In an explosive revelation this week, data firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using personal information collected from 50 million Facebook users without their consent. It is alleged that the London-based company used the data to sway public sentiment in support of their political and social agendas.
Two of the most significant of these events are the election of US President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote regarding Britain exiting the European Union.
Unauthorised data acquisition & sharing
How was the user data originally acquired?
In 2013, a Cambridge psychology researcher called Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app for Facebook. Users who signed up were paid to participate by taking the online psychological test.
However, the app not only gathered information from the 270 000 users that installed it, but also accessed and acquired the data of the participants’ Facebook friends without user knowledge or consent.
How did Cambridge Analytica get the data?
Kogan allegedly supplied the collective information to Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook policies. In addition to the unauthorised gathering and misuse of data being unethical, such acts are illegal in many countries.
What was Facebook’s reaction to the unauthorised use of data?
Once Facebook was made aware of the unauthorised acquisition, transference and use of the data, they took action against the offending parties. Kogan’s app was immediately banned from the platform. He was ordered to delete all records of the data – including those sent to third-party entities such as Cambridge Analytica – and furnish proof of the data destruction. Facebook received formal certifications from both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica confirming that all collected information was destroyed. They also changed the platform to limit further unauthorised access to data.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal:
Unethical misuse of data
What was Facebook’s response to the revelation of data misuse by Cambridge Analytica?
Facebook has come under sever fire for the unauthorised use of the user data obtained via their platform. Their initial response was defensive, with one senior executive stating that “no systems were infiltrated, no passwords stolen or hacked”. Facebook claimed that the improper use of data did not constitute a “breach” on their part. They asserted that they were deceived by both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica (recent events indicating that despite the certifications given to Facebook by these parties, the data had not been deleted).
However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg later admitted that not investigating further in 2015 was a mistake, one that he deeply regrets. Holding himself accountable to the platform users, he said:
“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”
Full statement by Mark Zuckerberg:
I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we've already taken and our next…
What steps are being taken by Facebook to ensure the security of user data?
Facebook has outlined a multi-faceted approach to user data security that includes: limiting data access, auditing and managing developer activity, protecting data misuse by third-parties and promoting increased user management of apps.
Some of the initial adjustments by Facebook are listed below, with the social media giant expected to reveal addition changes over the next few weeks.Current measures being taken by the Facebook team include:
Auditing and review:
Review of apps that had access to data prior to the 2014 platform change (which restricted access to data)
Conducting of thorough audits of all apps and services that have access to user data
Banning of any party displaying irregular or questionable activity
Banning of any developer that does not agree to an audit
Should apps be banned due to misuse of data or policy non-compliance, all users of that app will be notified accordingly
Encouraging users to report inappropriate or prohibited use of data by developers by rewarding people who identify such behaviour
Restricted access to data:
The scope of access to data in general by developers will be restricted to protect users.
Login data will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
App sign in information will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
Developers will have to get a signed contract from users in order to access their posts or private data
Any additional information required by developers will be subject to Facebook and/or user approval
Increased user protection and control:
Apps that have not been used for 3 months will be deactivated from account
Users will be notified about any suspicious activity observed relating to apps they use
The existing app permission tool will be moved from the privacy setting to the News Feed area for ease of access and use
Users will be shown how to check which apps have access to their data, as well as view the permissions settings of each app
Users will be shown how to manage apps, including setting such as permission changes and revoking of access
App management services will be improved for enhanced user experience
As the saga continues to unfold…
Investigations by various entities including the US Congress and the European Parliament are underway. Cambridge Analytica deny all allegations of wrong-doing, saying they are willing to undergo a forensic audit. Nonetheless, CEO Alexander Nix has been suspended pending the outcomes of the probes. And the man at the heart of the scandal, Aleksandr Kogan, says Facebook is to blame.
Despite Zuckerberg vowing to take corrective action aimed at preventing such data loss in the future, he did not escape unscathed. The Facebook founder may have to provide the US Congress with testimony relating to the security of user data on the platform.
Regardless of what the ultimate findings of the investigations will be, the sheer magnitude of this scandal is expected to impact policies governing user data security on a global level. And due to the uncertainty of the current situation, the resulting effect on businesses is, at present, a matter of speculation.
How can you provide killer customer service that attracts and retains clients? While this seems like loaded question dealing with a complex issue, the answer is amazingly simple:
Find out what your customers want and give it to them.
How, you ask? The solution is staring you in the face – literally. By using the social media platforms at your fingertips. Global statistics show an increasing use of social media as the preferred consumer service platform. We look at the reasons leading to this growth, as well as highlight some of the benefits offered by social media when it comes to your customer support services.
67% of companies believe social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centres. (Sprout)
Why social media?
