Critical Social Strategy Mistakes to Avoid

Businesses fail at social media marketing for so many reasons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strategy

  

Research shows that there are currently more than 2.8 billion social media users,

and a whopping 83 percent of Americans use social media. Based on this, it is an easily established fact that social media is a force to reckon with. Despite increasing social media adoption, available data shows that a good percentage of businesses are not getting results from their social media efforts: According to research from Simply Measured, the percentage of businesses “struggling to measure the return on investment” of their social media marketing efforts is as high as 60 percent. Businesses fail at social media marketing for so many reasons, but more often than not, it is due to weak strategy. Below are six really critical social strategy mistakes you should avoid:

Assuming your social media marketing operates in a vacuum

The No. 1 mistake most businesses make with their social media marketing strategies is that of assuming that their social media marketing operates in a vacuum. Many of these businesses believe that simply investing huge amounts in social media marketing, or going viral, will solve their business woes. Usually, it won’t. More often than not, your social media marketing efforts are aimed at achieving a certain goal. Even if this goal is not a direct goal, such as increasing sales, the fact remains that you’re probably not on social media just to be on social media.

To make social media marketing work for you, your strategy must incorporate the big picture. If your goal is to boost sales and conversions, how do your social media efforts tie into your sales and conversion efforts? It is essential to consider this factor when working on your social strategy.

Overextending yourself and your budget on social media

Picture two businesses: Business A spends about $2,000 monthly on social media content and is able to create 200 pieces of content and distribute them to 10 different social media sites. Business B spends just $500 monthly on social media content and is able to create 800 pieces of content and distribute them to 10 different social media sites. Which of these businesses will get the most ROI? I think we can safely assume that it is business B.

While so many factors influence social media ROI, at the end of the day, social media budget doesn’t play as much of a role as many people assume it does. So what mistake is business A making that business B is avoiding? That of overextension. Simply put, business B has mastered the art of maximizing its budget. This is possible in several ways:

  • Repurposing content:
    Whereas business A keeps creating original content, business B repurposes the same piece of content into one-dozen different formats. Costs of production go down while the quantity of content goes up.
  • Content syndication:
    Business B is able to have the same piece of content distributed across multiple different channels, while business A focuses on having original content on every social channel.

Not realizing the importance of the mere-exposure effect

It is a well-established fact that more exposure to something increases our liking for it, regardless of how good it actually is. Psychologists have coined the term “familiarity principle” or “the mere-exposure effect” to describe this phenomenon. Interestingly, BuzzSumo’s recent research that analyzed more than 100 million pieces of content came to support the mere-exposure effect. The study found that sharing old pieces of content over and over again on social media can boost conversions by up to 686 percent.

Not being well prepared on the back end

Every business using social media needs to be familiar with Tina Henson’s story. With her startup taking up, Henson realized that there was an opportunity to generate some viral traffic and boost sales by tapping into the holiday season buzz. So she created a marketing campaign and things went bigger than she anticipated. She suddenly got a lot of attention, and visitors to her site suddenly increased by 40 times what she got on an average day. Unfortunately, she wasn’t prepared. Her site crashed, and she lost several thousand people who came to her site during her campaign.

Henson’s isn’t an isolated incident. Many businesses make preparations to key into a social media buzz, only to end up losing out. While your site might not even crash, being slow by one second could significantly decrease your conversions. There are so many reliable and inexpensive web-hosting options, so make sure your site is prepared.

Only targeting your offers to your followers

If, as a brand, your social media strategy mainly involves simply targeting your offers to your followers, you’re missing out on a lot of sales and conversions. According to research from Edison Research, only 33 percent of Americans have ever followed a brand on social media. It also doesn’t help that most social media sites significantly reduce your reach to followers. If you’re only targeting your offers to your social media followers, then you’re missing out a big deal. Instead, explore targeted advertising options, consider reaching out to influencers and brands that share a similar audience and encourage them to share your offers and regularly tap into trends to promote your brand.

Playing the quantity game

It is essential to realize that social media isn’t simply a numbers game. While numbers indeed do matter, it isn’t only about numbers—channel-audience fit and engagement are more important metrics to pay attention to. If you run a services business that targets professionals, for example, LinkedIn will yield more results compared to Twitter. Focus on being on the right social channels and put in more effort into creating engaged, loyal followers than in boosting your follower count.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Setting Up A Strategic Partnership

One of the key challenges any novice business development professional faces is how to forge lasting partnerships that provide mutual value.If executed well, strategic partnerships can have a great impact on a business, helping it grow exponentially with overall lower risk. Likewise, a strategic partnership that fails can have catastrophic effects that your company may never recover from.So how can you build a strong, lasting relationship with a business partner to make sure your partnership will thrive? Below, 15 members of Forbes Business Development Council list some of the most common mistakes a rookie biz dev pro can make when selling a strategic partnership.
 

