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A Vast Web of Vengeance

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Guy Babcock vividly remembers the chilly Saturday evening when he discovered the stain on his family. It was September 2018. He, his wife and their young son had just returned to their home in Beckley, an English village outside of Oxford. Mr. Babcock still had his coat on when he got a frantic call from his father.

“I don’t want to upset you, but there is some bad stuff on the internet,” Mr. Babcock recalled his father saying. Someone, somewhere, had written terrible things online about Guy Babcock and his brother, and members of their 86-year-old father’s social club had alerted him.

Mr. Babcock, a software engineer, got off the phone and Googled himself. The results were full of posts on strange sites accusing him of being a thief, a fraudster and a pedophile. The posts listed Mr. Babcock’s contact details and employer.

The images were the worst: photos taken from his LinkedIn and Facebook pages that had “pedophile” written across them in red type. Someone had posted the doctored images on Pinterest, and Google’s algorithms apparently liked things from Pinterest, and so the pictures were positioned at the very top of the Google results for “Guy Babcock.”

Mr. Babcock, 59, was not a thief, a fraudster or a pedophile. “I remember being in complete shock,” he said. “Why would someone do this? Who could it possibly be? Who would be so angry?”

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Then he Googled his brother’s name. The results were just as bad.

He tried his wife.

His sister.

His brother-in-law.

His teenage nephew.

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His cousin.

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His aunt.

They had all been hit. The men were branded as child molesters and pedophiles, the women as thieves and scammers. Only his 8-year-old son had been spared.

Guy Babcock was about to discover the power of a lone person to destroy countless reputations, aided by platforms like Google that rarely intervene. He was shocked when he discovered the identity of the assailant, the number of other victims and the duration of the digital violence.

Public smears have been around for centuries. But they are far more effective in the internet age, gliding across platforms that are loath to crack down, said Peter W. Singer, co-author of “LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media.”

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The solution, he said, was to identify “super-spreaders” of slander, the people and the websites that wage the most vicious false attacks.

“The way to make the internet a less toxic place is setting limits on super-spreaders or even knocking them offline,” Mr. Singer said. “Instead of policing everyone, we should police those who affect the most people.”

The Babcock family had been targeted by a super-spreader, dragged into an internet cesspool where people’s reputations are held for ransom.

Mr. Babcock was sure there was a way to have lies about him wiped from the internet. Many of the slanderous posts appeared on a website called Ripoff Report, which describes itself as a forum for exposing “complaints, reviews, scams, lawsuits, frauds.” (Its tagline: “consumers educating consumers.”)

He started clicking around and eventually found a part of the site where Ripoff Report offered “arbitration services,” which cost up to $2,000, to get rid of “substantially false” information. That sounded like extortion; Mr. Babcock wasn’t about to pay to have lies removed.

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Ripoff Report is one of hundreds of “complaint sites” — others include She’s a Homewrecker, Cheaterbot and Deadbeats Exposed — that let people anonymously expose an unreliable handyman, a cheating ex, a sexual predator.

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But there is no fact-checking. The sites often charge money to take down posts, even defamatory ones. And there is limited accountability. Ripoff Report, like the others, notes on its site that, thanks to Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, it isn’t responsible for what its users post.

If someone posts false information about you on the Ripoff Report, the CDA prohibits you from holding us liable for the statements which others have written. You can always sue the author if you want, but you can’t sue Ripoff Report just because we provide a forum for speech.

With that impunity, Ripoff Report and its ilk are willing to host pure, uncensored vengeance.

Google results are often the first impression a person makes. They help people decide whom to date, to hire, to rent a home to. Mr. Babcock worried that his family’s terrible Google search profiles could have serious repercussions, particularly for his 19-year-old nephew and his 27-year-old cousin, both just starting out in life.

Two weeks after Mr. Babcock discovered the pedophile posts, a friend called: He’d heard about the accusations from another village resident. Someone had spotted them while Googling an ice-cream parlor the Babcock family owned. Mr. Babcock soon installed a home security system; he’d read about vigilantes going after accused child molesters.

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He and members of his extended family reported the online harassment to police in England and Canada, where most of them lived. Only the British authorities appeared to take the report seriously; a 1988 law prohibits communications that intentionally cause distress. An officer with the local Thames Valley police told Mr. Babcock to gather the evidence, so he and his brother-in-law, Luc Groleau, who lives outside of Montreal, started cataloging the posts in a Google document. It grew to more than 100 pages.

In October 2018, while scrolling through items deep in his Google results, Mr. Babcock came across a blog where a commenter falsely called him “a former janitor” who was “masquerading as an IT consultant.” It was similar to attacks elsewhere, but this one had an author photo attached: a woman with long, reddish hair, wearing a black blazer and chunky earrings.

