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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez calls for ban on US military Twitch recruiting in impassioned floor speech

An amendment proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would ban the US military from recruiting on Twitch failed a House vote Thursday evening. Had it passed, it would have been an amendment to the House Committee on Appropriations bill, which is part of the process in how the Pentagon’s annual budget is set. The…

An amendment proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would ban the US military from recruiting on Twitch failed a House vote Thursday evening. Had it passed, it would have been an amendment to the House Committee on Appropriations bill, which is part of the process in how the Pentagon’s annual budget is set.

The vote is now at 45 yeas to 105 nays. Majority is not in favor of @AOC‘s bill. The US Navy and Army have stated they will continue to stream on Twitch and declined to comment on pending legislation.

— Shannon Liao (@Shannon_Liao) July 30, 2020

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her frustration at trying to win over her colleagues Thursday evening:

Imagine trying to explain to your colleagues who are members of Congress what Twitch is

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 30, 2020

Ocasio-Cortez gave an impassioned speech on the House floor in advance of the vote on Thursday. “Children should not be targeted in general for many marketing purposes in addition to military service,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Right now, currently, children on platforms such as Twitch are bombarded with banner ads linked to recruitment signup forms that can be submitted by children as young as 12 years old. These are not education outreach programs for the military.”

The US military isn’t new to using streaming channels and video gaming to recruit people. Several branches of the military — with the exception of the Marines — have had esports teams since 2018. And according to Military.com, the Army’s esports efforts alone generated 3,500 recruiting leads in fiscal year 2019.

Last week, the Army paused its use of Twitch for recruitment after its channel was criticized for banning viewers who asked about war crimes. The Army told GameSpot: “The team has paused streaming to review internal policies and procedures, as well as all platform-specific policies, to ensure those participating in the space are clear before streaming resumes.”

And earlier this month, Twitch told the Army to stop sharing phony prize giveaways on its channel that promised an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller, only for users to be directed to a recruitment page when they clicked through.

The language of Ocasio-Cortez’s draft would have made that pause permanent, banning US military organizations from using funds to “maintain a presence on Twitch.com or any video game, e-sports, or live-streaming platform.”

Update July 30th, 7:19PM ET: Made changes to reflect that the amendment failed a House vote.

The Focus Fallacy: Why You Should Widen Your Sales Funnel

Principal of Global Sales Mentor and VP of Pharmajet. Zach has sold in 135+ countries over 30 years, building 9 sales teams in the process. Getty There is a story that CEOs like to tell each other about a dinner party in 1991 when Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were each asked what the most important factor…

Principal of Global Sales Mentor and VP of Pharmajet. Zach has sold in 135+ countries over 30 years, building 9 sales teams in the process.

960x0 - The Focus Fallacy: Why You Should Widen Your Sales Funnel
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There is a story that CEOs like to tell each other about a dinner party in 1991 when Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were each asked what the most important factor contributing to their success was, and they each said focus. These two men, and countless other successful CEOs and businesspeople, are ruthlessly focused. It stands to reason, then, that any CEO should consider focus a key element of succeeding in and growing their business. There is, however, a fallacy in this obsession that some CEOs have with focus. As a sales leader, I see this all the time. After interacting with dozens of CEOs over the years, I would say that 90% of my arguments with them have come down to understanding the place of focus in growing a company. Very few CEOs have an extensive background in carrying a sales territory, and they often struggle with the basics of sales and sales management.

I’ve heard that Bill Gates focused for months, nearly every hour of the day, to produce his first product. Then he turned around and focused, every hour of the day, on the next product. Warren Buffett focused on the idea of understanding the investment market and what could influence his investments.

While they were both focused, I am sure that they would be familiar with spreading risk and with the fundamentals of project management. As with many stories and slogans, when a strong statement like “stay focused” winds its way down to the practical level, it can be misunderstood and abused. Very often, CEOs with little sales experience believe that the path to success is to focus on a very small number of prospects or a very small market or niche and put a full-court press on that small target until they see results.

There is a fundamental rule that applies to all sales efforts: Not every sales interaction will result in a purchase order, no matter how good a sales process is, how excellent a product is or even how clear an ROI it has. Sales success is dependent on a balanced funnel and a wide funnel. Just to provide a very simple example, you have a 10-month sales cycle with five stages to the sales process, and you are losing 50% of the prospects over those five stages and 10 months. If you want to produce $1 million, you need to have $2 million enter the funnel. More importantly, if you want to produce $1 million the following year, you need to be feeding new prospects into the funnel over the course of the year, not focusing all of your efforts on one prospect as it makes its way through the funnel.

Of course, those are dumbed-down numbers, and we also aren’t taking into consideration yet that our whole goal is to grow. In reality, a sales funnel will look more like this: “I have an 18-month sales process with 12 stages. The conversion ratio from stage one to stage two is 50%. From stage two to stage three, it’s 75%. From three to four, it’s 10%, etc. I need to produce $5 million next year, but I need to produce $8 million the following year, and I am expected to produce $12 million the year after that. The primary benefits that my customers perceive they’re getting from my product are related to weather, so major changes in weather could impact buyer behavior. I have two solid competitors right now, and I understand the advantages I have over each, but I know that one of them is working on an improved product, and there may be another company entering the market.”

That is usually the level of complexity that a sales leader in a startup faces. To achieve my three-year goals, which will impact our ability to sell the company, start the initial public offering (IPO) process or drive later-stage investment, I need to balance the monthly input into the funnel (new prospects), and I need to manage the customers’ buying journey (all the customers) through the various stages of the funnel. I also need to be careful not to fall into a trap of low customer diversity. As with farming, if all of my customers are too similar, one adverse event could clear out my funnel. In 2012 and 2013, my company’s biggest-producing customers were from oil-based economies. They represented 60% of our international top line. My CEO at the time argued, extensively, that our selling expenses were so much lower in those countries that we should shift all of our focus there and ignore countries that were not extraction economies.

I pushed back, vehemently, with no knowledge of the oil market. I based my stance on the guiding principle of not putting all of one’s eggs in one basket. In 2014, the oil market tanked, and we lost most of the revenue from those markets. If we hadn’t had a strong position in other markets and time to pivot our efforts, we would have been seriously hurt. What we need to understand is that when we all stand together on the bridge and try to guide our company to success, we need to balance the real world with what we read in books and get in school. We can quote the greats all day long, but taking those quotes out of context or not understanding the ramifications of blanket statements won’t help us achieve our goals. We need to balance focus with the understanding of how a sales funnel works and the risks of putting all of our eggs in one basket.


Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?


TikTok is transforming the influencer rulebook — we spoke to the viral video-makers who prefer it to Instagram and are mastering its elusive algorithm

A time-lapse video of Adam Salisbury painting a picture of Captain Tom Moore went viral on TikTok. Adam Salisbury People who struggled to find an audience on platforms like Instagram have found viral success on TikTok, the video app beloved by Gen Z. Many have started to master the short-video app’s elusive algorithm.Now, the most…

5f22a4273f737014d92f0ba5?width=24&format=jpeg&auto=webp - TikTok is transforming the influencer rulebook — we spoke to the viral video-makers who prefer it to Instagram and are mastering its elusive algorithm

svg%3E - TikTok is transforming the influencer rulebook — we spoke to the viral video-makers who prefer it to Instagram and are mastering its elusive algorithm

A time-lapse video of Adam Salisbury painting a picture of Captain Tom Moore went viral on TikTok.

Adam Salisbury


  • People who struggled to find an audience on platforms like Instagram have found viral success on TikTok, the video app beloved by Gen Z. Many have started to master the short-video app’s elusive algorithm.
  • Now, the most popular creators are being snapped up by talent agencies, and businesses are sizing up how they work with influencers to sell to TikTok’s 800 million users.
  • We spoke to the influencers and brands who have found success on the platform about what they’re doing right — and where TikTok could go next.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Adam Salisbury had no clue what his colleague was talking about when she suggested he join TikTok in November 2018. “She was telling me I’d do really well on it, but I was just laughing and asking if it was something to do with clocks,” the artist says.

A month later, Salisbury was TikTok famous. Videos of his painting have more than 9.7 million likes and have earned him more than half a million followers. He has even collaborated with Disney on Mickey Mouse and Frozen murals.

New “TikTokers” like Salisbury can go viral much quicker and bigger there than on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Other users can recirculate videos they like, including to other platforms. Salisbury’s time-lapse video of himself painting Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old veteran who raised tens of millions of pounds for the UK’s health service, had only 13,000 views on Instagram — but more than 300,000 on TikTok. 

“[On Instagram] you have to have a following first and it’s hard to get a following unless you’ve got a lot of money put aside and you’re a big business who can start throwing out sponsored adverts,” Salisbury says. “With TikTok you can literally just upload a video and have a million followers the next day.”

In other words, on TikTok, anyone can go viral. That means it can feel chaotic, and its algorithm remains elusive. It’s making would-be influencers, as well as brands, rethink everything they know about social media, and there are signs that both groups are beginning to adapt. Some users are consistently seeing their videos take off and talent agencies have come calling; businesses are learning to promote their products to millions of people — without having to pay for a single ad.

More than other platforms, TikTok pushes people to discover something new.

When you open Instagram you see pictures and videos from people you’ve already chosen to follow, and have to click to another page to “explore” other users. On TikTok, you open the app to a “For You”  feed which recommends new videos based on your viewing habits. Only then can you click off to see the people you follow. 

TikTok makes it easy for novices to circulate their videos worldwide by getting them promoted on this page. Unlike Instagram, which explains how it ranks users’ content, TikTok keeps its algorithm a closely guarded secret. This hasn’t stopped TikTokers trying to work it out.

