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Google’s Criticisms Against Tech Antitrust Bill

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Google's Criticisms Against Tech Antitrust Bill

Google is arguing that a bill proposed by U.S. Congress has the potential to compromise users’ safety, and damage such products as Search and Maps.

Known as the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), bill S.2992 contains bipartisan legislation proposed by U.S Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The intention behind the AICOA is to create a level playing field for businesses to compete online. It targets purported anti-competitive practices, such as a platform favoring its own products and services over competitors’.

Google claims the bill will do more harm than good. Royal Hansen, Google’s VP of Engineering for Privacy, Safety, and Security, penned a blog post earlier this week with a list of the company’s concerns regarding S.2992.

Do Google’s claims hold water? Let’s look at Google’s arguments and compare them with what’s outlined in the bill.

How Does The Antitrust Bill Harm Google & Others?

Google has four main arguments against bill S.2992:

  • It harms security by banning basic product integration.
  • It opens up Google’s products for exploitation by foreign companies.
  • It limits Google’s efforts to fight misinformation.
  • It doesn’t address valid security concerns.

Does The Bill Ban Product Integration?

Google doesn’t point to any specific verbiage within the bill that speaks to the banning of product integration, so I can only speculate what the company is taking issue with.

I believe Google is referring to section 3.1 of the bill, which states it will be unlawful for platforms to:

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“Preference the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator over those of another business user on the covered platform in a manner that would materially harm competition.”

Google could also be referring to section 3.2, which states it will be unlawful for platforms to:

“Limit the ability of the products, services, or lines of business of another business user to compete on the covered platform relative to the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator in a manner that would materially harm competition.”

That could affect Google’s product integration, like how Search, Maps, and Business Profiles are all integrated, since companies with similar products can’t compete at the same level.

Section 3.8 could be drawing the ire of Google as well, which will make it unlawful to:

“Materially restrict or impede covered platform users from uninstalling software applications that have been preinstalled on the covered platform or changing default settings that direct or steer covered platform users to products or services offered by the covered platform operator, unless necessary.”

That may impact how Google integrates its products, as it would have to grant users the ability to decouple Google’s applications from each other.

“I tend to agree with Google’s position,” Ericka Johnson, a Senior Associate with Squire Patton Boggs LLP specializing in cybersecurity, commented via email. “This legislation appears to have all of the best intentions – to promote more competition among large online platforms. [But] because the bill bans basic product integration, [Google] might not be able to secure its products by default.”

Ultimately, Johnson adds, “This could cause unintended consequences, particularly for those smaller businesses that may not have the resources to understand the nuances around defending against cybersecurity attacks other than relying on the default settings provided. ”

However, the bill does add that platforms could restrict users from uninstalling software “for the security or functioning of the covered platform.”

Does The Bill Allow Foreign Companies To Exploit Google’s Products?

Google says the bill will require companies to open their platforms to outside parties, potentially leading to exploitation by foreign companies looking to access data from American companies and citizens.

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Google points to section 3.4 of the bill that says it will be unlawful to:

“Materially restrict, impede, or unreasonably delay the capacity of a business user to access or interoperate with the same platform, operating system, or hardware or software features that are available to the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator that compete or would compete with products or services offered by business users on the covered platform.”

Whether this would have the impact Google describes is a matter of interpretation.

“While efforts to promote competition are generally good for the American economy and society, I think we need to be careful about … unintended consequences,” Johnson notes. “Cybersecurity is a national security issue and, particularly in light of the existing cybersecurity threats from Russia, among other countries, I think Congress must be careful not to weaken US-based online platforms.”

Does The Bill Limit Google’s Ability To Fight Disinformation?

Google argues that S. 2992 will limit its ability to take action against malicious content, as the bill states that there must be “nondiscriminatory treatment.”

In making its argument, Google points to section 3.9 of the bill, which says it will be unlawful to:

“… in connection with any covered platform user interface, including search or ranking functionality offered by the covered platform, treat the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator more favorably relative to those of another business user than under standards mandating the neutral, fair, and nondiscriminatory treatment of all business users.”

If Google were to lose the ability to “discriminate” against competitors by downranking them, it might be possible for entities to spread misinformation more easily.

Does The Bill Fail To Address Valid Security Concerns?

Here’s what Google says about the bill as it relates to “valid” security concerns:

“… the revised bill says that we don’t have to interoperate with or provide access to data to entities who pose ‘clear’ and ‘significant’ security risks. But this assumes that we know in real time which risks are significant, and could prohibit us from blocking moderate or emerging security risks that don’t obviously meet the bar of a ‘significant’ threat.”

