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WhatsApp Delays Privacy Policy Update in Order to Further Address User Concerns

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In a rare deviation from its strategic plan, Facebook has announced that it will delay a planned update to both the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for WhatsApp, after users raised significant concerns as to how the change would impact their personal data and information.

Last week, WhatsApp sent out the below in-app alert to users, which announces a coming update to its ‘terms and privacy policy’, which is mandatory for all users to accept in order to continue using the app.  

WhatsApp update

The last point, in particular – ‘How we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company products’ – sparked concern, with many users taking this to mean that WhatsApp would now begin sharing all of its user data with Facebook.

Which is not correct. As Facebook and its various execs have been working to highlight over the last week, the change in policy and data-sharing only relates to messaging with businesses on WhatsApp, not your personal conversations, which will remain private and encrypted, as has always been the case.

But that clarification seems to have had little effect – in the days following the WhatsApp announcement, alternative messaging apps like Signal, Viber and Telegram saw millions of downloads as users looked to shift their personal discussions out of Facebook’s reach.

The response was so significant that WhatsApp had to publish an official response to clarify, while it also took out full-page newspaper ads in India – where WhatsApp has some 459 million users – to further reiterate that there would be no change to private messaging.

But still, it seems that users remained unconvinced. And while WhatsApp hasn’t released any data, you’d have to assume that it’s seen a massive decline in usage over the last week, which has now prompted it to delay the planned update by three months.

As explained by WhatsApp:

“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”

Again, given the efforts Facebook has gone to here, you’d have to assume that the backlash has been huge, and its usage numbers have declined rapidly in response. This is an expensive, impactful delay, and the decision to scale back the change could only have come after serious consideration. 

The question then is whether users will switch back – or will those who’ve switched away, in response to the idea that WhatsApp may share data with Facebook, now stay away, as they view this as a potential risk in future?

Which it probably is. Facebook is in the midst of a gradual integration of its messaging apps which will enable users of Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to all messaging each other, without each chat participant having to download all three apps. That would theoretically mean that either Direct and Messenger would need to move to full encryption by default, in line with WhatsApp, or that WhatsApp’s messaging security will need to move into line with the other two apps. 

And either way, the cross-integration will inevitably mean that WhatsApp will be sharing at least some of your private chat data with Facebook’s apps – so if users are switching off of WhatsApp now, in response to that concept, they may well be doing so again in future, if indeed Facebook does go ahead with its full integration plan.

That’ll now be another element for Facebook to factor into its planning – but right now, it’s in damage control mode, and it’s working to reassure WhatsApp users that their data is safe:

“WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook.”

No sharing with Facebook. None. All good. 

Whether it is all good, however, now remains to be seen, and looks set to throw a spanner in the works for Facebook’s next stage. Which could also have implications for its upcoming antitrust suit, depending on how that plays out – though it is likely that the investigation will carry on for many months.

Either way, this a significant turn of events, and a potentially major setback for Facebook’s plans.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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