Image Mr. Babcock discovered Nadire Atas’s involvement when he found an old photo of her accompanying a slanderous comment on a blog post.

Credit…The New York Times

Mr. Babcock stared at the photo in shock. He hadn’t seen it in decades, but he recognized it instantly. The woman’s name was Nadire Atas; this was her official work portrait from 1990, when she worked in a Re/Max real estate office the Babcock family owned outside Toronto. She had initially been a star employee, but her performance deteriorated, and in 1993 Mr. Babcock’s father had fired her. Afterward, she had threatened his father, according to an affidavit filed in a Canadian court.

Mr. Babcock felt lightheaded. A memory came back to him: When his mother died in 1999, the family had received vulgar, anonymous letters celebrating her death. A neighbor received a typed letter stating that Mr. Babcock’s father “has been seen roaming the neighbourhood late at night and masturbating behind the bushes.” The Babcocks had suspected Ms. Atas, who was the only person who had ever threatened them. (Ms. Atas denied making threats or writing the letters.)

Decades later, it appeared that she was still harboring her grudge — and had updated her methods for the digital age.

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Credit…The New York Times

Mr. Babcock searched Ms. Atas’s name online and found a blog written by a Canadian lawyer, Christina Wallis. It was the first in a trail of clues that would eventually reveal the breadth of Ms. Atas’s online campaign.

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” wrote Ms. Wallis, borrowing a quote often attributed to Mark Twain. She described how Ms. Atas had waged an online campaign against her, her colleagues and her family, including branding them pedophiles.

Mr. Babcock got goose bumps.

His brother-in-law, Mr. Groleau, contacted Ms. Wallis. She had represented a bank that foreclosed on two properties Ms. Atas owned in the early 2000s. Dozens of people had come under online attack: employees of the bank, lawyers who represented the bank, lawyers who represented those lawyers, relatives of those people and on and on. The attacks seemed engineered to perform well in search engines, and they included the victims’ names, addresses, contact information and employers. (Ms. Atas denies being the author of many of these posts.)

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For years, Ms. Wallis and her colleagues had been pursuing lawsuits and contacting the sites and technology platforms that hosted the material. Nothing had worked. The smears remained public, and the consequences became real.

A relative of one lawyer said she spent months applying for jobs in 2019 without getting any offers. The woman, who asked not to be named because she feared Ms. Atas, said her bills piled up. She worried she might lose her home.

Then she decided to apply for jobs using her maiden name, under which she hadn’t been attacked. She quickly lined up three interviews and two offers.

These situations — where one angry person targets a large group of perceived enemies — are not uncommon. Maanit Zemel, a lawyer who specializes in online defamation, represents a group of 53 people who have filed a lawsuit saying they were attacked online by Tanvir Farid after he failed to get jobs at their companies. (Mr. Farid’s lawyer declined to comment.)

For victims, these sorts of attacks “can literally end their life and their career and everything,” Ms. Zemel said.

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The victims in the Atas case live in Canada, Britain and the United States. In June 2020, Matthew Hefler, 32, the brother-in-law of a colleague of Ms. Wallis, became one of the latest targets. Mr. Hefler, who lives in Nova Scotia, is a historian who recently completed his Ph.D. in war studies. He is trying to find a teaching job. But anyone who searches for him online will encounter posts and images tarring him as a pedophile and “pervert freak.”

Until recently, Mr. Hefler had never heard of Ms. Atas. He had no clue why she was attacking him. “You discover that someone you’ve never met, across the country, is running a one-man troll farm against you,” Mr. Hefler said. “It’s a nightmare scenario.”

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Credit…The New York Times

In October 2018, Mr. Babcock and his family sued Ms. Atas for defamation in a Toronto court, detailing hundreds of posts falsely accusing them of pedophilia and other lurid acts.

Ms. Atas claims that she didn’t write those posts and that her enemies fabricated the case against her. But the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, most of the attacks were posted anonymously, but like Mr. Babcock, I discovered a “paedophile” accusation against him on an old WordPress blog where she was listed as the author. When I asked her about it, Ms. Atas denied writing it. A few days later, the years-old comment had been deleted.

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During multiple interviews in recent months, Ms. Atas refused to divulge much about herself. She told me she was worried about the impact of a New York Times article. “Anyone who Googles my name, this will come up, and I don’t want this to come up,” she said.

But a portrait emerges from legal filings and evidence submitted in court cases, newspaper articles and people who have known her over the years.

