Mariamz

PositionDial is anonymous – if you want it to be.

Last night I attended an excellent event hosted by Involve at the University of Westminster – entitled ‘Technology and Democratic Participation – friend or foe.’

Involve

A point well made by Catherine Howe was on paying attention to the architectural layer, not just the application layer. And the ‘why.’ Including the choices we make about identity as we build opportunities to participate online.

I have spoken and written on the importance of anonymity and flexible identities online many times, and this is very much built into PositionDial‘s architecture.

PositionDial helps you work out where you stand, see who matches you, and explore the issues you care about. We have several levels of identity on site (and are at this moment building an even more super-secure identity system for y’all):

  • Anonymous – you can use PositionDial, and get your PositionDial, without registering with us or logging in. We use cookies to remember you and help you build your dial as you browse from page to page. But we don’t store your IP address. So there’s no way of us storing your activity or your PositionDial with your location or identity once you close your browser window.
  • Pseudonymous – You can register with any username you like / or Twitter – we don’t force you to use your full, real name
  • Full name – but if you don’t mind, we’d love you to know your real name. We’ll only use it for keeping in touch and making  PositionDial better for you.

Transparency is the only way

There’s a lot of valid, and invalid concern about data sharing and privacy on social media and discovery sites. Transparency is of course the best and the only way to handle this.

For our part, PositionDial offers agencies, charities, businesses and others analytics and insight into where their target customers, stakeholders and partners stand on important issues (we strongly believe this is win:win, if ‘they’ know better, they can do better for all of us). These analytics are based on aggregated, anonymised social PositionDials, and aggregated action PositionDials (from data about MP voting and companies etc. which is already public).

In other words, we would never, and have no reason to, share any personally identifiable data about you.

Furthermore, as stipulated in our privacy policy, we would, as Twitter and others have done before, closely interrogate and strenuously resist outside requests to access your data.

You also have the right to be forgotten (by us). That is, seriously, even if you’ve signed up and got your PositionDial and it’s all saved nice and neatly in our system. If you want out, we’ll delete you. Simples.

Image credit: Triple Pundit

Reposted from PositionDial’s blog

Our poll of 1,015 Americans shows that nearly 30 percent of consumers plan to increase the amount of goods and/or services they buy from socially responsible companies in the coming year. This is up from 18 percent who reported buying more from such companies in 2012 compared to 2011.

In total, 60 percent believe it’s important to shop responsibly, compared to “being green” (83%), reducing consumption (81%) and contributing financially to nonprofits (65%).

good.must.grow (PDF)

It is estimated 67% of online searchers are driven to search by an offline channel. Connecting the offline, to the online, and back again, is exactly what Rijksmuseum did here – creating a fantastically shareable video and image, driving immediate and sustained buzz and massive queues at the opening these theatrical types were promoting..

Hat tip: Clairey Ross

In a recent post Haowen Chan and Robin Morris warn “the last thing you want to do is implement a [big data] system that develops and propagates data, only to learn it’s hopelessly biased.” All research and analysis has bias built in by the very nature of human involvement. However Chan and Morris provide four useful bias-quelling tactics that can be used to improve the big data science process:

  • Employ domain experts Rely on them to help select relevant data and explore which features, inputs and outputs produce the best results. If heuristics are used to gain insights into smaller data sets, the data scientist will work with the domain expert to test the heuristics and ensure they actually produce better results. Like a pitcher and catcher in a baseball game, they are on the same team, with the same goal, but each brings different skill sets to complementary roles.
  • Look for white spaces  Data scientists who work with one data set for periods of time risk complacency, making it easier to introduce bias that reinforces preconceived notions. Don’t settle for what you have; instead, look for the “white spaces” in your data sets and search for alternate sources to supplement “sparse data.”
  • Open a feedback loop This will help data scientists react to changing business requirements with modified models that can be accurately applied to the new business conditions. Applying Lean Startup like continuous delivery methodologies to your big data approach will help you keep your model fresh.
  • Encourage your data scientists to explore.  If you can afford your own team of data scientists, be sure they have the space and autonomy to explore freely. Some equate big data to the solar system, so get out there and explore this uncharted universe!

