Social Pulse, Week of 6-15

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.

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SocNet Updates:

Online Shopping During COVID-19 Exceeds 2019 Holiday Season Levels: According to Adobe’s May 2020 Digital Economy Index (DEI), which tracks the state of e-commerce, online shopping levels during COVID-19 (April to May) were higher than what retailers saw during the 2019 holiday season (November to December), with an extra $52bn spent. Pinterest released new research that shows the number of online purchases it drove for grocery retailers jumped nearly 70%, month-on-month, in March.

HS Students Using Social Media to Expose Racism: Black students at dozens of high schools and colleges across the country have banded together to create Instagram accounts to anonymously share black student experiences and hold the schools accountable. Key quote: “Our society is filled with racism and schools are not hermetically sealed from it.”

At-Home Tech, Near-Hollywood Quality: Consumer electronics have replaced studios during the pandemic, The Verge has a detailed breakdown of the off-the-shelf gadgets Seth Meyers uses to self-produce Late Night from home: iPad, Sennheiser ClipMic Digital, and Dropbox. And his house band uses Houseparty and Garage Band.

Black U.S. Adults Follow COVID-19 News More Closely: Black Americans, a group that has been hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus outbreak, have been paying closer attention to many elements of the outbreak – and discussing it more frequently with other people – than other U.S. adults, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted before nationwide protests began over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Clean Up Your Old Social Posts: Facebook introduced easier ways to delete old posts last month. Here’s a detailed breakdown how to find, archive, or delete old posts from your personal timelines.

Predictions of the Week: Professor Scott Galloway outlines 5 possible scenarios for the future of tech — including Apple launching a search engine, Twitter pivoting to subscriptions, LinkedIn launching micro-blogging, the merger of Spotify-Sonos-Netflix, and the death of Quibi.

App of the Week: Zigazoo is a TikTok-inspired app for kids rooted in short form video activities, projects and learning activities in a kid-safe environment, with content based on grade level. It’s reached 100,000 uploads/downloads so far and current content seems best suited for kindergarteners. Download here.

It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Down on Friday: Nearly a decade after ‘Friday,’ Rebecca Black is now 22 and has emerged as a queer pop icon. Follow her on Instagram here: @msrebeccablack

Viral Video of the Week: The Typewriter Orchestra Performs from Home


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You heard about Quibi, but did you try it?

SWAN of the Week, Number 146
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“Quibi is like if the gas station TV cost money.”


Screen time is all the time right now.

TV viewing is up. Streaming is up. Social network time is up.

So it would seem like the perfect time to launch Quibi, the nearly $2 billion-funded, mobile-only, Netflix-style app featuring six to 10-minute shows and series.

Quibi, short for “quick bites,” has been inundating the world with ads and teasers for months and months now. And it finally launched this week.

Except I downloaded it and promptly forgot about it.

Not a single one of my friends texted or posted about it this week. My feeds didn’t have a single mention about the platform or its shows. I finally remembered I had it on Wednesday and forced myself to purchase (you have to agree to payment post-trial before trying) and watch some episodes.

The mobile-first gimmick here is that all content is short-form and formatted for both vertical and horizonal screen flips. It’s truly a one-trick pony, and after the first few attempts to see how it works, you pretty much just watch horizontally like a normal show.

Even the ads are dynamic to how you hold your phone. I got served an ad for Lays potato chips that definitely let me flip my phone, and but I’m not sure it was very well targeted.

On Quibi, ads can’t be skipped, similar to Hulu or Pluto. But unlike Instagram and Facebook, they can’t be shared either. I got a hilarious ad for Old El Paso using YouTuber Parry Gripp’s “Raining Tacos,” but it wasn’t shareable or findable after it ran. Bummer!

The discovery UX for the initial slate of shows is pretty terrible. Unlike Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, IGTV, etc., there doesn’t seem to be any deep categorization, algorithms, recommendation, or discoverability features. Users get overwhelmed easily when there’s too much to watch. Tell us what content we will like!

From my experience, the content itself is… okay.

The Punk’d reboot with Chance the Rapper was agonizing and unfinishable. The Most Dangerous Game series was the slowest 7 minutes of television I’ve ever watched. Made it through two full episodes – dropping obvious foreshadowing hints in agonizing detail like a primetime TV drama – before giving up. The Report by NBC News is Snapchat-style news broadcast news, but you can’t share them or stream outside the platform to non-paying users, which seems strange for news.

But the Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson comedy show Flipped is fantastic. It’s almost like Funny or Die knows a thing or two about making short form, mobile-first content that pops. None of the rest of the programming doesn’t appeal to me, which either means I’m lame or Quibi’s recommendation engine and discovery is severely lacking. Probably both.  

I’m generally a fan of innovation in mobile, content and advertising. I’m also a huge social-sharer and want to screenshot, share and chat about entertainment content. Not being able to screenshot or record content seems extremely counterintuitive for the way content spreads today (h/t @ira).

On first review, Quibi is a social-less mobile-first content viewing experience, which seems very strange for a product launched in 2020. The launch content isn’t great, and I kept finding myself wanting to jump out of the shows to multitask or do anything than hang out inside Quibi. It’s reminiscent to the feeling you get sampling AppleTV, which also has a terrible user experience (muddling primary content with subscription and rentals) and yawn-worthy content. In fact, I forgot I had AppleTV completely.

Instead, I’m back to scrolling TikTok for hours each night, texting the best short-form content to friends, and enjoying its discovery algorithm that serves me content it knows I’ll love.

TikTok: 1.
Quibi: 0.

But Quibi does have almost $2 billion in investment, loads of famous directors in the queue, and a long runway to work out some of these mobile bugs.

You may not have tried Quibi yet, but you will be hearing more about it for quite a while.

See you on the internet!

PS: I send out an email every single Friday with stuff like this. You can sign up below! For example, here is this week’s Social Pulse round-up of digital, social and culture trends.

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