Is Google Listening?

Over the recent years, more and more people are brought to attention about their privacy regarding their cellular devices. People are realizing that there could be a possibility that companies may be listening to us more than we are aware of.

Have you ever noticed while you’re having a conversation with someone, and for example, you both are discussing your interests over shoes? You mention you want a pair of white Converse, and then suddenly… 5 minutes later, those EXACT white pair of Converse you were mentioning appears on your timeline.

Source: Apple

In an article from February last year by CBS News, Sam Nguyen claims she gets the idea her phone is listening to her, and she is certain she gets ads from Facebook and Google for things she only mentions aloud.

“I didn’t write that in my email. I didn’t check it out online yet. It’s just popping up. That’s kinda weird,” Nguyen said.

(CBS News, 2018)

Well some say it might be considered a coincidence, whereas others believe it’s no coincidence at all.

It’s becoming more common for people to have ads pop up on their social media timelines such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for items they have not once searched for.  Some experts agree with the possibility, but others say that companies already know too much about you… so are they really listening?

I am not sure what is creepier, the idea that someone is always listening, or the idea that that Google and Facebook probably know me better than I know myself, and I do not know which one I would prefer. Companies are able to track data relating you based off your GPS, your searches, the pictures you upload, the items you deleted, the videos you have watched, and more.

Did you know?

Google takes your information that you provide such as: your location, sex, age, interests, occupation, relationship status, if seeking weight loss, and income and they generate an advertisement profile that personalizes all the ads you see online and on social media.

Click on these links to view your data!

Google knows where you’ve been

Google knows everything you’ve ever searched – and deleted

Google has an advertisement profile of you

Google knows all the apps you use

Google has all of your YouTube history

If you’d like more information on all the information Google has on you, this article by Dylan Curran from last year is super useful:

So, are companies really listening? Or do they just know you better than yourself. The internet can be a pretty scary and crazy place and in today’s day in age it is extremely difficult to not be tracked or have any privacy anymore. That is why it is so important to maintain your privacy and be extra careful, what you click, and what you give permission to online, the items you share and the things you say.

To conclude here is a video experiment produced by one of the Buzzfeed producers, Chris:

“Ever wonder if someone is listening through the microphone in your phone? Chris conducted an experiment to see if his iPhone would listen to him, and target an advertisement at him.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Xltl6_0hyU

Source: Buzzfeed

In reality, there would not be enough time or money in order to have people listen and go through every conversation being made while a phone is present.

Facebook:

Is Google Listening? Take a look at my blog! https://bit.ly/2YAmBqs

Twitter:

Is Google Listening? #google #socialmedia #phones #IsGoogleListening https://bit.ly/2TQQofV

References:

COM0015, Blog 1: Tools and Resources

I have a full-time job, which limits the amount of time I can spend on social media work for FlashDesignsStudio.com (FDS). I created a Feedly dashboard as part of the Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course; however, I found it limiting. I prefer Hootsuite. I spend a half hour on the bus going back and forth to work each day. Hootsuite allows me to be productive during my commute. Through the Hootsuite app on my tablet, I can monitor my various streams and like, share or retweet effortlessly. Feedly does not have that capability. On weekends, I use Hootsuite’s online interface to schedule a week’s worth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Hootsuite also connects to Drop Box, making organizing and posting images that much faster and easier. I sometimes use Ow.ly shortened URLs to track traffic.

On weekends, I use the Google Analytics plug in on the WordPress website to monitor traffic on the FDS website, which is one of the key success indicators. On a monthly basis, I can dig deeper into the website traffic and audience reports through the Google Analytics website. This is particularly useful to see who (demographic information) is coming from where (our social media networks or elsewhere). Having updated websites as far back as 1999, I am so thankful I no longer need to sort through raw website user data.

Of course, I also use Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Bitley to monitor and track social media activity, but I spend more time on Hootsuite and Google Analytics.

com0015-blog1-facebook-share

 

I have many sources of news. I think my best source of information is a set of Google Alerts (which I view through Hootsuite) that shows photography contests, exhibits and other events happening in the Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto triangle. As well as providing content for the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, Norm and I use the information to plan our photo excursions and submit images to contests. When I finish well in a contest, I post it on the FDS social media networks. It is a testament to the quality and creativeness of my images.