“We’ve put some videos out and then deleted them because people don’t like them,” says 42-year-old Jenny Mcloughlin, who became an overnight sensation after starring in her daughters’ hit videos of their dance challenges and Kardashian impressions. “There’s a lot to learn about how TikTok actually works because one can be a hit and one can be a miss — it just depends on the algorithm”.

During “trending hashtag challenges,” users try to reach bigger audiences by mimicking past viral videos. Others repurpose existing soundbites, such as the comedian Sarah Cooper, who got famous in lockdown for her videos mocking Donald Trump’s incoherence.

“When we do the challenges we all have our own opinions and just put our own little twist on it,” Mcloughlin says. “We’ve had quite a lot that’s gone viral … I think it’s because we’re just a family and we’re a bit different.”

While people polish content to perfection before posting it on Instagram, TikTok rewards originality and at least the impression of spontaneity. For now, those rewards are likes and views — but soon, creators will be able to earn money directly from the platform. On July 23, TikTok announced a $200 million “Creator Fund” to help eligible video-makers in the US make money on the app, and it will begin accepting applications in August. It has also launched a similar $300 million European fund.

Read more… How to start making money from TikTok as a ‘nano’ influencer with fewer than 10,000 followers — and how much you can earn (Premium)

Some are already making a living on the app through paid promotions. Talent agencies have snapped up popular TikTok influencers, too. Big & Bright represents Joel M, a magician who has 4.1 million fans on the platform; Bytesized Talent represents Mermaid Grace (1.2 million TikTok fans), a party entertainer who free dives while dressed as a mermaid; and Influentially represents Hussein Yoga, a contortionist (1.3 million fans).

According to Sam Hoffman, who works with brands to develop their TikTok marketing campaigns, any brand or influencer with unique videos is more likely to make it big on TikTok, because it is still new enough for them to be “first to market.” 

As with older social media platforms, the more popular TikTok becomes, the more cluttered it will get, but Hoffman says that “there’s still lots and lots of opportunity to be the first in your category either as a brand or as a person.”

Businesses are getting involved — and they’re doing more than buying ads

Last month, TikTok launched “TikTok For Business”, a dedicated platform for brands wondering how to sell to its 800 million users. Adverts are not the only way for them to make their mark.

Alessandro Bogliari, co-founder and chief executive of The Influencer Marketing Factory, says his agency focuses on working with creators, rather than taking out ads (although ads can still boost viewing figures, he says). The idea is that the brand in questions contracts a few key influencers to make videos promoting a campaign, in the hope that their followers will mimic the videos and go viral.

One example is the agency’s promotion of Shakira and Anuel AA’s song “Me Gusta.” It contracted six TikTok influencers to create videos where they recreated Shakira’s eye makeup. The campaign eventuallly generated 19,100 user videos, 6,900,000 video views, and 1,170,000 likes.

svg%3E - TikTok is transforming the influencer rulebook — we spoke to the viral video-makers who prefer it to Instagram and are mastering its elusive algorithm

A promo campaign for Shakira and Anuel AA’s song “Me Gusta” went viral on the app.

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez


And whether it’s organic campaigns or adverts, Bogliari believes TikTok is still the most cost-effective platform for social media marketing. 

“The organic reach of Instagram … it’s really limited,” he says. “You don’t really get in front of enough people anymore. For the same price you can get millions and millions of people on TikTok.” 

The US government is considering a ban on the video-sharing app because it is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, raising concerns about China’s influence on our digital lives. Will it be around to dominate the marketing landscape for much longer? 

Social media consultant Matt Navarra thinks so. “My suspicion is the US will try and impose some sanctions or put increased pressure on TikTok and ByteDance,” he says. “But a ban seems like another Trump thing that will talk the talk … it probably won’t get that far.”

Navarra thinks the UK will be less gung-ho about banning one of the world’s most popular apps. “There are plenty of other steps they could take in terms of requesting … [TikTok proves] its safety and its trustworthiness,” he says. “That would possibly address some of the concerns without requiring a ban.”

For now, the app looks set to continue to shoot novice video makers and savvy brands to overnight fame, tearing up the influencer rulebook — one viral video at a time.

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The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

Apple is the second-most-attractive US company for computer science students. REUTERS/Mason Trinca Employer-branding company Universum shared its latest annual rankings of the most attractive US employers for college students for 2020.According to their findings, computer science students are hoping to work for tech giants and video game companies. Google remained as the most attractive employer for…

5f1b3ef04dca68296c525ee4?width=24&format=jpeg&auto=webp - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

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Apple is the second-most-attractive US company for computer science students.

REUTERS/Mason Trinca


  • Employer-branding company Universum shared its latest annual rankings of the most attractive US employers for college students for 2020.
  • According to their findings, computer science students are hoping to work for tech giants and video game companies. 
  • Google remained as the most attractive employer for these students, holding the top slot from last year’s ranking
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Computer science students across the US are hoping to land a job at software and gaming companies ranging from Nintendo to Google.

Employer-branding company Universum just published this year’s ranking of the most attractive US employers. Universum surveyed over 43,700 students from a variety of fields and universities about what they want in a future employer. 

One of the questions asked respondents for the five ideal employers that they most wanted to work for. The employer-branding firm then ranked companies and organizations by finding which had the highest shares of students in various majors and fields of study naming them as one of their ideal employers.

Based on the survey results, computer science students are highly interested in Google, Apple, and Microsoft, where each company had over a quarter of computer science students list them as one of their top five employers.

The following are the 30 most attractive employers for students in computer science:

30. Goldman Sachs: 4.0% of computer science students ranked this investment banking company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students



Chris Hondros/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 30

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

29. Activision Blizzard: 4.0% of computer science students ranked this gaming company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

The Activision booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 27

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

28. Valve: 4.3% of computer science students ranked this gaming company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

An E-Sports player competes a video game “Counter-Strike” developed by Valve Corporation during the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) at the “Paris Games Week” on October 28, 2016 in Paris, France.

Chesnot/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 24

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 4

27. Electronic Arts: 4.3% of computer science students ranked this gaming company among their top five ideal employers.

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 34

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 7

26. J.P. Morgan: 4.3% of computer science students ranked this financial company among their top five ideal employers.

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Neil Hall/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 23

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 3

23. Airbnb: 4.5% of computer science students ranked this online property rental company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco.

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 29

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 6

22. Department of Defense: 4.7% of computer science students ranked this government department among their top five ideal employers.

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Kiyoshi Tanno/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 26

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 4

21. Nvidia: 5.3% of computer science students ranked this chipmaker among their top five ideal employers.

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Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, shows the Drive Pegasus robotaxi AI computer at his keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 7, 2018.

Rick Wilking/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 19

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

20. Samsung: 5.4% of computer science students ranked this tech company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

Samsung’s foldable smartphone display.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg


Rank in 2019: 22

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

19. Riot Games: 5.6% of computer science students ranked this gaming company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US employers for computer science students

G2 Esports support Mihael Mehle ”Mikyx” is pictured as he plays the League of Legends (LOL) World Championship Finals in Paris, France, November 10, 2019.

Johanna Geron/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 20

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

18. Sony: 6.1% of computer science students ranked this tech giant among their top five ideal employers.

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A view of the Sony booth during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas.

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 18

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

17. National Security Agency: 6.7% of computer science students ranked the US’ main electronic intelligence agency among their top five ideal employers.

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REUTERS/Larry Downing


Rank in 2019: 15

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

16. NASA: 6.9% of computer science students ranked America’s space agency among their top five ideal employers.

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LUCAS JACKSON/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 14

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

15. Intel: 7.0% of computer science students ranked this tech company among their top five ideal employers.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 16

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

14. Federal Bureau of Investigation: 7.4% of computer science students ranked this government security agency among their top five ideal employers.

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Reuters


Rank in 2019: 17

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 3

13. IBM: 8.4% of computer science students ranked this tech giant among their top five ideal employers.

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Andrei Stanescu/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 11

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

12. Central Intelligence Agency: 9.4% of computer science students ranked this foreign intelligence organization among their top five ideal employers.

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People pose with laptops in front of projection of binary code and CIA emblem in this picture illustration taken in Zenica

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 12

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

11. The Walt Disney Company: 9.9% of computer science students ranked this entertainment company among their top five ideal employers.

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Charles W Luzier/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 13

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

10. Spotify: 10.7% of computer science students ranked this music streaming company among their top five ideal employers.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 8

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 2

9. Nintendo: 10.7% of computer science students ranked this gaming company among their top five ideal employers.

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Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 9

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

8. Netflix: 10.8% of computer science students ranked this video streaming company among their top five ideal employers.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 10

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

7. SpaceX: 12.6% of computer science students ranked this aerospace company among their top five ideal employers.

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Getty Images / Handout


Rank in 2019: 7

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

5. Tesla: 17.2% of computer science students ranked this electric automobile maker among their top five ideal employers.

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A Tesla store in San Jose, California, in 2019.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 6

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

4. Amazon: 23.5% of computer science students ranked this e-commerce giant among their top five ideal employers.

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John Moore/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 4

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

3. Microsoft: 28.5% of computer science students ranked this tech company among their top five ideal employers.

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Charles Platiau/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 2

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 1

2. Apple: 29.9% of computer science students ranked this large tech company among their top five ideal employers.

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Mark Lennihan/AP


Rank in 2019: 3

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

1. Google: 45.9% of computer science students ranked this tech giant among their top five ideal employers.

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Google’s London office.

