Multicultural Marketing: Closing Digital Divides

Despite the constant refreshing of strategy, one trend is poised to grow for much of the foreseeable future, and that is multicultural marketing.

For marketers, the pursuit is always that of finding fresh, yet reliable groups of consumers and clients to keep the world spinning. Strategies emerge by sifting through research, trends, and the latest in digital techniques – only to continue evolving with the customer.

Propelled by U.S. population growth and expanding buying power of people of many cultural heritages, marketing will need to continue relying on diversity as a means of connecting with audiences.

To get a grip on just how significant this multicultural influx really is, consider that U.S. multicultural buying power has increased from $661 billion in 1990, to nearly $3.4 trillion as of 2014.

Multicultural marketing is becoming more important than ever before.

Multicultural marketing is becoming more important than ever before.

Understanding the many multicultural essences that drive consumer behavior today is not only an advantage, but also a necessity in order to forge long-term relationships with these dynamic and growing consumer segments of the economy.

So far, we know that multicultural consumers are increasingly media-savvy and socially empowered – combine that with the fact that many belong to the millennial generation, and you’ve got a potent market indeed.

Multicultural Marketing for International Reach

In many ways, multicultural populations represent the proverbial “fountain of youth,” connecting international markets to those of corresponding cultures in the U.S. What’s more is the trend-setting potential multicultural marketing has for the rest of the American population.

For such examples, look no further than the rise of foods featuring Sriracha, cilantro, agave, cardamom, and dulce de leche – all well loved ethnic and international flavors currently thriving in the American market.

Finally, marketing is breaking away from strategies that assume ethnicity and race will just magically dissolve into a homogenous “general market.” Instead, we’re looking at a much-needed diversification of what it means to cater to our domestic, yet multicultural consumers.

This gets really interesting when we consider just how tech-savvy multicultural consumers in the U.S. actually are:

With the digital divide between Latinos and whites at its most narrow point since 2009, Spanish speakers and immigrants are becoming more connected than ever before.

Digital divides in the U.S. are narrowing now more than ever.

Digital divides in the U.S. are narrowing now more than ever.

Pew Research found that the amount of Latino adults who report using the internet increased from 64% to 84%, while Spanish-dominant Hispanics internet use more than doubled from 34% to 74%.

Essentially, Hispanic/Latino population growth in the U.S. means more multicultural consumer identities than ever before – a relative gold mine for marketers and a mounting challenge for SEOs.

Now instead of struggling to create a high ranking a website for English speakers (a full time job as is), the industry may soon have to come to its senses and optimize its strategies in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and so on! It’s seems that marketing will have as many opportunities to evolve as there are cultures in the U.S. – arguably a true sign of a vibrant future.

Authentic Communication Makes Authentic Brands

As with most marketing campaigns and advertising, consumers want to identify with the values of brands they perceive to be authentic. Most people, regardless of their cultural identity, place a huge importance on family values, heritage, and empowering themselves and their communities.

Marketing across language barriers and cultural preferences is more than a full-time pursuit.

Marketing across language barriers and cultural preferences is more than a full-time pursuit.

In the same way that traditional marketing and digital marketing must be linked to provide an omnichannel experience, multiculturalism and a company’s core strategies are increasingly inseparable.

Again, as both U.S. consumers and marketers themselves become more diverse, the potential to reach more international markets increases as well. Multicultural marketing is something we can all expect to explore in times to come, and is in many ways long overdue.

Breaking the Code: Hacking It At Hack School

Hack schools, also called coding bootcamps, are popping up all over the country. The promise of a six-figure tech career has many adults paying thousands of dollars to learn. How can you make sure hack school doesn’t hack you?

We have all heard the hack school success stories. You know the one: some barista, or waiter, or a middle-aged guy that was laid off from his job takes a 3-month coding boot camp course and then – VOILA! They are now coding experts making over $100,000 a year, and working in what currently seems to be an exponentially booming tech industry. But how realistic is this situation?

If there is one thing we all know, it’s that technology is constantly growing and changing. In an age where other sectors are becoming automated and jobs or growth are stagnant, skilled developers and programmers are able to get well-paying jobs in various industries.

Hack school coder programming on laptop

Dreaming of becoming a programmer in Silicon Valley? If you can hack it in hack school, your dream might come true.

This had led to a large number of coding boot camps popping up online and all over the nation. Many of these schools claim they have students graduating from their programs with a 95% job placement rate and salaries averaging an upwards of $100,000. If you’re an aspiring developer, how do you navigate through the endless sea of hack schools?

