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Our favorite startups from 500 Startups’ 20th class

 41 startups graced the stage at 500 Startups’ 20th demo day at the Parc55 hotel in downtown San Francisco. The event came complete with mascots, a summer of love theme and a diverse array of early-stage companies. This time around, 500 focused in heavily on health startups. A number of the founders demoing presented businesses in the interest of the public good &#8212… Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino sparks social media backlash from baristas


(Reuters) – Starbucks baristas have taken to social media to complain about the coffee chain’s entry into the latest food craze: Unicorn Frappuccino.

The sparkly color-changing frozen beverage has become one of the top posts on photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram since its release on Wednesday.

But Starbucks baristas are not happy with the popularity.

Complaints have been rolling in on social media website Reddit Inc, with one barista calling the new beverage “Frap from hell” and others sharing the joy of running out of ingredients to make the drink.

Another barista shared an image of 56 Unicorn Frappuccinos that constituted one order, and others gave thanks to customers with simple orders like a black coffee.

On Twitter, just hours after the release of the new drink, Starbucks barista Braden Burson shared a 100-second tirade, saying he had “never been so stressed out in his life.” His post was shared more than 1,000 times.

“I have never made so many Frappuccinos in my entire life,” he said in the clip.

“My hands are completely sticky. I have unicorn crap all in my hair, on my nose. I have never been so stressed out in my entire life.”

A barista from Florida, Tina Lee, wrote: “As a barista, just know that every time you ask me to make this, a part of me dies #unicornfrappuccino.”

The drink is available only until Sunday.

Above: A barista makes a Unicorn Frappuccino beverage at a Starbucks coffeehouse in Austin, Texas, U.S. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed

“We’ve seen tremendous positive feedback on the Unicorn Frappuccino from both customers and partners (employees/baristas),” said Starbucks spokesperson when asked if the company is aware of complaints from its baristas.

Starbucks shares closed up 0.9 percent at $ 60.61 on Friday.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Social – VentureBeat

Swingvy raises $1.1M to give HR staff in Southeast Asia a break from paperwork

 Human resources paperwork is never fun to take care of—especially if it’s literally on paper. Swingvy co-founder Jin Choeh says that in Southeast Asia, many small businesses are still stuck with physical spreadsheets and piles of forms. Swingvy wants to help them with affordable cloud-based software. The South Korea and Malaysia-based startup just raised $ 1.1 million in seed funding… Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Text, image and video moderation service Arbitrum picks up $500K from Ask.fm founders

 Arbitrum, a text, image and video moderation service founded by German Gedgauds, who previously headed up Ask.fm’s moderation team and product, has raised $ 500,000 in funding. Backing the Riga, Latvia-based startup is Balaclava Lab, the investment vehicle of Ask.fm founders Ilja Terebin, Mark Terebin and Oskar Liepins. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Robinhood stock trading app valued at $1.3 billion with big raise from DST

 Zero-fee stock trading app Robinhood has added to its coffers, raising another big round of funding. According to sources, the round was led by Yuri Milner investment vehicle DST Global and values the company at $ 1.3 billion dollars. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Facebook bars developers from using data to create surveillance tools

Facebook Mobile App


(Reuters) – Facebook Inc barred software developers on Monday from using the massive social network’s data to create surveillance tools, closing off a process that had been exploited by U.S. police departments to track protesters

Facebook, its Instagram unit and rival Twitter Inc came under fire last year from privacy advocates after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a report that police were using location data and other user information to spy on protesters in places such as Ferguson, Missouri.

In response to the ACLU report, the companies shut off the data access of Geofeedia, a Chicago-based data vendor that said it works with organizations to “leverage social media,” but Facebook policy had not explicitly barred such use of data in the future.

“Our goal is to make our policy explicit,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in a post on the social network on Monday. He was not immediately available for an interview.

The change would help build “a community where people can feel safe making their voices heard,” Sherman said.

Racially charged protests broke out in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson in the aftermath of the August 2014 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.

In a 2015 email message, a Geofeedia employee touted its “great success” covering the protests, according to the ACLU report based on government records.