Ms. Atas, 60, grew up near Toronto. By the 90s, she had become a successful real estate agent. A colleague in the Babcocks’ Re/Max office described her as “a producer” who thrived in what was then a male-dominated field.

In 1991, she had done well enough that she was able to buy a duplex. She later bought a building in Toronto, with four apartments that she rented out.

But her life was beginning to fall apart. In October 1992, her brother, then 23, called the police saying that their mother “was involved in a devil-worshipping cult,” according to an article in a local newspaper, The Spectator. Days later, Ms. Atas’s brother shot his mother in the hand. (A judge ruled that Ms. Atas’s brother was not guilty by reason of insanity, The Spectator reported. I couldn’t reach him for comment.)

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“Obviously, it would take a toll on anyone,” Ms. Atas told me.

A few months after the shooting, the Babcocks fired Ms. Atas. She told me she chose to leave on her own.

Ms. Atas vanished from the public record for the next nine years. But around 2001, according to Ontario court filings, she was arrested and charged with assault and resisting arrest. The charges were ultimately withdrawn, but a peace bond, Canada’s equivalent of a restraining order, was issued against her.

Ms. Atas moved into one of the apartments in her Toronto building, which was the subject of complaints from tenants. One, who moved in during 2008, found their new apartment filthy. When they opened the refrigerator, the tenant said in an interview, a “waterfall of maggots” poured out.

Ms. Atas made the building’s residents feel unsafe. “She has harassed us repeatedly, forcing us to finally call the police on her,” according to an email from a tenant that was filed in court. Ms. Atas was charged with assaulting another tenant. She said in a court filing that at the time she “was suffering from severe mental illness that manifested itself in erratic behaviour that resulted in criminal charges.” The charges were ultimately dropped.

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Ms. Atas stopped making mortgage payments on the building. In March 2008, her lender, Peoples Trust, represented by Ms. Wallis, began proceedings to repossess the property. She was evicted the next year.

Ms. Atas allegedly resorted to revenge. In 2009, Matt Cameron, a junior lawyer working with Ms. Wallis on the Atas case, started getting calls and emails at the office from men interested in meeting for sex. Someone impersonating him had responded by email to raunchy Craigslist ads and given his contact information. (Metadata from those emails, filed in court, pointed to Ms. Atas’s involvement.)

A relative of Ms. Atas told me that family members had repeatedly tried and failed to get her help for mental health problems. “I have periodically suffered from depression,” Ms. Atas wrote to me in an email. “I have had treatment. I am healthy and fine.”

I described Ms. Atas to Todd Essig, a psychologist who writes about technology and mental health. He said someone like Ms. Atas could be forced into mental health treatment if she posed a physical danger. “But when someone is a threat to themselves or others online, there’s no way for the mental health system to legally intervene,” he said.

“I also see her as a victim here,” Dr. Essig added. “Tech companies have given her the power to do something that has really taken apart her life.”

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Many lawsuits sprang from the wreckage of Ms. Atas’s homeownership. This is the only part of her life that she wanted to talk about with me: her legal cases, which are numerous. She sued the lawyers who opposed her, and she sued those who represented her, and she sued those who represented those lawyers.

And then, around 2015, she came across a new weapon. She started attacking her perceived enemies online on the Ripoff Report and elsewhere. She called Ms. Wallis and her colleagues “incompetent,” “fraudsters” and “jackasses.” (Ms. Atas acknowledged she was behind these posts.) Someone created multiple WordPress blogs to attack the lawyers.

Ms. Wallis had no doubt it was Ms. Atas. “She blames me clearly that I have cost her her livelihood and that I made everything in her life go wrong,” Ms. Wallis said. “I would like her to be banned from the internet for life. She doesn’t know how to use the internet without abusing everyone.”

Ms. Wallis, other lawyers and Peoples Trust employees filed a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Atas in 2016. The judge told Ms. Atas to stop posting about the lawyers. So she began writing about their family members. That was also when the attacks on the Babcocks began.

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Credit…The New York Times

Gary M. Caplan is the lawyer for Ms. Wallis, Mr. Babcock and 43 others who have sued Ms. Atas for defamation. One of those plaintiffs is Mr. Caplan’s brother, who came under attack after Mr. Caplan got involved in the case. There are another 100 or so people who have been targeted but aren’t plaintiffs. Over the last two years, there have been more than 12,000 defamatory posts, according to software that Mr. Babcock’s brother-in-law created to track new posts.

Many of the victims have tried to get tech companies to remove the abusive posts. Mr. Caplan said they have run headlong into American laws that protect American websites.

