Archives For socialpulse

  • IGTV Launches: As we predicted weeks ago, this week Instagram launched IGTV. This is Insta’s stand-alone video app that leverages its existing accounts, community and reach to share long-form videos. And it is all vertical, which is insanely pleasurable to watch on mobile. Marques Brownlee has a great overview here and raises the question: As Instagram focuses on creators, will it pay for quality content, so creators can make a living from it? Time will tell. Download IGTV here. (LINK)

  • Diurnal Trends in Social Behavior: In a newly published study researchers are matching the words we tweet with specific aspects of human psychology. They analyzed 800 million tweets and 7 billion words published to Twitter between 2010 and 2014 to study what they could reveal about the ways the British population thinks and feels on a 24-hour cycle. They found that analytical thinking—which correlates with frequent use of nouns, articles, and prepositions—seems to peak early in the day, along with an increased concern with things like power and achievement. But late at night it turns out existential thinking dominates. By 3:00 am, positive emotions are at their lowest, and topics like death and religion have peaked. This isn’t new science, but the technique of applying diurnal research against consumer conversation is fascinating. (LINK)

  • A.I. Better at Arguing than Humans: IBM created an AI system called Project Debater that recently took on a human opponent at a press event. The statement to be debated was “We should subsidize space exploration” and another on telemedicine. The AI was not trained on the topics presented, and yet was able to present unscripted rebuttals and clear reasoning after analyzing its opponent’s arguments. A majority of the audience named the AI as the winner. Watch out, lawyers! (LINK)

  • Curating Our Forgotten Digital Photos: Photographer Doug Battenhausen thinks all our advances in cellphone cameras and photo-sharing technology haven’t made our pictures better, but rather more sterile. So he’s been looking through our forgotten, dead photo accounts for 5 years and curating them on his website, Internet History. They are sometimes funny, sometimes bad, but usually photos that give him a feeling of “comforting sadness.” With every new selfie we take today, we quickly move past long forgotten pics of the recent past. It’s striking to go back through and look at them through this lens. Pun intended. (LINK)


A Trash Panda Breaks the Internet: Here in the Twin Cities we’re often a lot closer to nature than you think – with random black bears roaming the suburbs and coyotes pretty much everywhere. But it’s highly unusual for a raccoon to scale a skyscraper, and it got the world’s attention this week. The memes flowed. Geico made three commercials about it. And Minnesota Public Radio starting selling a raccoon tote bag. We have a friendly rivalry between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. So it’s been fun to tease that in 2018 Minneapolis will be known for the Super Bowl, while St. Paul will be known for a daredevil climbing an office building. +1: Minneapolis. (LINK)


Social Media News Wars Update: This week new research revealed use of Facebook for news has dropped 9 percent in the last year, with news consumption among younger groups falling 20 percent. It also showed people are looking toward dark social apps – like texting and Whatsapp – for their news. As education levels about digital reputation increases we are being choosier about what we say and share publicly (well, some of us are). Meanwhile, Twitter is doubling down on news — putting more live news events in your timeline and notifications, including personalized push notifications if an event is happening that it believes you’ll be interested in. Users can expect to start seeing the news alerts around events at the World Cup today. (LINK)


“Deep” Learning Cameras are Becoming Crazy Smart, and Affordable: This week Amazon launched the DeepLens for only $249. It’s the first video camera designed to teach deep learning basics and optimized to run machine learning models on the camera (versus in the cloud). It has object and facial detection and “hot dog not hot dog”-built right in! Meanwhile Google this week launched DeepMind, an AI that can render 3D objects from 2D pictures. This is what our human brains do – use a few visual cues to assume what the rest of a room or object looks like. This is all pretty geeky stuff, but in the very near future our phones and Alexa devices will have these capabilities and drastically change how we interact with them. We’re already starting to brainstorm what brands can bring to life using this new technology! (LINK)


