Social Media

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The Quantified Self: Can Technology Really Measure Your Life?

Over the next few weeks, we will be bombarded with news about the latest smart watches with the Moto 360 and highly anticipated iWatch about to be unleashed on our world that is quickly filled with wearable tech.

I have already talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) but the introduction of more smart watches will also see an increase in the use of more buzzwords such as the ‘quantified self’ which may leave you scratching your heads feeling a little confused and not wanting to speak up through fear of sounding like a technophobe, but equally becoming increasingly curious on what everyone is talking about it.

The Quantified Self (QS) in simple terms is using technology to track measure and analyse data from your daily life. We are already seeing an increase of this activity through apps that manage how many calories we intake, exercises we perform and even how many hours sleep we get each night using wearable sensors.

QS Is also known as self-tracking, auto-analytics, body hacking and life logging as more and more realise they are victims of their self-imposed bad habits or routines and can use their own daily data to motivate themselves to hit the road to self-improvement.

99 Percent of the thoughts, actions and emotions you have everyday are the same as the ones you had yesterday – Eben Page

The range of apps now at our disposal sometimes drifts in the realms of what we would have called sci-fi a few years ago as sites such as 23 and me can now provide a full DNA report that could reveal your ancestry or what diseases you could be predisposed of which is a fantastic concept, but the movie buff inside me is paranoid about the questions surrounding genetic discrimination that were raised in the 1997 film Gattaca. (more…)

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Twitter Changes Causing Backlash

Twitter has upset many of its users recently by confirming that Tweets from people that you do not follow will begin to appear on your personal timeline causing somewhat of a backlash online due to the changes to the ‘favourite’ button on the popular social network.

The move has baffled many users who are already turning away from sites like Facebook due to the lack of control on their own timeline that has quickly become irrelevant after being bombarded with one too many adverts, but many felt that Twitter offered an alternative edgier experience.

Twitter was built on a reputation of being a network where you can customise your timeline so the only material you see is relevant, but it seems that the powers that be are eager to introduce change and ensure the platform continues to grow and evolve.

The confirmation was reported by the Guardian newspaper and Twitter posted What’s a Twitter Timeline? Reading between the lines, the most revealing section advised:

Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

Users resistance to change has long plagued social media sites such as Facebook and the all familiar backlash has turned into a joke over the years due to the the same people who complained about the previous improvements can often be seen 12 months later, campaigning to keep the same same changes they originally hated, but this Twitter story is different as it appears they do not understand how people use their own service.

The Twitter favourite button for example has many different uses, many users will use the button as a sort of bookmark tool so they can save something of interest to refer back to whilst also use it to acknowledge a comment at the end of a conversation. (more…)

The Importance of Managing Online Reviews

Traditionally hotels have bombarded customers with information about their accommodation or brand, but the harsh reality is their customers are no longer listening to these messages; they now have a spam box full of messages that are almost identical with their constant self-promotion which turns into a white noise of sorts that people have now learned to ignore.

Rather than being informed from the brand themselves, customers now want to hear a genuine opinion from another customer with a trusted and authentic voice in this digital age of online customer reviews.

The customer now has the power over the brand, which is forcing businesses to step up their game and work with their customers but there are growing reports of some websites/retailers trying to prevent those pesky negative online reviews from ever appearing online.

Although I have witnessed first-hand how some websites actually refuse to authorise poor reviews, nothing could compare to the catastrophic attempt by the Union Street Guest House in New York who allegedly advised its customers that a wedding party would be fined $500 if any guest left a negative review of the establishment. However this would dropped upon deletion of the negative review.

The New York Post and Business Insider both reported the story and quoted the following from the guest house.

Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not. … If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event … and given us a deposit of any kind … there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review … placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.

(more…)

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Social Wi-Fi Customers Stay Longer and Spend More

The battleground of the ubiquitous free Wi-Fi is heading for an interesting transitional period, in one corner we have the customer who expects a constant internet connection wherever they are, they really don’t care how difficult or expensive this is to deliver and why should they?

However in the other corner there are the businesses that have to invest heavily to ensure their customers have a positive experience.

There needs to be a compromise in which both parties can be happy with the outcome and early indications seem to suggest that the up and coming trend of ‘Social Wi-Fi’ might just have a very bright future.

