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10+ Social Media Ideas that Startups Must Follow in 2021 – ReadWrite

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Content Strategy Not Working? Here are the 6 Reasons Why - ReadWrite


Social media is a weapon of mass marketing. Brands like Nike, GoPro, Starbucks, have been dominating the social media space and encashing on the social media addiction of humans. Leading marketing aficionados agree that social media is a powerful tool that every brand must utilize to rule the digital world. But all these super successful bands have such unique social media feeds. How do you come up with such amazing social media ideas?

If the same question has been bugging you, we have got it covered for you.

In this write-up, we have mentioned some simple yet interesting social media ideas to keep your brand’s feed fresh.

1. Channelize the Power Of Micro-Influencers

Reaching out to industry influencers is an effective way to promote your products among a target audience. However, most influencers with a blue tick charge a hefty amount for a single Instagram post or tweet. Startups don’t have such an amount reserved for their marketing campaign. This is where micro-influencers can come to their rescue.

These are people who have a following between 10k and 100k. However, their following is much more loyal. Their conversion rate is much higher as they have a greater engagement with their following. These micro-influencers connect with their fans on a much more personal level.

Out of so many social media ideas, another great one is to get the micro-influencers to use your products and promote them in front of their fans. You can always share their posts using your product on your page to give a fresh look to your brand page and fill it with real-life people using your product.

2. Personalize the Feed With Selfies or Videos

While most brands like to keep their social media pages like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter professional, it is a great way to add a personal touch to personally connect with your fans on a personal level. In addition to having product images or ad copies and other things, you can add your pictures of videos.

Don’t go all out and put your personal life on display on your business social media page. One in every 10-15 posts is fine for social media. Even if you are creating videos, make sure your videos don’t go overboard. They should be well-balanced with your business profile yet give a breath of fresh air to your business’s social media presence.

3. Generate Curiosity With BTS Video Stories

With 92% of the marketers rooting for videos in their marketing strategy, it is important to have some kind of video on your page. BTS videos or Behind The Scene videos are a great way to keep your followers engaged and curious about your next campaign.

Whether you are shooting for an upcoming advertisement, planning for your next video, packing products, work-in-progress, or simply a BTS of people working in your office, such videos always generate curiosity. Give them a sneak peek into the creative process, the set-up, and the people to make them come back for more updates.

4. Regram, Retweet, And Share What Inspires You

Your brand’s social media page might become too overwhelmed with your product images and video. Give your audience some breathing space by posting content created by others once in a while. It would not just be something different for the followers but lessen your efforts too.

All you need to do is find some good quotes and share them on your page. Anything that inspires you, news about your industry, meaningful post, or anything else can be reshared on your social media. Not just that, you can also find people who have tagged you on social media and share their posts on your feed.

You don’t have to be all in-depth with each of your posts. It can be anything light, entertaining, or interactive.

Don’t shy away from regramming (reprogramming), retweeting, repinning, or resharing other’s content. And make sure you have given due credit to the original creator. By taking the “re” spin — it breaks the flow of your posts and gives you some time to create something more creative.

Also, it’s a great way to show your followers that you are a part of a conversation, and tagging you would get them featured on your page.

5. Make Use Of Reels & Short Stories

We all know that video content will reign in the coming years. And social media platforms are not shying away from encashing on this user behavior. Instagram and Facebook have come up with a short video concept in the form of reels and short stories respectively.

The human attention span needs a little excitement. People are no longer interested in spending minutes on a single video. Such short video content can be great for catching their attention.

You can use these reels or short stories to showcase more about your product or services. These can also be used for showing the testimonials of your clients. There are several filters, stickers, audios, and other things. There are different challenges as well on social media. You can always use the trending ones in a creative way to gain popularity for your brand.

6. Co-Marketing Goes a Long Way

A great way to amp up your business’s social media profile is by teaming up with another popular brand. There are different brands around you that are also looking to add versatility to their social media page. Co-marketing saves your efforts and helps you reach out to a newer audience base.

For example, a fitness brand can collaborate with a fashion designer to launch its own line of fitness wear. This way, you can have your name promoted on their social media and vice versa.

You can always team up with another brand that targets the same niche. This way, you’ll be able to reach out to their audience with synced efforts.

