Instagram can sell my photos? No thank you.

I’m sure all you tech and social media savvy folks have already heard by now. Starting January 16th, Instagram (which is now owned by Facebook) can sell the photos that its users upload to any business that pays them, without its users knowing or being compensated for it. (CNN)(Instagram Terms of Use – Check out Section 2 of the Rights)

All lot of people are making a big deal of it. Others could care less.

Obviously, a huge factor of it has to do with privacy issues. How would you feel if a picture of you and your friends, or perhaps your children were being used without your permission? But it doesn’t stop at just pictures. They can use usernames, likes, people you follow, whatever. In the age of information technology, it is getting easier and easier for companies to obtain information about you without you even realizing it. Think about it! If you’ve ever made a purchase on Amazon, you’d know that they cater other product’s you’d like based on previous purchases. And if you’ve ever searched anything, you’d realize that sometimes exactly what you were searching for appears as ads when you visit a website, regardless of the site’s content. For example, if I was looking for a new pair of boots, all of the sudden every ad I’d see on the side of Youtube would be for Famous Footwear. All of that information along with any other demographic information is stored in databases and is used by company management to make business decisions. By using the Internet, you are basically leaving a footprint for other organizations to take advantage of in order to gain profit. This case is no different.

My first yarn bomb, taken the morning after the night/pre-dawn after I tagged this tree.

Instagrammed

There is also an issue of intellectual property, which is what I’m more worried about. According to the new Terms of Use, the original posters still own the photos that they upload and share, but they have no control over which ones are being sold to paying companies and get nothing in return. Sure, Instagram filters don’t make for the most original and creative photos, but who is to say the content of the photos aren’t original works? For me, I sometimes use Instagram to promote this blog and my Etsy/Storenvy and I know many other bloggers and small business owners do the same. I wouldn’t want Instagram selling my photos to other businesses without giving me a dime when I can’t even gain enough traffic to my blog and shop to sell the things I promote.

Pre-sewing version of my first bowtie.

Promotion

I guess you get what you pay for, and in terms of Instagram, it’s a free service. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a price for consumers. Without paying users, Instagram needs a way to make money. I understand. I’m a business student. But this is probably not the best way to do it.

I’m still trying to decide on whether I want to delete my Instagram account or not. On one hand, I’m a little addicted to it and it’s still a great way to connect with friends and a free way to gain exposure. On the other, I find that the photos I post are my own original creations and don’t want people to be able to use them without my permission. Maybe I’ll start using a watermark on every photo I post on the Internet.

What are your opinions on this new policy change? Will you continue to use the photo sharing app as usual or will you be deleting your account altogether?

These connections I’ve made

Like I’ve said before, I’ve joined APICS at my school which is an Operations Management organization of sorts. We’re kind of new and kind of the remnants of what graduating seniors that didn’t care anymore left behind last year. Well, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to get involved, and in a big way. I volunteered myself as the Secretary and the club is small enough that there was no opposition.

So APICS has these events or gatherings of both professionals and students where we can network and see a presentation about operations in the actual real world. This past Tuesday I went to one. Although I had so much work to do and things to study for, I definitely did not regret spending 3 hours away from school and getting to know more about what I could be doing in the future. The speaker was from Campbell’s Soup and the talk was about talent management. I was completely appalled by the fact that I actually knew some of those terms they throw around like supply chain and SAP. I literally learned about all of this stuff in the past week in my Marketing and MIS classes. It’s so nice to see that what you’re learning has a real world application.

I learned a lot about what kind of skills I should work on in order to make myself appealing to employers. They emphasized an understanding in Marketing, reassuring me of my desire for a double major in Operations and Marketing. However, they did cause some qualms. The emphasis on technology made me consider an Management Information Systems minor and I know for sure that I have no room for that unless I drop my Math or Asian Studies minor. And while I could see myself dropping Asian Studies, I would not want to because I want to be able to use college as not only a time to learn about my future profession but I also want to use college as a way to study and learn all I want before I am trapped. I have an addiction to learning, I really do.

I had some nice conversations with people from Campbell’s and DuPont. It was kind of amazing to talk to Campbell’s (DuPont’s been around my whole life because I’m from Delaware). My image of the soup company is like some large corporation who makes the chicken noodle soup with the possibilities. But behind every product or brand is a real person. And I could be that person one day.

Speaking of networking I went to a career fair of sorts yesterday. I talked to a few companies like Macy’s, Chase, Frtito-Lay, Pepsico, Target, and Enterprise. A few of them have amazing opportunities and internships for what I’m interested in. A lot of them are looking for Juniors and Seniors though. As a Sophomore who is dying for some hands-on experience, life is rough. I also have to decide whether I want to try for this study abroad internship in Hong Kong which is unpaid and which I have to pay for or to find an internship at home for the summer. Before I was thinking that saving up for the study abroad after my Junior year would be better, but now I’m thinking, if I can get into the Hong Kong program as a Sophomore, when I’m a Junior and these companies finally want me, I’ll be more than ready.

Now, I know most the people who read my blog are looking for knitting posts and I promise they are coming. I just haven’t had much time to knit or take pictures of my WIP sweater but this weekend it’s happening. I’m almost done the first sleeve and once I finish it I’ll get some pictures.

