Social Pulse, Week of 11-16

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.

Twitter Introduces Fleets: This week Twitter introduced a new disappearing content, Stories-style feature called Fleets. Fleets are another place for content and engaging with consumers. So yes, Fleets are a channel where your brand should consider putting effort. Will it be a success in the long term? That’s the wrong question to ask. Here’s a POV: Fleets could be fleeting. But the Stories format is here to stay.

Google Pay Will Pay-Off: In the era of Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and Zelle, it can be easy to discount a new way to exchange money. But this week’s introduction of Google Pay is extremely ambitious – becoming not just another peer-to-peer payment service, but also offering bank account integration, finance tracking (auto-crawl through your Gmail and photos for receipts?!), an Explore tab full of Google-specific and brand-deals, and more. And in 2021, Google will launch its own bank service, Plex. This is going to be big. Download the app here.

Zillow Surfing: As a form of pandemic entertainment and daydreaming, people are “Zillow Surfing” — browsing sites like Zillow, Redfin and Trulia to find gorgeous, obsure, or unique properties, and then  and bonding over listings they find on Discord, group chats, TikTok, Twitter, and Twitch. Zillow is seeing a traffic increase of 50 percent year-over-year. Key quote: “I think for a lot of people, Zillow feels like the opposite of doomscrolling… You’re stuck in your apartment, maybe you can’t move, but it’s easy to look at listings and imagine yourself in a different life. And maybe in that life Covid isn’t happening.

Facebook Design: This week the Facebook Design team launched a new website to serve the design community, and for you design nerds out there, the team detailed out the discovery and design process of building their own site.

Debt Collection Comes to Social Media: A year from today, debt collectors will be permitted to contact consumers not just by phone but also email, text and social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Collectors will be allowed to send an unlimited number of texts, emails, and social media private posts. It’s going to get real noisy and inconvenient for many folks in social media next year. Look to the platforms to get creative in how to balance the new social collection with expected consumer pushback.

Patents of the Week: Although patent filings aren’t a guarantee that new technology will come to fruition, they give us a hint of where we may be headed. In the latest round: Google has a new patent for a smart ring that doubles as a small selfie camera. Voice assistants are trying to better understand accents. Facebook has a patent for tagging both objects and people in their forthcoming AR glasses. And Microsoft is pursuing technology to helping you avoid specific people. Read about those and more here.

‘Harry Potter’ and the Prisoners of Quarantine: On TikTok, Gen Z “Harry Potter” fans are editing themselves into the movies in a quest for escapism, representation and community. If you’ve been on TikTok lately, you’ve seen some of these. Key quote: “The pull of childhood comforts is especially strong for young Americans today, with coronavirus cases climbing, a contentious presidential election just barely in the rearview mirror and an upcoming holiday season mired in travel restrictions. In the face of overwhelming uncertainty, Gen Z is fleeing our world for the safety of Harry Potter’s.”

College Courses for the Class of 2073: Wired has a humorous sci-fi look at a college course guidebook for those heading off to university 50 years from now, with courses including: Millennial Gerontology, Pre-Fan Cultures, Ethics in Punitive Marketing, and a notice that Creative Writing has been cancelled. Bummer! Plan your schedule here.

Business Reads of the Week: The Next Generation Of CMOs Will Come From Today’s Social Media Managers; How to Be Happier Working From Home; What Inclusive Leaders Sound Like

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Social Pulse, Week of 11-9

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.

What Does 2021 Hold for Digital/Social? This week there is lots of discussion online about what the future of digital and social look like under a Biden administration. Short answer: focus on privacy, data, antitrust, and China will still be a focus, including potentially revoking Section 230, the section of the Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for the content that they host. Perhaps there will be movement on net neutrality. And look to Twitter to be more aggressive at deactivating troublesome accounts.

2021 Social Media Planning Calendar: It’s not quite the new year, but it’s never too early to start planning Q1. Social Bakers have published a 2021 calendar you can combine with your own brand moments and hashtag holidays that you care about. It integrates with Google Calendar, plus it can be downloaded as an .ics cal to upload to your platform of choice.