Grab Your Shades, The Future of Computing Is Bright

Tech company giants like Apple, Samsung, Google and more will be creating all sorts of innovative technologies in the future. In the upcoming years, we will see technological advances in smart products, cars, robots, and even human-embedded healthcare technologies.

This will create massive growth in the tech industry leading to a greater demand for software engineers and developers. This growth is not limited specifically to the tech industry. The healthcare and automotive manufacturers will also need an influx of these software and web developers.

The Expanding Demand of Coding Skills

On Glassdoor’s 25 Best Jobs in America List, 8 of the top jobs in the U.S. are tech positions requiring coding or programming skills. According to Burning Glass, last year, 20 percent of career track job openings, or about 7 million open job positions, valued coding skills. Jobs with coding skills are projected to grow 12% faster than the rest of the job market over the next 10 years.

Screenshot of jquery code on computer screen

Learning to code is no easy feat, but for those that do learn, a six-figure salary may await them.

Adults across the nation are attending hack schools to advance their careers and get paid more. In Course Report’s 2015 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes Survey, it found that most bootcamp graduates receive a 38% pay raise or an increase of about $18,000. Software developer jobs have an average an annual salary of $98,260.

Getting Schooled on Coding Schools

Hack schools or coding camps have garnered national media attention as a quick, cost-efficient way to advance your career without having to go back to school. With schools charging anywhere from $3,000 to $18,000 for 8-12 weeks of training, this is a profitable business to be in.

These schools have all sorts of claims about the success of their students. General Assembly claims that they have over 1,000 students graduating every month with a 99% placement rate in the field of study. Some schools come with a job offer guarantee, promising that if you complete their 12-16 week course, you will have a high-paying job offer within months.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of hack schools available across the United States and online as well. But not all are great, and some are just downright scams. Though hack schools may claim over 95% placement rates, Course Report’s Survey of 44 participating schools demonstrated that on average, only 66 percent of graduates are employed full time as a developer.

course report hack school survey screenshot

Courtesy: Course Report 2015

And those six-figure salary claims? Well, it’s actually a little less. People are actually earning between $65,000 to $75,000, and though less than 6 figures, it is more than these bootcamp attendees were making before the course.

Hacking It Through Hack School

The thing is, we’ve seen this happen time and time again. An industry or service emerges, and very quickly, there are hundreds upon hundreds of firms that come one the scene trying to profit. On one hand, this means that some of these courses are legitimate and will really help you acquire skills and change your career.

On the other hand, for every hack school with genuine code training and successful job placements, there are probably 10 more coding camps that will not even exist in the next 3 to five years. There is a huge coding school bubble that will burst soon in the most Darwinian of ways, resulting in just a few schools that will control the market.

Two women collaborating around a computer screen

Coding schools that will actually help you learn skills and support you in finding a job do exist. You just have choose carefully.

So if you want to advance your career with a coding course, what are you to do? You want to gain skills and make more money, but don’t want to waste valuable time and money on a course that will not actually help you. Read some of these tips to help you compare various bootcamps and hack schools so you can make the right decision.

Check the Curriculum

What skills does this course or school offer, and how are you going to learn these skills? Which programming languages will you be learning and how do those align with the requirements most companies look for in a developer?

What level of knowledge do you need prior to enrolling in the course? What is the time commitment for the course? It may be a 10-week online course, but is that with the expectation that you’ll be spending 12 hours a day coding? How does the rigor of the bootcamp compare to other hack schools?

Will the course also help you find a job afterward? Do they have tech company partners they work with that you have the potential to be placed in? Will they help with your resume or interviewing skills?

Check the Faculty

Who are the teachers in the hack school, and what experience do they have to make them qualified to teach software development? What is the student to teacher ratio? Will you be able to get enough one-on-one time with your teacher to get questions answered, or are they unavailable?

Check the Costs

What is the cost of the course and how does that compare to other coding camps? How do you have to pay? Do they have payment plans available? Are there scholarships? What are you getting for your money and is it worth it to you?

office space with workstations

Take time to carefully weigh your options. What is your school offering? What kind of environment will you learn in?

Check the Culture

What is the feel of the hack school? Are they welcoming of newcomers? Are people available if you need extra assistance? Do guest industry experts come in and teach or lecture?

How new is the bootcamp? Is a seasoned school with documented success, or a new startup trying to get off the ground? Do the teachers and students get together outside of work for happy hours or organized outings?

Putting It Together

You can gather your info from hack school websites, comparison sites, blogs of former students, and admission interviews. Before you decide to spend thousands of dollars and move across the country to coding camp, you need to figure out what is important to you.

