Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

If you’ve been on LinkedIn recently, you’ve likely seen posts about someone being laid off or having a dream job offer rescinded, often by a high-profile, once hot startup. According to the tracker Layoffs.fyi, so far this year, 349 startups have laid off more than 53,000 employees.

Startups looking at the prospect of falling venture capital valuations are scrambling to conserve the cash they have. Just yesterday, OpenSea, the early leader in the once bubbly non-fungible token (NFT) market, cut 20% of its workforce. Earlier this month, virtual office startup Gather let a third of its 90 employees go. Last month, high-flying ID verification unicorn Socure laid off 13% of its employees.

And it’s not just startups. Coinbase, the nation’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, laid off 1,100 employees and rescinded some job offers. Elon Musk’s Tesla is cutting 3.5% of its workforce. Meta has plans to slash hiring of engineers this year by at least 30%.

While most of the layoff news has come from tech companies, the mortgage industry, too, has been slashing away as higher interest rates crush mortgage volume. This week loanDepot disclosed plans to eliminate thousands of jobs. Real estate companies RedFin and Compass have cut about 450 jobs each, and PIMCO-backed First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation let go of more than 75% of its workforce in June, before filing for a chapter 11 bankruptcy a week later.

Despite such high-profile layoffs, unemployment remained at a low 3.6% in June as the economy added 372,000 jobs. Moreover, interviews with recent job–or job offer–losers, as well as hiring managers, suggest that so far at least, most of those cut are landing on their feet with new offers.

Yet the sense of dread is unmistakable, with more consumers now pessimistic than optimistic about the short-term labor market, according to the Conference Board. And the layoffs could just be getting started: Oracle recently considered letting go of thousands of employees as early as August.

“In the tech industry, this is dejà vu all over again,” observes economist Anthony Carnevale, who has been involved with employment and education policy for four decades and is now director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “This is pretty much precisely what happened in the late 1970s, early 80s, when technology was not penetrating American industry rapidly enough and [former Fed Chair] Paul Volcker put on the brakes. We get high interest rates, high unemployment rates, and basically that shuts down technology investment and secondly, it chokes the industry.”

Given the current low unemployment rates, Carnevale adds, it’s still a question whether the slowdown will ultimately “create dislocation of substantial sorts in tech or any other industry.” His answer? “Yes and no,” he says. “The yes is yes, specific technology-based industries might be affected, interest rates being the culprit here. But what we’re seeing in the churn is that people who are seeking jobs are getting jobs. And we haven’t come to the point yet where it’s a classic recession…in which people don’t get jobs.” He noted that in general, wages are increasing — though those increases are generally offset by inflation.

“So what does that mean going forward? It may mean a slowdown in startups and in the expansion of particular technology companies, in even the overall industry if it’s strong enough, but so far, it has not meant that people can’t find jobs,” Carnevale said. “And it does not reflect on the possibilities for college graduates, at least so far, we don’t really see that.”

Indeed, a recent survey of almost 200 employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that almost 90% of respondents will be hiring new graduates for both full-time and intern/co-op positions — up from last spring’s figure of 83%.

But while early-career recruiting is still strong, it can’t erase the memory of what happened in the wake of the Great Recession, with its large jobs loss and unusually slow recovery. Some new grads caught in the undertow experienced what economists call “permanent scarring”—meaning poor economic conditions when they graduated from college contributed to a long-term reduction in their employment prospects.

Again, that’s the scary prospect, but not, as of now, the reality.

Aidan Deery, associate director at the global talent partner X4 Technology, reports that among tech companies, “largely, everyone is still hiring” and “the demand for experienced professionals is at an all-time high.” He adds that those laid off from crypto companies like Coinbase are generally “very employable” and “highly sought after in the finance and technology world.”

Danny, 23, whose last name and former employer are not being included due to a nondisclosure agreement he signed, was let go in June from his engineering job at a sales productivity company. “I know I’ll be able to find a job,” he said, estimating that of the roughly 30 jobs he applied to since being laid off, 8-10 got back to him. “Three of them actually were like, ‘Yeah, just kidding, we’re not hiring for this role.’” Some of the other companies he started interviewing with stopped the process because of hiring freezes. However, Danny has already turned down one offer for reasons including the pay, and says he is still being picky in his job search.