Parler’s Rise to #1: In the last week a relatively unknown social network called Parler has rocketed to the #1 spot for app downloads, beating out Zoom, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Parler calls itself “an unbiased social media focused on real user experiences and engagement,” with “free expression without violence and no censorship.” And it is growing in popularity as Twitter and Facebook start enforcing new moderation policies as some conservatives look for alternative social networks to connect. Just like any other emerging social network, brands should consider registering their brand handles to inoculate against trolls or squatting.

Give Your Social Team a (Virtual) Hug Today: In the relentless news cycle of 2020, social media pros are first responders, and it’s been a nonstop crisis almost the entire calendar year. Yet the importance of their work is often invisible and sometimes underappreciated. Journalist Marta Martinez has a highly recommended read called “The Social Media Managers are Not Okay” that spells out the essential role of a social team in 2020.

Key quote: “Social media managers are making important — and very public — decisions all the time. They need to respond to news and conversations quickly to be effective. The public voice and image of companies, media outlets, public figures, and institutions are in their hands at a very delicate time. Yet their job is still often seen as something anyone could do, or left to those who are just getting started in their careers… It is an essential job. We need to have more infrastructure and awareness of the fact that we’re in service to our audience.”

Payola in the Spotify Era: With the news that Spotify will begin allowing artists and labels to influence recommendations if they accept a lowered “promotional recording royalty rate” for the resulting plays, a new generation is learning the definition of payola, and how it has artificially influenced the music industry for decades. There have always been creative marketing solutions behind the scenes, but this is one to watch – especially as the music industry tends to “break” trends before they move to other categories, influencers, and publishers.

Twitter’s Carousel Ads are Here (Organic, too!): This week Twitter introduced a new Carousels format. Brands can now add up to six images or videos in an ad, they can run organically or promoted, and like other carousel ads, and although every brand is different, they are expected to perform extremely well. For example, Carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram reportedly drive 10 times more web traffic for businesses than the counter single-image ads. And a Facebook study showed Carousel ads drove a 72% higher click-through rate than single images. Read more about the announcement here.

Business Reads of the Week: McKinsey’s 2020 Holiday Seasons in a Pandemic Report; 6 skills employees will need in the post-pandemic workplace; It’s time for brands to double down on activism; The Battle for the Soul of Digital Freedom Taking Place Inside Your Printer

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Social Pulse, Week of 10-19

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.

Hum to Search: On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app, tap the mic icon and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. It immediately identified Suzanne Vega’s track “Tom’s Diner” based solely on doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, duhdoodoo. Try it!

The FOBO is Real: It’s our new universal neurosis: Fear of Being On… “an anxiety characterized by a constant need to check that you are muted, silent, hung up, off-mic, logged off, shut down, incognito, invisible, or otherwise safe from someone hearing or seeing you via technology. Even and especially when you just checked 10 seconds ago.” Some NSFW news this week brought it up, and the only cure is a pandemic vaccine. So keep checking for that little green light, folks.

Patents of the Week: Although patent filings aren’t a guarantee that new technology will come to fruition, they give us a hint of where we may be headed. Amazon is looking at ways of serving video ads even on devices that are offline. Google has one for their virtual assistant to synthesize every incoming message you get across all the various services and apps you use into one screen where the assistant decides what’s most pertinent at any given moment. Facebook has a giant USB port for your brain to support their brain-computer interfaces. Read about these and more here.

I’m the Mayor of this Coffee Shop! This week Gowalla relaunched as an augmented reality social app – kind of a Pokemon Go meets Foursquare experience. Sign up for the beta here.

Osiris-Rex Tags Bennu: This week was a massive week for science, physics, software, and understanding the solar system. NASA landed a space probe on asteroid over 200 million miles away, then immediately took back off and sent a sample from the asteroid’s surface back to Earth. The spacecraft operates more or less autonomously due to the 18 minute communications delay, and it already changed a lot of what we thought we know about near-earth asteroids, including the discovery that the sandy beaches we anticipated were big rocky boulders. So much to learn! Watch the video here.

Audio’s Opportunity and Who Will Capture It: Technologist and former head of strategy at Amazon Studios Matthew Ball wrote a comprehensive and compelling essay about media consumption patterns and the interplay of technology, content and business models for audio right now. Key quote: “Just imagine a Sony Music executive trying to figure out why a 15 year old today should care for Billy Joel, how to reach them, and how to overcome the stigma of Joel being their dad’s favorite artist.”