REUTERS/Hannah McKay


Rank in 2019: 1

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

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The 30 most attractive US companies for business students

Google is the most attractive US company for business students. Alain Jocard/Getty Images Employer-branding company Universum released its annual ranking of the most attractive employers for students. The company asked college students about what companies they most want to work for.Google, Apple, and The Walt Disney Company made the top of the list for business and…

5f05ca293ad861182834c2e3?width=24&format=jpeg&auto=webp - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students

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Google is the most attractive US company for business students.

Alain Jocard/Getty Images


  • Employer-branding company Universum released its annual ranking of the most attractive employers for students. 
  • The company asked college students about what companies they most want to work for.
  • Google, Apple, and The Walt Disney Company made the top of the list for business and commerce students.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

According to a new report, business students are interested in working for top finance and accounting firms, as well as government agencies and media giants.

Employer-branding company Universum just published this year’s ranking of the most attractive US employers. Universum surveyed over 43,700 students from a variety of fields and universities about what they want in a future employer.

One of the questions asked respondents for the five ideal employers that they most wanted to work for. The employer-branding firm then ranked companies and organizations by finding which had the highest shares of students in various majors and fields of study naming them as one of their ideal employers.

For the nearly 14,000 business and commerce students surveyed, Google ranked at the top, as it did last year, with the highest share of students considering the tech giant as one of their ideal employers. Sports-media company ESPN made the ranking for the first time this year. 

The following are the 30 most attractive US employers for students in business and commerce based on the share of students naming them as one of their five ideal employers.

29. Target: 4.1% of business students ranked this retailer among their top five ideal employers.

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David Goldman/AP Images


Rank in 2019: 32

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 3

28. Starbucks: 4.1% of business students ranked this coffee chain among their top five ideal employers.

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A staff serves beverages at a Starbucks coffee shop in Seoul, South Korea, in this March 7, 2016, file photo.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji


Rank in 2019: 29

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

27. Marriott International: 4.1% of business students ranked this hotel chain among their top five ideal employers.

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A cable car passes in front of a Marriott hotel on November 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 38

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 11

26. Delta Air Lines: 4.2% of business students ranked this major airline company among their top five ideal employers.

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AP Photo/Chris O’Meara


Rank in 2019: 34

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 8

25. PricewaterhouseCoopers: 4.3% of business students ranked this professional services firm among their top five ideal employers.

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St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 11

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 14

24. Central Intelligence Agency: 4.4% of business students ranked this foreign intelligence organization among their top five ideal employers.

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A seal inside the CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia.


Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images



Rank in 2019: 26

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

23. SpaceX: 4.5% of business students ranked this aerospace company among their top five ideal employers.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks after unveiling the Dragon V2 spacecraft in Hawthorne, California May 29, 2014.

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni


Rank in 2019: 33

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 10

22. Federal Bureau of Investigation: 4.6% of business students ranked this government security agency among their top five ideal employers.

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Reuters


Rank in 2019: 23

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

21. The United Nations: 4.7% of business students ranked this intergovernmental organization among their top five ideal employers.

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Getty Images/Mario Tama


Rank in 2019: 25

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 4

20. The Coca-Cola Company: 4.7% of business students ranked this beverage maker among their top five ideal employers.

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Scott Olson/Getty


Rank in 2019: 22

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

19. Bank of America: 5.0% of business students ranked this financial giant among their top five ideal employers.

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ablokhin/Getty Images


Rank in 2019: 20

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 1

18. Morgan Stanley: 5.2% of business students ranked this investment bank among their top five ideal employers.

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Reuters


Rank in 2019: 13

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 5

17. Ernst & Young: 5.4% of business students ranked this professional services firm among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students

A woman enters the offices of Ernst & Young in New York.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton


Rank in 2019: 10

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 7

15. Patagonia: 6.1% of business students ranked this outdoor clothing company among their top five ideal employers.

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AP Photo/Rick Bowmer


Rank in 2019: 18

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 3

13. Microsoft: 6.9% of business students ranked this tech giant among their top five ideal employers.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers the keynote address during the Microsoft Build 2016 Developers Conference in San Francisco.

REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach


Rank in 2019: 16

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 3

12. Deloitte: 7.3% of business students ranked this professional services firm among their top five ideal employers.

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Offices of Deloitte are seen in London

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 8

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 4

10. Spotify: 8.9% of business students ranked this music-streaming company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students

A smartphone and a headset are seen in front of a screen projection of Spotify logo.

Reuters


Rank in 2019: 14

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 4

9. Goldman Sachs: 9.7% of business students ranked this investment bank among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Richard Drew/AP


Rank in 2019: 5

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 4

8. Tesla: 10.6% of business students ranked this electric automobile company among their top five ideal employers.

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Elon Musk.

Aly Song/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 12

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 4

7. Netflix: 10.9% of business students ranked this video-streaming company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Shutterstock


Rank in 2019: 9

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

6. J.P. Morgan: 11.5% of business students ranked this banking company among their top five ideal employers.

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Neil Hall/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 2

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 4

4. Amazon: 12.1% of business students ranked this e-commerce company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Elaine Thompson/AP


Rank in 2019: 3

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Down 1

3. The Walt Disney Company: 15.1% of business students ranked this entertainment company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Associated Press


Rank in 2019: 6

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 3

2. Apple: 15.9% of business students ranked this tech company among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Mark Lennihan/AP


Rank in 2019: 4

Change in rank, 2019–2020: Up 2

1. Google: 19.3% of business students ranked this tech giant among their top five ideal employers.

svg%3E - The 30 most attractive US companies for business students



Charles Platiau/Reuters


Rank in 2019: 1

Change in rank, 2019–2020: No change

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A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Users Only two of these men have books! Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images, Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, and Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images. A lot was at stake for the tech CEOs called to testify before Congress on Wednesday. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook…

Users

Only two of these men have books!

- A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images, Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, and Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images.

A lot was at stake for the tech CEOs called to testify before Congress on Wednesday. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook were no less than defending their companies’ right to exist against lawmakers who would just as soon bust and dismantle them for antitrust violations (or, as was the case with about half the room, for purportedly being anti-conservative jerks). But the CEOs also knew that everyone watching, in Congress and at home, would be picking apart not just their every word but their every anything. Nowhere is that more clear than in the sparse home office setups they chose for their teleconference testimony.

Room criticism is a genre that’s bloomed and evolved in the months since the pandemic started keeping many of us indoors. Let no houseplant go unnoticed, no bookshelf un-commented-upon. But the crisis has also heightened the preexisting enmity between the rich and powerful and everyone else. Tech execs, or more likely their comms teams, have gotten hip to this and now know their backdrops shouldn’t appear to be flaunting, or even really hinting at, their vast wealth. A honcho in another industry said as much last month when he told the New York Times that he “issued specific instruction to his executives to be careful about what gets into the Zoom frame: no pool, no ocean, no nanny.”

So when it came time to appear before Congress for this week’s hearing, Bezos, Cook, Pichai, and Zuckerberg were ready. They didn’t want their offices to make them look like hostages, or effect false modesty, but they also didn’t want their offices to look like an Architectural Digest spread or a vacation home. How did they do? A quick ranking, from worst to best:

Tim Cook

- A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Screenshot from YouTube

Cook has shown a bit more of his setup elsewhere, but here he opted for total blankness. This room is actually successful in the sense that it has no personality whatsoever and there’s nothing about it that tells you anything about Cook. But it’s really lacking in the warmth or humanity that might help Cook’s case. Gets a token point for decent lighting and the plants, which are sad-looking but better than nothing. Overall, looks more like a conference room at a hotel or convention center than a room in anyone’s house. But I guess we can’t put it past Cook to have a conference room in his house.

Reveal Factor: 1/5

Aesthetics: 1/5

Chances That’s Really His Primary Residence: 1/5

Overall Ranking: Fourth place, aka last

Mark Zuckerberg

- A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Screenshot from YouTube

This backdrop also reveals very little, but where Cook’s room felt offensively bland, this one just seems plain. The space definitely suggests a room in a home (or a wall outside? What are those panels?), which at least indicates that Zuck’s abiding by pandemic rules like a good citizen. Also, is this at the Hawaii house? He’s been holing up there for at least some of the past few months.

Reveal Factor: 1/5

Aesthetics: 2/5

Chances That’s Really His Primary Residence: 2/5

Overall Ranking: Third place—better than last!

Jeff Bezos

- A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Screenshot from YouTube

Bravo for a bold embrace of a non-neutral background. A bookcase seems like a pleasant backdrop, but it actually comes with a lot of drawbacks: First of all, it reminds you that Jeff Bezos is crushing the book business. But beyond that, you can really read into what’s on it. If you’re close enough to see the book titles, forget it, you can basically psychoanalyze the person in front of it. Unless you really know your book spines, you can’t do that here. However, a shelf with so much room on it does intimate a shelf that is mostly for show, which sounds like the kind of thing only a rich person could have. Yup, Bezos OUTED as a rich guy: disgusting. I’d still rather be stuck in this room than in the first two, though.

Reveal Factor: 3/5

Aesthetics: 3/5

Chances That’s Really His Primary Residence: 2/5

Overall Score: Second place

Sundar Pichai

- A Merciless Ranking of Tech CEOs’ Rooms

Screenshot from YouTube

This is very well appointed, professional but not showy, with wall décor that manages to read as neutral while also being pleasant and distinctive. Sitting at a desk was a nice choice, and this room looks neat but not completely staged. As the writer Nicola Fumo pointed out on Twitter, note that the book’s spines have been turned away from the camera, the better to be unidentifiable to prying eyes: a pro move. Chances that this room is in a house where Pichai actually lives? Could be, though it does look pretty different from the setup seen elsewhere. Still, if I were trying to stop the government from breaking up my company (while working from home because of a pandemic), this is the room I’d choose.

