AusTech

Business and Technology Articles Contributed by UWA Students

Month: April 2019

Social Media, Opportunities and Constraints: A Wake up Call to the New Generation of Users

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The need to communicate and socialize is a strictly human one and has always defined human culture at a fundamental level. With the introduction of social media into modern life, the rate, speed and extent of such communications and interactions have increased dramatically, adding a cyber-element of cohesion and at times, confusion, into real human life. The cyber space also became a huge marketplace for individuals and businesses, offering possibilities to find or post job openings, create online marketplaces and sell goods, start Facebook or Linkedin business pages promoting companies, products and services or simply buy and sell Instagram accounts as well as followers. As a result, the developments observed in social media have begun to have almost a direct impact on real human life, turning social media use into an addiction for those who wish to stay on top of their game and profit.

Instagram’s explosion into the world of social media began in 2010 with the platform’s launch and intensified when Facebook’s acquired the company in 2012 with new personnel, capital and technologies made available for the company’s growth. The latest addition to Instagram’s power in social media is Instagram Checkout, an add-on that will enable users to shop products directly on Instagram without having to visit external sites. Currently 20 beauty and fashion brands are enlisted within the system’s directory with more companies to come, “ranging from Zara and H&M on the more affordable end, to Balmain and Dior on the higher end.” Currently, Instagram users spend approximately 53 minutes a day on the platform, giving influencers extreme power over their attention spans, while Instagram has already begun technological investments to offer the best services for the companies to be listed on its marketplace. The idea is to create an efficient global marketplace and charge member companies a certain selling fee to finance Instagram’s associated operations and earn the company extra income. Estimates show that a company advertisement on Instagram stream will bring as much as $2 billion a year so it is expected that companies will literally be lining up to be featured in the marketplace, regardless of the amount of the service fee.

Naturally, social media requires regulation and legal control just like any other business sector which prompted the Australian parliament to pass a new legislation to “criminalize Internet platforms for failing to remove violent videos and audio” following the recent terrorist attack carried out on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand by an Australian gunman. The new legislation puts significant pressure on social media executives as well as content and hosting providers with possible punishments of jail time up to three years for individuals and 10% annual revenue fines for companies, in the case that they fail to remove violent content from their platforms uppon legal request. The mentioned terrorist’s live footage of the terror attacks in New Zealand remained available on Facebook close to an hour from the beginning of the live broadcast, spreading around social media rapidly and generating 1.5 million copies over the next 24 hours, all of which were deleted or blocked by Facebook within 24 hours. The Australian politicians are concerned about the lack of responsible involvement on part of online content streaming sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and believe that such a legal obligation will motivate these companies to be more precise and careful about such incidents and help law enforcement with possible interventions.

Russia is one of the strictest countries with respect to expression of political opinions and the Kremlin has a rather shady record of dealing with dissidents, making it no wonder that the Russian government is more than ready to take the necessary measures to limit political expression in the cyber domain as well. A recently approved law is a great example of such an inclination with “stipulates fines of up to 100,000 roubles (£1,155) for ‘indecent’ online posts that demonstrate a ‘blatant disrespect for society, the country, Russia’s official state symbols, the constitution, or the authorities’.” The definition and scope of ‘blatant disrespect’ is rather ambiguous and opponents of the law fear that online comments can be manipulated or their meanings can be misinterpreted purposefully to justify persecutions while the proponents of it are praising the courage of the Putin administration to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable criticism. Heavy speculation rotates within Kremlin circles that Vladimir Putin is an extremely sensitive person to perceived insults, reminding the public of how he directly targeted a parody TV show called ‘Kukly’ (Puppets) airing on NTV because in one episode he was depicted as an evil gnome, cursing at other characters. As a result, the TV station was taken over by the Russian state and all the Putin related remarks were removed from future broadcasts.

The Automobiles Industry and Change: Used, New and Electric

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Modern day business operates on its own unique premises and dynamics but it is almost never debated that automobiles is one of the most important business fields in today’s global economy. Cars not only help people and cargo get around but are also a great source of income as their commerce is common virtually in every part of the world, creating hundreds of billions dollars’ worth of revenue for numerous parties involved. Whether it be selling cars through dealerships, running a cash for cars operation, supplying the market with cheaper spare parts or operating a repair and maintenance shop, the players in the game are always bombarded with new products and alternatives. Such fast-paced market dynamics make it a necessity for such players to be on track with novelties and developments at all times, consequently turning information into gold for all the parties operating within the market.

