Social Pulse, Week of 9-14

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.

iOS 14: If you’re an Apple user, it’s time to update your phone! Widgets! New Memojis! And more! Read about all the goodness here. Favorite feature so far? The back tap screenshot.

Young Tech Rises: Young people in Silicon Valley are organizing as a “kind of counterpoint to the Silicon Valley establishment, which its members say is exclusive, elitist and riddled with systemic problems including sexism, ageism and racism.” This includes Gen Z Mafia (creators of Tweetledee, where you can match with your Twitter crush), Eye Mouth Eye (creators of 👁👄👁 that raised money for criminal justice reform), and more. Look for more of this trend as the next generation comes into the tech industry.

Blaseball > Baseball? Real sports are finally back, but that hasn’t stopped the latest season of Blaseball. It’s an online baseball simulation full of fake teams, fake players, and fake betting on virtual games acting out a baseball season – with games every day and post-season on Saturdays. Even if it’s fake baseball with fake wagering, there’s a huge subculture of fandom, fan art, fan fiction, and more emerging for teams with names like Kansas City Breath Mints and Seattle Garages. Sign up here and get in the game!

Hoax of the Week: If you’ve seen your Facebook friends posting sketchy legalese that says something like “Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Facebook rule where they can use your photo” it’s simply not true. Variations of this have been going around for more than 8 years, and posting statement on your feed will do nothing to invalidate the user agreement you sign to use the platform. If you’re not up for a comment fight when you see these, be sure to report these posts as “False News” so they don’t spread further. And no, Facebook won’t alert your great uncle it was you that reported it.

Smart Glasses > Dumb Glasses: Every major tech company — including Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel, Snap, and Microsoft – are working on smart glasses. Here’s a review of the new Amazon Echo Frames. And this week Facebook shared a first look at their prototype, in partnership with Ray-Ban. We’re entering this really interesting mid-step in smart glasses consumer tech. The pre-AR phase.

Body Positivity Comes to TikTok: There has always been an undercurrent of authenticity backlash to the “success theater” of perfect faces, bodies, and homes on social media. Lately, this trend is bubbling to the surface through a renewed body positivity movement on TikTok. Key quote: “They’re showing what a normal body looks like, and none of us are really used to seeing that in the media. … When we see these sorts of videos online, social media, they’re kind of breaking the illusion that everyone is perfect except us.” Here’s a list of body positive accounts to follow.  

5 Leadership Reads of the Week: 1) Your surge capacity is depleted – here’s what to do about it.  2) Intelligent Minds Like Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos Embrace the Rule of Awkward Silence. You Should Too. 3) 14 Tech Trends To Watch Closely In 2020. 4) The internet of protest is being built on single-page websites. 5) We’re All Socially Awkward Now.

Patents of the Week: Would you pay $2 to put links in your Instagram posts? Facebook has filed for a patent for that. 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. Other recent patents of note include: Apple headphones, electronic yarn, watching eSports in VR, and joining meetings on Xbox.

Stream of the Week: The Social Dilemma on Netflix is required watching for any marketer who touches social media or anyone who uses social media (so… everybody?). Former leaders at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Mozilla share the history and purpose of algorithms, advertising strategy, infinite scroll, and the Like button. After watching, read through this intelligent critique of many of the assertions made by the filmmakers.

Quick hits:


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Social Pulse, Week of 6-29

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.

Holiday Planning Season: There’s only 174 days until Christmas! No matter what you celebrate, it’s not too early to think about the holidays. Facebook launched its 2020 Holidays Hub. Pinterest launched a 2020 holiday report called “Earlier Than Ever” (PDF). And here’s Twitter guidance for holiday tweets. Bah humbug!

SocNet Updates:

A Credit Card for Influencers? The Karat Black Card is the first business credit card where “likes” matter. Unlike traditional cards that rely on credit scores to determine your eligibility, Karat looks at an applicant’s social stats along with income as part of their underwriting criteria.

Voice Increasingly Coming to Social: Voice-first apps like HeyTell and Zello never really caught on, but voice is finding renewed interest with Twitter adding Audio functionality last month, and now LinkedIn adding a new audio option for pronunciation on user profiles people are already using for short greeting or sales pitches. Hopefully this trend won’t make Voice Notes cool. No thank you.

Finger on the App: This week YouTuber Mr. Beast and the folks at MSCHF released a social game called Finger on the App where you, well, keep your finger on the app as long as possible. The winner could take home as much as $20,000. Except the losers get to vote how much the winner should get (as low as $.01!!). People playing streamed live on Twitch, built robots to cheat, grew their TikTok followers, and others trolled contestants into losing by triggering “Hey Siri.” I played and made it 15 minutes before I got bored and went to a meeting.

Netflix Puts its Money to Work for BLM: This week Netflix announced it would shift 2% of its massive cash assets to banks serving Black communities. Key quote: “Banks that are Black-owned or -led represent a mere 1% of America’s commercial banking assets. This is one factor contributing to 19% of Black families having either negative wealth or no assets at all.” Read more here.

“It is what it is” Artificial Hype: Last week you may have seen 👁👄👁 spreading across the socials, leading to an email signup form. The vague but viral movement managed to collect the email addresses of 30,000 people seeking invitations for “early access.” Instead, the creators of the trend — 60 mostly young, mostly nonwhite people working at companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Stripe — had created an artificial hype cycle and then used it raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations that support criminal justice reform and mental health services for the black and trans communities. Were you fooled? Read about it here.

Podcast of the Week: “Boom/Bust: HQ Trivia” is an 8-part series that follows the spectacular rise and fall of the massively popular HQ Trivia app. The last episode is called “Selling for Parts.” Listen here.

The Walkman Turned 40 This Week: The Walkman reached American shores 40 years ago this month. The New Yorker explores the impact of the gadget that taught the world to socially distance before that was even a thing. Key quote: “The Walkman wasn’t the end of meeting people, but it paved the way for surviving an unthinkable era in which we would find ourselves unable to meet at all.

TikTokker of the Week: @GardenMarcus is a gardener whose bio reads “Kindness | Patience | Positivity,” and his TikToks walk you through step-by-step amateur gardening tips like how to cut and plant an onion from the grocery store, how to pot a propagated pothos, and four reasons why elephant ears are a go-to plant for adding to your garden.

Instagram of the Week: Minneapolis artist @HotxTea shared this George Floyd-inspired IGTV video called “Pure Inspiration” of his installation on the Guthrie Theater featuring hand-painted color swatch magnets. It’s a must-watch.


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