7. Tag-A-Friend Always Enhances Visibility

People love sharing pictures with their friends and tagging them on awesome posts. An amazing post idea is to get more engagement with ‘tag-a-friend’ posts. These posts could be all about some habits of people, memes, quotes, incidents, places, gifting options, or anything based on the industry you are in.

All you need to do is ask people to ‘tag-a-friend’ who comes to their mind first on seeing the post.

Such posts get conversations started in the comments and can boost your social media engagement. They gain much more visibility and your brand easily reaches out to more people that might become loyal followers really quick. Create posts that compel to be shared and ensure

8. Get Your Followers to Generate Content

Zomato, a leading food delivery app in India, recently announced a campaign. It asked its followers to create video ads for the brand and the best ad would win Rs 25 lakhs. This initiative got the brand a huge increase in following and gave it a whole new feed to showcase the followers. People loved the videos it kept sharing from the creators and it gave the feed a fresh look.

As a startup, you need not announce such a big-scale campaign. You can simply give away some freebies, a monthly membership, or similar things to your followers to create content. Encourage your followers to generate content for you and showcase that on your feed. This would not just create a new look for your feed but also help build trust that people are actually using your product.

9. Data-Rich Posts Get Maximum Shares

Have you recently conducted a survey or research? Do you have some numbers that can help others in the industry? Go ahead and create some interesting infographics or simple pictures with some interesting findings. These are sure to get a lot of shares among the industry peeps.

There are many tools in the market like Canva that can help you go innovative with the post. Make sure to use your brand colors to personalize the picture. Take inspiration from Hubspot’s Instagram page. They’ve brilliantly used their brand colors in creating info-rich pictures. Industry peeps love sharing them and get a lot of engagement online.

You can even have important numbers from your blogs or similar stuff and convert them into pictures to share on your social media pages.

10. Previews and Teasers are Great for Curiosity

Before launching any product, creating excitement for the same is imperative. This can be a great way to break the monotony of your social media feed and ignite excitement. Whatever new you are planning to announce, share a glimpse of it on your social media. It could be a simple BTS video, launch teaser, event preparation, or anything.

With the new feature of short videos like Reels, Short Videos, and Fleet, it is easier to create a video on the spot and share it with your followers. Create a buzz with it. Create FOMO or countdown for any new event, sale, launch, etc., to get maximum presence. Posts like launching soon, stay tuned, half pictures, etc., also look great when used smartly on social media to generate curiosity.

11. Maintain Consistency Around Brand Image

While it is great to experiment with your social media feed, a little bit of consistency would be great to create a lasting impression. Whether you use the brand colors, logos, fonts, images, or anything else, make sure that it has some element to reflect your brand.

Your brand voice needs to be consistent. There are many followers that might recognize your brand through visual means only – by the way your posts look, your style, etc. Make sure to retain such visual elements to ensure these followers can tell your brand out.

Other Social Media Strategies for Startups

While those are some awesome social media ideas for your feed, there are other social media strategies that can help strengthen your brand image. Be it Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other platform, here are some simple and cool social media strategies for startups.

Just the mention of the word ‘FREE’ grasps instant attention. And as a startup, you need not offer something extravagant in such giveaways. You can keep it small, even a discount coupon, trial membership, demo, or something similar. Announce it on social media and get more tags, mentions, and likes through such giveaways.

Video content is going to grow exponentially in 2021 and live videos will be a large part of it. The Covid times have made live videos even more popular. Almost every industry is pivoting its way of interacting with its customers and live videos are one of the most effective means. You can also make your followers participate in your events or simply have sessions with them talking about your brand answering their questions, etc.

  • AMAs Are Great For Engagement

A new trend that set out on social media was about AMA or Ask Me Anything. Whether we take Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media, many brands and celebrities are hosting such sessions to increase their engagement. This way you can engage with them and answer their questions about your brand.

  • Takeovers Are Effortlessly Raging

Another thing that many of the social media pages are doing currently is takeovers. That is, you give your social media page to be handled by someone else. They bring a fresh perspective to your brand and give it a new look to your feed. This takeover could be for a day or a week. And the best part is, you have to put in zero effort. The person taking over would handle your social media feed for the time period.

