Connected: Big Data for Social Good

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Connected

Connected

It was author Randa Abdel-Fattah who said: “Belief means nothing without actions.”  The same can be said of data. With data being collected at an estimated and astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of daily data, these numbers are meaningless if not for the innovation and action of the humans generating it. Big Data is more than just the latest buzzword in the IT and business community. It is being used to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world and bringing new opportunities for developing nations.

Three areas where big data is being used for social good are: agriculture, micro-credit loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries, and predicting then decreasing the prevalence of crime in high-risk regions.

Farmonomics:

Farmers for centuries have known their land, their crops, and weather patterns like the backs of their hands. However, as the world’s population continues to grow and the unpredictability of the environment and atmosphere, these variables threaten everything our farmers have relied on. The integration of Big Data in agriculture enables farmers to input data about their seeds, weather patterns, soil quality and saved them time and money in the face of the biggest threat to any industry, the natural environment. Through data aggregation technology, farmers are able to yield better crops, avoid droughts, work towards food security for the growing global population, and remove some of the guess work.

Mobile Money-Makers:

The availability of cell phones in developing countries is rapidly changing the quality of life for the people who live there. Aside from the ability to communicate on a larger scale, cell phone use in developing nations is increasing literacy and household incomes. As many people in the western world would know, cell phones collect a lot of data about the user, connects the user to the internet, receives and stores important correspondence which can instantly open doors of opportunity for employment.

Mobile crowdsourcing is being used to help entrepreneurs tap into micro-credit loans, supply donated water to drought-ridden areas of the world through NextDrop, and allow the underemployed to find work doing small jobs at a global-scale through application like Cloud Factory. Cellular phones have made the global economy scalable at an individual level. With the help of data collection, mobile applications, and cellphone access, we can finally make improvements to the quality of life around the world into a tangible reality.

Crime & Space:

Every year in every city there is a statistical report released to show how well (or not so well) law enforcement has been able to manage and deter illegal activities and crimes. It should come as no surprise that law-makers and enforcers are using big data as a predictive tool to determine the likelihood of crime at a regional level. There are many reports and studies around “contagious crime” or crime that is prevalent in areas that share the same characteristics. These characteristics include areas of high poverty, racial segregation, and past history of illegal activity. By recording data around these characteristics, time of year, places, and individuals involved, and creating positive relationships between these communities and law enforcement, crime is being controlled and mitigated before it happens with greater results and better outcomes.

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5 Easy Steps to Building Your Professional Brand and Getting the Job You Want

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You: The Brand

The definition of a brand according to the American Marketing Association is:

“A name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller/group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition[1]

In this case, for all intents and purposes, the brand is you. You are the image, symbol and design you set forth in life and in career to differentiate you from all others. So, whether you are just starting out in your career or considering a re-branding, here are five easy steps to building a successful professional brand.

1) LinkedIn All Star? Nah, be a Rock Star:

When filling out your LinkedIn profile, make sure you fill out all relevant education, awards, and employment information with easy-to-read (no acronyms or buzz words) and factual information (just because you were a judge in a chili cook-off does not give you previous judicial employment experience). Be sure to update your LinkedIn profile often and not just when you are looking for work. This can be as simple as updating your profile picture (only professional headshots here. LinkedIn is professional, Facebook/Instagram is social) or adding new skills that your connections can endorse for you.

LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional tribe. When connecting with people on LinkedIn, think strategically and ethically. Ask yourself what field of work you could see yourself in and reach out to people that are already established in that field. First, send a message to your desired connection and explain who you are and why you wish to connect with them. If you are looking for a mentor in a particular field, ask if they would be interested in meeting for coffee (on you) or just answering a few questions about their job (Think: labour questionnaire). If their response is positive, send the connection request and follow-up about coffee or send your questions via email. Never send or accept a connection request without doing your homework first. People can see if you were looking at their page, so view only with intent.

2) You Better (Net) Work:

Networking is a big step in making your employment dreams a reality but it doesn’t come naturally for most people. The first step to networking is doing an environmental scan of your industry’s associations and social functions. If only there were a place to find these types of events…oh, yeah, there is: Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It is up to you to show some initiative and research your industry. After you locate them, join all associations and memberships in your field. Be sure to stay up-to-date on all events, and put them in your calendar. This is the quickest way to becoming an insider as opposed to an outsider.

Before you attend a networking function, you need to prepare your pitch/elevator pitch/introduction and bring your business cards. Your pitch is basically who you are and what you bring to the table as far as education, experience, and future career goals. It’s not bragging just a brief, pleasant, and impassioned way to let everyone know you are worth getting to know.

