2021 state of social, the right to forget, and #showeroranges cannot be real

Happy Friday! This week a quote of mine that was published in Forbes about CES earlier this year is now in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Weird!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this summer and how consumers are going to react as the country opens back up, and what that means for marketers.

Some folks can’t wait to get out there and do things, while some will be more hesistant. Some will take big trips and make big purchases they’ve delayed for 15 months, while some are (still) facing huge financial hardships and are struggling week-to-week. Some will over-post their new adventures on social media, while some will take a social media break… but what’s the point of taking a social media break if you don’t post about it on social media, right?

Bonnie Kristian has a piece in The Week that frames the cultural tension well, “Social distancing rules have precluded normal routines and rituals, including grieving practices — practices we need. The winding down of distancing rules will make sudden space for so much that has been skipped, suspended, or suppressed. It will surface this summer, and what a strange summer it will be. Joy amid social rubble, pleasure strolls past empty storefronts, a wedding in one room and a funeral reception in the next.”

So how does a brand plan for a summer of birfucating mindsets? Lean into your brand voice and how that informs how your brand behaves. Observe and listen carefully to your customers. Test and trial strategies to see how they respond. And most of all, lean into what we learned from the last 15 months of marketing in a time of crisis — there is no playbook. There is no “the way things used to be” or “how it always works.”

Marketing in 2021 may turn out to be just as challenging as the summer of 2021. But this year there is palpable hope undergirding the shared history and collective acknowledgement that last year was terrible. So don’t be afraid to let your brand tap into the rebound energy that’s all around.

Yes, it will be a strange summer for marketers, but it couldn’t come soon enough.

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

YouTube Dominating Social Media in 2021: This week Pew Research researched a new Social Media Use in 2021 report, showing a majority of Americans say they use YouTube (81%) and Facebook (69%), while use of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok is especially common among adults under 30. TikTok is used by 21% of Americans, while 13% say they use Nextdoor. Read the full report here. PS: 7% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they?

Closed Captioning For All: Closed captions have been around 50 years, starting with Julia Child’s “The French Chef” in 1972. But in 2021, all video and social platforms are increasingly offering captioning options (including TikTok’s launch of auto-captions this week!). Although the obvious caption benefit is to increase accessibility, a recent study found that 18% of the UK population regularly uses closed captioning — but only 20% of those viewers were hard of hearing. 

Key quote: “There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating that, for a wide range of participants, captions can improve a viewer’s comprehension and retention of information. There is also evidence to suggest captions can improve a viewer’s ability to draw inferences and define words, identifying emotions from media sources.”

RIP Yahoo Answers: Given the internet’s relatively young age, it still comes as a shock when older content portals close and delete all of their content (e.g., MySpace, Geocities). This week came the announcement that Yahoo Answers was folding. Known for its hilarious Q&A’s, the internet has been sharing Yahoo Answers’ greatest hits that fueled memes and “Am i gregnant” videos and more.

The Right to Forget Your Social Memories: The right to be forgotten is the right to have private information about a person be removed from Internet searches and other directories under some circumstances. But the right to have your social memories scrubbed from social networks (or not having them shoved in your face) is an emerging problem when it comes to breakups, deaths, and things that happen to us we may just not want brought up in a “One Year Ago Today!” post in your social feeds. Wired’s Lauren Goode wrote an editorial about what it’s like to try to forget in a social age, the monetization of emotional memory, how Pinterest has approached divorce and miscarriage, and more.

Key quote: “Memories in photo apps should be an option, not a requirement, and they shouldn’t be activated by default. Apps should stop monetizing those memories, directly or otherwise. Algorithms should be more refined, so we’re not trailed by events we’d rather leave behind or nudged into experiences that we don’t really want. Timelines should actually consider the passage of time.”

Business Reads of the Week: 1) Can an AI System Be Given a Patent? 2) Can anything stop tech companies from working with will.i.am? 3) The Story of ‘Dumb Ways to Die,’ the Beloved Megaviral Musical

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!