Tag: COVID-19

Tate Modern Turns Into Vaccine Clinic With Art On The Side As UK Reopens

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In this time of solace, museums have opened up their spaces to get as many people vaccinated quickly as possible. With the UK officially reopening on July 19, the Tate Modern is the latest to transform itself into a mass walk-in vaccine site. And just like any other cultural experience pre-COVID, you’ll come out of the institution’s doors feeling enriched.

On Friday night, Londoners over the age of 18 can head to Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to get their first or second Pfizer jab.

Meanwhile, those with a fear of needles will just have to put up with one for a few seconds, as they’ll be rewarded with exclusive after-hour viewings at Tate Modern’s permanent and temporary showcases later on. New exhibitions include the raved-after Sophie Taeuber-Arp retrospective and The Making of Rodin.

According to Archinect News, all four galleries of Tate Modern had fully reopened back in May. As the UK treads into normalcy, the museum’s visitor numbers should pick up once more.

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[via Archinect News, image via NoyanYalcin / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414738/Tate-Modern-Turns-Into-Vaccine-Clinic-With-Art-On-The-Side-As-UK-Reopens/

Edible COVID-19 Vaccine Now In The Works So You Can Avoid The Needle

Image via QuickStrip

If you’ve gotten vaccinated, you’d have experienced the nervous wait before facing the needle. Not to mention, the soreness that hits your arm the day after. While we’re fortunate enough to have access to vaccinations, the downtime needed after a shot can be tedious.

Now, a Canadian biotech company is creating a brand-new solution to vaccine woes: a vaccine that dissolves in your mouth.

Rapid Dose Therapeutics has teamed up with McMaster University to develop an “oral strip” version of the COVID-19 vaccine, so you can avoid the needle.

By using the orally-dissolvable QuickStrip technology, the team believes proteins can be delivered through the inside of the cheek, or under the tongue, to recreate the same immune response as when you’re injected.

According to Complex, edible vaccines could have benefits aside from ease of access. Currently, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have to be stored between -15°C to -80°C (5°F to -112°F) at all times. However, with the edible QuickStrip, the vaccine can remain stable even at 40°C (104°F), not requiring to be refrigerated.

“60% or more of the countries are warm—Africa, Mexico. You think of all these countries that don’t have the logistics that we have in North America,” Mark Upsdell, CEO of Rapid Dose Therapeutics, told CBC Hamilton.

“You could put, whether it’s dengue or the follow-on influenza, the COVID vaccine into this strip and send that out to those countries that don’t have the infrastructure, [and] at a lower cost.”

Although the launch of the edible vaccine is still some time away, the National Research Council of Canada has supplied the team with the necessary protein needed to be infused into the QuickStrip for stage two of the testing, which will include animal trials.

Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll say goodbye to injections for good and simply pop an edible strip in our mouth instead.

[via Complex, cover image via QuickStrip] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414658/Edible-COVID-19-Vaccine-Now-In-The-Works-So-You-Can-Avoid-The-Needle/

MIT & Harvard Researchers Develop Face Mask That Can Detect COVID-19

Image via Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Researchers from MIT and Harvard have developed a face mask that can detect SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in a wearer’s breath within just 90 minutes.

This new sensor technology can be tweaked to detect any kind of virus or toxin, and is small enough to be integrated into daily wearables, such as clothing.

According to New Atlas, the sensor has been in development by MIT and Harvard for several years and is based on wFDCF (wearable freeze-dried cell-free) technology. Previous biosensors had required the incorporation of living cells, but the wFDCF system extracts and freeze-dries the cellular machinery needed to detect organic molecules instead.

In the past, wFDCF technology had been used to create experimental tools to detect the Ebola and Zika viruses. When the pandemic hit a year ago, the researchers reacted swiftly to pivot this technology into a useful product to help combat the COVID-19 virus.

“We wanted to contribute to the global effort to fight the virus, and we came up with the idea of integrating wFDCF into face masks to detect SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19),” said study co-author Luis Soenksen.

Here’s how it works. With the press of a button, several biosensors in the mask are activated, releasing a small reservoir of water. The water then hydrates the previously freeze-dried molecules in the sensor, which helps to analyze droplets from a wearer’s breath.

Within just 90 minutes, a small strip of paper attached to the mask will register if the wearer has contracted COVID-19.

As per the New Atlas report, preliminary results have shown that the diagnostic face mask is highly accurate, even comparable to current PCR tests for COVID-19. Apart from detecting the coronavirus, the researchers note that the new technology could be incorporated into myriad uses.

“This technology could be incorporated into lab coats for scientists working with hazardous materials or pathogens, scrubs for doctors and nurses, or the uniforms of first responders and military personnel who could be exposed to dangerous pathogens or toxins, such as nerve gas,” said Nina Donghia, a co-author on the study.

The MIT and Harvard researchers are currently looking for commercial manufacturers who can mass-produce the COVID-19 mask, which will be a handy tool in combating the virus and stopping its spread, especially with more deadly variants in the mix.

Image via Felice Frankel and MIT News Office (MIT License)

Image via Courtesy of the researchers (MIT License)

[via New Atlas, images via various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414501/MIT-Harvard-Researchers-Develop-Face-Mask-That-Can-Detect-COVID-19/

US Events Introduce Color-Coding As Protective Measure For The Pandemic

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As the pandemic wanes and schedules start filling up for the summer, some event hosts in the US are introducing a new color-code system for in-person events.

Using the traffic light system of green, yellow, and red, each color is meant to help partygoers communicate their comfort level with physical touch, as per the Wall Street Journal.

