Beware of those mobile apps – how safe are you?

app_store_privacy_policy1A recent survey by Appthority reveals that almost all free and many paid apps are collecting and sharing your personal data. Bill Snyder reviewed the survey for an article on CIO and found most apps come with a “hidden price – loss of privacy”. Exactly what information is being collected about you? According to the survey, Snyder says the apps collect details about your location, address book contacts, and calendar information. Even more surprising was the survey found that iOS Apps have a higher risk than Android apps. Synder shares the following graphic from Appthority that depicts this high percentage of risk between ios and android mobile apps: appthority-100366590-primary_idge

Credit: Appthority

A March 19 CNBC article by Jennifer Schlesinger also warns about the threat of downloading mobile apps. Schlesinger cites that since last years Sony hack there has been an increase in cybercrime with “vulnerable apps” being the new target. She explains that according to a cybersecurity study, 40 percent of large U.S. companies do not have policies in place to scan for threats and vulnerabilities in the apps they are using. Schlesinger feels that this lack of caution is “creating a possible recipe for more data disasters”. One of the latest is the ransomware where cybercriminals are now targeting your mobile devices, holding them ransom until you pay money to unlock or get access to your files/pictures/ and device. This is leaving many companies scrambling to implement policy change and add another layer of protection to address these security issues and protect mobile users.

What about the virus protection apps for the general consumer…are they any good? Digital Trends listed the Top 5 Android Security Apps earlier this year. The author, Simon Hill, writes that security apps have improved dramatically over the past several years, here are the top five he recommends:

1. 360 Security

2. Avast! Mobile Security

3. ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus

4. Avira Antivirus Security

5. AVL

To learn more about the security apps and what they offer check out the full article and Hill’s video –  click here.



Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo…Which would you rather?

Search engineThe wonders of the internet and search engines have made our lives so much easier. In an instant we can research and find information on just about anything. The primary search engine I use is Google. I started using it because it was preloaded as the default search engine on most of my digital devices. I also use Yahoo and Bing when I’m doing research and need to find out as much as possible about a subject. I find Google provides more options, with better results, but Bing and Yahoo are comparable. I don’t like that all three track my every move.

Recently I learned about DuckDuckGo. It’s name made me think it wasn’t a serious contender, but not so. In fact, it ranks right up there with Google. An article titled, DuckDuckGo Vs. Google – The War Gets Dirty, reports that DuckDuckGo is a threat to Google and is endorsed by The New York Times,, and Search Engine Land, even calling it an Internet phenomenon.

I find that DuckDuckGo is not as robust and has fewer search options, but it does offer something very enticing that the others don’t – PRIVACY.  According to an article in MaximumPC by Paul Lilly, DuckDuckGo puts your privacy above all else. This search engine doesn’t track your every search, nor does it collect and share all your data like the others, and it doesn’t use annoying cookies as defaults. This privacy aspect is something I find very enticing and it makes up for the lack of other options. I’m leaning on switching to DuckDuckGo. What about you, which would you rather use and why?  Let our readers know if you use DuckDuckGo, what do you think about it?

Digital Storytelling

Storytelling today has evolved to include a combination of digital mediums, but fundamentally storytelling is the same as it was when we would gather round the camp fire and listen to the tales of days gone by.

There is a saying that there are no new stories to be told, but what is new is how we tell and share those stories in today’s digital age. There’s a lot of clutter out there and Journalist Rachel Bartlett shares 10 tips from print journalists on how to cut through it all by creating compelling digital storytelling.

Tip one is not just about writing the story but thinking about how other multi-media elements can enhance your story. Think about how you would experience the story if you were living it, the sights, sounds, and smells, and how all of this can help you create a more compelling story.

An article on reports that storytelling is the future of digital marketing. Author Vinaya Naidu writes, “advertising, as we know of, is undergoing a massive transformation, especially in this digital age.”

Vinaya says the products advertised in digital storytelling are taking a backstage while the story form itself has taken the lead and I couldn’t agree more. Vinaaya lists examples of digital video stories like Lifebuoy ‘Help a child reach 5′ campaign’ that show how the core of the story is the focal point not the product, in this case – soap.

The video went viral with over 19 million views. While Vinaya’s article highlights how Indian marketers are utilizing digital storytelling, the examples and tips she provides are applicable to the global market at large and worth reading.

Social Video Marketing – a better way

reelseo-unbiased-logoI just found a new website for video marketer’s that I really like and wanted to share with my blog readers – Reelseo, the video marketer’s guide.

The Reelseo team call themselves the world’s leading resource for analysis, tips and trends for online video and internet marketing industries. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are the world leaders, but they definitely have some in-depth resources and great articles about online video best practices and services. Well worth the read.

