Category: InBiz

In Biz: A semester in review

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Exploring the merits of sleeping in v. actually going to class./ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

Exploring the merits of sleeping in v. actually going to class./ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

So here we are folks. One full semester of InBiz back in action. Are you proud? I’m proud. I thought for my final blog I’d take a stroll down memory lane with you through my weird business-like rants.

1. I talked about skipping class and what it costs you for tuition. This blog was 100 percent per my father’s request and definitely a criticism of my own habits. Although I am proud to say I have attended 99 percent of my classes this semester, a new all time high. Sure it took me almost all of college to get here, but it’s the thought that counts.

Why this post worked: I had to do math. It was relevant. I had to learn how to blog.
Why this post didn’t work: I had to do math. Ouch.

2. My first adventure into the listicle was inspired by trying to buy lottery tickets with convenience points. I learned that I have slightly more respect for Buzzfeed because being witty is hard. I also learned that Tumblrs that make gifs often have names we can’t publish. Way to go Tumbr.

Why this post worked: Listicles! Gifs! The constant lament that I can’t buy beer at the BU Pub with monopoly money!
Why it didn’t work: I’m not actually that funny. Sorry guys.

A "Game of Thrones" GIF for the listicle because, well, "Game of Thrones"./ GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

A “Game of Thrones” GIF for the listicle on finding a subletter because, well, “Game of Thrones”./ GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

3. In March I decided to complain about Slate complaining. I know, super meta. Sure, I may have thought of this blog by idly scrolling through Twitter and picking the first thing I could have an opinion on, but that doesn’t mean my strong feelings about Slate are any less real. Seriously, ask me about Slate some time. I have a lot of feelings.

Why it worked: I was forced to analyze other people’s convictions as well as look at how marketing works. In a lot of ways I had to think the most for this blog. Maybe Slate did win in the end.
Why it didn’t: Unless other people also noticed that Slate wouldn’t stop beating a dead horse, I probably was typing into the abyss.

4. And finally, my penultimate log was about Game of Thrones and finding subletters.

Why it worked: Game of Thrones
Why it didn’t: No one contacted me to sublet me apartment…

Thanks for InBizing with me!

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In Biz: Professor Boches on digital brands

By Madeline McGill, Staff Writer
@mcgilligansisle

There are few college students who are not familiar with at least one well-known digital brand. Staples such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr  have blended seamlessly into our lives, dominating our day-to-day rituals. Casual actions like waking up and checking Facebook or browsing through BuzzFeed during a study break  demonstrate the significant influence that digital brands hold.

Edward Boches, an advertising professor at Boston University’s College of Communication, says that digital brands are significant in that they often serve a certain utility, which is changing the landscape of how the idea of a brand is defined.

“By definition a digital brand isn’t something that you buy and wear, it isn’t something that you buy and eat, it isn’t something that you buy and drive, it’s something that you use on a day in day out basis,” said Boches. “So it has to add enough value to your life that it’s something you want to use.”

When one stops to think about how a digital brand such as Facebook became such an integral part of our social interactivity, the story becomes less clear. Yes, many digital brands arose to meet the growing market need for social media services. But how did the ideas behind Snapchat and Instagram turn into multi-million and billion dollar industries?

Boches said he believes that there are certain factors  that contribute to the success of a digital brand. One of these, he stated, is an available user base.

“If you look at the value of any digital brand, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, a blog like the Bleacher Report, it’s pretty much based on how many eyeballs it has,” said Boches. “

What use would Instagram be if no one had instant access to a camera at all times of the day? Part of the company’s success is that it was able to take advantage of the utility of the modern camera phone while creating a digital platform that appealed to a wide audience.

Appealing to a wide audience, according to Boches, can also be achieved by a frictionless user experience.

“Because you think about anything that you use in that space, and if it works really easily, really seamlessly, really simply, really institutive, and has very low friction to it, then you will tend to use it more,” said Boches. “So think about how fast Instagram took off. You didn’t need to figure it out or think about it.”

However, any avid Instagram user can tell you that it is not all about the individual user experience. There is a great need for users to share their experiences with their network, and Instagram provides a digital space where that need can be met.

