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On Facebook, we like what other people have already liked before us. Shutterstock
Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, University of Technology Sydney

This is the first article in a series looking at the attention economy and how online content gets in front of your eyeballs.


You may have read about – or already seen, depending on where you are – the latest tweak to Facebook’s interface: the disappearance of the likes counter.

Like Instagram (which it owns), Facebook is experimenting with hiding the number of likes that posts receive for users in some areas (Australia for Facebook, and Canada for Instagram).

In the new design, the number of likes is no longer shown. But with a simple click you can see who liked the post and even count them.

It seems like Facebook is going to a lot of trouble to hide a seemingly innocuous signal, especially when it is relatively easy to retrieve.

Facebook prototypes hiding like counts.

Facebook’s goal is reportedly to make people comfortable expressing themselves and to increase the quality of the content they share.

There are also claims about ameliorating user insecurity when posting, perceived liberty of expression, and circumventing the herd mentality.

But are there any scientific grounds for this change?

The MusicLab model

In 2006, US researchers Matthew Salganik, Peter Dodds and Duncan Watts set out to investigate the intriguing disconnect between quality and popularity observed in cultural markets.

They created the MusicLab experiments, in which users were presented with a choice of songs from unknown bands. Users would listen online and could choose to download songs they liked.

The users were divided into two groups: for one group, the songs were shown at random with no other information; for the other group, songs were ordered according to a social signal – the number of times each had already been downloaded – and this number was shown next to them.


Read more: Users (and their bias) are key to fighting fake news on Facebook – AI isn’t smart enough yet


A song’s number of downloads is a measure of its popularity, akin to the number of likes for Facebook posts.

The results were fascinating: when the number of downloads was shown, the song market would evolve to be highly unequal (with one song becoming vastly more popular than all the others) and unpredictable (the winning song would not be the same if the experiment were repeated).

Based on these results, Australian researchers proposed the first model (dubbed the MusicLab model) to explain how content becomes popular in cultural markets, why a few things get all the popularity and most get nothing, and (most important for us) why showing the number of downloads is so detrimental.

They theorised that the consumption of an online product (such as a song) is a two-step process: first the user clicks on it based on its appeal, then they download it based on its quality.

As it turns out, a song’s appeal is largely determined by its current popularity. If other people like something, we tend to think it’s worth taking a look at.

So how often a song will be downloaded in future depends on its current appeal, which in turn depends on its current number of downloads.

This leads to the well-known result that future popularity of a product or idea is highly dependent on its past popularity. This is also known as the “rich get richer” effect.

What does this have to do with Facebook likes?

The parallel between Facebook and the MusicLab experiment is straightforward: the songs correspond to posts, whereas downloads correspond to likes.

For a market of products such as songs, the MusicLab model implies that showing popularity means fewer cultural products of varying quality are consumed overall, and some high-quality products may go unnoticed.

But the effects are even more severe for a market of ideas, such as Facebook. The “rich get richer” effect compounds over time like interest on a mortgage. The total popularity of one idea can increase exponentially and quickly dominate the entire market.

As a result, the first idea on the market has more time to grow and has increased chances of dominating regardless of its quality (a strong first-mover advantage).


Read more: We made deceptive robots to see why fake news spreads, and found a weakness


This first-mover advantage partially explains why fake news items so often dominate their debunking, and why it is so hard to replace wrong and detrimental beliefs with correct or healthier alternatives that arrive later in the game.

Despite what is sometimes claimed, the “marketplace of ideas” is no guarantee that high-quality content will become popular.

Other lines of research suggest that while quality ideas do make it to the top, it is next to impossible to predict early which ones. In other words, quality appears disconnected from popularity.

Is there any way the game can be fixed?

This seems to paint a bleak picture of online society, in which misinformation, populist ideas, and unhealthy teen challenges can freely flow through online media and capture the public’s attention.

However, the other group in the MusicLab experiment – the group who were not shown a popularity indicator – can give us hope for a solution, or at least some improvement.

The researchers reported that hiding the number of downloads led to a much fairer and more predictable market, in which popularity is more evenly distributed among a greater number of competitors and more closely correlated to quality.

So it appears that Facebook’s decision to hide the number of likes on posts could be better for everyone.

In addition to limiting pressure on post creators and reducing their levels of anxiety and envy, it might also help to create a fairer information exchange environment.

And if posters spend less time on optimising post timing and other tricks for gaming the system, we might even notice an increase in content quality.The Conversation

Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, Lecturer in Computer Science, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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News organisations and their journalists have been competing for consumers’ eyes and ears for hundreds of years. While the media industry has been turned on its head in the last 20 or so years, many of the principles that underpin competitive journalism have remained unchanged.

Understanding these principles and applying them to your brand’s content strategy will dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your content.

The concept of a ‘brand newsroom’ is not new. However, unless your newsroom lives and breathes traditional newsroom values it is merely a content production studio. Here are five principles you can apply to your content strategy.

