The Bargain That Is WhatsApp & 4 More Stories You Need To Know Today

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SUCH A DEAL! — There’s been no shortage of opinions on what Facebook paid for WhatsApp, ranging from “I don’t get it” to “You don’t get it.” But the only opinion that matters has now weighed in, and, in his view, WhatsApp was cheap. “I just think that by itself it’s worth more than $19 billion,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “The reality is there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world.” The reality is that WhatApp isn’t one of them — it has around 465 million users. But Zuck thinks it can be a billion-member platform, and, again, that’s all that matters.

 

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DIMON IN THE ROUGH — The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that JP Morgan Chase is set to fire “several thousand” more employees, above and beyond a recently announced round of up to 15,000 job cuts. The reason, per the FT: Better tech at branches and plummeting mortgage applications. Official word may come as early as today, when CEO Jamie Dimon speaks at bank’s annual Investor Day, his first address to shareholders since the bank’s record $13 billion settlement with the Feds over allegations of mortgage chicanery. The bank employs more than 250,000 people.

 

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HI, FIVE — The Samsung 5 got a nice enough reception from the tech press, which tossed around words like “refined” and “elegant.” Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone boasts some welcome features, like water resistance, fingerprint sensing, a built-in heart rate monitor, pedometer and fitness tracker. But the low-key kudos award goes to BGR Executive Editor Zach Epstein, who Tweeted: “Galaxy S5 is a nice iteration. Good job focusing on refinement vs feature spam but no BUY ME features.” Let’s hope, for Samsung’s sake, that’s not literally true. The S5 will be available in 150 countries on April 11.

 

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BAD DAY FOR BITCOIN — The virtual currency that’s beginning to attract mainstream attention is facing an “existential crisis” after a leaked document, allegedly from one of the companies which act like banks for the crypto-currency, reveals it was hacked for years. Missing from the Bitcoin exchange in question, Mt. Gox, are a total of 744,408 coins worth some $350 millionBitcoin lost 17% in value in the 24 hours after the revelation, but has since stabilized (to the extent Bitcoin ever does). Mt. Gox was once the biggestBitcoin exchanges and been offline since late Monday. Six other big exchanges — Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, BTC China, Blockchain and Circle — sought to isolate the problem: “This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company’s actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we’re seeing today.”

 

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ELEVATOR PITCH — In what should come as surprise to nobody — seriously, people — the person behind @GSElevator isn’t a Goldman Sachs employee sharing OH 1% disdain for the rest of us. The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin blew the lid off this three-year-old prank “after several weeks of reporting,” outing the Tweeter as John Lefevre. The Texas-based bond executive didn’t actually hear anyone at Goldman Sachs (New York/London/Hong Kong, not Texas) say things like: “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.” He tells Sorkin his parody was aimed broadly at Wall Street, not Goldman Sachs per se. The Wall Street brokerage was circumspect, telling the Times: “We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately.” Lefevre’s last Tweet was Feb. 15, leaving his 628,000 followers in the lurch for tone-deaf white shoe firm humor. Worry not! Lefevre has a book deal. Of course.

 

 

Is Google+ is future? At least Google believe it is !

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It’s common currency in internet punditry circles that Google won the battle to dominate search while Facebook won the battle for social, and that Google+ is just a failed competitor to Facebook. But Google hasn’t given up

It has been clear for a while now that, to make up for the fact that not very many people actively use Google+ as a social network, Google is turning it into a platformon which the rest of Google’s web services are evolving—something that has the effect of making people use Google+ by default. Results from Google+ already clutter search results. YouTube’s commenting system has been replaced by Google+. Chat and Talk, once stand-alone services, were combined into Hangouts and incorporated into Google+.

In a revealing interview with the Indian business newspaper Mint, Steve Grove, a Google+ exec who inks deals with content providers and influential figures, makes it clear that this is just the beginning. Grove tells Mint that “the reason for that is that Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google.”

Why? According to Grove:

There’s a lot of great value here, because Search also shows results from Google+ and this is going to bring more people into Google+; people are going to see that there’s a lot of value in logging into our services, before doing a search.

We’ve written before about how Facebook’s strategy for getting users in emerging markets is to convince people new to the internet that Facebook basically is the internet. Google’s strategy looks a bit like the obverse of this: convince people already on the internet that the internet runs on Google+

But when you look at it longer-term, Google’s strategy is actually very similar to Facebook’s. New internet users, such as the hundreds of millions expected to come online in India in the coming years, will find that being on Google’s social network is increasingly a prerequisite for using Google’s other services. Roping those new users into Google+ from the get-go is the company’s best chance for coming from behind and defeating Facebook’s dominance in social media. And that clearly seems to be Google’s goal, given how much effort it’s pouring into the network.“We focused a lot on Google+ here [in India], and it’s already very active, and people are getting on board on their own,” Grove said.

Facebook wants to know why you didn’t publish that status update you started writing.

 

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A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked on Facebook:

Do you think that facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting <enter>? (or the “post” button)

Good question.

We spend a lot of time thinking about what to post on Facebook. Should you argue that political point your high school friend made? Do your friends really want to see yet another photo of your cat (or baby)? Most of us have, at one time or another, started writing something and then, probably wisely, changed our minds.

