Looking for a mentor?

With your graduation in mind a lot of questions about a potential future job arise. How to find the best job and how do you know what’s the best job for you? What qualities are businesses looking for and how can you best present yourself? It would be ideal to have someone assist you that already went through this process. A person to ask all your questions to in person instead of reading blogs on the Internet, hoping you will find the right answers. But how do you find that person?

There is nowadays a company that can help you find such a mentor, who will guide you through this exiting journey of getting your first job. Dwillo provides online mentor communities, which exist out of students and young professionals. Dwillo facilitates the relations between these groups and tries to help between finding the perfect match. A mentor (which could be a young professional in my case) can help mentees (which would then be me) in making difficult choices related to career and personal development. Exactly the person I am looking for!

Dwillo, (co-) founded by a RSM alumnus in 2012, is an online platform that allows students, professionals and entrepreneurs to connect in a mentor relation. By providing online mentor communities for universities, associations and enterprises they make it possible for people to connect. Dwillo provides a platform, which creates value through co-creation of mentors and mentees. Dwillo won several competitions such as the RSM I WILL Award and the Philips Innovation Award.

Some will be skeptical about the platform, as they might say you could easily ask someone that is close by (relatives, friends, classmates), but Dwillo markets itself with the fact that it saves time, engages users and their platform has a low organizational risk. Who actually uses Dwillo and whom can I find on the platform? As a student from Rotterdam School of Management, I can contact (experienced) alumni to find a mentor. But it also works the other way around, because as an experienced student (I think I can call myself that after living and studying almost 6 years in Rotterdam now), I can choose to also be a mentor for young students and future students to help them in return. The intrinsic satisfaction of helping young students, a rewarding volunteering experience and enhancing leadership and coaching skills are benefits that arise from mentoring (other) students.


Dwillo will only continue to exist if enough students are looking for a mentor and enough young professionals want to mentor students. Value is therefore created if the online platform is used and, according to Grönroos and Voima (2013), the customer’s well being increases through the process. The students and young professionals co-create value for each other, and Dwillo assists them in this process.

Unfortunately I am too late to register for the spring edition, but I will definitely register myself when the registration procedure is open again! Be it a mentor or a mentee, I definitely want to contribute to this beautiful volunteering experience provided by Dwillo.

Grönroos, C., & Voima, P. (2013). Critical service logic: making sense of value creation and co-creation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), 133-150



Combining Crowdsourcing and 3D Printing

Haarlem is a city located in the Netherlands and the capital of the province of North Holland. With a population of 155,000 it belongs to one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands and should have enough possibilities/resources for crowdsourcing a 3D Printing project, at least that’s what Max van Aerschot should have thought when he lauched his “Haarlem” cityprinting project.

Max van Aerschot, appointed to be city architect of Haarlem after fulfilling different projects, advised the town councils to focus on the east parts of the city. In his opinion, this part of the city has been forgotten since the late 60’s and citizens should be involved during initiatives for town planning. With co-building a city model, in the form of a 3Dprinting project, allows Max van Aerschot to show citizens what’s going on and how the future town planning of Haarlem looks like.

Visualizing, using city models, is an important tool for communication with citizens and additionally should result in more involvement in town planning. Gabriël Verheggen – Architect

Haarlem cityprinting project

After six years of walking around with his initial idea, Max van Aerschot launched the 3D printing project in collaboration with a few specialized companies and a lot of cizitens. The model would be built at a scale of 1:1000 and devided in 600 “puzzle pieces”. Making use of the crowd to create a city model is a wordwilde unique concept. Upon that, using the 3D printing technique makes it an extremely innovative crowdsourced 3D Puzzle project.

Crowdsourcing project.

Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers.

The choice for outsourcing the development of a cityprinted model of Haarlem to the crowd has several reasons. As told earlier it is a tool for communication and creating citizins involvement in town planning initiatives. Secondly, and probably one of the main reasons : 3D printing technique is a relative promising new technique however it allows Max van Aerschot “in collaboration with the crowd” to build the city model as it is nowadays at a scale of 1:1000. This project couldn’t have been done with old techniques due to a lack of time and financial resources. Besides the financial plusses, a lack of time is still a main reasons for crowdsourcing. The project couldn’t be a success without the crowd because of the lack of speed at which 3D printers work.

Using open-source data from the kadaster,  allows the initiatiors to devide the city plan in +- 600 pieces. This digital ‘puzzle’ is created in a way that every piece (18cm x 18cm) of the puzzle can be 3D printed with a (normal) 3D printer. This allows everyone who is owner of a 3D printer to participate in the co-creation process.

City printing

As pictured above, everyone who want’s to participate in the crowdsourcing project, can assign on a specific piece for creation. On the map : Blue = Free, Orange = Assigned but still needs to be print, Green= Printed.  After assigning on a specific “piece” participants will be provided with PLA (source for 3D printing) to print their assigned piece. The 3D printed part of Haarlem needs to be handed in at 3DMM (project – partner) to complete your role as a co-creator. After fulfilling the whole process, participants are rewarded with a place in the wall of fame and will obtain eternal fame on the first crowdsourced 3D printed city model.


Created by : Luut Willen








Is Hillary Clinton going to win the 2016 election thanks to Pandora?

Pandora Internet Radio is a music streaming service that is doing a great job in terms of music recommendation. Their recommendation system is based on the Music Genome Project, which began in 2000 and is one of the most thorough analysis of popular music ever undertaken. It took 30 experts in music theory five years to complete. The Music Genome Project is based on an intricate analysis by actual humans (about 20 to 30 minutes per four-minute song) of the music of 10,000 artists from the past 100 years. This means that the analysis of new music continues every day. The difference with recommendation systems of other players in the market is that Pandora does not make use of the popular method of “people who like this also like this” or other users ratings.

It starts with entering a song or artist that you want to listen to and Pandora will generate a continuous playlist. While a song is playing, it is possible to provide positive or negative feedback for songs chosen by the service. Based on your feedback, Pandora is analyzing the musical structures present in the songs you like and it will add other songs that possess similar musical traits to your playlist.

But, after years of customizing playlists to individual listeners, the company has started data-mining users’ musical tastes for clues about the kinds of ads most likely to engage them. Eric Bieschke, Pandora’s chief scientist says: “It’s becoming quite apparent to us that the world of playing the perfect music to people and the world of playing perfect advertising to them are strikingly similar”.

A lot of companies make use of behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting comprises a range of technologies and techniques used by online website publishers and advertisers aimed at increasing the effectiveness of advertising by using users’ web-browsing behavior and personal information. Amazon is one of the companies that is really differentiating themselves by using their huge amount of data to make a deeper understanding about individuals and try to influence their behavior.

Pandora adds another layer on behavioral targeting: music. They seek correlations between the listening habits of their users and the kinds of ads they might be most receptive to. The company beliefs that people’s music, movie or book choices may reveal much more than commercial likes and dislikes. Certain product or cultural preferences can give glimpses into consumers’ political beliefs, religious faith, sexual orientation or other intimate issues.

