Social Pulse, Week of 9-21

Every week I keep tabs on what’s trending, new technology and consumer habits that impact the social web. These are summed up in a round-up called Social Pulse. Sign up to get this in your inbox every Friday here.

Facebook Drops the 20% Rule for Text Ads: Facebook is discontinuing the 20% or less text mandate, explaining that: “…we will no longer penalize ads with higher amounts of image text in auctions and delivery.” The Text Overlay tool has even vanished! Of course, Facebook still asserts that ads with <20% text perform better, and recommends that advertisers “keep your text short, clear and concise in order to get your message across effectively.” But starting immediately, it shouldn’t limit reach if you go over that %.

Google Maps Layer News: This week Google Maps is adding a COVID-19 layer featuring the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down. When you open Google Maps, tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of your screen and click on “COVID-19 info.” If you don’t have it yet, wait a day and try again. Also this week, the Cherokee Nation’s reservation boundaries are now visible on Google Maps — an overdue acknowledgment of the tribal lands in Oklahoma.

Ghosts are Hot This Year: As we enter “spooky season,” increasingly everyone is dressing as ghosts on TikTok…
UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that this trend has had legitimate criticism from Black people about a TikTok trend where teens walk around in groups with white sheets on. There have been lots of Part 2’s and updates from the initial reports. That wasn’t on my radar whatsoever, or I would have included it. Or perhaps not even shared this trending news item. I apologize. As a white man on the internet, I am trying to learn from my privilege and share work from creators and inclusion of POC each week, but I will admit there are blind spots and I make mistakes. This was one of those. Thank you for flagging. Let’s all help each other do better. I insist.

Forget Alexa, it’s all about Hey Samuel: Amazon is building on the Samuel L. Jackson celebrity voice skill by adding 30,000 (!!!!) more phrases and five times the swear words. And you can now activate the voice by saying “Hey Samuel.” Buy the f*cking skill for your Echo devices for $.99 here.

Among Us All Around Us: More than two years since its release, the world is playing a “whodunnit” game called Among Us thanks to the growing popularity of party games in a global pandemic, memes, and and Twitch. It’s the third-most-played game on Steam! This week the developers cancelled the sequel this week to continue supporting the initial game. Download Among Us here and play on your phone for free!

iOS14 Hacks: iOS 14 lets you re-do app icons so naturally someone remade them all much worse in MS paint style. And here are some gorgeous new layouts using the new Widgets. And if you have AirPod Pros, test out the new spatial audio by opening your AirPod settings (in Bluetooth menu), turn on spatial audio, and watch this movie. Then, load up The Mandalorian Season 2 trailer in the Disney+ app and practice turning your head back and forth from your phone while it plays. It’s amazing!!

If It’s Boring or Mundane, It Could Go Viral: Landscaping, car detailing, beekeeping, and power washing are mundane tasks finding fans on social media thanks to discovery algorithms. Key quote: “TikTok’s much-discussed algorithm is the big reason these videos have succeeded. Whereas on Instagram or YouTube, you might have to seek these videos out — I certainly have never searched for cool logging videos — TikTok is built around serving up anything its algorithm deems addictive to viewers at large.” The trend is a combination of “oddly satisfying: content, pent up pandemic frustration/boredom, and genuinely interesting human jobs and tasks you wouldn’t ordinary see.

Quick Hits:

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