Next, you need business cards. Business cards are an investment because they will end up in the hands of people who will open doors of opportunity for you. Vista print (www.vistaprint.com) or Moo Cards (www.moo.com) are user-friendly and have great templates. If you are really on your game, design your own original business card.

Once you are at a networking function, be brave yet relaxed, and speak to people. The trick here is to ask guests questions about themselves. Find out who they are, what they do, and really listen. Listen to how they got their job, why they like their job, what education they have, and what piece of advice they would share with someone just starting out or starting over.

3) Oh, My Blog!

Start a blog about something you are passionate about. Failing that, start a book review blog. Why are blogs so important? It gets your voice out there, showcases your communication skills, and gives valuable experience with social media and content creation. Blogging is a valued skill set in today’s business world, as is social media management. The great news is, young people are very savvy with new technology and quicker to adapt to new forms of communication. So, get out there, teach yourself how to blog, and explore all forms of social media.

4) Keep it Real on Social Media

Everyone is online and so are their issues. Pro Tip: Leave the drama for your mama and never post it on social media. We all have bad days, drunk days, and FML days. It’s important to remember it’s not so much what you say but how you say it. The reasoning here is that employers will creep you on social media to see what kind of person you are and if you will fit their organizational culture. This reality might sting a little, but it helps employers find the right employees. At the end of the day, there are no bad jobs, just bad fit for jobs. It’s okay to find yourself a bad fit for a job, too. It will save you and employers a lot of time and heartaches.

5) Work on Your Skillz

We live in an age where if you don’t know everything about everything, you can Google it and in 0.0003 of a second you will know everything about everything. So, use it! In fields like marketing, there is a big state of flux. There are so many opportunities to learn high-level overviews of all aspects and then go deep with one you are passionate about. Marketing has far broader of a scope with the integration of analytics and social media. It’s true that you can get degrees and diplomas in various segments of marketing, but you can also homeschool yourself on Google Analytics, Google Ad-Sense, web development, and social media tools. Find out what aspects of your desired profession interests you and get to work. Read the latest book on it, research job market trends, and ask questions. Ultimately, success is finding how to get paid for doing something you enjoy doing.

Always remember brands, like people, are designed to leave strong, favorable, and unique impressions that are enduring. Be sure to always be your unique self, be strong, and leave favorable impressions with everyone who crosses your path because only the best brands stand the test of time.

[1] https://www.ama.org

A Social Media Anthropologist goes Data Mining

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As a child, I was known as “Snoopy”, the kid who always found the gifts before Christmas. I loved uncovering the truth and being in everyone’s business. So, when Facebook arrived on the scene in 2004-2005, you better believe it was like finding the mother-load of poorly hidden gifts in my mom’s closet. All the snooping and spying I ever wanted. It was all in one place and all at my finger tips. I spent days checking in on high school friends whereabouts, discovering who got fabulous or famous, and whether ex-boyfriends actually died or went bald.

It would appear as though my love of snooping..or..”researching” is now a highly regarded measure of productivity, better known as Big Data. Big Data is a way to better understand human nature through numbers, frequency, patterns, and relationships. Every time you log on to the web, you are being tracked and calculated. Right now, you are regretting viewing that last video you watched, fearing that a Google-nerd is judging you in an office somewhere in silicone valley or worse, reporting you to the FBI. Depending on what you are in to, this could be true. But my guess is that the Google-nerd is checking what keywords you typed in the search engine and finding more videos related to what you just watched to keep you coming back for more.

Marketing is in such a state of flux, right now.We have moved from “look at me and what I’m offering” marketing attention tactics to “look at you and what I can do for you” marketing strategic dialogues. More and more businesses are spending less and less on large-scale, poorly aimed, and flashy advertising campaigns. Yes, frequency and reach are still important but there needs to be a highly defined and grow-able target audience to engage with.

Between TV, internet, print, radio, out-of-home and mobile marketing, there is a lot of clutter to cut through. Analytics are helping figure out where your audience is spending their time, money, how to find them, and get them to act. The action of  getting an action is the sweet spot that analytics offers. All social media platforms have some sort of “insight” or analytic function. These tools help the user know when their audience is at their highest available reach-ability, how many “Likes”, “Shares” or “Follows” were received hourly or daily, and what was the most acted upon post.

I love analytics but I feel that they fail to capture emotion. I like to take a span of time on a social media page and track what made people react (see top of page for example). What is it about a certain post or image that caused a response or interaction. Once you spot the relationship between the post, comments, likes, and follows you will be able to better target your message and content to deepen the engagement with your audience.

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