Facebook accused of using ‘sentiment analysis’ to target kids feeling ‘stressed’ or ‘anxious’

Facebook has been accused of tracking users’ emotions to share with advertisers, according to an internal document that was leaked to The Australian newspaper on Monday.

The social media giant allegedly used “sentiment analysis” to enable curated advertising practices addressing kids as young as 14 when they’re feeling “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” “overwhelmed,” “nervous,” “stupid,” “silly,” “useless” and “a failure.”

According to the article, by monitoring posts, comments and interactions, the social media giant is able to determine users’ emotional state and, some say, that information could be shared with advertisers who could then tailor their ads to prey on their vulnerabilities.

This particular study focused on teens and young adults in Australia and New Zealand. The information culled included relationship status, location, number of friends and the amount of times a user logged on (although this is something the company does regularly and sells to advertisers.)

In this instance, The Australian said that Facebook was able to gather information on people discussing “looking good and body confidence” and “working out and losing weight.” The article also stated that the social media giant could determine how emotions were communicated throughout the week.

“Anticipatory emotions are more likely to be expressed early in the week, while reflective emotions increase on the weekend,” the document said. “Monday to Thursday is about building confidence; the weekend is for broadcasting achievements.”

Facebook has responded to the allegations with a statement: “The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.”

According to a Facebook Canada representative who spoke to Global News, the study in question, which was conducted a year ago, didn’t follow the social media company’s protocol for gathering user insight.

The top motivating factor for research is to maximize the benefits of the user experience and mitigate the downsides, the company states. Furthermore, it claims to not offer advertisers the ability to target its users based on their emotional state.

While the practice of reviewing online user information reeks of Big Brother, it’s something that has been going on for some time, says Lisa Montenegro, president and founder of Digital Marketing Experts in Toronto.

“The reality is, when you talk about Facebook and Google, they have information on us already,” she says. “And ad targeting can be positive or negative.”

She says it’s not surprising that Facebook might veer in this direction because the social media company has been losing the coveted teen demographic to new platforms, like Snapchat. However, this practice always comes down to responsibility.

“If Facebook knows that teens are experiencing low self-esteem and flood their feeds with ads for cosmetics or diet products, that’s dangerous. But if they put up ads for the Kids Help Phone or counselling services, that would be positive,” she says.

In actual fact, this is no different than the ads that run during TV commercial breaks — after all, that’s how soap operas got their name — this just taking a more sophisticated step forward, Montenegro says.

Facebook has to approve ads before they’re shown and they typically won’t approve one that’s considered dangerous. They have a responsibility and they know it,” she says.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has come under fire for audience research projects. In 2012 the company conducted a week-long experiment to see if they could alter users’ emotions by putting positive and negative content on their homepage. They concluded that the content had the ability to alter users’ feelings through “emotional contagion.”

Facebook apologized and consequently changed their research guidelines.

Visit the Original Article Here – http://globalnews.ca/news/3424313/facebook-accused-of-using-sentiment-analysis-to-target-kids-feeling-stressed-or-anxious/

When Canadian companies unwittingly advertise on Breitbart

Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham was in for a shock when some customer feedback recently reached his desk. Unbeknownst to Graham, the Toronto-based loan company’s digital ads were running on the website of Breitbart News Network. That’s the far-right outlet formerly run by Stephen Bannon, the notorious White House adviser who’s been described as a white supremacist. It’s not a place Borrowell cares to promote itself.

“My reaction was surprise,” Graham says of learning that the ads had appeared. “We want our display ads and our ad dollars go to sites that are compatible with our values, and we feel that’s not a site that’s compatible with our values.

“Our customers know what our values are, and it was great to get that alert so we could move quickly,” he says. “We’re a data- and fact-driven company. About one third of employees were not born in Canada. We’re a diverse and inclusive company.”

Graham’s piece of advice to other business leaders who don’t want anything to do with Breitbart or any similar platform is to take a closer look at how their organization’s digital marketing campaigns are structured. Borrowell uses Google Display Network, its ads appearing on close to 14,000 websites around the world. It’s easy enough to prevent ads from showing up places you don’t want them to via an exclusion list, however, with Google having access to millions high-traffic sites, it can be challenging for businesses to keep up.

Network advertising involves the use of technology that targets and personalizes ads in real time. Most ads are placed based on data about users – specifically, where they’re roaming on the Web — rather than the content of any given website.

“If you set up a campaign that was too general… you leave it to the network to display ads anywhere; it could be ESPN, CNN, or Breitbart,” says Adolfo Montenegro, managing partner of Toronto’s DMX – Digital Marketing Experts. “[Digital ad] campaign managers need to go further and look at websites where they do not want to have their ads displayed and really dig down into the details.

“It can be done, but it’s a whole new world,” he says. “Companies want to distance themselves from the politics,” he says. “They want to stay away from any blog sites that have to do with politics; don’t want to be anywhere near that. Things can go sideways. You never know what could happen to interfere with the business nowadays.”