1. Deadline Discipline

While the news cycle for daily and weekly newspapers have changed significantly since the proliferation of online news sites and a digital-first approach, the tyranny of deadlines remains.

Regardless of whether you are the newest cadet at your local weekly paper or a senior columnist at the biggest paper in the country – your day is ruled by deadlines. Some are hourly, some are daily, some are weekly (Saturday editions) and some monthly (liftouts).

Newspaper deadlines are immovable, intractable and policed by irascible editors.

The best content, like news, is fresh. A piece of content that’s not timely can quickly become irrelevant. Building a culture of deadline discipline to your brand newsroom will greatly improve the consistency and timeliness of your outputs.

2. Understand Your Audience

Newsrooms have got creating quality content en masse down to a fine art because it’s their raison d’être. They know that to really get people reading, their content needs to be audience-centric.

A few years ago the Financial Times launched a new digital data dashboard to help journalists and editors in the newsroom better understand their audience and how people interact with stories on the website.

The tool, called Lantern, integrates audience data collected across the entire organisation, which already exists but usually serves business or commercial purposes.

Using Lantern, anyone in the newsroom will be able to find out how their story is doing in real time, but also how the audience engages with it in the longer term.

While developing custom monitoring software is beyond most brands, building a system to monitor traffic, engagement  and feedback is critical to understanding your audience and constantly evolving your content to reflect the needs of your audience.

3. Employee Journalists

With so many of the skills and disciplines required to develop highly engaging content learnt in the newsroom, it is little wonder journalists often make the best content producers. Only journalists who have spent a considerable amount of time in a newsroom understand the agility and flexibility required to produce great content on a consistent basis under tight timelines.

Journalists also have specific training in writing great headlines, undertaking thorough research, prioritising accuracy, separating content from fluff, building relationships, writing in news style and understanding complex issues quickly. All of these are invaluable to a brand newsroom.

READ MORE:10 Skills That Make Journalists the Secret Weapon for Your Content Team

4. Apply News Values

Journalists commonly use six values to determine how newsworthy a story or elements of a story are. Knowing the news values can help a journalist make many decisions, including:

 – What information to give first in a news article, and in the lede (the lead paragraph)

 – Which articles to display on a newspaper’s front page

 – What questions to ask in an interview

The six news values are:

  • Timeliness- Recent events have a higher news value than less recent ones.
  • Proximity- Stories taking place in one’s hometown or community are more newsworthy than those taking place far away.
  • Prominence- Famous people and those in the public eye have a higher news value than ordinary citizens.
  • Uniqueness/oddity- A story with a bizarre twist or strange occurrences. “Man bites dog” instead of “dog bites man.”
  • Impact- Stories that impact a large number of people may be more newsworthy than those impacting a smaller number of people.
  • Conflict- “If it bleeds, it leads.” Stories with strife, whether it’s actual violence or not, are more interesting.

The newsworthiness of a story is determined by a balance of these six values. There is no set formula to decide how newsworthy a story is, but in general, the more of these six values a story meets, the more newsworthy it is.

Curate

Not every piece of content needs to win a Pulitzer. Volume counts. Recent research by HubSpot found a clear and direct correlation between the number of monthly blog posts and inbound traffic.




Sometimes your job is simply to act as a gatekeeper and curator of other people’s content. Too many brand newsrooms put too much emphasis on creating ‘original’ content.

Sometimes finding and reconextualising a third-party’s content is just as valuable to toy your audience, but infinitely less time consuming and onerous.

For most brands, relying on the product alone is not enough to sustain the ongoing volume required to build and engage with an audience. They need to establish a rich extrinsic brand narrative that can be continuously refreshed. 

Conclusion

An effective content strategy is build on the continuous development and broad-based publishing of highly engaging content that builds awareness and drives action.

Delivering an effective content strategy, particularly on a constrained budget, is all about consistency and quality. Learning how newsrooms do this is the first step to creating your own brand newsroom.


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Ah, Monopoly. Parker Brothers’ accurate prediction of the current Sydney housing market, and perhaps the leading cause of animosity between family members during power outages.

It’s McDonalds Monopoly time, possibly the most obvious example of gamification, where the dynamic duo dangle the veritable deep-fried carrot in front of millions of Australians who are battle-hardened against most marketing efforts of the fast food juggernaught.

Gamification McDonalds Monopoly
Game On

Gamification, simply put – is a marketing campaign masquerading as a game, which serves to bridge the engagement gap between business and customer to improve the likelihood of conversion. This method is proven to increase engagement, loyalty, the consumer experience and above all – move product.

How is gamification profitable? McDonalds simply restrict the quantity of specific pieces of the Monopoly real estate tokens, naturally mitigating any risk associated with too many winners. After all – the game isn’t designed to get you into that brand new Suzuki Vitara, the game is designed to make the business money.