It makes perfect sense; though most people might be vaccinated, some would still be touch-adverse, considering COVID-19 isn’t completely out of our lives just yet.

According to The Guardian, at events hosted by the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce in Virginia, hosts have been giving red, yellow, or green stickers to attendees.

Red is taken to mean no physical contact wanted, with those wearing yellow feeling alright with elbow contact, and attendees with green stickers allowing hugs.

For other events, the colors may not be so straightforward, but a little more playful.

For example, at an annual conference hosted by the southeast chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives in Georgia, guests could choose from red, yellow, and green wristbands.

Green signaled “celebrating like it’s 2019,” with yellow meaning “2020 has me confused,” and red-labeled partygoers feeling like “wake me up in 2022.”

As the world returns to in-person meetups, this color-code system is a smart and efficient way of respecting one another’s boundaries while partying. Are you a green, yellow, or red?

Image via Social Bands

Image via Amazon

[via The Guardian, cover image via jatanen_ok / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414307/US-Events-Introduce-Color-Coding-As-Protective-Measure-For-The-Pandemic/

Washington State Is Giving Out Free Weed Joints To Those Getting COVID Vaccines

Image via Chokniti Khongchum / Shutterstock.com

Washington state has recently approved an initiative affectionately nicknamed “Joints for Jabs,” allowing approved retailers to offer free marijuana to those getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is part of an entire slew of initiatives being rolled out around the country to encourage more people to get their shots. From free fries to a lottery and dating app perks, free marijuana is the latest push to increase the percentage of vaccinated adults in the US.

In a statement released by the state’s liquor and cannabis board, licensed retailers will be allowed to offer customers 21-years-old and above a pre-rolled joint when they receive their COVID-19 vaccinations at an in-store clinic. This initiative will last till July 12, as per HuffPost.

Current figures place over half of adults in the US having received at least one shot. Hopefully, ingenious initiatives such as ‘“Joints For Jabs” will encourage even more people to get themselves vaccinated.

Limited Allowance for Cannabis Retailers to Provide One Joint at No Cost to Customers who receive a COVID-19 Vaccine at In-Store Clinic https://t.co/wiOVqP4JWo

— WA Liquor & Cannabis Board (@WSLCB) June 7, 2021

[via HuffPost, cover via Chokniti Khongchum / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414273/Washington-State-Is-Giving-Out-Free-Weed-Joints-To-Those-Getting-COVID-Vaccines/

Amazon Pulls Down Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Cards From Its Website

Image via Shutterstock

As you might have observed at the dawn of the pandemic, some people would jump through hoops to circumvent COVID-19 precautions. Now that vaccinations have been added to the list of safety measures, consumers are thinking a little too creatively to avoid their jabs.

It thus comes as little surprise that counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards have made their way onto online retail platforms like eBay and Amazon. A listing found on Amazon, for instance, was for a pack of 10 blank cards that buyers could use to forge vaccination records.

Sold for US$12.99, the cards were advertised as suitable for “Meetings, Senior Centers, Reunions, Festivals, Retreats, Office, Family and School Reunions, Store Tags, etc.,” inadvertently leaving unwitting peers at risk if they got close to someone infected with the coronavirus.

Insider contacted Amazon about the listing, and it has since been taken down.

“We do not allow the products in question in our store,” a spokesperson for Amazon told the media outlet. The website said it has also “taken action on the bad actors” behind the listing.

The FBI has cautioned that circulating fraudulent vaccine cards is against the law. “The unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal [such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] is a crime and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws,” it warned in March.

Now Amazon is selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards https://t.co/GgqaopXqyy pic.twitter.com/B9mcHhao4f

— Olivia Little (@OliviaLittle) June 7, 2021

[via Insider, image via Shutterstock] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414262/Amazon-Pulls-Down-Fake-COVID-19-Vaccine-Cards-From-Its-Website/

World Health Organization Gives COVID-19 Variants New Names To End Stigma

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced it will begin using a new naming system when referring to variants of COVID-19.

Instead of terming the variants based on the country they originated from or were detected by, such as the “UK Variant” or “Indian Variant,” the WHO will be using letters of the Greek alphabet instead. For example, the “UK Variant” will now be known as the “Alpha Variant.”

According to the BBC, the WHO said this would help to streamline discussions and prevent discrimination due to the names.

Last month, the Indian government had criticized the naming of the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 strain as the “Indian Variant,” though it was never an officially-recognized name.

The new names will not replace the existing scientific names, but are there to help facilitate public discourse. If more than 24 variants are identified and all of the Greek letters have been used, the WHO will decide on a new naming system.

“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said WHO COVID-19 Technical Lead, Maria Van Kerkhove.

Today, @WHO announces new, easy-to-say labels for #SARSCoV2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) & Interest (VOIs)

They will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion of VOI/VOC

Read more here (will be live soon):
https://t.co/VNvjJn8Xcv#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/L9YOfxmKW7

— Maria Van Kerkhove (@mvankerkhove) May 31, 2021

[via BBC, cover image via Shutterstock] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414193/World-Health-Organization-Gives-COVID-19-Variants-New-Names-To-End-Stigma/

Uber & Lyft Are Offering Free Rides To And From Vaccination Sites

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Image via Lyft

As part of a partnership with the White House, ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft have launched free rides for anyone getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The free rides will be available till July 4.

According to TechCrunch, Uber and Lyft will be covering the costs of the trips. Both companies have been helping underserved communities access vaccines, such as Uber’s free rides and deliveries, or its vaccine appointment booking with Walgreens.

Lyft had also participated in a vaccine access campaign, providing 60 million rides to and from vaccination sites for at-risk communities.