Borrowell isn’t the only Canadian organization that has found itself inadvertently advertising on the controversial website.

The University of British Columbia and the University of Montreal both pulled ads recently after discovering that promotional material was appearing on the Breitbart site.

Mountain Equipment Co-Op is another venture that halted its ads from appearing on Breitbart, after relying on a service to automatically publish ads on web sites based on a customer’s browsing history.

“When members alerted us to MEC ads appearing on Breitbart, we immediately took steps to suppress our ads from appearing there again in the future,” MEC said in a statement. “As a values-based Canadian retail co-operative, MEC does not wish to be associated with web sites of any political stripe that trade in extremist views.”

An organization called Sleeping Giants is on a mission to get companies to stop advertising on Breitbart. In November, it tweeted: “We are trying to stop racist Web sites by stopping their ad dollars. Many companies don’t even know it’s happening. It’s time to tell them.”

The campaign is working: since then, hundreds of businesses have pulled ads, including Lyft, T-Mobile, Kellogg’s, BMW, Visa, and the Vanguard Group, an investment management company.

Other companies, such as Nissan, have stated that their goal is reach as many customers as possible and don’t have any plans to change their advertising strategy.

The anti-Breitbart sentiment has picked up in Canada in other ways. Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke, for instance, has received criticism for refusing to stop hosting Breitbart’s online store.

Visit the Original Article Here – https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/when-canadian-companies-unwittingly-advertise-on-breitbart-161817226.html

This week in small business: Become a master of DIY market research

I was really pleased to find some good guidance on market research to share with you this week. It’s a topic that doesn’t get much attention, but one that can make or break a startup or any plans for expansion.

Marketing and sales

Need a DIY guide to market research? In his SurveyGizmo article, Chris Watkins does a good job hitting all the bases. (A little nod to the young MLB season there!) To go a little further, check out Vikas Agrawal’s “5 market research tips every startup should know.”

Jayson DeMers asks and answers the important question: When it comes to SEO, how cheap is too cheap? And if that makes you a bit concerned about your SEO, you’ll probably want to check out the three SEO tips to get your small biz noticed from John Swanciger.

Anyone directly responsible for content creation (blogging) for the purpose of SEO needs to hear what Lisa Montenegro has to say about “keywords versus topics.”

While Pepsi’s recent ad featuring Kendall Jenner caused a media storm, Jake Romm argues that it was actually a resounding success.

Check your website against Jennifer Lobb’s list of five things it must have…unless you want to lose customers.

Leadership, management, and productivity

Rasha Khawaja, Toucan founder and CEO, is the woman business leader profiled in this article by Laura Emily Dunn.

There’s no question about it: We’ve been in a productivity funk for several years. Philip Salter says that small business adopting technology is the key to raising productivity. And while they aren’t techy, the six productivity hacks in this article by Christine Warner are solid.

Munira Rangwala offers three easy ways to help women succeed in business and we all succeed when more women succeed.

Entrepreneurship, startups, and innovation

Not all networking strategies are good and in his Entrepreneur article, Kimanzi Constable outlines one terrible way of networking via social media for entrepreneurs.

Need convincing that a strong social media presence is required for your startup? If so, this Social Media Daily article lays out the reasons.

Finally, are you primed for a little inspiration and guidance? Try this piece by Brian Roberts: How I came up with a million-dollar ecommerce idea in 20 minutes.

Visit the Original Article Here –  http://www.susansolovic.com/2017/04/this-week-in-small-business-become-a-master-of-diy-market-research/

Keywords Or Topics: When It Comes To SEO, Which Is Best For Blogging?

If you’ve been in the SEO world for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard all of these statements at some point: SEO is dead. SEO is alive and well. All of your blog posts must come from keywords. You should stop wasting time with keywords.

SEO gurus have been saying things that contradict each other over and over again. So, who’s right?

The answer is, as it usually goes in these types of arguments, no one. But also no one is completely wrong. If you ask any of the people who defend either side of the argument, they will most likely tell you that they have results to prove their claims. The problem is the tendency to confuse causation with correlation when it comes to search engine ranking. So what should you do if you want your blog to rank well in the search engines in 2017?

Everything changed a few years ago with Google’s Hummingbird semantic search algorithm. Long gone are the days when all you needed to get your page to rank was to research some high traffic keywords, stuff them wherever you could, get some shady links and call it a day.

Ever since Google implemented this update, the way SEO was approached had to be changed. This semantic search algorithm is what gives Google that eerie ability to just know what you are looking for. To say it in a grossly oversimplified way, the search engine understands what you are looking for.

We see this when we search for a topic and the search results show what we wanted, but had none of the keywords that we entered in the search box. Which is the answer: keywords or topics? It turns out that you need both.

The key to making sense of all this SEO mess is to understand what Google actually wants. Google wants to help you find what you were looking for – only faster. This means that the content you create must be an interconnected series of topics that make sense for the reader. Additionally, it must also contain relevant keywords to the search topic.