Maccas adds another gamification layer to their marketing in their flashy, yet UX challenged phone app. This provides a modern, yet equally frustrating electronic version on the classic board game, while doubling as a facility to claim and collect your tokens.

But if winning a major prize is statistically improbable, what’s the point? Enter the consolation prize, designed almost entirely to claw you back into the restaurant: ‘Instant Win’ prizes like chips or a small soft drink. When you go to redeem these are they REALLY all you’re going to get? No, you’re likely going to order an entire meal, plus the free fries – because you want those additional tickets. On top of that, Chance Card tokens are also provided as another layer of gamification, unlocking mini-games in the app to win yet more tokens or prizes. Gameception.


Can I Play?

If you haven’t already disappeared to make the hunger-fuelled pilgrimage to the Golden Arches, how can you leverage gamification for your business?

Lets explore the three main tenets of Gamification: building Motivation, Ability & Triggers. Motivation is the dangling carrot enticing the player to play, while Ability enables the player to play by means of providing the playing field (which includes actual prizes), and Triggers get the player off the bench and into the game when they are made to feel the most empowered.


Motivation: 

Benefit to You: Breaks down barrier between customer and business, adds another person to the funnel.
Benefit to Player: Instills a feeling of easily-achieved win, promise of dopamine kick and tangible ‘prize’.


Ability: 

Benefit to You: Nothing intrinsically, this is essentially entirely a liability in terms of costs associated with prizes and marketing.
Benefit to Player: Available prizes that people instinctively perceive as goals, while being offered the pathway to achieve that goal by you.


Trigger:

Benefit to You: Customer’s illusion of choice, forced to take action by purchasing product in order to begin the game.
Benefit to Player: Starts the game which they have already imagined winning (for a small fee, this holds the most risk for player).


As you can see, this is a zero-sum game when appropriately managed. Where the motivation step benefits both parties, the ability step benefits the player and the trigger benefits the business. Once you’ve quantified your Ability in terms of the value of your marketing investment (prizes, assets & activation), and the Trigger’s value to you (products purchased, emails collected), it’s game on.

Gamification McDonalds Monopoly

Get Your Head In The Game

Obviously a partnership with an international entertainment company is out of the reach of most businesses, so here’s a few good examples of gamification that you could modify to suit your own purposes:


Facebook – Top Fans


Consistently engage with a page’s posts and you’ll have a shiny badge next to your name to show your loyalty to the business when commenting on their posts. This benefits Facebook by ensuring users stay active, benefits the business by increasing post engagement rates and reach, and benefits the user by rewarding them with bragging rights in the form of a tiny badge.


Google Maps – Local Guides Program


Regularly write quality reviews for businesses you visit to increase your profile’s level, earning badges along the way and ascend quicker by writing more comprehensive reviews, or by posting photos and videos. This benefits Google by increasing the value of it’s Maps listings to the end user by bolstering the quantity of submissions while prioritising quality content. Most importantly though, it benefits the business by means of social proofing, boosting perceived trust in the business and promoting it’s good deeds (and punishing bad customer service). Also benefits the reviewer’s profile by positioning them as an authority in their area, and sometimes, winning tangible prizes like socks.


Linkedin – Profile Completion Awards

Linkedin Gamification
Microsoft want you to complete your Linkedin profile a lot further than your name and a photo, and do so by awarding you a self-esteem boosting award to say you’re using the platform effectively. This little feature benefits Linkedin by improving the average profile completion rate, ensuring they stay competitive in a Facebook-controlled ecosystem and above all, increasing the amount of increasingly-valuable user data available to them. This also benefits businesses advertising on the platform by giving a strong insight into who the humans in their sphere (both employees and clients) are, and what makes them tick. Your willingly-surrendered data isn’t simply cast into the aether, it does benefit you by building your personal brand, and ensuring you stay competitive (ie: employable and relevant) in your own field.


Asana – Task Completion Narwhal


Asana is a project management tool which rewards habitual task-completers with a cheerful flying narwhal that flies across the screen every so-often when tasks are marked as complete. This simple animation benefits Asana by catering to younger professionals with this fun imagery, benefits the business using the platform by incentivising task completion, and benefits the user by offering a monotony-busting, unexpected surprise for doing something as simple as ticking a box.


eCommerce – Spin-To-Win


This appears most notably on Wish, where you’re given an opportunity to spin a wheel to win the chance to unlock an extra discount on a number of products dependent on the result of your spin. On other eCommerce websites, this is often a variable ($/%) discount on advertised products which is awarded in the same manner. This Wheel of Fortune benefits the merchant by potentially moving the price-conscious consumer closer to conversion with a small chance-based discount, and benefits the user by appealing to their FOMO, and saving them a small amount on an item they desire. Bonus round: Add a data capture element to this by asking for an email address to unlock the spin. 

