Facebook Newsfeed Changes (Again): Facebook listened to the data that shows scrolling through the newsfeed makes us sad. They’re now going to tweak the algorithm to prioritize what friends and family share and comment on, while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands. Newsfeed changes like this happen quite often, and we expect this one in particular will harm organic posts from Publishers the most. Modern brands should continue to include paid media support into their Facebook marketing programs. (LINK)

CES Updates: Ironically, the famous Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas was filled with glitches this year. From LG’s refrigerator and washer/dryer voice assistant refused to talk back. Google’s booth got washed out. No women were included in the keynotes. Oh, and the conference center had a blackout. Our favorites from the show were this autonomous, self-driving suitcase and the Hushme, “the world’s first voice mask for mobile phones.”

Facebook Launches Alexa Competitor: Never one to be left out, Facebook is reportedly launching a a voice-enabled video chat device named Portal, will directly compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Like the Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal will include a screen for hold video calls and will stream music and video. It will also have facial recognition capabilities that connect to users’ accounts. Facebook actually has quite the large ecosystem for food delivery, movie tickets weather and jobs (buried in your app in the Explore button), so a home-based smart speaker. AND IT’S $500!?!? WHAT. (LINK)

#BlackHogwarts: On Thursday, #BlackHogwarts quickly became one of the most amusing trending topics on Twitter. Harry Potter has long been criticized for its extremely white-centric universe, so Twitter rebuilt J.K. Rowling’s fantasy as if it was entirely made up of POC. Some of our favorite highlights include Snoop Dogg as Professor of Herbology and Obama as the Minister of Magic. It’s pure delight, and J.K. Rowling herself was following along and loving every minute. (LINK)


Animals Have Culture, Too: We spend a lot of time observing human culture for our brands, but what about animals? The Atlantic has this fascinating look at animal cultures – from Capuchin monkeys trying to get attention to bottlenose dolphin fashion trends to male humpback whales riffing on their own classic music charts.  (LINK).



HQ Trivia’s Roller Coaster of Motions: Stop what you’re doing and watch this woman suffer devastating defeat and then pure joy at winning $11.30 on HQ Trivia. And you can’t even cash out until you win $20!

The Creative History Behind Earcons: The beeps and boops from Siri, Alexa or your car may seem arbitrary, but they’re actually very important, decades-old audio cues called “earcons.” In fact, these beeps and dings are straight up robot languages that help shape how we interact with these devices. Did you know the Windows ’95 startup sound was composed by Brian Eno? Austrian composer Walter Werzowa tried to create “tones that evoked innovation, troubleshooting skills, and the inside of a computer” for Intel, and wouldn’t you know it was named one of the most addictive sounds in the world. BEEP. BOOP. (LINK)

A Snapchat Show Worth Watching? NBC’s news show “Stay Tuned” on Snapchat has gained 4 million viewers since its launch five months ago, with more than two-thirds of its audience under the age of 25. More than half of the audience watches three or more episodes per week. It’s no Vice News, but we’re watching. (LINK)


Are QR Codes Actually Going to Be a Thing? The ability to scan QR codes is increasingly becoming native to our smartphones (hello iPhone!) and that’s driving a steep increase in adoption. New research predicts that the number of QR coupons redeemed via mobile will reach 5.3 billion by 2022. Target recently announced a QR code-based payments system to scan offers directly to their device-stored payment cards, which can then be scanned at checkout for instant payment. We’ll soon see even more of these in use at retail. Pigs are flying, too. (LINK)


Happy Winter Solstice! It’s officially winter today, the days will get longer, and apparently our life expectancy decreased, too….. Goodbye 2017.

Here are some holiday goodies we’ve been tracking around the social web this week…

  • We’ve been loving these 17 Hilarious New Year’s Day 2018 Memes To Get You Through The Year from Bustle.
  • Twitter has people timing songs perfectly for New Year’s Eve midnight, for example…
    • if you play “…ready for it” at exactly 11:58:50pm on december 31st, taylor swift will declare her iconic “…are you ready for it?” line right as the clock strikes midnight. enter 2018 the right way.
    • If you play “Skyline To” by Frank Ocean at 11:59:31 on December 31st, Frank will say “that’s a pretty f*cking fast year flew by” just as 2017 ends.
    • if you play “Despacito” at 11:59:49pm on New Year’s Eve, you get to listen to “Despacito”. Start off your new year right.

