Startup

How Much Data Does Facebook and Advertisers have on You?

Over the last ten years Facebook has gathered too much data and shared far it too widely.  Facebook knows more than you think they know about you, and behind every feature, it is collecting data.  With the latest Cambridge Analytica-Facebook privacy data scandal, I think it’s important for both consumers and businesses to fully understand how Facebook is using and selling your data to advertisers.

These advertisers then target you with ads in an almost “psychically creepy,” stocking way.  Business Insider recently reported about hidden trackers on websites that use ‘login with Facebook‘ to harvest your data. 

A conspiracy theory has been going around among Facebook and Instagram users:  are these two companies maybe tapping our microphones to target ads? According to a statement released by Facebook’s Newsroom, “Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed.”  

And our government swears that there are not any aliens being kept in the secretive base, in Nevada, called Area 51.  

Some of Facebook’s past employees have been quoted saying that scanning and upload that much audio data “would strain the resources of the NSA,” says Antonio Garcia Martinez, a former Facebook ad-targeting product manager.

 For this to be possible, “Facebook would need to understand the context of what you are saying – not just listen for the words to mentioned, “ Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager said.

Recently reported by the WSJ, Facebook, has admitted to logging the phone call and messaging histories of some Android smartphone users who installed its messaging app or a lighter version of its main Facebook app.

This followed users’ reports on Twitter in the past week that they had examined their Facebook data and saw the company logging the information.

So, if Facebook and Instagram are really not eavesdropping on conversations, then how is it that users are often shown ads which seem like they these social media sites appear to know too much about them?  

While Facebook’s technologies have become very sophisticated at watching what we do online, and even offline, as we are wandering around the actual world – how do they obtain our personal data if they are not literally listening to our conversations?  

Because of this question, I decided to conduct a bit of research on what information and data Facebook and its advertisers collect, and the data I have handed over to them.  

Based on my research, it now has become abundantly clear as to why we get those eerily relevant ads sometimes — I will detail my findings below. I also want to touch on how Facebook and other advertisers sometimes “get it wrong” in an almost comically annoying way.  

Just because you’re in your thirties, and you are a woman who bought a baby shower gift, doesn’t mean you need to see ads for maternity clothes every time you open Facebook. When an ad is shown enough to annoy you, you can click the little arrow on the top right corner of the post, then select “Why am I seeing this?” option.

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It’s fairly obvious that advertising is a crucial component of the free internet, but the companies that are buying and selling ads appear to be crossing the line in certain cases.  Sometimes, it almost seems like they are stalking you. I think it’s important for companies that are getting started on Facebook advertising, and for users of these platforms, to understand what they’re doing, and what a person can – or cannot – do to limit info if privacy is a concern.

Here are the four major areas where Facebook and advertisers are collecting data and what you can do about it:

1) What you have purchased?

If you shop at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to buy some medicine, they usually ask you to key in your phone number to get rewards or loyalty points. Many people do this without thinking about it.  When you enter your email, phone number or a customer ID card as you check out at a store, your purchase history is recorded and stored.

In turn, data brokers can legally obtain your purchase information details because they buy that history from stores, like CVS or Walgreens, that sell their customer purchase information.

This is how information about the contents of what you just bought suddenly begins to spread. As an example, a third party collector, such as Nielsen-Catalina Solutions, will compile and categorize purchase history that it acquires from CVS about its customers.  

So, if I bought a bottle of Theraflu, the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), could pay Nielsen-Catalina Solutions for this information.  When this information is purchased, GlaxoSmithKline is now armed with an enormous arsenal of Facebook’s advertising tools, information from my loyalty cards, email or phone number and more.  

Using all this data, GlaxoSmithKline can match their advertising with my Facebook account. Now according Facebook, data brokers run personal information through an algorithm before uploading it, so that it’s not identifiable, but it can still be matched with Facebook account information.  

So then continuing with this example, GSK, via Facebook, can decide to target adults between the ages of 25 to 54, who purchased Theraflu or a competing brand.   

How to Opt Out of Data Gathering

Follow the links below for instructions to stop tracking by the largest data brokers:

For starters, if you want to limit the amount information that is sold and used by advertising, try using store loyalty cards, or at least sign up for them with an email or phone you do not use.   

Facebook works directly with the six data brokers listed above, all of which give you the opportunity to opt out of them sharing of your personal data, from your email to your purchase history.  Of course, this is not easy, by design. The “opting out” process literally requires visiting each data broker website and completing a form with, yes, your personal info!

2) Where have you and your devices been?

For advertisers, what could be better than your purchase history? That answer can be found in the famous phrase: location, location, location.  Did you stop at a retail store? This ad will remind you to return! Are you in close vicinity to one of our shops? Well, here is a coupon.    

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, called “Your Location Data Is Being Sold—Often Without Your Knowledge” the author, describes how advertisers are using all kinds of location signals.  Which include your smartphone’s GPS, Wifi-access points around you, IP addresses and more to follow your breadcrumbs.

Do you want to limit Facebook from knowing where you are?  To do so, follow these steps in Facebook’s mobile app (IOS and Android):

Settings > Account Settings > Location and turn off location tracking.

For increased security, you can disable location history as well prevent the social network from keeping tabs on your whereabouts.  It does not stop from there.  Other apps can pinpoint your locale and serve you ads back through Facebook.

So, before granting any new app location access, think it through.  On an iPhone, you can do the following: Settings > Privacy > Location Services and go through the apps that you have already granted location access. If you are concerned with turning this kind of tracking?  They should all say “Never” or “While Using” – not “Always.” If you have an Android, it’s easier: just go to Settings > Location.