Curio Health, a startup working to improve remote patient care, is among the companies still hiring. CEO Yuchen Wang worries that layoffs among startups may encourage job seekers to look to more established companies for future opportunities, but insists startups will retain their appeal because, “you take a broader responsibility, and you can grow faster and learn more.”

Wang has seen both sides of this job-cutting drama. He himself lost his job in 2001, shortly after earning a Masters in computer science at Georgia State, and in a later role, had to lay off employees himself because a contract did not pan out as well as expected. “These things kind of happen, even if you do everything 100% perfectly,’’ he says. “Treat it as a new start — there are more opportunities ahead than the one you just lost.”

Still, for some job-losers, the new start carries a unique challenge–one imposed by the U.S.’ dysfunctional system for retaining foreign tech talent. Twenty-seven-year-old software developer Amitesh Singh Baghel was laid off in late June while on STEM OPT, a visa program allowing graduate international students to gain work experience in the U.S. in their field. The catch: he lost his job as a software engineer at a data security startup before he completed his visa extension — about two weeks before his employment authorization document was set to expire.

He had been offered other jobs while working there but turned them down out of “goodwill” and because his manager, who also was let go, provided good mentorship. “I had other offers coming, but I chose to stay ignoring the red flags,” such as a manager being fired and not replaced, he said.

“I tried to negotiate. I was like, ‘Instead of giving me the severance pay, keep me on the payroll so that I can finish with the extension process and I’ll still work,’” he said. “I offered them a solution…but they didn’t want to do the extra work, which is understandable. I mean, it’s not their problem.”

And then there’s the experience of Jenna Radwan, 22, who recently earned her BS in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of San Francisco. She originally accepted a job at San Francisco-based startup Hirect, which helps other tech startups recruit and hire. When she heard Hirect would pay her a base salary of $80,000 plus uncapped commission that could push her total compensation to a multiple of that, she cut short other interviews to accept the offer, “My ears perked up, my eyes got big, and I didn’t even see any of the other companies as even close competition,” she said.

But two weeks before her start date, Radwan got thrown a curveball. Her offer had been rescinded “due solely to the current unforeseen circumstances & drastic turn in the market.” “Due to the very volatile market conditions, the business & leadership team has decided to halt/freeze all forms of external hiring at this time, and we have entered an immediate hiring freeze and a round of layoffs,” reads an email from a recruiter that Radwan shared on LinkedIn. (A spokesman for Hirect confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it had rescinded two job offers due to the slump in tech hiring.)

Radwan was “in shock,” but quickly tapped into her network and reached out to recruiters she’d previously been in the process of interviewing with, and ultimately landed a job as a recruiter at Insight Global. “It was a wild ride but I know that I’m exactly where I am meant to be,” Radwan said, adding that she hadn’t really considered her values in terms of a career before then. “I just thought of money, but I realized that you can have money plus other things, like good company culture, like good job security, like good benefits, like good PTO,” she said.

Her advice for recent grads entering the job market amid the growing fear of offers being rescinded? Do your research, ask questions like how the company reacted to COVID in 2020 (i.e. was it quick to lay off workers?), talk to current employees and take time to weigh all your offers.

If you’re looking for an indication of the current gestalt, it may come from Radwan’s new employer. Insight Global is still hiring. But in June, it surveyed 1,000 workers and found 23% were “extremely worried” about losing their job in the next recession. Or, as Insight put it, the “Great Resignation” is giving way to the “Great Apprehension.”

Katherine Huggins

Source: Wave Of High-Profile Tech Layoffs Raises Fear Of Recessions–And Stalled Careers–Past

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Facebook Still ‘Secretly’ Tracks Your iPhone This Is How To Stop It

Despite Apple’s public crackdown on Facebook data harvesting, the social media giant will store your iPhone’s location even when you have set it “never” to do that. Now you can stop Facebook in its tracks, ensuring your phone can’t be secretly tracked.

Facebook is reeling as it becomes clear that Apple’s privacy innovations are throttling some of its most lucrative revenue streams. But while stopping cross-app and cross-site tracking is a huge plus for a billion-plus iPhone users, when you use apps provided by the likes of Facebook and Google, you still share way too much of your data.

