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How PR practitioners should use social media in Nigeria

business Posted on Thu, May 29, 2014 14:11:25


Some say Facebook is just a place for status and photo updates. Recent
development notes that Facebook has admitted that some teens have started to
use Facebook less. They are saying moms are to blame; of course teens hate to
be in environments where their parents can see what they are up to. Even
employees restrict what their bosses see on their regular posts (that’s why people
now love the disappearing messages of snapchat, an instant messaging platform
which facebook made an offer to buy but was declined).

Instant Messaging is huge on mobile: text SMS, Viber, Whatsapp, kik,
Instagram Direct, Snapchat, Kakao, weChat, etc are very big platforms to keep
people connected. These apps are as sticky as email once was on the desktop.

Although Facebook has over 1 billion users, Whatsapp has 400 million
users; Twitter has 240 million, Snapchat has 30 million users.

In 2014, Facebook will become more news oriented as it battles for
relevance with Twitter. The company also announced that it will launch autoplay
video ads, promising it will reach an audience bigger than prime time TVs, but
won’t that be intrusive?

Facebook wants to be the front-runner in Artificial Intelligence,
speech recognition and machine learning. It wants to use its massive trove of
consumer data to influence intelligent search and response software that can
speak with you the way computers do on Star trek.

These are good ideas from Facebook, it would give its users more
experience with the social media platform. However, this 2014, Public Relations
practitioners should lead the way in terms of using the social media features.
There would be more demand for online PR. Thus, PR practitioners need to
increase their game. They should know that the way PR profession operates in
the online community is a bit different from how advertising is done. Because
advertisers may be looking into how many clicks and comments on their Facebook,
twitter or other social media posts, PR people should build influence and
increase positive talkability for the brand by contracting popular people with
high followership online to talk about the brand being promoted.

What PR people should also consider is how to tap into the new
frontiers of Facebook and other social media platforms. The world has moved to
the information age; and people are always searching for information and the
first place they will go is online because it is already on their hands. PR
experts should be able to tell brand owners the keywords to include on their
websites and social media platforms so that people looking for them can find
them easily.

The budget for PR is also relatively not too much, as compared with
other aspects of the integrated marketing communication. PR gives more of a
two-way communication, that’s why the use of online media favours PR.

The internet allows information to be distributed worldwide at
basically zero marginal cost to the publisher. Opportunities are remarkable;
and many companies are laying plans to create content for the internet. Anyone
with a personal computer and modem can publish whatever content they create. In
this case, the internet is the multimedia equivalent of photocopies.

With content serving the basis of online exploration, storytelling
has become dynamic and even a game changer.

Out of all communication disciplines, PR has always been the place
for content. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. In this
world, long form storytelling outperforms a clever tagline. It’s Public
relations practitioners’ time to deliver on the promise of storytelling.

The PR person thinks of creating content that rewards the reader
with up to date information they can explore at will.

One must consider whether the content resonates with the target
audience; whether the content delivers the ‘frame’ that today’s journalists
need in order to write a story.

The point is that PR can still create storytelling that causes the
large audiences to stop without tapping the heartache of failure. And the
digital dimension means we can measure the work at much greater depth than gross impressions.

Since content is the core of many digital tactics to favour customer
retention, generate leads and increase brand awareness, these are essential
component of any successful digital strategy. Content strategy builds your
brand’s identity in a personable and attractive way to attract millions of
internet users.

A good size of frequent content drives search engine optimization,
which helps businesses rank well on Google, whereas the absence of fresh
content leads to poor rankings and no visibility on search engines or other
platforms.

Paid search advertising (Pay per click ads found on search engine
results pages) is an essential lead generation tool. Display advertising also
generates leads. Search engine optimization, helps direct search engine traffic
to websites, social media marketing: Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+
are good platforms for businesses to incorporate their plans, audio and video
marketing, blogs, webinars, training people over the internet; mobile
marketing, website landing page optimization.



USING NEW MEDIA FOR BRANDING IN NIGERIA

business Posted on Thu, May 29, 2014 13:58:25


Branding
from a business point of view should be designed to differentiate your product
from all other products. Looking at it from the new media point of view, you
have to be unique and adventurous in order for your brand to gain favourable
influence online.

A
lot of people know what new media is but some people still confuse it with
social media. First of all, new media is a generic term for the many different
forms of electronic communication that are made possible through the use of
computer technology. As compared with ‘old’ media forms such as print
newspapers and magazines that are static.
Whereas new media includes websites, chat rooms, email, online
communities, web advertising, DVD and CD ROM media, virtual reality environment,
telephony, digital cameras, streaming audio and video, mobile computing, etc.

However,
social media includes internet or mobile phone based applications and tools to
share information among people. Social media includes popular networking websites
like Facebook, Google plus and Twitter; as well as bookmarking sites like Digg
or Reddit. It involves blogs like Linda Ikeji and forums like Nairaland, with
an interactive presence which allows individuals’ ability to engage in
conversations with one another, often as a discussion over a particular blog,
post, news article or event.

In
a recent study by a reputable research company, Nigerians use social media
mostly on their laptops, desktop computers, mobile phones and on tablets.