Location, location, location. As mentioned, social media is where your clients are – therefore, it should be your base of operations as well. But that’s not the only reason. Social media opens up a wealth of functions and tools that can be used to substantially upgrade your service delivery. Used effectively, it not only elevates client satisfaction levels, but also supports your core business objectives.
What are the benefits?
Improved Customer Service
Customers have a single point of contact for basic service issues such as queries or complaints. This reduces frustration experienced via other methods (such as dealing with multiple people telephonically or via email). The written online conversation can be referred back to by both the client and business staff, thus avoiding miscommunication and eliminating the need for repetition. The higher speed and response rate typical of social media platforms also boost client satisfaction levels.
Inclusive Customer Experience
“Customer Experience” or CX refers to the client’s total interaction with a brand from the first point of contact and throughout all subsequent interactions. Social Media allows you to engage with all consumers i.e. not just those who contact you with a query or complain. Content such as product updates, tips, advice and information form part of the client support services provided by the brand. This inclusive ongoing flow of communication helps customers feel more connected and part of a niche “community”, as well as positions the business as a client-focused organisation.
Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with customers on a one-on-one basis. Personal, direct contact helps clients feel that the business cares about them as an individual and appreciates their support. This fosters positive feelings towards the brand, promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Improve Business Quality
Using social media for customer service does not just improve your support in isolation. It leads to uplifting the quality of the organisation as a whole. The interactive nature of social media gives consumers a voice to state their needs and wants. Considering that a business only exists because of its customers, the value of basing actions on customer preference leads not only to happier clients that are loyal to the brand, but also business success and growth.
Customer service is rapidly becoming the definitive consumer consideration impacting business success. Businesses that fail to meet customer expectations are likely to lose out to competitors that do. Social media provides the solution you need to not only boost service quality, but positively enhance overall brand experience for your customers.
Why use social media? The real question is: “Why not?”
LEADING WOMEN SUMMIT CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY WITH SOUTH AFRICA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
The third FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit powered by MTN Business welcomes notable 2018 speakers Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Dr Rolene Strauss and Vivian Onano to the line-up.
Johannesburg, March 6th 2018: The third annual FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit (LWS) powered by MTN Business will take place on Thursday March 8th in Rosebank, Johannesburg to celebrate UN International Women’s Day with 120 of South Africa’s most influential women in attendance. This year’s summit is themed: ‘The Trillion Dollar Female Economy’.
“The Leading Women Summit effectively encapsulates all that FORBES WOMAN AFRICA stands for: feisty fearless women for who success is but a small step towards creating a world where jobs and opportunities exist for everyone; women whose collective might drives business in Africa,” says editor of Forbes Woman Africa, Methil Renuka.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Dr Rolene Strauss and Vivian Onano are just some of the top-tier contributors on the day, including a panel discussion with C-Suite executives on the role of women in leadership. Additionally, an all-female economists panel will be unpacking the economic outlook for South Africa in 2018 and the role women have to play in growing the economy. The March 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA cover will be the focus of a conversation with editor, Methil Renuka.
“Following last year’s successful all-day event, this FORBES WOMAN AFRICA gathering has become the definitive International Women’s Day event in South Africa,” says Roberta Naicker, Managing Director for the ABN group of companies. “Since the maiden event in 2016, the event has grown in demand and stature with an extensive waiting list for people to attend this invitation-only summit”, says Naicker. “This event is not your typical women empowerment event as we focus more on sharing the successes of our fellow woman across Africa and across the globe. We are not only creating a premium network of individuals in a room, but also highlighting those women who are an inspiration to their peers and a younger generation.”
MTN Business South Africa has supported the event since inception, and has helped grow the event into a formidable one in the month of March for International Women’s Day.
Says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN South Africa: “As an organisation that is committed to celebrating, enabling and empowering women, we view ourselves as more than an enabler of the ICT sector. We see it as our responsibility to create brighter lives by unlocking the potential of women across sectors and within the communities we serve. Sponsoring the Summit is an important step on this journey.”
The event welcomes the IDC as an event contributor; strategic partners, PPC and Thomson Reuters as well as Social Media 101, our social media event partner to the 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit.
The 2018 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit is attended by high-profile women within their respected fields of influence. For those who won’t be able to make it into the room, select parts of the event will be streamed live via social media to a larger global audience.
The event is proudly executed by ABN Event Productions.
To stay up to date with the latest information, follow the FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit Twitter account: @LWSummit or the official #LWS2018 hashtag and website: www.leadingwomensummit.co.za
If you read the title of this article, then you know the answer to this (presumably) burning question is yes! The questions that follow however are why and how?
Why Would a B2B Business Need to be on Social Media?
The short answer is that you, as a B2B company owner/operator, have come across this article through social media.
You did not find this article by searching through your social media platforms in the hopes of finding us. Instead, we found you because of clever targeting and an equally clever article title.