This should be well understood—there have been enough warnings. But even when users think they’ve done the right things—changed settings to opt for privacy, there are still backdoors, such as with private photos you upload to Facebook and Instagram.

The photos you take on your iPhone include metadata, data about the photos that is embedded into the photo file itself. When you send the photo in its original form, the metadata goes along. That data includes the model of your phone, the way your camera was set up, the date and time the photo was taken, and, critically, where it was taken.

That location data is very precise—and it’s very useful, because you can search photos on your phone by place, logically collating your memories. But when you upload photos to Facebook or Instagram, that metadata is stripped away. If you save photos from either back to your device, you’ll see that there is no embedded location data.

So, does Facebook delete the location data after it has been stripped? No, of course not. Why would the world’s most avaricious data harvester throw away valuable information that it can use to monetize you even further? Facebook stores the data in its multi-billion-dollar data vault, against your profile.

No surprises there. What is surprising, though, is that Facebook strips and stores this data even when you’ve told the platform (both online and on your iPhone) “never” to track your location. Why Facebook thinks this is okay, I fail to understand.

You can see this for yourself. If you upload a photo to Facebook and then download “your Facebook information,” you will see Facebook has stored the exact GPS location stripped from the photo, as well as your IP address when you uploaded the image.

The data “we collect,” Facebook says in its privacy policy, “can include information in or about the content that you provide (e.g., metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.” This location data is used “to provide, personalize and improve our products, including ads.

Until now, fixing this issue has been painful. You need to either disable your iPhone camera’s photo location tagging or use a third-party app to strip the metadata before uploading images. Thankfully, Apple has just fixed the problem.

In your photo album, swipe up any image or select the “i” in the bottom menu bar, and select “Adjust.” You can then change the location to one of your choice or delete it.

This isn’t just a great option for Facebook, of course. While many messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Signal, strip (but don’t save) metadata, iMessage and email attachments retain embedded data, as do photos added to shared albums.

If you’re sharing photos, there are many reasons you might not want to share the exact location. Putting safety aside, many a person has been caught out by inadvertently revealing where they are (and where they are not) via this invisible metadata.

I have warned on this Facebook and Instagram loophole before, and when I have asked Facebook about this, it has confirmed that the platform “collects and processes” such data. When asked if this is used for advertising, “regardless of the privacy settings selected by a user,” I was told it was fine to proceed with those assumptions.

Facebook has enough of your data. This is a great example of where you can hold something back without any detrimental impact to you whatsoever. If you’ve taken the trouble to stop Facebook capturing your location, make sure it’s doing as it’s told.

Zak is a widely recognized expert on surveillance and cyber, as well as the security and privacy risks associated with big tech, social media, IoT and smartphone platforms. He is frequently cited in the international media and is a regular commentator on broadcast news, with appearances on BBC, Sky, NPR, NBC, Channel 4, TF1, ITV and Fox, as well as various cybersecurity and surveillance documentaries.

Zak has twenty years experience in real-world cybersecurity and surveillance, most recently as the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, which develops advanced surveillance technologies for front line security and defense agencies as well as commercial organizations in the US, Europe and Asia. The company is at the forefront of AI-based surveillance and works closely with flagship government agencies around the world on the appropriate and proportionate use of such technologies. As well as analyzing security and surveillance stories, Zak is co-creator of Forbes’ award winning Straight Talking Cyber video series. Zak can be reached at zakd@me.com.

Source: Facebook Still ‘Secretly’ Tracks Your iPhone—This Is How To Stop It

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Your API Strategy Is A Business Requirement—Not Just A Technological Solution

The benefits of APIs ( Application Programming Interface) are becoming more clear in an ever-evolving tech landscape, yet ITDMs still struggle to convince executives and investors to buy into an API-first strategy. Here’s a look at the importance of APIs in a changing world, and how ITDMs can make the business case in order to secure the best API strategy for their organization.