Uber is offering four one-way (two round-trips) rides of up to US$25 off each. Each of the two round-trips must be used three weeks apart, which is the wait period between vaccine doses.

Lyft is also offering two round-trip rides, of up to US$15 each way. If a ride costs more than US$15, or a user chooses to tip their driver, the additional charges will be taken from their personal form of payment. These free round-trips have to be three weeks apart, too.

The campaigns follow dating apps’ introduction of perks for users who have been vaccinated, also part of an initiative with the White House.

[via TechCrunch, cover image via Lyft] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414131/Uber-Lyft-Are-Offering-Free-Rides-To-And-From-Vaccination-Sites/

United Airlines Could Let You Fly First Class For A Year—Free—If You’re Vaxxed

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From free fries to dating app perks, and even lottery tickets, getting vaccinated comes with an entire slew of benefits beyond health-related ones.

Now, United Airlines has announced its ‘Your Shot to Fly’ sweepstakes, which will see five grand prize winners receive one year of free travel in any class of service for themselves and one companion.

30 other winners will also receive a free roundtrip flight for two in any class of service, for any destination they choose.

To participate, MileagePlus members over the age of 18 have to upload their vaccination card to their United account by June 22 to qualify. This can be done either on the http://www.designtaxi.com/news/414128/United-Airlines-Could-Let-You-Fly-First-Class-For-A-Year-Free-If-You-re-Vaxxed/

Adam Thomas’ six-year-old son raised £13,000 for charity after Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired him to walk 10k

PROUD dad Adam Thomas has revealed his six-year-old son raised £13,000 for charity after Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired him to walk 10k. The former …

Adam Thomas’ six-year-old son raised £13,000 for charity after Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired him to walk 10k

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

How Facebook is Helping Brands Adapt for the Mindful Consumer

2020 has been a challenge — particularly when it comes to mental health. From online fitness classes to recipe inspiration and DIY projects — consumers have a renewed sense of appreciation for the simpler things in life as they carve out new mindful habits. While this has become apparent, what this will ultimately spell out for the industry is still up for discussion.

Facebook recently embarked on a report to uncover some of the trends that will have a lasting impact on health and well-being and what they mean for brands as they prepare their strategies ahead of 2021.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key topics and findings.

Self-care as an essential ritual

During a time where widespread working-from-home arrangements have blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, wellness routines and creative pursuits have become instrumental in carving out “me” time. For consumers, this is regarded as essential for relaxation and as a means of entertainment in lieu of regular social events.

Per the report findings, over half (58%) U.S. consumers who have worked on a craft or DIY project for the first time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic say this is an activity they could see themselves continuing to do for years to come. Further, 80 percent of Americans intend to regularly practice self-care post-pandemic.

What is the moral here for brands? Self-care is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Consumers are more likely to engage in mindful purchases with a treat yourself mentality as opposed to impulsive ones and crave opportunities to create small moments of serenity day-to-day. In turn, there is a tremendous opportunity for brands to step in and reshape their narratives in ways that empower the consumer to establish their own health-building habits.

Altruism and purpose

Seventy percent of survey respondents reported they are now more aware that human activity threatens the climate than they were before the outbreak of COVID-19. Roughly the same percentage (71%) of consumers say they’d lose trust in a brand forever should it be seen placing profit over people.

Beyond helping people care for themselves, it is table stakes for today’s brands to take a stand on social and environmental issues and consumers will be quick to flag when they don’t or an attempt is disingenuous. In this vein, customers want to be thought of as humans, not consumers, and have their values and interests reflected in the companies they support. More than ever, they want the affirmation their purchasing power is being used to create positive change.

The prioritization of brands to display human qualities including empathy, compassion, and kindness is not only one consumers look to in a brand’s external communications, but also across their organization. As an example, 55 percent of U.S. consumers find it important that a brand offers medical and paid sick leave benefits to all employees. In other major markets like the U.K., this figure is even higher at 75 percent.

Social listening and empathetic experiences

As the report refers to it, “future-proofing” is on the rise with consumers tackling tough, longer-term decisions amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19. This ranges from career choices to saving or relocating, and even lifestyle specifics such as diets. More specifically, 75 percent of global consumers plan to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic.

In addition to self-care, this year peace of mind has largely been derived from planning and brands can continue to play an instrumental role in this regard as consumers seek safety and stability. Experiences are varied so this can present obstacles by way of not being able to lean back on a one-size-fits-all strategy. To overcome this, brands must lead with adaptability, practice regular social listening to ensure alignment with values and needs of consumers, and reflect this effort through empathetic messaging.

COVID-19 has not only sharpened the individual level of mindfulness but what it means to be collectively well as a society. Consumers expect brands to step up, be active listeners, and assume responsibility for their communities as definitions of care and wellness evolve. As the brand-consumer relationship faces growing complexity, marketers should focus on several basic questions as their guidepost including who are you marketing to, how can you appropriately target them, and how has their mindset shifted?

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The post How Facebook is Helping Brands Adapt for the Mindful Consumer appeared first on Social Media Week.


Welsh Business News – Welsh Government to support small businesses with innovative ideas #WelshBiz

The Welsh Government is making funding available to support businesses with innovative products and services that will help communities and the public sector adapt to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which can offer up to £50,000 to promising projects able to start in January 2021 and complete by the end of March, will also be important for schemes that can support the public sector after the EU Transition period.