“So why did Instagram take off so quickly? Because all of a sudden everybody in the world is walking around with a camera in their pocket that can capture images and what are you going to do with those images?” said Boches. “You’re going to want to share them and look and other people’s pictures, and so it could only have existed when all of a sudden the camera in your pocket was a universal thing. Which by the way was also connected to the web, which was connected to your social profile, which was connected to everything else.”

Digital brands that effectively tap into an active user base will experience astounding results. Since its  launch, Instagram boasts more than 200 million monthly users, 70% of whom log in at least once a day.

Recognizing the success effectively cultivating and mobilizing a user base may yield, there are individuals who use the process of digital branding, through digital brands such as Facebook and Twitter, to promote themselves or an idea that they want to share.

Many college students are familiar with the Twitter user @BostonTweet, who created a Twitter account in 2008 to promote  local business activity during the economic downturn. Boasting 112 thousand followers as of April 13, account creator Tom O’Keefe has successfully marketed himself as a personal brand to the Boston area.

According to Boches, this is just one example of how any individual can market themselves via emerging forms of digital media.

“You could be a brand,” said Boches. “If you’re a reporter, and you have a column, and you have a Twitter account, and then you also have a blog, and you also have a Instagram, and you share all of your content and you build a community of followers, and they pay attention to you and seek out and subscribe to your content, then you are a small brand.”

It may not fit the traditional definition of a brand, but it is all part of an evolving transition that is changing the way that the public regards the traditional definition of a brand.

According to Boches, anyone who is resourceful, determined and prolific could accomplish what @BostonTweet has done with the digital resources at their disposal.

“When I was your age, you needed five million dollars to do anything,” said Boches. “Now there’s a multi-billion dollar infrastructure courtesy of Facebook, Google, Twitter, the web, YouTube, et cetera… I think what it means is that anybody with the wherewithal, with the creativity, with an idea, with content, et cetera, can do something.”

Boches added that though actual content creators comprise a smaller proportion of social media platforms than content distributors, generational changes have encouraged the increase in the percentage of content creators.

“There’s an argument that goes like this: of all the people on all the platforms, whatever they are, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, across all those platforms probably only 10 or 15 percent of the people who use them are actually creating content and calling attention to themselves. 30 or 40 percent of people are maybe distributing and sharing it, and passing it around or commenting it or interacting with it. The rest are just reading it, as consumers,” said Boches. “But, if you look at those numbers, that 15 percent of content creators used to be 5, then it was 10, now it’s at 15 and I think as your generation and subsequent generations have something to say, you’re growing up with the idea that ‘Well, we own the media. The media belongs to us.’”

With the ingrained idea that people have the power to manipulate the media, what are the future implications of digital brands and the process of digital branding? With more resources available, it is expected that the number of personal and digital brands will arise via the use of social media platforms.

“I do think that it’s not that we’re going to see less of it,” said Boches. “It might be harder to stand out, and harder to get real notoriety, and you might have to be more inventive and more creative and better at it.”

InBiz: How it feels trying to find a subletter, as told by “Game of Thrones”

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

The Boston ice is finally melting which can mean only one thing: the semester is ending. For those of us who aren’t living in the palace that is StuVi, and who aren’t kicking it in Boston this summer, it means it’s time to convince someone to pay your rent (I mean ‘take your place’) in your Allston apartment.

GIF VIA Game of GIFS Tumblr user

GIF VIA Tumblr user Game of GIFS

In honor of my insane excitement about the season four premier, here’s what it feels like trying to find a subletter, as told by “Game of Thrones.” Get ready to press play and feel the struggle.

At first you’re hopeful. You love your apartment. It’s cheap, comfortable, you’re used to it. Look at that view. Everyone would want to live here.

GOT 2

GIF VIA giphy.com

Then you start trying to write a craigslist ad, and suddenly everything is awful. How have you been paying this much to live in a closet all year? WHO WILL CHOOSE TO LIVE HERE?

GOT 3

GIF VIA giphy.com

You start asking your friends to move in so you don’t have to deal with it. Even offering sweet deals.

GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

When your friends move in you decide to throw caution to the wind. Who needs background checks? Please live here.