Also
from the research, many Nigerians access the internet with their Blackberry
phones mostly; thus they make use of the social networking apps embedded on the
phones.

Using
new media for branding entails more than just social media sites. Today, brands
are born; not made. A brand must be capable of generating favourable publicity.
It goes without saying that instant access to information has fundamentally
changed the way we use the media. And the rise of smartphones allied to the
incredible popularity of social media has taken the importance of the internet
to an even higher level.

Some
of the ways you can increase your brand value using new media are: raising your
profile online, one of the websites you can be on is Linkedin, this is
professional social networking site that can open you up to many people from
different parts of the world. This is the place to tell people about your
achievements, both as an individual and as a company; regular and well informed
blogging can help build audience and increase loyalty among the people who are
interested in what you are saying, take decent photos to upload and link your
blog to popular social networking sites in order to build traffic; manage your
reputation online, this leads to success in the business world, so you should
be conscious about what you send on the internet; be up to date with new media
like websites that offer better services, chat rooms, email services, online
communities, web advertising, DVD and CD ROM technology, interactive
television, video conferencing, business applications, etc.

New
media opens up alternative forms of publication and presents opportunities and
challenges for traditional communication. The traditional mass communication
was essentially one-way while the new forms of communication are essentially ‘interactive’.

Thus,
with the emergence of new media, the old media faces the fear of being rendered
obsolete form of mass communication because of its ability to render both mass
communication and personal communication. Although, some professionals say they
will complement each other.

Companies
have to include new media use in their day to day activities and be more
creative in their communications. They have to be in the areas of online news
content creation and activation; influence relations; online intelligence, that
is, listening and analytics through news and community; and online customer
relations management. Today, we have moved from the TV industry to the digital
online industry. This has injected massive growth into all creative industries.
Companies should equip their staff to be in tune with modern technologies. In
fact, what digital content managers say is that one does not have to be a tech
guru to use the internet.

The
persistent parade of new media is unfolding on many fronts. Almost every advancement
in media is billed as a breakthrough, and ends up in the list of “next big
things” for communications. Although not every emerging technology will alter
the business or social landscape—but some truly do have the potential to alter
the way people live and work, and rearrange value pools.



What the Future Holds for Public Relations Industry, Nigeria as a case

business Posted on Thu, May 29, 2014 13:53:57


Agencies of the
future need to understand how businesses are changing and new demands for
public relations. As a young man, I knew I had to do communications to
influence people. I had dreams about agencies and corporate affairs departments
and these dreams came to reality. I have started living the flamboyant life of
the people in PR; and I also got into the nitty-gritty of the profession. I
also found out that the annual billing in the profession is shrinking.

I would like to
share some of my observations of how this has come about and the future of PR
industry. With the way PR is practised, if care is not taken, it can become
morbid. I used to have a lecturer that said PR has gone morbid. But my thoughts
and with present realities on ground, I would say it is very much alive, but
some things need to be put in place.

Structures need
to be developed to allow specialists to thrive. According to a recent survey of
top PR employers in the UK, findings show that the candidates with
certifications in PR were less attractive to employ. Bringing this to Nigeria,
how many agencies or corporate affairs departments make it mandatory for their
staff to be Nigerian Institute of Public Relations certified? Not many.

The PR industry
has been prone to poaching. As soon as new talents are discovered, you find
people from banks, fast moving consumer goods and telecommunications industry
taking away bright talents. Today, many of the marketing functions established
in telecoms, FMCGs, and banks are manned by people who have left PR agencies.
So there is huge challenge of constantly discovering new talents. Thus, if
proper structures are put in place, PR can blossom.

Agencies need to
also invest in skilled practitioners and even train students on long term basis
so they will be well equipped to practice the profession. PR schools can be set
up within various agencies to give people first-hand experience. Even if there
are schools in Nigeria, how many are there?

Today, many
companies are setting up in-house departments in order to cut expenses they pay
to agencies. Many clients now have creative and production departments; thereby
making it difficult for PR agencies to survive. So if agencies want to be
relevant, they have to add value to what they do and make sure there is return
on investment for the client.

This brings us to
the question more PR professionals shy away from – Are advertising and digital
industries eating the launch of PR and threatening its future? Well, I don’t
think so. But in looking at so many briefs from clients, I found that most
times the advertising budget is usually more than PR’s budget; if you agree
with me? But except in rare cases where the client does not have much spending
power; they tend to use wholly PR. PR people thus need to know to handle the
competition with digital and advertising. They have to know how to use digital
advertising in their PR strategies.

PR people need to
start celebrating themselves. How many awards for PR do we have in this
country? Not many. We have to celebrate our ideas, especially the ones that are
conceptualized originally by the Nigerian agency. So, if PR is to truly
compete, the PR ideas need to be showcased and celebrated. Sometimes briefs
from clients would show the advertising campaign done in other countries and
they tell the Nigerian PR agency to do media relations from the advertising
idea. By this, PR is giving so called competitors a PR platform to show their
creative brilliance. Although brilliant creative ideas can come from anywhere
and it is what you do with that idea within your discipline that makes the
award winning difference.