We can also consider what bias we are encouraging when we develop systems – from social media plugins to smart objects – which collect ‘big data,’ or data which could be aggregated into big data analysis. Might we be unfairly representing a picture from our data subjects, either by representation or omission? Collection, processing and analysis are all crucial to consider in the quest for useful and accurate big data outcomes.

Image of what the Internet looks like via Flowing Data - the work of Peer 1 Hosting & team

Rob Manuel gave what seems to have been an impassioned defence of “the bottom half of the internet”, saying that “troll” had become the equivalent of “chav” — a word used to demonise and silence people who don’t have power. Rob’s argument appears to echo the joke of defining a “troll” as “the least famous of two people arguing on Twitter.” Rob seems to have equated the disdain felt for the “proles” by the upper echelons of society with the disdain felt for the “commentards” by the chattering columnist classes of the media.

Rob Manuel via Martin Belam

Mark Ritson recently wrote, If you think Oreo won the advertising Super Bowl with a tweet, look at the social media scoreboardIn this, he puts forward a bold position: firstly that social media reaches a relatively small number of people, in a relatively light way (in comparison to TV ads) and secondly, that “The players might have changed, but the game has always been the same.” I’d like to briefly tackle these sentiments with some counter-points:

  1. Two-way, multi-way, a new way:  It’s a standard social media point to make, but it’s seems it still must be. The game is not the same, because we are talking about many to many communication, about instantaneous interaction between publics and brands. Broadcast media (print, tv and to a great extent radio) was about crafting messages and pushing them out. Social media is about stakeholders, customers, innovators, product developers, consumers, suppliers, shareholders, customer services getting under eachother’s skin in real-time. It means a wealth of chances to make better products, services, institutions and outcomes, and for a brand to know, in no uncertain terms, whether it is delighting, inspiring, boring, horrifying, losing or poisoning its target customers and (former) audiences faster than ever, ever before.
  2. Broadcast reach vs reach on the brand’s terms: According to Ritson’s calculations, the Oreo tweet reached 200,000 people, which he compares with the 8 million Americans who eat an Oreos cookie during one year. But these sums ignore that social media engagement does not rest on one tweet alone, however brilliantly improvised its content. If an individual likes a brand enough to follow it, to endure its posts, by choice, day in day out - that brand has a chance of reaching that number of people, with what it chooses, on its own terms, and over and over again. It does not have to pay per placement, negotiate partnerships with publishers or pitch to journalists. It decides what to say and how to say it, and gets it out there immediately. And what happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.  According to Exact Target, discussions that begin on Twitter are more likely to appear elsewhere on the web than they are from any other network.
  3. Tiny stories versus big bangs: Ritson challenges the value of Oreo’s tweet on the grounds of its ‘potency’, because he is apparently wedded to the old-school marketing obsession with the big bang, a million eyeballs, that golden moment where a message reaches every heart, and the earth moves for everyone simultaneously. But in the new social media environment, we ridicule and mock big campaigns when they don’t make sense to us – and our voices are so loud brands can’t help but hear. Conversely, we cheer those that listen, move collaboratively, give us choices and help us make our mark. As Marcus Brown recently wrote marketers / social business people need to “watch and listen to all of the tiny noises, the personal moments, the little disasters and the massive moments of personal joy that surround us daily. We should be improvising with the tiny stories.”
  4. We likee, we buyee, and there’s no excuse for metrical ignorance: There are various studies showing correlation between liking and following brands, and propensity to recommend, purchase, and purchase more from them. (And stats showing that poor social media engagement impacts bottom lines.) That given, there is still no need for any marketer to settle for anecdotal or macro-data: from Facebook insights to Google goal setting, tracking the effectiveness of digital communications through the customer and stakeholder funnel, brand by brand, product by product, is a matter of effort and skill, not luck or magic. There is simply no need, with the wealth of metrics at our fingertips, to be asking rhetorically the value of social media activation versus broadcast placements.

According to a Comscore/Facebook survey Starbucks reaches more non-fans than fans organically through posts on its page… Starbucks are being seen by double the amount of people who are fans every time a post is shared. The same survey also reported that exposure to a Starbucks post resulted in 38% of people increasing store purchases. Ultimately engagement delivers to the bottom line too.

Chris J Reed / Comscore

This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

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