Representatives of Geofeedia could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. The company has worked with more than 500 law enforcement agencies, the ACLU said.

Geofeedia Chief Executive Officer Phil Harris said in October that the company was committed to privacy and would work to build on civil rights protections.

Major social media platforms including Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube have taken action or implemented policies similar to Facebook’s, said Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of Northern California.

Ozer praised the companies’ action but said they should have stopped such use of data earlier. “It shouldn’t take a public records request from the ACLU for these companies to know what their developers are doing,” she said.

It was also unclear how the companies would enforce their policies, said Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, a nonprofit that opposes government use of social media for surveillance.

Inside corporations, “is the will there, without constant activist pressure, to enforce these rules?” Cyril said.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Bernard Orr)

 

Social – VentureBeat

Twitter shares 2 redacted National Security Letters from the FBI

At the Twitter Flight developer conference in San Francisco on Oct. 21.


Twitter today published redacted versions of two National Security Letters (NSLs) that it received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the past two years.

Typically, these information requests are under gag order, meaning that recipients can’t even disclose their existence to their users or the people who are targeted by the requests. But the FBI “recently informed us that the gag orders have been lifted and that we may notify the account holders,” Elizabeth Banker, associate general counsel for global law enforcement at Twitter, wrote in a blog post.

The move comes a few weeks after Cloudflare published a redacted NSL that it received in 2013, and Google in December posted eight it had received. This is the first time Twitter is indicating that it has been served NSLs.

One NSL, drafted in September 2015 by Michelle Klimt, special agent in charge of FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida division, sought information on a single account from December 1, 2014 up until the present. The other, which is dated June 10, 2016 and came from Michael Anderson, acting special agent in charge at FBI’s Houston division, demanded information for an account “from inception to present.” (The term “present” means the date that the recipient processes the NSL.)

Both were addressed to Twitter general counsel Vijaya Gadde. And both letters asked for the names, addresses, length of services, and “electronic communications transactional records for all services” for the account holders in question, whose identities are redacted.

“We continue to believe that reporting in government-mandated bands does not provide meaningful transparency to the public or those using our service,” Banker wrote. “However, the government argues that any numerical reporting more detailed than the bands in the USA Freedom Act would be classified and as such not protected by the First Amendment. They further argue that Twitter is not entitled to obtain information from the government about the processes followed in classifying a version [of] Twitter’s 2013 Transparency Report or in classifying/declassifying decisions associated with the allowed bands. We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when ‘classification’ prevents speech on issues of public importance.”

In October, Twitter said it had 317 million monthly active users.

Social – VentureBeat

Anti-surveillance apparel hides your face from facial recognition software


Privacy advocates have long feared the risk facial recognition technologies pose to ethical surveillance practices, but soon there might be a high-tech garment solution that can hide your face from being recognized by computers. The Guardian reports Berlin-bound artist and independent researcher Adam Harvey is developing a new technology which aims to overwhelm and confuse computer vision systems by feeding them false information. The Hyperface Project, as Harvey calls it, revolves around printing deceitful patterns onto attire and textiles with the purpose of rendering your face illegible to surveillance systems. The method essentially dodges facial recognition by presenting computer vision devices with…

This story continues at The Next Web


The Next Web

Facebook Advertising Advice: 10 Tips From Experts at Trello, WeWork & More

facebook-ad-tips.jpg

Facebook started as a way for college classmates to communicate, and it’s since evolved into a hub for content creation, sharing, and advertising.

Over one billion active users engage on Facebook every day, which represents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to leverage their content in front of potential customers.

The variety of targeting options available allow marketers to get the greatest value out of each ad dollar spent on this vast network, making it an ideal place to drive conversions, downloads, and lead generation. In fact, Social Media Examiner found that 55% of social media marketers use Facebook as their primary platform, and eMarketer learned that nearly 68% of all social media ad spending is on Facebook Ads. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook  Ad.

We decided to consult with a variety of successful social media marketers to learn more about their strategies for Facebook Ad targeting. Whether you’ve been advertising on Facebook for years or are just starting out, check out these lessons from the pros to maximize your social media advertising ROI.