Here, an
integrated PR campaign is advised. With this, there will be brilliant sales for
the client and brilliant creativity. The PR industry must embrace change and
learn how to work for clients. In 2011, the total billings of the top 15 UK PR
and AD agencies: £540 million versus £3billion. Also, Stephan Loerke, Managing
Director of World Federation of Advertisers noted that world advertising spend
in 2010 was $700 billion. The figures have been rising between 3 per cent and
10 per cent in the last 10 years. Nigeria, according Media Facts, a journal
from Media Reach OMD put advertising spend at N102.75 billion Naira in 2010.
The advertising and creative industries are not going anywhere – advertising is
also not dead but very alive.

Agencies have to
include digital and be more creative in their deliverables. Where PR needs to
be is in the digital space. They have to be in the areas of social news content
creation and activation; influence relations; social intelligence, that is,
listening and analytics through news and community; and social customer
relations management. Today, we have moved from the TV industry to the digital
and social industry. This has injected massive growth into all creative
industries. PR people should further equip themselves and be in tune with
modern technologies. In fact, what digital content managers say is that one
does not have to be a professional PR person to use the internet. So, we as PR
practitioners have an obligation to put professional touches to our works using
the digital space.

The persistent
parade of new technologies is unfolding on many fronts. Almost every technology
advance is billed as a breakthrough, and ends up in the list of “next big
things” for communications. Not every emerging technology will alter the
business or social landscape—but some truly do have the potential to alter the
way people live and work, and rearrange value pools. PR professionals thus need
to use technologies to their advantage.

If I may ask, is
there vision, energy or commitment to tackle what these mentioned effects mean
for the industry? Collaboration is therefore needed to create more detailed
approach with measurable actions and outcomes. The NIPR is going to elect
another chairman and I hope they will elect the one that has vision, energy and
commitment to challenge the huddles ahead for the industry.



Seven Ways To Identify And Engage Brand Advocates

business Posted on Fri, February 21, 2014 13:55:52

By Tracy Foster, founder, ONA.


For startups and small businesses, when it comes to allocating marketing dollars, value is the most important word. We all seek to gain maximum value and exposure with limited budgets. Cultivating brand advocates who are excited to share their experience with you can be a low-cost, high-return marketing strategy.


Essentially, a brand advocate is someone who enjoys your product or service so much that they’re eager to tell others about it — whether that’s via social media or in real life, on their blog or in a publication. Brand advocates can be online influencers with millions of social media followers, or people who are active or well-respected in their industry. Here are seven ways to turn a regular customer or industry influencer into an active, engaged advocate for your brand:


Befriend industry influencers. Thanks to the conversational nature of social media and the explosion of blogs in every niche and industry, marketing is now a two-way street that can benefit both sides. Reach out to people who would benefit from your product or service: introduce yourself, see about treating them to a coffee (if you live in the same city) and try to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Trade product instead of advertising. Advertising is expensive, especially when it comes to print publications or high-traffic blogs. See if the writer or blogger would be interested in reviewing your product or potentially giving one away: the cost of the product (or even two!) is often much cheaper than direct advertising and it encourages a much higher level of engagement. Popular BPOP -0.6% blogs are often open to creating a hybrid of traditional sidebar advertising and reviewing a product; try to couple product reviews with advertisements on the same site for maximum exposure.

Send snail mail. No matter how much of our lives are lived online, people still love to receive mail other than bills. If you have access to a key influencer’s address, buy some pretty stamps and a nice set of stationery and send them a note about how much you appreciate what they’ve done for your brand. The thrill of receiving a tweet from a brand wears off quickly, but a thoughtfully handwritten note is likely to be remembered.

Send an email. If you find that there are people who are regularly interacting with your brand on social media and always have something great to say, move the relationship beyond that platform. If you aren’t able to send a handwritten note, sending a quick email to let them know how much you appreciate their support will go a long way in building the relationship.

Give them a discount. Even if you can’t justify sending a free product to an influencer (perhaps their social media reach isn’t large enough or they aren’t in quite the right niche) consider offering a modest discount.

Feature them on your blog. A regularly updated blog can be a fantastic way to not only share company news but also establish a brand personality, connect with industry influencers, and highlight emerging talents in your industry. At ONA, we realized that our customers were constantly creating great original content for us through photos they shared on Instagram, Facebook or their personal blogs. We moved beyond highlighting emerging photographers in our Photographer Profile series and started featuring ONA users from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., professional photographers, bloggers, photo enthusiasts, etc.) in different ways. People now regularly contact ONA for a chance to be featured on the blog. Not only does this associate ONA with incredible talent, it also shows potential customers how existing customers are using the product.

Treat them to a coffee. One of the best ways to build long-term relationships is to get to know influencers beyond their blogs, publications or Instagram feeds. We regularly reach out to photographers and bloggers about meeting up over a coffee or a drink. Those conversations (that aren’t just brand-focused) often lead to creative collaborations. Keep an eye on Twitter and relevant blogs to know when out-of-town influencers will be coming through your city — and make plans!

Brand advocates can create some of the best value for a small business or emerging brand. The word-of-mouth marketing that results from their kind words can exponentially increase your company’s profile and positive associations. Keep them engaged as you grow and you’ll likely catch more brand advocates’ and influencers’ attention along the way.