Red Hot Chili Peppers Fans Keep Buying Tickets for the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a Scottish Bagpipe Band: Thanks to Reddit and Twitter confessions, this week we’re learning that quite a few people have been duped into buying concert tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Pipers, a Scottish bagpipe band – not the 90s rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s delicious irony and the cause for much internet teasing – especially when you hear that some fans made special trips or paid as much as $228 to see the band – well, the non-bagpipe version. Because that’s a thing you have to check on now. Although we have to say the Red Hot Chili Pipers do know how to rock.  (LINK)


Automating the end of DVD Delivery: For some reason Netflix is promoting their snail mail DVD return process this month, featuring “The ARRM,” or the Automated Rental Return Machine. Like that Sesame Street crayon movie from our childhood, it’s super cool to watch how it sorts, opens, cleans, and organizes the mail every day. But it’s 2018, right? Seems like a lot of investment to keep those DVDs in the mail. Except there are still 3 million DVD subscribers who earned Netflix a profit of $56 million in Q1. Turns out the DVD selection is way bigger than streaming: about 100,000 DVDs versus only 5,600 titles streaming. So maybe it’s a good thing when the robots start taking our jobs. (LINK)

Dear Instagram: Teens are using Instagram threads for advice on popular topics like acne, friends and dating instead of searching on Google. These thread accounts are often run by older teens or college students, who can spend hours a day responding to direct messages from followers seeking personal advice. The threads themselves are often a series of Twitter screenshots that have been uploaded onto Instagram. Self-help and advice threads don’t really go viral on Twitter, but it turns out screenshots of them will on Instagram. (LINK)

Facebook Karaoke: This week Facebook introduced Lip Sync Live, a feature that lets users lip sync to hundreds of popular songs like “Havana” by Camila Cabello and “God’s Plan” by Drake. Fewer teens are using Facebook than ever before (only 51% between ages 13 and 17), while karaoke apps like are exploding in popularity as stand-alone app experiences for the same audience. So Facebook has spent millions of dollar on music licensing deals with three major record labels (Warner, Universal and Sony), which means users will have access to virtually every popular song available. In fact, soon Facebook won’t censor user videos with mainstream music in the background at all. Turn it up! (LINK)

The next YouTube is Instagram? This week Instagram announced a new Snapchat Discover-style video hub, including vertically-oriented scripted shows, music videos influencer content ranging from 5 to 15 minutes and potentially up to an hour long. The rollout, tentatively scheduled for June 20, will also allow average users to upload longer videos, beyond the current 60-second limit – potentially up to an hour. Instagram intends to let creators and publishers earn money off the longer videos, leveraging their 800 million users to drive new revenue streams. Would you spend an hour watching one video on Instagram? (LINK)

Pokemon Go, with Dinosaurs: This week we were walking all over downtown Minneapolis catching virtual velociraptors thanks to Jurassic Park Alive, the newest Pokemon Go-style augmented reality game. In the game, you physically walk around to collect as DNA from each dinosaur you encounter and gathering supplies at inventory drops. AMC Theaters and Walmart are the first retailers to offer branded supplies at their nationwide locations. It’s a fun take on Pokemon and a precursor to the Harry Potter AR game that is sure to blow up later this year. Download Jurassic Park Alive here.

Meet Norman, the World’s First Psychopath A.I.: Popular sci-fi shows like Black Mirror can give us a look into the worst-case scenario of new technology, but MIT Media Lab went ahead and created a monster to show how the data behind A.I. matters. And its name is Norman. Researchers trained Norman with content from the “darkest corners of Reddit” and then examined its responses to Rorschach inkblots. The results? Where a “normal” algorithm saw flowers and wedding cakes in the inkblots, Norman saw images of a man being fatally shot and a man killed by a speeding driver. Where the control algorithm saw a black and white photo of a red and white umbrella, Norman saw a man getting electrocuted while attempting to cross busy street. Pretty messed up! And a fascinating glimpse into the implications of data decisions for these new technological tools. (LINK)

Flopstarter, Kickstarter for Bad Ideas: Coconut Shampoo for Coconuts, Moleskin Notebooks Made with Real Mole Skin and Disposable Tissue Pillows are just some of the horrible ideas you can crowdfund at Flopstarter, a Kickstarter for really bad ideas. Created by designer-provocateur Oli Frost, the platform actually does allow you to fund these bad (joke) ideas – but we don’t recommend actually funding them. Except maybe MORT, a vintage fashion line of clothes people have died in. Seems like that could be popular. (LINK)

Architecture of Radio: We are surrounded by an intricate network of wired and wireless signals. It’s an invisible system of data cables and radio signals from access points, cell towers and overhead satellites that we take for granted. This week we’re testing out the new Architecture of Radio app that lets you “see” these invisible signals using GPS location and showing the data from 7 million cell towers, 19 million Wi-Fi routers and hundreds of satellites beaming data all around you. Video example. Download it here.