While most photographers are aware of all the magazines, stores and manufacturers on social media, few know about Science Daily’s photography research RRS feed (which I also view through Hootsuite). Having worked with medical and academic journals for more than a decade and with newspapers and magazines for longer than that, I can understand complex ideas and explain them in plain, everyday language. I rewrite the photography research media releases with information from the published research paper and post as Technology News in News Flash, the FDS blog. These have included advances in lens technology and how researchers are data-mining social media photos to guide land use policy, conservation planning and development decisions. This is well suited for our more advanced photographer audience and positions FDS as being knowledgeable of the cutting edge.

COM0015: Assignment #1, Blog Post #1 – Tools & Sources (Tara MacDonald)

What are your 2 favorite social media trend listening/monitoring tools?

There are so many listening and monitoring tools that it’s hard to choose which ones are better than others. Starting out, I think it’s best to stick to the free tools while I become more comfortable with the different platforms and analyzing the metrics. My two favourite social media monitoring tools are Google Analytics and Google Trends.

Google Analytics:

Google Analytics provides quick and easy monitoring of all my Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and much much more. A click of the mouse will bring up handy statistics, charts, graphs that help me better understand who is visiting my blog, which page they landed on, clues as to what they are looking for and their level of interest in the content presented.

Google Trends:

Google Trends uses real-time search data to help me identify trends, and gauge consumer search behavior over time. I get instant access to information on search spikes, how often a search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across different regions of the world and clues to how people search for my brand. It’s easy and quick to use and best of all it’s free!

What are the 2 best sources of news and updates of interest to you?

While I know we’re only supposed to choose two sources, in all honesty I have to list three which I use in equal measure depending on type of news I’m looking for: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook:

When I first started out on Facebook, I used it only to keep in touch with friends and family. In recent years, my usage of Facebook has broadened with the increasing number of group pages, a growing number of colleagues on my friend list, company and organization pages and the amount of news articles posted by my facebook ‘friends’.

With a large number of friends based around the world, I quickly and easily find international news and often find out about things before they hit the evening news. Facebook was also a great resource for me when I lived in Afghanistan. Members from the group ‘Kabul Security Now’ would contribute their knowledge ‘as it happened’. More often than not, sorting through the information obtained on this page was more reliable than large news outlets such as Reuters or CNN, etc… Being able to access this information quickly was tremendously useful in regards to planning safe travel arrangements and keeping track of what was happening where.

As an expat living in a foreign country, Facebook groups are also very useful for finding out about local events, job openings, professional networking and a useful resource when looking for location-specific advice (e.g. immigration, health, taxes, housing, etc…).

Twitter:

During an emergency situation, or for up to the minute information on natural or man-made disaster situations, I haven’t found anything better than Twitter.

Twitter users provide real time updates, photos and videos, without needing to wait for official news sources.

Examples of specific times when I used Twitter as my primary source of news information and updates are: hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, the 2014 shoot-out on Parliament Hill and more recently to follow search updates for little Elijah Marsh in Toronto last February.

LinkedIn:

For industry news, trends, resource, and professional development opportunities, I rely almost solely on LinkedIn.

I’m a member in a number of highly active industry and sector groups. Emails are sent to my personal account several times a day from the different groups that I follow. From there, I can scan through events, job listings, news items, trending discussions and other information. I can easily delete or click to open and read in more detail at my leisure.

LinkedIn Groups are easy to use, convenient, interactive, informative and a great networking tool.

Do you have something to add?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Please comment below! 

Want to learn more?

This post was written as a requirement for COM0015: Applied Social Media in Business. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate programme today!

COM0015 Blog #5: Event Participation

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in some Google Analytics professional development with several of my colleagues at our campus in Pembroke. Chris McFarlane, the Google Analytics guru from our Ottawa Campus of Algonquin College, made the long trek down the 417 Highway to give us an overview of the features and capabilities of Google Analytics.

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tool, Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. It’s the most widely used website statistics service. Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. It also tracks display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.

We were all very excited about this PD session because we have been making strategic changes to our website recently. With the help of Google Analytics we can track the effectiveness of any changes and reported on.

Source: Google Analytics website

Source: Google Analytics website

Though I knew all the participants in the PD session, it was an opportunity to get to know the facilitator a little better. As you can see from the photo above, our group was small. This allowed us to drive the conversation and exploration to suit our needs specifically – creating custom reports and exploring metrics relevant to us.