I Want My AMTV: This week saw the launch of Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated livestream of popular music videos that will also include “exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,” according to the announcement. Watch right now through the Apple TV app on your Apple device.

Augmented Reality Comes to Native Google Search: As I predicted, only 16 months after launching augmented reality search for animals Google is now bringing in-search AR results for brands, starting with auto. When searching for supported vehicles, users will see the ability to view a 3D model either on a generic background, a stylized background, or in real-life using AR through the camera directly in the Google search results. In your mobile browser, Google “2020 Volvo XC40 Recharge” and scroll down to the card that says “View in 3D.” Then project it via hologram in your driveway, garage, or living room!

For brands, it’s time to start thinking about creating 3D files of your products for native AR features like this. If you have a product, it’s time to start practicing creating really good 3D models of your product. If you have a service, it’s worth doing some workshopping what kinds of brand assets you would want to have in 3D form that could be utilized for Search, as well as other VR and AR experiences. It’s only a matter of time before native AR search results come to other categories. Time to plan ahead!

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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.


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Social Pulse, Week of 9-7


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.

When Your Group Text Thread Becomes Your Primary Social Channel: This week Founders Fund VP Mike Solana tweeted, “the secret chat group culture that’s happening right now is absolutely next level,” pointing to the rise of ‘dark social’ (aka private sharing via text, chat, and microbrowsers) that is exploding in our current state of callout/cancel/accountability culture. I’ve seen this trend coming for some time, predicting back in 2016 that dark social would eclipse public social. A recent study showed 20% of respondents ONLY share via dark channels, and that behavior is only accelerating with the looming election. Brands will need to continue to consider shifts in social listening, targeting, tracking, and tactics like micro-video previews for URLS shared in chat.  


1st Sound Change in 7 Years in John Cage’s 639-Year-Long Song: The world’s slowest musical composition, “As Slow as Possible,” went through its first chord change in seven years this week in Germany. Key quote: “Nineteen years later, there have been 15 note changes, the last coming on October 5th, 2013. For the past 2,527 days, the St. Burchardi organ had resonated the same note, the piece’s longest-held note so far and longest until at least 2071.” You can watch the 4 hour live stream of the key change here.


China’s QVC-Style Social Shopping Goes Mainstream: Although U.S. live stream shopping tends to live in multilevel marketing circles, in China it’s a $66 billion industry on pace to DOUBLE thanks to COVID. Key quote: “Live-stream shopping is a blend of entertainment and e-commerce. Viewers buy goods online from people who show off their latest finds — from lipsticks to laundry detergent — in real-time videos… Hosts can give their fans discount coupons and flash deals in real time, while viewers can click to send their favorite stars virtual ‘gifts.’” It’s a whole different definition of influencer when they are literally selling all day long.


Google’s Personalized Algorithmic Radio Remix: Google Assistant now includes “Your News Update,” which gathers news clips from different outlets and plays them in one continuous audio feed. Key quote: “The goal is to create a seamless 90-minute broadcast—a mix of radio, podcast snippets, and text-to-speech article translations—tailored to an audience of one… Based on Google’s wealth of user data, your particular playlist might feature stories about sports teams you follow or… news from local outlets… Google’s algorithms then hunt for keywords and topics in stories that are most likely to be connected to your interests.” It’s Android-only, with iOS surely on the way.


Would You Quit Facebook for $10/Week? Facebook is commissioning research into how its apps influence “key political attitudes and behaviors during the US 2020 elections,” and will pay Facebook and Instagram users $10-20/week to stop using their apps. You can’t opt in, but you may be invited. More here.


Stop Snitch Tagging! You know when someone is being talked about online and then a commenter @-tags the person so they see it? That’s called snitch tagging, and it’s one of the social web’s biggest pet peeves. Read why here.


Insta of the Week: @tot_for_tot_remakes features a father and daughter remaking classic movie scenes.


Tweets of the Week: Civil War generals as Muppets a definitive thread. The @LooneyTunes intern is at it again. And @CrazyIIIusions asks Is This Drawing a Rabbit or a Duck?

Podcast of the Week: Dissect is back, and this season the focus is “Because the Internet” by Childish Gambino. Dissect’s approach analyzes one album per season, one song per episode. The first two episodes are live now!


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