Apple’s WWDC Preview: At next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple will be talking about using their devices less, not more. To address new findings about smartphone addiction, Apple engineers have been working on “Digital Health,” a series of tools to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and inside of certain applications. We’ll also be on the lookout for new updates to iOS and augmented reality capabilities. (LINK)

Internet Trend Report 2018: Every year analyst Mary Meeker drops a few hundred slides with her insights into the state of digital. They are the worst-designed, best-analyzed trends ever. Here are some of the highlights:


  • People with internet (51%) now outnumber people without it and feature adoption is growing, like online payments (60% of sales are digital) and voice recognition (30m+ use Alexa).
  • User say they want privacy but 79% will give up personal information for good services or product improvements.
  • S. adults spend 5.9 hours per day on digital media, with an increase coming from mobile. But “Time Well Spent” movements are starting to put the focus on meaningful interactions.
  • Mobile has 29% of time spent but only 26% of ad dollars, which is a $7 billion gap. Google and others are working to close this gap.
  • More U.S. product searches start on Amazon over Google, but Amazon is over-reliant on social media to drive demand

We’ve summarized Meeker’s 294-slide presentation into a shorter, summary presentation we would love to share with you. Let us know if you would like us to set up time!

Move over HQ Trivia; it’s Steph IQ: In a bid to grab attention and engagement during the NBA playoffs, Under Armour created a mobile trivia game activated by basketball player Stephen Curry’s on-court performance. The Steph IQ app goes live during every playoff game when Curry hits his first three-point shot. The questions get harder as the game goes on and each incorrect answer or failure to answer means elimination. Prizes include $10,000 in Under Armour store credit and the latest Curry 5 trainers. Marrying the physical and digital experience of watching a sporting event? Sign us up. (Download it here)

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Google Trends is Trending: Google Trends got a makeover this week! The update includes new infographic types, Year in Search data back to 2001, and a revamped Trending searches section, showing what is trending in search right now, both daily and minute-by-minute. Plus, the News Lab team has a curated section of trends on everything from the Trump Administration through Mother’s Day. It’s also a great place to find amazing examples of Google data visualizations by newsroom designers from all over the world. We could spend all day surfing this. (LINK)

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Bluetooth Coke: The new Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 debuts this weekend at the National Restaurant Association tradeshow. This new fountain machine feature bluetooth connectivity, which lets customers select up their favorite beverage or create a new mix. The touchscreen-operated dispenser uses “micro-dosing” technology to deliver nearly 200 drink options – including 117 low/no-calorie beverages and more than 100 varieties that can’t be found anywhere else. It will also give Coke data on what customers want – possibly inspiring new mainstream flavor choices (Sprite Peach, anyone?). (LINK)

Trademarking the PLAY-DOH Scent: People have tried to trademark a lot of weird stuff over the years, from celebratory poses to the Tarzan yell to, literally, the word “cocky.” So it’s actually kind of surprising that it took Hasbro 27 years of owning the Play-Doh brand before the company attempted to corner the market on that weird, yeasty, almost-food smell that has compelled generations of children to tentatively lick their (non-toxic!) mush toy over the years. That’s right: the smell of Play-Doh is now trademarked. (LINK)

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#Humblebrag: This weekend the Fallon team is at VivaTech in Paris, France for the international debut of our new VR Rockumentary called “Perkons VR.” This is the untold story of Perkons, the Soviet-Latvian rock band that used a unique blend of hard rock and subversive lyrics to change the course of history – shattering Soviet society’s façade of power and stability in the 1980s. This HTC Vive virtual reality short-film experience was created entirely by Fallon employees (directed and produced by our creative technologist, Cory McLeod) and features pioneering VR techniques, found footage, archived photography and custom animation. You can watch the trailer here, and next time you’re at a Fallon office, be sure to ask to see it!