There is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It says that publishing platforms aren’t liable for what their users publish, even if they moderate some content. (Section 230 has become a touchstone in politicians’ fight against Big Tech. Conservatives argue it enables companies like Facebook and Twitter to censor them. Liberals argue it allows the companies to host harmful content with impunity.) And under U.S. law, a foreign court generally can’t force an American website to remove content.

The only site the victims had success with was Ripoff Report. It took a year of emails from their lawyer, but in December 2016, the site took down 14 posts.

“Ripoff Report believes in the First Amendment but is also cognizant of the fact that people can, and do, abuse online platforms, including ours,” said Anette Beebe, Ripoff Report’s general counsel. “As resources allow, we certainly do try to address it if/when it comes to our attention.”

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The next month, Ms. Atas began calling Ed Magedson, Ripoff Report’s founder, who routinely records his calls.

“I’m frantic right now. I had posted reports,” Ms. Atas said in the first call. “I just discovered that your company has removed some of the postings.” Ripoff Report provided the victims’ lawyers with the recordings — proof that she was behind the abuse.

Aside from Ripoff Report, there were thousands of posts on more than 100 other “complaint sites.” Most of those sites don’t reveal who runs them and don’t respond to emails. Those posts remain online.

In Toronto, the court battle in the defamation cases continued. In 2017, Judge David Corbett deemed Ms. Atas a vexatious litigant who was “ungovernable and bent on a campaign of abuse and harassment,” citing her digital assaults on lawyers. That meant Ms. Atas could no longer file lawsuits without the court’s permission. At that point, her victims said, the attacks began increasing.

The next year, Mr. Caplan hired a private investigator to trail Ms. Atas, because she refused to say where she lived or how she accessed the internet. Mr. Caplan wanted that information in order to obtain evidence for his lawsuit.

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One evening in June 2018, the investigator followed Ms. Atas as she left court, got on a subway and then boarded a bus.

At 7:30 p.m., Ms. Atas entered a public library at the University of Toronto. She spent the next few hours at a computer, according to the investigator’s written report and photos that he took surreptitiously. Then she rode a bus to a homeless shelter. (Ms. Atas denied that she stayed in the shelter.)

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Credit…The New York Times

In response to subpoenas, Pinterest, Facebook and WordPress, the blogging site, had provided Mr. Caplan with metadata about the abusive posts. Some had originated from computers at the University of Toronto. Suddenly, that made sense.

Early last year, Judge Corbett found Ms. Atas in contempt of court because she had written to another judge, violating the restrictions placed on her as a vexatious litigant. She was sentenced to 74 days in prison. While she was locked up, the online attacks slowed to a trickle. (The fact that they didn’t cease altogether might have been because some complaint sites take content from one another, a pattern of mimicry that can keep attacks flowing.) When she was released in March, they resumed. Ms. Atas told me it wasn’t her.

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During an interview with Ms. Atas in November, she grew angry that I planned to write this article. A week later, someone started writing posts about me and my husband on Cheaterbot, BadGirlReports and some of the other sites where Mr. Babcock and others had been targeted. The posts claimed that my husband was a drug addict and that I was a plagiarist who slept with my boss in order to get promoted. Ms. Atas said it wasn’t her.

Within a week, there were more than 100 posts about me.

After Ms. Atas talked to my editor, posts appeared about her. Ms. Atas said she hadn’t created those, either.

In an email, she warned me, “Any story in the New York Times will obviously bring out the trolls on the internet and could multiply the internet postings.”

On Thursday, Judge Corbett issued a ruling in the defamation suits, finding that Ms. Atas was responsible for what he called “unlawful acts of reprisal.” Ms. Atas, he wrote, is “apparently content to revel in ancient grievances, delighting in legal process and unending conflict because of the misery and expense it causes for her opponents.” He ordered Ms. Atas to stop.

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But the judge left it up to the plaintiffs to try to get her slanderous posts taken down, even as he decried the free-for-all nature of online activity. “A situation that allows someone like Atas to carry on as she has, effectively unchecked for years, shows a lack of effective regulation that imperils order and the marketplace of ideas,” he wrote.

For the last decade or so, cases like this have been written off as just what happens in the internet era. If you crossed paths with someone who tried to destroy you online, for whatever reason, you were deemed collateral damage of our modern age. People were told, basically, to shrug it off.

Until recently, Google would remove a website from your results only if it could cause financial damage, such as by exposing your Social Security number. Now Google will remove other harmful content, including revenge porn and private medical information. At the end of 2019, it introduced a new category of information it will take out of your results: “sites with exploitative removal practices.” Google also started down-ranking some of the “complaint” sites, including Ripoff Report.