Unfortunately, the code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it.* It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private.

Facebook calls these unposted thoughts “self-censorship,” and insights into how it collects these nonposts can be found in a recent paper written by two Facebookers. Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, have put online an article presenting their study of the self-censorship behaviour collected from 5 million English-speaking Facebook users. (The paper was also published at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.*) It reveals a lot about how Facebook monitors our unshared thoughts and what it thinks about them.

The study examined aborted status updates, posts on other people’s timelines, and comments on others’ posts. To collect the text you type, Facebook sends code to your browser. That code automatically analyses what you type into any text box and reports metadata back to Facebook.

Storing text as you type isn’t uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don’t expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.

Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

It is not clear to the average reader how this data collection is covered by Facebook’s privacy policy. In Facebook’s Data Use Policy, under a section called “Information we receive and how it is used,” it’s made clear that the company collects information you choose to share or when you “view or otherwise interact with things.” But nothing suggests that it collects content you explicitly don’t share. Typing and deleting text in a box could be considered a type of interaction, but I suspect very few of us would expect that data to be saved. When I reached out to Facebook, a representative told me that the company believes this self-censorship is a type of interaction covered by the policy.

In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts. But it’s certainly technologically possible, and it’s clear that Facebook is interested in the content of your self-censored posts. Das and Kramer’s article closes with the following: “we have arrived at a better understanding of how and where self-censorship manifests on social media; next, we will need to better understand what and why.” This implies that Facebook wants to know what you are typing in order to understand it. The same code Facebook uses to check for self-censorship can tell the company what you typed, so the technology exists to collect that data it wants right now.

It is easy to connect this to all the recent news about NSA surveillance. On the surface, it’s similar enough. An organization is collecting metadata—that is, everything but the content of a communication—and analyzing it to understand people’s behavior. However, there are some important differences. While it may be uncomfortable that the NSA has access to our private communications, the agency is are monitoring things we have actually put online. Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

This may be closer to the recent revelation that the FBI can turn on a computer’s webcam without activating the indicator light to monitor criminals. People surveilled through their computers’ cameras aren’t choosing to share video of themselves, just as people who self-censor on Facebook aren’t choosing to share their thoughts. The difference is that the FBI needs a warrant but Facebook can proceed without permission from anyone.

Why does Facebook care anyway? Das and Kramer argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, “[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation.” After all, Facebook shows you ads based on what you post. Furthermore, they argue that it’s not fair if someone decides not to post because he doesn’t want to spam his hundreds of friends—a few people could be interested in the message. “Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends—some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” they write.

This paternalistic view isn’t abstract. Facebook studies this because the more its engineers understand about self-censorship, the more precisely they can fine-tune their system to minimize self-censorship’s prevalence. This goal—designing Facebook to decrease self-censorship—is explicit in the paper.

So Facebook considers your thoughtful discretion about what to post as bad, because it withholds value from Facebook and from other users. Facebook monitors those un posted thoughts to better understand them, in order to build a system that minimizes this deliberate behaviour.

 

My Mom always told me Sharing is a good thing; but I didn’t know it will get me Job !!

 

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How Sharing Other People’s Content Makes You an Irresistible Job Candidate

When it comes to standing out online, your best bet is to offer your own original content. Blog posts or tweets that revolve around your unique ideas will make you a standout candidate.

But the truth is, not everyone has the time, writing ability or even confidence to grow a quality blog or social media account, and plenty of people who don’t have a blog still want to move up the career ladder, into more challenging and better-paying positions.

What if there was a way to show the world just how smart you are, without creating your own content?

Well, there is, and it’s a tactic you should seriously consider: sharing other people’s content.

Whether you curate on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr or all of the above, here are five things sharing content created by others says about you — and why it can move your career forward.

1. You know your industry inside and out.

When you share an abundance of interesting information, people begin to realize you know your stuff. Not only do you know what’s going on, but you understand what’s valuable to people in your industry and what they want to read, which is just as important.

Even if you don’t consider yourself highly knowledgeable on a certain topic — if, for example, you’re looking to change careers and are using your online presence to pivot — you’ll become knowledgeable on that topic as you sift through blogs and tweets looking for quality information to share. In other words, curating content can help you become an authority in your field and help others see you as an authority.

2. You’re innovative.

Not only do you use the latest social tools to share advice and ideas, the information you share is often about your industry’s latest trends and developments, which suggests you’re forward thinking.

Anyone can say in an interview that they like to follow tech trends, but serving your community as a content curator shows the hiring manager you’re serious about learning, brainstorming and innovating.

3. You enjoy helping others.

So many people talk about themselves on social media. You’ll stand out if you get off the soapbox and instead offer helpful, valuable information, giving props to whoever created it.

This is helpful not only to the minions who read your tweets, but also to the industry leaders who wrote the blog post, tweets or updates to begin with, since you’re helping spread their content and ideas. Those thought leaders will likely appreciate your efforts and might even look to connect further with you, which could lead to more opportunities.

See why being generous online is one of the best things you can do for yourself?

