Post-pandemic summer buzz, social audio everything, and broadband is the new electricity

Happy Friday! I got vaccinated this week, just 54 weeks since my family went into lockdown. I’m so grateful for the scientists, healthcare workers, and leaders who made it possible.

Photo credit: KUTV

I was in a craft store this week looking at the “6 FEET SOCIAL DISTANCE” stickers on the floor near the cash registers and thinking about a future when the retail remnants of the pandemic will be things like forgotten, dusty, “ONE WAY” directional aisle stickers on the floor of your grocery store and yellowing plexiglass screens at the gas station. A full year is so long, but it went so fast.

But there are things that we can count on persisting – mobile payments, drive-thru, delivery, remote work, and more. In May 2020 (!!!!), I compiled a lot of Post-COVID Predictions & Observations from smart thinkers I was re-reading this week and lots of the projections were spot-on. It will be fascinating to look back on today’s projections next year and see how close we were and what was drastically off. Glass bubbles on the beach forever? Doubtful, but we’ll see.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’m tracking this week…

Social Audio Everything: As expected, Spotify will be introducing audio conversation capabilities to rival Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Fireside, Swell, and the wealth of emerging social audio social networks and copycat features. LinkedIn, Slack, and Facebook all have their own versions on the way. And one could expect Amazon Echo to soon support social audio. And if commutes return yet in 2021, look for social audio to find even more listeners and engagement. This is not a fad, but the trend is headed toward being a commodity feature.

Beauty Brands and Facebook Groups: With all the buzz about Instagram and TikTok these days, it can be easy to overlook Facebook Groups. But beauty brands like Glossier, Beauty Pie, and Versed are seeing enormous success with brand-managed groups used for focus group polling, influencers, and product feedback.

Key quote from Vogue: “Beauty brands want to build closer, longer-lasting relationships with their consumers online. So member feedback from Facebook groups is moving to the heart of marketing and product development strategies. They appreciate the instantaneous, often unvarnished nature of consumers’ responses and their willingness to share information with one another.”

Broadband for All: No matter your political persuasion, it’s hard to argue that high speed internet has become as much a human need as traditional utilities like water, power, and gas. This week, the White House promised access to broadband for all Americans, as part of a major new infrastructure initiative known as The American Jobs Plan.

Key quote: “Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected.”

Black Creators Deserve Credit: Last Friday Jimmy Fallon and TikTok star Addison Rae did a skit called Addison Rae Teaches Jimmy Eight TikTok Dances that went viral as people called out Jimmy for featuring Addison, who is white, performing the dances, and not the Black creators who first introduced them. This isn’t a new problem – see this 2015 Fader article on the same subject, “Black Teens Are Breaking The Internet And Seeing None Of The Profits.”

The creators of the dances performed by Rae on The Tonight Show are as follows: Do It Again: @noahschnapp, Corvette Corvette: @yvnggprince, Laffy Taffy: @flyboyfu, Savage: @keke.janjah, Blinding Lights: @macdaddyz, Up: @theemyanicole, and Fergalicious: @thegilberttwins.

Post-Pandemic Summer Social Buzz: A key theme in social media right now is dreaming, planning, and even dreading the forthcoming summer after a year of quarantine. With widespread access to vaccines, a wealth of “safer” outdoor activities, and even a chance to travel again, some are inventing elaborate fantasies of who their post-pandemic selves are going to be (aka “hat wearer” or “lady who makes her own salad dressing”). Tinder is giving away free Covid-19 tests to encourage people to date IRL, and Megan Thee Stallion has promised to release a follow-up to 2019’s iconic “Hot Girl Summer.”

Key quote from Vox on the subject: “I always argue that anticipation is a free source of pleasure that we don’t make as much of as we could. And one of the great things about anticipation is that it doesn’t matter how things actually turn out, you can just enjoy the perfect version of it beforehand.” Dream on!

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!