Additionally, businesses can opt-in to provide wifi access or just monitor devices in their establishment and then be paid by the number of devices that use their network or are trapped in their beacon.  An example of this is a local hot dog restaurant, who stated conversationally to the CEO of a small marketing firm that he was getting monthly checks from a company that had installed a tracker for mobile devices in his restaurant, and there was nothing he needed to do besides give permission for the tracker to be there.

3) Which apps do you use regularly?  

Let’s assume you are thinking about keeping in shape- Summer will be here soon enough. So, you go into the iTunes App Store and download a food-tracking app to your iPhone. The next day you may see your Facebook and Instagram feed flooded with fitness and weight loss ads. If it was already obvious, the Facebook-owned Instagram pulls from the same ad selection.   

How it usually works with these apps is that you initially download and use a free version of an app. Let’s use the example of a food tracking app called Lose lt.  

You will be shown ads from Facebook’s Audience Network. Now, even if you do not login to the app via Facebook, the companies swap information.  Usually the app’s maker or parent company can use your iPhone’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). The IDFA is a number stored on your phone, to match up any other history associated with your  IDFA, which also includes your Facebook account.

Again if you want to limit this, go into your iPhone’s Settings menu.  It is there where you can actually limit the ability for advertisers to get a hold of your iPhone’s unique identifier.  

Keeping with the same food tracking app example, if you open the app, your IDFA could become associated with “Weight Loss” or even “Healthy Living” which would now be marked on your Facebook advertising profile.     

Apple gives you the ability to limit advertisers from getting your IDFA. In iOS go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising > turn on Limit Ad Tracking.  At the time you should reset the advertising identifier. With Android’s similar system, just go to Settings > Google > Ads > Opt out of Ads Personalization.  

4) What have you clicked or visited?    

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Obviously,  web browsing history is another way that Facebook mines and collects information about you. The ‘social plug-ins’ (for example, the ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons) and the Facebook Pixel is installed on millions of apps and websites.  Facebook Pixel allows advertisers to see what you do on there.

Often referred to as re-marketing or social retargeting, it’s when you see an ad for Vineyard Vines dress shirts after browsing for them.  Add something to a shopping cart? Click on a different product or article on the site. The Pixel will know.         

If you find it annoying that ads are following you around, you can have some options.  One option is called interest-based advertising. It is pretty common and is used across the web by the big tech platforms.  Google, Amazon, Facebook and others offer ways to opt out on their own websites.

Specifically, on Facebook, you can go to Settings > Account Settings > Ads > Ad Settings and turn off all the settings on that page. If you want to take it a step further, you can delete any interests Facebook may have gathered about you previously. If you want to prevent the same when you are your Laptop, install the extensions Ghostery or Privacy Badger  on your browser.  

Both of these to view and disable – trackers that are running on webpages. The Firefox browser just made a smart play: by creating a Facebook Container Extension. that helps you control more of your web activity by separating your Facebook profile from the rest of your web-browsing to limit the info FaceBook can collect about you on other websites via third party cookies.   

Who are you really?  

All that information, combined with your activity on Facebook, as well as Instagram – which post or pages you’ve liked, the people you are friends with and more- give the social media behemoth a very good social graph portrait of you.  This portrait gets even more clear when more information from the data brokers: your salary, car preference, home size, political affiliations, spending habits and much more is revealed.  

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This is why, just behind Google, Facebook commands the second most digital advertising spend. During the last quarter of 2017, Facebook reported $12.97 billion in revenue, including $12.78 billion from ads.  That’s 98.5 percent of Facebook’s revenue coming from ads.

This is what allows any advertiser to log into Facebook Ads Manager and perform micro-targeting. You can try it for yourself, log in and laser focus on people in a certain zip code who have bought appliances and furniture- people who are “likely to move soon.”   

Now short of deleting Facebook entirely and moving into the woods, there is not anything you can do stop this entirely.    

Some people can argue that having all this data means that they can provide you with more relevant ads. And some people care more than others about their privacy and personal information being used.

 Facebook’s spokesperson Joe Osborne says: “That’s why we build our targeting tools in a way that doesn’t share people’s personal information with advertisers and that gives people control over the ads they see.” But, if we circle back to the latest Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where millions users information was used without their knowledge for political gain, you have to wonder.

How much do you trust Facebook and what their PR team says? Facebook had already settled a case with the FTC in 2011 that required Facebook to protect user data from this sort of thing, AND obtain permission from (and notify) users before using or sharing their data.   

Facebook is doing what it always set out to do: collect our data points and sell them to anyone willing to pay. Do you actually think Goldman Sachs and DST Global (a Russian investor with Kremlin ties) chipped in $450 million so we can post cat videos and pictures of our food for free?   

The goal of connecting the world is just marketing, and to do that, you must understand that the value of Facebook is two-fold, that of your data to third parties and to the direct ads that are targeted to you.  In addition, this could also include the dimension of your friends, who have not signed up for the ads that are focused on you, but of people in your social circle who may have similar tastes to you. Just assume that if it’s a free app, you, and your social circle, are the product.

Conclusion      

As a cofounder of a digital marketing agency, I understand that advertising has been what has financed radio, TV and free content on the internet. Whenever you sign up for a free service, which has been designed to be easy to use, with terms and conditions discreetly listed in inconspicuous text somewhere on the bottom of the page, you are the product or target.

My concern is that the public still does not have enough transparency about how exactly these digital ads are targeted toward us.  

The more that consumers understand about the linkage between smartphones, browsing history, location history and data that can now be aggregated with demographic information provided from you to Facebook, the more this targeting will make sense. It’s not that “they” are listening to your conversations through your computer’s microphone, but data aggregation.

