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Customer engagement strategies that heed power of social media

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The power of social media to alter customer engagement strategies — for a product rollout, an executive hire, a policy change — is impressive.

Case in point: Legendary Entertainment did not anticipate the kind of response it would get when it released its trailer for The Great Wall. The decision to cast Matt Damon as the hero in a film centered around the iconic Chinese landmark drew immediate criticism on Twitter and Facebook as another example of a white savior narrative and of whitewashing.

“The whole storyline was meant to be about someone coming into a new culture and learning and growing in that culture,” Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary, said at the recent HUBweek, an arts, science and innovation festival in Boston. “But the perception was not that.”

Social media platforms and the swift judgment of the internet are forcing companies to engage in ways they’ve never had to before. And executives from Legendary and Microsoft are sharing their experiences with the new tools for — and rules for — customer engagement.

New tools of engagement

On paper, The Great Wall made sense, according to Marolda. It was 2016, and the U.S. and China were the two biggest movie markets in the world; the East-meets-West film reflected Legendary’s sale to Wanda Group, a massive entertainment company in China. And, based on an analysis Marolda and his applied analytics team did, Damon had an active following and a reputation for taking on high-quality projects.

But what looked good on paper did not translate well to audiences — especially those in the U.S. Marolda said the company reacted to the criticism quickly. For example, the company released a statement from Zhang Yimou, the film’s director whom Marolda characterized as “the Steven Spielberg of China,” defending the casting decision.

After that, the team stood still and observed. “We had time on our side,” said Marolda, adding that the film wasn’t scheduled to be released for nine months. “We could see analytically that the best thing to do was nothing.”

The public ire did cool, but the film couldn’t completely escape the negative press it had received, according to Marolda. The company ultimately decided to shift its marketing strategy. “We then realized that emphasizing the movie’s possibilities outside of the U.S. was as important as emphasizing the movie’s possibilities inside the U.S.,” he said.

The decision appears to have been a good one. While the film bombed in the U.S., it was moderately successful worldwide, and has helped spark a larger conversation about how to make blockbuster films for a global market.

Executives onstage at HUBweek.
Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary Entertainment, and Kathleen Kennedy, director of special projects at the MIT Sloan School of Management, onstage at HUBweek.

Customer engagement strategies: Ask three questions

How do companies develop customer engagement strategies that acknowledge the power of social media? A reactive approach — no matter how swift the response or how successful in the short term — doesn’t cut it.   

Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, talked about the role companies should play in the public discourse and stressed that companies need a moral compass today.

“You have to know the issues for which you’re going to take a stand. And you have to be grounded in a certain set of principles,” he said during a fireside chat at HUBweek with Adi Ignatius, the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review.

Before weighing in on a controversial issue, Smith suggested that companies ask three questions. First, is the issue important to the business? Smith described this question as “an easy space,” and can include tax law or intellectual property law — topics companies have always weighed in on.

Second, is the issue important to its customers? As data has moved to the cloud, companies have entered into a new kind of relationship with their customers, according to Smith. He said it’s vital that they think about the security and protection and actively take a stand on issues like surveillance and privacy.

Third, is the issue important to employees? The company believes a safe work environment doesn’t automatically equate to employee success. Employees could be hindered by issues outside of the office such as an inability to buy the home they want to buy, get the kind of healthcare coverage they need, or marry the person they want to marry, according to Smith.

So when a bill in North Carolina looked like it would restrict LGBT rights, Smith said it “was not a difficult decision” for Microsoft to voice its opposition. The company has a pretty significant presence in Charlotte, employing about 1,000 people there, and Smith said the issue was “important for our employees outside of the workplace.”

In an effort to be as effective as possible and preserve its relationship with the community, Microsoft will often seek out a local business community — a trusted organization that uses its voice to speak up on issues such as these — to partner with. “I prefer a course that’s going to maximize our chances of being effective and not just maximize our chances of being seen,” he said.

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/252451024/Customer-engagement-strategies-that-heed-power-of-social-media

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UK unveils law to fine social media firms which fail to remove online abuse

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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Wednesday a planned new law would see social media companies fined up to 10% of turnover or 18 million pounds ($25 million) if they failed to stamp out online abuses such as racist hate crimes, while senior managers could also face criminal action.

The Online Safety Bill also seeks to strengthen the right to freedom of expression, and ensure democratic political debate and journalistic content is protected, the government said.

“It’s time for tech companies to be held to account and to protect the British people from harm. If they fail to do so, they will face penalties,” interior minister Priti Patel said.

Tech firms have been accused of doing far too little to address online abuse, with soccer clubs and other sporting authorities boycotting the world’s biggest social media platforms last month to highlight the growing problem.

The bill will place a duty of care on social media firms and websites to ensure they take swift action to remove illegal content, such as hate crimes, harassment and threats directed at individuals, including abuse which falls below the criminal threshold.

There will also be a requirement to remove and limit the spread of terrorist material, suicide content and child sexual abuse, which they would need to report to the authorities.

Those companies which fail to do so face hefty fines from regulator Ofcom which can also block access to their sites.