Tracy Foster is the founder of ONA (pronounced ō’na), an emerging company that designs and sells fine camera bags and accessories for photographers. Tracy launched ONA in June 2010.


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.



Is Connectivity A Human Right?

business Posted on Wed, August 21, 2013 11:34:41

For almost ten years, Facebook has been on a mission to make
the world more open and connected. For us, that means the entire world — not just
the richest, most developed countries. We’ve made good progress, and today we connect
more than 1.15 billion people through Facebook each month.

But as we started thinking about connecting the next 5
billion people, we realized something important: the vast majority of people in the world don’t
have any access to the internet.

Below, I’ll discuss the state of the internet today, why
connectivity is such an important problem for the world, the major issues we’ll need to solve
— technical, social and economic — and then I’ll outline a rough plan to accomplish this
goal.

I’m focused on this because I believe it is one of the
greatest challenges of our generation. The unfair economic reality is that those already on Facebook
have way more money than the rest of the world combined, so it may not actually be profitable
for us to serve the next few billion people for a very long time, if ever. But we believe
everyone deserves to be connected.

The state of the internet

Today, only 2.7 billion people — a little more than one
third of the world’s population — have internet access. Even more surprising, internet adoption is
growing by less than 9% each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its
development and that it is expected to slow further.There are more than 5 billion mobile phones in the
world, with almost 4 billion feature phones and more than 1 billion smartphones. As smartphone prices
come down, many people who currently have feature phones will be able to afford smartphones
over the next 5 years.

It’s easy to assume that when people get smartphones they’ll
also have data access. It’s hard to even think of what it means to have a smartphone without
data. But it’s not a given. Even though projections show most people may soon have
smartphones, the majority of them still won’t have data access.

This is because, in many countries, the cost of a data plan
is vastly more expensive than the price of a smartphone. In the US, for example, an iPhone
with a typical two-year data plan costs about $2,000, where about $500–600 of that is the phone and
~$1,500 is the data.

In turn, the vast majority of the prices people pay for data
plans go directly towards covering the tens of billions of dollars spent each year building the
global infrastructure to deliver the internet. Unless this becomes more efficient, the industry
cannot sustainably serve everyone.

There is no guarantee that most people will ever have access
to the internet. It isn’t going to happen by itself. But I believe connectivity is a human
right, and that if we work together we can make it a reality.

Why is this so important?

The internet not only connects us to our friends, families
and communities, but it is also the foundation of the global knowledge economy.

Before the internet and the knowledge economy, our economy
was primarily industrial and resource-based. Many dynamics of resource-based economies
are zero sum. For example, if you own an oil field, then I can’t also own that same oil
field. This incentivizes those with resources to hoard rather than share them. But a knowledge
economy is different and encourages worldwide prosperity. It’s not zero sum. If you
know something, that doesn’t stop me from knowing it too. In fact, the more things we all
know, the better ideas, products and services we can all offer and the better all of our lives
will be.

In a detailed analysis, McKinsey has shown that the internet
now accounts for a larger percent of GDP in many developed countries than agriculture and
energy. It has also accounted for 21% of GDP growth in developed countries in the past five years,
increasing rapidly from just 10% over the past 15 years. About 75% of the gains are
experienced by companies outside of the technology industry. And the internet creates jobs, with 2.6
new jobs being created for every

job lost to gained efficiencies.The world economy is going
through a massive transition right now. The knowledge economy is the future. By bringing everyone online, we’ll not only
improve billions of lives, but we’ll also improve our own as we benefit from the ideas and productivity
they contribute to the world.

Giving everyone the opportunity to connect is the foundation
for enabling the knowledge economy. It is not the only thing we need to do, but it’s a
fundamental and necessary step.

Obstacles on the path to connecting everyone Since the internet is so fundamental, we believe everyone
should have access and we’re

investing a significant amount of our energy and resources
into making this happen. Facebook has already invested more than $1 billion to connect people
in the developing world over the past few years, and we plan to do more.

Working with our partners, we’ve put together a rough vision
for what we believe is possible and a rough plan to work together as an industry to get
there. I say “rough plan” because, like most long term technology projects, we expect the
details to evolve. It may be possible to achieve more than we lay out here, but it may also be
more challenging than we predict.

The specific technical work will evolve as people contribute
better ideas, and we welcome all feedback on how to improve this.

Of course, there are several major practical problems to
overcome before it is possible to discuss a plan.

SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute, Internet Matters: The
Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity, May 2011First, most
people in the world don’t have much disposable income to spend on data access.

Any plan to make internet access broadly available will
require making significant technology and business model improvements that enable some access to
be either very cheap or free for people who can’t otherwise afford it.

Second, the global infrastructure required to deliver the
internet is extremely expensive and costs tens of billions of dollars every year. This includes
the cost of land and electricity to power cell sites, backhaul transport to carry data,
licensing spectrum and all the underlying equipment. All of the companies involved need to make a
profit to continue building out these networks, so it’s important to decrease these costs to pass
along savings.

Third, even when they can afford it, many people who have
never experienced the internet don’t know what a data plan is or why they’d want one.
However, most people have heard of services like Facebook and messaging and they want access to
them. If we can provide people with access to these services, then they’ll discover other
content they want and begin to use and understand the broader internet.