In time of elections, Pandora uses their political ad-targeting system. They are able to deconstruct users’ song preferences to predict their political party of choice. This system has already been used in former presidential and congressional campaigns. During these campaigns, Pandora users tuning into country music or Christian bands might see ads for republican candidates and others listening to hip-hop tunes or classical music might see ads for democrats.

I think providing ads based on music preferences is a new interesting way to target the right audience. Of course, the system will not be able to predict everyone’s political affiliations right, but I can imagine that the algorithm has improved a lot since the last presidential elections. So in 2016, Hillary Clinton might be winning the elections thanks to the ads on Pandora.


Deschene, L. (2008). What Is Behavioral Targeting?. Available: http://i.bnet.com/pdf/199800-What_Is_Behavioral_Targeting_.pdf. Last accessed 03-05-2015.

Layton, J. (2015). How Pandora Radio Works. Available: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/pandora1.htm. Last accessed 03-05-2015.

Singer, N. (2014). Listen to Pandora, and It Listens Back. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/technology/pandora-mines-users-data-to-better-target-ads.html?_r=0. Last accessed 03-05-2015.

Can we give Joe his Brazilian babes back?

Yes, we can.

After my parttime student job at a large beer brewery, I started an internship at a B2B company selling plastic pipes, were I was responsible for the online part of their digital transformation. One of the challenges that I faced, was the content presentation on the website. We had four different types of customers. Customers which were all very different from each other and that varied from Joe the plumber to the boardroom members of larger building companies. Using the company website as a marketing tool hereby became quite hard, since I could not present marketing content on the homepage that was relevant for all of these different customers. At the time, I was not aware of a simple and relatively cheap solution for this problem, but last week I was confronted with a company that created a tool which could solve just that.

This company was Hubspot. World’s largest inbound marketing and sales platform (Hubspot.com, 2015) and provider of a marketing automation tool which gives answer to the what, when, and how question. Like I said, people have different needs in what sort of content they want. Presenting the same content hereby could decrease the effectiveness of the marketing activities on a company website, but still a lot of (mostly small and medium size) companies do not offer different content for different customers. Visitors could also be in very different stages in the sales funnel. If a potential customer is orienting what sort of product to buy, this customer does not want to be bothered by very specific product advertisements. The format how people want their content could also vary among consumers. Some people want to know every detail, while others are primarily interested in the bullet points of content and hereby the optimal format in which the same sort of content should be presented could differ among customer as well.

But what does the Hubspot tool deliver that overcomes these problems? How could the Hubspot tool provide even smaller companies with the almost the same a level of website personalized website adaptability that was formerly only achievable by the bol.com’s of this world? The Hubspot tool gives companies the ability to bundle of all of there online activities togethers and by letting these companies build a database that watches and listens to all of what your online customers are doing (Halligan, 2012). This database data could then be used to personalize company websites for different their customer groups. Customer groups which exist of consumers with the same sort of online behavior.

If I would have implemented this during my former job, I would not have had the content trade-off’s,  because I did not have to present all customer groups with the same content. Instead, I would have made four different content variants, belonging to the four different groups of customers. Joe could hereby enjoy his Brazilian product babes, while mister CEO would be presented with high level CSR stories and case studies.

Click here to read the former post of this author: “Marketingfacts, watch out, the students are coming”

  • Halligan, B. (2012). HubSpot — Inbound Marketing Meets Marketing Automation.
  • Hubspot.com, (2015). HubSpot | Inbound Marketing & Sales Software. [online] Available at: http://hubspot.com [Accessed 3 May 2015].

Why should companies use crowdweaving?

Crowdweaving is a product from KLCommunications

First of all, it simply recognizes the fact your passionate customers remain a talented untapped resource for improving your ideation success rate. By allowing customers to help drive the process, companies will make better decisions. These decisions will both save and make more money for the company.

Continue reading Why should companies use crowdweaving?

Google & Facebook helping out Nepal.

On the 25th of April 2015, Nepal was struck by the worst earthquake the country had seen within 80 years. Around 40 to 50 villages were (almost) completely destroyed, especially in the North-West of Kathmandu.

Currently, the amount of deaths counted is 7,040. However, the Nepalese prime minister Sushil Koraila has stated that this number will most probably rise above the 10.000 deaths. Besides this, thousands of people were hurt and the damage that the earthquake caused in general is enormous.`

The country is still looking for survivors of  the earthquake. In addition, the demand for food and hygiene is extremely high. There are a lot of victims with dirty wounds that got infected. Doctors and nurses are trying to reach the stricken areas, but a lot of them are hard to reach. Food preparation has become really hard through a shortage of pots and pans. However, the most urgent problem at this point is the lack of shelter. As lots of houses are destroyed most of the survivors currently live on the streets.

As this is a very serious natural disaster, people all over the world are joining forces to get Nepal the help they need as well as companies. Google and Facebook, two of the greatest information sources, are also showing their help, but in a different way.

Safety check

Facebook has come up with a “safety check” that the company had already presented last October however, it is only activated when an actual disaster occurs. People in the stricken area get a notification of Facebook, based on the location of their last log in, asking them if  they are safe. As soon as they have clicked on safe, all their Facebook friends will get to see a status update that will notify them that the person is safe. This is a new integrated tool of Facebook that involves the need of different users. On the one hand  it offers a form of relieve to family members and friends that hear the terrible news. On the other hand it is a fast way for the person in the disaster area to notify the people around them that they are safe.

Person Finder

Likewise, Google has made an effort to use its information source to help out the victims of Nepal. They activated their Person Finder. Through this webpage users can report if they are looking for someone or if they have information about the disaster area. Family and friends can for instance, render someone as missing by posting personal information about the missing person and for instance upload a picture. The search option is also available through text message. The search engine currently consists of 4800 cases.


A huge setback, in my opinion, for both integrated tools is the availability to internet. In the disaster area it is likely that after an earthquake smartphones broke down or internet connection or cell phone reception dropped out. In addition, Nepal is not a very wealthy country, which makes the access to Facebook less likely. This is why I wonder how successful these tools will be and what both companies will do to make access easier in such cases.




Fan Funding – Let’s retake charge!

