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Are Text Messages the New Social Media? One Start-Up Thinks So.

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Are Text Messages the New Social Media? One Start-Up Thinks So.

Andrew here. You probably received today’s DealBook newsletter, as you always do, by email. But you probably got a bunch of spam and junk mail in your inbox, too.

That’s why so many of us are moving our most important communications to text messages. And in the process, the “text inbox” has become the new holy space for brands, far more intimate than your social media feed.

At least, that’s the bet that Ashton Kutcher, the actor turned venture capitalist, and Guy Oseary, Bono’s and Madonna’s manager turned investor, made when they co-founded a text message company called Community in 2019. In the beginning, it was marketed to celebrities to communicate with their fans about tour dates and new projects.

But over the last year, the business has quietly grown to power text messages from some of the largest brands, like McDonald’s, HBO, the New York Yankees and Condé Nast. When this month’s Hollywood blockbuster, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” launched an advertising campaign, it came with a phone number for viewers to text, powered by Community.

The company plans to announce next week that it has raised another $25 million, bringing its total fund-raising to $110 million, from investors such as Salesforce Ventures, Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund and Verizon Ventures. (It did not disclose its latest valuation.)

It also made Robert Wolf, a former chairman of UBS Group Americas, who served as an informal adviser to President Barack Obama, its new chairman. He started helping to sign up large corporate customers over the past year, bringing the total clients to over 8,000. The company is run by Diankha Linear, a longtime executive who served as an Army logistics and transportation officer.

Community has gained its latest funding as questions have increasingly arisen about social media’s reach and how companies can own the digital relationship with their customers without a middleman like Facebook or Twitter.

“I started out with Twitter and built a fairly large following on Twitter,” said Mr. Kutcher, who has 16.8 million followers. “But Twitter today is very different than what Twitter was when I originally started playing around it,” he added. “The click-through rates are massively degraded — the number of people that actually see the post is massively degraded.”

At Community, in contrast, “we have like 45 percent click-through rates and 98 percent open rates,” Mr. Kutcher said. “You don’t get that in social environments because most people don’t even see the things you’re posting.”

Community competes with a bevy of different types of services vying for space in your text inbox, from Attentive to Twilio to Zendesk. And many of the software platforms that companies use to manage their relationships with customers now have features that facilitate texting.

But what sets Community apart is the dialogue that celebrities and brands have with their customers, who provide troves of information about themselves, which the brand owns and isn’t shared with Community’s other clients.

Oseary was originally drawn to Community because of his role as a music manager, he said.

“I have no way to know who came to the concert tonight. I have no way to speak to them again once they leave the concert. I have no way to know who bought the album,” he said. “With Community, once they text the number, we now have a way to stay in touch directly. And that information is not owned by anyone but the artist, the talent or the person who’s building a business.”

Companies advertise a phone number that users text to sign up for updates. McDonald’s posted its number on a billboard in Times Square just this month. The service also allows brands to segment customers who sign up for texts, so if an artist has an concert coming up in Atlanta, only people in Atlanta get the texts.

Using text messages to connect with customers, for all its promise, poses unique challenges. Brands are required to get their customers to opt in to messages, which is hard to do unless the brand is already well established. And customers may want to hear from fewer brands in their text inbox than they do in their email inbox.

“As opposed to email, when you have to scroll to the bottom of the thing and hit the link that says unsubscribe, if you don’t like the text messages you’re getting, you only have to write one word: Stop,” Mr. Kutcher said. (That’s some news you can use.)

Rupert Murdoch makes another deal. Fox News settled a defamation case with Dominion Voting Systems at the last minute for $788 billion. The deal allowed Murdoch and his company’s executives to avoid having to testify, but it also handed Staple Street, the private equity owner of Dominion, a big payday after it bought the company for $38 million in 2018. His son Lachlan, C.E.O. of Fox Corporation, also settled a separate defamation suit against an Australian publisher this week.