The new name of the game in the industry is electric cars after Tesla’s legendary entry into the markets with its revolutionary products that raised the standards and levels of competition in the industry. In the more environmentally aware parts of the world such as Scandinavia, the new trend has already gained substantial heat as in 2018, 58% of all cars sold in Norway were electric vehicles, with Tesla’s widely popular Model 3 “accounting for nearly 30 percent of new passenger vehicle sales.” Out of the 18,375 new passenger cars registered in the country, 10, 372 produce zero emissions, which signifies a 100% growth rate compared to March figures of 2018. Similarly, more than 5,300 Tesla Model 3 sedans were registered in March of 2019 with no other carmaker enjoying more than 10% of total sales. With 3,469 new hybrid cars sold in its market, Norway seems to be heading towards success with its plans to transform its automobiles market to include only environmental friendly vehicles in the near future as the government continues to offer benefits such as exemption from sales, import and road taxes for zero-emissions cars.

As much as the producers in the industry would love to supply all the customers with brand new cars every year, the second hand cars market has always remained as a great alternative for those seeking more bang for their buck and the US market is presumably one of the largest in the world. For an average of 14 million new cars sold in the country, there are 40 million used cars sold every year through 45,000 independent and 18,000 new dealerships. The average price for a used car is $19,741 while dealerships in the state of Michigan offer used cars for an average price of $16,489 and the dealerships in the states of West Virginia and Arkansas offer the youngest used cars with an average age of 3.9 years old. Used cars sold in the state of South Dakota have an average mileage of 80,000 miles due to the large size and dispersed regions in the state, while Alaskan used cars offer the lowest average mileage due to the compact organization of the state. With respect to the brands dominating the market, Ford, Chevy and Honda emerge as the leaders with first spots in twenty-two, ten and seven states accordingly. Ford’s F-150 model has been topping the American automobiles charts for popularity as it has been the most sold car model in American for the last 33 years, with the scenario repeating itself in the used cars market too.

Second hard cars have always been a hot spot of market activity and creative minds have always won in the competition. Craigslist is one of the newer phenomena in the market as it allows buyers and sellers of cars to connect directly, allowing rich content to be published for better communications. Recently, a user made the social media headlines with a brutally honest advertisement for his 1999 Toyota Corolla, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the site and generating even more Twitter reactions. What the user did was ingenious as the technically inferior aspects of the vehicle were directly mentioned such as no Bluetooth, no sunroof, no fancy wheels, no rear view camera while the standard features such as “a transparent rear window” were highlighted to assure potential buyers that the car “will outlive you” and will also “outlive your children.” The outcome of the seller’s honest attempt is still unknown as Craigslist quickly removed the advertisement from its website but statements such as “let’s face the facts, this car isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but neither are you” most definitely reduced the chances of success for the bold seller.

The Social Media Trends to Watch

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The social media is a phenomenon of the new millennium. Its numbers have crossed more than 3 billion users worldwide, becoming a primary means for businesses, politicians and decision-makers to reach their audiences. And there is a lot more to the social media story than Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, as indicated by the evolving trends in social media.

Rise of Private Groups

Facebook Groups took off in 2018 as a means for brands to connect directly with fans. Facebook Groups allow a company to participate as a Business Page, post Live videos and facilitate social learning. These groups are meant for engaging with a large audience and garnering the necessary feedback.

Emergence of Chatbots

Internet chatbots date back to the days of AOL messenger. Chatbots have evolved considerably since those times and are now being integrated with social media. Businesses are using chatbots to establish social connection with the customers on social media. In an indication of things to come, the new Facebook Messenger platform saw the number of chatbots soaring to more than one lakh in the very first year of its inception.

Stories Everywhere

The social media platforms have metamorphosed into story-telling platform, which is good for brand building. Instagram Stories have received a major boost due to AR filters, Facebook has added Stories to personal accounts, Pages and Groups, while WhatsApp and YouTube have also invested in Story-like features. The evolution from basic features to branded storytelling snippets and integration with shopping features will only jump further.