According to Google Cloud’s new “State of the API Economy 2021” report, a majority of IT decision-makers view application programming interfaces, or APIs, as essential ingredients in improved customers experiences, expanded partner engagement, accelerated innovation, and other demands of today’s business environment. This is encouraging: APIs are how software talks to other software, and since much of digital transformation involves combining disparate data and functionality into rich user experiences and process automations, APIs are an essential ingredient in modern business strategies. 

What’s less encouraging: the research surveys primarily IT professionals, not business leaders. It’s clear that IT people see the benefits of APIs in the ever-changing tech landscape, but we still hear regular concerns from these same people that they have trouble convincing executives and investors to buy into an API-first strategy. In this article, we’ll look into why they are having these difficulties and some proven ways to successfully position an API strategy not just as a technological solution, but also as a business requirement.

The importance of APIs in a changing world

The rise of APIs has been heavily influenced by the introduction of disruptive new business models and evolving customer preferences that traditional technologies are not positioned to quickly and efficiently address. 

For example, traditionally, if your business sold tickets to events, it would build physical ticket booths and maybe a website or first-party mobile app. Today, tickets in many cases aren’t so much a physical thing presented to an usher as a digital code that an usher scans. Likewise, tickets are less-often purchased in person as opposed to online, and reliance on a first-party website can be unnecessarily restrictive. It places the burden on the business to attract customers, whereas surfacing organically in social media, search engine results, and other digital experiences lets the business meet customers where they’re already assembled. 

Moreover, as COVID-19 continues to disrupt events throughout the world, many ticket sellers—and most organizations, for that matter—have pivoted to digital-first business interactions as a matter of necessity. All of these changes in the business model, and all of the interacting systems and functionality that underpin them, rely on communication among APIs. 

Similarly, today’s banks cannot grow by simply building more branches or hiring more tellers. Instead, they need to make financial information and functionality available when and where customers require it, whether that means via an ATM, a first-party app, or within some other digital experience. Many banks also need to do more than just present this functionality, as customers are increasingly interested in the analytics and insights their spending patterns can yield. Again, all of these interactions—from customers making a purchase within an app to banks applying machine learning in order to offer customers financial insights—are enabled by APIs.     

Related: The “State of API Economy 2021” report describes how digital transformation initiatives evolved throughout 2020, as well as where they’re headed in the years to come. Download for free.

When guidance meets resistance

These examples do not illustrate technology that updates the status quo, but rather technology that unlocks business opportunities that transcend the status quo—and that help businesses to thrive even as the status quo fades into irrelevance and obsolescence. APIs are thus not just an IT topic but also important business enablers that should be understood by everyone involved with the enterprise’s investments, from internal stakeholders approving business strategies to external shareholders trying to assess an organization’s trajectory. 

The challenge for investor relations is to convey these financial and operational benefits in a way that clearly communicates the need for a new business model rather than refinements to the existing models. It’s essential that IT professionals understand APIs, but it’s also essential for business leaders to understand them too.

This is even trickier given that arguments for API investments are often based on future potential, while arguments for more conservative alternatives are based on past success. 

At a high level, the API value proposition is clear: In the past, valuable functionality and data have been encased in systems and applications, making them difficult to scale or leverage for new, evolving use cases. In contrast, APIs make functionality and data infinitely reusable, infinitely scalable, and modular such that APIs can easily be combined for new uses. All of this accrues to richer user experiences and more flexibility than ever for companies to monetize their digital assets, share them with partners, or combine them with assets from third parties. 

It’s essential that IT professionals understand APIs, but it’s also essential for business leaders to understand them too.

But investors typically want as much information as possible because their decisions can affect not just productivity and output, but company stock prices and potential future growth. High-level arguments may not be persuasive. The deeper assurances investors crave would normally come from guidance.

Guidance in this context refers to insights based on growth forecasts and customer adoption, but this can be difficult early in market entry. Robust forecasting processes need to be developed to demonstrate the efficacy and value of the API economy, which can be hard to predict: whereas APIs are well understood in some sectors, and especially among digital natives, they are in the early stages of the growth rate in other verticals, making it challenging to forecast developer adoption of a given API. And since there is a shortage of information, trying to use traditional guidance comes with a risk of being wrong and thus of little value to investors.

Related: Set your 2021 API resolutions with these top 2020 posts.

