“Don’t give them what you think they want.
Give them what they never thought was possible.”
Twitter Adds Transparency Tools: In the era of fake news, bots and manipulated social trends, Twitter is under pressure to add tools to their social network that help average people discern what’s authentic and what’s manufactured. This week Twitter has rolled out a change to Moments that would provide contextual information within its curated stories, called “Annotations.” They also announced they will hide reported tweets behind an informational notice and make it more transparent to users whether a deleted tweet was deleted by the user or because Twitter took an action.
— Kevin Watterson (@kwatt) October 18, 2018
Humans Can’t Stop Rear-Ending Self-Driving Cars: Autonomous car manufacturers boast of their safety standards and conservative approach to the road – aimed at reducing the nearly 40,000 fatalities that hit US roads every year. But as we live in the paradox between all-human-drivers and all-robot-drivers we’re entering a long phase where we share the road together, and the headaches are piling up. Specifically, two-thirds of all autonomous vehicle accidents are human drivers rear-ending them. The reason? Humans expect other humans to bend or break traffic laws, and the robots just don’t act that way. For now, Wired says we should give self-driving cars a lot of stopping distance, don’t expect them to accelerate through yellow lights, and hope the time comes soon when they can drive us to work while we nap.
College Students Relying on Snapchat for News? A new study from the Knight Foundation turned up a surprising finding — that among college students, Snapchat is the second most popular social media source for news behind Facebook. Of those surveyed, 89% said they got at least some of their news from social media over the previous week, with Facebook the most popular outlet (71%) and Snapchat second (55%). In contrast, the Pew Research Center has found around 5% of US adults get their news from Snapchat — a number that has remained consistent over the last two years.
Wile E. Coyote is So Hot RN: We’re seeing Looney Tunes’ underdog villain Wile E. Coyote everywhere right now — as the centerpiece of Raf Simons’s latest collection for Calvin Klein (this $1,400 leather tote!!), The Hundreds’ ACME collection, and soon to be in his own animated movie with “Lego Batman” director Chris McKay on board to produce. Could this be the era where the Coyote captures the Road Runner? Doubtful. Related: Here’s our favorite Wile. E. Coyote meme.
Product Wars: A Short Film: In this new short film from Stephan Zlotescu, genetically engineered mascots become the latest craze in this all too possible future. The film takes us into an alternate history where mascots and marketing characters are genetically manufactured to actually exist. This is the most exciting, depressing, and provocative 8.5 minutes you’ll spend this weekend. Or your money back! Watch it here.
Netflix Debuts Choose Your Own Adventure: Nearly 25 years ago AT&T put out a campaign called “You Will” that — in the dial-up age of 1993 — famously predicted a number of technological advances we take for granted today: video calling, telemedicine and movies on demand. And while streaming on-demand is the status quo in 2018, Netflix is introducing a new way to consume content with the introduction of choose-your-own-adventure content for its Emmy-winning science-fiction series “Black Mirror.” With the success of Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale for kids last year, it will be fascinating to see how adults embrace this style of customizable video content, and how producers adapt their content to fit this new technology over the next 25 years. (Related: The 25 Creepiest ‘Twilight Zone’ Episodes)
Facebook Introduces 3D Photos: This week Facebook is rolling out 3D photos to add make-believe depth to iPhone portrait mode shots. Shoot one, tap the new 3D photos option in the status update composer, select a portrait mode photo, and the resulting photo post will be injected with 3D effects (CHECK OUT THIS EXAMPLE). To create the best 3D photos with your iPhone 7+, 8+, X or XS, Facebook recommends you keep your subject three to four feet away, and have things in the foreground and background. Distinct colors will make the layers separate better, and transparent or shiny objects like glass or plastic can throw off the AI. Bring on the Facebook 3D Fails!
