Is Tracking User Behavior Ethical?

Tracking via Media

The ethics of tracking is a controversial topic amongst people from all over the world. When it comes to privacy and information security, businesses such as Apple are making it a main mission to preserve this valuable information and keep it in the hands of the consumer. They are pro privacy. However, other businesses such as Facebook are all about data sharing and collecting. They are not afraid to push the boundaries of data collection. What makes the topic of ethics so difficult to understand is that every person has a different idea as to what is ethical and what is not. One person’s idea of an ethical approach could be completely different from someone else’s idea of an ethical approach. Due to this uncertainty, I look to the process companies take to decide whether their actions are ethical or not. In most cases, I do believe it is ethical to know and track user behavior.

Is Tracking Ethical?

The main reason I believe tracking and knowing user behavior is ethical is because of something known as a privacy policy. A privacy policy details how a website will collect, store, protect, and use your data. When a person downloads an app or signs up for something on a website, it is crucial to read over this information. When you willingly submit your information, you are accepting their policy. Therefore, I view this scenario as ethical.


Tracking using website cookies

Cookies is a topic I am very mixed about. I personally do not view cookies as an ethical way of tracking and learning information about online users. I did not know about cookies until a few years after I had first begun using the internet. As a kid, I willingly accepted anything and was unaware companies were tracking me via the websites I visited. I think in this scenario, I was undereducated. There are a lot of sites nowadays that blatantly state whether a website allows cookies or not, so it is important to pay attention to things like that.


Proactive and Defensive Responses to Customers

Throughout the process of running a business, there will come a time when the company will be faced with positive or negative reviews. During the age of social media, it is inevitable. In the instance this does happen to a company, it is in their best interest to respond to all comments. This includes both positive and negative comments. Their responses are divided into two categories: proactive and defensive.

Proactive Responses

What does it mean to be proactive with a response? When a customer sends a company a positive or negative response, being proactive is being sure to reach out regardless of what they say. If the response is positive, simply responding and thanking the customer for their feedback gains their respect and trust. It goes a long way to reassure your customers that what they have to say matters. Negative comments should always receive a response. The business should also reach out to the customer for additional information. 

Spotify’s Proactive Response to a Customer

In this instance, spotify was being proactive by responding with their “SpotifyCares” account. They provided the customer with the information they desired. Also, they assured the customer that they can reach out for any other questions they may have. This is a great example of proactive responding from a business via social media.

Defensive Responses

Now that we know what a proactive response is, what is a defensive response? Well, rather than focusing on what would benefit the customer, the company is focused on responding in a way that will protect their company/business. Defensive responses are usually the result of a negative comment, review, or response. Sometimes a business might not know how to properly respond to negative feedback, resulting in the defensive tone.

In this example, a business has just received a somewhat negative comment regarding the amount of outlets in their business location. Instead of apologizing for the inconvenience or reaching out for further information, the company was clearly on the defensive. Dark Horse Espresso was focused on protecting the business image and their practices location. They should have addressed the customer’s remarks and concerns instead.


Businesses Advertising on Social Media is Okay

Social Media Advertisements

Social media is a wonderful tool that marketers have adapted to utilizing in order to further their business goals.Today, if you take a scroll through any social media site, you will find it littered with advertisements. However, does this hurt how people view social media or businesses that push their ads through this means? The answer is no.

Why is This Okay?

People today are somewhat immune to the content that is thrown our way on a daily basis. As social media users, we see ads all the time! In fact, Instagram pushes a sponsored advertisement every 4 posts. Most people do not know this! We mindlessly scroll through social media without really understanding what is being presented to us. It is true that we might be looking for something in particular, but we are exposed to ads nonetheless. 

Does This Ruin the Experience?

No! Like I said before, half the time we are so mindlessly immersed in what we are doing that we don’t fully understand everything being thrown at us. Not only that, but the advertisements are usually a result of pages we have previously visited or items that match what we like. They are specifically picked for every user – unique to every person’s social media experience. So, instead of disliking all of the ads, it is more likely someone will find an item they will like and enjoy.

Why Should Businesses Advertise on Social Media?

If it does not hurt the social media experience, why not? It can gain the attention of audiences that originally would not have known about the business. Not only that, but it will also generate sales. When a business is trying to get sales, I think that is authentic to them. That is at the heart of what a business does. There is no harm in doing it, so I believe it is perfectly fine for businesses to advertise on social media.

Is It Possible for Businesses to be Authentic on Social Media?