The focus will be on creating better lives closer to home, by delivering against three key objectives that support the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan. These are to:

Build Back Green – enabling businesses and communities to adapt to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 with a focus on a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Wales. We are looking for solutions that enable people to continue to work closer to home, considering accessibility and safety whilst maintaining a sense of community and connection.
Create sustainability and security in supply chains – supporting place-based and needs-led driven business supply chains to secure jobs for the future and to safeguard against further supply chain disruptions so that communities have access to healthy food sources.
Support mental and physical wellbeing for all generations – developing new products and services to address mental health, improve access to care, and support the resilience of communities throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Solutions could include ways to use emerging digital and smart technology to support the mental wellbeing of people within communities; reduce the impact of emissions on health; tackle the impacts of food poverty; or reduce unemployment and the need to commute.

Minister for Economy, Transport, and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest public health emergency this country has ever faced. We need people with expertise, entrepreneurship and innovative thinking to work with us and help deliver sustainable solutions to the challenges it poses to the long term wellbeing of our communities and economy.

“I am incredibly proud of the ingenuity and sense of community Wales has demonstrated in dealing with the impacts of coronavirus virus, but there is much more to be done as we continue to adapt to the ever changing landscape in which we live and work.

“The Small Business Research Initiative provides important funding for firms to link with the public sector and deliver important solutions to specific challenges. I encourage those with an interest to get involved.”

Lynda Jones, SBRI Centre of Excellence manager, said: “COVID 19 has affected us all, and for this challenge we are seeking innovations that will help support long term health and wellbeing whilst supporting communities and the economy.

“Successful applicants will have the unique opportunity to collaborate and work closely with a team of experts from the relevant sectors to help develop their solutions.”

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) has a total of £250,000 available to offer successful projects.

Businesses have until 12pm on November 27, 2020 to submit their ideas.

For more information, e-mail: SBRI.COE@wales.nhs.uk

For more information and to submit a project for consideration, visit: sdi.click/betterlives
— Read on www.wales247.co.uk/welsh-government-to-support-small-businesses-with-innovative-ideas/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Welsh Business News – Over 5,500 businesses apply for Welsh Government’s £100m Economic Resilience Fund in two days | North Wales Chronicle

THE first-come-first-serve business grants of the Welsh Government’s £100million Economic Resilience Fund has been fully subscribed with more than 5,500 businesses applying for support in just two days.

Demand from businesses of all sizes across Wales has been received since the latest round of the ERF Development Grants which opened to applications on Wednesday, October 28.

Businesses can still however benefit from the £200m available from the third phase of the fund.

The £100m business grants are part of the £300m made available in the third stage of the ERF by the Welsh Government to support businesses continuing to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. £20m of this is ring-fenced for tourism and hospitality businesses.

The Welsh Government said applications will now be processed as quickly as possible and it expects to start getting support out to businesses from mid-November.

Businesses can still benefit from the £200m available from the third phase.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that are required to close and which occupy a property with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 will be eligible for a share of the £200m funding and all businesses eligible for Small Business rate relief will also receive support. Businesses have to register and update their details via Business Wales or their Local Authority to receive financial support.

Eligible firms that do not qualify for business rates linked grants are able to apply for awards of up to £2,000 from a £25m discretionary fund via their local authority.

Economy minister Ken Skates said: “The importance of the Economic Resilience Fund to Welsh businesses is evident in the sheer number of applications that have been received. We know that businesses have been preparing for this for some time, ever since the eligibility checker opened earlier this month.

“We know this is an incredibly difficult and challenging time for companies. We will work hard to get this much needed funding out of the door and into the bank accounts of businesses that need it as quickly as we can.
— Read on www.northwaleschronicle.co.uk/news/18834258.5-500-businesses-apply-welsh-governments-100m-economic-resilience-fund-two-days/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed cycling in Dublin City? – Weekly News & Analysis

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, people have looked for alternative methods of travelling to avoid busy public transport. Eibhin Kavanagh investigates how the pandemic is affecting cycling in the city.

Is cycling in Dublin City safe? Photo by Eibhin Kavanagh
With our movements once again restricted, people in Ireland are limited to travelling within 5km of their homes. Walking and cycling have become a more popular means of exercising as a result of gyms closing and sporting events being cancelled.

In the last ten years, Dublin has seen an increase in the number of people cycling. A number of bike share schemes have become well established. However, 2020 has seen an exponential increase in cyclists, which Dublin City has had to accommodate. This change, due to social distancing restrictions, means more space is required for both pedestrians and cyclists to make their way around the  city.  

Councillor Michael Pidgeon talked to The City about the recent changes related to cycling in Dublin City.

“In some ways I think the people are ahead of where the city is,” Pidgeon said. “We know that outside of peak hours there are now more people cycling than there were at this time of the year last year; there’s been a huge increase.”

Dublin City Council projected  a 200% increase of cyclists in Dublin City from 2019 to 2020.This would be an increase from 13,131 to 39,000.

  2019 Figures Likely Future Change Potential Future Figures
All Public Transport 116,287 80% Capacity Reduction 30,000
Car 57,985 Approx. 30% reduction 41,000
Taxi 2,661 Assume 30% reduction 1,900
Walk 24,691 Target 100% increase 50,000
Cycle 13,131 Target 200% increase 39,000
Goods 983 No change 1,000
Motorcycles 1,485 No change 1,485
Total (persons) 217,223   164,385
Source: Dublin City Council 
Source: Dublin City Council 

The Canal Cordon Count was analysed by Dublin City Council to determine where the greatest demand for walking and cycling was recorded. The table below shows the number of people crossing the canal cordon (both directions) during the morning peak period from 7am to 10am in November 2019.

Source: Dublin City Council 
From 1997 to 2019, the number of cyclists crossing this cordon heading into the city centre between 7 am and 10 am increased by 133%, from 5,628 to 13,125.

