How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel 2013 and 2016 [Video Tutorial Included]

This post is an excerpt from the video series 4 Essential Microsoft Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Learn. If you want to become a master of the almighty spreadsheet, watch the full video series here.

I know, I know … “VLOOKUP function” sounds like the geekiest, most complicated thing ever.

But trust me: as was the case with pivot tables, Microsoft Excel’s VLOOKUP function is easier to use than you think. What’s more, it is incredibly powerful, and is definitely something you want to have in your arsenal of analytical weapons.

So, what does VLOOKUP do, exactly? Here’s the simple explanation: The VLOOKUP function searches for a specific value in your data, and once it identifies that value, it can find — and display — some other piece of information that’s associated with that value.

In practical terms, this means you can take the revenue data from your second spreadsheet and integrate it with the customer data in your first spreadsheet in order to reveal the bigger picture about your business’s performance.

Below, you’ll see a five-step guide to performing this VLOOKUP example, followed by a video tutorial for using VLOOKUP to organize a list of blog posts.

How Does VLOOKUP Work?

The secret to how VLOOKUP works? Unique identifiers.

A unique identifier is a piece of information that both of your data sources share, and — as its name implies — it is unique (i.e. the identifier is only associated with one record in your database). Unique identifiers include product codes, stock keeping units (SKUs), and customer contacts.

Since HubSpot and most CRMs both use email addresses to uniquely identify the contacts in their databases, HubSpot customers can use “email address” as their unique identifier to execute a VLOOKUP.

Steps to Using VLOOKUP in Excel

Take the VLOOKUP example above. Let’s say you’re looking through your HubSpot data and are checking out which of your site pages your contacts have viewed. You’re also paying attention to whether or not any of those contacts have converted into customers.

Then it hits you: In addition to knowing which of those contacts have closed, you want to know how much MRR (monthly recurring revenue) each of them brings in. That way, you can tie your revenue back to your site pages and do some analysis to see which pages are having the biggest impact on your bottom line.

There’s only one problem: Your MRR data lives in your CRM. And while you could manually look up each and every contact in your CRM to find their MRR, and then manually match those values to their corresponding contacts in your HubSpot data, the whole process would be ridiculously time-consuming and impractical.

That’s where the VLOOKUP function comes in. For your reference, here’s what a VLOOKUP function looks like:

VLOOKUP(lookup_value , table_array , col_index_num , range_lookup)

In the steps below, we’ll assign the right value to each of these components, using customer names as our unique identifier to find the MRR of each customer.

Step 1: Identify a Column of Cells You’d Like to Fill With New Data

Entering a new column title in Excel in order to use the VLOOKUP function

If this data is coming from a pivot table made in Excel, copy the data into a new spreadsheet so the VLOOKUP function can freely read this data.

Then, label a column next to the cells you want more information on with a proper title in the top cell, such as “MRR,” for monthly recurring revenue. This new column is where the data you’re fetching will go.

Step 2: Select ‘Function’ (Fx) > VLOOKUP and Enter Your Starting Cell

Function (Fx) icon in Excel, which accesses the VLOOKUP formula builder

To the left of the text bar above your spreadsheet, you’ll see a small function icon that looks like a script “Fx.” Click on the first empty cell beneath your column title and then click this function icon.

Select “VLOOKUP” from the list of options that appears, and then re-click the cell you’ve highlighted and enter the cell you’re trying to find a match for. In this case, it’s A2. You’ll start migrating your new data into E2, since this cell represents the MRR of the customer name listed in A2.

Step 3: Enter the Table Array and Column Number You’re Searching Through

      

Then, next to the “table array” field, enter the range of cells you’d like to search and the sheet where these cells are located. The VLOOKUP form will help you fetch the correct page.

Beneath this field, you’ll also enter the “column index number” of the table array you’re searching through. For example, if you’re focusing on columns B through K (notated “B:K” when entered in the “table array” field), but the specific values you want are in column K, you’ll enter “10” in the “column index number” field, since column K is the 10th column from the left.

Step 4: Enter Your Range Lookup

In contexts like monthly revenue, you want to find exact matches from the table you’re searching through. To do this, enter ‘FALSE’ in the “range lookup” field. This tells Excel you want to find only the exact revenue associated with each sales contact.