You can never do enough research on schools when you are picking which one to attend. While some factors matter more than others, make sure that the school you pick has the curriculum, learning style, and support that you need to be successful.

Do any of you readers have any tips for other to hack it through hack school? Share in the comments below or reach me Twitter: .

How Other Companies can Benefit From Chatbots

Global dough-slingers Pizza Hut have recently stepped up their “conversational ordering” game with the debut of a new social media chatbot. Until now, Pizza Hut lagged behind other chains like Dominos and Papa Johns when it came to implementing tech into their marketing scheme, despite being the largest pizza chain in the world. Finally, the pie peddlers are striking back with a new, interactive way to order your favorite pie.

At the recent MobileBeat 2016 expo, Chief Digital Officer Baron Concors demonstrated how Pizza Hut’s chatbot would improve the customer experience.

“The new Pizza Hut social ordering platform is another example of making it easy for our customer to order their favorites from Pizza Hut,” said Concors. “We are constantly pursuing ways to simplify our ordering experience. This platform allows our consumers to quickly order or get information where they are already spending a great deal of their time.”

This chatbot got me thinking about some of the other companies that could benefit from a chatbot. Not only is a chatbot fun to interact with, they actually can help streamline various tasks for a quicker, more efficient experience.

Tinder

            It’s always an awkward conversation when you’re messaging a complete stranger using a dating app. Do you keep it simple with “hey”? No, that’s too boring. “Howdy?” No, you’re not John Wayne. See, even the intro is hard. A chatbot could become a mediator, finding out what you and your match have in common and introducing you both through a similar topic. Your tinder chatbot could become your wingman/woman to help step up your game. Plus, there’s no chance it will steal your match…well at least I hope not.

Urbanspoon

            I don’t know how many times I’ve been sucked into the endless wormhole that is, “trying to find a place to eat that you and your significant other agree on.” The back and forth tennis rally of “I don’t knows” and “It’s up to you’s” can be exhausting. A chatbot could suggest places to eat based on food preferences and pass dining experiences. When one of your friends suggests a new restaurant to try, we almost always take their word. A chatbot can do the same thing while also providing a menu, directions, reservation details, and other dining needs.

Any Phone or Cable Provider

            Please…if I hear one more “please select 1 for….” I don’t think I can handle it. I understand that it’s just not economical to hire more people to answer calls instantly, but at least let me go through the hell of discussing my phone bill via text instead of sitting on the phone for a few years. A chatbot could answer some simple questions that aren’t worth the hour-long wait. For more difficult questions, they could transfer you or provide a number to the exact department you desire. We live in the age of texting, so why not take advantage of it and make things easier for everyone.

Really Any Customer Service

            Although it might not be the best customer service option, chatbots should at least be available for the majority of companies. Those who have hearing issues need a better option when it comes to customer service. In an age where texting has become the optimal form of communications, chatbots can help make the service industry run smoothly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AI For Dummies: The Rise of Super Intelligence

Imagine someone time traveling to our present day from, let’s say, 1750. The Industrial Revolution hasn’t even come into full swing, cars don’t exist, and Albert Einstein won’t be born for almost another 115 years. How they time traveled isn’t important… It’s what they’d experience:

Everyone would be glued to their small glowing rectangles displaying the faces of people across the world in what’s basically real-time – just one aspect of the growing “internet of things.” Just imagine a simple browse through YouTube or Wikipedia and all they could access. There would be thousands of years’ worth of history they’d never seen, tens of millions of years’ worth of the natural sciences, and theoretical physics that might shatter their concepts of existence itself.

Futurists predict that humanity is on the precipice of a complete AI revolution.

Futurists predict that humanity is on the precipice of a complete AI revolution.

 

Given the state of our technological progress, we as a species, are apparently poised for an equally as existence-altering series of events – except the only time travel we have to undergo is the process of staying alive for the next 10-15 years.

A Species on The Event Horizon

We hear the term “Artificial Intelligence” thrown around constantly, which is as much as we use such technologies. Things like our smartphones, email spam filters, heck even Google itself all constitute forms of AI. However, these are considered Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), defined as machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence / efficiency at one specific thing.

Also referred to as Weak AI, Artificial Narrow Intelligence is highly available and used in everything from language translation to solving calculus equations, or reliably beating humans in chess matches. Our smartphones are practically little ANI factories connecting to us to the larger economy of the smart devices, vehicles, software – you name it!