Fourth, a lot of people don’t have phones. Many are either
very young or old, but many just cannot afford one. Over time we ’ll need to connect them too,
but for now we don’t yet have a plan for delivering internet to people who don’t have
phones or computers, so we’re not covering that here.

Defining the vision

We believe it’s possible to sustainably provide free access
to basic internet services in a way that enables everyone with a phone to get on the internet
and join the knowledge economy while also enabling the industry to continue growing profits
and building out this infrastructure.

Today, the global cost of delivering data is on the order of
100 times too expensive for this to be economically feasible yet. The cost of subsidizing even
basic services for free would exceed many people’s monthly income and it would be extremely
difficult for the industry to build a profitable model.

However, with an organized effort, we think it is reasonable
to expect the overall efficiency of delivering data to increase by 100x in the next 5–10 years.
This will come from two types of innovation: bringing down the underlying costs of delivering
data, and using less data by building more efficient apps. If the industry can achieve a
10x improvement in each of these

areas, which we believe is possible, then it becomes
economically reasonable to offer free basic services to those who cannot afford them and start to
sustainably deliver on the promise of connectivity as a human right.

A key constraint here is to define which basic internet
services should have free data, and which require a data plan. If we get this right, then it will be
possible to enable the most people to get on the internet while also sustainably generating the most
profits for the industry.There are a few factors that go into our definition of
basic internet services:

Basic services need to be non-data-intensive, which means
primarily text-based services and very simple apps like weather. Data-intensive experiences
like video, streaming music, high resolution photos, websites with media and large files or app
downloads consume the vast majority of all data. For perspective, all of the text in
this document is less than 0.1MB and a 30 second video can easily be 50–100MB.

Basic services also need to be tools that people use to
discover other content. These services should have the property that by making data for them free,
people will discover more new content and use meaningfully more data than they would have
if they didn’t have access to

these basic services.

Services like messaging, social networks, search engines and
Wikipedia fit this definition well, but we’re not prescribing any specific set of basic internet
services. Instead, we believe that the more efficient we can make this model, the more access the
industry can collectively provide to basic services. And even beyond basic services, all of
the technology improvements and efficiencies will make it easier for everyone to access all
internet services.

The rough plan focuses on three important levers:

Ł Making internet access affordable by making it more efficient

to deliver data.

Ł Using less data by improving the efficiency of the apps

and experiences we use.

Ł Helping businesses drive internet access by developing a
new

model to get people online.Making internet access affordable

Every year, mobile operators around the world invest tens of
billions of dollars building out networks that deliver better data access. The pricing
plans people ultimately see are dictated by these underlying costs. It isn’t sustainable to
reduce the price of data plans and therefore operators’ revenues without meaningfully improving
their costs and the efficiency of the networks. However, if the industry can collectively make
progress here, then it is possible for operators to build even more profitable models while
offering data at significantly lower costs per megabyte.

Network extension technology

The technology that some of our partners have developed to
amplify data signal from inside buildings is a good example of the type of improvement that
will help us achieve an order of magnitude improvement. Today, for example, when an operator
broadcasts a signal, it loses fidelity as it penetrates building walls. This not only
requires operators to build out much more infrastructure in greater proximity than should be
necessary, but it also means that data needs to be retransmitted when the signal breaks down, and the
overall infrastructure is taxed by sending the same data multiple times.

A few big improvements like this could increase the capacity
of our networks by 10x over the next5–10 years while keeping costs relatively constant. This
would of course cause the cost per megabyte to decrease dramatically.

Open Compute Project

At Facebook, we typically take an open approach to solving
these problems. For our own infrastructure, we helped create the Open Compute Project to
share efficient and cost effective server and data center designs. This has been good
for the industry overall and good for us as well. As other organizations provide new
ideas and improvements, our infrastructure gets more efficient. And as other companies
order the same designs that we do from manufacturers, the scale of producing the machines
increases and the price will come down for everyone.

Some of the latest work from the Open Compute Project is
important to making global internet access affordable. In addition to servers and data
centers, there is now a project to create an open network switch design for internet data
centers. Anything that makes networks more efficient will ultimately increase the efficiency of
delivering data and bring down costs for people worldwide.

There is even a project to create an open reference design
for an extremely low priced, high quality smartphone. If this succeeds, it will reduce the
overall cost for a person to have a smartphone with data, and since they come out of the same
budget, it goes toward the same goal.Edge caching

It is also possible to build technology that caches data
inside an operator’s data center and makes it faster and cheaper for the operator to serve
that data. A big part of Akamai’s business is to deliver this as a service to companies, but
large scale companies like Facebook also build this capacity for their own networks. We are
looking into how to do this in a scalable way for other non-data-intensive basic internet services as
well to meaningfully improve data performance and efficiency.

White space spectrum

Licensing spectrum from governments worldwide costs tens of
billions of dollars and these costs are passed along to consumers through data plans.
These costs are high because spectrum is naturally limited and operators bid a lot to
ensure they have access. However, not all usable spectrum is actually used, and much of it is used
inefficiently.

If it were allocated more efficiently then these costs could
meaningfully come down.