Eager (Etsy) Sellers and Stony (Etsy) Buyers

I’ve been through quite a week, and it’s not exactly over yet. This morning I had my second Marketing exam of the semester and although I wasn’t as prepared as the first (I had only started studying 24 hours before the day of the test) it wasn’t too bad. My exam was on consumer behavior, market segmentation, and product development and management.

I was in lecture this past week when we discussing an article that we were assigned to read in the Harvard Business Review called Eager Sellers and Stony Buyers by John Gourville. In it, Gourville talks about something called the endowment effect. Now, I didn’t realize it while I read the article the first time, but like everything I learn in Marketing class, it is highly applicable to my life.

The endowment effect says that you value something more if you feel like you own it. Thus, if I were to give you a pen, you would value it at a higher price than you would if you had to go out and buy that same exact pen. You would have to be paid more to get it off your hands than you would be willing to pay for it to get in your hands.

There is also loss aversion, which means that consumers do not want to lose benefits they have when switching from one product to another and status quo bias, which means exactly what it sounds like. We tend to stick to the status quo.

Together, these three phenomena work together and make consumers value the products they currently use by a factor of three.

Now here’s the interesting part. Producers, or innovators, feel the exact same way about the products they develop. And it’s not surprising. Imagine working on a new product for a long time. You’ve invested so much into. Of course you are going to value it. Innovators feel like the products they development are in a way their “children.” This is how the endowment effect works on producers. They also see the benefits of their product and sees not using them as a loss and set their product as the status quo. So combine the factor of three from the consumers with the factor of three from producers and you get the 9X Effect. This diagram from the article neatly sums it up.

So how is this related to my life?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’d know that this past summer I tried to launch a new collection on Etsy of knitted bow ties, bracelets, and collar necklaces. I was super excited to get it going. I thought it was unique, fun, and original, and that it would be a hit! Over the summer I worked diligently on knitting up my products in different colors, sizes, and styles. I amped up social media promotion on my blog and Tumblr. And while I started getting a lot more views on my Etsy storefront, I wasn’t getting many likes and sales were absolutely nonexistent. I didn’t understand why.

At first I believed it was because I was relatively unknown on Etsy. It takes a lot of money and time in order to promote yourself as heavily as some other Etsy sellers who get tons of sales and I wasn’t willing to put that much into it. That’s why I switched to Storenvy.

But now, I realized that it was also in part due to the 9X Effect. I thought my items were so cool and that there was this need for them. I had never really seen items like mine when I spent hours searching on Etsy for things that already existed so I could differentiate myself from the competition. Yeah, I did my research. But it turns out that I valued my products too high and Etsy buyers weren’t seeing what I saw in them.

I think what I and other innovators out there need to consider is that what you might think is unique and awesome and need-fulfilling others might not. They don’t want to leave their comfort zone. So when coming up with new products, be sure to remember that the 9X Effect will form this gap between what you want and what your potential customers want.

With all that being said, I really hope I get an A on my exam because I doubt most of my peers go home and write blog posts about marketing in their every day life. And if you want to know a fun fact, Etsy appeared on my exam. The answer was c) Etsy is an example of niche marketing. If I got that one wrong, I don’t know what I’d do with my life.

Look forward for some more posts this weekend! I’m ready for a relaxing one. I’m planning on writing a few blogs, knitting some of my sweater, and watching some TV!

On Networking and Double Majors

One of my goals for this year is to be an active member of various clubs and organizations at UD. Today was the first meeting of the Blue Hen Marketing Club and I knew I had to go to the first meeting otherwise I’d never end up going. I don’t know many business majors but I hope to meet others in the same field of study by being a more active member of marketing and Women in Business because I know one day this will pay off no matter how much I don’t feel like leaving my dorm room when I have butt-loads of homework.

The special speaker at the meeting was a UD alumnus who ended up working at Nickelodeon. Yeah, that TV network that almost everyone knows about. That sounds so awesome to me! Well surprise surprise, the way she ended up with her job was by going to a high school reunion and talking to an old acquaintance who also worked there. This just leads me to believe that no matter what you study or what skills you have, the only way to break into the business world is by having connections. It may not sound fair or ideal but that is the reality of our world. You could apply to a million positions but you are more likely to get a job by being referred by someone you know. This is why I am going to be extremely dedicated to going to networking functions this year – as long as it doesn’t conflict with marching band in the fall.

One of the co-presidents of the club is a Marketing and Operations Double Major and I talked to her after the meeting about my interest becoming a double major in the same subjects. After going to a few Intro to Marketing classes, I’ve realized that marketing is not all that I thought it was. There is so much more thought and depth into the marketing process and especially in today’s technological age with social media marketing (what I mainly did with my internship this summer) there is a lot of opportunity in adding marketing as a double major. And for someone as blog obsessed as me, I see so much potential in studying a little more marketing. And I could definitely see it benefiting me as I use my entrepreneurial spirit in trying to sell my knitting online. I’m going to talk to my advisor tomorrow to hopefully sort some of these things out because I’m not sure how it’s going to work with my Math and Asian Studies minors. The person I talked to said it was easy though.

The school year has just started and it feels like I have to plan out the rest of my life already!