  • We’ve been collecting our favorite 2017 viral videos and put together a super cut for our all-agency meeting today. Share in the holiday goodness here: FALLON’S FAVORITE VIRAL VIDEOS OF 2017

Lastly, have you been playing Whamageddon?

  • The 1st Rule: The objective is to go as long as possible without hearing WHAM’s holiday classic “Last Christmas.”
  • The 2nd Rule: The game starts on December 1st, and ends at midnight on December 24th.
  • The 3rd Rule: Only the original version applies. Enjoy yourself some remixes and covers.
  • The 4th Rule: You’re out as soon as you recognize the song.
  • Bonus Rule: Post on social media with the #whamageddon hashtag when you get hit.

And I’m out already… And now so are you! #whamageddon


It’s Holiday List Season: It’s that time of year when everyone is making lists. We spun through Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums (LCD Soundsystem, Run the Jewels, St. Vincent!!) and 20 Best Rock Albums and 20 Best Rap Albums. Google released its list of most searched for topics (Hurricane Irma, iPhone 8, iPhone X and Matt Lauer). But it’s High Snobriety’s Best Memes of 2017 that has us rolling. Oh, Distracted Boyfriend. Oh, Dancing Hotdog Oh, Covfefe , Cash Me Outside, Beyonce Ordering Food, and Salt Bae. You made 2017 tolerable, and for that we are truly #blessed.

Facebook Poke is back (again!): The Poke button is one of Facebook’s oldest features, and its purpose has never been truly defined. But for you old school Poke fans, it now sits next to the Message button, and right below your friend’s name and photo, at the top of a user’s profile. Facebook is also considering expanding the casual greeting options to a wink, wave, high-five or hug. Go ahead, give your friends a POKE. (LINK)


Instagram Changes: This week it was announced Instagram is testing a Regram Button, to allow users to more easily share content from followers – similar to a Retweet. It’s also testing a closest friends list, a GIF search feature, and a “Share to WhatsApp” button. And it’s testing “recommended for you” content. But that’s not all! Instagram is also allowing users to follow Hashtags, which will change our feeds significantly. Following a hashtag is just like following a user account. Just search for your favorite hashtag, hit the “Follow” button, and your newsfeed will start pulling in the top results automatically.


Threaded Twitter Rants Will Soon be Easier (finally!): Knowing 280 characters still isn’t enough when you have a threaded rant you just have to get out, Twitter is now making it easier to pre-populate a threaded tweet storm. Although some argue this is further pushing Twitter away from made it great, you can’t fight change. So we’re embracing it. Knowing we’ll have even more tweetstorm goodness coming, Buzzfeed’s list of epic Twitter threads is worth a read. (LINK)


Meme of the Week – Straight Arm Challenge: This week our feeds were overtaken with people doing the Straight Arm Challenge (example, example). The premise is straightforward. Simply hold your arm straight without bending your elbow and try to drink something. Feel free to challenge others. Kristen Hanby’s video has 17M views alone. Before you attempt this at home, we recommend having a change of clothes ready.


YouTube’s Top Viral Videos of 2017: Totaling 633 million views collectively (up by 83 million over last year!), YouTube’s Top 10 trending videos were watched for a collective 40 million hours this year. Our favorites from the Top 10 include Ed Sheeran doing Carpool KaroakeDude Perfect Ping Pong Tricks12-Year-Old Singing Ventriloquist and Children Interrupt BBC News Interview. (LINK)

Legacy Social Networks Launching New Things: Instagram is launching a new private messaging app called Direct. Facebook is launching Messenger Kids, for children 6-12. Pinterest launched a Facebook Messenger bot. And it looks like Vine is coming back!! Here’s our favorite Vine compilation Twitter thread to relive the looping goodness that was Vine.


Tell Facebook Even More About Yourself, Finally: Facebook is launching a new feature called “Did You Know” that asks you questions like, “If I had to be locked for a week in a room that was completely dark or completely bright, I’d rather…” This new section is on your profile page and will serve as a carrot to give Facebook even more personal information about yourself. From a brand perspective, it’s a clever way to increase information about users for Facebook’s advanced targeting. (LINK).