   

Read this before you pitch a partner on a Long-Term Relationship.

Over-Promising Just To Get The Deal

One of the most common mistakes is over-promising or saying “yes” just to get the deal. Keeping your word is one of the most important pieces of building a professional reputation, especially in business development. If you expect people to take you seriously, you must keep your word. People you meet end up in all types of positions. You may even change companies. They will never forget your character. – Amy Cooper,  VortexLegal

Failing To Forge Win-Win Relationships

In my experience, successful long-term strategic partnerships are ones where win-win relationships (i.e. fair deals) are formed early on. As tempting as it may be to negotiate a one-sided agreement (even when you might have the leverage to do so), I would strongly advise against this if your expectation is that the relationship lasts over time. Balanced relationships tend to be much more important than legal contracts. – Jeff  Herbst, Nvidia

Lacking Transparency And Honesty

One mistake that business development professionals make in forming a strategic partnership is a lack of transparency and honesty about the revenue expectations, the cultural similarities and differences, and the simultaneous lack of vetting and checking references. – Barbara Read, Lifescript

Over-Trusting Your Partner

When setting new strategic business partnerships, too many novice business development professionals trust their partners too much and do not build the necessary protection for their intellectual property into their contracts. While you should partner with people you trust, sound legal advice on how to protect your company and its IP is critical to a successful relationship. – Joe Dooley, Ascendum

Not Cultivating Relationships After Initial Agreement

The biggest mistake is not cultivating and growing the relationship after the initial agreement has been "signed." In many instances, the business development professional does not work to get something out of the relationship, which results in something that looks good on paper or a website, but in reality, does not contribute to the revenue or growth of the company. – Mike Michalakis, Shindig

Not Understanding How You Can Help

The biggest mistake business development professionals make when creating strategic partnerships is not having a clear understanding of how they can help the company they are approaching. The best method is to understand the value you can provide to the potential partner whilst having a clear understanding of what you need help with from their end. The key is to move slow and methodically. – Dane Matheson, Sourcebits

Ignoring The Future Impact Of A Deal

The mistake I often see junior biz dev people make is when they don't review the deal for its future impact. In the very narrow case of a deal impacting a future acquisition, questions such as, "Is the deal term transferable?" or "Does the deal set up a legal roadblock for a future acquirer?" are not usually top of mind for folks who have not "gone through the ringer." – Nitin Gupta, Sticky, Inc.

Forgetting A Relationship Is Built Over Time

One mistake novice business development people make is to think that a deal is over. Most of the time, in business and in life, you can revisit or change an existing relationship with thinking outside of the box, defining a new strategic approach, and good old-fashioned finesse. Always remember you advance a relationship in time, even if currently your potential partner is not interested. – Jack Wagner, Zedo Inc

Lacking Clarity And Flexibility

The No. 1 issue is the lack of clarity about what each party's objectives are and what each of them is committed to contributing. The other issue is flexibility to make the relationship work. Just like in human relationships, business partner relationships have their ups and downs, and maintaining a commitment and flexibility is crucial, rather than just watching the bottom line. – Hanna Zubko, IntellectEU

Building A Partnership Just For The Sake Of It

Getting a partnership in place for the sake of having a partnership rather than building an efficient and productive business relationship that will generate revenue thanks to this partnership. Build it if there's an actual business case. – Idan Maron, Applicaster

Not Thinking About The Benefits For Your Partner

Successful business development folks think about how to build long-term, mutually beneficial partner relationships. It's easy to sit around and discuss how various partnerships will benefit your own organization. What's not always obvious, but is a key ingredient for a successful partnership, is to have a compelling answer to the question, "How does this benefit our partner?" –  Matt Daniel,  WayBetter, Inc.

Failing To See Each Partner’s Value

They fail to see the benefits that each offers the other. If a partner can not clearly define to the other the value they will contribute, then the partnership will be a waste of time. On the other hand, if a value can be found and common customers can be identified, then the partnership can expand opportunities that make the sum of the parts greater than the whole. – Adam Feiner, FirstFuel

Misrepresenting Your Organization’s Capabilities

Not being transparent about expectations and internal limitations is a big mistake. Misrepresenting your organization's capabilities is a classic recipe for failure down the road. – Kabir Mathur, Kiip

Having Only One Point Of Contact In An Organization

One mistake that can lead to failed relationships is not having multiple contacts within a partner organization. Whether it's during the early phases of structuring the partnership, or in the later stages of an established deal, having your one contact leave the organization can be a disaster if you don't have other channels to explore. – Jonathan Yagel,  Spire Labs

Focusing Too Much On PR, Too Little On Strategy

I often see people focus too much on the PR or launch and too little on ensuring the companies are aligned with a strategy that creates value for both companies in the longer term. – Scott Porter, Box

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Massive cryptocurrency botnet used leaked NSA exploits weeks before WCry

Campaign that flew under the radar used hacked
computers to mine
Monero currency.