Step 5: Click ‘Done’ (or ‘Enter’) and Fill Your New Column

In order to officially bring in the values you want into your new column from Step 1, click “Done” (or “Enter,” depending on your version of Excel) after filling the “range lookup” field. This will populate your first cell. You might take this opportunity to look in the other spreadsheet to make sure this was the correct value. 

Entering the first new value from Excel's VLOOKUP formula builder

If so, populate the rest of the new column with each subsequent value by clicking the first filled cell, then clicking the tiny square that appears on the bottom-right corner of this cell. Done! All your values should appear.

Filling a new column with data from Excel's VLOOKUP formula builder

Alright, enough explanation: let’s see another example of the VLOOKUP in action!

In the video below, we’re taking the pivot table we made in video #2, pasting the values into a new sheet, and using it as an example report. We then use the VLOOKUP function to match blog post authors (from our second data source) to their corresponding post titles. In this instance, we’re using post title as our unique identifier.

Author’s note: Keep in mind there are many different versions of Excel, so what you see in the video above might not always match up exactly with what you’ll see in your version. That’s why we encourage you to download the written instructions and demo data so you can follow along.

Download demo data | Download instructions (Mac) | Download instructions (PC)

Want to learn to do more in Excel? Download the full video series, 4 Essential Microsoft Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Learn.

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Are You Marketing Effectively Across Generational Lines? [New Data]

You’ve heard it from us before:

  • “The way consumers prefer to access content has changed.”
  • “We’re seeing a fundamental shift in the way we market and sell products.”
  • “Buyers are no longer okay with outbound emails and cold calls. Instead, marketers need to create and deliver content that meets the consumer where they already are.”

While all of those things are true, you may want to know which preferences have changed and how to meet consumers where they already are, right?

After all, not all consumers have the same preferences. Marketing is not a one-sized-fits-all-solution.Unlock 10 Data-Backed Content Marketing Secrets Every Marketer Should Know and  Use in 2018.

Our HubSpot Research team knows that marketers need more information on what consumers want. But we also know that not all consumers have the same preferences. That’s why every year our Research team surveys consumers from all over the world to collect original data on content consumption preferences.

What stood out this year is this: while the average consumer preferences might show certain trends, you need to get granular with your data if you want to truly understand how different segments of consumers interact. Namely, consumers in different age groups have vastly different preferences when it comes to consuming, accessing, and discover content.

For example, millennials, an age group which roughly spans 18 to 34, aren’t just buying sneakers and gadgets anymore. Increasingly, millennials comprise a cohort of people purchasing homes, baby clothing, and B2B software. And their strong preference for video, social, and mobile-first content has implications for marketers working across an expanding array of industries.

Are you marketing effectively to different age demographics? Let’s dig in and find out.

Mobile First

For years, we’ve heard hype about mobile taking over desktop in traffic and search. But is the increase in mobile usage because everyone is using mobile more, or is it really just that certain age groups are?

Below, you can see the breakdown of device usage by age. Overall, mobile usage beats out desktop by only 5%, but when you break the data down by age group, the differences are clearer: it’s not everyone, it’s young people. 

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Mobile phones are an integral part of modern life. Consumers aren’t just using their phones to browse the internet when they’re commuting or on the go. Many admit they use their phones before they sleep, after they wake up, and even in the bathroom throughout the day.

Content trends 1 report-01

 

Delivery and Discovery

What about accessing content? How do age groups differ in the way that they access or search for content?

Unsurprisingly, consumers in all age groups go to Google and Facebook to catch up on news and lifestyle stories. However, this is true even more so for younger age groups, while older age groups are still more likely to access stories via publication websites, mobile notifications, and email newsletters.

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Format Preferences

What about your content creation efforts?

HubSpot Research also found clear differences in the content formats age groups prefer to access. Namely, millennial respondents show the strongest preference for video and social content.

In contrast, Gen X and Boomers prefer more news articles, research reports, and email content. Most traditional written content teams still have interested readers, they just might have more interetested readers in the older age brackets.

Content trends 1 report-07

The Death of Email

Lots of brands, including HubSpot, have been discussing whether email is “dead.” While we think email is still a valuable channel when used wisely, that’s not to say every audience wants to see more email over other channels. Millennials want to see more videos from brands they support and far fewer want to see emails.