“They” (marketers) are monitoring users app downloads and daily trips to Wholefoods, and know their age and income information in addition to their browsing history, and purchase history.  The more consumers understand this, the more they realize how much their privacy is at stake, and it will be incumbent upon the user to police their own privacy.

Heads up: if you are still worried about the mic on your phone, by all means you can turn it off.  (On iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone > Facebook. On Android, go to Settings > Apps > Facebook > Permissions > Disable microphone.  In the iPhone’s Settings menu, you can disable the Facebook app from accessing your microphone.   

Facebook is now trying to rebuild it’s trust, by announcing a post in it’s newsroom titled “ It’s Time to Make Our Privacy Tools Easier to Find.”  It also just said that it’s going to limit how much data it makes available to advertisers (by cutting third-party data providers) buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network.

More specifically, Facebook says it will stop using data from third-party data aggregators — companies such as Experian and Acxiom — to help supplement its own data set for ad targeting.   

If the issue is privacy, why does every app and site incentivize users to scroll past pages of legal boilerplate to hit “I Agree,” rather than writing up top in large type:

*****“THIS IS THE ONE SENTENCE YOU’VE GOTTA THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU AGREE”?    

Facebook’s Privacy Updates

Recently since Mark Zuckerberg CEO, was called in on April 10th and 11, to testify before Congress, FB announced a bunch of changes: restricting access that apps can get about users’ events, as well as information about groups such as member lists and content.

In addition, the company is also removing the option to search for users by entering a phone number or an email address. While this helped individuals find friends who may have a common name, Facebook says businesses that had phone or email information on customers were able to collect profile information this way. 

A few weeks ago all Facebook users will received a notice on their Facebook feeds with a link to see what apps they use and what information they have shared with those apps. They’ll have a chance to delete apps they no longer want. Facebook’s new privacy policy aims to explain the data it gathers on users more clearly — but doesn’t actually change what it collects and shares.

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Jeremy WebbHow Much Data Does Facebook and Advertisers have on You?
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Digital-Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups

You just launched a startup and need to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible. The problem is you are not just competing in your industry, you are competing with the millions of other marketing messages that consumers are bombarded with every day.

Not only that, your bootstrapped startup does not have the funds to invest heavily into digital marketing. What’s an entrepreneur to do?

Focus On Your Target Audience

When you initially start the marketing of your business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and you just want to reach out to every single person all in one time. But, the most important point is to stay focus on reaching your target audience who have the potential to make your business a success and help it grow.

Rather than you try to grab the attention of your potential clients, zero in on a target part that will assist you in reaching your short-term goals. Maybe this target part is made up of initial adopters, who you feel will buy your product instantly – or they might be a target audience you have knowledge of as to how to communicate with them. Whatever the case is, staying focused will assist you in reaching your target audience more efficiently and it is better to make use of whatever restricted resources you have.

Build Planned Partnerships

Build strong brand partnerships, align with an already established brand this will help your startup in gaining popularity along with credibility. Select a business that you like – ideally a setup which offers complimentary services so you can refer them. Or you can also opt for applying a referral fee on both sides so that there is a financial benefit to both the setups that brings in more business.

Connect And Communicate With Your Followers

Social media is one of the best ways to connect with your followers and to engage with them. Your followers are highly important as they are your future customers. Make your followers feel valuable to you and the brand, so they stick around and become loyal members.

Also never be afraid of the social confrontation, if there is any complaint against your brand take a step forward in solving it, use this as an opportunity to show how capable your brand’s customer service is.

Also do not be afraid of social confrontation, approach any complaint as an opportunity to show your brand’s customer-service capabilities.

Lastly, embrace your failures and stop hiding from them, you are a startup and you are bound to face some problems. Use these hurdles strategically as an opportunity to win over the customers with good customer service and display your business long-term mission as much as possible.

Incentivize Individuals To Share

If you want your brand to be the center of attention, there is nothing more like giving them a motivation to do so. Offer them something that will be free if they just tweet about your service or product or ask them to share your post on Facebook. Or in return for liking all your social media profiles, they will get some special perk.

Another way you can engage and incentivize your followers is a contest. Setup a contest for them, pick the winner and give them an incentive or some prize. You can get creative with how to motivate your customers and incentivize them, the only thing you need to make sure is that there is proper value in for them.

Content Is And Will Be The King

This is one of the long-term strategies, but developing branded quality content is one of the best ways to market your newly launched startup.  If you are working with a team that doesn’t consist of a good content creator, then you can wait for a few months to get more established.

Branded content is a fantastic way to partner your company with the themes that are relevant to your industry, and if you have something that is of value to add to the industry, it can instantly get you established as an expert.

An essential thing you must remember is that your content should be not promotional –don’t just go about writing your business offerings or your company’s services, instead write an article about some issues in the industry and write some considerate analysis and commentary related to it. Another great way to create branded content is by conducting surveys in your industry and then publish the results that are pertinent – the more unique your data is the more attention it will earn.

Take Advantage Of Social Media

One of the most common methods of marketing your brand is by making use of the social media platforms. However, it is important that you make use of the right methods of using social media marketing. You want to ensure that you are not only posting on a regular basis but you are also engaging with your users. You just don’t want your Twitter and Facebook profiles to be streaming with your company’s promotional content.

Instead, you should share content that will engage your users. You want to provide content to your users that is valuable, it’s important that you understand your audience well so that you can give them the right amount of information that is helpful and engaging.