  

On Friday, ransomware called WannaCry used leaked hacking tools

stolen from the National Security Agency to attack an estimated 200,000 computers in 150 countries. On Monday, researchers said the same weapons-grade attack kit was used in a much-earlier and possibly larger-scale hack that made infected computers part of a botnet that mined cryptocurrency. Like WannaCry, this earlier, previously unknown attack used an exploit codenamed EternalBlue and a backdoor called DoublePulsar, both of which were NSA-developed hacking tools leaked in mid-April by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers. But instead of installing ransomware, the campaign pushed cryptocurrency mining software known as Adylkuzz. WannaCry, which gets its name from a password hard-coded into the exploit, is also known as WCry.

Kafeine, a well-known researcher at security firm Proofpoint, said the attack started no later than May 2 and may have begun as early as April 24. He said the campaign was surprisingly effective at compromising Internet-connected computers that have yet to install updates Microsoft released in early March to patch the critical vulnerabilities in the Windows implementation of the Server Message Block protocol. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, Kafeine wrote:

In the course of researching the WannaCry campaign, we exposed a lab machine vulnerable to the EternalBlue attack. While we expected to see WannaCry, the lab machine was actually infected with an unexpected and less noisy guest: the cryptocurrency miner Adylkuzz. We repeated the operation several times with the same result: within 20 minutes of exposing a vulnerable machine to the open web, it was enrolled in an Adylkuzz mining botnet.

Upon successful exploitation via EternalBlue, machines are infected with DoublePulsar. The DoublePulsar backdoor then downloads and runs Adylkuzz from another host. Once running, Adylkuzz will first stop any potential instances of itself already running and block SMB communication to avoid further infection. It then determines the public IP address of the victim and download[s] the mining instructions, cryptominer, and cleanup tools.It appears that at any given time there are multiple Adylkuzz command and control (C&C) servers hosting the cryptominer binaries and mining instructions.

Symptoms of the attack include a loss of access to networked resources and system sluggishness. Kafeine said that some people who thought their systems were infected in the WannaCry outbreak were in fact hit by the Adylkuzz attack. The researcher went on to say this overlooked attack may have limited the spread of WannaCry by shutting down SMB networking to prevent the compromised machines from falling into the hands of competing botnets. Proofpoint researchers have identified more than 20 hosts set up to scan the Internet and infect vulnerable machines they find. The researchers are aware of more than a dozen active Adylkuzz control servers. The botnet then mined Monero, a cryptocurrency that bills itself as being fully anonymous, as opposed to Bitcoin, in which all transactions are traceable.

Monday's report came the same day that a security researcher who works for Google found digital fingerprints tying a version of WCry from February to Lazarus Group, a hacking operation with links to North Korea. In a report published last month, Kaspersky Lab researchers said Bluenoroff, a Lazarus Group offshoot responsible for financial profit, installed cryptocurrency-mining software on computers it hacked to generate Monero coins. "The software so intensely consumed system resources that the system became unresponsive and froze," Kaspersky Lab researchers wrote.

Assembling a botnet the size of the one that managed WannaCry and keeping it under wraps for two to three weeks is a major coup. Monday's revelation raises the possibility that other botnets have been built on the shoulders of the NSA but have yet to be identified.

Promoted Comments

  • Everyone infected with Adylkuzz can regard himself as highly fortunate.
    Because Adylkuzz closed the infection route to prevent reinfection as a side effect it also closed the infection route against WCry. And compared to a deadly WCry infection the Adylkuzz infection is just a mere cold.
    Without the prior Adylkuzz bot, the impact of WCry would have been even worse.
    119 posts | registered 10/28/2008
  • We got a 64 core Linux server (with Xeon Phi processor) hacked on April 15 to mine Monero coins. The hack went through a cups (< 2.03) bug, unpatched in the latest patched CentOS 7.3 distro, allowing to install without any remote login a vmware image. Then a user "support" was created, using the monero binary over the 64 cores (they missed to use 256 possible threads actually) over the Easter week end, and communicating with chinese ip addresses. Every 5 min the crontab file was ensuring the hack would restart in case of interruption.

    The server has been reinstalled with a more recent Linux distro and no printer service.Using a botnet to mine cryptocurrency is also especially ill-conceived in the first place since the average CPU/GPU configuration is not particularly powerful… In fact, the majority of computers are likely to use iGPUs, so even across so many computers, the mining output of such a botnet is actually not that productive compared to dedicated GPU mining operations.

    Monero is known for being much more friendly to CPU miners due to the use of a different Proof-of-work algorithm that is AES heavy and uses a 2MB scratch. This makes it optimal for mid-high end desktop PCs that have multiple cores with large cache sizes. To date, there are no known ASICs for monero, and most GPUs only get about 10x over decent CPUs. Scale that to a large botnet, and you could collect double-digit chunks of the hash rate.