In other words, Google argues the bill would prevent it from taking action on small threats before they become major security concerns.

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“Threat actors are highly sophisticated,” Johnson adds, “and will look for every opportunity to exploit a weakness in an organization’s IT infrastructure.”

Section 2.2 of the bill does say tech platforms don’t have to accommodate entities that are a “clear national security risk.” However, I couldn’t find anything that explicitly restricts Google’s ability to moderate security risks that aren’t national concerns.

The bill also lists affirmative defenses for violating any unlawful conduct outlined in the legislation. One of those defenses includes protecting user safety and privacy.

Technically, that means Google can block any entity it deems a security threat, as long as it can provide sufficient evidence of a risk to user safety.

Are Google’s Claims Valid?

Fellow tech giants — who would be subject to legislation if the AICOA is passed into law — echo Google’s concerns.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), for instance, has started a campaign called Don’t Break What Works to raise awareness of the potential impact of S.2992.

Proponents of the bill say critics are missing the mark and that the AICOA is designed to make it easier for small businesses to compete against large monopolies.

On the Morning Joe Show on Tuesday, Senator Klobuchar explained what she aims to accomplish by introducing the bill:

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 “… what the bill does is it says if you’re going to sell stuff on your own platforms, then you can’t preference it over other competitive business products. Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re starting to buy thing after thing and basically outcompete, because they own the pipeline by which people are buying other competitors. That’s not fair capitalism. That’s when antitrust steps in.”

Senator Klobuchar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What Happens If The AICOA Is Passed?

If congress passes the AICOA into law, it could impact many of the major tech platforms people use every day.

Users might see a scaled-down experience, for instance, as far as Google Search goes.

Google potentially wouldn’t be able to make its own products more visible than others, for instance, which means it couldn’t display a local pack of Google Business Profiles when searching for restaurants.

Search could look more like it did back in the day, when it was just ten blue links with a few ads at the top.


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How To Create Your Instagram Content Plan

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How To Create Your Instagram Content Plan

Are your Instagram posts not bringing desired results?

Then maybe you need to think about reshaping your strategy and create a content plan.

Content plans can help guide how you release content to make sure you’re hitting certain goals and help your content perform better.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a content plan that increases brand reach and conversions on Instagram. You’ll also learn some helpful tips to help boost your content.

1. Define Your Goal

The first thing you want to do is create your Instagram goal or goals.

What do you want to accomplish? Is it to grow your audience, drive more engagement, or generate sales?

Once you figure out your plan, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your content to meet those goals.

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Then, you can set the key performance indicators (KPIs) to mark different points of analysis you want to observe along with your Instagram campaign.

After you select your goal and some KPIs, it’s beneficial to break down your goal into different milestones you would like to reach along the way.

For example, let’s say you want to grow your audience by 20% by the end of the quarter.

What are some milestones along the way you can mark to achieve that goal? What types of content, topics, or content series can you create to increase engagement?

Now, that you’ve done some brainstorming, it’s time to start building your content calendar.

2. Plan Your Content Calendar

A content calendar is important because it’s your roadmap to guide your path, help you meet your goals, and set an end date for a campaign.

This way, you’ll know when you’ve met your goal and can readjust and analyze ways to improve your content strategy for your next campaign.

In addition, a content calendar can help keep ideas and campaigns organized, help you identify any content gaps, and help build consistency (which is critical for Instagram).

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When creating your content plan for the month, quarter, or recent campaign, it’s helpful to plot out which days of the week you want to talk about what.

Next, choose the topic and then form the right caption.

Break content planning into smaller actionable steps makes it easier to make a content calendar.

Then, if you have your goals, topics laid out, and captions, you can move to the next step: Create the necessary pictures or videos.

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Finally, you can compile your topics, days you’re posting, and captions and hashtags into a simple Google, Word, or Excel doc so you can easily copy and paste when you’re ready to schedule out your content.

Bonus Tip: Align Your Content With Marketing Initiatives

If you already have some marketing initiatives, it’s the perfect time to incorporate them into your marketing campaign. For example, maybe you have a new product release.

Then, you can create a content series for that. Create a couple of posts teasing the release of the product, include a giveaway, have an influence to promote your product or a video with them using it, and market those benefits.

Events or holidays are another great way to get consumers engaged and turn more consumers into customers.

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If you have an event coming up, you can create a campaign hyping the event and discussing the speakers involved, products that will be there, or awesome grab bags you’re giving away at the event.