10 Strategies for Facebook Advertising

1) Keep track of qualitative metrics.

Matt Diederichs, Social Marketing Lead at Hootsuite:

We focused on two metrics [in our Facebook Ads campaign] — video views and offer redemptions. Video views are primarily an efficiency spend, looking at the gross number of video views we can get for our investment, at the lowest possible CPV (cost per view). In the offer redemption area, we can go a bit deeper and also calculate our CPA (cost per acquisition) for each person who redeems the offer. These help us to understand whether it’s worth our investment to pay for direct customer acquisition.

Through all of this, we [also] look really hard at qualitative feedback. Facebook’s Reactions allow us to see not only how many people ‘like’ our content, but also when people ‘love’ or uh … [don’t] love our content. We also aspire for our content to be shareable, so we look for post shares and for comments on Ads. To us, that’s a leading indicator of content resonation.”

2) Take advantage of Facebook’s precise Ad targeting.

Shari Medini, Co-Host of the Push Pull Sales & Marketing Podcast:

You can target any audience [using Facebook Ads]. Almost everyone is on Facebook, and we all share incredible amounts of information about ourselves. Facebook compiles and organizes all of that data for their Ads platform so that marketers can go as broad or as narrow as they’d like. You want to target moms of young children in a 15-mile radius from a [children’s] clothing consignment store? Facebook lets you do that. You want to get young men in the sales profession between the ages of 30 and 35 to click through to your site? Facebook lets you do that.”

Andy Odom, Digital Marketing Director at Santander Consumer USA

Use the Audience Insights feature in your Ads Account to research all of Facebook, fans of your Page, or people in any custom audience to gain better insights into who they are and how to target them. You can upload [an email list] as a custom audience and serve special ads just to them.”

 Haidi Zhu, Head of Performance Marketing at WeWork:

[With Facebook Ads,] we start by analyzing the demographics of our current members to better understand who they are based on location, interests, industry, and more. We use this data to develop audiences to identify potential members and further segment down to deliver ads that feature the WeWork offerings, locations, and services that we strongly believe will benefit them most.”

3) Test different creative assets for best results.

Frank Emanuele, Co-Host of The Marketers Next Door Podcast:

Always A/B test your creative [assets]. It’s easy to think you know what will capture your audience’s attention, but you’ll be surprised when you actually test it. I always compare at least two options and track their performance carefully. Then I put my spend toward the top performer to get the most bang for my buck. I often find that the creative I liked best actually isn’t my top performer.”

4) Pay attention to what visitors do after they click.

Alicia Palmieri, Senior Social Media & Content Specialist at 2U:

2U uses the “Learn More” call-to-action because it performs well with the type of thought leadership [education] content we share.

Our end goal when advertising on Facebook is to get people to view longform, data-rich content. Since we host most of this on our website, we work with our web analytics team to track behavior of people coming from our Ads. This helps us ensure that we’re targeting the right people and providing engaging content that they will enjoy.”

5) Don’t force new trends into your Ad strategy.

 Rachael Samuels, Social Media Specialist at Sprout Social:  

It’s important to have a clear objective for your ads, clear KPIs and a desired cost-per-conversion. Identifying these metrics, setting up proper tracking and keeping a pulse on performance is key to determining ROI from social advertising.”

Aaron Moreno, Digital Advertising Specialist at Sprout Social:  

The social landscape is constantly evolving, and our social team is constantly adapting to meet the needs of our community and stay authentic in our social presence. It’s great to be aware of trends, but you shouldn’t force a trend or new network if it’s not the right fit for your brand. You have to determine a trend’s genuine value offer before diving in headfirst. If something isn’t resonating with your audience, there’s no reason to continue chasing the hype just to be seen doing it — your audience could see that as a major turnoff.”

Chelsea Hunersen, Social Media Manager at HubSpot:

The principles of creating a good post and grabbing attention are the same no matter what the medium. For example, providing clear value and connecting about [your audience’s] real needs is something I always try to do. I’m less concerned about using a new medium like video or canvas just to use it, but I will try it if the technology gives us a better way to reach our audience.”

6) Find inspiration from your competition.

