Tag Archives: Mark Cuban

The More You Know: Cyber Dust

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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Cyber Dust

The world of social media is a constant cycle – as soon as people get comfortable and used to the way things are, a new movement begins. Prior to the launch of Facebook, people would communicate online via email or instant messaging, with ambiguous usernames like GreenBayFan56 or CutieKate16. Then, with Facebook, people were no longer anonymous and hidden behind these online identities. They used their real names and provided specific details about their lives online.

Now as we move into 2015, a new movement is taking shape. As people share more and more personal information online, there is a growing level of skepticism about the security of that information. People are starting to shift back to the anonymous days of the pre-Facebook era. This is evident in the growing popularity of networks like Snapchat, Whisper, Secret, and more.

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There are many companies trying to emulate the success of Snapchat and Secret. One of the latest ventures comes from entrepreneur Mark Cuban with his app, Cyber Dust. Cyber Dust is a cross between WhatsApp and Snapchat, with privacy and security being the main priorities. Similar to WhatsApp and Snapchat, it allows users to communicate directly with friends using disappearing text, photos, or emoticons.

Upon opening the app for the first time, users are greeted with a welcome screen emphasizing the simplicity and security of Cyber Dust. As creator Mark Cuban explains, “I wanted to have a means of communication that is analogous to face-to-face – where you can speak openly and honestly. That is why we created Cyber Dust.” The main screen echoes this sentiment stating, “Every spoken word isn’t recorded, why should your texts be?” In Cyber Dust, messages delete based on their length, and last from 20 to 100 seconds.

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Cyber Dust also shares their data policy with app users, which reemphasizes the data privacy issue.

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Once you have created an account, the app lets you connect to social networks or scan your contacts to find other people who use the application. Once you have added some friends, you are able to start sending messages.

There are three different types of messages you can send: dusts, group dusts, and blasts. Dusts are messages between you and one friend. Group dusts let you message with a group of up to 12 people. The group dust is a new phenomenon because it not only lets you send a message to a select group, but also allows everyone in the group to see each person’s response. Blasts let you send messages to all the people you select. Blasts also let you add a location by choosing your current location or a nearby place. If a user taps the location, they will be taken to a map view and can also be directed outside of the app.

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The overall functionality of the app is very similar to Snapchat, where you have a list of friends you can send “snaps” to or you can share your snap story with your full list of friends. Users also have the option to “pin” their own sent messages in order to remember the conversation. If you pin a sent message, it will remain at the top of the chat room until you leave.

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Cyber Dust gives you the option to follow celebrities including founder Mark Cuban (blogmaverick.com). Cyber Dust users that are on iOS devices also have the ability to take screenshots since it is a key function of the device; however, the app will send a notification to the other user (as seen below). 

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Overall, Cyber Dust is very similar to Snapchat but one of the main advantages is that you are able to share pictures from your photo library, whereas on Snapchat you need to take pictures within the app itself. Instagram launched its video capabilities with these limitations; however, a little over a month later, they announced that you could upload videos from your phone’s media library and share to Instagram regardless of when they were captured.

Cyber Dust taps into the anonymous messaging trend and brings a few competitive advantages to the table, including the group dust feature and the ability to use photos from your phone’s photo library. However, the social app landscape is constantly changing. With the Snapchat hack last October, Whisper being attacked for tracking personal data, and even the Sony email hack, people are starting to get nervous. Time will tell whether some of these security/privacy breaches are enough to drive people away from these messaging apps for good.

2015 Will See The Rise Of Dark Social

Written by: Tom Edwards
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dark-social

Dark social is the sharing activity that is somewhat invisible to traditional analytics. It’s the culmination of referrals and sharing of content that originates from instant messages, emails containing links, and most recently, the rise of ephemeral social communication platforms such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

A majority of focus today is on social broadcast platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With the tides shifting toward ephemeral social communication applications as a key driver of sharing, the attribution data of the share — and all of the value that comes with it — is essentially untapped and, in some cases, simply unknown.

According to a recent Radium One study, 59 percent of all online sharing is via dark social. Furthermore, a whopping 91 percent of Americans regularly share information via dark social methods. This study also showed that 72 percent of sharing is simply users copying and pasting long URLs and either emailing or texting the information.

There are a significant number of conversations — and more importantly, potential intent— from a marketing perspective that are simply being ignored and untapped. Currently, there’s an over-reliance on retargeting. Dark social could represent an opportunity to bring balance to the equation.

What makes cracking the code with dark social in 2015 even more paramount is the sharp rise in adoption of ephemerally charged, socially-centric communication apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Kik. The convergence of social and mobile is here and the percentage of content shared through dark social will continue to rise at an exponential rate in 2015.

A few pioneering brands have incorporated sharing functionality with the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which has over 400 million users sending 50 billion messages a day. FTW, a USA Today sports site, introduced a WhatsApp sharing button to its mobile experience recently, and almost immediately saw shares from WhatsApp climb to 18 percent of the site’s overall sharing activity. Furthermore, 53 percent of shares came from “dark social” vs. 47 percent through traditional social mechanisms.

Snapchat, another ephemeral application, is the fastest-growing social app heading into 2015. With a user base of 100 million active users, 60 percent of whom engage with the app 22 times per day, Snapchat represents another dark social platform that should be considered in 2015. This is especially true with the upcoming strategic partnership model that will incorporate multiple media outlets into the platform. This will convert the experience to include more content from external networks and publishing partners.

And there’s Wechat, with a global audience of 600 million users, 180 million outside of China. It is the fifth most-used smartphone app worldwide. All of these essentially represent the next wave of dark social that will quickly raise dark social sharing’s current percentage of 59 percent of total sharing even higher in 2015.

Outside of the applications listed above, there are many more that are growing quickly, including Kik. Even Apple’s AirDrop is being used to share images and messages with school-age kids.

And there are more on the way — hybrids of the hybrids — like Mark Cuban’s Cyber Dust, which essentially combines elements of WhatsApp and Snapchat, boasts high levels of privacy and security, and is, as Cuban recently commented,  “troll-proof.”

Moving forward, there are ways to begin building a dark social strategy. In addition to simply relying on URL-shortened links, brands can employ advanced Google Analytics against long-form links.

It’s also important to consider what integration options are available from the social communication providers themselves, the type of data and analytics available, and how these will be aligned with existing measurement framework.

Taking these steps will ensure that while we’re testing and learning, we can begin to formulate how these platforms will go from experimental to a reliable part of the marketing mix.

Understanding how content is shared when not immediately visible will be a key metric in 2015. Dark social is on the rise, and the more we can harness its power, the faster we can build connections and leverage intent to drive conversions.