GIF VIA castofthrones.com

GIF VIA castofthrones.com

As time passes you start to realize that there really is no choice.  You no longer care who lives in your stuff but you try to get your roommate to get along with the strangers.

GIF VIA giphy.com

GIF VIA giphy.com

Your roommate shoots down your applicant.

GOT 7

GIF VIA nolanfans.com

You turn to the BU Housing Facebook group in a final moment of desperation.

GIF VIA giphy.com

GIF VIA giphy.com

And then you wait…

GIF VIA giphy.com

GIF VIA giphy.com

But eventually, summer is coming and surely everything will have worked out. Unless, of course, your last name is Stark.

GIF VIA giphy.com

GIF VIA giphy.com

In Biz: The “pink princess problem” and why it’s not

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Scrolling through the internet, every week or so I see a different thought piece on marketing toys for girls (I’m looking at you, Slate).

It all started about a year ago with the kickstarter campaign for GoldieBlox, a cute toy which supposedly will harbor engineering and creative problem-solving skills in your daughter. Cute idea and a pretty stellar ad, if I say so myself. But people aren’t mad not that the toy isn’t good, even if the Amazon reviews say as much, they’re mad because it’s pink.

Seriously, it’s almost April 2014, and on Sunday Slate posted yet another think piece on the “pink princess problem.”

The author, Allison Benedikt, says: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses. It is a given that if you are a mildly feminist mother (or father, but more mother), you are going to do everything within your power to steer your daughters away from anything that has the stink of “girly” on it. I shudder to think how many pink ruffled onesies, gifts from less enlightened relatives and sexist friends, have gone unworn because America’s feminist mothers could not stand to dress their 3-week-olds in the color of oppression.”

You know what I want to know? Why are we stressing about colors? Why is it kids products that set people off? Since when does my vast collection of Barbies (which no, you can’t give away Mom) mean I hate women?

Marketing isn’t perfect for any demographic. If the internet is to be believed, models are too skinny, men are too muscled, advertising is misogynistic and Obamacare is a scam. But I take the internet with a grain of salt. Advertisers are just doing their jobs. Studies have shown that little girls like princesses and pink and not worms.

Let’s stop fighting. If you have a brain, marketing doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of your tastes. And please, Slate, stop writing about colors and how they oppress little girls who don’t know what the phrase “gender binary” means.

In Biz: Zipcar rolls out 18+ program for college students

Vitalik Schafer, Staff Writer
@Vitalgrodno

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Freshmen missing their cars have another option when it comes to getting around. If you weren’t aware, Zipcar has lowered its age minimum to 18.

The program, which used to require members to be 21 or older, now accepts the majority of college students. Starting at $8 an hour, members can drive anywhere. Another great perk offered is the free 180 miles per day, without having to pay for gas. This seems like a bit of a gamble considering that college students can be somewhat irresponsible.

Zipcar spokeswoman Lindsay Wester said Zipcar wanted to provide on demand cars for campuses and students that especially needed them, which was the 18 and older crowd. To make sure that those signing up are safe drivers, Zipcar performs extensive driving record checks. The company also saw rolling out the 18 and up program at Boston University as an opportunity for everyone to have a car on a campus, especially where just 2 percent of students have a car on campus.

In a student’s college experience, it is likely that they may want to travel where the T does not go or where taking the taxi would not be an affordable option. Zipcar offers students this convenience of “wheels when you want them” with a subsidized application fee of $15 to fit that college budget.

Avis, the parent group of Zipcar, has heavily invested into BU, and has a strong relationship with the sustainability organization on campus. The goal is for students to transition into full time Zipcar users after college. Currently, there are 12 cars on campus, and the goal is to have a car for every 50 students on campus. As enrollment increases, demand will be met with new vehicles. Since the program was launched, three new spots have been added in two locations on the Boston University campus.

Another unique feature of Zipcar is its Students With Drive program. Zipcar awarded a total of $300,000 in driving grants for the 2013/2014 academic year. Through the program, students who might not be able to otherwise can get access to transportation, and in return Zipcar gets a boost in publicity and demand.

Zipcar’s rapid success in the car rental market is bound to continue to increase as the service provides an affordable and convenient way to rent cars. Car sharing is the future, as access to these vehicles by the younger generation will make Zipcar a household name in years to come. Many people may even see that using a car sharing service like Zipcar is much more affordable than owning a car.