Through crowdsourcing of many kinds, people can support causes they are passionate about and, in the case of equity crowdfunding, even buy shares with voting shares, such that they gain a say in the operations of the organization or project they support. However, can people really fund and take charge of the things they are most passionate about?
“Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”  – Pope John Paul II
The amount to which a large share of habitants of European countries, and many more worldwide, care about their favorite football club can hardly be overestimated. Though how often do we read about mismanaged clubs in severe financial problems? Opportunistic behavior of the top management of clubs unfortunately is rather rule than exception in the industry of football, often resulting in a short term focus, immense amount of debts and, in turn, the decay or even the liquidation of a club. Whereas the often very rich board members and owners are simply replaced after such disasters and move on with their comfortable lives, the fans are left in grief over the loss of their great pride and passion.
There is hope. In the last years, some highly interesting and promising initiatives have taken place to redistribute a part of the control of a club to its fans. Due to financial mismanagement, from the 2009/2010 season onwards, the former British Premier League side Portsmouth Football Club was relegated three times in a row and the club found itself on the brink of extinction. But, in 2013, the fans injected 2.5 million pounds in their club, through a community share issue with partial ownership rights for each shareholder. The fans, essentially a club’s customers as they buy tickets and merchandise, saved Portsmouth and made ‘Pompey’ the largest fan-owned football club in the UK. The investing fans are united in the Portsmouth Supporter Trust (PST), which has to approve any major decision of the club’s board, such as the issuing of loan capital or venturing in acquisitions. While this yet is a beautiful example of what consumer involvement can do, last year a crowdfunding campaign backed by Portsmouth fans went a step further even. On Tifosy.com, a newly established platform with the aim to stimulate active supporter backings and decision rights, raised 270,000 pounds for Portsmouth to construct its first-ever club-owned academy, right in the heart of the city of Portsmouth.
The video below tells the great story of the Portsmouth fans’ actions.
Two fans of 3rd Bundesliga side FC Fortuna Köln had an even greater ambition. The plan they launched last year proposed that any Fortuna supporter could fund its beloved club and, in turn, gained a vote on a wide array of possible decisions, including whether or not to buy a particular player, realize an investment to the clubs premises or even to sack the first squad’s manager. Every pound invested represents one vote, and the fan opinions alltogether would decide which actions the club had to take. Unfortunately, this highly democratic, wisdom-of-the-crowd enabling, crowdfunding campaign did not reach its funding goal, but the idea might very well turn out an industry changing one in the long run.
The organization Supporters Direct promotes and researches the cause of the so-called Supporters Share Ownership. In their extensive 2013 report on this topic, the authors identify a rapidly increasing interest of both fans and politicians, whereas club owners and board members, the incumbent agents in this industry, display a fierce reluctance to venture in this kind of acquiring funds. To overcome this deadlock, the authors recommend policy makers to establish a Community Football Fund which would be created as a social investment intermediary capable of securing various forms of social investment to assist supporter ownership. Supporters Direct is paving the way for widespread supported ownership of football clubs, giving hopes to all those fans opposing the modern reality of football, where clubs are subject to the dangers of the few elite owners spending billions, those of the short term oriented, opportunistic board members and the investors who view players and clubs as mere investment vehicles.
Sooner than expected, we might witness crowdfunding radically transform yet another industry; the highly conservative, but yet so deeply cherished industry of football. Let’s make it happen!
– Niek A. van der Horst
Crawley Town v Portsmouth - npower Football League One



Buy this team, April 2012, The Economist, accessible at: http://www.economist.com/node/21553493

Crowdfunding: Football’s 12th Man!, April 3rd 2014, FC Business, accessible at: http://fcbusiness.co.uk/news/article/newsitem=3057/title=crowdfunding%3A+football%26%23039%3Bs+12th+man!

Is fan ownership the answer to struggling football clubs?, November 27th 2013, The Guardian, accessible at: http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/nov/27/fan-ownership-football-premier-league

Portsmouth FC Academy campaign successfully raised £270,000, August 16th, Tifosy, accessible at: https://www.tifosy.com/en/campaigns/pompey-academy

Start-up-Netzwerk für Fortuna Köln, April 8th 2014, Kölner Stadt Anseiger, accessible at: www.ksta.de/koeln/crowdfunding-start-up-netzwerk-fuer-fortuna-koeln,15187530,28071496.html

Supporter Share Ownership, 2013, Supporters Direct, accessible at: http://www.supporters-direct.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Supporter_Share_Ownership.pdf

Coolest Cooler: 21st Century Cooler that’s Actually Cooler!

Consumer co-creation and crowdfunding go hand in hand. Consumers co-create value by funding the entrepreneur’s project on crowdfunding platforms. These platforms have brought forth awesome products: the Pebble Time watch, the OUYA videogame console, MaKey MaKey and many more! In this blog I would like to go into more depth about another awesome product brought to life through crowdfunding: the Coolest Cooler!

Afbeelding 3 Blogpost 3

The Coolest Cooler, sometimes called the most successful campaign on Kickstarter ever, raised 13,285,266 dollar from 62,642 funders during its 52-day campaign. That equals to more than 265 times the projected goal. Pretty impressive!

What is this Coolest Cooler? Yes, it is a cooler, but not your average one. This cooler is ready for the 21st century! “The Coolest Cooler is 60 quarts of AWESOME packed with so much fun you’ll look for excuses to get outside more often.” Its founder Ryan Grepper calls the Coolest Cooler a “portable party”. It contains a lot of practical functions a traditional cooler lacks. With the Coolest Cooler comes a built-in ice crushing blender for those margaritas or smoothies on the beach, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, an USB charger for when your electronics are running low on battery, a cooler divider which can also function as a cutting board, a bottle opener, integrated storage for plates and knives, extra wide easy rolling tires (which makes it easier to use it on sandy beaches), gear tie-downs and built-in LED lights to light up the contents for when it is dark outside.

Given those impressive statistics about the funding this project received, you would think it was an instant success. However, what if I told you that before raising more than 13 million dollar in August 2014, it failed to raise 125,000 dollar in December 2013?

Afbeelding Blogpost 3

What turned this failure into a major success? According to the question “What did you do differently this time around?” in the FAQ section on the campaign page it was a combination of multiple factors. First of all, seasonality played a role. People are much more interested in coolers in the summer than in the winter. Naturally, when it is freezing outside, the last thing you will do is spending a day with your friends at the beach or at the park. Secondly, crowding in effects were present. They had a group of passionate supporters from their first campaign, who were willing to actively promote the project. And finally, of course, they learned from the feedback about the first concept and turned it into an improved product. Also, they lowered the bar to 50,000 dollar.

Nowadays, you can sign up for a waiting list to buy the Coolest Cooler when it is for sale to the public.

What do you think about the Coolest Cooler? Do you know any other awesome products created through crowdfunding?



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ryangrepper/coolest-cooler-21st-century-cooler-thats-actually (all three images retrieved from this page)


  Are we ready to adopt digital currency ?  

Just like commodities to commodities-backed currency replaced by current paper money (fiat, banknote), global economy has been introduced by new form of medium of exchange called cryptocurrency. It is basically a digital money that is created to simplify the transaction process in digital environment (like internet). Currently there are around 280 Cryptocurrencies exist and the most popular one is called Bitcoin (Al Shehhi, 2013). Unlike normal banknote, there is no central bank that distribute/print the money. In Bitcoin case, people have to “mine” the currency by installing a software that will be solving mathematical problems in order to get the “coin”.

