this is by sharing our human emotions. We all feel them and experience them in our day-to-day lives so what not sell to those needs. A great example that Mark Schaefer used is the ‘Question Madness’ campaign that North Face did two years ago. The two-minute video only uses two sentences that are said in the very beginning and it isn’t North Face explaining how versatile their new heritage ski jacket is in extremely cold temperatures. They used people’s personal stories and videos that captured their hardships and accomplishments. When these videos were put together it told a story of a community of people who go beyond the boundaries and test the human limit. What some people call madness, they call pioneering. Instead of focusing on one of their many amazing products, North Face just established itself as the brand that will support you when you want to achieve the impossible. They did a great job of letting their consumers tell their story and in turn, invited like-minded individuals to join this community of people that question madness and always go above and beyond. By selling the value of the company, consumers can trust that any of North Face’s products will be top quality, not just one jacket they are trying to sell out. This new age of marketing is turning away from the traditional marketing methods of a company pushing a product to its customers and shifting it to a conversation between company and consumer. It is time companies listen to their consumers and let them share their stories. You will quickly see how it will transform your brand, business, and growth.

In a world full of machines and technology it is the most human company that will win.

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Oct

15

2019

The Next Step In Social Media: Twitter Next

It wasn’t more than a couple of years ago that Twitter was predicted to meet its maker. The stock has seen a huge cut in revenue and hope was dwindling for the social media platform, but it persisted. As we have seen technology evolve every six months, it feels like, social media has had to step up its game to stay ahead of this extremely fast-paced metamorphosis. Not quite ready to leave the game yet, Twitter has introduced a marketing tool for businesses that make staying ahead of the trending curve that much easier and less time-consuming. It’s called Twitter Next and it is now your new best social media marketing friend. Twitter Next provides a way for businesses to better select their audience and tailor their message to their needs. The goal of Twitter Next is to partner with the industry’s largest advertisers to provide an in-depth strategic plan to help businesses maximize their tweet campaigns. Twitter develops these personalized plans through advanced data insights that are gathered from the constant flow of tweets and conversation users have while using the social media platform. Looking at trending hashtags and retweets Twitter Next’s new algorithm is designed to help ease the research process by doing all the reach for you. By partnering up with companies like KFC, Twitter Next has been able to create more interesting content that keeps users satisfied with their social media, and in this case, KFC needs. The personalization of Twitter Next is very appealing as every company is vastly different in its own right and thus each audience responds to different content. This also diversifies the content that is constantly being shown on Twitter keeping users interested in what will be posted next and who will be posting it. It is smart of Twitter to use internal experts. Their long-standing expertise and advanced knowledge about the nuances of the updated features will help businesses effectively use the platform by staying up to date with consumer trends and engagement. If you are interested in adding Twitter Next to your social media marketing metaphorical toolbox, contact your local Twitter representative or Direct Message (aka DM) @ajos on Twitter for more information.

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