Ace Ventura Monopoly Guy

Interested in learning more about gamification and how it can improve your conversion rates? Get in touch, I’d love to talk about how this strategy can put a fun spin on your next campaign.
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HIGH-SPEED change is the new disruptor in the travel industry and the rate of change in the next three years is going to shape and transform society for the next 100 years in a way that we’ve never seen.

Futurist Chris Riddell believes that our future will see a complete reinvention of everything that we see today on planet Earth.

He was presenting in Sydney some of the key changes on our horizon to delegates at Flight Centre Travel Group’s annual event, Illuminate, dedicated to informing and providing insights into the global corporate travel industry.

As a futurist, Riddell looks to see how “humans and business are adapting and changing to see what we can do to get ourselves ready for the future.”

His presentation focused on how the travel industry is going to change and why delegates need to be an extension of what’s happening within the human part of this change. According to Riddell some of the main disruptions shaping our future include:

The Amazon Effect

For the first time in history we’re witnessing on a large scale an online business, Amazon, moving into the offline space. Amazon’s US$13.7 billion purchase in 2017 of bricks-and-mortar organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market sent the share prices of major grocery retailers plummeting overnight. This purchase was the reverse of the mainstream progression of businesses moving from the physical to the digital. Overnight, Amazon became the biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the U.S. by market capitalisation and in doing so shifted us into a world of ‘category killers’ ruling industry.

The big question remaining is which other oppositional business is going to buy up traditional organisations. Might Facebook buy Costco? Will Twitter buy Target?

In the business of data, Google (Alphabet) is the biggest data company on earth – there is no close number two. We’re leaping into a world where category killers are dominating industry.

Trust Issues

We’re emerging from one of the biggest trust crises we have ever had. Our trust in organisations in the private and public sectors is at an all-time low. Data crises including with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytics scandal have eroded trust in those companies whose business is data. Similarly, the Volkswagen emissions scandal and consumer confidence in the U.S. along with many other public corporate crises has dented our trust in many big brands. The question then is how do we move ahead? 

Riddell believes that trust fundamentally is not going to go back to previous levels and that we will have to reinvent trust to be able to move forward. He says technology will be an enabler for us to reinvent trust. In the tech sector, the makers of wearable technology are faring better when it comes to trust – the value of the experience we get from wearable devices, for example, compared to the data we share is on parity, and this puts us in a place of trust with these brands.

Feeding the beast

The truth is though that we are worried about robotics, technology and our future. Nearly everything we do, from getting on an aeroplane, checking into a hotel, hiring a car, involves generating a lot of data, which ‘feeds the beast’ in terms of telling companies about our likes, habits and preferences. In order for many interactions with companies and their apps to succeed we need to keep feeding them a whole lot of data. Data is one of the most important resources that we have, and it truly has become the ‘new oil’. In order to win trust with customers, you need to create exceptional value every single time.

One of the fastest growing sectors in the world is the healthcare sector where the accumulation of data is presenting many opportunities but also structural and privacy concerns. The ability to run your own heart tests through portable technology that will become more accessible is mirrored by companies like 23andme.com, where you can send off a $100 test sample to a company and receive in return a full DNA spectrum on your health. This is prompting many people to start seeking treatment for conditions that they don’t yet have and putting severe strain on the health system.

Addiction to technology

We live in a new age where we are addicted to technology and yet are continually distracted by it. Technology from companies like Apple and Microsoft is now invading even personal intimate offline moments we are meant to have with each other. Consumers now have more technology power in their pockets than many organisations have, and replace their technology faster. This has created a power balance shift, where consumers now own the experience and will dictate the experience they will want to have with us. What we have to do now is keep up with this data transfer and reinvent ourselves.

The sharing economy, block-chain, augmented intelligence and the internet-of-things are the changes that are going to be impacting the travel industry and anyone connected to travel. What this means is that organisations are now getting so much data and opportunity to get insight from individual human beings than we have ever had before. No longer can we just ‘pigeon-hole’ people, but we have to use this data to create tailored, individual experiences. ‘Augmented intelligence’ is about blending humanity and technology together to create experiences that just a few years ago you never thought were possible.

Chris Riddell’s challenge is: “If you want to be in business beyond tomorrow, you need to start thinking about the future like a technology company. You have to keep up with this relentless pace of change that we are going through. Your job is to see where the opportunities lie for you, because this is the most exciting time to ever be a human being on planet earth.”

Illuminate 2019 was supported by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate businesses – FCM Travel Solutions, Corporate Traveller, cievents, Stage and Screen Travel Services and 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting.


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You’ve been hearing Google preaching about the mobile experience for some time now. “Make sure your website is mobile friendly!” they say, and while being just ‘friends’ has its benefits, you really need a stronger connection than that.

Google have announced that all new domains will default to mobile-first indexing as of 1st July 2019. This isn’t unexpected, and is a logical step considering that mobile devices account for over 2/3 of internet traffic.