  • Ask For Followers’ Opinions With Polls

People love it when their opinions are valued. Get polls before starting with a new product. You can have polls for different things and get to know their interests, likes, dislikes, and much more. This would help you get a closer insight into what’s going on in your followers’ mind about your brand,

  • Organize Highlights For Professional Look

Another cool way to make your social media brand page look even more professional is to organize the entire page. Don’t make it look cluttered and unkept. A quick way to do the same is by organizing the highlights that are present on your profile.

  • Ephemeral Content Never Dies

As ironic as it is, ephemeral content has been increasing in popularity since Snapchat came up with the idea. And this concept of short-lived, disappearing content is going to be here for a long time. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, all have the concept of disappearing content. Make use of this amazing social media idea to infuse the fear of missing out in your audience.

On an Ending Note

Social media is a double-edged sword. It can help build massive loyalty for your brand in a short time. But at the same time, a small error in messaging can instantly hurt their sentiments, leading to PR nightmares.

Follow the 80:20 rule on social media to keep churning out new content without putting too much on the shoulders of the content creators. It is important that your brand’s feed remains versatile yet consistent to offer new content but remind them that it’s your brand in the end.

Make sure that you are regular with posting. Plan ahead and have a social media calendar in place. Make sure your feed never dies and is consistently offering some content to keep your brand alive in their memory.

Swati Sharma

Swati Sharma is an avid reader and a passionate writer. She is a technology enthusiast working with Classic Informatics, a global web development company. Swati loves to stay updated with everything related to technology in the digital-first world.

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Increase Your Conversions With Exit Popups | ReadWrite

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Armen Baghdasaryan


In the ever-growing era of the internet, people rely on eCommerce to satisfy their wants, on several social media for marketing and being self-employed, being a developer for a top company, and many other things that seemed impossible if you ask someone in the 2000s.

With the introduction of the internet, the whole world is at a fast pace. Fast forward this to the 21st century, right now. People are battling for their spot on the internet right now. The battle is to gain as much audience or followers as possible. Exit popup plays a crucial role in this race.

How to Increase Your Conversions With Exit Popups

But first, we have to know the meaning of the term ‘exit popup,’ and for what purposes it is used.

What is an Exit Popup?

Exit intent popup is basically a technique that retains people from leaving the website. In simple terms, it is a popup that can convince people to sign up, buy a product or even subscribe to a newsletter. You might have seen these popups on several websites, especially eCommerce websites.

The main purpose of these popups is to increase conversion rates. Exit popup basically gives your viewers a second chance to leave your website. This technique is based on the position of the mouse cursor in a computer, whereas there is a time interval between the appearance of the popups. While your viewer might have left, when you use an exit popup, the chances are that the viewer will stay.

It has been recorded that by using exit popups, email sign-ups skyrocketed by 1200% and more! This increase is huge.

Where are Exit Popups Used?

Exit-intent popups are almost everywhere on the internet, from blogs to SaaS businesses. Even retail businesses use it.

Most of these are used by the fashion industry, followed by consumer electronics, travel, food and health, etc. But there is a common thing about all these industries. The common thing is that they are promoting a physical product with which people can interact with. Of course, it doesn’t mean that digital products don’t work. Take an example of a hosting website. They sell digital products, yet they have huge sales.

The thing is, the products that people are selling should be beneficial to the people. That’s why targeted marketing is necessary.

Exit popups have increased the conversion rates of these products. Hence, most websites use these techniques.

Exit popups were specifically made for computer users. But due to the advancements of electronics like smartphones, exit-intent popups are shown in smartphones too. Although the mechanism is different, popups on smartphones basically work on the scrolling patterns and they can also be time-based.

Exit popups can literally be used on every website. It can range from email signups, purchasing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, anything!

Exit popups have become highly famous among eCommerce websites. You could say that these popups were made for eCommerce websites. Although, as I mentioned before, it can be used for any website.

There are even chances that these popups might be used in the social media platform in a few years. Even though the chances are slim currently, it might just be possible for you to show someone who visits your profile a popup.

But in order to reap the benefits, there are certain conditions. Let’s talk about what benefits we could get by using Exit Popups.