Meanwhile, more Gen Xers want emails/newsletters from a brand than any other type of content.

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Content consumption preferences have changed over time.

However, much of that change has to do with what different age groups are used to consuming. As millennials get older, we’ll very naturally see a shift towards their content consumption preferences. Remember, though, This is true for every new generation. Marketers have to adjust their marketing patterns to the way consumers buy, sell, and consume. 

We’ve talked through some of the main trends by age group, but what about other trends? What about ad creative preferences, geographic differences, and ways of audience engagement?

HubSpot and Ceros recently teamed up to create a fully-interactive guide on the most important Content Marketing secrets of 2018. In it, you can unlock additional data we haven’t yet covered in this blog post. Click here to unlock 10 Content Marketing Secrets Every Marketer Should Know in 2018

Unlock 10 Data-Backed Content Marketing Secrets to Use in 2018

 
Unlock 10 Data-Backed Content Marketing Secrets to Use in 2018

How to Calculate Your Business’s Break Even Point

You’ve heard the term “break even.” It’s a popular way to describe a time when you spent exactly as much money as you made. “We gambled $200 at the casino and won $200, so we broke even.”

But in a business context, it’s not that simple.

Your break even point doesn’t just happen in Vegas, and needs to be constantly recalculated for you to turn a profit in the long term. Here’s how to find it.

Find Your Contribution Margin

Recently, I explained how a business calculates its contribution margin — the amount (ideally in the form of a percentage) that your revenue from sales exceeds your variable costs to develop the product. There are two reasons you should care about this figure.

First, your contribution margin deliberately leaves out your operating costs so you can see exactly how profitable your product is. For example, while software and website costs to an ecommerce clothing business don’t directly contribute to the business’s product (the clothing), the cost its thread vendor charges does. The business omits the first cost because it only wants to see how profitable its clothing is against what it pays to produce it.

The second reason contribution margin is so important? You need it to calculate your break even point.

Although operating costs are irrelevant when assessing a product’s profitability, they’re critical when assessing your business’s profitability. These costs, also called fixed costs, factor back into your books when calculating your profit margin — your total profitability after all business expenses paid. And in order to achieve a high profit margin, you first need to know when you’ll break even.

Keep in mind that a break even point isn’t a finish line. Breaking even is an exciting milestone for a growing business, but the break even point indicates when the business’s revenue will be equal to its costs — not when it is. Businesses run the equation described above multiple times a year, eventually surpassing their break even point and (hopefully) becoming profitable.

So why is this number recalculated all the time? Once you “break even,” aren’t you officially on the road to profitability? Yes and no. If you were to calculate your break even point according to yearly revenue, yearly fixed costs, and yearly contribution margin, then yes, you’d get a number that is more representative of the business’s profitability since you’re considering a full year of activity. And once you break even, you wouldn’t have to track your break even point as often.

But there are shorter-term break even points that reset on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to guide you as you strive to reach your end-of-year (EOY) break even point.

For example, if fixed costs such as your monthly office rent total $3000, and your product has a contribution margin of $250 per unit, you’d have to sell 12 units of your product by the end of the month to break even for that month. See how I came up with this number below:

Break even point formula

The following month, you’re back to square one, as you’re on the hook for $3000 worth of bills for next month and need to sell another 12 products to, once again, break even for that period of time.

Set Goals to Become Profitable

Luckily, as a business grows, it won’t have to meet these incremental break even points in order to declare itself profitable by EOY. The business’s monthly revenue can even come up short of a month’s fixed costs, but break even or declare the business profitable at the end of the year.

How? With seasonal fluctuations in sales, you might fall short one month but become super busy during a holiday and make up for it. Perhaps you host a flash sale that reduces revenue in the short term but develops brand loyalty that brings in long-term customers, and a more steady revenue stream. Just be sure you calculate your break even point first before running a sale or discount so you can set appropriate goals for the sale itself. Houston, we have a profit.

Now it’s time for you to calculate your business’s break even point … How’d you do? Did you plug your sales figures into the formula above and get a scary number? Don’t sweat it — that’s why these incremental break even points are so helpful to a growing business.