Reveal Factor: 2/5

Aesthetics: 4/5

Chances That’s Really His Primary Residence: 2/5

Overall Score: First place—just like Google’s dominance of the global mobile operating system market


Independent Civil Rights Audit Finds Facebook Is Making Everything Worse

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, 2019, in Washington, DC about how his company will handle false and misleading information by political leaders during the 2020 campaign.Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)As noted in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s post, today is the day the public is supposed to…

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Independent Civil Rights Audit Finds Facebook Is Making Everything Worse

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, 2019, in Washington, DC about how his company will handle false and misleading information by political leaders during the 2020 campaign.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

As noted in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s post, today is the day the public is supposed to find out the results of its independent civil rights audit, a two-year review of Facebook’s “policies and practices led by noted civil liberties and civil rights expert Laura W. Murphy and Megan Cacace, partner in the civil rights law firm Relman Colfax, PLLC,” said Sandberg. Well, those results are in, earlier than expected, and they confirm what we’ve known for a while about how Facebook handles the spread of discrimination and racism on its platform.

The New York Times first reported on the 100-page audit which details how the social media network failed to build a system in which it could adequately handle civil rights matters, and how it abdicated its responsibilities fighting discrimination. The auditors said Facebook did not seek civil rights expertise in all of its decisions, which set a precedent that could potentially affect the upcoming Presidential election in November. But the report went even further in its assessments by saying that Facebook is not only neglecting the concerns of vulnerable users but that the company’s “vexing and heartbreaking” choices have actively caused “significant setbacks for civil rights.”

This comes as no surprise, especially as we’ve seen employee walkouts and protests in recent months, and several prominent companies pulling their ads from Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been widely criticized for allowing President Trump’s inflammatory posts to remain on his Facebook page, where other social media networks like Twitter have either taken them down or slapped a warning label of some kind. Facebook seems to have only started taking its problems seriously due to the backlash. It only recently banned trading historical artifacts even though it’s known about it for years, and only recently purged almost 200 accounts associated with white supremacy groups. But according to its civil rights audit, it’s likely too little too late.

Additionally, Sandberg outright stated in her post that Facebook “won’t be making every change” the proposal calls for, to which she followed up with “We will put more of their proposals into practice soon.” That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence that Facebook will actually do what it needs to do to combat discrimination and racism, never mind fake news, on its platform. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which was started due to Facebook’s inaction on civil rights issues, and is lead by groups like the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Free Press, the NAACP, and Sleeping Giants, told Gizmodo that the company refused to address any of its recommendations, except for possibly hiring for another civil rights position that would not be at a senior level. Its full list of recommendations is available on its website.

While the audit is highly critical of Facebook, it does say that the company has made strides in hiring more in-house civil rights experts over the past two years, and that Zuckerberg himself is personally committed to advancing racial justice by building products. It’s unclear how “building products” will advance racial justice, but if Facebook intends to profit off said products in any way, it would be disingenuous given Facebook’s repeated failure to address its civil rights issues.

G/O Media may get a commission

“Elevating free expression is a good thing, but it should apply to everyone,” the auditors wrote. “When it means that powerful politicians do not have to abide by the same rules that everyone else does, a hierarchy of speech is created that privileges certain voices over less powerful voices.”

The auditors recommended Facebook build a stronger civil rights infrastructure and that it needed to be more consistent in enforcing its policies. The Times notes that Facebook has pledged to make some commitments in response to the audit, such as creating a senior vice president of civil rights leadership position and developing new internal processes to support the civil rights of users. The old adage ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ definitely applies here. If Facebook was so unwilling to address the concerns of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, how much can its users trust that it will listen to the auditors’ recommendations?

In the meantime, Facebook users can do a few things to demand change. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign says to urge businesses to stop spending any money to advertise on Facebook for the rest of July and continuing to speak out against Facebook’s inaction on civil rights issues. When Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, pulled its ads in late June 2020, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 7%. Since then, 14 companies have either pulled or suspended their Facebook ads, but not enough to af

3 Effective Marketing Strategies For Selling Digital Products Online

Selling digital goods and getting started in the online education sector has never been easier in today’s online world. According to Research and Markets, the online education industry is poised to become a $325 billion dollar industry by 2025, increasing from $187.877 billion in 2019. Here are the top three tips and marketing strategies on how you can promote and sell digital products best to achieve the highest profits possible

How to get your foot in the door of what could be a $325 billion industry.

Free Book Preview No BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing

The ultimate guide to – producing measurable, monetizable results with social media marketing.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Selling digital goods and getting started in the online education sector has never been easier in today’s online world. According to Research and Markets, the online education industry is poised to become a $325 billion dollar industry by 2025, increasing from $187.877 billion in 2019.

Not only do we live in an instant gratification economy, where we want to have products delivered instantly to our doorstep (or even better via our email inbox), but we also demand location-independent freedom from both sides, the consumer and the business perspective. 

Consumers are purchasing more and more digital goods, for example: membership sites, ebooks, audiobooks, digital courses or live lessons and tutorials, videos, songs, design, photography, templates, apps, masterminds or worksheets. There are literally hundreds of digital product options out there that you can add to your product suite. 

Related: How to Improve Your Online Course (and Increase Student Engagement)

There are countless benefits to selling digital goods online. For instance, the entry barrier on getting started is very low, digital goods are low-maintenance in general, you have full creative freedom and digital products have huge scalability.

Here are the top three tips and marketing strategies on how you can promote and sell digital products best to achieve the highest profits possible, listed in no particular order. 

1. Online summits 

Online events and online summits have become a very popular and important marketing channel over the past few months. Many events and conferences have forcefully been cancelled, and the smartest businesses have moved their events online. 

Virtual summits run generally between one to 10 days, and attendees are able to watch expert’s interviews and presentations free of charge for a short amount of time. Usually, online summits are so value-packed, with many speakers presenting per day, that overwhelmed attendees don’t find the mental capacity or even the time to consume all the content in one go. 

The hosts then offer one or several up-sells to the viewers, so they can purchase the recordings all together and watch them on their own time. 

You can host an online summit on any topic and don’t even need to be an expert in the particular topic you are representing. If you or your speakers have additional digital goods, such as online courses or ebook that they can throw in to make the up-sell offer more appealing to the buyer, then this will increase your chances of a higher sales rate. The bonus is it doesn’t really cost you or the creator of the course more money

Related: How to Earn Six Figures From a Virtual Summit

2. Online challenges

Online challenges, and in particular five-day challenges, have become increasingly popular amongst online marketers, as they achieve fast results. An online challenge consists mostly of a video series the attendees will watch and corresponding “homework” assignments. According to Yahoo Finance, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. So, seeing you on video every day, especially when it’s live and you can interact with your audience, increases your trust score tremendously.

A challenge will help your ideal customer avatar get started creating something like an outline for their next online course or a launch plan for their next book promotion. This way your up-sell at the end (which in this case could be a full program or course on how to create your online course or how to write your first ebook) will become very easy, as the prospects have already started to do the work and feel motivated to keep going with it. 

The most effective challenges run usually between three and five days, as this is a healthy timeframe to get people through their daily tasks without dropping out. Most marketers run a low-cost and high-turnout challenge on Facebook. According to Hootsuite, Facebook is the third-most visited website and has become the most popular platform to execute and market a challenge. 

Related: 

3. Membership sites and online learning platforms 

Membership sites and online learning platforms are another awesome but much more indirect way to sell digital products. You can either build your own e-learning platform where you can sell your own digital products or you can sell digital goods from fellow experts in the industry. 

There are many different types of membership site models and online course platforms you can either join or create. To name just a few:

  • The drip-fed model: Content will be added every month.
  • The all-in membership: Members get access to everything straight away.
  • The online community membership: Members get access to private forums, masterminds or online groups.

A consultant and course creator, for example, isn’t necessarily interested in creating ongoing new content and therefore isn’t looking to build an entire membership site themselves. However, most consultants, coaches and course creators are more than eager to get involved in a joint venture and have their online course listed on the best e-learning platforms in return for an affiliate commission or simply for exposure. 

Related: 4 Ways to Continue to Get Paid from Home During Quarantine

5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Embrace Social Media Marketing

Are you technologically challenged? In a world of rapid change where social media, online platforms, and virtual reality are transforming the very essence of civilization; any person or business falling short of the requirements to survive in the digital age is basically technologically challenged. But there is hope. Here are five reasons why you should…

Are you technologically challenged? In a world of rapid change where social media, online platforms, and virtual reality are transforming the very essence of civilization; any person or business falling short of the requirements to survive in the digital age is basically technologically challenged. But there is hope. Here are five reasons why you should absolutely embrace social media marketing.

Be a notable landmark in the digital world

In 2013, “selfie” was nominated by Oxford Dictionaries as the word of the year. What others perceived as the mere initiation of a technologically savvy term into the mainstream discourse soon became more than just a trend.

The “selfie” set precedence to the modern world’s increasing dependence on the internet and the variety of tools to access its power.

The simple selfie event is a milestone in the history of digital evolution and how it has revolutionized the very language of how we think, act and connect. The social media buzzword took center-stage in the lexicon of modern humanity. The selfie and what resulted from it relayed the impact of social media and the rising importance of technology in our day to day lives.

Few have been able to reap the benefits of this game-changer and many refuse to accept the law of the digital jungle.

Businesses delaying the integration of social media marketing to their present strategy are incurring huge losses. What’s more, the tendency to neglect upgrading existent business plans with the latest digital marketing trends can also impede your business success.