If you feel that your users or followers are more into visual content then focus on platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. If you feel the services you offer can be best described through text info, then develop a powerful presence on Facebook by Buying Real Facebook Photo Post Likes from Digi SMM

Apply For Business Awards

Whether you have started a new service that will make the lives of your customers easy, or you are advertising a product that has never been launched in the market before – getting recognition award from a local business will definitely help you in increasing the credibility of your brand. No award is small, as it only means increased recognition for your business. Getting a local business award will only give your newly launched startup more acceptability.

Let us know about, what marketing strategies you have applied for your startup.

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Jeremy WebbDigital-Marketing Tips for Bootstrapped Startups
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It's Back: Female Leaders Month May 2018 #SGWomen

Every year in May Startup Grind hosts our #SGWomen Leaders Month — proudly recognizing the accomplishments of successful women leaders all over the world. These women are founders, venture capitalists, engineers, executives and more, who represent our community.

They are the women who exemplify profound leadership skills, hard-work, humility, and success and demonstrate their strength with devotion to the work they do everyday. They encourage and inspire us all.

Startup Grind’s #SGWomen launched four years ago and is about putting a heightened focus and an awareness on our everyday mission to create more inclusive communities. Never has Startup Grind’s mission been more potent than in the realm of entrepreneurship, startups, business, and representing women everywhere in the tech space.

The most shocking statistics most of us are familiar with:

Women-led tech companies received a mere $1.9 billion in funding (about two percent) last year. This figure may seem a large investment until it stands in comparison to the heaping $66.9 billion invested in companies with all-male founders.

Black women received far less than one percent of all venture capital deals. Only nine percent of VC partners are women, some companies recently hiring their first female partners yet.

Women are banning together and men are stepping up as allies to help improve these statistics and work toward changing the environment; but clearly we still have much work to do.

The good news.

The good news is there are more female entrepreneurs today than ever before. The decision-making women in the world of venture capital are shaking things up for good.

All Raise’s Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee was one of the first female VC’s to publicly recognize and speak out on the problem of unrecognized female leadership. Lee has made it her mission to work toward solving these inequities. All Raise — announced last month — was founded by 34 senior female investors and as a new non-profit organization it is dedicated to diversity in funders & founders.

Many of these dynamic VC’s recently graced the cover as part of the 2018 Forbes Midas List. I’m proud to say all but two of them have spoken at a Startup Grind’s Global Conference, recognizing the best women and men in business.

Reshaping the industry.

We along with many other organizations and individuals are working to help reshape what the tech industry looks like. We have the power to encourage inclusive thinking within our organization — which spans 350 cities and 120 countries globally. We’re doing what we can to spread that message by modeling it.

May events.

One purpose of our May events is to tell the stories of the journey, the grind, and the setbacks of great female leaders. From Lagos, Nigeria to Detroit, Michigan. From Mexico City to Hong Kong. Over 100 Startup Grind chapters in more than 25 countries will host events as part of our #SGWomen Female Leaders Campaign.

It is important that we recognize, listen to and encourage these women as we work toward building a more inclusive ecosystem. Anyone and everyone who believes in our mission to work toward change  —  men and women alike  —  should come out to an event in May.

Startup Grind’s mission is to educate, inspire, and connect  — ultimately helping every entrepreneur in the world. We want to do the type of work we are proud of. We want to produce work that helps others, even if it’s only in a small way.

We can all move toward change.

We must produce work that represents diversity and inclusiveness as a standard  — where diversity should be celebrated, but is also expected. We must share this message through our actions — not just with words. One thing has become especially clear this year  — we have to talk about it.

Here is a list of our events happening around the world.

Here is how you can get involved:

Attend an event.

These aren’t your typical “tech events” these are community events with the purpose of bringing amazing people together to build relationships and help each other. Bring a friend or come to meet a new one. Even better, invite a female entrepreneur or colleague along with you. Of course, all events are for both men and women — all are welcome. From there you’re part of our community  —  it’s as simple as that.

Apply for a free ticket to our European Conference.

Apply for a free ticket to our Europe Conference. We’re giving away 100 comp tickets to women in tech for our upcoming Europe Conference on June 13 in London. We’ll be doing the same for our Global Conference in Silicon Valley February 11–13, 2019  —  stay tuned for updates on that.

Spread the word.

Use #SGWomen to recognize female leaders in your community or to share content and photos of Startup Grind events you attend. Mention @startupgrind so we can share them, too.

Suggest a speaker.

Send us a note at speakers@startupgrind.com if you know of a female leader who would be a great addition to one of our stages around the world. We’re always looking for great women to join our lineup at the Global Conference in February and at our Europe Conference in June as well.

Become a Partner.

At Startup Grind, we help both startups and large corporations alike tap into our potent network of global entrepreneurs. We also want to help you get your message, resources, etc. in front of our community. Please reach out — we’d love to talk. Write to sponsor@startupgrind.com.

For further inspiration, here is a laundry list of powerhouse business women doing incredible work in this world:

VC’s..

Aileen Lee at Cowboy, Maha Ibrahim at Canaan, Stacey Bishop at Scale VP, Luciana Lixandru and Sonali De Rycker at Accel, Jess Lee at Sequoia, Anna Patterson at Gradient, Sarah Tavel at Benchmark, Sarah Guo at Greylock, Jenny Lefcourt at Freestyle, Kara Nortman at Upfront, Jenny Lee at GGV, Ann Miura-Ko at Floodgate, Rebecca Kaden at USV (speaking at Startup Grind June 5!) , Megan Quinn at Spark Capital, Kirsten Green and Eurie Kim at Forerunner, Trae Vassallo at Defy, Jocelyn Goldfein at Zetta, Renata Quintini at Lux, Hayley Barna at FirstRound, Steph Palmieri at Uncork, Patricia Nakache at Trinity, Theresia Gouw at Aspect, Beth Seidenberg at Kleiner Perkins, Emily Melton at DFJ (speaking at Startup Grind Palo Alto, May 17th!), Christine Tsai at 500, Halle Tecco at Techammer (speaking at Startup Grind Charleston May 3!) , Jodi Jahic at Aligned, Arlan Hamilton at Backstage, Susan Lyne at BBG, Freada Kapor Klein at Kapor Capital, Ashley Carroll at Social Capital, the dynamic team at #ANGELS.