Specifically, there is a policy movement to reallocate
spectrum that has been used as a buffer around TV broadcasting. This is a good example of the
industry working together with governments to make these networks more efficient.

Overall, our plan is to work across the industry on many
projects that could each deliver a large network efficiency gain. It seems reasonable to expect that
some of these will work and that we will increase the capacity of our networks by at least 10x
over the next 5-10 years while keeping costs relatively constant. If we do this, then we will have
succeeded at bringing the cost per megabyte down by an order of magnitude. This, by itself,
will go a long way to making internet access available to all.

Using less data

One often overlooked lever for reducing people’s overall
data costs is simply using less data.

Part of why we overlook this is because most people building
large scale internet services live in developed countries where we pay for effectively unlimited
data plans. When you have an unlimited data plan, there isn’t much of an incentive to use
less data. But most of the world doesn’t work this way.

Most of the world doesn’t even have credit card
infrastructure, so even if many operators wanted to bill their customers for their data use at the end
of a month, they would have no way to do that. Instead, in most developing countries,
people primarily use a pre-paid model, buy a certain amount of data access on their SIM cards
upfront and then use that data over time. When your SIM card runs out, you either have to pay to
refill it or you no longer have data access.This creates a data conscious mentality that we
often don’t see in developed countries, but it will be important to internalize this to efficiently deliver
services to the next 5 billion people.

At Facebook, we’re investing heavily in opportunities to
reduce our overall data use and help other apps reduce their data use as well. Some of the areas
we’re focused on are caching, data compression and simple efficiency optimizations.

Caching technology

One of our most successful products in developing countries
has been Facebook for Every Phone. This is our version of Facebook for feature phones,
and it has more than 100 million people using it each month and growing, despite the fact
that every month 20% of the people using it leave it to get a smartphone and use one of our
smartphone apps instead.

People with feature phones are very cost conscious, so one
of the most important things we’ve done has been to make this experience use as little data as
possible by caching data efficiently so we can be very careful about which data we ever have to
request from our servers. And when we do make requests, we make sure they’re very efficient
as well.

The technology behind Facebook for Every Phone is generally
applicable, and we’re looking at ways to make this available so other apps can be as data
efficient as well.

Data compression

Compression is another big lever for reducing overall data
use. The main reasons many app developers don’t compress the data they serve is that doing
so requires some effort to build, makes code marginally harder to debug and has a small
negative impact on performance.

However, in data conscious developing countries, this is a
large opportunity.

Modern text compression frequently yields results of 70–80%
— or almost 5x savings — and in some cases even more. Implementing compression in
large scale apps or developing services that you route all your data through and compress
everything would yield large data use savings.

Efficiency optimization

Another, less elegant but necessary tactic is just focusing
on making the most frequently used apps consume less data in the first place. Since most
developers of large scale services are based in developed countries where data usage is a less
important aspect of performance than, say, speed or server efficiency, we’ve found that many
frequently used apps have had little or no data usage optimization.

For example, at the beginning of this year, our Facebook for
Android app used about 12MB per day on average. This is a lot, but it’s not completely
unreasonable given the number of photos in the typical experience. By simply focusing on improving
data usage, we expect to be able to reduce this to about 1MB per day. If we
offer a special variant with fewer photos in developed countries, we will be able to reduce it even further. But
even without that, we expect to be able to reduce our data usage by more than 10x through this effort
alone.

Future approaches

There are also more speculative approaches we’re
investigating, including enabling people to download some News Feed stories and photos from their
friends’ nearby phones over Wifi Direct and other local network technologies. This will not
eliminate the need for mobile data, but it can further reduce the associated costs here, as well
as enable people to load content when they have spotty connections.

Overall, it seems reasonable to expect that over the next
few years we can deliver many of the same basic services using at least 10x less data than
we’re using today. If we can do this, then these services will become at least 10x cheaper for
people buying pre-paid data plans in developing countries. Again, doing this by itself will go a
long way towards making internet access affordable and available to all.

Helping businesses drive access

In addition to all the technology improvements that are
necessary to make internet access available to everyone, there are also social and cultural
issues that are necessary to overcome.

If you’ve grown up in an area where you’ve never had a
computer or access to the internet, then if someone asks you if you want a data plan, chances
are you wouldn’t know what they’re talking about. The internet and data are abstract concepts.
Most people don’t want data; they want the services you can use it for.

However, if you ask the same person if they want Facebook
access, they’re more likely to say yes. Besides communicating through phone calls and text
messages, which you can already do with any phone, connecting with the people around you
through a social network is a basic human behavior. It’s not a surprise that people intuitively
want this even if they don’t understand what data is.

The question is: can we align everyone’s incentives? Can
more people get the services they want and then discover new uses for the internet, so that
phone makers can get better phones into people’s hands and mobile operators can get more
customers and more profits to further invest in building out infrastructure?

Zero-rating data

We think this model exists. We’ve already seen results where
attaching free data for Facebook — what we’ve historically called zero-rating — increases
both phone sales profits and data plan profits.From there, it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to also
offer a broader set of basic internet services as well once the industry achieves the kinds of
cost efficiencies described above. Most people in developing countries probably consume more data
using Facebook than from all other non-data-intensive services combined.

