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Who’s Winning The Social-Media Wars?

Americans are getting more social, and they’re using Facebook a little less often and Snapchat and Twitter a little more often to stay that way, a first-quarter survey found.

And in the 12- to 24-year-old age group, people are using Facebook a lot less often. That’s according to an Infinite Dial survey conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital, a provider of online advertising technology.

The survey found that among people ages 12 and up, 78 percent use social media, up from 73 percent in the year-ago survey and 52 percent in 2011, Far and above any other competitor, Facebook is the most well-known socialmedia brand, the survey also found.

Facebook awareness among Americans ages 12 and up hit 93 percent in the latest survey, but Twitter comes in a close second at 87 percent, followed by Instagram at 83 percent, Snapchat at 71 percent, and Pinterest at 63 percent.

Among brands included in the 2015 and 2016 surveys, awareness was up for all brands in 2016. They include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Vine, and What’s App. (Kik and Tender weren’t included in the 2015 survey.)

Sears Uses The ‘F’ Word, As In ‘Black Friday’

Some of us — whether we’re sales associates, merchants, store managers, shoppers, or retail reporters — have only now fully recovered from Black Friday.

But just when we thought we were out, Sears is pulling us back in.

The No. 2 majap chain has slated a two-day “Spring It On Black Friday” sales event for April 22-23 that includes discounts on lawn mowers, mattresses, outdoor furniture, tools, and kitchen appliances.

The chain will also hold a private pre-sale sale for Shop Your Way loyalty club members on April 17.

The promotion is intended to highlight the expansion of Sears’ “Meet With An Expert” scheduling service — which allows customers to book in-store appointments with appliance consultants online — to lawn and garden as well.

All we can say is, too soon.

Industry Speaks Out Against Discriminatory Legislation

Apple released a statement to the Clarion-Ledger that said Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 — titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act — “empowers discrimination.” The bill permits religious businesses and organizations to deny services and/or employment to LGBTQ people without facing repercussions.

“We want Mississippians to know that our stores and our company are open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love,” said Apple.

PayPal, meanwhile, announced it would cease plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, N.C., because of the state’s own sexual-orientation discriminatory law: HB2, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. “The new law perpetuates discrimination, and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte,” president/CEO Dan Schulman said in a statement.

Both Hewlett-Packard and GE signed an open letter to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant expressing disappointment with the legislation and urging it be repealed. “The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for businesses.”

More than 80 executives, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Bard Smith and Consumer Technology Association’s Gary Shapiro, signed a similar letter last week to N.C. Governor Pat McCrory.

Bezos Still Smarting From Times’ Amazon Article

Apparently last summer’s Amazon exposé in the New York Times is still sticking in CEO/founder Jeff Bezos’ craw.

In it, Bezos was taken to task for fostering a corporate culture that reportedly demands around-the-clock hours and encourages snitching on co-workers.

Though the charges were refuted by no less than former White House press secretary (and current Amazon corporate affairs senior VP) Jay Carney, Bezos felt it necessary to defend his company again, this time in the shareholders’ letter that opens Amazon’s 2015 annual report, released earlier this month.

In it, he notes that corporate cultures are, for better or worse, “enduring, stable, hard to change. They can be a source of advantage or disadvantage … Someone energized by competitive zeal may select and be happy in one culture, while someone who loves to pioneer and invent may choose another.

“We never claim that our approach is the right one,” he continues, “just that it’s ours – and over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people; folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful.”

He credits that culture — and its willingness to accept failure as a necessary byproduct of invention — for Amazon becoming “the fastest company ever to reach $100 billion in annual sales” this year.

“We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs,” he wrote. “The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.”

Microsoft Touts Voice Control, Bots As Apps

Microsoft used its Build 2016 developers conference as a platform to announce a free summertime update for Windows 10, expanded Cortana capabilities, and plans for natural-language voice control of shopping bots through Skype.

The company also announced plans to integrate Skype with its planned Holo-Lens headset.

Much of the company’s focus during Build was on “taking the human language and applying it more pervasively to all of our computing,” said CEO Satya Nadella during a keynote address. “Human language is the new UI,” he said, and voice-controlled “bots are the new apps.” The bots will replace the need to type data into fields on a web browser or an app.

Microsoft’s vision is to infuse artificial intelligence in all computing devices, enabling the devices to learn conversational language, understand context and understand personal preferences, Nadella said. Devices will therefore be able to help people with everyday tasks, he told a hall full of developers.

With these advances, technology will be able to “augment human experiences” and enable more people to use technology, he continued.

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