Engineers, Entrepreneurs, Executives, Activists, Authors..

Katrina Lake, Jessica Livingston, Mary Grove, Anne Wojcicki, Megan Smith, Julia Hartz, Jessica Herrin, Michelle Zatlyn, Laura Weidman Powers, Ursula Burns, Sheryl Sandberg, Holly Liu, Nicole Sanchez, Kathryn Minshew, Courtney Caldwell, Katie Jacobs Stanton, Danielle Morrill, Beth Comstock, Gillian Tans, Julia Grace, Laurene Powell Jobs, Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Susan Fowler, Danielle Cohn (Speaking at Startup Grind Philadelphia May 4!) Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Tarana Burke, Grace Coddington, J.K Rowling, Alice Bentinck, Margit Wennmachers (speaking at Startup Grind Europe on June 13!), Ellen DeGeneres, Eileen Welteroth, Karlie Kloss, Sara Blakely, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Michelle Obama, Carolyn Rafaelian, Adi Tatarko, Fei-Fei Li, Shernaz Daver, April Underwood, Lynda Weinman, Lisa Price, Brene Brown, Sara Mauskopf (speaking at Startup Grind SF May 3!), Tracy Young

The idea behind our Female Leaders / #SGWomen / annual May campaign was launched four years ago with our partners and the network behind Google for Entrepreneurs. Today, we’re proud to be continuing the campaign with the support of Comcast Lift Labs.

Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs

Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs for Entrepreneurs gives talented entrepreneurs access to Comcast NBCUniversal’s renowned network of partners, brands and mentors to foster rapid breakthroughs in media, entertainment and connectivity.

Founder-focused, LIFT Labs offers programmed talks, mentor sessions, events and online educational resources designed to help entrepreneurs grow and manage their companies and bring their offerings to market. #IdeasElevated. Go to ComcastNBCULIFT.com to learn more.

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Jeremy WebbIt's Back: Female Leaders Month May 2018 #SGWomen
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How to Find Partners for Your Startup

Making a successful partnership is one of the best things you can do for your startup. Partnering with an individual can help round out your team and experience. Partnering with a company can give you resources and connections that you may not have had access to otherwise. Remember that it’s not about just finding a partner. It’s about finding the right partner to strategically enhance your startup and help you grow. ​

Make a List of Your Goals

Every startup has short-term, long-term, and stretch goals. Make a list of yours because it helps you understand what you hope to gain from the work you’re doing. If you’re looking to expand your business to find customers, your goals will be different than someone who is still working to make a product that’s ready for testing. Every startup is different — even from its competitors — and listing your goals is the first step to finding a partner. Not only will it give you an idea of what you have and what you need, but it will also help you prepare to show what you have to offer.

Consider Your Needs

Once you know where you’re going, you have to figure out how to get there. Look at your assets — both physical and what you offer in terms of ideas — and then look at what you still need. That helps you get a clearer picture of exactly what you need a partner to bring to the table. If the only thing you’re missing is capital, you won’t want a person who wants control over an aspect of your business. If you’re looking to improve a mobile app or become more tech-savvy, someone with ties to the tech community might be a better fit for your startup.

Consider Their Needs

People are unlikely to partner with your startup without an idea of what you can do for them. Even a person who believes in your idea and wants to finance you will expect to see some kind of return on their investment. Before you pitch the idea of a partnership to a potential partner, make a list of what you bring to the table. Expect to discuss your financial outlook and ways in which they might benefit from joining forces with you.

Make sure to tailor your pitch to each specific partner you speak with. Some will want the value of a connection with your company. Others might want data you’ve collected or services you offer. Still others will want to make a profit. Show that you can give them what they want and you’ll become an attractive option for a partnership.

Know Where to Look

Meeting partners isn’t always the most intuitive thing to do. If you’re confused about where to start, consider the connections you already have. Speak to people you went to school with, people you’ve worked with, and other social connections you have. Check Angel List. Talk to local businesses who offer complementary services and see if you can partner together to promote or highlight the other.

You can also approach larger companies, but you’re more likely to get a response if you have a direct in through a social connection. Companies like Uber made extremely intelligent strategic partnerships that enhanced their own brand, promoted their services, and strengthened their reputation. It may not be possible to form partnerships with large companies right up front, but there’s no reason not to consider them. Reaching out doesn’t cost much and might net you great returns.

Have a Reasonable Timetable

Don’t expect an answer from a potential partner right away. Whether you’re looking for a corporate partner or a co-founder, the person you approach will probably need to take time to think over your offer. It’s important that you don’t crowd them or expect them to make a choice right away. If you’re approaching them with accounting information, a business plan, and other details about your offer — which you should be — then they’ll want time to look them over, verify the information, and mull over how the partnership can help them meet their own goals.

Give the person time to make a decision. If they decline, be polite and thank them for their time. You never know when they might introduce you to someone else who can be helpful or when they might decide to work with you in the future.

Stay Organized

When you’re on the hunt for partnerships, it’s common to have to approach quite a few people before you make the connections that are right for your startup. If you can’t keep each perspective partner’s goals, abilities, connections, and other information straight, you won’t look as professional as you need to for a great impression. Things like contact forms, data sheets, and other organizational tools are necessary when you’re dealing with large amounts of people.