4. You’re familiar with the big (and little) players in your field.

Knowing who the thought-leaders are in your field and where they hang out is just as important — if not more — than being in-the-know about innovative developments. Why? Because those people likely are part of those developing trends, or at least talking about them. In many ways, they are the trends.

In their book The Startup of You, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha wrote, “If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for people.” Knowing who’s doing what in your industry can go a long way toward helping you take the next step in your career. Curating content is a solid way to keep up with what everyone’s doing.

5. In some cases, you have access to those industry players.

Know what every employer wants more than an awesome, skilled employee? An awesome, skilled employee who knows people. Every one of your connections means a connection for your company.

If you don’t know any of the major players in your industry now, look to create those connections through sharing other people’s content. Your generosity could lead to online conversations with those people as they leave comments on your blog posts or reply to you through Twitter. Really want to get on their radar? Try an email introduction after you’ve mentioned that contact on your blog or Twitter, with the hope that they’ll recognize your name.

 

Social Media is not for driving Sales…… But you are missing the Point…

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The point is that social media is a teeny tiny reflection of what happens in day-to-day life. In Jonah Berger’s Contagious, he makes the salient point that only 7% of word of mouth happens online (other studies say 5%). I’m not sure if all of that even belongs to social media channels, either. I’d guess a bunch of it happens over email and private chat.

There are hundreds of ways that your customer will find you (or not find you) online and offline. However, when it comes to spreading a message,word of mouth has always been the most effectiveway of marketing messages spreading. But these messages become ineffective when they aren’t authentic. The most salient point here is:

You cannot force word of mouth.

It doesn’t matter the media or the amount you spend on it – some stuff just doesn’t spread. And though marketing impressions make a brand awareness difference – whether it’s a billboard or a paid tweet – it’s never guaranteed to work.

So I’m continually bowled over when I hear people complain about how their social media marketing doesn’t work. Usually a few questions helps me realize what’s really going on:

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What’s really going on here is that companies think that paying for marketing is some sort of silver bullet. It’s not. It never was and it never will be. Hell, some Super Bowl ads go unnoticed – and that audience is one of the biggest captive audiences in the universe!

You are probably asking yourself, “Okay then, why would anybody in their right mind pay for marketing?”

Good question. I sometimes wonder myself because not everyone is ready for itand sometimes they are too late for it.

But why pay for marketing when the results aren’t guaranteed? Because, like I said before, there are hundreds of ways your future customers will find you (or not find you) and it’s better to be findable than not. And good marketing means that you will be more findable AND have more credibility (if the branding is done right) when people do find you. And all of that helps with what you want: sales.

There are all sorts of wonderful things built into social media marketing that you won’t have built into traditional one-way channels. There are:

  1. analytics: you can’t really tell who paid attention to that television ad, but you can tell who watched your YouTube ad all the way through, and who liked it, and who shared it, etc etc. The data available on how people interact with your content is AMAZING.
  2. feedback: it’s right there in the comments. It’s also there on Twitter. Oh, and you can find out what people are saying on Reddit and on their blogs and in forums and… well, that is invaluable. Read it. Report it back to your team. Improve your product with it. Respond to it with thanks. Hell, you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get this feedback from focus groups each year and here it is for you for free. Completely raw.
  3. relationships: you aren’t going to strike up a conversation through the TV or radio. But that two-way conversation is built into social media platforms. It’s really awesome. You can find out so much about your customers and start to really build a bond.

What really baffles me is the demands that brands make of social media marketing when they pay a fraction of the price to use it. They’ll hire interns and junior staff to run it, they’ll lowball agencies and consultants (“I pay you what for a couple of FB posts?! I can get my kid to do that!”), they get impatient and want instant results without being willing to invest the thought needed or take risks, they’ll tack on a social media strategy (which has no strategy) to a made-for-television and magazine ad campaign thinking that it’s yet another direct marketing channel (which is a limited medium, too).

All of this and the brands ask for stellar results. They look past the amazing insights and feedback and potential for relationships that no other traditional marketing medium every had and they say, “Meh. Social media doesn’t work for me.”

And completely miss the point.

You want to know the ROI of social media?

Number one. It’s the ability to listen. It’s priceless. Not with some damned tool that measures sentiment or finds influencers, either. Really listen.

Number two. Serendipity. It’s opening yourself up to constant and amazing opportunities to participate and by participating, you will find numerous opportunities to lead the conversation and make a great impression. Oreo’s dunk in the dark tweet is a great example of this. They are doing a really great job of being a relevant brand again by seizing opportunities like that. Do they do it every single day? Nope. But when they do, they nail it.

Number three. Community instead of customers. The difference is incredible. If you have patience and build a community instead of just a customer database, you will have finally tapped into that magical word of mouth network you wanted to buy a few months ago. But this time, it’s real and authentic and it spreads.

So PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOG stop thinking of social media as a direct marketing tool or some sort of silver bullet that will drive sales through the roof. Stop reading those case studies where Facebook… no, Pinterest… no, Polyvore… no, Snapchat… drove millions of dollars in sales from a viral campaign.

That’s not the point.

[originally published on my personal blog: tarahunt.com]