The Benefits of Using Exit Intent Popups

There are numerous benefits from the use of these popups. The number one being an increase in conversion rates and a decrease in people bounce rates.

Increased Conversion Rates

This is probably one of the most amazing benefits of using an exit-intent popup. If implemented well, they are recorded to boost conversion sales by up to 53% to 1200%. This is a huge jump.

Conversion rates can vary by how interactive your popup is. It might be humorous, aggressive(like a discount) or something else.

Decrease in Bounce Rates

Bounce rates are basically the percentage of people leaving the website when they are not interested in your product or service.

If you make a well interactive popup, you can decrease bounce rates. There are reports that in some websites, the bounce rates decreased from 70% to 35%.

Customization

The amazing thing is that you can show these exit popups how you want them to be to others. It means that you can customize how a popup will appear on a viewer’s screen. What this does is creates a sense of specialty that it was made just for the viewer.

There are huge chances that a person will do whatever the popup says if it is customized.

Guide to Increase Your Conversions With Exit Popups

Even though there are many benefits from the use of exit popups, the wrong implementation will lead to the failure of this technique. Then what is the correct implementation of exit-intent popups? Let’s answer that.

Implementation of this technique can only be successful by understanding the behavior or psychology of the viewer. By correctly understanding their behavior, we can assume what product or what type of content does the viewer likes.

Implementation of these techniques can be a tough job. But we are here to ease up the toughness of your job.

Design

The design can make or break your journey. It is advised to keep the design of exit popups as user-friendly as possible. Use eye-catching colors, improve the overall quality of your design.

Use good colors with which almost everyone is comfortable. The reason why you should choose good colors is that specific colors show specific signals. For example, red is considered a danger signal in our brain.  So using too much red color could negatively affect your visitors’ experience when browsing your website.

Image

It is not at all necessary to use an image in your popup. But when you use it, make sure it speaks to the viewer, has good colors, and is relevant to the niche of your website, product or service.

Also, make sure that you have a license to use that particular image or you are using Creative Commons images. If not, you might face copyright infringement. Pixabay and Pexels have a wide range of copyright-free images.

Main Title

The title is the first thing your viewers will notice. So, it should be interactive and it should persuade them. Like, offering a limited-time discount, bonus offers to make your viewers feel special. An eye-catching title is necessary.

Description

After the title, people will choose to look at the description of your popup. This part will explain why your viewers should do the action you are stating, and by doing this, what benefit are they getting.

It can also make or break a particular customer’s decision. An eye-catching description is deemed to perform better than the ones having a less structured and informative description.

The CTA

The CTA (call-to-action) tells your particular viewer on what he/she should do to earn the bonus or benefits. It could be a sign-up, discount offer, download link, anything that makes the viewer interact with your exit popup.

The CTA increases gradually when you put relevant CTAs like sign-ups, downloads, etc. One thing you should notice is that these CTAs should consume as much little time as possible of the customers. It should not be able to increase the burden of your viewers.

Privacy

It is also important to address the privacy of the viewers. Make sure that you respect their privacy and mention it. It not only builds trust but also helps in future endeavors.

Link your website or your popup to a privacy policy page. People should feel safer while buying your product, not be in constant fear of being a victim of fraud.

Exit Popups Customization

When it comes to anything online, people differ in their opinions and choices. So you should never treat all of your visitors the same. By this, I mean that you should offer different viewers different choices with which they are able to cooperate.

Conclusion

Exit popups are a great way of generating sales, sign-ups and more. But using it the correct way, as mentioned above, is important to see results. It works especially well on eCommerce websites. Of course, all others can reap the benefits of these exit popups.

Pro tip:- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the result from day 1 or day 30. Good things take time.

The thing to note is that you should experiment as much as possible with your popup and stick to the one that gave better results than before. It’s all about understanding customers and experimenting with what they would choose.

Armen Baghdasaryan

Armen Baghdasaryan is an experienced digital marketing specialist who is always keen to keep up with the latest updates in the industry and come up with the best marketing solutions.

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6 Software Solutions Your B2B Company Needs in Its Tech Stack – ReadWrite

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Brad Anderson


Communication and collaboration between departments and teams are essential for efficiency and success. While each team member has an individual job and departments carry out different functions, they can’t work in a vacuum.