To many people, it’s hard to conceptualize why so many researchers are so concerned with the rise of AI – more or less written off as the wishful thinking of science fiction obsessives. What one has to realize is that given Moore’s Law, we are on pace to build an affordable computer that rivals the human brain by 2025.

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

AI

Computing power has been steadily increasing since the early 1900’s.

 

Already, Google has spent vast resources on creating their Artificial Neural Networks and furthering projects like DeepMind, boasting a breakthrough for the AI community when it beat the top human player at the ancient Eastern game of Go.

Still, this feat represents the primordial ooze from which Artificial General Intelligence, and eventually the harrowing Artificial Superintelligence (ASI) are bound to emerge.

 

Reverse Engineering Evolution

To start, creating AGI means emulating an entire brain, which has already been achieved… at least in 1mm-long flatworms. Project OpenWorm is the first of its kind to successfully map the worm’s 302 neurons and simulate them with software. The worm’s brain was then uploaded to a Lego robot capable of responding to external stimuli in ways similar to flatworms.

Again, given that the world’s maximum computing power increases approximately every two years, it won’t be long before today’s microprocessors (running at 2 GHz / 10 million times faster than our neurons) will double… each time at a faster, exponential rate.

The illustration below gives a perspective on just how quickly this is going to happen in comparison to the historical progression of computer and cognitive science:

Just as DeepMind programmed its bot to beat human players by pitting it against itself to develop new strategies, AGI will likely be programmed to self-improve upon its own intelligence, paving the way for Artificial Superintelligence – at which point the human race may teeter on the edge of extinction according to researchers and tech-giants like Elon Musk.

 

Surpassing The Human Imagination

If knowledge is power, then ASI will become our God.

It’s important to note that by no means is this an exaggeration. Some scientists believe that although it may take us a few decades to reach a genuine form of AGI, the leap to ASI will happen in less than the blink of an eye (relatively speaking).

Given programs written to self-improve upon its own intelligence, a computer with the same understanding of the world as a four-year-old human will require only a few hours to generate solutions to every possible theory of physics, quantum mechanics, biology, and any other problem known or unknown to humanity.

A computer of such intelligence will make things like reversing human aging, diseases, and the hard problems of consciousness look like child’s play. Such an entity will not only have the ability to protect all of humanity and elevate it to a literally unimaginable renaissance, but also wipe out every living being with a hyper-efficiency.

 

In short, the possibility of human immortality and extinction will arrive in the same announcement.

AI

AI may just as easily extend the reach of human consciousness as it can be extinguished.

Although Google has set in motion its own artificial intelligence ethics board, many feel as though the actual development of AGI will make such human attempts at controlling this intelligence obsolete almost immediately. Our organic, human intellect will seem like the mind of an ant to an ASI, and that is putting it lightly.

The amount of ethical planning for the creation of such a technology is absolutely immense – how can we program a computer to preserve humanity? What does self-preservation actually mean? Will there be a single ASI or many?

An attempt to conceptualize the way Artificial Superintelligence will think is comparable to releasing chimpanzees in the Library of Congress. No human advancement in the history of our species even comes close to the paradigmatic shift that even general AI will bring, let alone its successor.

Considering that we can barely coordinate our efforts to alleviate things like world poverty, war, and environmental catastrophes, how on Earth will we live alongside a computer several hundred thousand times more powerful than the human brain?

AI for Everyone

While some believe the rise of ASI is inevitable, others remain skeptical that we’ll even reach AGI within 45 years. However, it’s certain that ethics cannot be an afterthought; regardless of how long this development actually takes.

For now we’ll have to be content with Siri and the narrow AI we know and love – just remember that this future is as possible as our will to create allows.

Track5Takes: Can They Really Ban the Filming of Concerts?

This is the second installment of a series we’d like to call Track5Takes. Throughout the week, we come across a variety of interesting subjects dealing with marketing, social media, and technology among other things. Our staff often discusses these articles or videos, with each of us forming our own opinions. We’d like to not only inform you about what’s going on in the web-marketing and technological world, but we want to show a little personality by giving our own “takes” on various issues.

apple-patent

This week, we came across a Pitchfork article that detailed an Apple for a new technology that uses infrared signals. What’s the big deal right? Well, many are worried that this new technology could be used to block the recording of live events. While not much has been released and Apple refusing to comment, our staff has discussed the repercussion, benefits, pitfalls, and whether or not this violates the First Amendment.