Before it was founded by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, cryptocurrency idea was introduced in 1998 by a member of cyperphunks mailing list group (in which Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, was an internal member). He tried to achieve privacy by the creation of anonymous transaction method called b-money, that would allow untraceable pseudonymous entities to cooperate with each other more efficiently (Grinberg, R., 2012). However, 10 years later the idea grew beyond its initial purpose and had since become one of the technological hype.

There are several reasons why cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has become so popular. Firstly, it has no transaction cost at all. The reason is, during the transaction, the program will create a peer-to-peer network between the sender and receiver. In other words, its simple infrastructure, and no intermediary, allows the currency to be more cost-efficient as compared to normal credit card and online payment vendor like PayPal (Zielke, 2013 ). Secondly, there is no risk of inflation, which means low risk of collapsing its value. The program (Bitcoin miner) will change the complexity of the problems and subsequently adjust the distribution of the currency in a predictable rate. Lastly, it is secure and anonymous. Receiver will never be able to track down the information of the sender and the sender cannot revert the transaction, preventing any scam behavior.

Spenkelink (2014) interviewed professionals from different industries and discovered hacking and direct cryptocurrency theft are apparently perceived as minor issues. According to his article, as long as the process is easy to use, the price is stable, and the “decentralized” aspect is maintained, general public will be more likely to adopt it.  Likewise fiat money that is backed solely by government regulation and law, cryptocurrency will have to rely mostly on public’s confidence and trust (Grinber, 2012). Thus, it is very important to maintain the aspects Spenkelink (2014) described so as to make it more sustainable in the long run. Furthermore, the benefit of full privacy enjoyed by the users might become a drawback for local governments. That is because cryptocurrency (e.g. Bitcoin) allows criminal activities (e.g. money laundering) to slip through government surveillance easily.

In conclusion, cryptocurrency is still in infant stage and very few studies have  ever studied the field. However, in developed countries where internet connection is prominent and where privacy issue is very sensitive, this type of currency is very highly demanded. However it may take years before the joint-benefits among all the stakeholders (such as government, users, and firms) can be manifested.


Sources :

Al Shehhi, A., Oudah, M., & Aung, Z. (2014, December). Investigating factors behind choosing a cryptocurrency. In Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management (IEEM), 2014 IEEE International Conference on (pp. 1443-1447). IEEE.

Grinberg, R. (2012). Bitcoin: an innovative alternative digital currency. Hastings Sci. & Tech. LJ4, 159.

Spenkelink, H. F. (2014). The Adoption Process of Cryptocurrencies-Identifying factors that influence the adoption of cryptocurrencies from a multiple stakeholder perspective.

Zielke, B. (2011). Why Credit Cards Are Not the Future of Online Payment. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2011/03/02/credit-card-decline






A Real-Life Case From The Netherlands: Tutoring Platform BijlesMatch.com

From the early days of my high school period, I wanted to start my own venture. In what industry did not matter. To me, it was all about innovation, changing the way things work. With great innovators; such as Bill Gates, Tony Hsieh and Elon Musk in my mind, I started to come up with ideas. Hundreds of too ambitious, but unrealistic ideas passed. Finally in my last year of high school, after multiple failed ideas, BijlesMatch was born: an online platform on which tutors and students could find each other (hence the name bijlesMATCH, bijles is dutch of tutoring). We wanted to add value by checking all tutors  on quality (teaching and social skills) before allowing them on our platform. After hours of fruitful discussions with a classmate, I knew how to execute this idea. I was determined to make something out of it, instead of making it another failed idea. My classmate wanted to join, I needed help, so we started this adventure together. An adventure that would still last 6 years later…

 Platform blueprint and development 

Initial blueprints of BijlesMatch platform

Knowing what to build, we still did not knew how to.  We started off with making a list of users-types and functions needed. In the end we constructed a flowchart in Microsoft Visio. The core of the platform became a database with introduction movies per tutor and a filter-function for customers to find the perfect match. We determined to do the designing ourselves and out-source the complex coding. Weeks of developing, a couple of thousand euros (for the complex coding) and five weeks of testing further, we finally had the result:

Database with tutors + filtersystem on website.
Back-end for tutors, customers and administrators.


Pilot and kick-off time
We determined to start in Groningen, The Netherlands (our home city). Our personal network was large in that city and knew where to go if we needed any help. The perfect place for us to realize our first venture. The first step was to recruit tutors via social media and word-to-mouth campaigns. It was our strategy to delay our kick-off until we could cover all high school courses with our tutors. Within one week, we received tens of applications; a positive sign of the abundance of students willing to  tutor. After many interviews, we added the best 18 to our database. Now, it was kick-off time!

Kick-off time!
For the first months, we received nothing but visitors. Our conversion rate was a disappointing 0.00%. We promoted our platform via Facebook, Google Adwords and flyers/posters on high schools. After thorough analysis of our user-data, we recognized that our sign-up page was too complex (exit-rate of 85% after 2 min. of visiting). In conjunction with our developer, we redesigned the sign-up page. It helped a bit, we managed to get a conversion rate of 0.7%, which we still considered to be extremely low. Hence, we lifted the improvement process a level higher: user-interviews. After multiple interactive reviews with customers, test-users and tutorsl we found three major issues:

  • Visitors dislike paying prior to received the contact-details of the tutor.
  • We hided contact information somewhere in the great depths of our website. Customers hate this.
  • People did not want to choose their own tutor, they wanted someone with experience to do this for them.

It became evident that if we wanted to turn BijlesMatch into a success, we really had to shift our focus: so we did.

Major Strategic Turnaround: customer-centric approach
The idea of a controlled platform on which students and tutors could find each other sounded great, but did not convert (at least not ours). Hence, we re-engineered our entire platform based on the three major issues mentioned above. We determined to put the customer central and do everything he/she wishes for:

  1. We deleted our core: the entire database and filter-system
    The idea of people selecting their own tutor sounded nice, but people did not utilized it. Instead, we solely placed a simple form to place a tutoring request. We promised it was entire free to place this request and that we would contact the potential customer within 24 hours.
  2. The prior register and payment steps were deleted.
    On the front-page our contact details were added. People could contact us at any time for a tutoring request. Moreover, we added a free trial tutoring session of an hour for new customers.
BijlesMatch FrontPage 2.0.
BijlesMatch FrontPage 2.0.

The result and what’s next?

Number of views on BijlesMatch till Jan. 2015
Number of views on BijlesMatch till Jan. 2015

In 28th of December 2014, the strategic turnaround was applied on our platform. Above our imaginations, we managed to increase our conversion rate with 357% to 5.1% in January 2015. The latter, in combination with a 200% increase of visitors, resulted in a profitable business model. Currently, we are in May 2015 and we already expanded to Rotterdam. Our conversions rates are going stable around 5% and have more than 70 tutors and 3 regional manager employed. BijlesMatch is currently recruiting tutors in Utrecht and Amsterdam for further expansion.