Holidays are another fun and positive way to get customers talking about your brand. Holiday giveaways or deals are another way to grow brand awareness and gain followers.

3. Keep A Consistent Theme And Tone

Creating a tone or brand guide can be an effective way to make sure you keep posts consistent. You also want to maintain a similar theme throughout your posts, including style, font, and colors.

For inspiration, you can look at your website, content, and logos to help create the proper tone and theme for your posts.

In addition, Instagram has the tools in stories that can help you get a color scheme that complements your brand.

You also want to think about the look of your content for both pictures and videos. Consider a consistent angle or filter to set the right tone and look for your content.

It’s also vital to think about your messaging, whether it’s for captions, comments, or responses to direct messages.

It’s crucial to have a standard operating procedure for how you respond to consumers on Instagram, especially if you have multiple people responding to comments and messages, to ensure it’s within the brand’s tone.

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4. Showcase Your Creativity

IG is more than just a photo-sharing app. There are many different ways to create content for Instagram that can highlight your brand and increase engagement.

Let’s talk through them and share some tips on when to use them.

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As you know, Instagram has pictures. Pictures are a great way to showcase products. It’s also great for sharing quotes, posing questions you answer in your image caption, or promoting deals or giveaways.

Videos are an excellent way to show sneak peeks of something coming up or create product teasers. You can also use videos for business BTS and show how to best use your product.

You can use Instagram Reels, or short videos, to showcase products, share stories, and grow your audience.

IGTV or Instagram TV are longer videos on an Instagram feed. Brands use these to go more in-depth into describing a particular topic.

Instagram Shopping is a feature that allows consumers to shop your products through your photos and videos.

Brands can create product tags and product launches where consumers can purchase products straight through Instagram.

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Then, customers don’t have to take the step to leave Instagram to go to your website. Instead, they can quickly buy through the app.

Stories are photos or videos that last 24 hours (unless you add them to your highlights on your profile) where you can share posts from your profile or post new content. It’s a popular way to gain more followers and engage with consumers.

User-Generated Content or content created by influences, customers, or other users is a great way to extend your reach to different audiences and further promote your products.

People are more intrigued to learn about a new product if it’s promoted by someone they already follow.

Likewise, it can help build trust with consumers new to your brand if they see a post by a customer who already loves it.

But what content goes viral? It can be beneficial to look at what your competitors are people on Instagram creating and put your brand’s unique twist on it.

5. Craft Compelling Captions And CTAs

While it’s great to have high-quality pictures and engaging videos, the captions and call to action still matter.

If you hooked the consumer with your picture or video, you want to reel them in with your caption and CTA.

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It’s essential to take time crafting the right CTA to ensure consumers follow your page, engage with your post, or purchase your product.

6. Choose The Correct Hashtags

It’s also crucial to research and choose the right hashtags to ensure your posts reach the intended audience and some new ones that might be interested in your brand.

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Hashtags allow your content to reach users beyond your profile’s following. As you create content for specific hashtags, note which posts perform particularly well.

That way, you can create future posts for specific hashtags that will increase your content’s visibility.

7. Know The Best Time To Post

Planning posts ahead of time can help alleviate some stress of social media strategy.

You can use Meta Business Suites to schedule posts for Facebook and Instagram and set posts for a week or a couple of weeks.

If you’re unsure when to post, they have suggested days and times where analysis points to where you’ll get the most engagement and views.

Although, it would be beneficial to do some research specific to your industry to see the best time and day to make your posts.

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One important thing to keep in mind when you’re planning your content is the upcoming holidays.

Are you going to make a post celebrating the holiday, use the holiday to do a promotion or give away, or choose not to post on that day altogether?

No matter what you pick, it’s important to keep holidays in mind.

8. Measure Results And Adjust

Instagram Insights, both on the app and through Meta Business Suites, can show how many views a post gets and statistics on the engagement with the posts to help you see which types of content are working best. You can see your content’s likes, shares, comments, and saves.

Brands can also use Insights to get metrics on the paid activity. Insights are a great way to see trends so that you can adjust your content strategy.

You’ll also be able to see metrics into your followers to see how many you’re receiving, the age of your followers, and information on when they are most active online. This way, you can adjust the times you post to ensure you are better at reaching your audience.

Wrapping Up

Content planning is the best way to help boost reach and engagement on Instagram.

Creating a content calendar inspired by current marketing objectives and tailoring your content with a theme backed by metrics is the best way to help meet your goals.

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More Resources:


Featured Image: alinabuphoto/Shutterstock

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