For someone like me, with lots of pre-existing Google results, posts on sites like BadGirlReports barely show up. But for people with less of an online presence, like Mr. Babcock, the sites still dominate search results.

Ms. Atas’s victims spent years begging Google, Pinterest and WordPress to take down the slanderous posts or at least make them harder to find. The companies rarely did so, until I contacted them to request comment for this article. Pinterest then removed photos linked to Ms. Atas. Automattic, which owns WordPress, deleted her blogs.

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Yet even that hasn’t solved the problem. See for yourself: Do a Google search for “Guy Babcock.”

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Social Media Marketing Trends To Watch In 2022

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social-media-marketing-trends-to-watch-in-2022-–-alist-daily

Marketers aren’t clairvoyant but they can keep a finger on the pulse of trends. To help brands stay ahead of the competition, HubSpot Blog surveyed more than 1,000 global marketers from B2B and B2C brands and a handful of industry experts to create a 2022 marketing trends guide, covering privacy and AI to social media and SEO. Ahead we break down HubSpot’s findings on social media marketing trends.

As HubSpot notes, 79 percent of Americans have some type of social media account while there are 3.7 billion social media users worldwide, making it a regular part of people’s lives and a critical tool in enhancing any marketing strategy.

Live Content Will Be A Leading Social Media Format

Among the social media marketers HubSpot polled, 68 percent reported that audio chat rooms such as Clubhouse are the most effective social media content while 59 percent report the same for live video.

Ninety-six percent of those investing in live audio content intend on spending the same amount or more on it through 2022. Live video, on the other hand, is reported by 9 percent of respondents as driving the largest return on investment (ROI) of all social media formats. These formats enable brands to connect directly with audiences in a meet-them-where-they-are context while discussions range from current issues and events to the brand’s stance on those issues to the products and services themselves. 

The authenticity and dynamic nature of this format can’t be matched as heart-to-heart conversations may be interspersed with expert opinions, Q&A-style discussions, how-tos and entertainment.

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TikTok Will Continue To Gain Brand Interest

TikTok began to go viral roughly three years ago, sparking a new medium through which brands can connect with audiences without sounding sales-y. The social media app now boasts 1 billion global users and caters to a vast array of audiences. Having recently launched a number of advertising and marketing features for businesses and creators, TikTok has positioned itself front-and-center in the race to secure the highest quality content, the highest number of users and creators and brands that will continue engaging with it for marketing purposes.

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Sixty-seven percent of marketers intend on increasing their TikTok investment in 2022 and 10 percent of marketers who employ some sort of social media into their overall marketing strategy intend on investing the most in TikTok throughout 2022.

Most Marketers Will Concentrate On Three To Five Social Media Platforms

Of those social media marketers polled, 64 percent use three to five platforms, 11 percent use one or two, and 7 percent use seven or more. Managing three to five platforms allows brands to expand their reach to a variety of audiences while allowing for their marketers to engage with each one without exhausting their bandwidth or producing low-quality content.

In order for a brand to determine how many platforms to be on, i.e., how able a social media marketing team will be at building an effective and engaging strategy, HubSpot suggests answering the following:

  • How many social media marketers are on your team?
  • Which social media platforms have audiences that best align with your brand’s targets?
  • How much time will it take to master a strategy on each of the platforms?
  • Which platforms, if any, will not benefit the overall marketing strategy right now?
  • Which platform’s content, if any, can be easily repurposed? (such as TikTok and YouTube Shorts)

Influencer Marketing Will Evolve From Trend To Common Marketing Tactic

When HubSpot asked global marketing professionals which trends they planned to invest in for 2022, 34 percent said influencer marketing, ranking it first and above other trends like mobile web design and short-form video marketing.

While 57 percent of respondents that currently leverage influencer marketing say influencer marketing is effective, 46 percent of them plan to increase their investments in 2022. Additionally, 11 percent say influencer marketing is the top ROI-generating trend they’ve tested.

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More than 56 percent of marketers who invest in influencer marketing work with micro-influencers, according to HubSpot.

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Video Marketers Will Keep Content Short

HubSpot found that short-form content is the second most effective trend marketers are currently utilizing. Short-form content requires less bandwidth and aligns well with the fast-paced attention spans of online audiences in a variety of demographics

More than 31 percent of global marketers currently invest in short-form video content, 46 percent of them consider the strategy effective when it comes to performance and engagement. In addition, next year 89 percent of global marketers plan to continue investing in it or increase their investment.