Answering the Phone is so 2017: At the Pixel 3 press launch this week, Google unveiled a new “call screen” feature that will answer incoming phone calls on your behalf and transcribe what the caller is saying on your device’s screen. It will pick up the call and have a Google Assistant voice speak a prompt: “Hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service from Google, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you are calling.” You then have the option to choose from a pre-selected series of replies which it will “speak” back to the people on the line. As Mashable put it, “Treat people like the burden they are with Google’s ‘call screen’ feature.” But seriously, given the rise in spam (nearly 30% of calls in 2018 so far), this technology layer could be a useful tool to weed out the calls you really do want to answer.
Instagram’s Nametag, for IRL Connections: This week Instagram introduced Nametag, a QR-code-like feature works that shows your username on your phone in a format that allows it to be scanned by your soon-to-be follower. This tag can also be customized with additional designs, colors, and stickers, including your own FACE. Finally. To use the feature, you can go to your profile, hit the menu button on the top right, and select “Nametag” to display your own code. When you want to scan someone else’s code, you can do so by swiping right into the camera, focusing on the tag, and holding down on the screen.
Have You Been BOOed? “We’ve been BOOed” signs are popping up around more neighborhoods this year than ever before. It’s a chain-letter-type tradition called Halloween BOO-ing or BOO-Bagging or Ghosting. Similar to the tradition of May baskets, one neighbor leaves a gift basket, BOO poem, BOO instructions and a “We’ve Been BOO-ed” sign on a neighbor’s doorstep. Then you ding-dong-ditch. And the BOO-ee does the same to one or two neighbors. The tradition has been around for years but is being spread more widely this year thanks to social media and retailers like Target selling BOO-merch. Here are some free printables for you to start the tradition in your own neighborhood. BOO!
I sometimes hear about work described in terms of ‘originality’ or ‘breakthrough,’ but my personal experience is quite different. For me music has always been about lineage. The past is reinvented and becomes the future. But the lineage is everything.
#PresidentialAlert Memes: Did you get the Presidential Alert text? This week over 220 million people in the US supposedly received a notification on their phones called a ‘Presidential Alert,’ and it immediately became a meme across our social feeds – including altered screenshots about collusion, U2’s infamous Apple Music snafu, Imagine Dragons and Tiffany Trump getting her first-ever Dad text. Meanwhile, lots of people didn’t get the text, and that sparked its own social news cycle.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) October 3, 2018
Where My Friends At? This week Facebook confirmed a test of a revamped Nearby Friends feature that lets you see where your friends are on a map of the world. Similar to Snap Map, this view augments your newsfeed with a map that groups friends together by city. Given continued privacy concerns, Facebook is trying to be proactive about getting people to go back and activate it, “People have complete control over whether to use Nearby Friends or not. They can turn it on in the Nearby Friends bookmark.” We’re excited about geolocation data being further used to increase social networking but still fairly concerned about Facebook’s privacy settings – particularly when it comes to sharing location with forgotten Facebook friends.
CD Sales Heading Towards Niche Status Like Vinyl: This week the RIAA’s shared the latest numbers on music sales, which showed a 46.9 percent drop on CDs sold (factoring in returned inventory). Although not a surprise – particularly because 25 R&B/hip-hop albums that debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 this year didn’t even have a physical CD released in stores – it seems the CD is on its way to being a niche business like vinyl. Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Target still have CDs, but increasingly we’re seeing the 1,800 independent retailers (where you can buy a vinyl record) emerging as the place to buy a CD. Vinyl bottomed out and is now growing. But CDs are still four times vinyl sales and are looking to cement their spot as a niche market.
Who Ya Gonna Call? Pre-registrations for Ghostbusters World have opened for the ghost-hunting AR app just in time for Halloween. Similar to Pokemon Go, people across the world may soon be hunting for holographic spooks around the neighborhood. Per VRFocus, “Built using Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit, Ghostbusters World lets you team up with Venkman, Spengler, Stantz, Zeddemore and more to hunt down and capture iconic spirits from the films, TV shows, comic books, and video games, as well as brand-new ghosts.” Sign up for the download here: Android and iOS.
