Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Instagram - the Newest Frontier in Marketing

Why Instagram Is a Great Marketing Tool

We have all heard of Instagram. It is for sharing photos and it has cool filters, right? Yes, the filters on Instagram certainly make simple snaps look like a million bucks. But, this site is not just about pictures. It is one of the latest and most popular social media platforms, and it became so popular so fast that Instagram photos have made it to the covers of Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Not to mention the fact that social media heavyweight Facebook acquired Instagram for around US$1 billion in cash and stocks.

The cool factor

When Instagram was launched in October 2010 it was almost instantly popular, especially with millennials -- over 40% of the some 300 million active users are aged between 16 and 24. Pictures speak a thousand words, and Instagram pictures look amazing. People like that sort of thing and the numbers continue to grow.

Using the cool factor for marketing

When something achieves this level of popularity and reaches such a massive audience, the next obvious step is to tap it as a marketing resource. Using social media platforms is now the cutting edge of marketing and visual marketing platforms like Instagram are at the front line.

Why it is working:

• Visual marketing is growing. There is a clear shift towards visual marketing, especial in B2C marketing.
• It is easy to stand out in a crowd. Because it is new to the market, Instagram is not yet heaving with marketing material. Those around in the early years of Internet advertising will remember that the first few pop-up advertisements were a novelty before becoming the nuisance they are today.
• Instagram is more human. By using a platform that is in tune with the contemporary millennial audience, you are engaging on a more 'human' level.
• Connectivity is king. Engagement is one of the top buzzwords around. The Instagram infrastructure consists of hashtags, tagging, liking, mentioning and making comments. This promotes ongoing interaction and exactly the kind of engagement companies are craving.
• Instagram is an ideal platform for Influencers. Another buzzword around, an Influencer uses a media platform to gain a following large enough to affect a level of influence on followers. By sharing interesting content and eliciting interaction, trust and influence is established.

It's not just about the numbers; Instagram has the feel-good factor

More companies are using Instagram every day to increase brand awareness and engagement and to grow consumer numbers. But that is not all it is about. Trust wins business and part of creating trust is injecting your market offering with a good dose of comfort and fun. What better tool to use than something with a feel-good factor?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How Data Protection Laws Affect Startups

Data Privacy Laws vs. Advanced Tech for Startups

Two major developments happened in the field of data privacy and technology in Europe the past couple of weeks. The European Union announced their draft data protection legislation and the Moments app from Facebook was banned from Europe. At least until its built-in facial recognition technology includes an opt-in feature. This has made tech enthusiasts and innovators start wondering about the rules governing tech innovation when it comes to data protection.

It has all happened too fast

The rapid pace of technological innovation has left the regulations lacking in many ways. For example, the data protection rules are uniform across the EU, as well as surprisingly ambiguous and flexible. In theory, uniformity should reduce business costs and strengthen privacy and security. In reality, the business climate, cultural expectations and ideas about privacy vastly differ in European countries. This results in each member state interpreting the rules in a different way. There is no consistency and therefore no concrete way of dealing with advanced technology like Facebook's facial recognition tech or the Whatsapp encryption software. Many of the current laws were drawn up when Windows '95 was the latest and greatest, long before social networking and high-speed Internet took off.

Bad news for startups with global ambitions

The very nature of data protection is in dull contrast to the high-speed and vibrant world of global tech. Face it, it is not likely that the two will ever become true friends. If a tech giant like Facebook can get into trouble, imagine what data protection laws can do to smaller startups. Even if the rules are clearly defined and set in judicial stone, it will likely still fall short when it comes to startups hoping to enter the international market. To make matters worse, what is happening in Europe is not isolated. Most of the world is debating the balancing act between privacy and tech development.

What is a startup to do?

Startups that are unleashing bleeding edge tech should get legal help if possible. If this is not possible, the only way to move forward is to be 100% ethical and to tread very carefully. European regulators appreciate transparency so it is usually wise to disclose how customer data is used. This is also a prime opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of the market offering. By building in clear opt-in and opt-outs, the tech is more likely to be treated positively - obviously especially if there is some kind of facial recognition tech in the product.