The survival of any business in modern times is largely dependent on how they overcome old prejudices and attain healthy adaptability to technological change.

If you find it hard to accept the changes in thinking and conducting business that has been wrought by social media — then it is high time you modify your thinking and transform your business plans to achieve optimum benefits.

Here’s a list of 5 important reasons why you should definitely embrace social media marketing:

1)    Promote Your Brand

Social media is the best place to grow your brand. Your main objective should be to put your brand out there and promote it as well as you can.

Start with a plan, research your market, and wisely put up your content on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Your clients are spending quality time on the internet and social media, surfing for things they like or are interested in. Having your brand present in these spaces gives you valuable visibility.

With the advent of modern technology, the masses have started relying on social media for more and more information. Today everything from what the latest trends in fashion are, to which café is nearest to your location can be found with a few clicks on your phone.

Not having a social media presence can prove lethal for your brand value and push you to obscurity. When people are following you on social media and engaging with your content, it ultimately boosts your brand awareness and gives you the ability to focus on other aspects of your business.

2)    Enhance Lead Generation

The main target of any business is to generate as many leads as possible. Marketers have been proclaiming the importance of social media marketing for some time now and have actually ranked it as the most effective tactic used for improving lead generation.

Social media is the apex method when it comes to interacting with brands and researching new products or services for those countless people who spend their time on the internet. The simple trick to get more leads is to establish a social media presence and then continue to nurture your marketing strategy with only a little effort.

Do not forget to optimize your profile, create user-friendly and personalized content and most importantly build great offers and incentives to convert those leads.

Social media is one of the defining factors in how people purchase products. It is extremely difficult to achieve maximum lead generation by ignoring the benefits of social media.

Today, when more than 4.5 billion people are using the internet at the start of this year, it will definitely determine the success of your brand’s marketing strategy.

3)    Build Community Relationships

Customer loyalty is the key to the success of any business. With social media, businesses are able to speak directly to their customers and connect on an intimate level. When a business is able to engage with its customers in a constructive manner, ensuring better services and products becomes an easy task.

The best aspect of communicating through social media is the plethora of creative methods one can use to have a conversation or other forms of interaction. From conducting contests to stream live videos, sharing stories, informing updates, and much more.

Social media is where a marketer can let her imagination run wild.

However, it is important to keep in mind internet protocols and analyze the kind of reaction you get from your audience. By closely studying audience reaction, set up a channel of personalized communication through a variety of social media handles for your products and services.

Businesses should also utilize the ability to respond as soon as possible whenever their customers search for necessary information. With this, maximizing the satisfaction of customers and addressing their grievances becomes more efficient.

The satisfied customer will ultimately help improve the loyalty of your customers exponentially.

Traditional mass media is slowly becoming less relevant with every passing day. To have a personal one to one engagement with customers is nearly impossible to hold, using the old formats of business communication.

Social media fills this gap in the market by creating a platform for businesses to build communities around their brands using the latest technology and digital innovation.

4)    Promote Multi-channel Campaigns

Businesses these days have the opportunity to tap into a generation of shoppers, who are consuming quality content through multiple platforms. Social media has enabled consumers to effortlessly move quickly between channels.

Your customers can roam freely from websites to social media, from email or messenger, and retrace their steps back to social media again. Every channel becomes a host to whatever campaign you run. In other words, for the same amount of effort you put on every campaign, you can get double, triple, or manifold profits.

Be sure to make your social media marketing strategy more powerful by making multi-channel marketing an integrated part of your business initiatives and strategy. Using these cutting-edge tricks, you can boost website traffic, by luring inbound traffic to your site.

Each and every social media handle is that you have is a potential key to unlock your website. Each post is a new door to provide content. Therefore, show visitors and followers why they should visit your website through social media marketing.

5)    Nurture Your Networks

A research conducted by Crowdtap on 3,000 people illustrates that 64% of those surveyed use social media to find ideas and inspiration for shopping. Look around yourself and examine the number of people relying on online shopping through social media. You will definitely see a rise in the numbers that have kept on increasing in the last decade and reached its peak this year.

You already recognize social media as an impactful marketing tool on its own. All these benefits are additionally complimented by social media direct messages. They personally support and reinforce your branding on many channels simultaneously, by providing you with the opportunity to reach your audience at any time and any place.

Stringent focus on customer feedback is a must-have to succeed in any business; the same is applicable to social media marketing. Traditional methods of networking and feedback procedure are only enhanced by social media.

The ideal deal for community management is organic campaigning. However, paid campaigns can also be used for that added extra audience reach. Use customer data generated by all the active users on social media and engage with your followers.

When you engage with your followers, you can learn more about who is your target your customers, and reach out to them to know more about each other.

You will also gain insight into what they like to spend their time on and what interests them. Don’t forget to keep close eyes on your competitors and industry peers. What your competitors are doing can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your content, advertising, and messaging. Copy or improve upon what they are doing.

Social Media Marketing is a no-brainer

Staying aloof from the wonders of technology and focusing only on its ill-effects will get you nowhere.

With every passing day, your business will find it hard to survive in this highly competitive world, where social media presence is the new currency. Those who are slow in the uptake to embrace technology in business continue to suffer. T

o thrive in this digital era it’s imperative that you utilize the power of social media marketing.

In order to keep up with the changing world, stop being technologically challenged and proactively enrich your business commitments with a seamless social media strategy

Learn as much as you can about social media management and advertisement and keep up with modern times.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

Aditya Kathotia avatar 125x125 - 5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Embrace Social Media Marketing

Aditya Kathotia

Founder & CEO of Digital Polo

Aditya, through his company Digital Polo, has reached the zenith of brand-design expertise by delivering true value to brands & marketers. He believes that every brand deserves to unlock its true branding prowess. Through Digital Polo, he aims at comprehensively serving the same.

Hearsay, maker of compliant tools for financial services, deepens ties with Salesforce

Financial services companies like banks and insurance tend to be heavily regulated. As such, they require a special level of security and auditability. Hearsay, which makes compliant communications tools for these types of companies, announced a new partnership with Salesforce today, enabling smooth integration with Salesforce CRM and marketing automation tools. The company also announced…

GettyImages 1226712714 - Hearsay, maker of compliant tools for financial services, deepens ties with Salesforce

Financial services companies like banks and insurance tend to be heavily regulated. As such, they require a special level of security and auditability. Hearsay, which makes compliant communications tools for these types of companies, announced a new partnership with Salesforce today, enabling smooth integration with Salesforce CRM and marketing automation tools.

The company also announced that Salesforce would be taking a minority stake in Hearsay, although company co-founder and CEO Clara Shih, did not provide any details on that part of the announcement.

Shih says the company created the social selling category when it launched 10 years ago. Today, it provides a set of tools like email, messaging and websites along with a governance layer to help financial services companies interact with customers in a compliant way. Their customers are primarily in banking, insurance, wealth management and mortgages.

She said that they realized if they could find a way to share the data they were collecting with the Hearsay tool set with CRM and marketing automation software in an automated way, it would make greater use of this information than it could on its own. To that end, they have created a set of APIs to enable that with some built-in connectors. The first one will be to connect Hearsay to Salesforce, with plans to add other vendors in the future.

“It’s about being able to connect [data from Hearsay] with the CRM system of record, and then analyzing it across thousands, if not tens of thousands of advisors or bankers in a single company, to uncover best practices. You could then use that information like GPS driving directions that help every advisor behave in the moment and reach out in the moment like the very best advisor would,” Shih explained.

In practice, this means sharing the information with the customer data platform (CDP), the CRM and marketing automation tooling to deliver more intelligent targeting based on a richer body of information. So the advisor can use information gleaned from everything he or she knows about the client across the set of tools to deliver a more meaningful personal message instead of a targeted ad or an email blast. As Shih points out, the ad might even make sense, but could be tone deaf depending on the circumstances.

“What we focus on is this human-client experience, and that can only be delivered in the last mile because it’s only with the advisor that many clients will confide in these very important life events and life decisions, and then conversely, it’s only in the last mile that the trusted advisor can deliver relationship advice,” she said.

She says what they are trying to do by combining streams of data about the customer is build loyalty in a way that pure technology solutions just aren’t capable of doing. As she says, nobody says they are switching banks because it has the best chat bot.

Hearsay was founded in 2009 and has raised $51 million, as well as whatever other money Salesforce will be adding to the mix with today’s investment. Other investors include Sequoia and NEA Associates. Its last raise was way back in 2013, a $30 million Series C.

Stop Sending to Unverified Email Addresses. This Tool Helps Clean Up Your Email List, Fast.

No more hitting dead emails. Free Book Preview No BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing The ultimate guide to – producing measurable, monetizable results with social media marketing. July 29, 2020 2 min read Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you…

No more hitting dead emails.

Free Book Preview No BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing

The ultimate guide to – producing measurable, monetizable results with social media marketing.


2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

When was the last time you checked the validity of your email list? People change emails or add spam filters, email accounts get closed, and email marketing lists tend to age poorly. After a while, you may be sending 100,000 emails and only reaching 50,000 inboxes. That’s a problem.

Fortunately, there are tools out there to help with this common challenge. Clearout is a simple email validation and verification tool that can help ensure your email list is up to snuff. It offers enterprise-grade email verification that the company says is more than 98 percent accurate, improving your email deliverability rate and clearing the honeypot, hard bounces, and non-valid email addresses out of your system. You’ll also get access to useful features like duplicate removal, blacklist verification, autosuggestion, risk verification, spam trap detection, and more, to keep your sender reputation high and target actual customers.