The best way to think about it is from a user experience perspective. This is one of the main concerns of Google nowadays. So if you are in the process of creating your blogging strategy, you need to make sure that the topics you cover make sense for the person making the search. You also need to make sure your content contains the necessary keywords for the search engine to put it all together.

Also, keep in mind that keywords can’t come at the expense of topics or the other way around. The keywords you choose to target should be logically connected with the topics you’ll be covering on your blog.

Complicated as it may sound, things are a lot easier now. Create quality content that humans will find helpful and make sure it has your target keywords in a way that makes sense. Remember always, content is still king. Do this and you will be well on your way to SEO success.

Post written by
Lisa Montenegro

Founder and president at Digital Marketing Experts – DMX, a premier Google partner agency located in Toronto, Canada.

Visit the Original Article Here – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/04/05/keywords-or-topics-when-it-comes-to-seo-which-is-best-for-blogging/#987c8331754a

LinkedIn Changes That You Need To Know About This Year

Our customers are always asking us what is new in terms of social media. In my opinion, LinkedIn is currently the most important social media site to keep up with for business. The sheer power of optimizing a LinkedIn profile to be indexed by Google and to rank your name and business name as the top SEO result is unsurpassed.

From branding to optimizing for Google to utilizing for social selling and ultimately creating your profile online, I highly recommend to all of my clients that we work first on their LinkedIn profile before doing any other online strategy.

Just this month, I met with a well-established photographer who said he did not believe in “online marketing.” When we completed the exercise of Googling his name, to his shock and surprise, only obituaries appeared. Apparently, another John approximately the same age as him passed away suddenly and all the links were about the other John. If his potential customers are searching for his name or business and are currently only finding obituary results, they are most likely turning their search elsewhere. Creating a well-optimized LinkedIn profile with a personalized URL would repair this problem immediately.

To help you make the most of LinkedIn, I’ve put together a guide of all you need to know to become a LinkedIn pro this year.

What Changes Has LinkedIn Made For Users?

LinkedIn is currently the world’s biggest professional networking platform, so it’s not a major surprise that to keep things running smoothly, the company has made a few adjustments to improve its user experience. The redesign of the site comes after the upgrade of its app. The desktop tweaks are focused on making the crossover between the two platforms more similar in the hope that users will spend more time each day on the site – only 25% of the platform’s 450 million users used it monthly.

The new interface (UI) boasts an updated color scheme, a shift from black to a dark teal. The menu bar at the top of the page is slightly thinner, mirroring the mobile app. Listed below are all changes you can expect to see; any features and areas not mentioned remain as they were before the recent upgrade.

Aside from the ads on the right-hand side of the page, all the usual features are on the main page with the option to share an update, photo or article at the top of the page. What might confuse a few people, particularly any newcomers, is the “publish” option is just below that, which gives you direct access to the publishing feature.

The profile rank feature seems to have disappeared since the update; perhaps it will return in time. In the meantime, be selective and test out your results. Your profile views and headline are shown directly under your photo. The timeline is the only new feature added to the homepage and looks similar to a Facebook feed with a count of how many people have read your latest post.

Your Profile

The bedrock of LinkedIn is now accessible via the “Me” icon in the menu bar and is depicted by a tiny snapshot of your profile picture. Your photo is now circular so you might have to try a few different sizes to get a good fit. It appears that most people are doing best with dimensions in the 1800-by-300 pixel range, rather than the 1536-by-738 size LinkedIn suggests uploading.

To see more than just your summary, people now have to click the “more” button, so it’s crucial you make those first two lines count. The only real downside about the new profile section is that you can no longer reorder the different parts of your profile.

Other People’s Profiles

All the contact info for others’ profiles is now displayed on the far right-hand side along with website URLs. The options for sharing, removing, blocking, reporting, unfollowing and sending a request are all visible on the top right if you press the three little dots next to the centered profile picture.

The old “in common” feature is now called “highlights,” making it easily accessible, while just below that you see others’ posts.

My Network

When you used to click on “My Network” you were met with “Connections,” “Add Contacts,” “Alumni” and “People You May Know.” The new version takes you straight to your invitations and people you may know instead; click “see all” for the rest of your connections and keep in mind that the announcements feature has moved to your notification area. We’ve lost the “Alumni” search option, but you can get around this by searching for the school in the search bar.


The notifications feature is new and improved, now with its own separate page; reach it by going to the top menu and clicking on the bell icon (this was previously a flag icon). This layout makes it easier to track engagement and respond, you’ll still receive all the notifications you did previously.

These changes to the platform are more cosmetic than technical and only time will tell if they enhance the site long term. For newcomers and those who don’t use the advanced features, the changes are certainly worth it. For more experienced users, it doesn’t offer much in terms of newness yet. However, it’s still early days for potentially larger changes, as Microsoft only acquired LinkedIn in December.

Post written by
Lisa Montenegro

Founder and president at Digital Marketing Experts – DMX, a premier Google partner agency located in Toronto, Canada.

Visit the Original Article Here – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/02/27/linkedin-changes-that-you-need-to-know-about-this-year/#5bb67a9c7bb5