How to deliver a more useful value proposition

While guidance may be premature during the early stages of market entry, investor relations teams still need to convey the full value of an enterprise to investors. To do this, they need a value proposition that emphasizes the intrinsic value of the investment while reinforcing the benefits that can best drive business and stock growth. Considering how large an investment of time, effort, and money transitioning to an API economy can be, it is vital to convey that the benefits are substantial.

A solid value proposition should demonstrate maximum returns, and while this shouldn’t include far-fetched or unobtainable claims, it can include reasonable aspirational visions alongside statistical insights. To craft these aspirational narratives, investor relations teams should look to their organization’s existing business needs and challenges, and then demonstrate how APIs can benefit the organization in these areas. Here are some options that speak to a number of common business requirements:

  • Sales channel: API investments are reusable, improve speed to market, enable automated processes and partner onboarding, and can uncover unanticipated opportunities.
  • Cost: Businesses can reduce operational costs by using and reusing APIs for innovation and business development, and by using the services native to your partner’s digital surface, you can further reduce innovation costs and risks.
  • Earnings: API-enabled digital ecosystems unlock a variety of partner services that leverage the business’s shared data to drive new customer acquisition, new market positions, new transaction volumes, and direct API monetization.
  • Risk mitigation: By investing in a credible API, businesses can mitigate downside risks that traditional enterprises can face from market disruptors, industry-wide shifts to digital tools, and inabilities to ingest and analyze growing data sources.
  • Intellectual property: Unlike project-driven innovation and customized, point-to-point integration that traps enterprise knowledge in small teams and divisional silos, APIs are reusable and modular, breaking down silos and encouraging intra-organizational collaboration.
  • Speed to market: The efficient, repeatable API interface informs improvements to the fulfillment process with consistent access to data from across the organization, which drives solutions that more quickly and efficiently meet customer needs.
  • Ethics: APIs offer the flexibility and economical advantages that give organizations the capacity to focus on their brand’s ethical “reason for being” beyond profitability by serving economically marginal and underserved market segments.
  • Customer credibility: Organizations can deliver the extended, connected digital experiences that customers expect with the tools and flexibility included with API products.
  • Employee retention: Businesses can avoid losing key employees by updating their legacy technologies with APIs, giving employees the opportunity to enhance their skills with modern technologies.
  • Corporate strategy: Enterprises that use APIs’ reusable, modular structure and tools are more capable of adapting to rapid structural shifts in customer demand patterns and sectoral changes in the economy.

Whichever of these business challenges a team speaks to, it is imperative that they demonstrate the benefits of APIs, and that once they’ve determined the angle they intend to use, they keep their message consistent. While we’ve seen a number of viable ways to position APIs as a winning strategy, switching among them could make the presentation—and APIs in general—seem insubstantial and unreliable. 

This is why it’s key to decide on the most relevant business concerns, and once you’ve tailored your presentation, to make sure that you have message alignment, including buy-in and support from C-level executives. With a strong pitch built around solving existing business concerns and solidarity from relevant stakeholders, you can go into your investor meeting with the confidence to secure the best API strategy for your organization.

Strengthen your pitch with additional insights. Here are five key trends in 2021 for API-first digital transformation.

Paul Rohan

Paul Rohan

Paul Rohan is a researcher on Open Banking and a Google Cloud solutions consultant. Paul works with banking C-Suites that are examining the impact of the Platform Economy and Digital Ecosystems on financial services industry growth, market structures and governance. Paul is the author of “PSD2 in Plain English” and “Open Banking Strategy Formation”.

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RTInsights

What’s driving businesses to adopt application programming interfaces (APIs)? In this video, Red Hat’s Steven Willmott outlines the business needs that are driving Red Hat customers to adopt APIs and explains how APIs can improve communications between partners to enable a more flexible business ecosystem. For more videos and resources, visit http://www.rtinsights.com/red-hat-agi…

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What Sustainable Innovation Might Look Like in 2021

The saying “hindsight is 20/20” will take on a new meaning following this year. Without doubt, we are collectively facing some of the biggest challenges the world has seen. The pandemic’s second wave is taking lives and livelihoods across Europe, healthcare systems are collapsing under the strain, and the destructive effects of climate change are being felt across our planet.