Permanent Social Media Posts Could Overtake Ephemeral Content

Brands have observed that permanent social media content—namely standard posts, videos and live events that live on a platform’s feed and can be viewed again days later—might be more effective than ephemeral content such as Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

HubSpot’s survey results show that 44 percent of global marketers plan to increase their investment in permanent social media content, while 8 percent say it generates the most ROI compared to other marketing strategies they leverage. Meanwhile, 25 percent of respondents cited ephemeral content as the “least effective” trend they invested in.

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Lastly, 37 percent of marketers said they plan to decrease their investment in ephemeral content.

However, HubSpot cautions against writing off ephemeral content completely as it can still provide other brand awareness benefits and unique content experiences.

According to Kelly Hendrickson, a social media marketing manager at HubSpot, Instagram Stories’ fleeting design and fun editing options give brands a new strategy for producing content that varies from their other social media content.

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“Instagram can organically serve up a wall post across a wide span of time, so there’s less of an opportunity for brands to be timely (who wants to see New Year’s post when they’ve already given up on their resolutions?!). Since Instagram users are more active on weekdays, during the standard workday, it seems users are looking for a break,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson urges marketers to remember that the combination of a running clock and a lively audience presents a big opportunity for brands to lean into quick, in-the-moment content that showcases the light-hearted side of their brand, adding that succinctness and clarity are key in content.

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Getting the Most Out of Shopify

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Getting the Most Out of Shopify

The growth of your online business in Shopify significantly depends on how well you use the e-commerce platform. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot of competition in the e-commerce industry itself, and it requires patience, intentionality and transformational skills to move to the top right in the categories where you compete. Many marketers who use Shopify for eCommerce encounter strategic and tactical issues using the platform. At TopRight, we’ve studied the most common issues facing marketing executives and we provide tips and techniques to help you get the most out of Shopify. Here are a few of the most common marketing challenges you could encounter while using Shopify:

  • Mediocre sales conversion
  • Insufficient traffic to your site
  • Difficulty interpreting Shopify analytics
  • Unrealistic predictions of sales and traffic
  • Misalignment of inventory management
  • Failure to target and identify customers

Importance of a Clear Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy acts as a playbook for your business and how you make investments in you Shopify store. It helps keep your business pointed in the right direction and allows you to make informed decisions. Without a strategic marketing playbook, it’s easy to get lost and encounter obstructions. A stragegic playbook can help guide you to responding to challenges and navigating barriers you may encounter with your Shopify store. Specifically, it can help you:

  • Estimate sales potential
  • Promote your goods and services better
  • Attract new customers
  • Maintain good connection with existing customers

Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Shopify

Of course, understanding the analytics on your store isn’t sufficient to assure success. You need to turn data into insight and devise strategies to drive traffic and conversions. Here are a few tips to guide you through the development of a winning marketing strategy to get the most out of Shopify.

1. Invest in Your Own Shopify App

Most successful Shopify merchants have optimized their app to tell their brand story. A Shopify app is a powerful way to give customers a reason to care about your store and the products you offer. Your brand story also helps you build connections and engage with other prospects on other ecommerce platforms and social media sites. Making this simple investment enables you to connect, reach and engage more potential customers.

If building your own app is an obstacle, you can use tools like Pocketfied – an easy app builder that lets you conveniently manage your store. You can have your own published app within a day, even if you don’t have any design and coding skills.

2. Use Shopify Resources

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Shopify offers resources to help you become a more effective marketer and entrepreneur. It provides guides, podcasts, and even an eCommerce University to learn new skills. Use these resources to learn more about the Shopify platform and get ideas on how to work on the platform more effectively and efficiently.

3. Promote Your Store on Social Media

Social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter represent significant opportunities for you to boost brand awareness and drive traffic to your store. However, social media marketing is highly saturated – it take a lot to stand out from the crowd. Many Shopify merchants use social media to showcase their goods and services. You need to develop a good and structured approach to get an edge and drive results.

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  • Make a business page or account on all relevant social platforms.
  • Follow accounts and market to users within your target audience.
  • Integrate your shop in your accounts so shoppers can easily buy without leaving the social platform
  • Post meaningful content regularly including: videos that showcase your products; special pricing promotions; new product launches; and private/ exclusive store events

4. Leverage Email Marketing

Email remains one of the best ways to connect and engage with customers. When properly used (not abused), emails can serve as the backbone of your customer conversion strategy customer conversion strategy. Here are a few tips on how to use it appropriately:

  • Be creative with your emails so you can easily attract interest and give people a reason to care
  • Send out cart abandonment details to remind customers about incomplete or unfinished transactions.
  • Be professional and respectful – don’t send too many promotional emails. Thoughtless interruptions drive customers away.