Rebecca White, Community Manager at TrackMaven:

Being able to tell what your competitors are promoting on social is invaluable. Comparing our Facebook spend with that of our competitors gives us a level playing field on which to evaluate the impact of our content.”

7) Publish videos that are short and sweet.

Erica Moss, Community Manager at Trello:

Because [Facebook offers] such a small amount of real estate, it’s important to get to the point quickly with one specific call-to-action, whether it’s a discount to redeem, an event to attend or a prompt to learn more about your product or service. Avoid lofty or flowery language.

When considering images, faces and bright colors pop more (high-res only), and video can be super impactful for ads when kept to 30 seconds or less. Bonus points if your video has closed captioning so that users don’t need audio to consume your message.”

8) Don’t fixate on vanity metrics alone.

Jenna Dutcher, Content Marketing Manager at Localist.com:

Facebook Ads can be a valuable tool, but only if you put effort into actually optimizing and measuring them. We’re big fans of A/B testing here at Localist, and always have at least two iterations of an ad running, sometimes 10-20 versions, where we’ll test things as small as capitalization, imagery, headlines, and CTAs.

You also need to be mindful of what you’re measuring. Success can’t just be based on how many people click or view an ad — what does 500 clickthroughs to a post mean to you and your company?  Be sure to tie superficial metrics like this to an acquisition goal or metric that you actually value, like cost-per-download or cost-per-lead.

9) Focus on the mobile experience.

Jason Myers, Social Media Manager at The Content Factory:

Try composing, or at least previewing, your Ad on a mobile device. Most people view Ads on a phone screen which is why those with stark, text-free images and simple messages get more engagement.”

10) Experiment with video.

Ben Kessler, Director of Marketing at WeWork

We are always eager to test new products and the latest betas to innovate with our marketing. This includes 360” video, renderings, and more, all developed by our in-house team. Because WeWork is truly something you need to experience in person, we’ve seen a lot of success with video to convey our brand and message within Facebook.”

Learn From the Pros

Now that you’ve learned different strategies for successful Facebook Advertising, apply them to your next campaign. A common thread among the responses we received for this article was the importance of constantly testing and evaluating results.

Don’t hesitate to change tactics midway through a campaign to drive greater value and conversions from your Ads. If you’re unsure where to begin with launching an Ads campaign, we have a step-by-step guide to start you off on the right foot.

What advice would you give for Facebook Advertising best practices? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to facebook advertising


HubSpot Marketing Blog

Twitter testing Periscope feature that pulls video from external sources

periscope


Twitter is testing a feature in Periscope that lets a limited number of broadcasters incorporate video from external sources, meaning that soon you may no longer be restricted to livestreaming video from your mobile device, GoPro camera, or drones. Should this experiment work well, creators could be empowered to spruce up their broadcasts, something that takes a page out of YouTube’s playbook and will likely appeal to influencers.

“We’re always testing new functionality that gives our broadcasters the ability to create great content,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to VentureBeat.

Matt Navarra tweet Periscope

Some users may notice a label for certain broadcasts that reads: “Beta test of new broadcast feature incorporating external video in Periscope.” This feature represents on-going efforts by Twitter to reach out to influencers, something that chief executive Jack Dorsey has outlined as a focal point for 2016.

The feature will allow content creators to kick their broadcasts up a notch, especially as they talk about live events. In fact, one of most recent demonstrations of this offering come from broadcaster Alex Pettitt on Thursday, with coverage of the SpaceX rocket explosion. Instead of pre-recording video and then editing it in post-production, creators will have an easier time posting high-quality video in real time.

The incorporation of video from external sources follows recent changes Twitter has made, including helping creators monetize their work through its Amplify Publisher program and enabling them to add pre-roll ads to their videos. Additionally, the company has included Periscope in that same initiative, which means ads are coming to the livestreaming app for select broadcasters.

In the battle of live video, Twitter is going full steam ahead to capture the attention of creators, a group that remains very much in-demand. YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter are all vying for these creators’ content and audience because that leads to not only more advertising impressions, but also more users and activity across their properties.

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Social – VentureBeat