 

Connor Smith, Marketing Associate connor

Realizing that the smartphone has become our main means of connectivity and awareness within a digital landscape, I’m both excited and off-put by this patent. As a musician, I’m constantly thinking of ways to promote and encourage the sharing of my creative media in strategic ways. Generally speaking though, one of the better methods of growing a following is through the organic momentum of people actually attending performances. Since the dawn of illegal digital downloading, live shows represent one of the most valuable assets to artists. Whether it be a band, actors, or a comedian, getting people in venues serves as a central pillar of these creative industries.

At my level, I’m all for people sharing videos of my live performances because it’s easy (free) promotional material, however this mentality changes with professional touring acts and artists. Not only are people releasing uncompressed, potentially career-damaging versions of live performances recorded with their smartphone’s microphone (which do have their strengths), but they are also delaying or even negating a genuine human experience of art. As idealistic as that sounds, the connection to a performance of any kind is what creators crave most when choosing to bring their craft to a live format.

I’ll say that other functions like the ability to assist people in retail settings or museums are mostly benign. However, keep in mind that it only takes a rogue band of “hacktivists” to develop counter-software that circumvents the device’s infrared encoding used to disable the camera.

My bottom line is this: Be more conscientious with your recording habits for the sake of artists and musicians, and don’t let the state stop you from documenting their treachery (if applicable).

Brooke Kessler, Marketing Intern brooke

Well, I am a Galaxy user and this will only solidify my loyalty with Android. I doubt it will affect Apple lovers in any real way. I don’t see Apple adding this technology to their devices any time soon. I don’t think there would be any money in it, and there is so much room for error. I can’t seem to find a selling point in the concert idea either… Hey we are helping deter you from copyright infringement by not allowing you to take pictures with your friends and post it on social media at a concert you paid good money to see! You’re welcome!

I can appreciate the thought that went into this, artists shouldn’t be ripped off for all the hard work they do. However, with social media’s current prominence, taking away people’s camera privileges will not pan out.

I can see it now… #SavetheSelfie and #FreethePhone (and many far more clever hashtags) will represent the rebellion of any invention that dare challenge the saying, “Did it really happen if you didn’t Instagram (Snapchat or even Facebook) it?”

However, the other applications of infrared data to disable phone apps or share information could be intriguing… Sharing information to only people in the same area or disabling camera recording during a movie at the theater could be a good introduction between apple users and this technology.

Troy Diffenderfer, Marketing Intern troy-200x200

            I’m torn on this one guys, as an avid concertgoer and musician myself, I can view it from both sides of the issue. As someone who’s been to over 60 concerts, I think fans should be able to capture the experience however they please. Although I don’t condone watching the entire concert through your 10-inch screen, I believe that fans have the right to watch the show. Agreeing with Connor, I think it’s a great way for up and coming bands to promote their music through social media. I look at a band like Grateful Dead, who pretty much pioneered the concept of live-concert sharing. They’re cult following grew not from commercials, or expensive marketing campaigns, but simple word of mouth and sharing live recordings of their concerts.

However, I do understand the musician’s side, and the fact that pirating music online has already taken money out of their pockets. Prohibiting the recording of live shows could increase attendance and ticket sales, making a live show a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To me, it comes down to the fact that this would violate our freedom of speech and press. Limiting our ability to express our opinion in real-time of a show and to record it limits our freedom of press. Live events will become an exclusive experience only for those who can afford it. Not only that, it will eliminate a portion of history. Our musical history is documented by not just records, cassettes, and CD’s, but through the audience’s lenses as well.

Ekom Enyong ekom-200x200

I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this new patent. I don’t think I’m a big fan.

Thinking from an artist perspective in the entertainment industry, I understand not wanting your fans to post your concerts online (yes, even we millennials know what copyright laws are). But a vast majority of concertgoers are not there to film the entire show and share it online.

Like any other person doing a fun activity, they want to snap a pic or quick video to be able to keep or share the memory of seeing their favorite artist. They want to be able to post a short video on Instagram or add one to their Snapchat stories so their friends can see how cool they are.

I think my fear with this patent is that other industries or companies may begin using this technology unethically. I’m not exactly sure how, but criminals and hackers are certainly much more creative in the immoral department.

Isn’t there another way to keep people from sharing copyrighted content online? Maybe develop the technology so that it only allows videos to be recorded for a maximum amount of time (almost like a Snapchat model approach)?

Could other technologies be integrated with the infrared technology to still allow the videos to record, but somehow (maybe in the metadata of the video) tag the file so that it is unable to be uploaded?

If keeping people from sharing concerts or movies online is the issue Apple truly intends to tackle, I think they may want to look into other methods. If not, they will continue to see their sales and revenue decline as even more iPhone users switch to Android.