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Reversing The Search Engine | Social You Should Know

Sat, 2014-04-12 11:25

In the midst of a land rush to automation and big data, Jelly, a relatively new service from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, is refreshingly driven by people. Bringing the social back to social media, Jelly effectively turns us all into an organic search engine.

Reversing the Search Engine - Pass the Jelly

Let’s face it: Google is awesome, but sometimes it just misses the mark in being helpful or intuitive. This is because humans, especially large groups of humans, are really much better at answering questions like, “what’s the best Vietnamese food in Raleigh?” than search engines are. Why is this? As anyone who has read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” can tell you, quality is subjective. What I think is the best food, wine, car, etc., far exceeds the ability of a search engine or rating to answer.

This is where Jelly comes in. I can ask and answer questions that add real social capital into the system, and the answers feel much more real than those from "traditional" search. Described as the “Human Algorithm” by CNN, Jelly seems to capture the original promise of social vs. the arms race of big data and automated responses.

So what should brands and marketers do with Jelly? Try it out for 30 days, participate and see if it adds value to your world. If so, you’ll probably have a good idea of how others might value the app as well and can begin to build a strategy for its use. Jelly’s tagline says it all: “Let’s help each other.”

Twitter’s Profile Redesign Looks a Lot Like Facebook

Twitter is rolling out a Facebook-esque redesign, starting with celebrities and extending to other users in the coming weeks. The new design brings opportunities to marketers by allowing tweets to be pinned to the top of a profile. Tweets with the most engagement will be highlighted, which can contribute to that piece of content having a longer half-life.

While we’re on the topic of Twitter, Quartz recently released a study on why people quit Twitter. There’s lots of interesting data that’s worth a look but the gist is that users either don’t have enough followers or they don’t know who to follow.

Q&A Social Media Gains Traction

Question and answer site Quora has raised $80 million in a Series C funding round. The website was valued at $400 million after its last round of funding in 2012. This news, along with the buzz surrounding Jelly, is a solid sign that Q&A social media is growing in importance. Here are some great ways to use this form of social to engage with consumers. DIY site Fixya also has some great examples of brands and consumers helping each other.

Have a great weekend!

The post Reversing The Search Engine | Social You Should Know appeared first on Ignite Social Media.

Categories: Buzz

Can Crowdfunding Help People Own Their Neighborhoods?

Fri, 2014-04-11 15:43

In the past half-decade or so, crowdfunding has become a popular way of socially raising funds for just about everything – from small arts and crafts projects to big-budget movies.

While I was at SXSW, I learned about a crowdfunding company called Fundrise. As opposed to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Fundrise is based on crowdfunding real estate ventures and allows investors to own a piece of the businesses they support. The following is an interview with co-founder Ben Miller.

Where did the idea for Fundrise come from?

My brother and I were talking to institutional investors about developing a property on H Street NE in DC and found that our traditional capital partners didn't understand what we wanted to do in the area or why. They didn't understand the dynamics of the neighborhood and its growth, as compared to traditional core downtown markets. At the same time, when we mentioned the property to family and friends who lived in the area, they immediately understood. People in the communities where we were building would get very excited about what we were doing. They understood why we were investing there. They cared intimately about the places we were changing. They wanted to participate in building their city too.

We realized that the private equity funds we typically looked to raise money from had no natural connection to the neighborhood buildings we were developing and decided to build Fundrise to democratize the process of investing in commercial real estate.

How have the backgrounds and experiences of your team helped Fundrise become what it is?

Our team is made up of a mix of people from the real estate, finance, tech and securities worlds. We're constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, which I think results in a more sophisticated product.

At the end of the day, what we're trying to do lies right at the intersection of tech, real estate, and finance – so we need people with backgrounds in those areas. The combined expertise of everyone at Fundrise has certainly made the company what it is today.

What part does social media play in achieving your objectives?

A big one. We've seen a lot of support and people taking to social media to talk about our mission and spread the word.

Our model is aimed at bringing people and communities into the investment and development process, and making these processes transparent. To that extent, we made our platform social to give users opportunities to share activity and connect with other investors and developers through investor networks.

How do you go about selecting a site in which to invest?

Fundrise also serves as a platform for other real estate developers to raise investment, which allows us to make more offerings, and a wider variety of offerings, available to investors.

We believe that quality is more important than quantity, so every month we sift through hundreds of submissions from interested developers and select the best opportunities.

We ask ourselves questions like:

  • Does the company or individual have a proven track record of success?

  • Do they have clear experience executing on similar projects?