If you’re discouraged by how much work you’d have to do to break even by the end of the year, shorten the time period of your break even point. By setting a goal to break even every week or month right now, you can set yourself up to break even after larger stretches of time later. 

Facebook Might Be Dealing With More Data Misuse — This Time, From Javascript Trackers

Just as Facebook is starting to recover from last week’s Congressional hearings with its CEO and releases statements on how it uses offsite user data, a new research report has emerged that may indicate another case of misused data.

This time, the culprit might be the “login with Facebook” API and the third-party JavaScript trackers embedded on websites that use it. First reported by Freedom to Tinker and TechCrunch, it seems that these trackers can be exploited to collect data like a user’s data including name, email address, age range, gender, locale, and profile photo — to the extent of the information the user provided when it used this tool to log into the website.

As the name suggests, webmasters embed third-party JavaScript to, well, track user behavior on their sites — things like how far someone scrolls down or where they clicked.

It can help digital marketers, for example, “figure out what works and what doesn’t,” says HubSpot Director of Web Development Dmitry Shamis, “and optimize your site as a result.”

Tools like “login with Facebook” are designed to save new users time when creating a new account or enrolling in a website for the first time, by automatically populating fields (name, email address, et cetera) with information provided on their Facebook accounts, rather than requiring them to fill them in manually. 

Many sites allow users to log in with Google in a similar capacity.

But now, it seems, vulnerabilities have been discovered in this system. In addition to granting the website or service in which the user is enrolling access to his or her data, third party javascript trackers embedded on that same site also receive access to the same data during the login process.

Here’s an from Freedom to Tinker that visually explains how something like this works:

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 5.21.34 PM

Source: Freedom to Tinker

What we haven’t determined yet is how these trackers use the data once it’s obtained. However, within the list of “offending” trackers discovered by Freedom to Tinker, it appears that the parent companies that manufacture them also offer “publisher monetization services based on collected user data,” according to TechCrunch.

That could suggest a situation similar to the Cambridge Analytica one, in which an app developer collected personal data from users who opted into downloading it — but then, improperly sold it to the data analytics firm.

But it doesn’t stop there — Freedom to Tinker discovered a second vulnerability. On some sites, after users log in with Facebook, it seems that some third-party trackers use that data to “deanonymize users for targeted advertising,” which means that it can use login information to personally identify users, which is a privacy breach and typically not something that users agree to.

This happened with the site BandsInTown (possibly among others), which alerts people when the musicians they like are playing shows nearby. Logging in with Facebook helps BandsInTown track their favorite artists and let them know when they go on tour.

But as it turns out, there was yet another third-party tracker embedded in BandsInTown’s iframe — an HTML document that is embedded inside another, such document on a website — which personally identified users logging in with Facebook, presumably for advertising purposes.

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 5.37.24 PM

Source: Freedom to Tinker

After reaching out BandsInTown about the issue, Freedom to Tinker says it was told by the site that the flaw has been addressed and repaired.

And while Freedom to Tinker is sure to point out that these vulnerabilities are not the result of flaws within the login with Facebook tool — and is rather due to what the site describes as a “lack of security boundaries between the first-party and third-party scripts” on the affected sites — Facebook is certain to experience some blowback as a result of its user data once again being compromised.

When TechCrunch reached out to Facebook, it didn’t receive a response being told that the social network was investigating the issue. 

“This couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time for Facebook,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social campaign strategy associate. “You can’t help but get the idea that a lifetime of shortcuts is finally catching up, putting the company on the defensive at a time when it needs all the wins it can get.”

On top of that, Franco says, “I’m sure there will be more bad news as the company does a full audit of app developers on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica revelation.”

HubSpot Product Lead Daria Marmer agrees that this report will only complicate things for Facebook — as it not only has to make sure its own site is secure, but also needs to “police others on the web.”

That might require playing catchup with sites that already have a method and operation for doing so, Marmer says. “Google does a good job of this: letting website owners know if their sites are insecure or getting attacked.”

“As interconnected as today’s systems are, it’s easier than ever to create unintended side effects,” says Ryan Stinson, HubSpot’s manager of security engineering. “Events like these call for an even more heightened awareness of people’s privacy needs, and taking a privacy-first approach to service.”