I am not shy when it comes to asking questions – I like to get the most out of my professional development opportunities as possible. We all asked a number of questions and contributed to the discussion in let’s say an ‘animated’ way…we get excited about new tools! Chris was very patient and fielded our questions like a pro.

Google Analytics - Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

Google Analytics – Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

During the session, I quickly realized that some additional PD would be beneficial. Google Analytics offers some great free courses and I plan to explore these further in the New Year. As Chris said “this is a powerful tool that takes time and energy to become comfortable with it.”

I wouldn’t think twice about attending a similar event down the road and hope that such an opportunity presents itself again soon.

If you haven’t had the chance to explore Google Analytics, I highly recommend you take the time to check it out!

COM0015 – Blog #4 – Out of the Box

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When I first started this course, my social media savvy was limited, to say the least. But over the course of this program, I have come to look at social media and it’s capabilities through a different lens.

The possibilities are endless with what social media and it’s various applications can do. It’s fast, it’s constantly changing and evolving, and it can be extremely useful or extremely damaging.

The two biggest takeaways I took from this program are the array of tools that are available, and the importance of using the consumer information provided through online platforms.

I was initially overwhelmed by all of the tools and applications available to maximize a social media platform’s potential. But over the last little while, I have had the opportunity to explore and test some of these tools. Google Alerts and Google Analytics are two that I particularly like. Although Google Analytics is going to take much more exploration to figure out the ins and outs of the program, I can see it being a very useful tool when used to its full potential. I have had the opportunity to experiment with RSS feeds, and creating a dashboard, and while I still feel I have lots to learn, it’s useful to have had the exposure as a jumping off point.

The second takeaway, was just how important a company’s engagement is with its consumers through their social media platforms. And not just because consumers want to feel like they are being listened to; but because often the customer feedback and comments are what drive the direction of the company. For example, I profiled a Canadian lifestyle magazine for one of my assignments. And based on my discussion with someone in their online department, I discovered that they don’t just read and respond to consumer comments on the various blogs and articles available on the website. They actual derive usable information from the posted content. They look for trends, recurring issues that consumers have, topic requests that consumers would like to see, and this information facilitates the content that is ultimately published in the magazine. It seems like a completely obvious tactic, to give your reader what they want, but I didn’t think it was done quite so literally. So when you think you’re “posting on deaf ears”, that’s more than likely not the case.

How And Why Your Business Should Measure The Results Of Your Social Media Campaigns

You wouldn’t invest money in a technology stock on Wall Street without stopping to check how well it was performing. You would also take time to choose which measurements were important to you and why. For example, you should measure percentage gain, dividends returned, performance compared with competitors, etc. This information would help you to decide if you should buy, hold or sell a stock. Measuring your social media campaign requires the same diligence. It is important to know which aspects of your social activities are successful and which need to be changed or dropped. Be aware however, that it may be far more difficult to draw a direct correlation between money spent and income generated. It is difficult to measure Social media results in the traditional ROI sense,  and there may be more appropriate ways to determine whether your campaign is bringing results.

Football soccer goal net

Establish Clear Goals

It is impossible to accurately measure your social media campaign without establishing clear beginning and end points. So begin by establishing a baseline, a snapshot of a specific moment in time to which you can compare your social media results. Furthermore it is vital to determine what you should be measuring. Some information is more valuable to you so ensure that you know what your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are.  Determine whether you should you be looking to improve your number of clicks? Comments? Likes? Sales?

LI and Bernoff state in their book, “Groundswell”  that “Your strategy should be designed from the start to focus on a primary objective, and it is progress toward that objective that you should measure.”  Focus then, on the correct goal or you may find that you do not have the metrics that you require.

For example, if your primary goal is to increase your profit margin, then perhaps that is what you should be measuring, not likes, comments or sales. However it is difficult to accurately measure your social media impact using profit as there are so many factors to take into consideration.  On the other hand, if you understand that improving your social media campaign will eventually have an impact on your bottom line, or if you are working for a non-profit organization, you may be more interested in seeing an increased number of comments which would, in turn, point to increased engagement, a valuable social media commodity.