This is a good question. Personally, I don’t think it is possible to be authentic on social media. The authentic self is who you are in person. Social media can warp an image really fast. The things you say and/or write can and will be taken out of context, the images you post will be doctored by photoshop or some form of filter. Social media is not meant for authenticity. It is about providing content that people want to see. Well, that and making people think what you do is great.


Spotify Wrapped: A Year of Music to Share with the World

Since 2015, Spotify has provided listeners and creators alike with annual statistics based on their listening habits throughout the year. For the average Spotify consumer, their year is presented in a powerpoint style presentation. This presentation details what music genres they listened to the most, who their top artists were, what their most listened to songs were, and much more. For a music creator, their Spotify Wrapped looks a bit different. They can see statistics based on their listeners location around the world, the number of people that listen to their music, how many hours worth of their music is listened to throughout the year, and how many times their music is streamed throughout the year. For a lover of music who tends to use Spotify, this will certainly provide them with an interesting look at their music listening habits over the years.

The Logo of Spotify

My Initial Reaction to Spotify Wrapped

For the past two years, I have avidly used Spotify to listen to music. It is my go to app for all of my music needs. I am certainly no stranger to Spotify Wrapped and the information it provides to people who use the app. Prior to ever considering purchasing Spotify in 2017, I remember when that year’s Wrapped came out in December. A few of my new friends were comparing their music stats with each other. I remember thinking the idea of keeping track of your music listening habits was a neat idea. Frankly, I felt a bit left out. The music service I used (Apple Music) did not provide a Wrapped service.

I wanted to know my music stats, be surprised (yet not surprised) by my most listened to artist of the year. I wanted to join the massive conversation of people celebrating and being excited over their music choices. Needless to say, I did end up subscribing to Spotify. I was extremely happy to learn that Spotify even has a student discount which makes the platform even more affordable to college students. It is one of my favorite purchases to date. I use it every day and cannot wait to see my year wrapped come December.

Spotify’s Wrapped Business Goal

There are many possibilities that could be the true intentions of implementing a service such as Spotify Wrapped. However, when I first began thinking about it, my initial thought was that it was used as a marketing tool. More specifically, a word-of-mouth marketing tool. Every year when Wrapped is released, it is trending number one on twitter, everyone is talking about it, and it’s this crazy phenomenon of sharing music with one another. It is the most incredible thing you have ever seen.

Every social media platform is littered with someone posting or commenting about their Wrapped stats. Artists and listeners alike share their gratitude and love of music. Meanwhile, the CEO’s of Spotify sit back and watch the mass public do their marketing for them. Spotify really changed the game with the implementation of Spotify Wrapped. Other mainstream music subscription services such as Apple Music even created their own version of Wrapped.


Email Marketing Proves to be Alive and Well

Email Marketing

Prior to watching this week’s video, I’d have agreed that email marketing is not necessarily a dead form of marketing. On the other hand, I also did not believe it to be a booming marketing tactic either. However, email marketing remains to be one of the most effective methods of attracting and retaining customers. People, like me, do not (or didn’t) realize the power email marketing still holds.

Larry Kim’s Take on Email Marketing

In the expert session video taught by Larry Kim, Kim spoke briefly of the various ways an email might not reach a consumer as originally intended. These include ending up in different tabs the user might not check (such as the promotions tab). This also includes discovering an email went directly to a junk or spam folder. This makes locating a marketed email much more difficult to find.

In addition, Larry Kim presented statistics on the rate of which consumers unsubscribe from these emails. Roughly .5-2% of people that are subscribed to receive emails from a company will unsubscribe per email blast that is sent out. Frankly, that number doesn’t seem that bad, but for a company, losing any business is never a good thing. In order to retain these customers, it is beneficial to entice them to remain subscribed. The reading stated the idea of segmentation, or giving different benefits to consumers who subscribed to receive emails for different reasons.

A Consumer’s Opinion

As a consumer myself, there are certain emails I do tend to ignore. However, when I receive emails from companies I like, I tend to check them out to see what they have to offer. I particularly enjoy when emails deliver coupons or promotional offers.

I cannot be the only person to enjoy receiving emails such as these, and, based on the reading and video, others must feel the same as well. Email marketing is not dead, and has a lively future ahead. 


Nature Backs

Instagram is notorious for placing digital advertisements every 6 posts on their page. Due to whatever tracking algorithms Instagram uses, the advertisements they began showing me were spot on with the posts I interacted with and followed.