The concept behind social Wi-Fi is that business will invest heavily into providing an internet connection for their customers and in return they must sign-in via their chosen social network website such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or by completing a form. In doing so they are able to capture details of their customers and promote your business to their online friends.

This opens up many possibilities for store owners and here in the UK, Purple Wi-Fi are leading the way with their that purple portal that gives their users access to its presence analytics, this allows businesses to understand who is visiting and using their hotspot, how long they are online, as well as their age, gender and any other relevant information that they offer in their social networking profile. (more…)

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Rank Hotel Searches By Wi-Fi Quality

Booking hotels has always been somewhat of a mine field and in many ways it has become an even more complicated experience thanks to sites such as Trip Advisor, where you end up scrolling through hundreds of reviews and taking more notice of the 5 negative reviews than the 200 positive posts, trying desperately to work out if they are written by difficult or unreasonable people that sit in their room complaining rather than enjoying the location itself.

What are your requirements when booking a hotel? Location, hotel rating, hair dryer, coffee making facilities, mini bar, breakfast, gym, swimming pool or some nice little bottles of toiletries in the bathroom? Our online addiction has ensured there is new front runner of what we expect from our hotel of choice and I am of course referring to the “Wi-Fi” preferably of the free variety.

However, anyone that has taken advantage of the infamous free Wi-Fi will have been burned by establishments who have heavily throttled their network which results in a frustrating experience if you are trying to view a video on You Tube or movie on Netflix only to constantly see the words buffering as you feel the rage within building like Bruce Banner.

Although we all like to embrace a form of digital detox when away from our daily routine, the truth is technology is now ingrained into everything that we do and take an online connection for granted, to suddenly find yourself in a hotel room cut off from everything you know can be a disheartening experience.

Step forward Hotel Wi-Fi Test who encourages its users to test the Wi-Fi of hotels and record the results along with the location to its growing database allowing future guests to see just how good or bad an internet connection actually is

The site can automatically remove any hotel offering under 2Mbps to give you confidence that uploading your photos or streaming of video will remain unaffected during your stay.

We’ve heard your cry for fast and reliable hotel Wi-Fi and decided to motivate hotels to step up their game. We believe we can get hotels worldwide to re-evaluate their Wi-Fi service, and make improvements that will provide guests with the quality service they expect from the moment they make their reservation.

Our mobile devices can typically achieve average speeds of around 1.7Mb on 3G, depending on the strength of the signal, so most would expect this kind of speed as standard and struggle to see the relevance of connecting to a free Wi-Fi service offering a throttled 1Mb connection that ultimately ends in a negative experience. (more…)

3 Reasons Consumers Turn to Social Media for Customer Service

As consumers we all know exactly how we want to be treated, we are all unique individuals who expect human interaction in this digital world of endless communication possibilities. I believe it’s fair to say that as digital natives we all understand how engaging customers, building an authentic community with strong relationships with your audience and obeying the golden rule of befriending your customers rather than bombarding them with selling messages is becoming paramount.

However, for many years businesses have made it increasingly difficult for their own customers to reach them, which goes against all of these basic modern principles, so it should be of no surprise that there has been a dramatic shift of frustrated users turning to social media channels to voice their concerns knowing that a public facing forum is their only chance of being heard. How did this happen?

Call Centre Hell

The infamous ‘helpline’ in loathed by most and although businesses have put in place a process to ensure that calls are routed to the right department in order to cut down on call waiting times, the customer experience is not one that anyone would want to repeat any-time soon.

If you are wise enough to successfully navigate through the average helpline menu system, your reward is to be treated by someone who typically appears to be reading from a script complete with an over long robotic salutation before moving on to the irrelevant closure speech.

For example, at the end of a call to my internet provider where an engineer would be required to visit, I was asked “Is there anything I can do to enhance your online experience?” As I was unable to get online, you can imagine the growing frustration.

Auto Response E-Mails

If the idea of phone menu’s and scripts are your idea of hell, your next traditional step would be to send an e-mail to the company you are experiencing problems with. (more…)

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The Rise of the Social Media Guru

There is a lack of available regulated qualifications in Social Media as any course or qualification would be out of date by the time it hit the training room and this has led to a growing number of opportunists with self-proclaimed titles such as Social Media Expert, Master or even the cringe-inducing “Social Media Guru”.

Sure there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the changing landscape, but the worrying trend with these new self-proclaimed job titles is they automatically suggest that the individual has mastered and understands everything. However the actual reality is that the brave new digital world is constantly changing and evolving, which ultimately means you can never truly master every Social Network, so there are no experts.