Google announced plans for mobile-first indexing in 2016, but for a lot of people, 2019 may be the first time they’ve heard of it. Mobile-first indexing is Google’s way of saying they are solely prioritising the mobile experience of a website when assigning organic search rankings, meaning how well your website performs on mobile is now the deciding factor of how well you can rank in organic search results.

“But I already own my domain!” you say. While this announcement specifically mentions new domains, an earlier Google announcement in December 2018 revealed that more than half of websites crawled are already subject to mobile-first indexing.

Look At His Little Socks

Urge to open an eCommerce site for dog socks rising… (Source: Tumblr/hypedogs)

But Why Is Mobile-First Indexing Important?

Access your Google Analytics dashboard and view your traffic sources. There’s a good chance you’re looking at a large slice of pie that illustrates you’re receiving a LOT of traffic from organic search results.

Let’s say you sold customised socks for dogs online. You receive 80,000 visitors per month, 40% of that traffic came from organic search (32,000 visitors), a 2% conversion rate and an average order value of $20.

1,600 visitors bought socks, with $32,000 in revenue.

What if half of that organic search traffic disappeared overnight?

Now only 1,280 visitors bought socks, netting $25,600 in revenue.

You just lost $6,400.

Don’t Panic

By not prioritising mobile-first indexing via improving your website’s mobile experience you run the risk of your hard-earned rankings slipping into the abyss of search results beyond page 1, resulting in valuable organic traffic being lost to competitors.

An eCommerce example was used above, however the same logic can be applied to lead generation websites (especially small business) or informational websites that generate advertising revenue. Leads have a quantifiable dollar value once you’ve determined their weight, but Display advertising is generally paid for by impressions (views), and if you’ve lost a sizeable number of eyeballs viewing because of fingers not clicking, your hip pocket will feel the pinch next.

Google PageSpeed Insights Mobile First Indexing

Ouch. Room for improvement?

So What Can I Do?

This is an important strategy to consider immediately, take the time to create a measured and rational strategy to accommodate mobile-first indexing to preserve (or improve) your organic search rankings.

Try these easy tests first:

  • Check your site’s Page Speed Index here, is the mobile score green? What are the most problematic areas?
  • Or, view your site on your mobile device, is it legible? Do certain items take up too much space on screen? Do you have intrusive popups?

If you’re not seeing promising results using these tools, or if you need a hand navigating the jargon, get in touch with us here at RGC Media & Mktng to discuss the best way for you to navigate 2019.

Feature Image: Talladega Nights (2006) 

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Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

Noisy, ugly and dirty. Advertising has polluted cities, annoyed consumers, and jeopardised its own existence. Beyond a mass-media cacophony, brand communications’ significant carbon footprint and runaway consumption are certainly contributing to what economists call market failure.

In the UK, for instance, advertising produces 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. That’s equivalent to heating 364,000 UK homes for a year, according to CarbonTrack.

In this sense, should messages such as a City of Melbourne campaign inviting people to cycle more even be allowed? On the one hand, it is better to communicate a solution (cycling) to the issue than not. On the other, if the communication contributes to the problem more than the solution, what’s the point of it?

Jerry Seinfeld’s 2014 infamous line at the Clio awards called out the advertising sector to its face:

I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.

Jerry Seinfeld’s speech about advertising at the 2014 Clio Awards.

Still, contrary to that sentiment, marketers and their brands can (and should) move away from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution for sustainable development and the industry’s own sustainability.

Offering A New Outlook

The urbanisation megatrend wholly underpins other forces shaping the way we live, now and in the future. Although cities occupy only 2% of Earth’s landmass, that is where 75% of energy consumption occurs. Advertising growth is also concentrated in big cities.

Because of increased demand for ever more comfortable lifestyles, urban infrastructures have been feeling “growing pains” for decades now. Whether it’s energy, education, health, waste management or safety, cities’ services are struggling to keep up with their larger and “hungrier” populations.

The strategic opportunity here is to reframe brand communications from the promotion of conspicuous consumption to becoming a regenerative force in the economy of cities. That means using brands’ touch points as more than mere messengers, but rather delivering public utility services. I’ve coined it Urban Brand-Utility.

For example, Domino’s Pizza’s Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes, cracks and bumps said to be responsible for “irreversible damage” to pizzas during the drive home.

This may sound silly, but the US National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission estimates that simply to maintain the nation’s highways, roads and bridges requires investment by all levels of government of US$185 billion a year for the next 50 years. Today, the US invests about US$68 billion a year.

The Paving for Pizza program fixes potholes that Domino’s says ‘can cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive home’. Domino’s Pizza

According to Bill Scherer, mayor of Bartonville, Texas: “This unique, innovative partnership allowed the town of Bartonville to accomplish more potholes repairs.” Eric Norenberg, city manager of Milford, Delaware, said: “We appreciated the extra Paving for Pizza funds to stretch our street repair budget as we addressed more potholes than usual.”