Our business too operates in the B2B space and so we completely understand the perplexity of the opening question. The point is that your customers, much like ours, are active users of social media since this space is fast entrenching itself into the way the world operates today.
We are sure that you have social media pages set up and their links imbedded on your website, so it is clear to say that you understand the necessity of these platforms. You might, however, not quite understand the hype, be totally sold on the presumed benefit or know how to use these platforms to build and drive a sales funnel.
And there it is again, the word sales. How on earth can one drive sales through social media? We will tell you…
How Does a B2B Business Drive Sales Through Social Media?
The very short answer is data. Rich data that has been gathered through all the years spent on social media providing insights into your ideal customer and then targeting them with the right content.
The longer answer is through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a business to business company can find their ideal prospect and then convert them into a long standing client.
But I already have long standing clients and my focus is to nurture and grow these accounts.
Much the same, through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a B2B company can communicate with their existing clients, building long term relationships, position themselves as a thought leader and drive growth within these accounts.
Although both approaches are similar, this is not a copy and paste. Each business requires careful thought and consideration when planning their social media strategy. This strategy needs to be aligned with the overarching business strategy so that those unique objectives can be met. Social media is simply another way to communicate with your clients and prospects and should be considered with as much investment as your sales teams, customer service center, marketing plans and business objectives.
Social media offers a platform for companies with niche products and services find and engage with their niche customers and clients, an opportunity that few other traditional marketing mediums can offer. The secret here is to seamlessly marry your business in the real world with your business online.
Since you have made it this far, perhaps you are interested in finding out more on how your business can win on social media. Let’s set up some time together to discuss this further since we are confident you are an expert in your field, we are experts in social media.
It’s surprising how many companies out there have not yet adapted to changing client and market conditions, and are subsequently damaging their brand without even realising it. Although global trends are moving more and more towards digital media channels – specifically social media platforms – some business owners have still not adjusted their business processes to embrace this market evolution.
Here are 5 ways you could be hurting your brand without even realising it:
Neglecting Social Media
Reluctance to adapt to change is a natural human response. In business, one of the key areas of neglect is a brand’s social media presence. The risk? Underestimating the impact of social media could leave you a step behind at best or, at worse, prove to be detrimental – regardless of the size of your organisation. By not using social media to its full potential, you are limiting your brand’s growth opportunities and losing a valuable competitive advantage. When used effectively, social media activities substantially contribute towards organisational goals such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer service and achieving bottom line objectives. Critically assess your marketing plans and ensure that your social media platforms are used optimally to support your various business functions.
Poor Customer Service
Clients are growing increasingly demanding, expecting service at a continually higher speed and quality level. Whether the communication is a general query (such as product availability) or a serious complaint, customers insist on quick and personal resolution. Inefficient customer service processes are likely to cause serious damage to your brand’s reputation due to resulting negative commentary from unhappy clients. Social media offers an excellent way to connect with customers in a speedy, direct and solution-driven manner. In addition to dealing with customer complaints and queries, you are also able to respond positively to compliments by clients, thereby showing appreciation to your supporters and promoting continued brand loyalty. The personal touch offered by social media can go a long way to improving customer sentiment and brand positioning based on the content and service that you deliver to clients via this channel.
Lack of value-add to clients
The brands that get ahead in the current tough economic climate are those that take an intensive customer-centric approach. By employing value-add elements that benefit the client in some way (e.g. social media messaging that includes tips or advice), the business is seen as useful and worth following. Such value-rich content tends to be shared by followers, resulting in the brand being exposed to a larger audience organically. Pure product or service promotion does not have the same share potential, and is likely to result in audience members un-following your page after a short period of time. A balance between marketing communication and enriching content needs to be carefully strategised to achieve maximum business benefit.
Non-targeted or generalised marketing not only wastes money (as only a part of the audience reached is of relevance to your brand), but it also does not provide sufficient data regarding the success of each marketing activity. For example, are people buying your product because of a television ad, print ad or because your store-front is attractive? Or maybe it’s none of the above at all? Targeted marketing such as audience selection, on the other hand, serves a dual purpose: it not only ensures that you invest efficiently by focusing spend on your core target market, but it also shows you the success of each marketing campaign or advertisement by providing accurate and detailed feedback data. Thus, you get a higher return on investment as well as crucial insight in terms of your customer base.
Use of Insufficient or Inaccurate Data
Statistical information is core to every business decision: whether the objective is to save a struggling business, grow a successful one or diversify an existing organisation. Using assumptions, insufficient or inaccurate data are clearly dangerous practices. Plans built on such “bad intel” could result in a substantial financial loss and even complete failure of the business entity in question. Effective planning requires relevant, accurate and qualitative data that can assist with decision making, such as demographic breakdown of actual purchasing customers, market segmentation and consumer behaviour. Reporting based on engagement metrics are an excellent source of indicative and precise figures to aid in business strategy and development.