    Chuck Reynolds
    Contributor
    Please click either Link to Learn more about –
    TCC-Bitcoin.

Start investing in bitcoin and earn up to 45% ROI Monthly

  

Trade Coin Club TCC

Start investing in bitcoin and earn up to 45% Return On Investment  This is what Trade Coin Club can offer you when you sign up for the “Senior Trader” account.  You see, Trade Coin Club wants to make you money as the company makes money and they are willing to cut you in on the action.

Secure your position fast here:

https://office.tradecoinclub.com/register/chuck212

All you have to do is sign up and invest using bitcoin and you can start building a nice little nest egg for your future.

What Is Trade Coin Club?

Trade Coin Club was registered on August 2, 2016, in Belize. The site is registered as private enterprise

The Product

Trade Coin Club doesn’t offer any retail cable products for sale but offers residual income opportunities.

The Opportunity

There are several ways for you to make money. One of the ways is by the compensation plan. Within this structure, there are three levels you can join.  The first level is the “Apprentice” which requires you to invest 0.25 to 0.99 BTC. Once you set up your account you can then begin to earn 0.35% ROI daily. The ROI is good for 8 months and the company is hoping that with the extra funds you might want to step up to the next level which is “Trader”.

Secure your position fast here:

https://office.tradecoinclub.com/register/chuck212

To Learn more, check this page as there much more info. http://hive.pe/80

There are 3 Trading options. No need to recruit or sponsor anybody

1). Apprentice – 0.25 btc gives back up to 0.99btc

2). Trader – 1btc gives back up to 4.99btc

3). Senior trader – 5btc.

All options come with a membership processing fee of 0.05 BTC. At the “Trader” level you invest 1 to 4.99 BTC. Once you have everything in order and your funds in the account, you are guaranteed to receive 0.4% ROI. Now with the “Trader” account, you are granted the 0.4% ROI for 12 months instead of 8 months you get with the “Apprentice”.

Next, you can sign up for “Senior Trader” with an investment of 5 BTC. Now you can invest more if you want, but the minimum is 5 BTC in order to be in this category. In the “Senior Trader” compensation plan you are guaranteed 0.45% ROI daily for one full year.

The only thing you need to be aware of when signing up to join the compensation plan is the 25% maintenance fee on ROI that is mandatory to be paid every four months. If you want to refer people, you earn some bonuses. It is not compulsory to refer people at all: To earn through the company’s referral program. The referral program goes down eight levels deep, you can be sure to earn a little extra cash while still collecting your daily ROI. How much you make all depends on what plan you signed up for.

If you are an “Apprentice” you will earn 10% for those you recruit on level one. You will then earn 3% for those in level two and 2% for those you recruit who are placed on level four. Once you get that ranking you can fill up all eight levels. Apprentice only allows you to go down to level four, while Trader only allows you to go down as far as level 6. Other compensations are also available

Gift items such as Rolex watches, Car Awards, Traveling and international training opportunities. You make your money work for you and also enjoy time freedom in grand lifestyle.TradeCoinClub The Worlds First Licensed Top 10 Auto-Trading Cryptocurrency Platform. Join us in pre-launch to be a pioneer. Contact me asap to join.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Citi Launches Blockchain-
Based Payments Service with Nasdaq for Private Equity

    

A major U.S. bank and financial exchange have married two blockchain-based systems

to enable clients who are raising funds or swapping private shares through Nasdaq to take advantage of payment services provided by Citi. The Citi-Nasdaq partnership is one of the first examples of an enterprise blockchain system to enter production. Citi says the project went live on Monday in an announcement at the annual Consensus conference in New York City. Over the past year, many banks and financial institutions have completed proofs of concept for projects that rely on blockchain or distributed ledger technology. But so far, few of those projects have graduated into functioning systems.

Nasdaq launched a blockchain-based platform called Linq in 2015 designed for private equity, but the system lacks the ability to process payments—it is mainly used to record ownership of shares. Investors or issuers had to leave the system and initiate a wire transfer to pay for shares once they were traded on Linq. With Monday’s announcement, Nasdaq integrated Linq with Citi’s WorldLink Payment Services through a new offering that Citi c CitiConnect for Blockchain. The offering allows Nasdaq to transfer a payment request from Linq to Citi as soon as a share is bought or sold. The bank then automatically processes that request through WorldLink, which Citi clients primarily use to make payments that require foreign currency exchange.

To make the integration work, Citi and Nasdaq developers had to create several new features, including a way for Linq to automatically retrieve an exchange rate request from Citi in a customer’s local currency, share that rate with the customer, allow the customer to accept the rate, and share the customer’s wiring instructions with Citi. (Individual investors need not hold a Citi bank account in order to participate.)