Software Solutions Your B2B Company Needs

Client-based applications may have been sufficient in the past. But with the need for instantaneous, anytime, anywhere data sharing, cloud-based solutions can streamline your operations.

Cloud services fall under various categories. Software as a service, or SaaS, is the best known. However, other models such as integration platform as a service, or IPaaS, are providing new capabilities. An IPaaS lets you integrate local and cloud applications. You can create and implement ways to seamlessly transfer data back and forth between the two.

The following 6 software solutions can optimize everything from app integration and secure document sharing to task automation and security training.

Read on to discover the cloud-based services your business needs in its tech stack.

1. Workato

Workato is a business automation platform that connects the multiple applications your company uses. Your B2B organization can develop customized workflows and automate them. Unlike with a traditional IPaaS, you don’t need the IT folks to create these processes.

The platform doesn’t require knowledge of complicated coding in order to automate and optimize workflows.

That means employees that work in non-technical roles like marketing and finance can use Workato, too. There are AI chatbots for easy and constant access to data across departments. Gartner has recognized Workato as a market leader in the enterprise IPaaS arena for three consecutive years.

2. CapLinked

Businesses can securely upload, share, and collaborate on deal-related documents with CapLinked. What makes this tool so versatile is that you can create and manage different virtual workspaces. Set up one space with documents that pertain to supplier contracts, then create another space for internal strategic marketing plans.

CapLinked has built-in communication features, including editing and deadline alerts, email updates, FAQ notifications, and instant messaging. You can also set and change access at the file or workspace level as employees and contacts change. To make this process simpler, you can create and manage groups from contact lists.

Implement extra layers of security by requiring logins to open downloaded files. These permissions can be taken away as needed, along with viewing and printing abilities. You can also enable watermarking if desired. And rest assured that CapLinked’s servers are SSAE 18 and ISO 27001 certified; the platform is also HIPAA and SOC 2 compliant.

3. Stampli

Stampli is an accounts payable automation solution. This platform connects to the accounting system your company already uses. Stampli can read invoices as they come in and learn how to code and send them through for approval. With built-in AI, this tool automatically detects duplicates, makes calculations, and provides purchase order support.

Communication about invoices happens right in the application. If there are questions about whether a department received products or services, they can be easily answered. This can help make the approval process more efficient and accurate.

Security, auditing, and payments are controllable from within the dashboard. You can set permissions for employee access to invoices and information. Payments can go out through your existing process, or you can use Stampli Direct Pay. All direct-pay transactions are done via the Automated Clearing House, or ACH, making reconciliation time, less of a headache.

4. Paycom

Paycom is a SaaS human resources solution that can manage workflows related to attracting new employees, developing existing ones, running payroll, and delivering benefits. The talent acquisition piece automates online job postings, candidate tracking, and onboarding for new hires. Your HR team won’t have to re-enter successful candidate data for background checks, tax credits, or I-9 verifications.

Performance reviews, goals, and expectations for current team members fall under Paycom’s talent management dashboard. Supervisors can work with HR to determine skills and requirements for positions, in addition to salaries. If desired, employees can complete 360-degree reviews for peers and self-evaluations.

The payroll function integrates regular paychecks, expense report reimbursements, and garnishments. Any changes to federal and local state payroll tax laws will be reflected in the software. Accounting reports for general ledger purposes can be customized and automated.

Paycom lets your team members see their elected benefits and how making changes to insurance plans would impact their deductions. They can change their insurance coverage from the application and ask any questions they might have.

5. Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management platform. It has individualized solutions for industries that deal with B2B clients, such as telecom, financial services, and manufacturing. Up-and-coming businesses can choose Salesforce’s small business solutions to help manage growth. Sales, marketing, service, tech, and e-commerce teams can work together to nurture leads and clients.

Each function’s team is able to see the same data about your company’s customers. When customer service reports repeat problems with a client’s experience, account executives will know not to push more products for now. Salesforce has various apps to coincide with the buyer’s journey, from initial interest to repeat business. All departments can analyze identical trends to identify strengths and opportunities to retain and increase market share.

For your staff, Salesforce offers Einstein AI. This is a built-in tool that takes care of repetitive tasks so your team can concentrate on the meaningful parts of their jobs. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, they can communicate and collaborate effectively with each other. Customer records, reports, plans, and discussions can all be found in one location.