There is reason for optimism though: The speed in which a series of promising Covid vaccines have emerged shows what can be achieved when organisations across the globe put their collective weight behind a shared mission. But if we seek to return to how life was before, we have failed not just future generations, but those living today, too.

As we move toward 2021 we are at a crossroads, and if we don’t act now, it might be too late to solve the health and climate emergencies we face. We need to deliver impactful, sustainable, and meaningful innovations. Without them, we will soon run out of road. But what does sustainable innovation look like in 2021 and beyond?

Rethinking innovation.

People are increasingly looking to entrepreneurs to drive the changes the planet needs. Two-thirds of researchers and academics believe tech entrepreneurs will make a bigger contribution to solving social challenges in the years to come than governments in Europe, according to Atomico’s State of European Tech report.

That’s a huge responsibility. But passion, drive, and creativity alone are not enough to make this a reality. To tackle these challenges we need to fundamentally rethink approaches to innovation, business models, and the relationship between entrepreneurs and corporate organizations.

Time and time again, startups and entrepreneurs come undone when they try to scale up their transformative ideas into a sustainable and impactful business model. Why? Because they lack the necessary muscle (in terms of finance and resources) and networks (to navigate legislative and regulatory requirements). 

Corporate enterprises have a lot of the ingredients necessary to drive innovation and deliver real impact. They have the assets, resources, and networks. But they often have the wrong corporate governance structure in place, limited board involvement in the innovation process and are missing the talent needed to not just conceive, but to execute and scale digital business ideas successfully as well. 

Too often, corporate resources are focussed on tools to create innovation, like incubators and accelerators. These are fine for driving new value through product and service innovation, but do not deliver the transformative change and new business models that are needed in 2021 and beyond. 

To achieve this, we need to shift our collective thinking on to which investment types create the right framework for innovations to scale and become sustainable. The true transformative power lies in moving beyond building new products and services, and towards creating new sustainable, impactful and digital business models. It is only by changing the way we innovate that we can begin to tackle the major issues of climate and health.

Corporate Venture Building: A potent solution.

That’s why in 2021, we will see corporations increasingly team up with top entrepreneurs to collaborate and drive a new wave of sustainable innovation. This approach, which enables both parties to harness their relative strengths and create new digital business models is called Corporate Venture Building (CVB).

CVB is a new asset class, designed to tackle the problems that occur in highly regulated and complex markets like health or climate. It helps corporations to effectively rethink and redeploy existing assets and capabilities to fundamentally transform its business model and create long-lasting, positive and impactful change.

That is what CleanTech startup Solytic set out to achieve when it was co-created and scaled together with Swedish multinational energy giant, Vattenfall, using the CVB approach. Solytic puts an end to the waste caused by the inefficiency of solar PV systems and maximizes its overall performance, by combining unused resources with the needs of service providers.

By identifying and eliminating sources of error and optimizing utilization, Solytic increases the efficiency of solar PV systems by up to 30 percent. The benefit it delivers means within two years of its creation, the startup has expanded into 60 countries and has connected over 100,000 solar plants to its AI monitoring platform. 

Solytic has only been able to achieve this scale and impact within the highly regulated energy industry, because it used the CVB model and drew on the resources and knowhow that Vattenfall has been able to provide. Moreover, it has demonstrated that by rethinking innovation and combining the entrepreneurial spirit with the resources and existing assets of an established corporation, creating new digital business models that have a real impact is possible.

For many people, and many reasons, 2020 has been a year to forget. But it’s important we learn from this shared experience, and recognize what can be achieved when we embrace digital technologies and collaborate effectively. In the whole of human history there has never been a more urgent need for sustainable innovation, and by changing our mindset and approach, we can deliver it in 2021, and beyond.

By: Felix Staeritz Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

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4 Reasons Why Focusing On Community Is Your Best Marketing Strategy

Digital communities are quickly becoming the lifeblood of organizations as more companies turn digital and remote. A recent article by the Wall Street Journal found that adults in the U.S. are now spending up to 16 hours a day on digital media. With so many options, the one commonality that many people are looking for is genuine connections with people and brands that share their interests and values. 