A 2014 article on Reelseo by Greg Jarboe lists the top six social video trends for brands in 2015 and he says these trends are so good  that you can bank on them to perform in 2015.

There are two trends worth pointing out. One – Facebook is a good bet for placing your video advertising dollars, even giving Youtube a run for their money. 

The second trend I want to mention, my favorite, is  that brands do well with videos that support causes. According to Reelseo, a third of 2014’s top 20 videos promoted social causes. Brands have learned that corporate social responsibility pays dividends and using social videos, with emotional depth to raise awareness about a cause, helps build brand value and trust.

Finally, a new term came out of last years video marketing campaings – “trackvertising” – to learn exactly what this is, who coined it and why you’ll be hearing more about it, check out the Reelseo article.

How social media is improving the customer experience – or is it?

Have you noticed ads creeping onto your social media pages. Facebook has them on the right and occasionally one or two pop up on your news feed. In fact, marketers are getting real savvy on how to reach out and connect with consumers through social media, whether we like it or not.

An IBM study points out the future of marketing depends on making the customer experience a top priority. The study finds that, “marketers are looking to use location-based services to target in real-time more digitally savvy, on-the-move customers and deliver seamless, intuitive customer interactions.” Thus the increase we’ve seen of late in companies using social media.

Lisa Bedgood provides tips on improving customer experiences by using social media. She says social consumers are on the rise and expect companies to engage with them on social channels. according to Bedgood, Nielsen reports that 33% of users prefer to contact companies through social media rather than picking up the phone and calling them. I found this interesting, I still prefer to pick up the phone and talk to a real person. Below is a chart she shared from OneDesk on social customer service.

social-media-experienceOne tip Bedgood provides businesses, which I found most important, was to use Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) to Engage Social Users: In simplest terms, DaaS gathers the information about consumers who are looking for products and services and delivers this data to the company on a daily basis so they can send consumers targeted offers.

Ah Ha, so that’s how they do it. I was wondering how these company’s pop up ads show up the next time I log onto one of my social sites after I was searching for a particular item. They use DaaS to track me. Well now you know.  What do you think, is this a good thing?


Website design for nonprofits

image credit

One of my class lessons from an emerging media graduate course explains that websites for large corporations are very complex and very expensive. We are talking into the millions – a million to develop, around $5 million to launch, and a staggering $500,000 to $1 million to maintain a year. Wow, those costs are astronomical to me, especially since I come from a small nonprofit world where $25,000 is considered exorbitant for a web design, more often I’m given less than $5,000 to create and implement and a few hundred to maintain. Welcome to my world.

Yet all websites must contain and meet at least three basic criteria regardless of the cost it took to create them, accomplish this and you are on the right path to a successful site.

First, your site should have an attractive design with good content – you have to engage a visitor within the first five seconds or you’ll lose them – which brings up point 2…

Secondly, the site must be easy to navigate, can users easily find what they are looking for without too many clicks?

Thirdly, you must promote the website – does it have search engine optimization so folks can find your site on search engines like Google and Yahoo. If folks can’t find you or know you exist then it’s pointless to have a website. It’s important to know how to drive traffic/visitors to your site.

I have designed a few nonprofit websites. My first was a big learning lesson. I had a budget of just over $25,000. My goal was to create a dynamic, interactive, and easily navigational website. The result – not so much.

I caution web designers and committees to be leary of putting too much attention on any one area. Our design committee got caught up in the creative look and interactivity of the site. The site had lots of bells and whistles with cute pop ups (it was for a parent/child education program). The problem was, it took awhile for visitors to figure out the navigation and get to the information they were seeking plus the content provided was vague. A year later the site was scrapped and replaced with a much more simpler straight forward design. Lesson learned.

So the moral of this story is, less is often better. When creating a website keep focus on the three main criteria and pretest your site for consumer feedback to make sure your goals are truly being met.

For a look at some of the best nonprofit award-winning websites check out The Webbys, the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.

Connecting in the Digital Age – Part Two

picture4In an interview with Scientific American, Scientist Matthew Lieberman explains we are wired to connect, it is part of our social make up, a basic human need.

The digital age has afforded us innovative ways to stay connected with each other and with the brands we care about. iCrossing, an award-winning full-service digital agency, explains emerging media supports our desire to stay connected with each other and the brands we care about, and today many of those connections take place on digital platforms. Everything from social media to display advertising, to the creation of micro-video ads, mobile technology, texting, even wearable technology and the list goes on, are all opening up new ways for marketers and consumers to stay connected.

West Virgina University’s Integrated Marketing Communications course on Emerging Media teaches that these new media tactics help create conversations, discussions, and provide opportunities for people to share positive and negative comments that help drive brand recommendations. Over the next nine weeks we will investigate how emerging media affects our world, the good and the bad, but mostly good. Stay tuned!