6. KnowBe4

CompTIA reports that phishing scams contribute to 80% of security incidents in organizations. As hackers develop more sophisticated emails and texts, employees can be tricked into giving away confidential information.

KnowBe4 trains your staff to recognize phishing, domain spoofs, and social engineering exploits. The application can identify weak passwords, twin domains, and whether your current network security measures can block ransomware attacks.

These capabilities can pinpoint weaknesses in your company’s security and employees’ knowledge. KnowBe4 can scale according to how many employees you have. Or if your company handles network security for others, you can use the channel partnership package.

As an automated training solution, KnowBe4 increases your team’s awareness of attackers’ methods. Employees learn through simulated attacks, and you get to see the results so you can track the training’s effectiveness. Over time, your organization becomes more secure by teaching staff what to do with suspicious emails or links.

Conclusion

Your B2B company needs these software solutions in its tech stack

Hosting application after application on local servers is no longer practical. It’s too easy to run out of space and go over budget.

While your staff can access the same data using old-school methods, why risk miscommunication?

Cloud-based software solutions solve both problems while ensuring your company has the tools it needs to compete.

Image Credit: rasik; pexels; thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data – ReadWrite

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Nigel Cannings


It is probably obvious to most people that certain personal information should be tightly protected — especially bank details, health records, and passwords. The motivation might be to protect us from criminal activity, embarrassment, or just because it is not anyone else’s business. Users should care about data privacy — and the tech industry should safeguard your data.

It’s essential to understand that ALL personal data is now the fuel of the digital economy.

And that means that there is an entire industry worth billions of dollars devoted to finding everything out about YOU. Your friends. Your shopping habits. Where you live and who you live with. Everything is up for grabs and harnessed for one simple reason.  To make it easier to target you with adverts persuading you to buy things you might not purchase otherwise. 

Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data 

We all know about adverts that follow us around the Internet (a process known as remarketing). Many people have stories about how a conversation with someone about buying something or maybe seeing a movie, somehow led to an advert about it.

They are convinced that their phone is listening to everything they are saying. And, your phone IS listening – but not for the reasons you think. Actually, it’s down to the incredible power of today’s predictive algorithms. They probably know more about what you will want to do or buy next than you do. Based on billions and billions of interactions observed from other people just like you.

Some big life and tech industry questions

The big question is: if you know that your “important” information is protected, does tracking matter? Should you care if your other data is being used to track you? Especially if it results in free or low-priced apps that make your life easier or more pleasurable. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or Uber.

The first issue is simply a very human one. “I’m just not sure that I’m that comfortable with someone having access to everything that I’m doing.” No one reads 1984 and thinks that seems like a wonderful way to live. It just feels wrong.

There are real and practical data issues that need to be addressed.

There is a lot more at play than simply being sold a new appliance. We now know that democracy itself can be manipulated by the very technology that also sells us washing powder.

1960’s Simulamatics Corporation

The idea is not new. It actually goes back to the early 60s and the rise of the Simulamatics Corporation. It came up with the idea of identifying groups of people and computerizing them so that their behavior could be predicted.

The computer power and availability of data was a fraction of that available today. But the idea was there. And if you believe the Simulmatics Corporation, their data and predictions were enough to forecast and swing elections. (For more information on the dawn of this type of data science, read the fascinating If Then by Jill Lepore.)

Cambridge Analytica

Fast forward to the present day, and we are still feeling the effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Where the process of mining publicly available data, made it possible to push one country to break with its largest trading partner. And another to elect the worst or best President it has ever had.   

One wryly amusing side story from the Brexit campaign is that contrary to popular belief, Cambridge Analytica had no involvement in that campaign at all, according to a three-year probe by the Information Commissioner.

However, they did find that “there are systemic vulnerabilities in our democratic systems” caused by the availability of personal data. That alone should be enough to make us demand that our data is better protected and regulated.

Things are changing. Slowly. And not always in ways where the motives are entirely transparent.

Convenience – not always benevolent

Take two recent examples – Apple vs. Facebook and Google against everyone else.

Apple vs. Facebook 

In its latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 14, Apple has released a new security feature that centers around the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers — Look it up — too good to miss).