Clearout also goes through your email list to conform invalid syntax to a standard format, normalize subscriber addresses from Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and iCloud, and even eliminates spelling errors and typos in email addresses. Once you’ve sent mail, you can verify all kinds of mailbox errors without sending any payload and even identify role-based email addresses from your list. As your campaigns roll out, you can also measure the response time from every email address by a simple open relay check, helping you to identify your best, most engaged customers.

There are a lot of tools out there to choose from, but Clearout is trusted by more than 10,000 businesses and has earned 4.8/5 stars on Capterra. It’s a proven way to give your email marketing the upgrade it needs without breaking the bank. A lifetime subscription to Clearout Bulk Email Verification Service is on sale now for just $49.99.

US neobank Dave was hit with a data breach earlier this week

This story was delivered to Insider Intelligence Banking Briefing subscribers earlier this morning.Insider Intelligence publishes hundreds of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Banking industry with the Banking Briefing. You can learn more about subscribing here.US-based neobank Dave was hit with a security breach earlier this week, ZDNet reports. According to the neobank, the breach…

US-based neobank Dave was hit with a security breach earlier this week, ZDNet reports. According to the neobank, the breach originated on the network of Waydev, an analytics platform it formerly partnered with, through which a malicious party reportedly gained unauthorized access to certain user data — including names, phone numbers, emails, birth dates, and home addresses — and is selling it on a hacking forum.

svg%3E - US neobank Dave was hit with a data breach earlier this week

Neobank Dave needs to continue differentiating itself from competitors.

Business Insider Intelligence


Breached data also includes users’ Social Security numbers and passwords — but the neobank says these details are encrypted. Dave said that there’s currently no evidence that suggests hackers used the data to gain access to user accounts and execute any unauthorized actions. The neobank notified customers of the incident and is carrying out an ongoing investigation.

A data breach could be particularly damaging to the neobank as it’s early on in its growth. Dave started as a personal finance management (PFM) platform — which counts 7 million users — and since expanded with the launch of Dave Banking, which it started rolling out to its 2 million-person waitlist in May.

The account offers $100 in overdraft coverage, with no interest rates regardless of credit score. It also boasts an account opening time of 2 minutes, and is intended to help younger consumers — its target audience — build credit by instantly reporting recurring payments like utilities and rent to major credit bureaus. But the neobank might need to continue differentiating: Chime, the largest US neobank, recently launched a Credit Builder Card to help users build a credit history.

Dave’s focus on customer needs could give it a niche in the neobank market — but a breach could lead customers to opt for a more established competitor. Data breaches can be extremely detrimental to customer trust — especially for neobanks, given their entirely digital structures.

Considering that Dave Banking is in its infancy compared with other US neobanks like Chime or Varo — Dave Banking presently counts 100,000 users and the neobank anticipates reaching 1 million by the end of the year, compared with Chime’s 8 million — transparency regarding cybersecurity with customer and those on its waitlist will be integral to ongoing retention and acquisition.

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Contact Marketing – Best Practices and Examples

Tired of implementing growth hacking strategies? In this post, I will share a strategy that will help you reach out to important prospects and stakeholders of companies you want to target. Find out What is Contact Marketing and the best Contact Marketing Best Practices and Examples that work for your business

Tired of implementing growth hacking strategies? In this post, I will share a strategy that will help you reach out to important prospects and stakeholders of companies you want to target.

Selling to companies with multiple decision-makers seems difficult, but this strategy will make your job easier.

Let’s say your company has built a product (or provides services) for large enterprises and corporations. You want to get in touch with the decision-makers or key stakeholders of the prospects.

To your surprise, you found that they are not active on Linkedin and still haven’t accepted your connection request. You found their email address and sent them an email. Your email still lies unopened in their inbox (or spam folder) alongside thousands of emails.

Even account-based marketing is not working for you because you need to reach out to key stakeholders or decision-makers.

You really really want to get in touch with them at any cost.

What will you do? The answer is simple. You will leverage the power of contact marketing.

What is Contact Marketing?

It is a shadow-form of marketing that delivers promising results compared to account-based marketing and has been generating results most marketers dream of. It is one of the thoughtful lead generation strategies of 2020. The strategy helps sales teams connect with VIP prospects, key stakeholders, and decision-makers to build the right kinds of relationships with them.

VIP prospects don’t hang out on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, and their inbox is probably managed by their assistants, you cannot directly call them on their cell phone. But, you want to get your message across! You want to sell to large organizations and corporations. You think you at least deserve a chance to speak to the decision-makers after having built something useful for them.

In short, contact marketing is the act of launching micro-focused campaigns with an aim to get in touch with specific people of strategic importance (against all odds) for a sale, partnership, or just to build a relationship. All digital means to get in touch with your VIP prospects are blocked. But there’s one way – the offline channel. No, you don’t have to go to their office.

Contact Marketing Strategy

There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to creating and executing strategies for contact marketing. All you need to do is send a parcel (which could be in the form of a letter or a big box) to your prospect and figure out a way so that the parcel reaches them.

The gatekeepers or the front desk workers do not share across all parcels with the concerned – that’s where you need to think creatively. Your first goal is to get past the gatekeepers. To do so, before sending your parcel, call them up, and ask them to verify the address. Tell them they can expect a parcel from you soon. Another strategy could be to write “CONFIDENTIAL” or “ONLY FOR PROSPECT’S NAME” on the parcel.

Sending the parcel and making sure it gets delivered to your prospect is just half the job done. You need to have a strategy in place for the rest of your plan – what will be the contents of the parcel, what will be the call to action, and more. Most importantly, you need to communicate effectively.

Examples of Contact Marketing

There are countless examples of contact marketing. You must figure out the one which is good for your business. Here are a few examples of contact marketing:

Magnifying Glass Strategy

This strategy is effective if you’re a digital marketing agency or an SEO agency that wants to reach out to mid-sized and large companies. In your package, send them a magnifying glass and a short letter mentioning something like: “Even if they use a magnifying glass, they still won’t be able to find you on the first page of Google”. End the note by requesting them to connect with you or your firm.

Research Strategy

Go through the website and blog articles of your prospect or one of their recently published interviews. Take a print out of the article or the web page and highlight important points. Send them a letter along with the printout mentioning how you or your firm can help regarding the highlighted points. To keep a track of news regarding your prospect companies, use Google Alerts.

Video Strategy

Record a video focusing on how you can help your prospect. Publish your video on YouTube and make sure the video can only be seen by those who have the link. Shorten the URL using bit.ly or other link shortening services. Now, send them a letter mentioning that you have made a video for them. Include a screenshot of the video with your face in it. Mention the shortened link in your letter and patiently wait for your prospect to contact you.

Resource Strategy

Send your prospect a book or a print of a whitepaper or an article that will be useful for your prospect. Attach a letter mentioning the usefulness of the resource and how you can help in solving their problems taking reference to the resource you sent. Make sure to use storytelling elements that work.

Sherlock Holmes Strategy

This is one of my favorite techniques. Create a Q.R. code online and encrypt your message in it. Take a print of the code, put it in an envelope along with a note mentioning that the Q.R. code needs to be scanned. Send them the envelope. Make them feel like Sherlock Holmes for a while.

When to use this approach?

Use this approach anytime you want. It is not an alternative to the digital approach. However, better use this approach when:

  • Your prospects aren’t tech-savvy or digital-savvy
  • Your prospects are hard to reach (VIP’s, CXO’s, etc)
  • You want to target a handful of people who can change the scale of business
  • You are in a market/industry which is inundated with digital marketing

Conclusion

When digital channels fail in connecting with important prospects and stakeholders, employ contact marketing. Be creative and patiently wait for them to contact you. Build your own strategy or simply use one of the above-mentioned strategies. Contact marketing is a powerful tool that you can use to engage with people that are hard to reach. Try it out – it works like a charm!

Consider This Before Hiring a Business Coach

A business coach can be indispensable resources for problem-solving and strategizing — if you have the right one. Here are something to consider before you get one

A business coach can be indispensable resources for problem-solving and strategizing — if you have the right one.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Congratulations on your decision to go into business for yourself! Now that you’ve taken the risk, there are a few things you want to pay attention to. For many entrepreneurs, the concept of being your own boss is simple, but how to do that not so much. It’s natural to want to seek help and for some entrepreneur that comes in the form of a business coach.

The internet has no shortage of misconceptions about what makes up running a successful business. The dreams of ‘set it and forget it’ seem to ignore some brick and mortar world’s tried-and-true business practices. Before you run out and hang that shingle, let’s discuss three key elements of any successful business.

Business Plan

A misguided hope about online businesses is that people will spontaneously find your website. They will magically buy your stuff, and you start making tons of money almost overnight. It does not happen for brick and mortar businesses, and it isn’t valid for online ones either.

Related: 5 Tips for Hiring a Franchise Business Coach

All successful businesses can benefit from a solid business plan. If you want to scale or attract investors, a thoroughly crafted business plan shows your ability to handle all that running a business entails. It also provides a solid base to help you subsequently establish your strategic plan.

The seven components of a solid business plan include:

1. Executive Summary

2. Business Description

3. Market Analysis

4. Organization Management

5. Sales Strategies

6. Funding Requirements

7. Financial Projections

Each of these elements has a distinct role in building your business. The primary benefit is showing lenders and potential backers that you have a clear path for success.

Strategic Plan

A strategic plan is more than flow charts and buzzwords. It is a document that establishes the direction of a company, division, or department. Its length and complexity depends on the size and complexity of the business.

In the absence of a plan, work still gets done daily but often lacks a sense of direction and specificity. Making sure everyone on the team is rowing in the same direction is the desired goal. The plan’s benefits include examining where you are now, where you want to go, and how you will get there, specifically.