In Biz: The Problem With Bitcoin

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

A lot of people are concerned with where Bitcoin is going, but would you invest in it?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Antana

A lot of people are concerned with where Bitcoin is going, but would you invest in it?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Antana

I’ve been pretty fascinated by Bitcoin for about a year now. Really, I was late to the party, but I’ve still got a good grip on it.

For those of you who don’t know, Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not backed by any form of government. Bitcoins are held in digital Bitcoin wallets and traded person to person for goods and services.

The mainstream media didn’t really latch on to Bitcoin until about December when it had a huge run, a single coin was worth as much as $1,200 a few months ago. Anything worth that much money gets media attention, that’s just how it works. The run didn’t last and coins are currently worth about $600.

But here’s the thing, it’s not worth it for me to tell you the price as I write this. It could be higher or lower just seconds from now. Sure, that’s the case with any commodity or stock. The price of gold fluctuates daily, but it’s fluctuating in cents not dollars.

Bitcoin had potential to be a great commodity, if not a currency. But before it becomes usable it has got to settle down. If I’m buying Chinese takeout for $10 I don’t want it to end up costing me $12 as I eat it because I didn’t wait for the exchange rate to drop.

There’s one other risk I’d be remiss to not point out: security.

Because Bitcoin is entirely virtual it is at a greater risk than any currency that lives in a bank. Bank robberies are rare, but hacking happens every day. Bitcoin trading platform MtGox suffered such extreme security breaches it has shut down and now faces Bankruptcy. Ouch.

I think Bitcoin is fascinating. I’m usually tweeting about it. But I’m not willing to put my money in something so volatile at this point. Then again, a wise economics professor once told me about stocks, “you can either eat well or sleep well, never both.”

Maybe Bitcoin could make another run, we’ll just have to wait and see.

In Biz: Much House, Very Space, Plz Send Dogecoin

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

When is a joke dead? Is it when U.S. Health and Human Services tweets it?

doge tweet

Is it when GOP senators use it? Or is it when you can sell your house for a joke currency?

Yep. Coinye might be dead, Bitcoin might be mainstream, but a man in Wisconsin is selling his home for 100 million Dogecoins.

Based on the popular internet meme “Doge,” featuring a photo of a shiba inu and comic sans commentary, 1,000 Dogecoins amount to 97 cents. According to CNN, Matt Thompson should get $135,000 as long as the exchange rate holds steady.

And while holding the little used crypto-currency may seem like a bad idea to most of us, Thompson told CNN he thinks he can use it in his videogame and electronic resale business. Since he imports his wares from Asian markets online, he is likely to be able to put his Dogecoins to good use if he gets an offer.

If this sounds like a marketing plan (I mean, what could be more viral that doge?), you’re right. Thompson decided to accept the coins after his home had been on the market for three months with no offers, according to CNN.

The crypto-currency market is picking up, no longer only used by the deep web and Silk Road. Dogecoins in particular are popular among Reddit users. Not surprising since the online forum also made the meme popular. According to CNN, 100,000 users trade Dogecoins.

Still, I think I’d rather have a house on the market than a pocket full of much coin.

InBiz: Things You Wish You Could Buy With Convenience Points

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Oh Convenience Points. The magical currency of terriers all over Commonwealth Ave. While they’re great for snagging some late night Domino’s or some overpriced shampoo in City Convenience, there are some things you just can’t get. Despite being sold in places that accept the points that you bought on your iPhone a minute before getting to the cash register, you won’t be walking away with any of these:

1. Cigarettes

They sell them in the City Convenience on West Campus, but you aren’t allowed to use your Monopoly money to get both those chasers and your weekend pack of smokes. It’s probably for the best though, one pack costs more than a small pizza these days.

PHOTO VIA/ hoppip.tumblr.com

PHOTO VIA/ hoppip.tumblr.com

2. Beer

In the biggest moment of irony, the BU Pub proudly displays a “we accept convenience points” tag on the backside of the beer tap, but the bartenders can get pretty testy when you don’t have cash on hand to pay for your lager. It’s okay though, at least you can get a sandwich in the proximity of a Blue Moon when you’re low on real funds.