Lessons learned
The journey through idea-creation, execution, failing, redeveloping and succeeding taught us a lot. For us, the largest factors for a successful platform is: simplicity, customer-convenience, adaptability and constant (peer-) reviewing. Idea in theory and in practice differ a lot. We thought we put our customer central from the beginning, but actually we did the opposite. The main lessons we learned is:

“Stay open for failure and constant change!”

One of our introduction movies used on our initial platform:


1) Original webpage of BijlesMatch: http://www.bijlesmatch.com
2) Google Analytics: https://www.google.com/analytics/
3) Click! Verleiding op het Internet, Aartjan van Erkel, 2015
4) Don’t make me think, Steve Krug, Second Edition.

Let’s help each other watch the “fight of the century”

Yesterday the long awaited “fight of the century” took place between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Although in the end it wasn’t what you would expect of such a fight (‘Money’ Mayweather won because he threw more punches), the way people all around the world watched it gave a glimpse at the future. Costing 100 dollar per view to watch it on your television, it was worth searching for cheaper alternatives. Of course illegal online streams like rojadirecta provided an alternative, but most of the time these streams wouldn’t stay online for more than one round. Luckily Twitter has a better idea of watching content online; Periscope.

The idea behind Periscope is so simple it made me mad I didn’t came up with it myself. The iPhone app allows users to tap a button, wicht starts a stream of everything your camera sees. A consuming user can than tune in on a stream by following it, which will push notifications if a new stream is online, or such a user can just search for interesting streams. The producing user can also start a private stream, which only allows certain users to join in on the fun.

Because of the ridiculously high price one had to pay to watch the fight, this free alternative grabbed a lot of attention last night. Streams of people aiming their iPhone at a TV to share the fight popped up all over the world. Some were at a bar, others in an empty living room. Some provided commentary, others just showed the video. In the end I think the entire fight could be seen for free using Periscope.

Why is this interesting? First of all, it shakes up the ancient Pay per View TV landscape. The medium television really needs to step up its game in order for it to stay relevant in the future. Secondly Periscope shows that people do not always need a monetary incentive to share. Producing users don’t get paid for sharing their content, but they apparently do so. Periscope is a great example of co creating an experience. Because the fight was mostly watched at home, consuming users literally entered the homes of unknown. A completely new experience made possible by the power of crowds, the internet and some caring hearts.

I think an app like Periscope tells us something about future content watching. With cameras getting better, internet becoming faster and IT getting more imbedded in our lives, it is inevitable that television as we know it today will be dead soon.






Oreo’s success in Social Media Marketing

In 2013, Oreo transformed not only its image and but it had also changed the advertising landscape with a real-time marketing coup. Their social media accomplishment was the outcome of a renovated company’s marketing philosophy and processes. The marketing team that is behind the success of Oreo helped with making the shift from a self-involved advertiser to a creator of lively content that generated a lot of buzz. They are now famous for being creative, tweeting on culturally relevant topics, posting fun Facebook posts. They hit more than a couple social media home runs and have shown true mastery of social media usage for Brands, from their Super Bowl tweets, the 100-day “Daily Twist” Facebook campaign, the “Cookie Vs. Cream” videos on YouTube, to their Twitter mockery with their competitor Kit Kat.


Though this famous brand of cookie is notorious for its black-and-white striped exterior, the brand Oreo is a social media powerhouse, as they have millions of followers on various social media platforms. Oreo frequently monitors the return on investment (evaluation of the sales ratio spent on ads and promotional endeavors). The campaigns that are a combination of traditional advertising and digital and social media efforts are analyzed to be twice as effective. The predominant key to Oreo’s success in social strategy is planning and channel synergy. The brand skillfully administers popular accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest to form an network of channels that participate and cooperate with one another not only online but also in offline print, media, marketing and PR.

Important lessons that can be used by any other brand regarding how to run a successful social media strategy are listed below:

  1. Be timely & topical with you social media messages

The term Newsjacking is the notion of placing a brand’s marketing message or opinions into a present news story. This is done to get extra notice from both consumers and the media. The term Culture-jacking has a comparable classification, but focuses on specific trendy events that are happening in a country. Brands can apply this lesson by beforehand creating a schedule of upcoming holidays and events, and posting on subject related to them on these dates. Speak on current real-time events while updating your status or tweeting, and thus be timely and topical.

  1. Promote regularly and with consistency

Oreo was very consistent with their campaign messages and updated their statuses or tweets frequently. They have reached the form of viral marketing by having millions of fans online. These campaigns would not have gone viral, if they did not have millions of followers, but previous these big successes they were posting 5,000 simple tweets, at a rate of three to four tweets a day, engaging with fans and constructing a continuing dialogue. Brands can copy this idea by having a plan on frequently engaging on social media with their followers build up a social community.

  1. Use graphics in your updates & make use of simple concepts

Oreo has posted social media campaigns with relatively high production quality. They do not only tweet or update their statuses regarding a current event, because they know that producing a well designed image while sharing a tweet or update can be more effective. The images of Oreo posted on social media are effectively designed and have a strong tagline. Brands can apply this lesson to by making use of more high quality illustrations, and simplifying their shared message.

  1. Above all: focus on having fun

The true intend of Social media is to be social. So consumers online love to be entertained by fun-loving engagements. All of Oreo’s social media campaigns are intended to make followers smile. Oreo speed while tweeting is amazing to watch, their shared images makes users smile and even some are hilarious. Oreo is not afraid to be playful, seen in their Twitter battle with competitor Kit Kat. Companies must above all realize that when interacting with a social community it’s essential to have fun with it.

Every company anticipating to increase brand awareness via social media platforms should pay attention to commitment, consistency and creativity, in a similar way that Oreo applies to their social communications.


Bullock, L. (August 19, 2013)  “Social Media for Brands, What You Can Learn From Oreo.” <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/social-media-brands-what-you-can-learn-oreo&gt;

Hayes, C. (April 16, 2014) “In the spotlight: Oreo’s social media team.” <http://www.socialbro.com/blog/spotlight-oreo&gt;

Sacks, D. (2014) “The Story Of Oreo: How An Old Cookie Became A Modern Marketing Personality.” <http://www.fastcocreate.com/3037068/the-story-of-oreo-how-an-old-cookie-became-a-modern-marketing-personality&gt;

Hayes, M. (2013) “The Secret Behind Oreo’s Social Media Marketing” http://www.shopify.com/blog/7589919-the-secret-behind-oreos-social-media-marketing

Photo Credit: <http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0070/7032/files/Oreo_Daily_Twist_Ad_Campaign.jpeg?817&gt;


The end of Grooveshark

Users of Netscape and Limewire were illegally distributing music through the web. In 2006, a new company named Grooveshark entered the market of sharing music. Instead of downloading the music, Grooveshark was a web-based music streaming service similar to Spotify, Pandora and Soundhound. Users could easily upload the digital audio files and share their music in the cloud with other users. The website of Grooveshark includes a search engine, streaming service and a recommendation system. The content was crowd sourced and Grooveshark had 30 million active monthly users. A community section allows users to view recent activity of friends and use their social media accounts to connect. If you are now eager to check the website and use their music streaming service, you will be disappointed. The website is closed.