The seven crucial elements of an effective strategic plan are:

1. Vision Statement

2. Mission Statement

3. Core Values

4. SWOT Analysis

5. Long-term Goals

6. Yearly Objectives

7. Action Plans

Most business owners and executives have a myriad of reasons for not having a formal strategic plan. A strategic plan is a dynamic document. It drives your business outcomes and efficiencies. Integrating the strategy into every aspect of your organization helps every employee participate in moving the company in the same direction.

Financial management

A solid understanding of your numbers can lead to profitable and sustainable growth. “Knowing Your Numbers” is about more than just the dollars and cents. Having an accurate understanding is about the ongoing tracking and reviewing of your business’s critical financial and non-financial drivers. It will help you know how your business is doing and why.

Related: Six Benefits Of Working With A Business Coach

A financially sound business requires a general framework to ensure effective operations and continual improvement. Management decisions directly affect profits, cash flow, and the company’s overall financial health.

Along with the Business Plan and Strategic Plan, the budget adds to your roadmap of success. It provides the financial parameters against which you will measure success.

Your cost estimating system should include everything from bidding to the final delivery of your goods or services. Systems should consider items like labor costs, materials, overhead, profit, taxes, insurance, and miscellaneous expenses.

In simple terms, three elements can help your finances stay on track:

1. Earn more money than you spend.

2. Invest the difference back into the business.

3. Understand where you are and where the money is going.

It can seem overwhelming to put all of those pieces into place. That’s where whether to hire a coach comes into play.

What makes a great business coach

Besides earning an MBA and working for some of the world’s largest financial services companies like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, I have also hired a business coach and other types of coaches. A good coach’s value is in their ability to collapse time and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Starting a business used to mean starting a company that added value to the world. While there are plenty of people still starting businesses, becoming a guru has become the new ‘start a business.’

People aspire to coach people without having first done the work to have lessons available to coach them on. Business coaches are teaching people how to become a business coach for business coaches, and along the way, they all forgot to start a business.

When deciding to hire a coach, consider whether business coaching is the primary way they make their income. A fancy website, $2,000 lifestyle photoshoot and a slick sales funnel does not qualify you to help someone else run a business. It’s only adding to the grim statistics on coaching business failures.

Many challenges come with running a business, and “on the job” learning can be one of the most expensive lessons. An investment in the right coach can cut the learning curve and save you money in the long run. Having a firm grasp on real-life business strategy and skill is a crucial element to coach someone else on how to be a successful entrepreneur.

It takes more than theory and fancy marketing to be a successful entrepreneur. Together, a solid business plan, an actionable strategic plan, and sound financial management are critical to owning, operating, and growing a successful business.

If a potential business coach doesn’t understand the essential elements of structuring and growing a business, you’ll end up investing resources that could be used for what will help your business grow.

I Have Accepted That the #ChallengeAccepted Challenge Is the Ultimate Empty Challenge

Image: Larry French, image altered from color (Getty Images)Back in the 20th century, novelist C. S. Forester described an 18th century sailor entertaining his crew members by killing rats with his teeth, his hands tied behind his back. I think of this story often during my daily drift through the endless seas of social media.…

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - I Have Accepted That the #ChallengeAccepted Challenge Is the Ultimate Empty Challenge

Image: Larry French, image altered from color (Getty Images)

Back in the 20th century, novelist C. S. Forester described an 18th century sailor entertaining his crew members by killing rats with his teeth, his hands tied behind his back. I think of this story often during my daily drift through the endless seas of social media. With no wind in the sails and no destination on the horizon, each day online might have its excitements, but is ultimately the same as yesterday and the next day. I sometimes wish for a rat pit, if for no other reason than to feel alive.

Instead, we have challenges, customarily a task that must be completed within 24 hours before we forget about it entirely. In keeping with the disorienting nature of the internet, challenges can’t actually be challenging, or else we wouldn’t do them. (We can post a reading list of dense texts, for instance, but only if no one checks that we read them.) And so we have #challengeaccepted: the ultimate challenge which you can repeat ad infinitum in the name of uplifting women.

The trending Twitter topic, which spread throughout celebrity Instagram over the weekend, makes for content as bland as it sounds: nominate a woman to post a photo of herself in black-and-white—this is key, differentiating #challengeaccepted selfies from apolitical GPOY—and she tags the post #challengeaccepted as well as #WomenSupportingWomen.

An influencer marketing manager told the New York Times that the challenge may have been spurred on by the wave of woman-positive messaging that followed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez boldly quoting, on the House floor, Florida Congressman Ted Yoho calling her a “fucking bitch.” The challenge, however, feels more like pulling out a photo you already had on deck for Insta. A few #challengeaccepted posters mention Breonna Taylor in their captions, but celebrities have primarily devoted their images to all women everywhere. Most of them simply urged us to lift each other up. The stakes for taking a stand have never been lower.

Like most internet challenges, anyone can rise to it, even Ivanka Trump, a woman whose silence was deafening when her father tore children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, only publicly denouncing the policy when he decided to end it. Here she is #acceptingthechallenge while pregnant in a saintly robe, celebrating “ALL mothers.”

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Across the ideological spectrum, prominent women dropped similarly dazzling portraits. Perhaps you, like Nicole Kidman, had something just lying around from a fashion photoshoot. “Oh,” Katie Holmes’ post seems to ask,this old thing?

For many, the challenge has morphed into a generic hot photo contest. One seemingly confused (male) actor simply posted a sepia headshot on Twitter.

“This is what sisterhood is all about,” Reese Witherspoon’s own entry declared. Maybe she’s right. This is the internet, where a #challenge isn’t actually a “challenge,” sisterhood is all about ourselves, and nobody’s beholden to the bygone laws of the l

Follow the Money: How Digital Ads Subsidize the Worst of the Web

There’s a lot going on this summer. The presidential race is building steam, civil rights protestors are still in the streets, the pandemic is taking a nasty turn, Hamilton is on Disney+. Amid all those news events—and partly because of them—businesses, activists, and lawmakers are zeroing in on an issue that seems less dramatic but…

There’s a lot going on this summer. The presidential race is building steam, civil rights protestors are still in the streets, the pandemic is taking a nasty turn, Hamilton is on Disney+. Amid all those news events—and partly because of them—businesses, activists, and lawmakers are zeroing in on an issue that seems less dramatic but is still pretty important: digital advertising, the underlying financial model of the open internet.

The highest-profile example is the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which has convinced some major advertisers, including the likes of Verizon and Unilever, to pause their spending on Facebook until the company takes dramatic steps to deal with the spread of hate speech on its platform. But how exactly does this stuff turn a profit? The answer goes far beyond Facebook’s content policies.

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“A lot of those debates, when you track them down to their technical causes, it inevitably boils down to advertising technology,” said Aram Zucker-Scharff, the ad engineering director for The Washington Post’s research, experimentation, and development team. “So many of the problems that people are talking about on the web right now, these are problems that arise out of detailed and persistent third-party, cross-site user behavior tracking.”

There’s a lot to unpack there. Over the next few weeks, WIRED is going to be taking a look at the various ways in which the modern digital advertising market underwrites the proliferation of harmful, divisive, and misleading online content, while at the same time undermining real journalism. To start, we need to understand the three main categories of ad tech and the position they fill in the food chain of online garbage.

Social Media

Companies like Facebook and Twitter make almost all their money from ads. Hence the Stop Hate for Profit boycott: The loss of advertising revenue is the only thing, the thinking goes, that could make the world’s biggest social network change how it deals with racism and disinformation. But what exactly is the relationship between advertising and social media bad actors? It’s not as though white supremacists on Facebook are making money from their posts. The economics are a bit more complicated.

Critics of Facebook have long argued that while the platform doesn’t monetize hate or disinformation directly, its reliance on microtargeted advertising encourages that stuff to exist. A social network that’s free for users makes money in proportion to how much time those users spend on the platform. More time means more opportunities to serve ads and to collect data that can be used to help advertisers target the right people. And so for a long time, social media companies have designed their platforms to keep people engaged. One thing that tends to hold people’s attention really well, however, is polarizing and inflammatory content. This isn’t exactly surprising; consider the old journalistic mantra “If it bleeds, it leads.” An algorithm that prioritizes keeping users engaged might therefore prioritize content that gets people riled up—or that tells people what they want to hear, even if it’s false. Even if advertising isn’t directly funding divisive or false content, that stuff is keeping people on the platform. Facebook’s own internal review concluded, for example, that “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools.”

The other issue is with the substance of the ads themselves—particularly political ads. The same features of a platform built around engagement and microtargeting can make paid propaganda especially potent. In June, for example, Facebook took down a Trump campaign ad that featured an upside-down red triangle reminiscent of a Nazi symbol. Data from Facebook’s Ad Library shows that the campaign tested several variations of the ad, using different artwork; the triangle one appeared to perform the best. In other words, Facebook’s algorithm optimized for an ad that Facebook ultimately decided violated its own policies.

“Facebook’s entire business model is an optimization of a robust data-mining operation extending across much of our lives to microtarget ads against the cheapest and most ‘engaging’ content possible,” said Jason Kint, the CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade organization representing publishers (including WIRED parent company Condé Nast), in an email. “Sadly, the content that tends to receive the most velocity and reach by Facebook’s algorithms often swims in the same pool with disinformation and hate.”

Facebook disputes this. In a recent blog post, the company’s vice president of global affairs and communication, Nick Clegg, insisted that “people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences—they don’t want to see hateful content, our advertisers don’t want to see it, and we don’t want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it.”