The number of cyclists remained between  4,000 and 6,000 between 1997 and 2010 before increasing by approximately 15% year on year until 2015 when the increase slowed up until 2017.  There was a small decrease in 2018,  but cycling numbers increased by 7.3% in 2018 and 2019. 

Source: Dublin City Council 
According to research conducted by the Road Safety Authority, 4 in 5 cyclists are injured on urban roads. More cyclists are  injured during morning and evening commutes. Of all collisions involving another vehicle – 4 in 5 cyclists are injured by cars. 1,056 cyclists were injured in collisions in 2018.

In Dublin, the number of cyclist deaths since 1997 has remained relatively low with a slight increase in 2017, according to figures collected by the Road Safety Authority.

Image Source- Irish Cycle.com
Dublin has over 120 miles of cycle routes. While changes have been ongoing to improve cycling infrastructure in the city, especially since lockdown in the spring, the demand is high for safe and accessible cycling.

“It felt like at the start of the pandemic there was a real understanding that we needed to take more space for cycling to encourage more people to do it, but it feels like that momentum has dropped a bit,” said Pidgeon. “So, I think that we need to get that going again.

“In terms of infrastructure, I think the big changes we have seen are some of the temporary measures along the quays, particularly along the northside quays.”

Some of the Cycle Safety interventions introduced since April include the installation of Nassau Street contra-flow cycle track from Clare Street to Dawson Street, the partial installation of key sections of the Interim Liffey Cycle route, removal of on-street car parking from Inns Quay and Ormond Quay, and a section of work from Church Street to Ha’penny Bridge, according to Dublin City Council.

Dublin City Council also discussed other plans to ensure safe cycling in the city, including the reduction of the number of traffic lanes to accommodate protected cycling facilities on both sides of the road, while maintaining a balance for other required services. While there have been major changes made within Dublin City Centre to ensure safe cycling, other parts of the city have yet to see changes that will make cycling accessible and safe.

“One of the things is to start looking at the urban villages, so instead of just focusing on the very core city centre, you would be looking at areas like Inchicore, Rialto, Stoneybatter, Phibsborough, Rathmines,” Pidgeon said in relation to making cycling consistent for everyone.

“What we seen in the pandemic is that people are happy enough to stay within a few kilometers of where they live, so we shouldn’t just be designing a cycle lane with a view that will just take office workers from the suburbs to the city centre, because that’s not what the demand is right now. That’s important, we should definitely do that, but it will have to also be about making sure that local routes around your home are safe.

“There’s still a lot to do, but equally I’d like to say that cycling in Dublin City is safe. There’s a perception of danger that I don’t think is entirely there. There’s a lot the city needs to do to feel a lot safer and be safer with segregated lanes, but if anyone’s considering it, I’d say just ask a friend who does cycle regularly and they can show you some good routes give you some tips and you’ll be up and running in no time.”
— Read on thecity.ie/2020/11/04/how-has-the-covid-19-pandemic-changed-cycling-in-dublin-city/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

How LinkedIn is Combining Paid and Organic Tools to Boost Virtual Events

In May Linkedin debuted Virtual Events to help smooth the transition to virtual events. Since then, more than 200,000 events have been hosted on the platform, reaching nearly 10 million digital attendees. Seven months of this “new normal,” however, there is still a lot to navigate and new questions and virtual surrounding hybrid and virtual events continue to surface.

To improve its Events options even further, LinkedIn solicited feedback about the offering and identified several key areas of improvement. More specifically, the company is introducing new discovery features, promotion options, and data capture processes.

Here’s a high-level overview of the updates and how you can bring them into your strategy for your next event.

Driving organic discovery

First off, LinkedIn is enhancing organic discovery through personalized recommendations in the “My Network” tab and weekly Event email digests. “So far, we’ve seen a +40% increase in event attendees from recommendations found in the ‘My Network’ tab,” the company shared.

Separately, when you post an event from your business Page, LinkedIn will automatically notify your followers who are most likely to attend based on various criteria, including their interests. In an age of information overload, hyper-targeted and relevant messages are critical to rise above the noise and earn attention. Ideally, these efforts will help reduce the clutter in this regard and limit potential spam.

Capturing leads

As part of the feedback, Linkedin also heard from businesses that they’d like more streamlined options for tracking attendees and gathering important data on those who have registered their interest in their event. In response, the platform is introducing registration forms for events where details including names and details can be captured.

A bonus? These lists are downloadable directly from your event page and used to send personalized notes including thank you emails. In addition, you can bring these into your CRM or share it with your sales teams to build your outreach lists over time.

Promoting and retargeting events

Per Linkedin, Page followers who are exposed to your organic content are 61 percent more likely to convert on your paid ad. What does this really mean in the grand scheme of your strategy planning? Successful promotion involves a mixed media strategy.

To help boost the reach of organic posts around events, the company is rolling out “Sponsored Content Single Image Ads.” Per LinkedIn’s Head of Product, Ajay Datta, these will be particularly effective in engaging executives, decision-makers, and other hard-to-reach audiences. In addition, when included with an Event URL, these ads can be a straightforward way to trace how it performs against new, specified metrics, such as the total number of registrants, as well as views and clicks on the ad that resulted in a registration. To continue the conversation with prior event registrants, simply create a custom target audience in Campaign Manager based on those who have RSVPed to any of your LinkedIn Events.

The growing usage of video connection

According to Linkedin, 60 percent of members want to use video meetings on LinkedIn for networking. This added layer of human connection while keeping a safe distance amid the current pandemic, is more important than ever and gives an opportunity for people to bring humanity to their conversations and practice digital empathy.