Thriving Live Video

Live video content is making huge waves and is set to become a crucial part of marketing strategy. Consumers love video content, with estimates suggesting that 2/3rd of the audiences prefer watching live video as opposed to reading social media blogs.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing makes use of micro influencers to drive traffic and sales. Companies hire the services of Instagrammers and Snapchatters to promote their brand and manage their social media profile. Micro influencers are people who have a strong following on social media channels, with numbers typically ranging between 1,000 and 90,000.

Paid Advertisements

Businesses need an active presence on the social media and they know it. They build profiles on multiple platforms and update these on a regular basis. Companies pay for advertisements in order to take their social media strategies to the next level. Facebook alone has more than six million advertisers and Instagram has more than two million monthly paid advertisers.

Social Listening

Social platforms are listening to the conversations taking place on their platforms. If you are discussing something with friends and see a related advertisement on the social media, you can attribute it to the ears of the social platforms.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality takes the real and modifies it. The Pokemon Go gaming app is an example of Augmented Reality. The app accesses the user’s camera and adds fictional elements to the screen. Social media channels are implementing augmented reality on their platforms to provide and enhance the customer experience, with Snapchat’s face filters being a case in point.

To Make Digital Marketing Effective, Go Back to the Basics

International-Telecommunication-Union-BRANDSPURNGAsk a business owner for a list of the things that most often overwhelm her, and she may well place digital marketing at the top. That’s not unusual: Most business owners feel as if there’s too much to learn and do, and too little time to do it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Five Steps to a Simpler Digital Marketing Strategy

Between content marketing, social media, SEO, PPC advertising, web design, conversion funnels, email, direct messages, and dozens of other marketing functions a business might tackle, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you aren’t careful, you could end up missing out on a golden opportunity to reach new customers and expand your brand.

Setting aside all the noise that surrounds digital marketing, the core tenets and responsibilities remain simple and familiar. Contrary to popular belief, you can simplify your efforts.

Below are five practical suggestions.

  • Establish 3 to 5 Core Marketing Objectives

It’s easy to get sidetracked in digital marketing if you’re not clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. But if you don’t let that happen, it can be oh-so-easy to hunker down and focus on the marketing tasks that matter because you know what you’re aiming for.

Before you do anything else, sit down and establish a list of three to five core marketing objectives. These will be the filters through which every marketing decision — big or small — will pass.

  • Clarify Your Brand Voice

The next step is to clarify your brand voice. It’s imperative to have a solid grasp of your brand’s identity and how you expect to convey it to your target audience.

A strong brand voice maintains consistency and makes it easy to facilitate communications that are meaningful and “on brand.” It also makes the challenge of establishing trust with customers much more smooth.

You can use this to shape a style guide that will help you create useful and high-returning content.

  • Streamline SEO

Too many firms overcomplicate SEO by adopting complex strategies and techniques. Although there’s an undeniably technical facet to SEO, the fundamentals are absurdly basic.

Experts suggest following a simple 1-2-3 SEO process: (1) Find the appropriate keywords, (2) Optimize the site for those keywords, and (3) Develop content about those relevant keywords. Each of the steps requires work, but don’t fall for the notion that you have to do ten tasks at once.

  • Use Minimalist Design

Complicated web design with intricate graphics and lots of motion aren’t necessary. If you study some of the leading brands in your space, you’re apt to notice that they rely on minimalist design to get their branding cross … and this should be good news for you.

Minimalist style takes skill, but it doesn’t require a massive investment. You can excise a lot of unnecessary brainstorming from the process and use your creative energy in other areas.

  • Focus on One Social Media Platform

Who says you need a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Periscope, Foursquare, and every other platform in between? If you’re investing in all these channels, the odds are you aren’t doing a very good job on any of them.

Instead, focus in on just one top social media channel, such as Instagram or YouTube. If you pour all your time and creative energy into this profile, you’ll extract far more value over the long run.

It’s better to have a few hundred loyal, engaged supporters than thousands of shallow, disengaged followers.

Simple is Better

There’s a common assumption that the harder you work for something, the better the results will be. But too often, this becomes little more than a justification for sunk costs.

The truth is that the simplest tasks often yield the highest return on investment — especially in digital marketing. Instead of overwhelming yourself with complex marketing initiatives and challenging strategies that demand substantial amounts of time and financial resources, simplify your approach.

If you do so, you’re more likely to save time, money, and creative energy … all of which could be reallocated toward strategic investments in other areas of the operation. Simple is better. The sooner you recognize this, the quicker you can move forward.

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