At first, the Citi-Nasdaq collaboration will focus on structured liquidity programs. The popularity of these programs has grown in step with a broader trend: Increasingly, U.S. companies are staying private for longer. As a result, early investors and employees who hold equity in a company must also wait longer to access the cash that their shares represent. Structured liquidity programs allow a group of early investors or employees to sell their shares for cash to new investors long before the company goes public.

Within Linq, a record of those shares will be preserved on a distributed ledger to which only the parties involved in the trade have access. Similarly, through CitiConnect for Blockchain, a record of payment is also added to the same ledger as soon as it is processed. On both sides of the system, this creates a “golden record” of the transaction and payment that either party can refer back to in case of disputes. The Citi and Nasdaq systems are built on a unified code base called Chain Core provided by Chain, a company that specializes in applying blockchain technology to financial services. Chain Core includes application program interfaces and software development kits to allow customers to adapt it for their own purposes. Nasdaq and Citi Venture have both invested in Chain.

“Nasdaq Linq, which we built on top of Chain Core, is completely different from the CitiConnect for Blockchain product,” says Adam Ludwig, CEO of Chain. “Both connect to a Chain Core underneath, those Chain Cores talk to each other on a shared ledger, they form a network, but they have their own separate IP.”  Chain, Citi, and Nasdaq began working on the project in April of 2016. Private equity has become a popular focus area for those interested in finance and blockchain technology because it has a low volume of trades. Fund managers and entrepreneurs may spend weeks or months completing a single deal.

Some blockchains have shown a limited ability to scale, which raises concerns about the technology’s ability to handle much larger volumes of transactions within seconds. To stress test Chain’s technology, Nasdaq required the company to run an entire day’s worth of trades from the public exchange through their system—which Ludwin says consists of more transactions than the Bitcoin blockchain handles in a year. “Nasdaq knew there’s no way you bring this type of infrastructure to run the public equities business first,” Ludwin says. “You don’t start there. You start in an area where you have more control over the end-to-end process.”

For decades, Nasdaq has provided a central clearinghouse for investors to trade shares of public companies through the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Nasdaq’s Private Market, launched just four years ago, was Nasdaq’s attempt to allow private funds and companies to exchange options and shares with investors and employees. With its 2015 debut, Linq provided private parties operating in Nasdaq’s Private Market with the ability to issue or receive a digital record of ownership linked to a blockchain. For a private company, these digital records could theoretically replace paper stock certificates. With the new payment service integration, a company or fund manager could potentially raise a round of investments entirely through Linq.

Since its launch, it’s not clear how many of Nasdaq’s clients have opted to use Linq. Neither Nasdaq nor Citi were willing to share projections for the volume of trades they expect to pass from Nasdaq to CitiConnect for Blockchain in the project’s first year. At the height of activity, there could be hundreds to thousands of transactions flowing through Linq, according to someone familiar with the platform who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak about it publicly. Nelson Griggs of Nasdaq said during the announcement on Monday at Consensus that a small transaction on the broader Nasdaq Private Market would hold a value of $50 million, and a large one would consist of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – TCC-Bitcoin.

Litecoin for vertcoin anyone? Bitcoin for litecoin?

Say, you want to trade one cryptocurrency for another. How do you do that? You can either find someone you know and trust to do it in person or, a more common scenario, you go through a centralized exchange. Ultimately, the latter involves risk, because it means taking your funds off the blockchain and putting them in the hands of an unknown third party. If the exchange fails, or simply decides to hold on to your money, for whatever reason, you are out of luck.

But Lightning Network, an off-chain scaling solution originally intended for bitcoin, is setting the stage for a decentralized option – one that does not require a third party – called atomic swaps. Also known as atomic cross-chain swaps, the technology essentially allows two people holding tokens on two different blockchains to trade directly – and instantly – without the risk of one party running off with the other's money before the trade is complete. That is where the word 'atomic' comes in. It means that either the trade happens in its entirety, or it doesn't happen at all. So, if a Lightning node goes offline or Bob reneges on his end of the deal, everyone gets their money back.

So far, so good. But there is a catch.

In order for atomic swaps to work, Lightning has to be up and running on at least two different blockchains. Right now, it is just starting on one: litecoin. But, the hope is, it will be running on multiple chains soon. As it stands, several development teams are currently testing their implementations of Lightning on the litecoin blockchain. Further, SegWit (the protocol upgrade that is a prerequisite for Lightning) has been activated on a second blockchain, vertcoin, opening the doors to Lightning on that chain as well. According to Charlie Lee, the founder of litecoin, who is committed to atomic swaps, all that is left is to get Lightning fully operational on litecoin, and then begin testing it on vertcoin. Once those steps are complete, we may see the first at swaps as soon as this year. Certainly, that is the idea Lee has been kicking around for some time. He wrote about his plans for atomic swaps in a blog post back in January. And, the 2017 litecoin roadmap clearly specifies a plan for atomic swaps between litecoin and vertcoin.