Influencer Halloween Costume #SPON: Speaking of Halloween, this week Urban Outfitters released an “influencer costume” for those of us who can’t even trick or treat without looking for the right Insta lighting. The athleisure ensemble includes spandex leggings and a sports bra, which lets you “channel Instagram style in this low key costume set worthy of a super influencer.” You’ll have to #HUSTLE find your own sponsors for the sunglasses, wig, ballcap and whiteout sneakers included in the look. Being an influencer ain’t an easy job, but somebody has to do it.
This week felt like an entire year in social media land, thanks to milestone news events with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, United Nations Summit, and growing buzz around the mid-term elections. I’ve been following along thanks to some excellent reporting on political-focused podcasts this week, including NYT’s The Daily, NPR’s Up First, and The Washington Post’s Can He Do That.
Whether it’s people falling in love with A.I. chatbots, the epic rise and fall of the baby name Heather, or this interactive map of Facebook connections across the U.S., this has also been a busy week of non-political content and conversation.
Here’s what else is up around the social web this week…
Cheating Fonts! Times Newer Roman: This week the internet was buzzing about Times Newer Roman, a new a font that looks like Times New Roman but is actually 5-10% wider, which will help students cheat by making their essays look longer than they are. According to The Verge, a 15-page, single-spaced document in 12 point type only requires 5,833 words, compared to 6,680 for the standard Times New Roman. (That’s 847 words you don’t need to write). Yay cheating via font, right? (Note: we don’t actually condone cheating).
Distribution > Content in the Music Industry: Bob Lefsetz, notable music industry analyst and author of the Lefsetz Letter, shared a 17-minute keynote on his latest podcast about how music strategy in the post-Napster era can inform how we view the current state of music marketing, culture and technology adoption. Bob says you can have the best band in the world, but if you don’t have connections and a distribution strategy, nobody will hear it. Key quote: “Content isn’t king. Distribution is.” It’s worth a listen.
Do Instagram Museums Need to Have Depth? This week the NYT toured a handful of pop-up social destinations, including Color Factory, Candytopia, 29Rooms, and the Museum of Ice Cream’s spinoff space. What they found is a lot of opportunity for gorgeous social content and ego-driven like-baiting, but also long lines, morose workers, and a real quandary about the true value of an experience that is purely designed for sharing on social media. Key quote: “These places are often described as ‘Instagram Museums,’ and the real experience plays out only after we post photographic evidence on social media. The internet is an increasingly visual space, and these museums, with their enormous pools of candy and gargantuan emoji props, are designed to fit the shrunken-down Instagram grid.” Although the author views these experiences as lacking in depth, we believe the trend of creating experiences people want to seek out and share will continue. It’s up to the brands to ensure they speak to a higher creative purpose. With all the heaviness in the news these days, maybe it’s okay if the Museum of Pizza just celebrates pure pizza love.
Facebook Stories > Snapchat: The “Stories” format continues to dominate social media trends, and this week Facebook announced they have 300 million daily active users across Facebook Stories and Messenger Stories, which is only slightly lower than Instagram (400 million) and significantly higher than Snapchat’s (188 million). So with the shift from Newsfeed to more temporary Stories, it’s no surprise Facebook also announced Facebook Stories ads this week. According to Facebook’s research more than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories, 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it, and 34% said they went to a store to look for it. Long live Stories!
Baby Shark Dance More Popular Than Drake: If you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, or human being on the internet, you’re absolutely familiar with kids’ earworm of a song “Baby Shark Dance.” Although it’s been around for four years, just last month the song joined Ariana Grande, Drake and Calvin Harris in the UK Top 40 and the YouTube version crossed 1.7 billion views – no doubt thanks to kids streaming iPads at a table across from you at every restaurant you visit these days. Never one to let a viral hit peak too soon, James Corden teamed up with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner and Josh Groban for his own rendition this week. And here’s a two hour long playlist of the Baby Shark Dance Song you can stream for your coworkers today. Warning: you can’t unhear this.