In Moscow, major Russian real estate developers approached Sberbank to collaborate on better infrastructure planning in residential areas. People’s opinions on local needs fuelled targeted campaigns, promoting loans for small businesses. The “Neighbourhoods” campaign generated nine times as many small-business responses as traditional bank loan advertising.

The ‘Neighbourhoods’ campaign sought people’s opinions on local neighbourhood needs.

In other words, people had their needs met. And neighbourhoods become more attractive as a result. The city increases tax collection from the new businesses being set up, which also reduces the costs of having to deal with derelict areas.

A Shift To Serving Citizen-Consumers

If we could see ourselves as citizen-consumers, as opposed to individual shoppers in the market, every dollar spent would enable business to tackle the issues that matter most.

Here’s a hypothetical situation. Let’s assume Domino’s Paving for Pizza program is taken to its full potential, generating a large surplus to the City of Bartonville by minimising the costs of repairing potholes. Rather than treating this as a one-off campaign, smart mayors would try to create a virtuous cycle, where the city retains 50% of the surplus, 25% is returned to the advertiser, and 25% goes to the agency and media owner – a value only unlocked by repeating the approach.

This way, marketing budgets are effectively turned into investment funds. The returns are in the form of brand cut-through, happier customers, social impact and more effective city management, as shown in the model below.

In a circular economy, products and services go beyond an end user’s finite life cycle. Similarly, Urban Brand-Utility looks at brand communications as closed loops by designing a system bigger than fixed campaign periods, target audiences and business-as-usual KPIs.

Brands with some level of foresight will be able to broaden their audiences from customers to citizens and their revenue model from sales to the creation of shared value. These will be game-changers for profit and prosperity.

Markets, choice and competition are not just a consumer’s best friend, but their civic representation. After all, as one of the tribunes asks the crowd in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “What is the city but the people?”

Sergio Brodsky, Sessional Lecturer, Marketing, RMIT University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Social marketers are saying that their biggest goal with social media is to increase awareness and more than half (59%) use social to support their sales and lead generation objectives according to the latest findings from the Sprout Social Index.

Developing a strategy that supports their organisation’s goals is listed as the number one challenge that they face (nearly half of social marketers) and 43% saying that a major challenge is properly identifying and understanding their social audience.

Planning and strategy are even more important than ever for a social media campaign to have true effectiveness and social listening, monitoring your brand’s social media channels for customer feedback and insights, will become even more important, a fact known to social marketers.

According to the report social marketer’s top goals for social include:

  • Increase Brand Awareness 70%;
  • Sales/Lead Generation 59%;
  • Increase Community Engagement 48%;
  • Grow My Brand’s Audience;
  • Increase Web Traffic 45%.

But how do marketers define engagement when measuring social success? 72% seek likes and/or comments; 62% desire shares and/or retweets; 60% seek interaction with consumers; and 34% desire revenue attribution. Inspiring consumers to take action (32%) and inspiring an emotional response were indicated by 29% of marketers.

What Social Platforms Do Marketers And Consumers Use?

Marketers Follow Brands On:Consumers Follow Brands On:
Facebook 89%Facebook 66%
Instagram 65%Instagram 41%
Twitter 50%Twitter 22%
Youtube 49%Youtube 35%
Facebook Messenger 44%Facebook Messenger 13%
LinkedIn 38%LinkedIn 6%
Snapchat 28%Snapchat 14%
Pinterest 28%Pinterest 17%

89% of marketers say they use Facebook as part of their brand’s social strategy.

What Does Your Audience Want?

To align your goals with consumer actions it is important to know how and why consumers are using social media.

The report revealed:

Why Consumers Follow Brands On Social Media

Why Consumers Unfollow Brands In Social Media


A good understanding of these responses is required to align your social media activity to truly engage with consumers and not alienate them with irrelevant or ‘spammy’ content.

Social Posts That Encourage Consumers Likes And Shares

What sort of posts are likely to elicit a positive response from consumers?

Type Of PostLike/Comment OnShare
Posts That Entertain67%55%
Posts That Inspire57%50%
Posts That Teach46%38%
Posts That Tell A Story38%37%
Discounts Or Sales37%38%

There’s been a shift away by consumers of discounts and sales and a flight to entertaining and inspiring content compared to previous surveys.

Whilst Facebook continues to dominate the social landscape, marketers need to dig deeper to understand their audience and understand that consumers want to be engaged and entertained before they buy.

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The proliferation of fake news and social media platforms’ inability to stamp it out is driving more Australians to engage with online news in private spaces like closed, curated interest groups.

The fifth annual Digital News Report (DNR) produced by the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra was released this week and showed that while Facebook remains the most used social media platform for news, but there has been a small drop in its use for news from 39% in 2017 to 36% in 2019. On the other hand, the use of YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram for news has risen and messaging apps are becoming a popular way to access news.