Fundamentals

Going back to the start, the idea of atomic swaps is nothing new – other ways of doing cross change trades have been proposed in the past. But with Lightning, the building blocks are already in place. (Another benefit of Lightning is that it allows for instant clearing, meaning transactions occur on the spot, with no waiting involved.)

So how does it work?

Essentially, atomic swaps make use of a scheme known as a hash timelock contract (HTLC). Lightning already uses this same technology to establish bidirectional payment channels on top of a single blockchain, so it is no stretch to open channels across two chains. HTLC is a merger of two other technologies, a hashlock and a timelock. Both of which set conditions on a multi-signature (or multisig) transaction, which acts like a type of escrow. For example, a hashlock uses a cryptographic puzzle to ensure one party cannot release their funds without the other doing the same. And a timelock acts like a safety net if nothing happens, routing funds back to the senders after a certain amount of time. You can think of all this as a way of putting funds aside and then use 'if/then' conditions to stipulate their output.

So, in short, an atomic swap looks like this:

  1. Alice (on bitcoin) agrees to give Bob (on litecoin) 1 BTC in exchange for 50 LTC. To do this, Alice opens up a payment channel to Bob, and Bob opens up a payment channel to Alice on the other blockchain.
  2. Both parties set 'conditions' on each channel. The first condition uses a timelock to ensure that, essentially, if the trade is unsuccessful, funds will be returned after a certain period of time. The second makes use of a hashlock. Alice generates a piece of data and its hash. She then pays Bob 1 BTC, but includes the hash, and says essentially, "If Bob wants to claim the payment, he has to provide the pre-image of the hash."
  3. Bob uses his payment channel to pay Alice 50 LTC, but to collect the funds, he stipulates that Alice needs to produce the pre-image of the hash.
  4. By claiming the 50 LTC from Bob, Alice reveals the data, allowing Bob to grab the counterpart.

Now, if Bob or Alice fail to follow through, the first condition ensures that they get their money back. In this sense, you don't risk losing your money, and more important, you don't hand ownership of your money over to a third party escrow service.

More planning

Of course, Lightning won't work out of the box for atomic swaps. But, developers on the project say modifying the code would not require an undue amount of work. "We don't have a standard for doing atomic swaps yet," said Christian Decker, a Blockstream developer working on an implementation of Lightning for the programming language C. But he made it clear that, even though they don't have the specification laid out, doing so should be pretty straightforward.

Meanwhile, in a recent blog post, Lightning Labs developer Olaoluwa Osuntokun, who is working on an implementation of Lightning for Go called lnd (stands for Lightning Network Daemon), suggested that upcoming releases of lnd would be "multi-chain aware". Another point to note: now that SegWit has activated on litecoin, users can begin sending test cross-chain transactions from litecoin to the bitcoin testnet.

Decentralized exchanges

Once Lightning Network is up and running successfully on a worthwhile number of blockchains, we can start thinking about decentralized exchanges. To give more detail, these are exchanges that involve no central custodian. Other exchanges, like 0x (pronounced 'zero-ex') and EtherDelta, only allow you to exchange tokens that are supported by the ERC20 token standard on the ethereum blockchain. Whereas, atomic swaps allow payments across two different chains – an important distinction.

But, keep in mind, atomic swaps only do one thing: execute the trade. A true decentralized exchange also needs to match up traders (so that Alice can find Bob) and aggregate trades to determine a market value (so Alice knows what sort of deal she can reasonably offer Bob). The good news is, those things don't require a trustless service like the actual exchange of funds does. As Decker explained, you can solve the other problems by simply having websites collect the orders and present them in some fashion, or by creating a broadcast network that announces trade opportunities.

But, as he told CoinDesk:

"Just like in a centralized exchange, everyone makes their own decision about what their coins are worth and sets their own value. So, basically if Alice announces she's willing to exchange 1 BTC for 50 LTC, then Bob can either take it or leave it."

Decentralized exchanges are a big part of the decentralized dream. They point to a future where individuals take control of their own money, and cryptocurrencies interoperate. In other words, one day, it may be possible to pay a merchant who only accepts bitcoin in litecoin, monero, zcash, or whatever. It wouldn't matter because behind the scenes, your money is instantly converted to bitcoin. And, from there, it is not hard to envision a time where centralized exchanges serve only as an onramp to the cryptocurrency world – but everything after that happens on the blockchain.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – TCC-Bitcoin.

How to Vet An SEO Agency
(and Prevent Failure)

  

 Major Algorithm Updates, Explained 

Finding the right SEO provider is important. It also can be a lot of hard work. This is why vetting SEO agencies is so important. You want to make sure your SEO agency is:

  • Easy to work with.
  • Going to deliver real value to your business.
  • Consistent.
  • Knowledgeable about the industry.
  • Within your budget.