This is an ongoing situation that continues to unfold as we await comment from Facebook and its aforementioned app audit is underway.

 

Unriddled: Apple Keeps Coming for Google News, a Live Video Push for Twitter, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome to Wednesday, and the latest edition of “Unriddled”: the HubSpot Marketing Blog’s mid-week digest of the tech news you need to know.

Sorry we missed you last week — we were in Washington, D.C. for Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings. (Feel like catching up? Check out our coverage here.)

This week, we continue to wade through the very crowded pool of tech news items to help you decrypt what’s happening in this vast, often complex sector. And believe it or not: Once again, it’s not all about Facebook this week.

It’s our Wednesday tech news roundup, and we’re breaking it down.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Apple Could Be Launching a Subscription News Service

Less than a month after Google announced its “Subscribe With Google” service for news publishers, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple could be launching its own subscription news service.

The story follows Apple’s March acquisition of Texture: a digital magazine app through which users can subscribe to a selection of more than 200 magazines for a flat fee of $9.99 a month. While this tool might sound familiar, its model is actually different from Apple’s discontinued Newsstand app, which provided a central place for iOS users to individually subscribe to and read content from a number of publications.

Now, the iPhone manufacturer offers what’s looking to be the more simplified Apple News, which aggregates news stories from publishers that a given user chooses to follow in a single place. And paired with the Texture acquisition, some are predicting that Apple could launch its own news subscription service modeled after Texture.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.57.41 PM

Source: Apple

Rather than providing a central place where users can individually subscribe to a number of outlets, it seems, Apple could be moving in the direction of offering an original flat-rate subscription service that allows users to access unlimited content from the publications offered on this platform. Those publishers would receive a cut of the subscription revenue.

Bloomberg reports that this new model could launch within the next year.

It comes on the heels of Google’s own announcement that it will be building a news subscription model of its own, though it differs from Apple’s expected service in a few ways.

Instead of providing an aggregation app where users can subscribe to content from a number of outlets for a single, monthly fee, Google says it’s working to make it easier for users to manage and pay for individual subscriptions through their Google accounts. That way, they can read premium content across any device on which they’re signed into Google, without having to get through a paywall every time they click to read articles.

As for publishers, Google says, this new feature will help supply them with better analytics and tools to identify and convert potential subscribers. 

Miami-Hearald-Buy_Flow_pNoEeC5

Source: Google

2. Twitter’s Big Push for Live Video

If you’ve recently opened the Twitter app during a major event — like last week’s Congressional hearings with Mark Zuckerberg, for example — you might have noticed the option to watch it live right from the app.

After Digiday reporter Kerry Flynn tweeted the discovery of this feature, Matt Navarra (formerly of TheNextWeb) noted that Twitter might be experimenting with the display of a live video “carousel” front-and-center of the app.

As Flynn noted, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the earliest days of Facebook Live, when the social network wanted to make sure users were aware of the feature by visually promoting live video content within the app.

But for Twitter, it has more to do with the promotion of Periscope: the live video streaming app that Twitter acquired in 2015. But since then, despite its best efforts, Twitter’s live video capabilities — along with the Periscope branding — could be described as lackluster. Other platforms often took the spotlight for live streaming, including Facebook and YouTube Live, with Twitter sometimes serving as an afterthought for watching events in real time.

That’s not for a lack of promotional efforts by Twitter, as is well known by those who receive its frequent email notifications of live sporting events that will be streamed on the network. On its blog, too, Twitter often tries to play up the experience of a live event (such as the Academy Awards) on its platform. 

But what Flynn identified as the “mobile integration” of these capabilities is still somewhat new — and its success is to be determined.

3. A New QR Code Feature for Facebook Page Admins

In late March, rumors emerged that Instagram was testing a feature similar to Snapchat’s Snapcodes feature, which allows users to scan codes to find profiles or content on the app. Instagram’s version was rumored to be called Nametag, and would give content creators a similar method of discoverability by letting prospective followers scan a visual QR-like code (on print or other materials) that would lead to their profiles.

Now, it appears that Facebook has rolled out such a feature — first discovered by computer scientist Jane Manchun Wong — for Page administrators, who can now print a QR code for followers to either Like the Page, check in to its physical location, or take action on an offer.