King of the Hill

PHOTO VIA/ cosedipococonto.tumblr.com

3. Scratch Lottery Tickets

Another City Co. item that just isn’t meant to be. Just think of the pure profit of buying a scratcher with points and winning real money. You could go to the Pub and get a beer then.

winning

PHOTO VIA/ ultimaforsan.tumblr.com

4. Cabs

As if the current Hockey East standings weren’t enough to make you mad at Boston College (they’re ranked #1 compared to BU’s #10), the BC version of Convenience Points, “Eagle Points,” get them a cab ride as well. But then again if I had to go out in Chestnut Hill I’d make the school subsidize it too.

PHOTO VIA/ thelolgifs.tumblr.com

PHOTO VIA/ thelolgifs.tumblr.com

5. Papa John’s Pizza

RIP good breadsticks…

PHOTO VIA/ funnycutegifs.com

PHOTO VIA/ funnycutegifs.com

InBiz: Russia Invests Big in 2014 Sochi Olympics

By Vitalik Schafer, Staff Writer
@Vitalgrodno

Will the infrastructure costs in Sochi actually help revitalize the city?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Stefan Krasowski

Will the infrastructure costs in Sochi actually help revitalize the city?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Stefan Krasowski

Businessweek is calling the Sochi Olympics the most expensive in history, topping out with $51 billion spent. As you can tell from the high cost, Russia invested more than what it would cost to just build a venue for the winter sports.

Recent news stories about the Olympics have not been about the athletes, but rather about the corruption, security and political issues, not to mention the funny hotel picture tweets from journalists.

Typically, the Olympics are an opportunity for the host nation to show off their art, culture, infrastructural feats and athletic stars. And, as President Putin has said, “build bridges.”

By heavily investing in the relatively unimpressive Russian south, Putin had hoped to turn an outdated Soviet style resort into a destination where people would want to come back. Supposedly, Putin chose Sochi as the location for the games because it is the favorite vacation spot among Communist elites. The $51 billion price point makes sense when you consider that 85 percent of Sochi’s infrastructure had to be built from scratch.

For Russia, this facelift on Sochi is an investment in its future. Russia is hoping to achieve the same success that Salt Lake City had with its resorts, which experienced a 37 percent increase in profits since its 2002 Olympics and turning it into a billion-dollar industry.

This tremendous investment however is a big risk for Russia. It’s unlikely the government will recoup the ludicrous amount spent. It is also difficult to compare Sochi to any other Olympic host cities: Sochi is the only host city that had to start from scratch, a complete opposite from the last winter games in Vancouver (whose $7 billion price tag boosted the city’s tourism and afforded a face-lift to several resorts).

Sochi, however, is $46 billion more expensive, and its success will rely primarily on people seeing the resort as one of the most elite in the world. That is the big gamble here, what image will people leave Sochi with?

InBiz: Skipping Classes Hurt Your Wallet More Than Your Grade

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Is sleeping an extra hour really more important than that lecture?/ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

Is sleeping an extra hour really more important than that lecture?/ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

It’s cold, the T is running slow, you have a big lecture with no attendance and it’s too early in the semester to really miss anything important. Don’t pretend like you don’t want to skip.

But before you turn off that third (or sixth in my case) panicking alarm, think about the price of that class.

This year’s tuition is $43,970, and I know what you’re saying, one class does not equal $40,000 (we’re getting there).

So one semester is $21,985. You’re taking four classes, so each class is costing you $5496.25. There’s 16 weeks in a semester, so that’s $343.52 per week.

Here’s where it get’s tricky, if you are in a class that meets once a week, get your butt in class. The equivalent of dollars for that class could put your butt in this super sweet chair.

Your class meets twice a week and you’re considering blowing it off? That’s $171.75. You could be taking notes on this sweet tablet for that price, or watching Netflix. Yeah, definitely Netflix.

Three times a week? Conceptually I forgive you because who takes a Friday class willingly, but still $114.50 is going down the drain because your thirsty Thursday got out of hand.  You could be trotting around in these Unicorn shoes for that price, think about it.

Now go back to sleep, sleepy kitten. Sorry if your dreams are nightmares of losing your wallet.