It’s also important to stay on top of any agreements or offers that you make to potential partners. You want to make sure that your dealings aren’t changing day to day or else you won’t look like someone that they can get positive work done with.

At the end of the day, a partnership with a business will help you expand your own and capitalize on the strengths of the other. Most of the work of finding and negotiating partnerships is knowing what you need, knowing what you have to offer, approaching the right people, and staying organized. Doing these things can help you close a deal with anyone — and help you take your startup to the next level.

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How to Manage Your Nonprofit | 6 Key Strategies

Nonprofits are the heart and pulse of a beating economy. Making money in for-profit enterprises is good we have to remember that there are missions, impacts, and causes we need to be passionate about and to support.

The sad truth is that many of these nonprofits are mismanaged. This often isn’t intentional or malicious, it’s just the reality that the nonprofit world is different than what many of us are used to. And that’s OK.

Below are six strategies to managing your nonprofit more effectively. These will help you build a better brand, get more donations, and create a legacy that lives long past your time. Read on and stay strong in your cause.

#1 Get Google Ad Grants for $10,000/month free advertising.

This is perhaps the single most unknown treasure in the nonprofit world. Google Ad Grants is a program available to eligible nonprofits that allows you to make use of $10,000/month in free AdWords.

Google AdWords are the paid-for advertising that is at the top of your search results. People pay to get their product, service, or company listed here. Every time somebody clicks the ad, Google makes money and you get a visitor.

You have to be registered with TechSoup first, but once you are, go through the application process, set up your account, and create ads.

Congratulations, you now have a $120,000/year digital marketing budget. Now, go crush it.

#2 Enroll in G Suite for nonprofits.

Again, big kudos to Google for offering their services free to nonprofits. G Suite for Nonprofits is available for eligible nonprofits. Once you are signed up, you get benefits such as:

-Google Drive for shared documents & content

-Google Sheets (like Excel) & Slides (like PowerPoint)

-Google Docs (like Word)

-Google Calendar & Hangouts (chat)

-Gmail (e-mail)

You can see the top ten benefits from G Suite for nonprofits here. Start using these free benefits and take your nonprofit to the next level.

#3 Configure Salesforce for nonprofits to manage donors.

Donor management can be one of the biggest hurdles for nonprofits. Often times, Executive Directors are juggling spreadsheets, managing hand-written notes, and trying to remember the last time he spoke with that one donor.

Get rid of that chaos and industrialize your capability with Salesforce. If you have never heard of Salesforce, they are the world’s #1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. They’re amazing. Every big Fortune 500 company uses them.

Thankfully for you, Salesforce offers a complete package no-cost to nonprofits. Nonprofits that use this package generally see a 24 percent increase in donor retention and 36 percent increase in constituent engagement. This is a tremendous tool and you should start using Salesforce for nonprofits immediately. 

#4 Design beautiful graphics and memes with Canva.

Sometimes nonprofits struggle with designing content, social media memes, newsletters, thank you notes, and everything else design-related.

Eliminate the hassle and stress of creating everything yourself manually and painfully, or hiring expensive graphic designers. Canva for Nonprofits allows you to empower your team to create high-impact social media graphics and marketing materials.

Canva offers its premium version free to registered nonprofits, which is a tremendous opportunity to leverage. Not only that, Canva offers a no-cost design school that will teach you the basics of design and how to create beautiful content.

#5 Implement a social media strategy with Hootsuite.

Managing your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, can be time-consuming and confusing. Hootsuite is a social media management platform that uses a dashboard to manage your different social network integrations. Hootsuite is also passionate about giving back, so they offer wonderful discounts to nonprofits.

In addition, Hootsuite provides education to nonprofits that allows you to optimize your social media strategy via Social Media Coaches. This helps you to learn and measure social media ROI, delegating tasks, managing permissions, and collaborating with team members.

Hootsuite is powerful, has a mobile app, and can help transform your nonprofit into the digital age.

#6 Use great photos for free with Pexels.

No more unprofessional photos, copyright infringement, or using really bad and really common stock photos. Pexels is a free and easy-to-use database of beautiful, professional photos and videos. Everything is submitted by users and able to be used without copyright permissions or infringement. 

So, the next time you need a great photo for that marketing piece, use Pexels. Not only that, if you are building a great landing page on your website and need a clean and modern video to play in the background, use Pexels. It doesn’t cost any money, but it will give your nonprofit the look you need to stand out and get more donations.

What to do next?

This is a lot of material but you have what it takes to make your nonprofit great. The world needs the game-changers and those who think differently, the folks who commit their whole heart and mind and soul to a mission and cause. That’s where you come in.

Be focused, stay positive, and use these 6 strategies to make your nonprofit the best in the world.

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Digital Marketing Your Startup: Dealing With Small Marketing Budgets

Startups need some form of digital marketing in order to be as successful as possible. The problem that many people encounter is that of making the budget for a marketing campaign. All marketing departments are going to tell you the budget they need which will always be higher than what they actually need.

The fact is that many startups do not have a massive budget to work with but the marketers can have a huge impact. Those without a huge budget have some of the most creative and engaging campaigns due to having solve problems instead of throwing money at them. The following are tips to dealing with marketing online even with a small budget.

Free Social Media Marketing Should Be Done

Social media being a free platform to promote content, sales, and interact with customer is the first step of marketing online. The fact that these are free and you can start building a presence immediately is important. Do not simply fill up your feed with different products now being offered.

Interact with those in your business space and search hashtags on Twitter to see if you can answer any questions about your area of expertise. This can be a form of customer service as people reach out via social quite a bit, showing that you will respond/care about comments helps build customer loyalty.