Right now, it appears that the feature appears under “Publishing Tools” on the Page admin dashboard.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 3.47.03 PM

It also comes with insights that can help admins track how many times the QR Code has been scanned — though it’s not clear if any further analytics are provided beyond scans.

Nametag is yet to be confirmed (though Instagram did roll out a new “Focus” setting within its Stories service last week), and its launch could be contingent on the success of Page QR Codes. 

4. And Now: Dogs in Slow Motion

Okay, so this item isn’t exactly hard-hitting news — but it is adorable. And in the midst of stories about data leaks and competition, sometimes, the mood calls for a slow-motion video of a dog drying itself off after a swim.

That’s what sites like The Dodo and BuzzFeed have often been used for — and now, both brands have partnered to create content promoting the Super Slow-mo features available on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ mobile devices.

“Partnering with BuzzFeed and The Dodo is a natural fit,” said Younghee Lee, CMO and Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics in a statement, “and a great way to showcase how consumers can make everyday moments epic by using the Galaxy S9 and S9+’s Super Slow-mo camera.” 

Beyond that, the story really speaks for itself — so without further ado, here’s that video.

 

 

What Else Is Going Down in Tech Town?

More of the Latest From Facebook

With 10 hours of testimony behind us, it was understandably hard to keep tabs on last week’s Congressional hearings with Mark Zuckerberg. Luckily, we recapped each day of the proceedings — as well as an overview of what we still want to know.

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg testified before a joint hearing held by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees, where there were some key, recurring themes among the lawmakers’ many (and often repetitive) questions. Read full story >>

At Wednesday’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the questions were a bit more challenging for Zuckerberg to answer and slightly more detailed in nature. That might have been the result of inquiries from House lawmakers that represent more niche constituencies — or simply the byproduct of better preparation. Read full story >>

And even after 10 hours of hearings, there were still things left largely unanswered by Zuckerberg and Facebook alike. Wired counted 43 outstanding items on which Zuckerberg promised lawmakers answers at a later date, and since then, Facebook has only publicly commented on one item in detail: how it collects data on browsing behavior outside of the network. By the end of the week, here’s what we still wanted to know. Read full story >>

Meanwhile, Facebook also released a statement earlier this morning outline some of the steps it’s taking toward GDPR compliance. Read full story >> 

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter to ask us your tech news questions, or to let us know what kind of events and topics you’d like us to cover.

Facebook Outlines Moves Toward GDPR Compliance

At 1:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, Facebook published an announcement outlining some of the ways it plans to advance toward the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force next month.

Last week, during Congressional hearings with the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, lawmakers asked about Facebook’s compliance with the GDPR and whether or not the same rules and regulations would be offered to users in the U.S.

Zuckerberg gave mixed answers over the course of the hearings (as well as the weeks leading up to it), with Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois finally stating that a U.S. version would be far from “an exact replica” of European regulations.

This morning’s announcement — penned by Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan and Deputy General Counsel Ashlie Beringer — could be said to reinforce Representative Schakowsky’s assessment, as it doesn’t outline the GDPR’s requirements and rather explains new privacy options that will be rolled out to everyone.

Within the statement, Egan and Beringer write that, “while the substance of our data policy is the same globally, people in the EU will see specific details relevant only to people who live there, like how to contact our Data Protection Officer under GDPR,” but don’t go much further in terms of explaining the protections that are offered to users in the EU, versus elsewhere.

And while Facebook did recently rewrite its terms of service and data policy to make them clearer, according to this announcement, not much has changed for U.S.-based users since.

In this morning’s statement, Egan and Beringer write that “there is nothing different about the controls and protections we offer around the world.” However, the text later points to contrasting rules for teen users in the EU versus those in places where the GDPR doesn’t apply.

For the former, “teens will see a less personalized version of Facebook with restricted sharing and less relevant ads until they get permission from a parent or guardian to use all aspects of Facebook.”

But elsewhere — “even where the law doesn’t require this,” the statement says — “we’ll ask every teen if they want to see ads based on data from partners and whether they want to include personal information in their profiles.”