Key Facts

  • Using Facebook for news has decreased since 2016 (-9), while YouTube (+4), Snapchat (+3), and Instagram (+4) have risen.
  • There has been a drop in online news engagement across all sharing, commenting and liking activity.
  • The most popular mode of sharing news continues to be talking face-to-face with friends and colleagues (37%).

The report showed there has been a slight decline in most types of online news engagement from 2016 to 2019. While 63% of Australian news consumers have engaged in one or more online or offline news-sharing activities, there has been a slight overall drop in the past few years.

SOCIAL MEDIA BRANDS FOR NEWS (%)

SOURCE: The Digital News Report: Australia 2019

This corresponds with a decline in Facebook use for news which the report authors said was possibly due to increased concern about the unreliability of the online information environment. Most online news consumers in Australia (62%) remain concerned about what is real or fake on the internet, which is higher than the global average (55%).

This lack of trust in the quality of news combined with a lack of confidence in expressing views publicly is also leading to lower engagement with ‘sharing’, ‘commenting’ and ‘liking’ of news all falling on recent years.

However, behind closed ‘doors’ where membership is often restricted and comes with community-defined rules of behaviour, it is a different matter.

More than half of Facebook users (59%) say they have joined and participated in a Facebook group and 68% of WhatsApp users says they are involved in a group on WhatsApp. Popular public groups on Facebook and WhatsApp are related to hobbies and local community issues, whereas public groups about news and politics are less popular (7%: Facebook; 6%: WhatsApp).

The rapid growth in the use of social media platforms for accessing news is continually creating an environment where social endorsements or so-called social signals such as comments, ‘likes’, or shares play a key role in the sharing and consumption of online news.

Younger news consumers, Gen Z and Y are more likely to engage with these social endorsements, while sharing a news story via email is more popular among older news consumers.

Key Report Findings

NEWS MEDIA PERFORMANCE

  • Two thirds of Australian news consumers (66%) agree the news media keeps them up to date.
  • Less than half (45%) agree that journalism is holding the powerful to account.
  • 44% agree the news media are often too negative.
  • 28% agree the topics chosen by the news media do not feel relevant to them.

POLITICAL ORIENTATION AND NEWS

  • Two thirds (65%) have low interest in politics.
  • Left-wing news consumers are much more likely to fact-check than right-wing.
  • More than half (53%) of right-wing orientated news consumers perceive the news to be too negative compared to 41% of left-wing consumers.
  • News consumers who “don’t know” their political orientation use the fewest number of news brands.

PAYING FOR NEWS AND DIGITAL CONTENT

  • Paying for online news (14%) is close to the global average (13%).
  • More Australians would rather subscribe to video streaming services (34%) than online news (9%).
  • There is a gender paying gap; 17% of men pay for online news compared to 10% of women.
  • 83% of news consumers encounter unwanted paywalls at least once a month.

FAKE NEWS AND FACT CHECKING

  • 62% of Australian online news consumers remain concerned about what is real or fake on the internet.
  • 36% of news consumers say they have checked a news story for accuracy.
  • 26% of people concerned about fake news have started using more reliable news sources.
  • People who access five or more news brands are the most likely to fact-check.

TRUST IN NEWS

  • Trust in news has fallen globally, including in Australia.
  • Distrust in social media has risen from 45% in 2018 to 49% in 2019 and trust in social media has fallen from 24% to 18%.
  • Those who trust news avoid it less and are less worn out by it.
  • Trust is much higher among those who access online brands directly (65%).
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Blog

Education is a journey. It is a long-term and often ongoing experience we embark upon to attain knowledge and better ourselves. During this ‘student journey’, we often associate our schools, universities and other institutions merely as tools or locations we need in order to achieve our goals.

In fact, when we embark on the student journey the campuses, teachers and even intangible curriculums travel alongside us. For example, when someone decides to pursue a Master of Business Administration, the business school they enrol with becomes a companion every step of the way, providing the necessary support to help reach the finish line.

Student and the business schools, however, have different priorities and must prepare accordingly for each phase of the student journey.

Searching, contemplating and recruitment

At this stage, students are considering studying an MBA and are on the lookout for the business school that will best suit their needs. Students need to consider their personal commitments, professional workload, location and flexibility. These considerations are vital so early on in the process, and so business schools must respond in kind by providing accurate and up-to-date information on their MBA programs.

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, students have reported that it is important to them that the information they receive about their course before they enrol is factual and accurate, because many who are beginning their MBA student journey can often find the experience initially confusing.

Enrolment

At enrolment the journey to acquiring an MBA still demands research and preparation. Most MBA programs in Australia require students to already have completed an undergraduate degree and hold several years of professional experience before pursuing an MBA. Business Schools also provide their own iteration of the program on top of the core business outcomes, meaning the specialisations, electives, costs, course content and delivery mode (on-campus or online) will vary. The MBA student journey cannot begin if the student does not know what is required.