Success-driven business strategy incorporates all elements that have the potential to positively impact organisational goals. Make sure your brand is utilising the tools and resources available for maximum benefit and to gain an invaluable edge within your industry.
We would love to chat to you about your business –
2018 is the year that social media will take over the world. The key to survival? Be prepared!
To stay ahead of the pack, you need to keep up with the latest social media trends such as user behaviour, new technology and consumer demands.
Below are the social media trends that are set to have a major impact this year:
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE USER EXPERIENCE
Social media users are an increasingly discerning and demanding bunch. “Winging it” will not work – messaging must be strategically planned, crafted and executed. Content should be compelling, engaging, creative and visually appealing in order to succeed, with brand consistency and exceptional quality underlying all activities.
Marketing will be more target-based, making use of not just demographic info, but factors like user lifestyle (e.g. interest in sport), media consumption habits (via mobile, on the move etc) and real-time behaviour (e.g. status change to “single”) as well. From a user perspective, content received is expected to be more relevant and personal than ever.
Improved Customer Service:
It’s do or die when it comes to customer service and responsiveness. Falling short will put a brand’s reputation at risk as users waste no time in venting their frustrations online. On the upside, excellent customer service will be rewarded by loyalty and positive public commentary by clients. Long term customer relationships and community building will also become more vital areas of focus by social media managers.
Changing social media landscape:
Platform-specific changes such as recently revised Facebook algorithms will make organic reach more difficult – meaning messages need to be even more effective and targeted. A boom in Millennials and Generation Z (those born after 1992) as part of the workforce form ever-expanding digital-based active consumer segment. Strategy plans have to evolve to meet the needs of this diverse (and somewhat challenging) market sector.
INFLUENCER MARKETING & ENDORSEMENT
2018 will see a shift towards more authentic and transparent messaging, driven by customer demands and sentiment. Influencers need to be genuine, representative of the brand and maintain a level of integrity in terms of their social media presence.
Companies that incorporate a customer reviews on their platforms will encourage positive sentiment as consumers are more likely to support, mention or endorse a brand that they view as trustworthy..
Organisations are also seeing the potential of using their employee base as a valuable resource to inspire consumer trust. Effective employee amplification techniques that help position staff as brand ambassadors, and even industry experts, help in promoting brand objectives.
DIRECT MESSAGING & CHATBOTS
Direct consumer contact:
As the need for personal interaction increases, social media is moving towards a higher volume of one-to-one client communication, with brands set to channel more resources into apps and platforms that facilitate direct interaction with consumers.
There will be a tangible increase in the use of Facebook Messenger services such as Ads (running ads directly through Facebook, thus eliminating the need to obtain email addresses for direct marketing) and Bots. Facebook in general will see a rise in business-based application including targeted paid promotions.
Until now, bots have been a “nice to have” option mainly used by larger brands. This year, however, will see a breakthrough in the mainstream use of chatbots by brands across the board. Well-setup bot automation has been shown to substantially improve business productivity, reduce costs and improve customer service.
While 2017 stats already revealed a surge in the use of videos, this year video usage will be taken to a whole new level. Compelling Live Streaming content will become an integral tool for organic reach, especially with the new Facebook News Feed algorithm set for activation in early 2018.
The Long and Short of it:
Longer format and storytelling-style videos (such as Instagram Stories) are set gain popularity this year. On the flip side, a rise in the use of ephemeral content (posts that are short-lived, such as Snapchat videos) will shake up the social media sphere by creating an urgency to view before it disappears a few hours after it is posted.
Apps and Technology:
Other video-based trends to watch out for are the use of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and in-platform apps like Facebook Watch by a growing number of businesses.
DATA & CONSUMER INSIGHT
Reporting and statistics:
A higher priority will be placed on measurable statistics such as engagement metrics and overall return on investment by marketers when assessing the business value of activities.
Focus on emotion-based information such as customer sentiment, brand health and message memorability will be more prevalent.
Techniques like social listening are growing in importance as companies are under pressure to gain a competitive edge. By leveraging off user generated content, brands can gain insight leading to improved customer service, increased user engagement and more effective marketing strategies.
Other 2018 social media trends include added integration with online purchasing (e.g. Instagram Shoppable posts), improved business-based functionality within the various platforms and an overall increase in social media users globally. It’s no wonder that brands are investing more and more resources into their social media presence.
For companies that have not yet finalised their social media budget, experts suggest that a minimum 20% – 25% of total marketing spend should be allocated to social media activities. Whether in-house or outsourced, social media is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Make sure you harness the awesome power it offers to make it work for your brand.