The current status of the website is now defunct due to several legal cases against Grooveshark and substantial fines that makes the CEO say: ‘I’m Broke. I’m Literally Broke…’. Grooveshark stopped their streaming service for everyone on April 30th, 2015.

In 2012, German users couldn’t stream music anymore. According to Grooveshark the German performance rights organization GEMA is the one who is responsible for this action. Due to high licensing fees, the operational costs would have surged which Grooveshark definitely cannot afford. Moreover, various U.S. lawsuits were pending against Grooveshark for distributing pirated digital audio files and not paying any royalties to Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI Music. Additionally, Apple removed Grooveshark app from the App Store and Google pulled the app even twice from the Play Store. In May 2012, Facebook removed Grooveshark and in 2013 Google censored the term Grooveshark from its Autocomplete feature.

Grooveshark stated that firm complies with the rules and follows the procedure of the US’s Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act to remove piracy from its content. This didn’t solve the problem. In the first place, when Grooveshark removed pirated audio files, new ones show up almost immediately. Secondly, the employees were uploading pirated content by themselves. On top of all that, premium services for ad-free streaming services were sold to subscribers. Therefore, the judge of U.S. District Court in Manhatten ruled that Grooveshark was liable for infringement.

Basically, Grooveshark didn’t have proper licenses and paid almost zero royalties. It is inevitable for Grooveshark to shut down, but they had endured a long time of legal fights before they had to settle with the major record companies, shut down the website and give up their patents and other intellectual properties.

Grooveshark’s last message to its users and music lovers:

(blame Grooveshark for the low pixelated message)

grooveshark screenshot website









Lost in Translation?

“Gengo, the Uber for translations.”

Youtube. Magento. Tripadvisor. Alibaba.com. These companies are using the service of Gengo, namely translations powered by its community. This platform provides professional human translation service and has completed already one million translation jobs. Founded in 2008 and by the end of 2013, Gengo has translated 150 million words. Everyone can join the community and sign up as a translator. Currently, 34 languages and 58 language pairs are available to bilinguals with a network of 14,702 translators across 114 different countries.

Gengo makes it very simple for diverse companies to integrate high-quality language translation through an API. As a homeworker, it is very easy to connect to Gengo and begin translating as a freelancer. The platform allows translators to work and manage their own time similar to Uber. Another neat feature is the education of beginning translators in order to increase the overall quality. In general, Gengo delivers a strong message and an innovative service.

This blog continuegengo websites the awareness of crowdsourcing and the sharing economy. Like Uber, Gengo is a gamechanger by making an impact in the translation world. Not to mention, this company has already collected $ 24.2 millions from 23 investors. People-powered translation lowers the barrier to make an impact in the society by translating texts.

However, there are some disadvantages. Until recently, translation crowdsourcing already exists that is merely on voluntary basis for NGOs. Here comes Gengo, which mediates between the supply and demand of translators. They aim to turn it commercial and make translations affordable for companies. All bilinguals can join as a translator very easily without prior qualifications. But the most interesting part is the differentiation of ‘pro’ translators and ‘standard’ translators. The firm describes the pro level where accuracy is key whereas the standard level is focused on non-critical texts, such as blog posts and articles. Likewise the pay rates are differentiated. Usually, a professional translator asks $0.25 per word, but the pro-level and standard-level translators from Gengo receive $0.08 and $0.03 per word respectively. The workload and the related pay rate are perceived as unbalanced since many reviewers on Glassdoor.com have complained about the unreasonable pay compared to their effort.

Basically, Gengo enables businesses to scale quickly and to connect with a global audience. The platform let translators easily read and translate with one click. Not only the ease of the platform is important, the quality of human translation makes the texts easier to comprehend and more natural to read. Yet, the translators feel unsatisfied with their compensation. All thing considered, would you join as a Gengo translator?





Time is money

No money? Time enough? A new platform has been developed where people can exchange goods or services. Usually we pay in cash, by credit card, we trade or we can even pay by bitcoin nowadays. One of the disadvantages of money is that you need to have it in order to be able to buy something. On Marktplaats.nl, a famous Dutch platform where people can offer and buy second hand goods and services, some people also ask to trade something instead of using money. There are even platforms, such as Ruilen.nl and Swapit.nl that focus solely on trading instead of paying with money. One of the disadvantages of trading is that it can be quite unfair sometimes. If you paint your neighbors house for 10 hours and your neighbor takes care of your garden for 5 hours it is not such a fair deal. Besides, it is hard to measure exactly how many hours one spent on a service and if you make a trading deal with a stranger it is usually hard to find something worth exactly the same. There is now a solution for this: the tijdmunt (timecoin).

Tijdmunt makes it possible for people to do a service for other people and in return receive a tijdmunt on the platform. One hour of work equals one tijdmunt. This tijdmunt can be spent on a service of someone else, so not especially the person you did something for. It is a platform where demand and supply come together. Tijdmunt currently has 260 users, and expects to grow faster in the future. At this moment there are 63 advertisements of people that offer something on the website, from repairing a flat tire to a dvd box of Lord of the Rings. Currently there are only 19 advertisements of people looking for a service, from someone looking for a hairdresser to someone looking for a programmer. On the demand side of the platform there is nobody looking for goods, only for services. Users can save real money because now they can pay in tijdmunten instead of with money. New users have to register on the website www.tijdmunt.nl, where they can create a tijdmunt bank account. This bank account allows them to transfer tijdmunten to other users of the platform.

Similar platforms where people can exchange services or goods for time were developed, but most of these websites are location based and local people do things for other local people.

The vision of tijdmunt states that before money it was normal to exchange goods and services, but over time consumers and companies have become largely dependent on money. The financial crisis has shown that money also has its limitations and therefore tijdmunt could be used as good complement to the normal money, because it is independent of place, investments and systematic risks. To me, tijdmunt seems like a fair complement to money for people doing services for each other. Would you try it out?










Picture: http://www.caseact.com/Features/images/1

China joins the big data game

Big data, a broad term describing the collection and use of data so large and so complicated that traditional models do not suffice. With the digitalization of modern society big data has become a buzzword that is mentioned whenever and wherever. The possibilities seem endless, companies can find patterns and links in places where no one would have expected them. Amazon, for example, knows you so well that it can ship your next package before you even order it. This massive data collection hasn’t come without its negativity. How much information should be available for a company to use? Privacy concerns lead to regular court cases, where often the companies are forced to stop or change the way they collect data. Clearly there is a limit to data collection, or is there?

Last year China announced its Social Credit System, a nationwide system giving an individual score to each of its 1,3 billion citizen. The system incorporates multiple criteria from general information as job and criminal behavior, but it also incorporates social values. Creemers, a china specialist, says: ‘This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among its citizens “socialist core values” such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption. A bad ‘credit score’ can result in being not eligible for certain jobs, housing or credit to start a company.’