My Instagram feed is very nature photography based. It is filled with landscapes, camera equipment, profiles, you name it. However one day when scrolling through my feed, I came across a sponsored advertisement for a company called Nature Backs.

This is a company that almost perfectly matches my personal aesthetic. The image shown for their ad was beautiful, something I would one day hope to produce myself. Not only that, but the product they were advertising looks great. Itt matched the scenery of the image, was front and center so you knew it was the product being advertised. In my eyes, it was the perfect ad. So naturally, I clicked on the ad.

I was brought to their website and right at the beginning was introduced to the companies goals and purpose. In particular, they donate 50% of their logo thread profits to content creators that go out and explore. Pursuing content creation can be challenging, especially if your content is based around travel and exploration. I thought this was really cool of the company to do.

Personally, I have yet to purchase anything from their website, but I frequently see advertisements on Instagram of their clothing. It is only a matter of time before I make my first purchase with them.


Does the Highest Spending Ad Beat the Competition?

Logo – Google

John Gagnon, the speaker of the video, has lots of good information regarding paid advertising, but if there is one thing I got out of his video, while it may be beneficial to pay for ads to have your site seen more, it is not necessary to pay for ads to “beat” your competition.

Fairly early on in the video, Gagnon states that 75% of users don’t scroll past the first page of search results. When you think about it, however, that doesn’t seem too crazy. Think of your own personal search habits. For me, I tend to skip advertisements and only check the links directly below them on the first page. 

In class, we have been learning all about the benefits of keywords, key phrases, meta descriptions, etc and how these alone can help get your website to appear on the first page of a search result. So think of it this way. If you are a consumer and you tend to not pay attention to the advertisements at the top of a page, you’re going straight to the links that depend on keywords, key phrases, and the meta description. 

Overall, if you are a company that can afford to pay large prices to have an advertisement placed at the top of a search page on google, then do it. No harm done. But for a smaller business or independent website owner, this is not a make or break situation. Focus on all of the smaller components you can fine-tune to get your website higher up on a page of search results. Find your niche, create content worth reading and viewing, and the interactions will come.


Is Your Small Business in Need of Aid?

Pictured – Samsung Tablet

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Can keywords earn you the #1 spot on a Google search page?

Is it possible to strategically use keywords to land your page in the number one spot on a google search page? While using keywords may be beneficial, I believe it is nearly impossible to get that number one spot.

Keywords are words or phrases used throughout a piece of writing that are deemed important and relevant to what that piece of writing is about or closely related to. They are placed in the keywords section of a blog post, article, webpage, etc. When used correctly, keywords help bring traffic to a page. The usage of keywords is crucial for getting your post noticed through the algorithm of a search engine.

But here is why I think it is nearly impossible to land a number one spot amongst Google’s algorithm through only keywords.

Your keywords alone might be good, however, they must be updated constantly. The internet is accessible to millions of people, so the odds of you being the only person writing about that topic are extremely low. Keeping your keywords updated will keep your post relevant. But those alone can not get you a top spot on a google search page.

Having conducted a short search on Google’s search algorithm, it is stated that Google does prioritize websites that remain on their good side. Any sites to “play the system” will be punished, as per Google’s words. Google’s algorithm is set to serve the people and work in their favor. Whether a web post made back in 2016 fits best or what you just wrote explains something better, it is the content and its accuracy plus the inclusion of strategic keywords that MIGHT land you a number one spot on a google search page.


Form vs Function

Form and function while closely related are different in definition and practice, however both are incredibly important when developing an ad/website/etc. Form, the foundation of your ad/website/etc, consists of the little things that make a big difference. This is the look, the feel, and the overall design of your product. The function is how the end product performs or functions. You can’t have one without the other.

From a creator’s point of view, it is a bit difficult to value form or function over the other. However, if I had to choose, I would pick form. I truly believe that consumers, especially those between the ages of 18 and 35, engage with content because they want to, not because they are being forced to. That being said, creating a website or advertisement that is aesthetically pleasing to look at and overall different than anything they have seen before is crucial to bringing in traffic. I also think that young consumers (again, 18 to 35) for the most part prioritize the form of a website. If we were to be speaking in terms of older adults (40+) they might have a bit more difficulty navigating a website and couldn’t care less about what the website looks like so long as they achieve what they set out to do. I for one know that my grandparents and parents for that matter sometimes struggle when websites don’t blatantly show where to click to either place and item in a cart, checkout, or search for something. In that instance, function would be valued more. All in all, it truly depends on your target audience and whatever works in their favor.