5. Create a Website and Start Blogging

Write compelling content that will attract and encourage readers to go to your store and check out your products. Don’t just focus on your products and services. Make content about related topics and issues where you can smartly and smoothly promote your products. Think about topics that would be of interest and value to your audience. Content can be a gift if it is positioned properly with your customers.

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Research what your customers care about, what they want or what unmet needs they may have. Again, don’t overload your blog with sales messages and stories about your business. Instead, focus on the relevance of your products to your customers’ lifestyles. What can you do to make them the hero of your brand story?

6. Invest in Paid Advertisements and Affiliations

Depending on your budget, be sure to set aside some money for paid advertisements. Online advertisements, clickable or not, will drive traffic to your store and boost your store’s visibility. These are usually posted on online platforms like social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Additionally, you can use Google Ads to get your store to appear on the top page of search results.

You can also develop affiliations with other Shopify stores and businesses so they’ll help promote your store and products. For a small percentage of a transaction, an affiliate marketer with help will drive traffic and potential customers to your store. However, remember that you’ll be sharing your revenues or paying them for their cooperation!

The Takeaway

Story, Strategy and Systems alignment can be a heavy lift when you launch a Shopify store. There are many pitfalls and issues you may encounter. But if you focus on telling a simple story, formulating a clear strategy, and leveraging Shopify best practices, you can navigate these challenges and successfully give your customers a reason to care, listen, engage and buy from your store.

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The growth of your online business in Shopify significantly depends on how well you use the e-commerce platform. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a lot of competition in the e-commerce industry itself, and it requires patience, intentionality and transformational skills to move to the top right in the categories where you compete. Many marketers who use Shopify for eCommerce encounter strategic and tactical issues using the platform. At TopRight, we’ve studied the most common issues facing marketing executives and we provide tips and techniques to help you get the most out of Shopify. Here are a few of the most common marketing challenges you could encounter while using Shopify:

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  • Mediocre sales conversion
  • Insufficient traffic to your site
  • Difficulty interpreting Shopify analytics
  • Unrealistic predictions of sales and traffic
  • Misalignment of inventory management
  • Failure to target and identify customers

Importance of a Clear Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy acts as a playbook for your business and how you make investments in you Shopify store. It helps keep your business pointed in the right direction and allows you to make informed decisions. Without a strategic marketing playbook, it’s easy to get lost and encounter obstructions. A stragegic playbook can help guide you to responding to challenges and navigating barriers you may encounter with your Shopify store. Specifically, it can help you:

  • Estimate sales potential
  • Promote your goods and services better
  • Attract new customers
  • Maintain good connection with existing customers

Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Shopify

Of course, understanding the analytics on your store isn’t sufficient to assure success. You need to turn data into insight and devise strategies to drive traffic and conversions. Here are a few tips to guide you through the development of a winning marketing strategy to get the most out of Shopify.

1. Invest in Your Own Shopify App

Most successful Shopify merchants have optimized their app to tell their brand story. A Shopify app is a powerful way to give customers a reason to care about your store and the products you offer. Your brand story also helps you build connections and engage with other prospects on other ecommerce platforms and social media sites. Making this simple investment enables you to connect, reach and engage more potential customers.

If building your own app is an obstacle, you can use tools like Pocketfied – an easy app builder that lets you conveniently manage your store. You can have your own published app within a day, even if you don’t have any design and coding skills.

2. Use Shopify Resources

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Shopify offers resources to help you become a more effective marketer and entrepreneur. It provides guides, podcasts, and even an eCommerce University to learn new skills. Use these resources to learn more about the Shopify platform and get ideas on how to work on the platform more effectively and efficiently.

3. Promote Your Store on Social Media

Social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter represent significant opportunities for you to boost brand awareness and drive traffic to your store. However, social media marketing is highly saturated – it take a lot to stand out from the crowd. Many Shopify merchants use social media to showcase their goods and services. You need to develop a good and structured approach to get an edge and drive results.

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  • Make a business page or account on all relevant social platforms.
  • Follow accounts and market to users within your target audience.
  • Integrate your shop in your accounts so shoppers can easily buy without leaving the social platform
  • Post meaningful content regularly including: videos that showcase your products; special pricing promotions; new product launches; and private/ exclusive store events

4. Leverage Email Marketing

Email remains one of the best ways to connect and engage with customers. When properly used (not abused), emails can serve as the backbone of your customer conversion strategy customer conversion strategy. Here are a few tips on how to use it appropriately:

  • Be creative with your emails so you can easily attract interest and give people a reason to care
  • Send out cart abandonment details to remind customers about incomplete or unfinished transactions.
  • Be professional and respectful – don’t send too many promotional emails. Thoughtless interruptions drive customers away.