The Dad-Rock Resurgence: Depeche Mode is the hottest band of 2017? The ‘80s UK electronic band sold 1.27 million tickets in 2017, which is more than Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, or Drake. Known as “The Great Dad-Rock Resurgence,” we’re seeing old acts outsell young acts across the country. This year 4 of the 5 highest-grossing concert artists were bands formed prior to 1990, and Desert Trip (starring The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and The Who) outsold Coachella or Bonnaroo. Long live Dad! (LINK)


Can We Talk About Chess Robots For a Minute? The year is 1997, and the world’s best human chess player was just destroyed by a computer. Fast forward to 2017, and the world’s best chess computer gets destroyed by an Artificial Intelligence program that had only learned about chess a few hours earlier. We live in amazing times, folks. (LINK)

I believe experiencing augmented reality in the real world fundamentally rewires your brain.

If you haven’t yet played Pokemon Go!, you need to. If you haven’t experimented with Snapchat’s World Lenses, you need to. If you haven’t tested the Microsoft Hololens and solved a mystery in your living room, you need to.

Focusing too hard on the long-term adoption and use cases causes us to see the near-term adoption and opportunities.

This piece in Techcrunch, Why the YouTube of AR won’t be YouTube, tees this up nicely…

This is going to radically change the way we experience (and create) art…

When we think about music or art and context, there’s an example that we’ve all experienced. Compare the difference between listening to music at home vs sitting on a beach overlooking the sunset and choosing a track that’s perfect for that moment. That’s the way in which context is a part of the experience, and emotionally improves it, and in a small way the resulting experience is a collaboration between you & the artist.

AR takes this to a whole new level. An AR device will have a greater awareness of the real-world than any smartphone can have. This means that the ability to match (either automatically or manually) a song or image (or visual effect) to the moment, is far greater than just selecting a track from a playlist.

Source: Why the YouTube of AR won’t be YouTube

Facebook Adds Streaks in Messenger Test: Facebook may or may not start requiring us to upload selfies to prove our identity, but they are for sure continuing to copy Snapchat with the addition of “streaks” in a a test with some users this week. This is in line with user behavior – especially teens – who maintain back and forth communications between friends purely for the social glory of maintaining back and forth communication day after day. Streak counters gamify the app experience and can lead to huge engagement. We’re guessing they’ll launch this mainstream in Q1. (LINK)


Snapchat Reinvents Itself: This week Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel revealed the Snapchat redesign – separating the news-heavy Discover page from a user’s friend list. On the redesigned app, users will swipe to the left of the main camera screen to see chats, stories and messages from their friends, and swipe to the right for news, Snap Map and publisher content. The new Discover page reorganizes news from a horizontal scroll to a vertical, in the vein of Facebook’s and Twitter’s seemingly endless feeds. Promoted stories are changing, too. Spiegel’s manifesto on social media is worth a read: “It’s vitally important that future content feeds are built on top of a human-curated supply of content… Curating content in this way will change the social media model and also give us both reliable content and the content we want.” (LINK)


Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself? As machine learning becomes more powerful, the field’s researchers increasingly find themselves unable to account for what their algorithms know — or how they know it. This is both because of the bias of the affluent white men who are programming them, but also because we’re dealing with technology that is more of a mystery than we expected. Key quote from this amazing NYT long read on the subject: “We human beings seem to be obsessed with black boxes: The highest compliment we give to technology is that it feels like magic. When the workings of a new technology is too obvious, too easy to explain, it can feel banal and uninteresting.” (LINK)


Mentally Pleasing Content: Remember the Sesame Street video about how crayons are made? Well, us fully grown adults still love mesmerizing video – but now it’s things like calligraphy, paint being mixed, and slime being poked. These are widely shared on Reddit (Oddly Satisfying), Tumblr (#StimmyStuffs), and YouTube (The Most Satisfying Video in the World). This week Amazon got into the game by posting this amazing video of their fulfillment center on Cyber Monday. We put it on a loop in the office and haven’t gotten a lot done the rest of the day, to be honest.






Cards Against Humanity Trump Wall: This holiday season Cards Against Humanity is saving America. They bought up a piece of the land on the border of the US and Mexico and retained a law firm to make it as difficult possible for the wall to be built. Let’s just say Twitter went wild. (LINK)

Twitter parties = modern day Tupperware parties: Brands are working with influencers to host these hour-long parties and facilitate discussion around branded content as well as give away product to random participants. Yes, it’s 2017 and we’re talking about Twitter parties. But it shows people are still acting on their basic need for connection and consumption — and marketers are taking advantage of it.  (LINK)


New Google Maps: Google Maps is getting a partial redesign and colorful update. Google is trying to make it easier for us to find new places with designated icons and colors for different types of destinations. Think coffee shop vs. gas station vs. metro stop. Look for these changes in the next couple weeks! (LINK)