Study or office stationary

Use Appropriate Metrics Tools

The following tools represent only a few of the better known products available. A quick search of the internet will reveal many others, each with their own characteristics and capabilities. Choose those that best suit your requirements.

Google Analytics is a tremendous free tool  for measuring social media impact. This tool will allow you to accurately determine KPI’s and boost your ability to meet your customers needs  more effectively.

Hootsuite is another tool that provides a wide array of measuring tools to help you determine how effective your social media campaign is. With over 10 million users and an option for a free trial it is a good place to start.

Sproutsocial is similar to Hootsuite in that it provides a comprehensive platform for publishing to your social media accounts, engaging your audience and measuring performance with analytical tools.

Popular Measurements

Most of the tools available can provide an overwhelming amount of data. While this may seem intimidating at first, take time to decide on the data that will actually be useful to you. Some of the more popular measurements to consider are those that deal with the following categories:

Reach – This will allow to measure data including numbers of fans, followers and likes. These numbers will help you to determine if you are growing your audience.

Sentiment – This will allow you to gauge and respond to the positive and negative comments you are attracting on your sites.

Engagement – If you want to know what people are thinking and saying about your organization and its products and services take time to focus on engagement. Examine the number and quality of comments, clicks, video views and anything else that requires your audience to interact with your social media activities.

Sales – Although this may not be easily measurable,  it is useful to understand what social media interaction leads  directly to measurable sales activity.

Summary

Measuring your social media performance is a vital part of any campaign and should not be considered an afterthought. Establish your goals, choose your measuring tools and decide which measurements are important for your business or organization. They are important keys to the success of your business.

Social Media 24/7

24_Hours_Open

Now that I am bursting with excitement over all the different networks that can be used to chat, listen and promote my professional brand, I know that it’s just as important to start to consider how I can monitor the effectiveness of what I am saying and how I am saying it…and that kind of scares me.

When social media was new and there wasn’t much of a plan, you were celebrated for maintaining a constant posting schedule.  Now that strategies are a must and results are expected, this has become a much more serious game.

kpi (1)

KPIs or key performance indicators are already in my vernacular but have never pertained to social media. I believe that the important metrics are:

  • Reach (your fans, followers, and other relevant stats and gauge the size of your community)
  • Engagement (retweets, comments, bounce rates, clicks, video views, average time on site, etc.)
  • Competitive data (comparison between us and our competition)
  • Sentiment (how your brand is seen)
  • Sales conversions (the measure of your networks referral traffic)

But, do I have the time to commit to making sure our targets and goals are measured and reported on?! This is where my fear gets the better of me. Like most of you, social media is a portion of my responsibilities and the deeper I come to understand how to effectively use the various networks, the more I realize this could very well gobble-up a lot of my precious time.

There are a number of free monitoring services such as:

And even more extensive, paid-for services including:

It all comes back to time and ultimately budget too – is anyone else starting to sweat or is it just me?

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References:

http://socialmediatoday.com/pamdyer/1458746/50-top-tools-social-media-monitoring-analytics-and-management-2013

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-social-media-monitoring-tools-to-simplify-your-marketing/

COM0015 – Blog Post #1 Social Media Tools and Sources


SOCIAL-MEDIA1-300x300
If you asked me what my favourite social media tool was a year ago or even six month ago I would have answered very differently. I am using social media in a very different way as I venture from personal use to professional use.

Pintrest. What girl wouldn’t love Pintrest? My first encounter with Pintrest was overwhelming to say the least, like a kid in a candy store. That quickly changed, as a graphic designer I just gained millions of mentors.

I have recently discovered Hootsuite and I am a big fan. I’ve been a bit of a scatter brains these days so being able to see the activity of Facebook and Twitter in one spot is my kind of thing. And  AutoSchedule is a great tool for getting the word out.

Google Alert and Twitter are news sources that I like and use the most. I set the parameters of what I am looking for and I customize to suite my personal and professional needs. There is so much noise out there, with Google Alerts and Twitter I get exactly what I want. Definitely helps with the scatter brains issue.

I’m learning that social media is more than keeping in touch with friends on Facebook, social media is being used by many different people, for many different reasons, in many different ways and I am finding out just how to make social media work for me.

*Image sourced from: http://www.customerparadigm.com/value-of-profitable-customers-on-magento/