Instagram Embracing the Time Well Spent Movement: Whether you want to know or not, Instagram will soon be launching a time spent feature that lets us know how much time we’re using the app. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom tweeted, “Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution.” We can’t wait to see these numbers and what they indicate about consumer behavior. (LINK)

Google News (AI) Launches: The new AI-powered Google News app is now available on iOS and Android. Go get it! This version uses machine learning to train algorithms to comb through complex or breaking news stories, and then break them down for you in easy-to-understand formats like chronological timelines, local news aggregation, and stories. It will be personalized to you, learn from you, and get better over time. (LINK)

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YouTube Music Is Coming on Tuesday: YouTube is expanding its role as the largest online source for music by introducing a formal YouTube Music service next week. This is big news because YouTube has content that competitors (like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music) lack — like music videos, remixes, and live performances. They’ve also promised thousands of playlists, a radio feature, recommendation engine, and a new mobile app. Although a lot of this will be free, the company will offer a Premium experience with downloads and ad-free features for $9.99 a month. More than a billion people come to YouTube specifically for music, and we believe these features will only increase that number. (LINK)


Twitch Plays SNL: Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch is streaming a 48-hour marathon of the very best bits of Saturday Night Live right this second – all leading up to SNL Season 43’s final episode (Tina Fey and Nicki Minaj) tomorrow night. Watch it live right now! As part of the deal with NBCUniversal, Twitch creators can co-stream the SNL marathon while adding their own commentary. This partnership comes as Twitch continues to look for ways to compete with Google’s YouTube (see above!) and as SNL continues to look for ways to diversify its audience mix. (LINK)

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Yanni or Laurel? Just like that dress that’s either gold and white or blue and black, the two unrelated words “Yanny” and “Laurel” broke the internet this week thanks to a sound file that sounds different to different people. The clip and original poll were posted by high school students who recorded the clip from the page for “laurel” (the word for a wreath worn on the head “usually a symbol of victory”). Even The White House joined in as the meme spread. Luckily the New York Times built a tool so everyone can hear both. Also, it’s Laurel.

9 TED Talks About Robots Taking Our Jobs: The idea that A.I. and robots are taking over seems to be a regular theme in social media. But what do thought leaders have to say about it? This week we highly enjoyed these 9 TED Talks on the theme – including: What happens when computers are smarter than us; How we’ll earn money in the future without jobs; and How we can build A.I. to help humans, not hurt us. It’s increasing a digital world, and we’re just working in it. (LINK)

Insta Stories Soundtracks: This week Instagram not only launched a new emoji slider feature, it also leaked they are preparing to let you add music to your Stories. “Music Stickers” could let you search for and add a song to your posts, thanks to new licensing deals with major record labels. Instagram is also testing a way to automatically detect a song you’re listening to and display the artist and song title as just a visual label. If this launches, look for way more “sound on” adoption of Stories moving forward. (LINK)

Google @ I/O: At this week’s Google I/O, the tech giant announced a number of pretty amazing inventions – including a more human-sounding voice assistant (everything can sound like John Legend now), new visual enhancements – like turning your watch to the ice cream shop into a video game, Google News improvements, and the introduction of a Waymo autonomous car service that will pilot in Phoenix, AZ — without a human driver. We’ll have more on I/O next week! (LINK)

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, FB: Remember that whole Cambridge Analytica scandal and the Zuckerberg testimony and all of your friends promising to delete their Facebook accounts? Well, a new Reuters/Ipsos Poll shows about half of Facebook’s American users said they had not recently changed the amount that they used Facebook, and another quarter said they were using it more. So basically those using Facebook less were balanced by those using it more, with no clear net loss or gain in use. Oh, and Facebook’s stock is back up from the dip, too. This is just further evidence of how sticky social networks are and how few people every really boycott or quit anything, despite what they say online. (LINK)

Tweet of The Week: You will never look at a calendar the same way after you watch this