The stakes are high. In most cases, SEO can make or break your business. Choose the right SEO agency and your business could start generating more traffic and revenue than it’s ever seen. Choose the wrong SEO agency and it could lead you to failure. We’re talking wasted money, penalties, and countless lost opportunities (e.g., rankings, traffic, and revenues). Although there are many honest and reputable agencies to choose from, there are still a few scam artists and dishonest agencies looking to exploit unknowing businesses.

The SEO Agency Horror Show

As the head of an SEO agency, I’ve seen the success stories. It’s always great to see clients grow and succeed because it helps us take pride in our work and showcase what SEO can do for businesses. But I’ve also heard some horror stories. One frustrating aspect of being an agency is hearing stories from businesses that come to us wary and frustrated from bad experiences they’ve had with unreliable SEO agencies. In speaking with such clients, there seems to be a common crescendo that leads them to their unfortunate breaking point, and it goes like this:

A business decides SEO is the next step in their growth plan, so they seek out and speak with an agency about services. The agency sells them potential results of successful SEO and makes guarantees about what they can achieve for the business. The business thinks it sounds great and takes the agency at their word. Ultimately, the business signs a contract with the SEO agency and gets locked in for an extended period of time. Fast forward a year or two later, and some businesses find themselves drained of money with little to show for it, or in some cases, with penalties that have made their online performance worse.

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

The advice and questions that follow are what businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective.

Develop a List of Criteria

Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.

Think about things like:

  • Budget.
  • Desired contract duration.
  • Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
  • Reporting frequency.
  • Any other potential deal breakers.

Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies

It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision. Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.

Make a List of Interview Questions

Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

New Jersey Office of International Business Development & Protocol Receives President’s “E Star” Award For Export Service

                    

The President’s “E Star” Award for Export Service

TRENTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today presented the New Jersey Office of International Business Development & Protocol with the President’s “E Star” Award for Export Service at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The Office has been selected to receive the award for its work with New Jersey companies in making significant contributions to an increase in U.S. exports.In 1961 President Kennedy issued Executive Order #10978 to establish the “E” Award Program.   Subsequently, in 1969, the “E Star” Award was authorized and recognizes “E” Award winners for continued efforts in export expansion.

The Office of International Business Development & Protocol works with New Jersey businesses to provide a range of Export Promotion services such as identifying overseas buyers and researching new international markets for New Jersey-made products or services.  The Office is part of the New Jersey Business Action Center housed within the Department of State and reports to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “The exporting success of the companies we work with is crucial because it compounds throughout the network of firms and organizations supporting them,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “As a result, every day we see increased growth of New Jersey’s international businesses as they add jobs and support their local communities.” Further noted by Secretary Ross in his congratulatory letter, “The State of New Jersey Office of International Business Development and Protocol has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion.”

Business Action Center

Led by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, the Business Action Center provides the business community with a single point of contact, applying a proactive and customer-service approach to businesses’ interactions with State government. Created within the Department of State’s Business Action Center (BAC) in 2012, The Office of International Business Development and Protocol’s mission is to assist New Jersey companies with export opportunities. It is also responsible for managing all aspects of export promotion activities and establishing and maintaining positive working relationships with the foreign business investment community. Businesses interested in applying for NJ STEP or in need of assistance are encouraged to call New Jersey’s Business Action Center at 866.534.7789 or visit the State’s Business Portal at www.newjerseybusiness.gov

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Billion Dollar Cryptocurrency Club Swells to Six Members

Bitcoin continues to set new record highs on a daily basis, and taking a host of altcoins along with it as investor demand for alternatives to equities remains strong.

Bitcoin’s market cap surpassed $37 billion today

when the price hit $2271.16, commanding more than a billion in trade volume in a 24-hour period, according to coinmarket.com. The total value of the coin market is now at $81.3 billion, as the last two days added more than $10 billion to the capitalization. Bitcoin’s value has almost doubled in the last month, even while its market share has fallen below 50%, thanks to the gains of other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s gains have been steadier than most of the altcoins, but collectively, altcoins are rising at a faster pace.

Asian Trading Remains Key

Rising demand for bitcoin by Chinese and Japanese investors combined with falling stocks and other factors to push Bitcoin to new heights. Because the Japanese yen holds the largest share of bitcoin trading, Asian trading pushes the prices higher. The Nikkei Asian Review today reported, “Bitcoin going mainstream as Japanese business signs on,” signaling bitcoin’s growing popularity in Japan, which recently recognized bitcoin as a method of payment. Asian interest in bitcoin increasingly carries over to other currencies, as indicated by the gains for Ripple and NEM, the two most popular altcoins in Japan in terms of demand and trading volumes. Japanese regulators also decided to abolish the 8% consumption tax on transactions of Bitcoin bought from exchanges, which is set to go into effect in July this year.