Similar to the recruitment phase of the journey, business schools must again ensure they are providing accurate advice to ensure it meets a student’s needs before they enrol. They must also ensure that their students can understand details about the course, such as how long the course will take, the study requirements and assessment methods.

Studying and Assessment

Notes, textbooks, online materials and other academic resources are of course essential items to carry through this phase of the student journey. However, when it comes to studying an MBA, students need more than tangible items to get them through to the other side. It has been touched on before but a good MBA kit bag must also include the right inner qualities and personal characteristics. Throughout their studies, MBA students must ensure they have determination, integrity, discipline, entrepreneurship, teamwork, critical thinking and a willingness to challenge prior knowledge.

It is at this point that business schools must provide all the necessary resources and support to maximise the outcomes for the student. According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, it is important that:

  • teachers, trainers and assessors are professional and knowledgeable about their subjects and industry areas,
  • the amount of training is enough to allow students to practice new skills before they are assessed,
  • students can access good-quality learning resources and facilities, and
  • assessment activities are fair and well explained and students are given helpful feedback.

Many business schools have already addressed many of these elements in their MBA programs. For example, many schools appoint professors who have been or still are business professionals in their own right, resulting in classes being taught by former CEOs or current corporate directors.

Business schools must also be aware of the ‘support and progression’ phase of the student journey, which focusses on how they support students’ progression in their learning. This can be accomplished by providing easily accessible resources and materials like study support and study skills programs, mediation services, flexible scheduling and delivery, counselling services or referrals to these services and information and communications technology (ICT) support.

Graduation

The journey is over. Students have completed their studies and are eligible to receive an MBA. In this phase, students typically want to receive their certification in a timely manner to ensure they are not disadvantaged in seeking employment.

As for students; while the journey to achieving an MBA is over, it paves the way for a bigger journey of self-improvement, employment opportunities and career advancement. All there is left to consider is finding the will to use their newfound knowledge and achieve the success they desire in the business world.


Originally published on MBA News: www.mbanews.com.au/what-students-and-business-schools-need-to-pack-for-the-mba-journey

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Blog

Carl Rhodes, University of Technology Sydney

For decades Gillette has been selling razors using the slogan “the best a man can get”. This week the Procter & Gamble-owned brand has adopted “the best a man can be” as part of a marketing campaign meant to challenge toxic masculinity.

Explicitly aligning itself with the #metoo movement, the message is that men have to change if we want to end sexual harassment, bullying and domestic violence.

The campaign’s centrepiece, a 108-second “short film”, has divided opinion. Among those to declare their contempt for Gillette’s “virtue signalling” is the British television presenter Piers Morgan, who has labelled the advert “man-hating” and part of a “war on masculinity”.

On the other side, those lauding Gillette include Glamour magazine contributor Helen Wilson-Beevers, who has praised the video as a “self-assured piece of advertising that Gillette should be proud of”.



The new corporate political activism

Gillette’s campaign exemplifies a new type of corporate political activism where corporations and their chief executives publicly back progressive social and political causes.

A textbook example is Nike’s advertisements featuring American football player Colin Kaepernick, who began the practice of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans.

Whereas in the past corporations could be expected to be the targets of political activists – on such issues as climate change, worker exploitation and animal cruelty – today many corporations see advantages in becoming the activists.

Nike is the classic case study. In 1997 the company was being dragged over the public coals for the use of child labour in the factories it contracted to make its shoes in countries such as Indonesia. By 2017 some considered it a leader in corporate social activism.

This can be very good for business. Corporate activism is a marketing strategy geared at the management of corporate values and identity, as well as reputation building. It has been explicitly identified as having the twin objectives: to influence public opinion but also to improve consumer attitudes about the company.

Nike exemplifies this as well. While some saw the Kaepernick ad as a calculated market risk, it paid off. By the end of 2018 Nike’s sales far exceeded expectations, and its share price continued to rise.

This is not to say that nobody at Nike or Gillette genuinely believes in the causes the organisations have chosen to support. But that support would still have depended on the cause passing the “business case” test – with any social benefits seen as being matched to self-interested commercial benefits.

After all, we don’t see many corporations campaigning to eliminate aggressive corporate tax avoidance, even though that is the leading way they contribute to society.

Praise to #metoo

This tells us something about the causes corporate activists put their money behind. Put simply, when a corporation backs a progressive social movement it is because the company is reasonably confident its cause has mainstream support.

Gillette’s embrace of #metoo themes is thus a corporate endorsement of how mainstream that movement has become. In barely a year it has grown into a global social phenomena bringing women’s experiences of workplace sexual harassment and exploitation out of the shadows. In the words of the #metoo founder Tarana Burke, the goal is to build “a world free of sexual violence”.

That Gillette has aligned itself with the #metoo movement is not something for the brand to be congratulated on. It is #metoo that deserves the praise.

Carl Rhodes, Professor of Organization Studies, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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