Oh, Joy!! This is a unique identifier for every iPhone and iPad, which allows advertisers to track the effectiveness of their advertising. Apple has decided to make this an opt-in feature for users. It supplies a one-time pop-up box that asks users whether they want to be tracked by Facebook or not. Verizon has made it so on their phone system — you can opt-out.

On the face of it, it seems obvious, why would you wouldn’t want to be tracked?

Mark Zuckerberg, not perhaps someone you would normally feel sympathy with, says this change “threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers.”

The reality is that Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and Apple owns iMessage. 

Facebook sees the changes, not as a way to protect consumers, but to cripple Facebook. “Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.” 

Google vs. Everyone Else

Google controls the world’s most popular browser, Chrome, and has announced that it is implanting sweeping changes to “third-party cookies.”

These are the nasties that track you across the internet. When your browser knows that you were recently on Site A, looking at a particular product, it can shove an advert at you to tempt you to buy the same thing. 

The proposal is that these cookies will be replaced with a type of group ID. This identifies you as part of a particular “tribe” of people who Google thinks have similar interests. Google will supposedly stop third-party cookies — SOMETIME NEXT YEAR — 2022. They will already have all they need in their data storage by then.

We only have to wait another year for the implementation by Google

It sounds fantastic because third-party tracking is considered to be one of the most intrusive aspects of web browsing. Why? Because it sprays your data around the internet in an unregulated manner, leaking privacy with every new site you visit.

So — after another year — the change will dramatically limit the ability of almost every company on the internet to target specific ads at you. Because they will no longer be able to rely on collecting data second-hand through third-party cookies.  

Best for Google

Except for Google. Who is one of the largest collectors of *first* party data on the internet? Google collects data from your searches through Gmail and Google Maps. If the company’s ability to target you is better, and everyone else’s is worse, surely this means that more money gets spent on Google ads, at the expense of other advertisers?

What both cases show is that it is unlikely big tech companies will act in your best interest when it comes to the management of personal data.

Especially if that personal data is what fuels their bottom line. Is a degree of regulation and perhaps some technology rethinking needed?

Europe has led the way to protect private data — GDPR

Europe has led the way in terms of the regulation of private data, and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is probably the most comprehensive data privacy law ever enacted.

But does GDPR have any real teeth?

It is estimated that $9 billion was spent in preparation for GDPR. For the last calendar year, DLA Piper estimates that fines across the whole of Europe stand at about 114m Euros.

With the enormous focus on data privacy — that fines can be up to 4% of global turnover, it doesn’t seem that GDPR hasn’t quite got into its stride yet.

Data Privacy – Consumer — why you should care. in the

The future of data privacy probably rests in the hands of the consumer. And the willingness of all of us to pay for the services that are subsidized by the money made from our data.

Tim Berners-Lee, famously the inventor of the World Wide Web, has gone on a mission to reclaim personal data with the idea of data “Pods.” These pods put personal data is in the hands of the individual, and are only handed out on a very selective basis. For this to work, we need to rearchitect the internet. And consider how far convenience trumps privacy.  

Think about something as simple as email. Who doesn’t love being able to go on to Gmail and search for email? Or start a new email and have Google suggest whole sentences for you?

All of this connection relies (today) on Google having full access to your data.

What about Alexa? How great to walk into the kitchen, and switch on the radio. But more than 20 times a day, that same Alexa device is activating and sending data to Amazon accidentally: And somewhere in an office block in Romania, someone is listening to it.

To secure our data, we must start to think more about local processing of data. Including searchable encryption and homomorphic data processing. All ways of minimizing data leakage. It can all be done. And we can do much of it right now. 

But it needs someone to pay. For all our talk about how we want our data to stay “ours,” it is our data that is picking up the tab right now.

Image Credit: andres ayrton; pexels; thank you!

Nigel Cannings

CTO at Intelligent Voice

Nigel Cannings is the CTO at Intelligent Voice. He has over 25 years’ experience in both Law and Technology, is the founder of Intelligent Voice Ltd and a pioneer in all things voice. Nigel is also a regular speaker at industry events not limited to NVIDIA, IBM, HPE and AI Financial Summits.

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