In this vein, LinkedIn announced the full roll-out of its new video meeting options within InMessage. The platform hinted at this update a few weeks back as part of its overall refresh including new colors and visuals. To initiate a video call with another person or group in a thread, click on the video meeting icon and select a provider including Blue Jeans or Zoom, to sign-in or register. LinkedIn isn’t stopping here, either. The company hinted that it is also working on advanced event analytics, a new Events Ad format, and attendee networking options slated for roll out soon.

Let’s face it — B2B events will likely never be the same but rather become a hybrid of the physical and digital. COVID-19 has taught us that we can use technology and re-think the various aspects of in-person events from ticketing and registration to presentations and networking and redesign them in meaningful ways to maximize impact for everyone involved.

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The post How LinkedIn is Combining Paid and Organic Tools to Boost Virtual Events appeared first on Social Media Week.


‘FutureInns’ local lockdown offer • Introbiz Members News

At Future Inn Cardiff Bay, you can step away from the world, catch your breath and relax. In all this change and uncertainty take your mind off it with a night away from home. Future Inn Cardiff remains open for residents. 

Please see attached a copy of the Cardiff Local Break offer they are doing from now until December subject to availability.

Cardiff Local Break:
 Overnight stay
 Full Welsh breakfast
 3-course dinner in Thomas Restaurant
 OR a Taste of Wales Afternoon Tea
£54.50 per person

To book:

 02920 487111
 Select ‘Cardiff Local Break’ when booking online

Find more information on their website: https://www.futureinns.co.uk/special-offers/cardiff-local-break

— Read on introbiz.co.uk/futureinns-local-lockdown-offer/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

News Bulletin: Economic Resilience Fund – Find out if your business is eligible for support from the third phase

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News for the Tourism Industry in Wales

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7 October 2020

Economic Resilience Fund – Find out if your business is eligible for support from the third phase
Businesses across Wales can now find out if they can apply for funding from the third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) by visiting the online Eligibility Checker.

Economy Minister Ken Skates announced the new phase of the fund last week which will see an additional £140m being made available to businesses. The eligibility checker will enable businesses to see if they can access the £80m tranche of the fund which will support firms with projects that can help the transition to the economy of tomorrow and will be open to micro businesses, SMEs and large businesses.

Of this, £20m will be ring fenced to support tourism and hospitality businesses  who are facing particular challenges as we enter the winter months.

Micro businesses (employing between 1 and 9 people) will be able to apply for up to £10,000 on the condition they match this with their own investment of at least 10%; For Tourism and Hospitality micro businesses there will be discretion for grant awards of up to 100%;
SMEs (employing between 10 and 249 people) will be able to apply for up to £150,000. Small businesses (up to 50 employees) will be required to match this with their own investment of at least 10% and medium businesses (between 50 and 249 employees) with at least 20% of their own funding; For Tourism and Hospitality SME’s there will be discretion for grant awards of up to 100%;
Large businesses (employing 250+ people) will be able to apply for up to £200,000 on the condition they match this with their own investment of at least 50%.
The Welsh Government is currently working with local authorities and the Welsh Local Government Association on the detail of the Local Lockdown Business Fund that will support businesses impacted by local restrictions. Further details and information on how to access this fund will be published shortly on the Business Wales website. The Local Lockdown Business Fund, worth up to £60m, will provide grants based on the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) system to businesses who meet eligibility requirements and have been materially impacted by local lockdown. 

Eligible Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales occupying properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 could access a grant worth £1,500.

A £1,000 grant will be available to eligible businesses that have a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “Welsh Government support has been crucial for businesses throughout Wales in dealing with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Key to this has been our unique Economic Resilience Fund which has already helped protect more than 100,000 jobs.

“Today we are opening the eligibility checker for the next £80m of the fund so businesses can find out if they are likely to benefit. We have deliberately ring-fenced £20m of this money for Tourism and hospitality businesses because we recognise the particular pressures they are under at this challenging time.

“The application process will open during the week of 26th October. We will also be providing further information on how businesses impacted by local lockdowns can access a share of the £60m we have committed for this purpose very soon.”

Stay up to date with tourism industry news
We are committed to providing the support and assurance the business community needs during these unprecedented difficult times and have issued several Coronavirus (COVID-19) related bulletins which can be found on the Tourism Industry Coronavirus (COVID-19) Bulletins page. 
— Read on content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKWALES/bulletins/2a36832

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Donald Trump and Melania test POSITIVE for COVID

Donald Trump and Melania test POSITIVE for COVID
— Read on www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8796793/amp/Hope-Hicks-tested-positive-coronavirus-traveling-Trump-Air-Force-One.html

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

YouTube Advertising: What Your Brand Needs to Know

In lieu of entertainment sources other than in-person events, COVID-19 pushed more people to social platforms as a way to engage with timely and relevant content. YouTube is no exception. Year over year, watch time on YouTube and YouTube on television screens jumped a whopping 80 percent underscoring the accelerating shift from linear to digital video and over 2 billion people globally are gravitating towards these new experiences.

As we continue to spend the bulk of our time at home, brands are making the most of YouTube’s massive reach and deeply relevant content to build brand awareness, and ultimately, drive results at scale. In response to this trend, the platform is adding some notable elements to help brands and marketers further hone their YouTube ad campaigns, including advanced data insights and new category targeting to help them show up in the right contexts for today’s consumers.

Here’s a peek into the updates and how you can start using them to enhance your efforts.

Advanced contextual targeting with dynamic lineups

A new study from YouTube parent company Google in partnership with Ipsos found that video advertising based on consumer interest and intent has significantly more impact than demo—with a 32 percent higher lift in ad recall and 100 percent higher lift in purchase intent.