5. Create a Website and Start Blogging

Write compelling content that will attract and encourage readers to go to your store and check out your products. Don’t just focus on your products and services. Make content about related topics and issues where you can smartly and smoothly promote your products. Think about topics that would be of interest and value to your audience. Content can be a gift if it is positioned properly with your customers.

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Research what your customers care about, what they want or what unmet needs they may have. Again, don’t overload your blog with sales messages and stories about your business. Instead, focus on the relevance of your products to your customers’ lifestyles. What can you do to make them the hero of your brand story?

6. Invest in Paid Advertisements and Affiliations

Depending on your budget, be sure to set aside some money for paid advertisements. Online advertisements, clickable or not, will drive traffic to your store and boost your store’s visibility. These are usually posted on online platforms like social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Additionally, you can use Google Ads to get your store to appear on the top page of search results.

You can also develop affiliations with other Shopify stores and businesses so they’ll help promote your store and products. For a small percentage of a transaction, an affiliate marketer with help will drive traffic and potential customers to your store. However, remember that you’ll be sharing your revenues or paying them for their cooperation!

The Takeaway

Story, Strategy and Systems alignment can be a heavy lift when you launch a Shopify store. There are many pitfalls and issues you may encounter. But if you focus on telling a simple story, formulating a clear strategy, and leveraging Shopify best practices, you can navigate these challenges and successfully give your customers a reason to care, listen, engage and buy from your store.

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Ifeoma Ozoma: US tech whistleblower helping others speak out

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Being a whistleblower comes down to careful preparation but also an eye trained for dirty tricks, said Ifeoma Ozoma, an ex-employee of several Silicon Valley giants turned revealer of tech world wrongdoing.

“I planned it like a program or product launch. Obviously the experience is something very personal, but I approached it like work,” she told AFP.

While Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has become a figurehead for the fight against social media’s faults, there are others in the tech world, like Ozoma, who have also taken big risks to stand up.

An African-American, former policymaker relations specialist for Google, Pinterest and Facebook, she continues to work for ethics in tech, but from the outside, via her consulting firm Earthseed.

She has marked a first big success via the recent adoption in California of a law she co-sponsored, called “Silenced No More.”

Starting in January, this law will prohibit employers from using confidentiality clauses to prevent victims of harassment or discrimination in the workplace from speaking out.

In mid-October, she posted online a guide for whistleblowers.

“The difference with tech companies and other industries is on the power that they wield, but also they pretend they’re better for workers, consumers, society than more traditional industries,” she told AFP. “That’s just not borne out in reality.”

– Keep the emails –

A Yale University graduate in political science, the 29-year-old was born in Alaska to Nigerian immigrants.

She left Pinterest at the end of May 2020, with six months of salary, after months of making complaints internally and also to the state of California, accusing the social network of discrimination and racist retaliation.

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She said the company paid her less than if she had been a man, but she also complained about their lack of action after a colleague posted her personal details online to expose her to anonymous harassment.

In mid-June 2020, as the Black Lives Matter anti-racism movements were in full swing in the United States, her damning account on Twitter of her experience sparked a scandal for the company that had largely avoided controversy.

“Pinterest, told a number of reporters that the CEO had no knowledge of me being doxxed… and I was essentially making up a story about him being aware,” Ozoma said.

“I knew that it was something that would probably come up later. And so I had the emails,” she added.

The accused firms try to discredit whistleblowers by many means, said Libby Liu, the director of Whistleblower Aid which is working with Haugen.

“They will throw up against the wall every discrediting thing they can think of, through like every media organization on the face of the Earth,” she added.

– Losing their health insurance –

The whistleblowers that come forward often have a lot to lose.

“Just one example here in the United States — because our health care is tied to our employment — when you decide to whistle blow, you’re also making a decision for yourself and for your family to lose access to your health insurance,” Ozoma said.

“That is not a small thing to ask of people,” she added.

Whistleblower leaks and damning media reports have tarnished Big Tech’s image, but they have had limited tangible consequences for Silicon Valley.

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In fact, Haugen’s oft-repeated accusation that Facebook puts profits over safety is not entirely new.

“There are countless nonprofit organizations and reporters, who reported on the exact same thing for years,” said Ozoma. “It remains to be seen whether anything fruitful will come of it.”

But from anti-sexism protests at Google in 2018 to warnings from former top Facebook officials, the pressure for change is steady.

After Ozoma spoke out at Pinterest, other female workers did too.

The company paid $22 million in December 2020 to Francoise Brougher, its white, former COO to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit.

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