Progress On Scaling Continues

Today’s announcement that a majority of bitcoin miners have reached a consensus to deploy the Segwit2Mb protocol upgrade for bitcoin also bodes well. Bitcoin’s rise has benefited from an alleviation of the fear that a “hard fork” will be needed – dividing bitcoin into two currencies – to improve bitcoin transaction times. A successful deployment of an alternative scaling solution indicates the hard fork that would have resulted in two separate currencies in order to speed up Bitcoin transactions may not be required. Wences Casares, CEO of bitcoin wallet Xapo and a member of PayPal’s board of directors one bitcoin would hit $1 million before the next ten years while speaking at the Consensus 2017 conference in New York.

Ethereum Continues To Amaze

Ethereum, the largest altcoin, hit more than $16 billion market capitalization with a $179.68 price, followed by Ripple at more than $13 billion. The top three cryptocurrencies — bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple — are the only players to boast more than $10 billion market cap. Ethereum has witnessed the fastest growth of any digital currency ever. Not even two years old, the platform is now worth more than $16 billion with its trading spaces consistently attracting more online active users than even bitcoin’s.

Ripple, designed for enterprise use and can be used by institutions for on-demand liquidity for cross-border payments, also continues to post rapid gains. Banks and payment providers that use XRP will secure better access to emerging markets at lower settlement costs. Ripple recently committed to placing 55 billion XRP in a cryptographically secure escrow account at the end of the year, addressing concerns that it will eventually sell its 61.68 XRP as it seeks to strengthen XRP’s exchange rate against other currencies. NEM, number four commands a $2.299 billion cap, followed by Litecoin at $1.575 billion and Ethereum Classic at $1.02 billion. There are now six cryptocurrencies with more than $1 billion market caps.

Altcoins Keep Shifting Position

Aside from bitcoin, the rotation shifts fairly frequently among the billion dollar players. A day ago, Litecoin, Monero, and Dash displaced Ethereum and NEM, with gains of 15%, 20%, 25%, respectively. NEM, number four, commands a $2.299 billion cap, followed by Litecoin at $1.575 billion and Ethereum Classic at $1.02 billion. There are now six cryptocurrencies with more than $1 billion market caps.

NEM has also made significant gains over the past few months. A major factor that has allowed NEM to transform into one of the most popular altcoins in Japan is its development team and company composed of Japanese founders and talents. NEM was initially developed and introduced in Japan by Makoto Takemiya, the co-founder, and CEO of Soramitsu, the company that has also introduced the Iroha blockchain project to the Linux foundation’s Hyperledger Project. Litecoin, one of the oldest altcoins, gained visibility this month because of its successful activation of SegWit, a scaling solution that circumvents the need for a hard fork.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

 

As bitcoin prices soar, messaging app Kik launches cryptocurrency payment service

  • Cryptocurrency will be the primary transaction currency on Kik.
  • Kik's implementation of cryptocurrency is relatively unusual because most apps use local currencies for payments.

   Messaging app Kik announced Thursday it will use cryptocurrency tokens

as the primary transaction currency on the platform. The announcement comes as Bitcoin and other so-called decentralized currencies are riding a fresh wave of interest. Bitcoin prices hit a record level of $2,500 on Wednesday — a 150 percent surge this year. Using messaging apps for activities like listening to music, ordering food or making payments is already popular in Asia, where WeChat is a dominant app for sending messages on mobile phones. The new program means that Kik can now use an internationalized currency for many transactions.

In the competitive world of technology, that's no small accomplishment.

  

A Bitcoin rival also has the market's attention  

Creating a WeChat-like ecosystem could be a lucrative, even existential, opportunity for other messaging companies like Line and Apple, Technology analyst Ben Thompson wrote earlier this month. Many messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, offer peer-to-peer payments and transactions with businesses. The company behind WeChat, Tencent, invested $50 million in Kik with that goal in mind. Still, Kik's implementation of cryptocurrency is relatively unusual because most apps use local currencies for payments.

Despite bitcoin's association with crimes committed on the so-called Silk Road, technology trend watchers like venture capitalist Fred Wilson have high hopes for cryptocurrencies. Wilson said at a conference this month that consumers would eventually revolt against the data collection from platforms like Facebook and Google, opting to pay small amounts of cryptocurrencies for a more private Internet experience. Canada-based Kik's implementation, Kin, will be based on a different type of technology, ethereum blockchain. Canada is one of the top 10 areas most interested in ethereum over the past 12 months, Google Trends data show.

In its announcement, Kik also called out the omnipresence of giant tech companies. Only about 5.8 percent of U.S. internet users use Kik, according to a May 2016 usage study by AYTM Market Research, compared with 38.9 percent of respondents that use Facebook Messenger. "More and more … services are controlled by a diminishing number of companies, resulting in a future of less innovation and less choice. Decentralization provides a sustainable way forward," the company said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.