To help further its ability to drive mass reach, YouTube is introducing dynamic lineups powered by advanced contextual targeting. Put differently, videos are segmented based on their content, with machine learning systems developed to best determine what each video is about and how to feed it to the right people at the right time. This is based on analysis of key elements spanning video imagery, sound, speech and text.

In addition to targeting broader categories like “home” or “lifestyle” or lifestyle, you can find more nuanced choices such as “home and garden” and “home improvement.” What this boils down to is “better access to customers with unique interests and needs—all with the brand suitability controls that are most important for your business,” explained Debbie Weinstein, Vice President, YouTube and Video Global Solution in the official announcement. More specifically, what this translates into is the ability to routinely engage with the right audience segments who are receptive and responsive and having to spend less to reach them. Sounds like a win-win.

An early adopter of dynamic lineups, Chrissie Hanson, Global Chief Strategy Officer at OMD said, “Using lineups powered by advanced contextual targeting delivers a more relevant and empathetic understanding of audiences. This in turn serves to drive more relevant reach and efficiencies for our customers, as part of a broader program that leverages audiences and other tactics across YouTube.”

Driving efficient reach with Nielsen TV data

Last year YouTube unveiled its integration with Nielsen TV data into its Reach Planner with the goal of helping marketers fuel their awareness strategies on YouTube and get a broader view of critical audience trends. Across 21 commissioned Share Shit studies, results showed that on average, advertisers that shifted just 20 percent of spend from TV to YouTube generated a 25 percent increase to the total campaign reach within their target audience, lowering the cost per reach point by almost 20 percent.

As part of its recent push to allow marketers to lean into the rise in YouTube viewership, the platform is expanding its Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings for advertisers in the UK and Italy, in addition to the US with initial efforts already showing promising results.

“PepsiCo Beverages turned to YouTube to drive scale and extend the reach of Pepsi’s ‘Gift it Forward’ Holiday campaign. The campaign did not disappoint – YouTube drove new brand buyers during the holiday season to the unique audience we wanted to reach.”

Video reach campaigns are a simpler way to buy efficient reach across ad formats and incrementally reach the right audiences at a more optimal frequency. Marion Carpentier, Omni Business Leader at French men’s wear brand, Jules, explained the company was able to achieve this specifically by combining skippable in-stream ads and bumpers into a single campaign and saw higher lifts in brand awareness (4.9%).

Beyond this, to support marketers looking to plan YouTube with other online video partners YouTube is providing new reach planning options within Display & Video 360 including YouTube, auction, and programmatic deals.

Catering your strategies with success stories and trends

Finally, to support marketers as they navigate a post-COVID era, YouTube is unveiling a new awareness collection within its Advertising Solutions Center spotlighting notable trends and case studies from companies that include PepsiCo, Domino’s, and Jules. The goal behind sharing these stories is to offer a more concrete understanding of YouTube’s product innovations and how they can be built to better meet your awareness objectives.

If the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that YouTube is behaving more like traditional TV with time. Those that understand the nuances of the platform as an alternative, will be able to deliver TV-like promotions with a higher degree of targeting but without derailing from their budget plans.

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The post YouTube Advertising: What Your Brand Needs to Know appeared first on Social Media Week.


How Pinterest is Creating Positive Brand Experiences

The metrics our industry emphasizes, namely “views” or “impressions,” are vaguely defined and intentionally propped up in order to keep advertising prices low. As a result, we face a trend in which our content and campaigns are less correlated to what people want to actually pay attention to and engage with. A brand can generate engagement and interaction by being divisive, and prompting debate and response, and this type of content is often quick and cheap to produce, but will it really help shift the company’s bottom line in the end?

New research from a Pinterest study makes a strong claim that the answer to this question is no — rather negative environments make people less likely to remember, less likely to trust, and less likely purchase from brands. The platform packaged up its findings in a guide to help brands show up in a more positive environment — one that drives impact at every stage of the purchase funnel.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key findings.

Creating a halo effect

Pinterest’s latest research finds that showing up in a more positive environment online drives impact at virtually every stage of the purchase funnel. Specifically, on the platform you can reach more than 400 million people all over the world in a more positive environment.

“Anger and divisiveness may encourage people to scroll (and troll!). But they don’t get people to buy…Our research shows that positive online environments have a halo effect on the brands that show up there—from awareness and sentiment to trust and purchase,” the company stated.

Over half (60%) of more than 2,000 respondents agree they are more likely to remember brands they encounter online when they feel positive, feel more positive when they are engaging with a brand in a positive environment, trust the brands they see in a positive space, and be more inclined to follow through with a purchase. In short, with positive social media, consumers are more incentivized to try new products and interact in new experiences. Negative spaces, on the opposite side of the spectrum, are draining brand dollars.

A diminishing tolerance for negativity

A particularly stressful and emotional 2020, faced with a global pandemic and election season — people crave positivity more than ever. They want a more inspired internet and this is reflected by an uptick in trending positive searches including, “spread positivity” (up 3x), “positive habits” and “positive mindset” botch of which are up nearly 60 percent.

Consumers are looking to brands to lead the change and it begins with being astutely aware of negative neighboring content and not turning a blind eye to the context in which your business appears. Two in three adults surveyed agree it’s a brand’s responsibility to advertise in safe, positive places and avoid negative content. This includes appearing next to misinformation such as health or election content and implied endorsements in which a brand or ad appears alongside harmful content. Put simply, one of the most important questions your brand can ask itself today is “where are our ads showing up?