In other words, in certain parts of the EU (where the GDPR will come into force), users aged 13-15 will need express consent from a parent or guardian to allow the display of ads “based on data from partners” — which can include things like religious beliefs, political views, or other items that the person’s profile has deemed him or her “interested in.”

data-with-special-protections-001

Source: Facebook

It’s the type of data that another announcement made yesterday by Facebook explains — the kind that the social network might collect and maintain based on someone’s browsing activity off of the site, which according to Zuckerberg’s remarks last week is synthesized to determine what types of ads might be the most relevant.

But the statement suggests that this parental consent requirement in the EU doesn’t apply in the U.S. — again, with the remarks indicating that where the law doesn’t require it, teens themselves will only be asked if they want to see such ads, without requiring adult permission.

There are similar discrepancies in the way it describes rules and options around facial recognition. While Egan and Beringer write that “people in the EU and Canada [will have] the choice to turn on face recognition,” for users elsewhere, they only note that “using face recognition is entirely optional for anyone on Facebook.”

face-recognition-001

Source: Facebook

That suggests Facebook users in the EU and Canada could be proactively asked to opt into face recognition in order to use, whereas users elsewhere will have to go into their settings to change this preference (which can be done so here).

Otherwise, this morning’s announcement mostly reaffirms what Facebook has said in recent weeks it will change. In addition to revised tools to help users more easily download, delete, or export their personal data — which “are available globally, although [Facebook] designed them to comply with GDPR” — users will be asked to review and choose if they want this data to be used to influence the ads they see, and if they want information they’ve chosen to share on their profiles about religion or politics to be shared with advertisers.

As for timing, Egan and Beringer write that EU-based users will begin seeing these changes and requests to review options in the weeks leading up to the GDPR coming into force on May 25.

Users elsewhere will see their versions “on a slightly later schedule,” the statement says, “in the ways that make the most sense for other regions.”

To reiterate, it doesn’t appear that this announcement explains anything terribly new, or in much greater detail than Facebook has provided in the past. In fact, shortly after it was made, TechCrunch published “a flaw-by-flay guide” to the changes outlined in this statement. 

Whether or not Facebook provides any further clarity on the new options available to EU users versus elsewhere — or if equally strict regulations are introduced to users in the U.S. and worldwide — remains to be seen.

But given Zuckerberg’s historically ambiguous responses to questions about the latter, it could be quite some time before –if ever — further light is shed on these topics.

How to Buy Instagram Likes (And Why It’s a Bad Idea)

Instagram’s new algorithm uses engagement as the most important metric to determine a post’s popularity. Essentially, the more likes and comments your posts get, the more your posts will be seen by a larger audience.

The importance of engagement is why it doesn’t surprise me that buying likes might seem like a tempting option. It’s just not a good one.

There’s no denying that likes are critical to the success of your Instagram account. For instance, let’s say you work for a smoothie shop and want to post a delicious smoothie recipe on Instagram to attract the engagement of a health-conscious audience.

If your healthy smoothie post gets a ton of likes, it’ll have a better chance of competing with other top posts with similar hashtags, and might even appear on Instagram’s Explore page. The Explore page, which you can find on Instagram by clicking on the magnifying-glass symbol, is a compilation of posts you’ve liked and posts liked by accounts with which you often interact. Since the Explore page shows users posts their followers like, it’s an effective way for your business to reach a new audience.

But while having a bunch of likes is valuable, it’s only a productive marketing strategy if you’ve achieved them organically.

Buying Instagram likes might seem like a good method to increase engagement, but it’s actually a dangerous tactic that can do quite the opposite, decreasing your engagement and destroying your brand’s reputation.

Read on to find out the two ways users currently buy Instagram likes, and how taking either road can poke holes in your marketing strategy.

How to Buy Instagram Likes

There are two types of services you can use to buy likes on Instagram. The first type of service sells likes from fake accounts. The second type of service sells Instagram bots, which then follow real accounts and like other people’s posts for you (with the expectation that these people will then follow and like your posts, in return).

There are numerous companies out there that offer one of these services. I’m here to warn you about them all. Let’s dive into both services and see why they’re so unsafe.