Outsourcing Can Be An Answer

A startup is going to have limits on hiring and other limitations as far as staffing/budget. Outsourcing digital marketing to a company that already has contacts in your industry can be the most budget friendly option. Those companies that have started influencer marketing platforms can allow you to see the reach that your marketing budget can have.

Small and medium influencers are making huge leaps for many companies as they tend to be a well-trusted endorser in comparison to celebrities. Look up reviews of the company you will outsource to as some companies rely on the client not knowing much about digital marketing so they can overcharge and under deliver.

Create Content To Engage

Digital marketing is driven by engaging and informative content so creating another generic clickbait list simply is not going to cut it. Consumers are exposed to so much content daily that they have become picky with what they will spend their time reading or viewing.

Finding a person to create content can be done through a freelancer platform like that of Upwork or People Per Hour. This will give you the ability to test a writer out instead of bringing on a writer in-house who will cost more with lower quality work.

Try different forms of content to see which converts in the most leads or traffic. Podcasts and video are extremely popular as some people simply do not have time to read longer articles.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is continuing to boom especially with the moderately popular influencers. Being able to connect these influencers can be extremely difficult. Finding the influencers that help clients convert on sales or traffic is the main objective.

In a post by Seedingup about influencer marketing notes that age plays a huge role in the impact influencer marketing has with the data “The age-group 14 – to 29-years old can be reached particularly well with influencer marketing campaigns on social media channels, because more than a third of this target group has already purchased a product promoted by influencers.

Within this young target group, 18 – to 23-year-olds are most receptive to product plugs by influencers, resulting in purchases by 39 percent of this age group. 30 – to 49-year-olds are less inclined to buy based on an influencer marketing campaign, with only seven percent of this group making a purchase. Finding the right influencer can lead your brand to huge profits in a mutually beneficial business relationship with said influencer.”

Content marketing drives digital marketing so having a great content writer for blog posts and social media is incredibly important. A person with writing and marketing background can be a Swiss Army Knife of production for a small company which can take it to the next level.

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Common Hiring Mistakes Startup CEOs Make

Hiring people is a risk for many companies and can make or break their business. As a startup CEO, you might have limited funds, and if you invest it in wrong people, you might be pushed beyond limits and a comeback will not be possible.

So, we have listed some common hiring mistakes startup CEOs make. Check them out and make sure that you do not create problems for your startup.

1. Hiring constantly.

The first mistake startup entrepreneurs make is that they keep hiring all the time. This is not good because you’ll be wasting a lot of your time in looking for quick fix and end up regretting the decision.

2. Hiring someone because you know them.

When you hire your coworkers, friends, family members and other relatives, it will be difficult for you to ask them to quit. Firing other employees is easy, but when you know them, it will not be an easy task for you. This means that you’ll end up compromising with the qualities they produce and suffer the loss unwillingly.

The best thing to do would be to draw the line between your professional and personal relations.

3. Hiring someone because they need your help.

The hiring process is as difficult . So, if you’re hiring someone just because you want to help them out, the purpose might be served, but in the bargain, you’ll make a loss, and that will not be a good site for you.

Instead, you should hire someone who has the potential to add value to your company and is willing to go an extra mile to help you get your company out of a bad situation. We are not saying that you’re currently facing bad times, but your hired employees should be in a position to get you out of a bad situation if you get into one.

4. Hiring someone to train them.

Interns are good but if there is a serious need for an employee to take up a particular task, make sure that you hire an experienced person only. Hiring someone with the thought that you’ll be in a position to train them, you might waste a lot of time and other resources. This could create unnecessary expenses, and the loss will be all yours. So, make sure that you’re hiring someone who can do a lot all by themselves.

5. Hiring someone who is a jack of all trades.

As a Startup entrepreneur, this is good for you but not for your employees. You have to be a jack of all trades, irrespective of the type of employees you have hired. However, make sure that you’re not shortlisting employees by the thought that they can do a bit of everything.

This approach will not help you because you’ll have limited employees working in your startup and that means a number of tasks will be carried out by someone who is not an expert.

6. Going too fast with the hiring process.

The hiring process has to go slow, and every candidate should be analyzed properly. Many people miss out on gems simply because they were in a hurry to shift to the next candidate. If you have made this mistake in the past, you probably know that a number of potential candidates have missed out on the right position in your company.

7. Hiring charismatic individuals.

If you use this as an approach to hire employees, you’ll not only miss out on recognizing the talent of other potential candidates but also the talent of people working for you currently. At the same time, the job role might be carried out by someone who does not have the necessary skills to work in your company.

8. Creating unnecessary restrictions during the hiring process.

Deva startup entrepreneurs who have their own set of restrictions and they want the HR to work according to the instruction set by them. However, a number of restrictions are usually unnecessary and can be avoided.

For instance, if you’re creating restrictions by gender or religion, you might miss out on people who can get the task done for you in the best possible way. So, understand the value of the employee without imposing such restrictions that will only lead to your company’s downfall.

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Employee Perks From Incredible Company Cultures

With every new hire, a company welcomes to the team the company’s culture increases in complexity. Of course, there are cultural norms within the company that are unlikely to be impacted by a single person but have culminated with the addition of every previous employee.  Overall, the construction of company culture has a linear relationship to the growth of the team.

The modern workplace has become an experiment in work-life balance as many companies offer perks and benefits that would seem unthinkable only a few decades ago. The benefits packages that attracted your parents and grandparents to their careers are now boilerplate in most companies.

