Monday, December 3, 2012

Social Media Is Changing The Way Retailers Market

Snail mail is a thing of the past. If you need to get in touch with your friend, you can simply go on Facebook and write them a post on their wall. If you want to invite your friends to a birthday party, you can go on Facebook, create an event and do so from there. With the popularity of Facebook and Twitter constantly increasing, everything is beginning to revolve around these social networking sites. Even retailers who used to largely depend on the usage of snail mail to market, have started to adapt to these changes.

Social Networking Sites Allow More Personal Relationships

Marketing has always been about the customer. However, there have always been limitations on how intimately retailers could connect with their customers. With the help of social networking sites, retailers are able to connect with their customers on a whole new level. In the video below, Dr. Janet Wagner, the associate chair of the marketing department and an associate professor at the Smith School of Business, explains how social media has opened up new doors for marketing:

Social media not only opens up a door for a retailer to customer relationship, but it also opens up a door for customer to customer relationships. The retailer to customer relationship allows the customer feel as if they are a part of the company. They can directly tell the company about things they like and suggest things to improve on. This direct feedback from the customer allows the retailers to fix what they need to in order to make their customers more satisfied. Happier customers = more products sold.

JC Penny launches their Facebook store.
Customers will be able to shop without leaving the
comfort of their own Facebook. 
The customer to customer relationships are called social communities. Within these social communities, customers of the same retailer can communicate and socialize about the retailer's products. For example, Sephora, a beauty retailer, has established a social community called Beauty Talk. There, beauty enthusiasts can go and ask for help, recommend products, or just talk to other people with the same interest as them. Data shows that a Beauty Talk community user spends two and a half times more than the average Sephora customer.

Retailers Have To Adapt To These Changes

Social networking sites have allowed retailers to open up new doors when it comes to Marketing, but in order to do this they have had to adapt. Wagner explains the changes retailers have had to make in the video below:

With the level of competition so high, retailers beginning to use social networking sites is no game. Which is why, like Dr. Wagner stated above, retailers need to hire experts who specialize in social media. These experts need to be able to evaluate the information circulating through these social networking sites and do what is needed to better serve their customers. The amount of competition each retailer has can be clearly seen in this detailed infographic by Campalyst.

Retailers Have Benefited From The Usage Of Social Networking Sites

The power of social networking sites can be ween through this study that found that over 40% of men and over a third of women are more likely to purchase something if their friend recommends it on a social network to them. Retailers have done nothing but benefit from these sites. As a whole, their sales have gone up and their relationship with their customers have become more genuine. Wagner also agrees that the way retailers market has been improved with the usage of social networking sites:

The retailers aren't the only ones who have benefited from the increased usage of social networking sites. The customers have also benefited in that they can now stay updated about promotions and deals going on, submit suggestions directly to the retailer, and socialize with other customers who have similar interests.

Paul Koh, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, is an avid social network user. Below, he gives his opinion on how social media networks have affected the way retailers market. His response confirms the fact that the marketing advances caused by social media networks have improved the overall quality of the way retailers market.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Participation Gap in the U.S.

In 2007, a study showed that only 65.1% of students used their own laptops. However, a more recent study by the PEW Research Center showed that 88% of adults now have cell phones. This shows that the digital divide is coming to an end in the U.S. However, the same does not go for the participation gap.

The dark red color represents areas who have the lowest digital divide. The United States is included in the small handful of countries that all under this category. 

Digital Divide Falling

"The international "digital divide" is closing at a steady fall." -United Nations Telecoms Agency
The study from 2007 showed that Blacks and Hispanics are the ones who mostly don't have Internet in their homes. While they don't have Internet in their homes, the PEW study showed that Blacks and Hispanics used the Internet from their mobile devices more than any other race. The 2007 study didn't take into consideration the use of mobile devices, which may have skewed the research towards making people believe there's a digital divide. In a few years, we can expect the digital divide to be basically gone. 

Participation Gap an Ongoing Issue

The PEW study showed that only 17% of cell phone owners use their mobile device as their prime source for online browsing. This proves that everyone uses different devices, whether it'd be a mobile device, a personal laptop computer, or a public computer, to browse online. Some people don't have access to different types of technology due to many reasons, therefore, the participation gap can never be completely closed. In a few years, the participation gap will still exist, but it will be dramatically smaller. 

Usage of Mobile Devices will Boom

In the near future, the majority of people will browse the Internet from some sort of mobile device. It could be a tablet, phone, or perhaps even something else that will be invented soon. The convenience of having a portable device that can do anything a computer can everywhere you go will cause this shift. With all of these technological advancements in the mobile world, using a mobile device as a primary source for internet browsing is seeming more and more practical. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

U.S. mobile technology is lagging behind other societies

The perception that the Untied States has the most advanced technology in the world is a lie. Compared to other countries, we are so far behind that it looks like we’ve just given up completely. While many Americans may be satisfied with the 2 GB data plan for $25 a month right now, this will likely change once they are informed of how much they’re over paying compared to other countries.