1. Buy Instagram Likes from Fake Accounts

The first method, paying a service to get likes from fake accounts, is a ineffective and risky option. Since these accounts are fake, you won’t receive engagement in the form of comments, and if your real followers see you have a post with 1,000 likes but only two comments, they’re going to feel distrustful of your account’s authenticity. Even worse, fake accounts will never turn into real customers. The likes you receive from fraudulent accounts are invalid signs of customer loyalty, and won’t help you measure your post’s true performance.

If your real audience discovers some of your likes are from bogus accounts (which is easy to recognize, if these fake accounts don’t have profile pictures or posts of their own), your business could seem cheap or insincere. As a consumer, I don’t want to purchase from your business if your marketing tactics are shady. Plus, if I see your followers are fake, I’m going to assume you don’t sell high-quality products — if you don’t believe in the quality of your brand enough to attract real people, why should I?

Ultimately, these fake followers can’t buy your product or endorse you in real life, which doesn’t set your business up for long-term success.

Here’s an example of pricing for a service, Likeservice24, that offers fake-account likes in bulk:

buyinstalikes

You can see the pricing is fair ($66 for 20,000 likes), but, in the long haul, it’s not a sustainable or reputable marketing tactic.

2. Buy Instagram Bots to Follow Other People’s Accounts

There’s an unwritten “I follow you, you follow me” rule that exists on Instagram, which basically means if someone follows me, I feel obligated to follow them in return. Many people feel the same way when following other accounts on Twitter. And it’s the premise of this second method.

With this service, you’re essentially buying a bot to follow other people’s accounts, with the hope that these accounts will follow and like your posts in return. The bot basically acts as an invisible minion, following accounts from your profile and liking and commenting on posts as if it were you.

After these Instagram bots follow a bunch of accounts, they’ll eventually unfollow them, to ensure you have a better follow-to-follower ratio.

This method shares the same risky and long-term complications as the buying likes from fake accounts tactic, but there are additional dangers to using a bot. For one, the bot only knows how to “auto comment” and “auto like.” Your bot, acting as you, is not a real person and can’t understand various nuances that exist in language, which could lead to PR-related misshaps when you realize your bot engages with an account that posts inappropriate content.

For instance, the bot might start liking any posts with hashtags that you’ve programmed it to like. This could cause your bot to like irrelevant posts that don’t support your brand’s values, or even hateful accounts that post content your customers would find offensive.

Even worse, if the bot is “auto commenting” for you, it might misconstrue a post’s intent: for instance, if the word “happy” is in someone’s post about their beloved pet who recently passed away, the bot might comment, “That’s awesome, congrats!”

Below is an example of a service, Instazood, that provides bots for as little as $10. (Low price, high risk, am I right?)

 buyinstabots

There are other services to buy Instagram likes, but ultimately, you shouldn’t trust a bot or fake accounts to receive authentic engagement.

The Three Biggest Reasons Buying Instagram Likes is a Bad Idea

Besides the hazards I just mentioned, there are three big-picture problems with buying Instagram likes regardless of the service.

First, Instagram might deactivate your account if they suspect you’re not using honest methods to build a following and attract engagement. Since 2014, Instagram has been hunting for and deactivating millions of fake accounts on Instagram, and paying for likes goes against Instagram’s Community Guidelines. They want their platform to remain a place for authentic connections, and so should you.

Second, it’s not a sustainable marketing strategy: ultimately, your long-term goals should revolve around creating deep, meaningful relationships with your audience, turning this audience into real-life customers, and creating a customer service process to ensure these customers become brand advocates.

None of these outputs will come to fruition if your likes are from fake accounts.

Lastly, buying Instagram likes can actually hurt your engagement ratio. Instagram doesn’t measure how many likes each post gets. Rather, it measures how many likes each post gets in relation to how many followers you have.

This means if your posts start receiving 10,000 likes, but you only have 1,000 followers, your posts are going to be seen by fewer people, and are less likely to get discovered.

Here’s a graph from InfluencerDB to illustrate the like-to-follower ratio:

graphinstalikes

Ultimately, buying likes in an effort to increase engagement can actually decrease engagement, destroying the one thing you’re trying to get. Ironic, I know. So skip the shady shortcut to social media marketing, and use a more long-term but sustainable plan for attracting organic likes from real people. After all, those real people are the only ones who can become real customers.