If a tech company today offered a prospective employee only medical, dental, and 2-weeks paid-time-off benefits, the candidate would likely seek greener pastures. How has

The Evolution of Company Culture

The rapid evolution of company culture has exploded recently as job candidates become ever more selective about where and how they want to work. The competition between the tech giants to attract top talent has had an unexpected byproduct of inspiring other companies to follow suit and offer similar employee perks.

Google may be the most notable and recognizable for their efforts to create a workplace that is conducive to productivity with restaurant-quality food, laundry services, child care, on-site massage parlor and much more, entirely free.

Although most companies do not have the budget for the perks and benefits available to the average googler, a lot of companies offer free snacks, quality coffee and espresso machines, work from home opportunities, and even a stocked beer fridge for company happy hours.

Epic Employee Perks

Google is not the only company to gain notoriety for their dedication to building a culture around work-life integration, companies like Zappos, Dropbox and Airbnb are also offering envious perks.

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.com, the online shoe retailer that sold to Amazon was a visionary who built a customer-centric company that begins with a dedication to employee satisfaction. Every new employee of Zappos is offered $2,000 to quit, in this way they can eliminate people who are only looking to make a quick buck and not focused on finding a job they love. Every employee from the custodian to the C-Level executives also spends the first two weeks on the customer support phones. This is a great way to inspire a culture of empathy and a customer centricity at every level.

Dropbox is yet another company that has built a company culture that inspires collaboration and team building. One perk at Dropbox is their music room. This fully stocked studio comes complete with instruments for employees to play music which can relieve stress and be a fun way to bond with other people within the company.

A lot of companies offer paid-time-off and support traveling. Airbnb, the largest provider of vacation rentals, provides every employee with a $2,000 budget for vacation travel.

17 Companies with Incredible Employee Benefits

To see more of the amazing perks offered by the companies with the best company cultures, check out this piece from GetVoIP:

Employee Perks from Successful Company Cultures

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​5 Reasons Why Blockchain Will Become Mainstream This Year

There is no doubt that we are living in a digital world, and blockchain is the world’s leading software platform for digital assets. Using new technology to build a better financial system, blockchain platform production is key. There are five reasons why blockchain will become mainstream this year.

The future is cash-free. 

Cryptocurrencies have a series of characteristics that make them stronger than most physical money-based currencies out there. The key, of course, is the blockchain, which is the next revolution currently happening. Since everyone will be able to access the code behind the currency, everyone will also be able to ensure that no one is taking shortages that benefit themselves, implying a true democratization of monetary systems.

The attractiveness of this is significant in crypto’s financial growth and development, as it allows more than a narrow focus on payment systems due to blockchain’s ability to encode and store highly sensitive information and personal details through the use of smart contracts. Some companies, however, are doing more than that. According to Forbes, Dispatch Labs is one blockchain company that is developing an “advanced blockchain protocol that facilitates the upload and control of programmable files for dApp developers.”

The architecture of Dispatch’s programs is said to enhance the utility of blockchain by “enabling decentralized encryption and programmability of any type of data file, not just smart contracts,” thereby creating a foundation in which developers can work on solutions to issues without data constraints.

Economic and governmental agencies are interested in cryptocurrencies. 

Cryptocurrencies are becoming a matter of interest for banks and governments around the world. Just like bitcoin was once a topic discussed mostly by techies and nerds, but is now making headlines on a regular basis, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have now become mainstream topics.

Due to the growth of discussion for economic and governmental institutions, it is now seen as having the potential to disrupt the current monetary models. Through discussions on the introduction of regulations by economic institutions and through the increase of interest by investors, as well as platforms run by decentralized organizations will make its adoption inevitable.

Dispatch Labs, states as its vision, the creation of “the platform for disrupting a host of industries by enabling the development of secure, decentralized peer-to-peer applications on a scale never before possible” in order to “facilitate the things an ubiquitous, democratized blockchain can do for the world.” By increasing the utility of blockchain technology, the functionality will allow mainstream use.

Cryptocurrency is showing growth of the asset class. 

At the end of 2017, cryptocurrency markets had generated an amazing 3,300 percent in returns, making it the most lucrative and fastest growing asset classes available today. Digital currencies provide investors with the ability to recognize significant returns in a relatively short period of time, according to CoinCodex.

Figures on the return of investment for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin highlight massive gains that indicate the benefits of long-term investment and sticking to the principles of buying and holding in the cryptocurrency market.

Blockchain will be business-ready. 

In order to ensure business-readiness, Dispatch allows business applications to easily transition to blockchain without the worry of speed or functionality issues. In this way, business applications will also become less vulnerable to hacking and security breaches.

According to Hackernoon, Dispatch Labs technology is likely to create the biggest disruption in 2018, propelling the industry forward and creating an opportunity for blockchain to become mainstream. The Dispatch blockchain is a “shared ledger, growing linearly while the data managed by the chain can continue to grow exponentially.” Also, Dispatch “enables the decentralized management of data storage,” allowing for dApps that “build and run operations on the access, manipulation, and distribution of that data.”

The need for future potential. 

Perhaps the most telling of all is the future potential of blockchain technology. While other systems are finding their value diminished in this digital age, Blockchain’s ability to combine the security of cryptography, the storage and transmission of encoded data, and peer-to-peer networks to create a shared database means that its use in various industries is endless.

The beauty of blockchain is that something can be unique and stored digitally, without needing an equivalent in the real world, meaning there are limitless possibilities for contracts, wills, deeds, certificates, and, of course eventually a digitally integrated global economy. Through a global economy, we could see enhanced economic growth and decreased world poverty.

What excites you most about blockchain technology becoming more mainstream? Tell us what applications you’re looking forward to in the comments.

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Jeremy Webb​5 Reasons Why Blockchain Will Become Mainstream This Year
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