“The draft Bill contains reserved powers for Ofcom to pursue criminal action against named senior managers whose companies do not comply with Ofcom’s requests for information,” the government said. “These will be introduced if tech companies fail to live up to their new responsibilities.”

The proposed law will also require companies to safeguard freedom of expression, and reinstate material unfairly removed.

It will also forbid tech firms from discriminating against particular political viewpoints, and Ofcom will hold them to account for the arbitrary removal of journalistic content, the government added.

($1 = 0.7068 pounds)

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/uk-unveils-law-fine-social-media-firms-fail-remove-online-abuse/14589

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U.S. senator asks firms about sales of hard disk drives to Huawei

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior Republican U.S. senator on Tuesday asked the chief executives of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Seagate Technology, and Western Digital Corp if the companies are improperly supplying Huawei with foreign-produced hard disk drives.

Senator Roger Wicker, the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, said a 2020 U.S. Commerce Department regulation sought to “tighten Huawei’s ability to procure items that are the direct product of specified U.S. technology or software, such as hard disk drives.”

He said he was engaged “in a fact-finding process… about whether leading global suppliers of hard disk drives are complying” with the regulation.

Western Digital said in a statement to Reuters it “stopped shipping to Huawei in mid-September 2020 to comply with new rules issued by the Department of Commerce. We requested a license to ship products to Huawei in September 2020. Our application is still pending.”

The other companies and Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Wicker asked the companies if they believed the regulation “prohibits shipment of hard disk drives to Huawei or any affiliate without a license” and the status of all license applications to ship covered products to Huawei.

Wicker also copied Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on the letter and encouraged her act “against any company found to be circumventing any part” of the rule, saying Huawei poses “serious harm” to national security.

The Commerce Department action in August was also aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.

In August, former President Donald Trump’s administration also added 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist raising the total to 152 affiliates since first adding Huawei in May 2019.

Washington has pushed governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, arguing the company would hand over data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei has denied spying for China.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and David Gregorio)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/us-senator-asks-firms-sales-hard-disk-drives-huawei/14588

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EA signals gaming boom extending run with upbeat annual forecast

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By Tiyashi Datta

(Reuters) -Electronic Arts Inc on Tuesday forecast annual adjusted revenue above analysts’ estimates, betting that demand for its titles, including “FIFA 21” and “Apex Legends,” would stay strong even as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The video gaming industry has been a big pandemic winner thanks to a surge in engagement from gamers staying indoors. U.S. consumer spending on video games rose 18% in March to a record $5.6 billion, according to data from research firm NPD.

But speedy vaccinations and easing curbs have encouraged people to head outdoors, raising concerns that the gaming boom would soon fade.

EA on Tuesday signaled it expected the momentum to continue, estimating full-year adjusted revenue to be $7.30 billion, higher than a Refinitiv IBES estimate of $6.61 billion.

“We expect to continue to drive strong organic growth in Apex Legends in fiscal 2022 and expand the franchise to new platforms with the launch of Apex Mobile in the back half of the year,” Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said on a post-earnings call.

The company’s shares were nearly 3% higher at $145.05 in extended trading.

EA has been expanding its customer base and mobile gaming footprint through deals for companies including UK-based Codemasters, known for racing titles “F1” and “Dirt”, and “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” creator Glu Mobile.

However, the costs of the acquisitions and some minor tax changes impacted its fourth-quarter profit, Jorgensen said in an interview with Reuters.

Net income for the quarter ended March 31 fell to $76 million, or 26 cents per share, from $418 million, $1.43 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.23 per share, beating expectations of $1.05 per share. Revenue of $1.49 billion also exceeded estimates of $1.39 billion.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/ea-signals-gaming-boom-extending-run-upbeat-annual-forecast/14587

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Judge in U.S. case against Facebook delays trial preparation

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The judge in the U.S. government’s antitrust case against Facebook Inc said on Tuesday the social media company’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit “raises a number of serious challenges” and put the discovery process on hold.

In a brief order, Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he expected to rule on the motion to dismiss next month.

“Given that Facebook’s motion to dismiss raises a number of serious challenges to the complaint,” the judge wrote in a brief order, it would be premature to exchange documents until he has a chance to decide if some or all of the complaint will be tossed out.

Facebook had asked the court to dismiss both lawsuits, one brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the other by a big group of states, alleging they were brought “in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns.”

Facebook said in a second filing that a recent Supreme Court ruling meant the FTC lawsuit against it calling for the sale of WhatsApp and Instagram should be dismissed. The company argued that the high court ruling allows the FTC to use a particular section of the FTC Act only to demand that behavior stop.

The FTC and a big group of states filed separate lawsuits last year that accused Facebook of breaking antitrust law to keep smaller competitors at bay by snapping up rivals, such as its 2012 acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion and of WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion.

All told, the federal government and states filed five lawsuits against Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google last year following bipartisan outrage over use and misuse of social media clout both in the economy and the political sphere.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/judge-us-case-facebook-delays-trial-preparation/14586

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