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Why I Think Some Will Protest Blog & Forum Transparency

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stop-comment-hijacking1.gifI can imagine a million + 1 reasons some will be stubborn about making comment ip addresses public. But a few sinister ones come to mind. I’m not saying this about anyone or any company in particular so lets just make that clear now, this is more about the future credibility of the forum and blog communities that have the capacity to set public opinion in a direction in which they choose, or take advantage of those venues who are not paying attention to the direction at all.

One must look no further than the story of John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and how he admittedly used sneaky means using blogs to sway opinion about the value of a competitor. The truth about what is said of John Mackey can be said of many who are guilty of it in other ways all around the blog-o-whatever. Reality tells us that unscrupulous people will do unscrupulous things to further their gains, but the question you have to ask is why more isn’t done to at the very least curb the problem. That’s easy. Many of those who will protest such a move may be guilty of silly things like prodding conversations using the same hidden methods- a different email address that isn’t public, a new name you’ve never seen in a blog before and voila you two can sway a conversation- or better yet, goat another blogger into a frenzy to get blog ratings. Everyone loves a great verbal fist fight even though we publicly protest such childish actions.

The act of using blogs as a means of furthering ones own public relations efforts is not uncommon. Over at sandiegohomeblog.com a certain commenter became famous when he was banned for nasty comments only to reappear as someone else using the same slant (he later confessed to his multiple personality disorder when caught). This commenter would inject himself into conversation and blast whatever the Bergs were saying that day. Did this hurt the overall point of the message? Not if you were a Realtor or fan of the Bergs, but if you were a consumer the thread would read as if Kris or Steve’s comments were ill advised, they were ill informed, and thus a challenge to their overall credibility. Add in the possibility of the mystery commenter injecting his opinion in the same post under several names, his attack now appears to a consumer as an consensus, but it was never that- simply, it was a lone gunman and his valued opinion. The Bergs were able to isolate ant out this individual, but in a larger venue such as a forum, how do we know this is not more wide spread? If a consumer had all of the information, then they could gauge for themselves, and remove the idea of consensus, and then a consumer is left free to consume the information in an honest and sincere way.

How big is this problem? One must only look back to the 2001, 02, 04, 06, and now the soon to be 08 elections to see how political blog spin today is now being used in business blogs. In the age of the instant opinion, one must google no further than “real estate blog” to see this same political tactic in action. Does it happen in other professions? Of course, it is a more subtle method but you see spam in blogs daily posing as sincere comments. But under the surface, what you have is a comment with a motive.

Many want to stop it, but I have a feeling there are many motives as to why not to stop it, but there is no damn good reason that we should at least make every effort to at the very least educate the consumer that the may be being spun in much the same way digital media is used to spin the facts.

Does ip exposure stop the madness? No. It has simply become our focus to encourage major forum and blog moderators to take responsibility and begin the conversation of ideas to create ways of insulating from this type of commentary, as well as exposing the abuse of the past. Every moderator sees every ip address, and every consumer hopes the moderator monitors for this activity. But the larger the forum or blog grows the harder it becomes to isolate. That is why it is imperative that the information be given to the consumer so that they can make their own judgement calls as to what is the truth.

It seems many realize the problem but want to just ignore it, we hope you will help us expose this very anti-web2.0 style of marketing and consumer manipulation.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bob Wuest

    March 29, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Anonymity is used by many on the web as a means of creating spin – either positive or negative. This article provides an idea for discussion around how to reduce the occurrence of anonymous spin.

    But this is no end-all solution. If I grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks I get a dynamic IP address assigned while I’m there. Then across the street to Panera – another IP address. So abusers (and everyone else!) are not tied to their IP addresses.

    I’d love to find a way to punish those who use the guise of anonymity to promote mis-information on the web. Unfortunately, I think publishing IP addresses is not a good way of accomplishing this.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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