Credit and identity infrastructure

Over time, we may be able to help improve some of the social
infrastructure that is still nascent in many developing countries. The lack of credit
infrastructure prevents operators from offering post-paid models that could enable them to make
longer term investments in their customers. And while operators know some
information about their customers, the pre-paid model prevents them from knowing who their
customers are. Giving people the ability to link their Facebook or other accounts with operators
could help solve these problems and make it easier to provide better service.

Incentive alignment

This is good for people because they’ll have an affordable
way and a reason to connect to the internet and join the global knowledge economy.

This is good for mobile operators because they’ll have more
customers who want to buy more data, which will increase their profits and help them invest
in building out the networks.

This is good for phone manufacturers and technology
providers because more people will want better devices, which will push the industry forward.

This is good for internet services because the efficiencies
we’ll all drive will make it easier and cheaper for the next 5 billion people to access their
services.

This is good for the world because everyone will benefit from
the increased knowledge, experience and progress we make from having everyone
connected to the internet.

Conclusion

I hope this rough plan can serve as a blueprint for some of
what we’ll all need to do to connect the next 5 billion people.

We are excited to hear your feedback and ideas. We know this
plan will evolve, but we are deeply committed to finding a path to connect everyone in the
world.

I think that connecting the world will be one of the most
important things we all do in our lifetimes, and I’m thankful every day to have the
opportunity to work with all of you to make this a reality.



Making Small Business a Cause

business Posted on Fri, May 10, 2013 09:59:48

Making Small Business a Cause

Carlene O’Garro’s cake business was barely a month
old when she arrived at the Samuel Adams brewery in South Boston recently to
meet with business counselors, but she brought with her an agenda that hinted
at outsize ambitions.

Ms. O’Garro bakes nondairy cheesecakes that she was
selling at a handful of grocery stores, including two Whole Foods outlets, in
the Boston area. She hoped to learn how to expand the business and distribute
the cakes nationally. “I know Jim is all over the place,” she said, “and I want
to be like that.”

Jim is Jim Koch, the founder of theBoston Beer Company and
one of 36 advisers who spent an evening last August “speed coaching” fledgling
food, beverage and hospitality businesses. In 20-minute sessions, some 95
bakers, brewers and restaurant owners peppered the coaches — Boston Beer
employees and consultants who included lawyers, accountants and small-business
counselors — with questions about both basic day-to-day issues and more
strategic concerns.

Speed coaching is one element of “Brewing the American Dream,” a program Boston
Beer established with a microlender, Accion, to
help small businesses. Mr. Koch, who started brewing Samuel Adams Boston Lager
at his house in 1984, remains central to these efforts even as he presides over
a company with a market capitalization of $1.4 billion and annual revenue of
more than $500 million. He said he had not forgotten his early days, when he
struggled to find capital, get his beer into distribution networks and expand.

In six sessions that August evening, Mr. Koch spoke
with perhaps a dozen entrepreneurs and then stayed another hour to visit with
six or eight more. This year, Boston Beer and Accion are staging 12
speed-coaching events in 11 cities, and Mr. Koch expects to attend about half
of them.

Big businesses reaching out to help smaller
businesses has come into vogue since the recession. In 2009, Goldman Sachs
introduced its 10,000 Small
Businesses campaign
. Starbucks raises money from customer donations
to finance small-business loans. American Express encourages consumers to shop
locally on “Small Business
Saturday
” after Thanksgiving. The New York Stock Exchange links
small vendors with large corporations and finances loans through Accion. And
several corporations have run contests — Wal-Mart, Chase Bank and Staples have
furnished winning small companies with opportunities for retail distribution,
capital and office equipment.

It is the latest example of what is known in
corporate circles as cause marketing — hitching a brand to a social issue. “How
you improve the American economy and create jobs is on everybody’s minds these
days,” said David Hessekiel, founder and president of Cause Marketing
Forum
. “Companies know that it’s on the minds of their consumers,
and they want to be seen as part of the solution, not as the enemy.”

That has been a particular concern for chains like
Wal-Mart and Starbucks, given their longstanding reputations for forcing local
competitors to close. Helping small businesses, Mr. Hessekiel said, “helps them
deal with an old issue.”

But some critics of the big chains dismiss their
chivalry as mostly cosmetic.

“The public relations value of being associated
with small business is quite high,” said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at
the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit
based in Minneapolis and Washington that promotes strong local economies.
“You’ve got companies that have very aggressive expansion strategies — they’re
really squeezing out opportunities for small businesses. These programs do very
little compared to the larger shifts in market share that these companies are
driving. They’re drops in the bucket.”

For its part, the Boston Beer program actually
predates the recent economic crisis. The seeds of the idea, Mr. Koch said, came
to him in 2007 as he walked to his car after he and his employees had
volunteered to paint a nearby community center. “I should have felt really
good, and I didn’t — I felt a little depressed,” he said. “What I realized is,
I’d just taken about $10,000 worth of management time and talent, and turned it
into about $1,000 worth of painting. And it was pretty bad painting, too.”