The Chinese Academy says the Chinese society has changed over the past decades. China went from a from a society of acquaintances into a society of strangers. Huge cities have increased the anonymity of the Chinese citizen which led to trust being much harder to establish, thus hurting social and economic progress. ‘When people’s behavior isn’t bound by their morality, a system must be used to restrict their actions.’ The Social Credit System uses encouragement to keep trust and constraints against breaking trust as incentive mechanisms, and its objective is raising the honest mentality and credit levels of the entire society. China’s aim is clear, it wants to improve all citizens. Professor W. Shuqin, who works on the Social Credit System, further explains these intentions of china. Around half of all Chinese contracts are not fulfilled, this hurts the economy and is of low moral standard. Business in china is a dangerous and with this fast paced society it is important that people can verify each other’s creditworthiness. The social score can be used as a simple, accurate and fast check to see who you are doing business with.

In its first introduction the Social Credit System might not be more than a fast and efficient way to check if you are dealing with an honest business man or not, but nothing stops China from adding more and more behavioral measurements to the credit system to steer its citizens. Future versions possibly include ranking of hobbies, searches, books you read or restaurants you visited. The Social Credit system could then be used instead of a resume, and certain jobs might only be attainable for the ones with extreme high credit scores. China can even link your score to your friends, thus punishing you when your friends ‘misbehave’. China’s implementation of big data might be impressive on a technological level, but feels scary on a moral level.


Cannon, M,. Supreme Court denies appeal in Google Street View case, TechTimes, June 30 http://www.techtimes.com/articles/9454/20140630/supreme-court-denies-appeal-in-google-street-view-case.htm

Bensinger, G,. Amazon Wants to Ship Your Package Before You Buy It, wsj, 17 January 2014 http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/01/17/amazon-wants-to-ship-your-package-before-you-buy-it/

Brandsma, H,. China rates its own citizens – including online behavior, De Volkskrant, 25 April 2015 http://www.volkskrant.nl/buitenland/china-rates-its-own-citizens-including-online-behaviour~a3979668/

Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020), China Copyright and Media, 25 April 2015 https://chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/planning-outline-for-the-construction-of-a-social-credit-system-2014-2020

User-generated content = user-generated differentiation?

We all browse on websites that contain user-generated content. As we discussed in class, a firm’s disadvantage of enabling users to generate its website’s content is the fact it has less control over their product offerings. Sometimes, this works out just fine. Firms relying on user-generated content may sometimes even acquire market positions that are not intended. For example, when Myspace, Friendster and Google’s Orkut were competing for the targeted U.S. market, Friendster became popular in Southeast Asian countries. Also, Orkut became one of the most visited websites in Brazil, India and Estonia, which are culturally complete distinct countries. The user-generated content had a key role in gaining these market positions and therefore proves to be able to let firms ‘spontaneously differentiate’ their products. The article “Differentiation with User-Generated Content” (Zhang et. al, 2015) examines the competitive implications of user-generated content.

In their first step, the writers assume firms’ offerings entirely depend on user-generated content. Consistent with previous research, when transportation cost is low (or in other words, the network effects are relatively global), the outcome typically is ‘winner-takes all’, where all consumers join a single, dominant firm. When transportation cost increases (or network effects are relatively local), ex ante identical firms can acquire horizontally differentiated market positions that spontaneously emerge from user-generated content. Moreover, this can result in patterns wherein a firm simultaneously attracts multiple distinct consumer segments that are isolated from each other, like in the Orkut example. The writers call this phenomena “segregation”. Interestingly, greater segregation also leads to smaller differentiation between platforms and increased competition. That may benefit users.

Secondly, Zhang et. al consider firms that have limited influence over their positioning: firms can generate content on their own, or take a certain target segment into consideration when designing their website features. When two firms are competing, given that their levels of advertising are fixed, the one with a smaller market share cannot compensate its users with a lower level of advertising. Therefore, consumers tend to migrate to the firm with a larger market share.

Thirdly, the writers review a model wherein consumers can join multiple websites by allocating their time between these firms. They call it multihoming and creates greater overlap between the firms’ content, because the consumer contributes to both firms’ websites. This leads to smaller product differentiation that makes coexistence more difficult and lowers profits. Thus, however tempting it is from a market share perspective, competing platforms should be careful with encouragement to join multiple platforms and share content across these platforms.

In conclusion, the writers found that with local network effects, user-generated content may trigger spontaneous differentiation among competing platforms. This may happen even if firms play an active role by designing their website especially for certain segments or generate content itself. On the other hand, hosting different segments does not automatically imply content differentiation. Ideally, content contributors build a community that is perceived as different as possible from competitors. This implies that the firm should measure differentiation based on consumer’s perception of content instead of on the number of unique content contributors.

Source: Zhang, Kaifu, and Miklos Sarvary. “Differentiation with User-Generated Content.” Management Science (2014).

Get smarter when procrastinating.

There is this assignment to complete before Sunday midnight. You write, and you write, until you want to take a “ 5-minute ” break. Which website are you going to procrastinate on right now ? Facebook ? 9gag ? Unilad ?
You keep on scrolling down, and down, and down. After 40 minutes of not being productive whatsoever, you realise how much time you have just wasted. Now, let’s draw up a report of what you have learnt through this activity :
1. Cats are still very cute.
2. Everybody is watching Game of Thrones.
3. Oh wow, how drunk was I on that night ?

Well, you have not spent your time efficiently. Since you are going to spend another half hour browsing through the internet, why not doing it in a much more effective way ?
What if I told you that, on a website, you could learn many things quickly about any topic ? There might be a solution to your problem.

Quora was created in 2008 by two former Facebook employees Charlie Cheever and Adam D’Angelo. The idea of this website was based on the fact that on the internet there is a big consumer demand for knowledge, but existing solutions were missing. Thus, they created a social network where deep questions could be answered.

If you sign up on Quora, you will realize how similar it is to Facebook – what a coincidence, isn’t it ? First, you will have to create a profile with a photo, but also with your past experience. Indeed, unlike YahooAnswers, Quora wants the answers to be reliable. Thus, the website asks its users to display their expertise – in order to allow other users to know more about the sources that used.
Also, readers can upvote or downvote questions, in order to highlight the best answer. Furthermore, Quora encourages thoughtful discussions which means that users can not answer with a simple “yes or no”.

Quora could be called an online user-generated source of knowledge. How does that differ from Wikipedia then ? Well, the platform enhances interactions between users. Indeed, individuals tend to Google everything, and not ask their family members, or acquaintances anymore. As opposed to this process, users can now share their knowledge with each other, rather than relying on the technology only. Also, when posting a question, you can ask one user directly. Indeed, according to the topic the question is related to, Quora recommends you users, based on their past experience.
Thus, knowledge is now accessible in a fun way, as it is built as a social network. Therefore, Quora has its own community. However, it does not restrain its target audience and is therefore not a niche. Indeed, unlike MySpace, Dogster – or even Catster – , the platform allows any topic to be discussed. For instance, you can follow some interesting subjects such as Tips and Hacks for Everyday Life, Chemistry, Marketing, or Cats.