HQ Words is the Next Viral Quiz Game: Since the launch of viral quiz game HQ Trivia we’ve seen a ton of copycats, including The Q, FleetWit, Facebook Confetti, Under Armour’s StephIQ, Fox’s FN Genius and more. Now HQ is diversifying by announcing a new Wheel of Fortune-type game, called HQ Words that works like, well, Wheel of Fortune. It’s coming out in October. Until then, we recommending following our favorite viral Wheel of Fortune account @WOFANSWERS that fake-solves sentences in hilarious ways like NONSTOP CLIMATE OF PANIC.
NONSTOP CLIMATE OF PANIC pic.twitter.com/VVw8B1QijN
— Wheel Of Fortune Answers (@wofanswers) August 24, 2018
Twibel Law: In recent weeks Elon Musk has become a bit unhinged, whether unfollowing and refollowing his rock star girlfriend, smoking pot on a live stream or ranting about the media on Twitter. He also sent several incendiary tweets calling a Thai cave schoolchildren rescuer vulgar terms. The result of these tirades is a libel and slander suit based purely on tweets. According to PR Week, users can be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking their post cannot cause real harm, as such tweets are both ‘social’ and written from the safety of their bedrooms. The test in libel law is whether the comments constitute ‘serious harm’ to a victim’s reputation. The judge in this case ruled that the serious harm test could be extended to include ‘real and substantial distress’ and that such harm did not need to be ‘grave’. We’re just starting to see the effects of libel law and social media, but at least we got a new word out of the deal: “Twibel.”
You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services. And you call yourself @yoda …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
How to Restore Twitter’s Chronological Feed: More than two years after phasing out chronological feeds in favor of algorithms, Twitter is giving users the ability to change their feed’s content back to timestamp-based. People who revert to a chronological feed on Twitter will undoubtedly miss seeing the most popular tweets on any given day, says Vox. A chronological timeline isn’t just a timeline ruled by a clearly defined order; it’s a feed in which information is neutral. Is it better? That’s up to the people you follow and what they post (and when!). To restore your timeline to chronological, go to “Settings and Privacy,” scroll down to “Show the Best Tweets First” and uncheck the box. BOOM.
An Alexa-Powered Microwave? This week Amazon announced a new suite of Alexa-enabled Echo products, including smart clocks, smart plugs, smart microphones, auto plug-ins, and even an Alexa-powered microwave for only $60. In fact, prices on all of these devices are quite low and will certainly incentivize users to continue to add to the Alexa-ecosystem in their homes. Just in time for those holiday gift guide lists, the Echo Show will get an upgrade with a 10-inch HD display, fabric body and improved sound. This screen-powered device is emerging as the hub for an Alexa home and this new model will integrate with Vevo and Hulu for live TV, Microsoft Skype for video calling, and features 8 microphones so the sound is crystal clear. And it’s just over $200. “Alexa, go ahead and just order us all of this stuff. Thanks.”
Every Time My Phone Rings It’s A Scam: You know the feeling that spammers are taking over your cell phone number? You’re not alone, and it’s getting worse by the year. According to a new report from First Orion, scam calls made up just 3.7 percent of all U.S. mobile traffic in 2017, but made a huge jump to 29.2 percent in 2018. And they predict if nothing is done to quell the rising tide of spam and scam phone calls, it could rise to almost half of all calls in 2019 (44.6%)!! This is why we stopped answering our phones years ago. Meanwhile, President Trump is testing “Presidential Alert” text messages to all American cell phones on Oct. 3, so we can all look forward to our phones blowing up at the same time. #SaveTheDate
Greg Swan, Brand Innovation and Emerging Media @ Fallon
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