Return to sender. Netflix ended its DVD delivery service after 25 years. The streaming company’s original business model revolved around sending discs by mail, and at its peak, in 2010, about 20 million subscribers used the service. The company announced the changes as it reported first-quarter profits of $1.3 billion, up 4 percent year on year.

Gary Gensler gets a grilling. The chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, was hammered by Republicans over the agency’s handling of the cryptocurrency industry, in an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee. Gensler defended the regulator, saying he had never seen a sector break so many securities laws with such regularity, after being accused of failing to spot problems at FTX before the cryptocurrency exchange collapsed.

China’s economy bounces back, kind of. In its first full quarter since Beijing lifted punishing Covid restrictions, the world’s second-largest economy beat expectations on the back of surging consumer spending, rising exports and government-led infrastructure spending. But youth unemployment hit 19.6 percent, its second-highest mark on record, suggesting that businesses are not convinced that Beijing is finished dabbling in the private sector and that economic uncertainty is over.

Goldman Sachs quickens its retail banking U-turn. The Wall Street giant reported lackluster first-quarter returns and accelerated its retreat from consumer banking, including putting its GreenSky unit up for sale just a year after buying the lending company for $2.2 billion. One spot of new business: The bank introduced a savings account with Apple that offers a 4.15 percent annual interest rate — more than 10 times the national average.

BMW gets into hot water over ice cream. The German carmaker was forced to apologize after being accused of discriminating against Chinese visitors to the Shanghai auto show this week. Images went viral on Chinese social media of workers at its booth appearing to give free ice cream to a western man after telling ethnic Chinese attendees that they had run out.

Ever since Earth Day was established in 1970, companies have advertised their green initiatives on April 22. But with many Republicans now taking a strong stand against corporate environmentalism and targeting companies that publicize their climate change-related goals, you might see fewer companies touting their green credentials this year. Instead, some businesses are resorting to “greenhushing.” An analysis of 1,200 companies published last fall by South Pole, a Swiss consultancy, found that one in four planned to go green but then “go dark” — that is, keep its green goals under the radar.

Artificial intelligence has had a creative few weeks: A song that used A.I. to mimic the voices of Drake and The Weeknd went viral; a murder-mystery novel penned using A.I. is available to preorder; and an image generated by A.I. won one of the world’s biggest photography prizes. DealBook wrote last week that A.I. was creating thorny copyright issues, but it is also raising questions about the nature of human creativity itself.

Companies have tried to draw lines between human and machine-generated work. Streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music, pulled the tech-created song from their platforms this week. And Universal Music Group urged the services to block A.I. from scraping its songs for use as training data.

Some artists see creative possibilities rather than threats. Stephen Marche, who wrote the cheekily titled “Death of an Author” novel using three A.I. programs, compared the process to composing hip-hop: “You don’t necessarily know how to drum, but you definitely need to know how beats work, how hooks work, and you need to be able to put them together in a meaningful way,” he told The New York Times. “I am the creator of this work, 100 percent,” Marche said, “but, on the other hand, I didn’t create the words.”

Who is the creator? Boris Eldagsen, the Berlin artist whose A.I.-generated “Pseudomnesia: The Electrician” won the creative open category at the Sony World Photography Awards, told DealBook that making the image had been like directing a film.

“On a movie there is a set director, there is a cameraman, and there is an actress and a story writer, and I tell them which direction to go,” he said. “I am the one, as an artist, who needs to connect all of this to the world, the human condition.”

He entered the competition to kick-start a conversation about separating the art of photography from A.I.-generated art, which he considers co-creation.

But who should take credit for this type of collaboration? Generative A.I. is informed by reference material created by human artists. It becomes more complicated when A.I. is used to imitate a particular performer, or a specific artist’s drawing style. Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America launched a “human artistry campaign,” which argues that the makers of A.I. need to license copyrighted work they use as training data. And Holly Herndon, a musician, started a company to build consent guidelines for the tech. “The creative possibilities there are fascinating and will change art forever,” she told The Times. “We just have to figure out the terms and tech.”

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you Monday.

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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