To sum up, Quora is an accessible platform where knowledge is shared by numerous people who – in most cases – have expertise in the field. It is a community where users help and respect each other ; thus users create the value to allow the website to function properly.

In case you want to have a break, and procrastinate a little bit, get on Quora, and find out why your cat put a dead mouse in your shoe, or how to get over your habit of procrastinating.

Social Media helps promote crowdfunding campaign?

Crowdfunding, as a newly developed finance source, are welcomed and being employed by an increasing number of founders. It allows new entrepreneurs, social projects advocates, or even artists to obtain funding from many individuals. With the development of crowdfunding intermediary service, some crowdfunding websites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are even starting to launch commerce-management to better serve business starters (Clifford, 2015).

But simply based on the crowdfunding websites seems not enough, it is difficult to catch large amount of people who has no knowledge about crowdfunding thus don’t visit crowdfunding websites at all. Therefore, the way founders advertise and promote their projects worth shedding light on.

On the other hand, social media as an intermediate tool has been widely used to promote various types of projects in terms of NGO, marketing, charity, etc. It is reported that more than 90% of the companies use social media as a marketing tool and the top three commonly used social media marketing tools are Facebook (92%), Twitter (84%) and LinkedIn (71%) (Stelzner, 2011). As an intermediary, social media marketing can generate exposure for the business projects and improve search ratings with a very low expense. Comparing crowdfunding projects with those NGO, marketing or charity projects, they can be homogeneous from the aspect of business goals. And we have reason to believe the effective impact of social media on crowdfunding projects.

Scholars already noticed the importance of crowdfunding platforms and doing qualitative exploratory study on some crowdfunding platforms. The reason why people are motivated to participate crowdfunding activities is that social interactions can be realized through crowdfunding platforms. For project creators, they can gain feedbacks strengthening commitment to an idea. While for funders, they can feel connectedness to a community with similar interests and ideals. Scholars summarize this research as motivational crowdwork (Elizabeth M. Gerber, 2012).

Some other studies reveal the need to build a bridge between crowdfunding projects and social media. Previous research on the deterrents to crowdfunding success reveals that project creators are unwilling to participate crowdfunding activities due to fear of failure while supporters are due to lack of trust (Gerber and Hui, 2013). Therefore, the communication between project creators and supporters is urgently needed. It is suggested that the crowdfunding creators should maintain regular contact with their community of supporters through project updates and discussion boards (Hui et al., 2014). Both individual and territorial social capital impact on the success of crowdfunding projects and the two types of capitals interact with each other (Giudici et al., 2013). Based on these findings, social media can be a useful and effective mediator to bridge communication between fund-raisers and supporters, contributing to the success of crowdfunding projects.

In summary, based on previous research and the current crowdfunding market, we can widely guess there is an inferring impact of social media on crowdfunding. For both project creator, crowdfunding website and donator, it would be a great bonus, if not necessary, to integrate social media functions into their crowdfunding activities.


CLIFFORD, C. 2015. Indiegogo Launches Commerce Option for Successful Crowdfunding Campaign Owners [Online]. Entrepreneur. Available: http://entm.ag/17fN1lK.

ELIZABETH M. GERBER, J. S. H., PEI-YI KUO 2012. Crowdfunding: Why people are motivated to post and fund projects on crowdfunding platforms. CSCW Workshop.

GIUDICI, G., GUERINI, M. & ROSSI LAMASTRA, C. 2013. Why Crowdfunding Projects Can Succeed: The Role of Proponents’ Individual and Territorial Social Capital. Available at SSRN 2255944.

HUI, J., GREENBERG, M. & GERBER, E. Understanding crowdfunding work: implications for support tools. CHI’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2013. ACM, 889-894.

HUI, J. S., GREENBERG, M. D. & GERBER, E. M. 2014. Understanding the role of community in crowdfunding work. 62-74.

STELZNER, M. A. 2011. How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT.

Social Ties and User Content Generation: Evidence from Flickr

Do you feel unique? Well you certainly are, but your photos on Instagram sure aren’t. At least, according to a study conducted by Zheng and Wei (2013). These authors examined the way content is generated on social networking sites in relation with the social ties a user has. This research is of interest because the appeal of a social network site is highly dependent on the content generated by its users. With the increasing number of competing social media, it becomes more important to offer differentiating content. However, according to the authors of this paper, the content generated by a user is often similar to the content generated by his or her social ties, especially around the time of formation of this social tie.

Schermafbeelding 2015-05-03 om 15.55.38

The theory behind this research is that forming social ties is correlated with homophily and contagion. Homophily refers to the tendency of people to relate to each other. This feeling of relating can be caused by shared intrinsic characteristics, a shared opportunity or affinity. For instance, it is more likely that two persons will create a social tie, because they both have the same interest or are located near each other. After a social tie has been created, the individuals often become more alike to each other. This process is referred to as contagion.

Yet according to the uniqueness theory (Snyder and Fromlin, 1980), we all have a strong desire to be unique individuals. Being too similar to others will induce negative emotions. Therefore it would be expected that we all generate distinct content in an attempt to differentiate from others.

Zheng and Wei (2013) based their research on a sub network from photo-sharing community Flickr over a timespan of 41 days. The data was gathered by taking one user and its social connections as the sample group. Every new social contact connected to this network group within these 41 days was subsequently added to the sample group. At the end of these 41 days, the sample consisted of 116,237 dyad pairs and 434,102 photos with 351,985 unique tags. The authors also examined whether the social tie was one-way or two-way as well as the popularity of the users based on the number of favourites their photos receive. Similarity of the photos is measured by the amounts of shared tags assigned to the photos.

The results of this study indicate that similarity of the photos is largest around the time the social ties are created. After the social ties have been created, the similarity of the photos uploaded by the pair of dyads decreased when they both have same popularity levels. However, then there is a high discrepancy in popularity between the two connected individuals, then the similarity of photos uploaded by the dyad remains. As such, the popularity level of the individual acts as a moderating variable.

While the research was based on a sample from Flickr, the results can be generalized to other photo-sharing communities such as Instagram, but also to Youtube and Twitter. However, the study is highly limited by the fact that the measure of similarity of photos is based on tags, which is a textual characteristic. The study, which is based on photos, does not take visual characteristics into account at all.


Xiaohua Zeng, Liyuan Wei, (2013) Social Ties and User Content Generation: Evidence from Flickr. Information Systems Research 24(1):71-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/isre.1120.0464

Snyder CR, Fromkin HL (1980) Uniqueness: The Human Pursuit of Difference (Plenum, New York).