Facebook might really want to remove hateful content. But it’s hard to keep track of billions of posts a day, and automated systems have a tougher time with things like hate speech. The boycott doesn’t really change that. It doesn’t even hurt the company’s bottom line that much, because most Facebook advertising comes not from giant corporations but from little-known small and medium-size businesses. (It’s also not clear how seriously companies are taking the boycott. HP, for example, added its name to the list but continued to buy new Facebook and Instagram ads in the first week of July.)

Facebook is not just a victim of its own massive success, though; the company makes policy decisions that facilitate the spread of disinformation too. Take its decision to exempt politicians from its fact-checking policies, including for ads—meaning elected officials and candidates are allowed to straight-up lie on the platform and target those lies to specific slices of the electorate. (Under pressure, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook would remove politicians’ posts that incite violence or aim to suppress voting.) In response, a number of critics have urged Facebook to join Google and its subsidiary YouTube in banning the ability to microtarget political ads. That way, false claims can at least be subject to scrutiny and not beamed directly to narrow audiences. Multiple House Democrats have introduced bills that would mandate just that. (Twitter, meanwhile, forbids political ads entirely.)

“What I think makes microtargeting so pernicious in the political context is, they can microtarget so granularly to individuals who are susceptible to believe it, without the benefit of the surrounding argument or the counterargument that exists if someone puts the ad on television for example,” said David Cicilline, the chair of the House Antitrust Subcommittee and author of one of the bills, in an interview in May.

Programmatic Display

Social media gets most of the attention, but if you really want to follow the money behind online hate and disinformation, you have to understand programmatic display advertising.

According to a new report by the Global Disinformation Index, tens of millions of advertising dollars will flow this year to sites that have published high volumes of coronavirus disinformation and conspiracy theories. The report includes screenshots showing jarring juxtapositions: an ad for Merck appearing on the right-wing fringe site World News Daily beneath the headline “Tony Fauci and the Trojan Horse of Tyranny”; a Dell ad running above a Gateway Pundit article blaming “faulty models, junk science, and Dr. Fauci” for destroying the economy; and even an ad for the British Medical Association next to a headline suggesting that “compulsory vaccination” will genetically modify people, turning them inhuman.

How does this happen? In a word: automation.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, digital display advertising—banner ads, pop-ups, and so on—was just the digital analogue of print advertising: A brand would buy space directly from a website. But today that is increasingly rare. What has risen in its place is something known as programmatic advertising. With programmatic, ads no longer target specific publications. Instead, they target specific types of users, based on things like age, sex, location—along with the creepier stuff, like what their browsing history reveals about their interests. Advertisers now put their ads into an automated system with instructions to reach a certain audience, wherever they are. They have some power to tell the system to keep their ads away from certain sites and content, but the results are spotty.

Programmatic advertising is the economic fuel of the “free” internet. Its rise has made it dramatically easier for anyone to create their own site and immediately make money from traffic. Unfortunately, the same convenience that allows a food blogger to turn their following into an income also allows anyone to set up a site pushing hate speech or propaganda and get it monetized without any advertiser explicitly choosing to pay them.

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“Previously, without ad tech, it was much harder for them to make money,” says Augustine Fou, an ad fraud consultant. Automation changed everything. The key change, Fou explains, was “the ease with which you can copy and paste a few lines of code onto your site and start running ads and making money. Prior to programmatic, you’d have to get an advertiser or a media buying agency to give you money.” Ad-tech tools do allow brands to block certain sites and types of content, but advertisers frequently don’t take advantage of them.

The paradox of programmatic advertising is that while it might be easy to tap into, the actual mechanism is absurdly complex: a series of real-time auctions mediated by layers of automated middlemen. Every time a page or app running programmatic ads is loaded, the publisher starts by sending its available ad space, along with whatever information it has on the user loading the page—essentially the inventory it’s selling—into its ad server. (The most popular ad server by far is run by Google.) The ad server beams out a bid request to advertisers looking to target that type of user. Brands put their ads into an ad-buying platform, along with their target audience and what they’re willing to pay. (Google also owns the biggest buying-side platform, which is particularly popular among smaller businesses.) The platform sends that bid to the ad exchange, where it competes against other bids for the target audience. The winning bid then competes against all the winners from all the other exchanges. Finally, the winner of winners appears on the publisher’s site. Believe it or not, this is a dramatically oversimplified account; the real thing is much more complicated. But, in a nutshell, that’s how a household name like Merck or Dell can end up sponsoring Covid denialism. (Two weeks ago, Google finally announced that it would begin blocking ads from running on stories promoting debunked coronavirus theories.)

Technically, most social media advertising could also be described as programmatic display, in the sense that it’s targeted at users based on behavioral data through an automated auction. The difference is that social media ads appear in the closed system of a given platform, while what I’m calling programmatic advertising follows you all around the web. But the two share important similarities.

“So much of it is about creating a space in which users can be targeted when they are, for lack of a better term, vulnerable,” says the Post’s Zucker-Scharff. They’re vulnerable to the right piece of fake news showing up at the right part of a feed or on a site at the right time. That sort of thing only happens because they can be targeted with this type of data.”

Search

The last big bucket of digital ads is search: Results that advertisers pay to have displayed above or below the actual results from a search engine. This is a much simpler system. You pick your search engine, specify which search terms you want to trigger your ad, and pay based on how many clicks the ad gets. There’s no complicated chain of intermediaries that makes other ad ecosystems so ripe for foul play. And Google, which accounts for some 90 percent of the global search engine market, has pretty robust policies concerning the ads that run on its platform.

Still, even search ads can be used to further misinformation on crucial issues. Two recent reports by the Tech Transparency Project, an internet watchdog and persistent Google critic, illustrate how. In the first, the researchers scraped the results of thousands of Google searches for information on how to get money from the federal coronavirus relief bill. They found ads with text like “Get Your Stimulus Check – Claim Your Money Now” that, when clicked, sent users to several varieties of scams. Because Google recently changed the format of ads, less savvy users could easily confuse these for organic search results. Some were designed to get credit card numbers or other personal data; some prompted users to download browser extensions that would supposedly help them get their money, but in fact essentially turned their computers into click machines to deliver fake impressions for programmatic ads on scam websites. Some simply took users to other, lousier search engines that make money by flooding their own results with ads—a technique, known as search arbitrage, that shows how bad actors can combine different types of ad tech to finance their schemes.

The second report found similar skullduggery around search queries for how to register to vote. In particular, fraudsters are preying on people by offering to help them register for a hefty fee—even though US law requires voter registration to be free.

“Hopefully, moving forward, the company will increase its due diligence on ads like this that have predatory practices—either extracting money or installing malware or leading voters to scams—particularly when people are not only trying to be safe to avoid interacting with people during the pandemic, but trying to find vital information,” said Katie Paul, the director of the Tech Transparency Project.

Google has responded to the reports by emphasizing that it’s “constantly improving our enforcement to stay ahead of bad actors who are trying to take advantage of users.” A spokesperson said the company had taken down the stimulus ads and disabled the voter registration ads even before they were reported in the press. They also pointed out that Google announced in April that all advertisers would be required to verify their identities to run ads on any Google platforms.

Still, the recent reports show that even a platform with the resources and tech savvy of Google Search can struggle to stay ahead of bad actors.

“Tech companies need to evolve their due diligence efforts to keep up with these scammers,” says Paul. “Because every time a platform ends up cracking down on something, the scammers are just going to evolve slightly to avoid that crackdown.”


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To beat TikTok, Facebook is allegedly throwing money at creators

It seems like this is what prompted TikTok to announce that it would launch a $200 million fund to help people stay on the service. Unfortunately, the fund has conditions, like a minimum age of 18, and you need to meet a set of conditions for acceptance, including how frequently you post. Depending on how…

It seems like this is what prompted TikTok to announce that it would launch a $200 million fund to help people stay on the service. Unfortunately, the fund has conditions, like a minimum age of 18, and you need to meet a set of conditions for acceptance, including how frequently you post. Depending on how Facebook, which has money to burn, makes its pitch, TikTok’s offer may seem miserly by comparison.

In its pitch to creators, Facebook is likely to leverage the fact that it’s in a stronger position politically than its Chinese-owned rival. TikTok has been caught up in the same wave of anti-Asian sentiment that has seen the US crack down on Huawei and other Chinese firms. A number of US companies have banned their employees from having the app on their corporate phones, and a ban may still happen. Eight of the top 10 creators on TikTok are based in the US, with substantial followings on other platforms, another plus for Facebook. 

In the early days of social media, the power was with the platform, and the stars who went viral had to work hard to find ways to make money from their success. These days, the tables have turned, and there’s a lot of cash to be made by a handful of creators who have demonstrated an ability to build a big audience. Tyler Blevins, the streamer better known as Ninja, had built an audience of nearly 15 million people on Twitch. Microsoft, looking to burnish its rival platform Mixer, reportedly paid Blevins up to $30 million a year to switch platforms

Most companies pay a fee to hook a customer into their world, either through advertising, giveaways or by signing an attention-grabbing star. This “Customer Acquisition Cost” shouldn’t be more than $10 per person, but if you’re looking for scale, it can be worth a fortune. If Ninja’s eye-catching deal with Mixer had attracted around five million people to sign up to the rival platform, then it was money well spent. Of course, given Mixer’s untimely demise, we’ll never know if the deal would have paid off in the long run. 

According to the WSJ report, Facebook/Instagram wants either exclusivity, or for Reels to be the first place new social clips are posted. It has also apparently offered to bankroll the production of these clips, which could be a substantial sum if it’s recruiting lots of creators. But, then again, if that sort of cash is less than the customer acquisition cost Facebook would have to pay otherwise, it may all be worth it. 

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