Originally brands jumped on board the Social Media with a simple recipe of success which consisted of creating a Facebook business page followed by a Twitter presence and finally build up a following of fans, some even opted for a short-cut of purchasing fans/followers for an impressive following ratio. (more…)

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Is Klout a Necessary Evil?

The buzzwords of our Social Media landscapes are engagement, relationships and the ubiquitous “online influence” as an ever increasing army of brands begin falling over themselves to take advantage of the powerful data behind these buzzwords but how can it be measured?

A few years ago Klout stepped forward to become the “standard of influence” and uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the much maligned “Klout Score” which is a numerical value between 1 and 100.

However, a score that is calculated by an algorithm that is top secret, but worryingly revealed that Justin Bieber is more influential than the president of the United States quickly tainted the project.

Some brands have admitted that one of the key benefits of knowing how influential someone is online, is that it can help greatly when a customer tweets a complaint or praise, as this can determine how much attention they should give the user, which ultimately goes against everything people working in social media believe in.

Delivering some sort of two tiered customer service where only the voices of online influencers are heard, will never be an acceptable Social Media strategy but understanding how much power and reach some users have is also essential to managing certain situations or reputations. (more…)

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How To Stop Facebook From Using Your Browsing History For Targeted Advertising

Last week Facebook announced plans to target advertising to all of its users by utilising information gained by your browsing history. Basically Facebook will act as intermediary and deliver the targeted ads from advertiser to user, but stressed that it won’t share an individual user’s web-browsing information with advertisers directly.

There are two ways of looking at this latest change, you could take the liberal approach of “if this means I get adverts of products or services that directly interest me rather than random garbage then what’s the problem?” or the slightly pessimistic view of “how dare they use my personal browsing history to benefit advertisers

This has sparked an interesting debate on how our browsing data is used, but there is a surprising number of websites already doing this anyway, how else do you think that shortly after booking flights to New York, it seems that every website you visit has adverts for New York Hotels.

However the Digital Advertising Alliance has come to the rescue to prevent your browsing habits outside of Zuckerberg’s behemoth from being used to help deliver custom Facebook ads, this service will also raise a few raised eyebrows at just how many companies are utilising your browsing history.

So if you would like to take a look at what’s under the hood of your browser, simply disable any pop up blockers you may have installed and follow these simple steps on how to stop Facebook from using your browsing history for targeted ads.

Visit the Digital Advertising Allowance here and the scanning against your browser will begin.

Stop Facebook Targetting Ads

You might be a little surprised at just how many companies are using your browsing history so tick  the box for Facebook and any other cheeky sites you don’t feel comfortable following you and simply press “Submit your choices”

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After a short wait, you should be greeted with a message saying “Opt Out Complete” and you can smile smugly safe in the knowledge that you just secured a tiny victory against Mark Zuckerberg and maybe even watch the scene from the movie “Social Network” that states Ads aren’t cool, Facebook is Cool.

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Eduardo Saverin: “You know what, settle an argument for us. I’d say its time to start making money from theFacebook but Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want advertising. Who’s right?”

Sean Parker: “Neither of you, yet. TheFacebook is cool. That’s what it’s got going for it.”

Mark Zuckerberg: “Yeah.”

Sean Parker: “You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.”

Mark Zuckerberg: “Exactly.”

How times have changed and ironically, maybe this is the reason that Facebook is no longer cool.

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3 Reasons Consumers Turn to Social Media for Customer Service

As consumers we all know exactly how we want to be treated, we are all unique individuals who expect human interaction in this digital world of endless communication possibilities. I believe it’s fair to say that as digital natives we all understand how engaging customers, building an authentic community with strong relationships with your audience and obeying the golden rule of befriending your customers rather than bombarding them with selling messages is becoming paramount.

However, for many years businesses have made it increasingly difficult for their own customers to reach them, which goes against all of these basic modern principles, so it should be of no surprise that there has been a dramatic shift of frustrated users turning to social media channels to voice their concerns knowing that a public facing forum is their only chance of being heard. How did this happen?

Call Centre Hell

The infamous ‘helpline’ in loathed by most and although businesses have put in place a process to ensure that calls are routed to the right department in order to cut down on call waiting times, the customer experience is not one that anyone would want to repeat any-time soon. (more…)