Category Archives: News Center
It might not be the hippest platform but it gets the job done
by Mike Montgomery
A University of Austin undergrad recently took to Medium to explain how his generation really views social networks. Unsurprisingly, Instagram and Snapchat are the places young consumers are most likely to hang out. Twitter is a bit of a mystery. Tumblr is a secret society everyone is in. LinkedIn is something they have to do and Pinterest is for artsy women.
Facebook is dead to them.
Well not completely dead. In the next breath, writer Andrew Watts admits that everyone has a Facebook account because while Facebook can be weird and annoying, “if you don’t have Facebook, that’s even more weird and annoying.”
So what’s a small business supposed to do with this breakdown? Everyone wants to reach the young demographic but Snapchat is reportedly asking $750,000 for an ad that disappears as soon as the viewer has seen it. That’s out of reach for pretty much every small and medium sized company.
Businesses know they need to be marketing on social media. But the range of sites and the sheer volume of available data can be overwhelming for a company that may only have a few employees and a tiny marketing budget.
I turned to Michael Perry, the founder of Kit*, to help walk me through the different options. Full disclosure, Perry’s company is a member of CALinnovates, the tech advocacy group where I serve as executive director. Kit acts as a digital marketing assistant helping small businesses place ads on different social networks.
According to Perry, Facebook is still far and away to best place for small businesses to advertise. Just look at Watt’s breakdown of the teen view of social networks. They might find Facebook annoying but everyone is on there.
“Their giant size is the biggest pro to advertising on Facebook,” says Perry. “Their targeting is better than anyone else.”
For less than $100 Facebook gives small business owners the opportunity to target a demographic as specific as women 25–40 who are moms, live in San Francisco and like yoga. Ads show up in Facebook’s mobile stream as well as online and give users a way to directly interact with the company.
Theo Yedinsky, one of the founders of the social media services company Social Stream Consulting, said that when his wife set up an exercise studio in Brooklyn, they immediately turned to Facebook for advertising. A new client special offer quickly paid for the price of the ad and most importantly, got people in the door to try out the studio.
“Facebook is the biggest and most important platform,” says Yedinsky. “You get a lot of bang for your buck.”
The downside of Facebook, according to Perry, is that the fire hose of data can be overwhelming for many small business owners.
“You can get into a very nasty spider web if you don’t know what you’re doing,” says Perry. “It’s easy to go too specific or too broad.”
The social networking site is finally starting to become a force in advertising. According to the company’s latest earnings report, demand for ads is outstripping supply. For the fourth quarter, promoted tweets were up 130% helping boost revenue 97% to $479 million.
But for the most part, the site still mystifies small business owners. Perry says he’s trying to figure out the best way to use Twitter but one thing the site is clearly very good for is giving business owners a chance to talk directly to their customers and to listen to them.
“You can build a brand around having a conversation and that’s free to do,” says Perry. “There’s a lot of emphasis on that for right now.”
Perry calls Pinterest the golden nugget of social networking.
“I can’t stress how many people are interested in Pinterest ads,” says Perry, because Pinterest users are already in the buying mood when they click on the site. The company is only now starting to roll out promoted pins, which will be the Pinterest equivalent of ads. Right now only companies invited to use the beta can create promoted pins but the program is expected to roll out soon.
The big question is how much promoted pins will cost.
“We assume it will be impression based but it could be pay per click,” says Perry. “We just don’t know yet.”
The hottest player in social media today offers crazy engagement and an age demographic to die for but Perry says the price is just way too high for anyone whose brand isnt’ huge.
The Facebook owned photo-sharing site is a good place to build a brand but not a great place for small businesses to try and buy ads. Ad space on the platform is limited and pricey right now. According to this article from Ad Age, a month-long ad campaign on Instagram can cost as much as $1 million. That keeps small business owners out of the sandbox but Perry expects they’ll eventually be asked to play as supply goes up and prices come down
As important as social networks are, they shouldn’t be the only arrow in a small business’ quiver. Social media expert Chase Norlin, who now runs the labor force training organization Transmosis*, says it’s important to try lots of different kinds of ad platforms, including Yelp, AdRoll, and Google, and see which mix performs best.
“Social media is valuable not because the user is so engaged but because of the targeting and automation that goes on there,” says Norlin. “It’s really all about the data that exists behind the scenes.”
Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates, a coalition advocating on behalf of California’s tech community.
Read the article as first published on Medium
FCC Commissioner to Tech Industry: It’s Time to Reinvent Textbooks, Teaching
After increasing spending by $1.5 billion on Internet broadband projects for schools FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asks the tech industry to innovate for education.
SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of its Dec. 19 decision to raise Internet connectivity funding for schools by $1.5 billion, the Federal Communications Commission urged Silicon Valley to couple funding with innovative educational material.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel spoke to the audience of tech entrepreneurs at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters on Jan. 8, highlighting the FCC’s recent efforts and encouraging the digital disruption within teaching and the textbook industry. The event was hosted by the tech advocacy group CALinnovates.
In October, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors did something very smart; by a vote of 7 to 4, it made Airbnb legal.
In some ways, this was not news. The fact that the room rental service had been technically illegal in the city did not stop thousands of homeowners and travelers from taking advantage of the Internet platform. In fact, as many as 5,000 San Francisco rentals are available on Airbnb on any given day. But the short-term rentals were violating city laws that classified them as businesses and therefore not allowed in residential zones. The new law creates a safer environment for Airbnb users and will contribute millions to the city’s tax coffers.
San Francisco is an example other cities and states need to follow. They need to both clear a path for new entrants and protect the health and safety of consumers.
This does not mean following New York’s lead. The New York attorney general recently came down hard on Airbnb. A report from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, based on subpoenaed information, showed that 72 percent of all Airbnb listings in New York City are considered illegal under the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law or city zoning laws. Those rentals accounted for approximately
$304 million in revenue over the past four years. Furthermore, Airbnb is big business in New York where more than 100 renters own more than 10 units each and illegally generate millions of dollars in revenue.
Wireless spectrum is something that you probably never think about. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, and if you’re not interested in the minutia of federal communications regulations, you probably only have a vague idea of what spectrum is.
But trust me; unless you are living completely off the grid, spectrum is a crucial part of your everyday life. It’s what air traffic controllers use to talk to pilots. It lets you use apps, check email on your phone, and make mobile phone calls. It’s how you can see your baby on a monitor from another room. And it is getting dangerously crowded.
Read the rest on Medium
There are few people better equipped to talk about innovation and technology than FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. She is a frequent visitor to Silicon Valley, which helps inform her understanding of the Valley’s point of view.
So it was a real honor for CALinnovates to sit down with Commissioner Rosenworcel and discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the innovation economy. From the complexity of spectrum policy to what Washington DC needs to learn from Silicon Valley, Rosenworcel is an important voice for the tech community.
There are few people more bullish about the innovation economy than Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. Indeed, Shapiro is so enthusiastic about the sharing economy that he compares them with American revolutionaries in their commitment to improving the status-quo.
And the regulators who want to stifle sharing networks like Uber and Airbnb, Shapiro says, are akin to the 18th century British government who sought to control their North American colony. It’s a typically forthright position from the always entertaining Shapiro whose take on innovation is itself innovative.
Developing countries don’t have the high-tech equipment needed to quickly diagnose the disease, but they do have millions of cellphones. One UCLA professor has a way to turn those phones into diagnostic centers.
There are 6.8 billion cellphone subscriptions in the world. Even when you consider that some people have more than one subscription, that means that an incredibly high percentage of the world’s 7 billion people now have a mobile phone.
Although most of us use our phones for things like texting, taking photos and playing games (in addition to the occasional phone call), there’s a movement out there to harness the power of that giant community of cellphone users to help people living in the poorest countries on Earth.
Dr. Aydogan Ozcan is a member of that movement. The UCLA engineering professor is turning mobile phones into diagnostic centers that can be used thousands of miles away from labs with expensive hospital equipment.
Ozcan has created software and hardware that turn cellphones into microscopes and diagnostic machines. With the addition of a 3D-printed microscope, a field worker in Africa can quickly scan the blood of an HIV patient to see how the virus is reacting to medicine. Workers can take water samples to test for E. coli in a stream or well, and epidemiologists can connect data points to quickly see where diseases are spreading.
Read more on The Huffington Post
by Mark Headd
Technical Evangelist, Accela Software
[If] one of the virtues of our approach to democracy in this country is that we have lots of governments below the federal level to act as “laboratories of democracy” then we’re missing an opportunity here. If we can get more small cities to embrace open data, we can encourage more experimentation. We can evaluate the kinds of data that these cities release and what people do with it. We can learn more about what works — and what doesn’t.
Read more in PBS MediaShift
What happens when you’re protesting in a place like China where the government stands ready to shut down Internet services or block social networking web sites?
California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill that requires all smartphones sold in California to come with mandatory “kill switches.” A few weeks ago, I thought the bill was a seemingly harmless piece of legislation that might decrease the number of smartphones stolen every year. I even wrote a blog post in support of the bill. I’ve since changed my mind.
The events in Ferguson, Mo. that followed the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown made me rethink my view.
Read the rest of the story HERE