Japan broadband speeds almost 13 times stronger than the U.S.

The U.S. has embarrassingly low broadband speeds compared to other countries like Japan, Korea, and France. Why are our broadband speeds so slow when we have the greatest GDP in the world? Unlike other nations, our existing broadband providers aren’t mandated to share their networks with competitors causing slower speeds and unreliability. Another thing slowing us down is “the government not subsidizing the extension of broadband to rural areas and inner cities that need it but can’t afford to install the infrastructure.”

U.S. offers slower speeds with a bigger price tag

Going back to Japan, they offer broadband speeds at 63.6M bps at a relatively cheap rate of $.13 per megabit. The United States on the other hand offers 4.9M bps at around $2.83 per megabit. At this rate, if the United States had broadband speeds similar to Japan, the rate would be about $36.29 per megabit for broadband speeds. That’s $36.66 more than what Japan’s rate. 

U.S. doesn't fall in top 10 of biggest networks 

This table shows the largest networks worldwide based on the number of subscribers. As you can see, no United States networks are shown. The first United States network to be shown is Verizon Wireless, and it is only the 18th largest network.

U.S. policies slowing us down

While other countries have policies that promote competition and innovation, the United States has policies that promote a few carriers to dominate. "According to a study last year by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 94% of South Korean households had land-line broadband service, compared with half in the USA. The Korean cities of Busan and Seoul had the world's fastest download times, while no American city finished in the top 20. Koreans also enjoyed better mobile broadband service. And in the case of both land line and mobile, Koreans generally paid less than Americans." The reason is because South Korea has made broadband a national priority. The vast amount of competition keeps the price down and the quality of service high. It's basic economy! If an average American were asked to list broadband networks available to them, they would probably only be able to list a few (AT&T, Verizon, and T-mobile). That's because there are only so many they can list. If the United States were to have policies that promoted competition and innovation like South Korea and many other countries, we wouldn't be ranked so low. 

The United States is taking an enormous risk not doing anything about their lag behind other countries in mobile technologies. In such a technology driven world, doing so will make the United States much less competitive. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Front Page of the Internet


The sole reason you failed your Calculus class. The easy to use interface makes the website so addicting, causing hours and hours of procrastination. 

Users get a taste of the easy interface as soon as they enter the world of Reddit. Creating a new account is as easy as 1, 2, 3. They comment, "is it really that easy? only one way to find out..." Yes. It really is that easy. 

Once an account has been created, users can subscribe to different subreddits of their choosing. There's a subreddit for anything and everything. 

Reddit will even help you find the subreddits right for you.

All of the posts from the subreddits you subscribe to will show up on your front page. From here, you can up-vote the posts you like and down-vote the posts you don't like. The links with the most up-votes will be higher up on the front page. 
Each user can also post links to any subreddit. Users submit everything from their own creative pieces to links to articles they found interesting. 

As a BlueGlass blogger says, here are 19 reasons why Reddit could be the world's most influential website
  1. Being on Reddit is like sitting in a group discussion of thousands of moderately intelligent people, interested in the topic at hand.
  2. Reddit is a magnifying glass of the Internet.
  3. Reddit allows for intense and evolving communities of special interests. 
  4. Reddit is highly collaborative and easily spawns or expands collaborative efforts.
  5. Reddit helps determine the news cycle.
  6. Reddit is the ultimate investigator.
  7. Reddit is a meme maker and trend setter.
  8. Reddit is a live saver (literally).
  9. Reddit is an idea engine, giving birth to new ideas constantly.
  10. Reddit includes experts from nearly all fields, vocations, talents, and specialties. 
  11. Many of whom share their inside knowledge freely.
  12. Reddit allows for in-depth discussion over topics that otherwise would never be talked about in a group way.
  13. Reddit provides an unparalleled opportunity for research into sociology, groupthink, hivemind, memology, and self-selected groups.
  14. Reddit is a virtual confessional. It prompts people to tell their secrets.
  15. Reddit is like always having the wittiest, funniest people in the room. 
  16. Reddit can celebrate individual victory or achievement in a BIG way.
  17. Reddit can be a source of power and revolution for the people.
  18. Reddit encourages interaction in a completely unique way.
  19. Reddit is perhaps the best existing example of an entirely internet based culture. 

Click here to read more.

As you can see, Reddit is a user-run website that is chock full of all kinds of content. The easy to use interface allows users to navigate through the site with ease and get to what they're looking for in a heartbeat. 
The internet has a tremendous amount of content. Reddit users organize this into their respective subreddits and promote thought provoking discussions involving millions of people from around the world. 

While Reddit is full of thousands of different subreddits varying from r/politics to r/funny, a website known as 9GAG offers nothing but "funny" content. 9GAG fails at attempting to be like Reddit. 

9GAG vs. Reddit 
The winner is clearly obvious after spending just 5 minutes on each site. 
You be the judge.