The concept of a community is not always tangible. Communities can come in the shape of forums, social media pages, private groups or, in some cases, a mix of each. For brands that really get community right, this phenomenon could be fragmented and simply come down to offering a service that people genuinely love to associate with. The best communities are built organically over time and can act as a powerful and genuine marketing channel. 

For Binance co-founder and CMO Yi He, community has always been an important part of her career journey, as well as the driving force behind building out one of the most popular digital-assets exchanges in the world. In just three years, Binance’s business model, which includes executives interacting daily with the community, has helped it scale to more than 15 million users

Related: The Digital Dollar’s Global Potential For Entrepreneurship

Yi was kind enough to provide insight into her journey, along with practical advice that entrepreneurs can use to start growing a community for their personal brand or business. 

1. Community marketing is cost-effective and impactful

Community management and marketing is a mentality more than a strategy. It’s about focusing on users and developing activities and actions around it. Community marketing includes livestreams (AMA sessions), webinars and social listening and engagement. It is important to note that community building is not an overnight task; it takes testing and patience. 

Yi explains, “Building a community takes time and it’s worth it. Personal connections with a community is vital to ensuring continued growth. That includes responding to issues and taking feedback into action which require strong collaboration with customer support and product teams.” https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

This cross-functional effort might seem challenging, but it can be organized and is typically very profitable when done right. Yi adds, “It is significantly more cost effective to organize an AMA session with the CEO or executive, which allows customers to connect with the company and address issues or new products, than broadcasting noisy ads.”

2. Community engagement gives companies authenticity and loyalty

The best way to create a meaningful community is to remain authentic. Transparency builds trust, both between a company and users and within a user base, compounding to strengthen the community over time. 

Even more impactful is when a key executive is part of this plan. At Binance, CEO CZ (Changpeng Zhao) is famous for being extremely active on Twitter, where he interacts and responds with thousands of people. Yi says this interaction is vital and “allows customers to have a personal connection with a company that translates to higher engagement and loyalty.” 

For companies without a public-facing executive, focusing on micro-interactions helps humanize a company and its mission. According to Yi, “Community marketing requires knowing what your customers need and care about, and what they don’t care about too. Ultimately, focus on customers to deliver products and services they want, need and will like.”

3. Strong community marketing brings brand-activation and innovation

Strong community marketing activates a brand by bringing more awareness and more meaningful exposure and customer experiences. According to Nielsen, 92 percent of customers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. This word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing tool a company can have as it comes from a user, not an advertisement or the company directly. 

In the world of digital-asset exchanges, competition is fierce, and users have no shortage of options. This is where brand activation can be the critical differentiator. Yi says, “When a brand is activated, customers are more engaged and become more long-term customers. Strong community marketing also brings more personable and emotional connections to its customers which helps activate brands.”https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Related: 8 Smart Ways to Analyze Crypto Token Before Investing in It

4.Timely community management makes great customer service

In 2019, Binance experienced a $40 million hack that set off panic amongst the entire industry. Rather than cower away, the company took proactive actions to quickly admit there was a security incident. Even more important, Binance had a contingency plan (#SAFU fund) in place that allowed them to cover the incident in full so no user funds were affected. 

Outside of extreme events like this example, communities are where customers often turn to for quick customer service. Entrepreneurs can use their community as a way of product iteration and improvement by monitoring common requests. As CMO, Yi is responsible for making sure the community management teams are actively engaged with product teams.

“When this approach is optimized, it ensures the delivery of community-driven products and services that cater a company’s core, its users/customers,” she sums up. “Great products and services are built by communities, not a one-directional approach.”

By: Jared Polites / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Alyson Shane is a Winnipeg writer who has been publishing content online for 15 years. Growing up, she spent her free time in online forums and communities, which developed into a passion for social media and digital communication. In 2014, she started her digital marketing agency, Starling Social. Alyson has been recognized as one of Manitoba’s Top Social Media Influencers by CBC Manitoba and featured as one of Winnipeg’s Hottest Bloggers on Shaw TV.

She is the lead contributor to the MTS Business Hub and manages the National Film Board’s What Brings Us Here Instagram narrative about indigenous-led activism in Winnipeg. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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