Mr. Koch retooled his company’s philanthropy to
take advantage of its resources, particularly its employees’ expertise. The
company has committed $1.4 million to finance loans, which are handled by
Accion. The loans are small, typically $5,000 to $7,000, with terms of 18
months to two years and interest rates that vary regionally. (In New England,
the rate is around 13 percent, typical for microloans.)

Perhaps as important as the money is the tutoring
by Mr. Koch and his employees. Most microloan programs provide borrowers with
rudimentary counseling, but Boston Beer is unusually “high touch,” said Shaolee
Sen, vice president for strategy and development at the Accion U.S. Network.

Ms. O’Garro was one of the program’s original
clients — she has had two loans, totaling $4,000 — and though she’s repaid that
debt and though the muffin business it helped finance has been dormant since
2010, she continues to derive benefits from the program with her cheesecake
business, Delectable Desires.
She learned how to price her cakes from an employee in Boston Beer’s finance
department, Mike Cramer, who went to Whole Foods and scoped out the
competition. “He actually made a spreadsheet for me of how much the high-end
and low-end desserts cost,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 15, 2012, on
page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Making
Small Business a Cause.



Facebook acquisition

business Posted on Thu, May 09, 2013 14:21:29

Facebook is considering buying GPS company Waze for $800 million to $1 billion, Israeli daily newspaper Calcalist reports.

The talks are in an advanced stage, Calcalist claims. The two companies started talking started six months ago, due diligence is underway and a term sheet was signed.

Waze, whose turn-by-turn navigation app uses crowdsourcing to gather real-time conditions on the road, has had 44 million users in April 2013.

The two companies are partners; Waze already lets users share their drive with Facebook friends. Buying a social, mobile app with a strong user base makes sense for Facebook; if the acquisition happens it’ll be interesting to see what Facebook’s plans are in the GPS/location space.

Facebook has spent that kind of money on a mobile app before when it acquired Instagram for 1 billion dollars in April 2012. The company also already acquired two Israeli startups: Snaptu in March 2011 for $70 million and Face.com in June 2012 for $60 million.

Image courtesy of Flickr, deneyterrio

http://mashable.com/2013/05/09/facebook-waze-1-billion/



Why aren’t more business leaders online? Richard Branson gets reply

business Posted on Tue, December 25, 2012 15:10:15

Anyone who thinks new technology isn’t going to keep changing the world
has got their head in the sand. We are seeing progress every day online,
and businesses are doing their level best to keep up and get ahead.

However,
when you get to the very top of companies, there is a surprising
lethargy about using the online tools already available: social media.
Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it is a vital way to
communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.

So why are only 16% of CEOs currently participating in social media? IBM’s 2012 Global CEO Study found that most CEOs are clearly not taking social media seriously. Only one of more than 1,700 respondents had their own blog! Some are on LinkedIn, fewer on Twitter and even less on Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere on the web.

The
study indicated that within five years social media will be the number
two way to engage with customers (after face-to-face personal
interaction). That’s a step in the right direction, but why wait five
years? The internet will have changed all over again by then, and
business is in danger of being left behind.

It isn’t just CEOs
that can make the most of social media. Where possible, everyone within a
company should be engaged in what is happening elsewhere within their
business, and in the wider world. Social media is a great way to do
this. Also, it can furnish a spirit of community, not least amongst
global, widespread companies.

Nevertheless, like all other areas
of business, CEOs have the opportunity to set the bar. By ignoring
social networks, they are potentially missing a trick.

There are
lots of business leaders utilising social media, and yours truly is only
too happy to be counted among them. But the beauty of the web is that
there is plenty of room for everyone. Does anybody else want to join the
party? There’s only one rule for entry – no ties allowed!

David Goldsmith – author of Paid to THINK. said “All these comments
are tough to swallow for many reasons including a lack of understanding of
who’s playing the CEO role, how
CEOs operate, the legal constraints of organizations, historical experiences,
etc. This has nothing to do with a fear of. lack of comprehension of, adversity
to, social media. CEOs, at least those that I’ve worked with in Fortune 100 and
500 did not get there because there were fearful, lack motivation, did not
utilize technology, were “old school and stupid,” or for the
countless name callings listed above/below. They achieved their status for a
variety of reasons one of which was they were great thinkers who then executed
well. The challenge for CEOs is that they, like many, are trying to get their
minds around utilizing the technology personally….I’m betting most of their
organizations utilize social media so we can’t place a CEO’s
usage in the same category when they might be promoting social throughout their
organization. They might also have intranets or other tools by which they post
to employees and potentially vendors. They might connect with customers through
a variety of means. Consider, how many leaders have been brought down by the
media or others because what they have said was taken out of context. Social
Media is an anti corporation media’s dream. So let’s get back to reality.
Social Media will most likely never be the big CEO
tool, just like brick and mortar versus was the challenge of yesterday.
Everyone wanted an entity to be one or the other. Same with social. When social
stops being social media and is just another tool in the war chest I believe
you’ll see many CEOs expand their utilization of the tools available. They
won’t call is social media or cloud or web 2.0 they will just connect with
their customers, vendors, members, employees, sponsors, with the tools
available just like the fax, the cell phone, email, text and all the other
tools have become an everyday part of our lives. So too will pieces of the
technology be utilized”



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