  • Does the potential return accurately and fairly offset the risk? (We look for returns between 8-12%)

  • Is the project sufficiently capitalized? Or is it over-leveraged?

  • Is the project a good fit for the market? How will it impact the community?

What successes have you seen so far?

In under two years, we've had over 1,000 investors put more than $10 million into 23 different deals.

More than half of our 16,000+ members are unaccredited investors, which is unheard of. These investors have never been able to invest in commercial real estate before, and now they can.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

We've had to work really hard to qualify offerings with the SEC and register them with securities regulators in individual states. It typically takes us more than six months to complete the filing process for a Regulation A offering. We spent over $50,000 on legal fees while completing our most recent public offering and had to enlist the help of eight different attorneys along the way.

It's not a particularly time- or cost-effective process, but we do it because we believe that everyone should be able to invest in real estate – regardless of whether they're an accredited investor or not.

What's your plan for expanding to other cities?

We're already on the ground in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, DC and Chicago. We're actively looking to expand to more cities as soon as possible, and have received requests from cities across the U.S. and from overseas.

How can people request to have Fundrise come to their city?

Sign up for our platform! Because of the regulatory environment, we're only able to open offerings to investors in states where we get state approval. Because of that, we're looking for deals in the places where our users are. And feel free to send questions and ideas to us at contact@fundrise.com.


What I really like about Fundrise as opposed to sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that the investors truly own a piece of their investment. Ask Oculus backers if they would like a piece of that $2 billion from Facebook. And it's especially appealing for people like me who want to crawl into a corner and cry when they think about investing in real estate.


Read More: Can Crowdsourcing Lower Health Care Costs?

The post Can Crowdfunding Help People Own Their Neighborhoods? appeared first on Ignite Social Media.

Categories: Buzz

Checklist to Ensure Contest Hashtags Follow FTC Guidelines

Mon, 2014-04-07 20:05

Even your hashtags must include evidence of a contest entry, according to the FTC. Luckily, compliance is easier than it sounds.

The FTC made Cole Haan an example, when the brand ran a Pinterest sweepstakes that asked users to create a board with photos tagged "#wanderingsole" to enter for a $1,000 shopping spree. For social marketers, this looks like just another unbranded hashtag to count entries and find a winner, but the FTC had a different view. The FTC says the Pinterest promotion violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which basically deems the hashtag "deceptive." The FTC says that since the hashtag wasn't clearly tied to a promotion, any follower could think it signaled a genuine appreciation for the Cole Haan content - not that you were pinning simply because you wanted to win $1,000 to spend on some oxfords.

Luckily for Cole Haan, the FTC didn't penalize them for the hashtag (phew), since they'd never publicly addressed the matter.

What does your brand need to do to avoid a terrifying call from the FTC? Note: I am not a lawyer. This checklist is meant to be a guideline, not absolute legal advice.

  1. Be really, really transparent, no matter the social network. Our promotions department cautions that the FTC likely doesn't see a difference between Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter, so treat all hashtag promotions the same. Adding "promo," "contest" or "sweeps" onto the end of a hashtag symbolizes that it's a post associated with entrance into a contest. So if your brand's "#GoGreener" sweepstakes features a social action component, change that hashtag to "#GoGreenerPromo."
  2. For Pinterest, don't get too specific. It's important to create programs that ask pinners to create "idea boards" showing pins that can be a bit vaguer, rather than something that explicitly is hocking a product. Ask pinners to create boards that link to pre-existing content and not boards that are explicitly linking to the campaign. If you dictate what they have to share, they also have to disclose they're entering a contest. For example, if you run social for a hotel brand, ask fans to submit boards of their favorite travel destinations.
  3. Talk to your legal (and your creative team). Make sure everyone working on the program gets familiar with the FTC's hashtag endorsement approach. We can't think of anything more terrifying than a call from the FTC, so make sure your promotion and the rules associated are compliant. Also make sure you take a look at the platform's terms and conditions. For instance, Pinterest’s terms and conditions say that you cannot limit entry to a specific selection of photos. In the case of the Cole Haan sweepstakes, entrants were required to pin a pair of Cole Haan shoes for entry which means they were already in violation of Pinterest’s terms. Just like the FTC’s guidelines, guidelines on these platforms have been created to protect the consumer, so compliance with the platform’s terms are another level of assurance.

How will you work around the FTC's rule? Let us know in the comments.

The post Checklist to Ensure Contest Hashtags Follow FTC Guidelines appeared first on Ignite Social Media.

Categories: Buzz