Facebook Mentions is now Facebook Creator: Facebook launched a revamp of their 2014 Mentions app. This new rollout gives influencers all the tools for content creation and community management as Facebook tries to meet a new video objective they’re calling “time well spent.” They want to make Facebook video more appealing than watching TV and using content creators to do it. The previous app used to be available only to verified public figures and pages, but it’s now open to any Facebook user. (LINK)


Thanksgiving social stunts: Brands are gearing up for the holiday and we’re totally here for it. This year, Pringles (LINK) is bringing us an entire Thanksgiving dinner reimagined as chips and Stove Top (LINK) is supplying crazy extendable pants – and  they’ve already sold out.

We can’t stop playing HQ Trivia. Work stops at 2 p.m. Bedtime stops at 8 p.m.

Is this the FUTCH?

Another friend of mine called HQ the “embodiment of the futch.”

A few years ago, Joanne McNeil wrote a short essay called “Postcards from the Futch,” describing the un-factcheck-able brand of futurism sold at tech conferences by “idea-ators…who instructed us to keep looking toward the horizon and never look down.”

The futch (pronounced “fyooch”) takes complexity and renders it into simplistic opacity, shined up with gee whiz techno glitter. The futch takes the idea that the future should be legible and transforms it into the dictate that the future should be easy. Interactive TV is up there with flying cars and meals in pill form as far as idealized visions of the future have gone. Everything about HQ, from its push notification demands for attention to the flat plasticky graphics to the well-groomed holoman at the center feels like a gloss on complicated questions about how we want to interact with technology and how we want technology to interact with us. It holds out the promise of interaction while reverting back to broadcast model of attention scheduling and one-to-many communication. It sucks you deeper into your phone with the promise of cash, holding your attention and yourself in place for… something.

We’re familiar with the new-old adage, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. So what does it mean when the product is paying you?

Source: Is HQ Trivia the future of TV?

Dole’s Lawyers Wade Into Social Brandjacking: Instagram meme king Adam the Creator created a hilarious meme featuring parody “fun-size” bags of mini-salads Dole supposedly created as a healthier Halloween treat. And then, as tends to happen, the lawyers got involved. But this time the legal counsel got into the act, crafting a hilarious warning letter designed for social pickup. Dole’s tweet gained more than 160,000 views, making it the most popular social media tweet the company has ever tracked. Outlets ranging from The Boston Globe to CTV covered Dole’s response to the gag. Hey, it’s better than pencils or fruit, right? (LINK)

Burger Emoji Debate: debate sparked on Twitter this week regarding the burger emoji and the order in which the ingredients are supposed to be assembled. Apple and Google seem to have differing opinions and it has led to quite the conversation. Does the cheese go on top of the patty or underneath? Frankly, we’ve never seen a burger built in the fashion Google portrays it. Call us purists. Even Snapchat got in on the action with an adorable AR burger that melted our cheesy hearts and aligned with our core beliefs. Where do you stand on all of this? You should tweet about it. The Internet wants to know. (LINK)

Advertising + Augmented Reality: This week we were transported into the famous living room from Stranger Things, thanks to a sponsored 3D World Lenses for the popular Netflix series. As the leader in mainstreaming augmented reality experiences, Snapchat continues to push AR adoption through compelling brand integrations like this. Also this week, we got some real data from Barcardi, who released a case study from their summer AR lens promotion with Major Lazer where users could be the stars of their own music videos — 18 million of them used it in a 24-hour period, amassing 42 million views. We work closely with Snap on their AR innovations and are excited to see where they’re headed next – and working with them to pioneer new uses for this new technology. (LINK)

iPhone X Animojis: Make way for the new generation of emojis– animojis. These dynamic 3D emojis use Apple’s facial recognition tech to mimic your expression and place it on a handful of the original emojis. There are twelve in total to pick from such as the unicorn, poop face, or fox. It can even record your voice to send ten second voice recordings. So far, people are loving it. We’re already seeing animoji karaoke taking off on Twitter. Our iPhone X’s just arrived today, so as soon as we UNLOCK THEM WITH OUR FACES, we’ll be sharing some Animojis soon. (LINK)

Mush Mush Mush: This week we’re obsessed with this Instagram post that’s going viral featuring Kevin Freshwater, a scoundrel who ruins his friend’s Instagram-perfect plates just before they can snap a pic. It’s so evil, and yet so satisfying. We dare you to try it this weekend and report back. We wil, too.