Leading with policy and feel-good content

Pinterest argues that a positive platform begins with policy. This gives your brand a place of reference and clarity when making decisions about the types of content to share and promote or not. Some may make the case that ad policies are simply constraints to creativity, but in reality, they can be sources of opportunity to unlock even more positive creative and, in turn, more effective advertising.

In a case study shared as part of the guide, Pinterest pointed to Shapermint who worked with the platform to create ads featuring women of a wide range of body types to take its message of body-positive to the next level. Models were figuratively and literally in a positive light thorough sizing callouts directly on the Pin, clear CTAs to streamline shopping, and bright, warm filters capturing models’ natural ease and confidence. The campaign was a huge success yielding 200M impressions per quarter.

Separately, Pinterest recently worked with the Laughing Cow to promote its revamped brand purpose, packaging, and reformulated recipe. The video blended creative logo placement to subtly drive its message, playful branding and product imagery, and copy that clearly depicted its brand purpose, the light snack that keeps you laughing,” in a memorable and lighthearted tone. The result? The video Pin completion rate was nearly half (47%) more efficient than the food industry benchmark, underscoring the influence of standard video ads that align with positive content.

The need for human-first, experience-driven content imbued with positivity is much more than an argument of morality. This year and beyond, brands that prioritize positive context will see needle-moving results and on top of this, likely save some extra ad dollars in the process. Whether building brand awareness, consumer trust, or driving conversions, it pays to make proactive policy decisions and take a hard look at where your messages are appearing.

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Amanda Holden sparks uproar for ‘breaking’ social distancing rules on Britain’s Got Talent

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video Amanda Holden has left a handful of …

Amanda Holden sparks uproar for ‘breaking’ social distancing rules on Britain’s Got Talent

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Benefits and public sector wages ‘could be frozen’ to pay for coronavirus crisis

Rishi Sunak could freeze benefits and public sector wages to pay for the coronavirus crisis (Picture: Getty Images/Rex)Rishi Sunak is reportedly …

Benefits and public sector wages ‘could be frozen’ to pay for coronavirus crisis

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

3 Ways Facebook is Supporting Mental Health

2020 has been ripe with change, uncertainty, and endless efforts to manage the uncertain outcomes of our decisions as best we can. Beyond the fear of contracting the virus are the new realities of working from home, virtual schooling, and lack of physical interaction with colleagues, family, and friends. While mask-wearing, frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the norm as a way of avoiding physical illness, ongoing worry and stress continue to exacerbate mental health challenges.

For the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – this issue is an important one, arguably as crucial as physical safety. Organizations and platforms continue to show their dedication to this growing issue in a variety of updates. Most recently, as part of this year’s WWorld Suicide Prevention Day, Facebook announced the rollout of several new mental health support updates. Specifically, the platform is introducing new parameters on self-harm related content, utilizing mobile messaging to offer expert support in real-time, and promoting digital literacy on the topic of suicide prevention.

New parameters around self-harm related content

In a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half (53%) of adults in the U.S. reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the coronavirus, up from 32 percent in March. Specifically, respondents reported difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance abuse (12%) and worsening chronic conditions (12%) due to increased stress and anxiety.

A separate report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted this past June, found that one in four young adults between 18 and 24 said they considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the study citing the pandemic as the leading factor. This topic involves a delicate balance by the part of platforms and poses new questions and obstacles that must be carefully considered, specifically what constitutes “harmful” and where to draw the line between what is in violation of platform guidelines or not.

Last year Instagram expanded its ban on images of self-harm and now Facebook is looking to expand upon its already-existing rules regarding self-harm related content. While some content may not technically be in violation of the rules, the platform is working closely with experts to implement restrictions on content including “depressing quotes or memes” to protect those particularly vulnerable during these times. This is a difficult line to walk however, as for some who may not feel comfortable sharing their struggles, quotes or memes may be a useful coping mechanism.

Chat as a vehicle for crisis support

The proliferation of mobile messaging offers brands and platforms a number of opportunities to connect with communities in unprecedented ways.

Recent data from eMarketer shows that in 2020 there are around 2.7 billion mobile phone messaging app users worldwide, and this number is projected to grow to 3.1 billion by 2023. For context, this equates to roughly 40 percent of the global population. During an age of social distancing, the time is now to turn to this trend as an integral way to share resources, insights, and foster connection. In this vein, as part of its recent push to support mental health Facebook is introducing a new, real-time assistance option via Messenger chat.

“Getting people help in real-time is especially important when they are in distress. In the coming months, we’ll make it easier for people to talk in real-time with trained crisis and mental health support volunteers over Messenger,” the company shared in its News blog.

With 1.3 billion people using Messenger to date and with plans officially underway to merge WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger into a single app, this could be a seamless and non-intrusive way for those seeking help to get access to the resources they need.

Wellness guides and digital literacy resources

In May Instagram announced its ‘Guides’ options for profiles, enabling users to more easily discover content including tips on how to look after your well-being, maintaining connection with others or managing anxiety or grief from their favorite creators and brands.

Building on this, Facebook is launching localized guides offering targeted ways to support those who are struggling. The company pointed to The Suicide Prevention of India’s guide, which emphasizes fostering social connectedness, Mentally Aware Nigeria’s guide catered to having safe conversations about suicide, and Samaritans HK of Hong Kong guide to simple but effective ways to check on your friends and loved ones as examples it seeks to emulate.

Beyond wellness guides, Facebook is doubling down on digital literacy by incorporating Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines to its Safety Center — the primary aim of the move being to help educators better navigate mental health conversations with their students. In addition, Facebook unveiled its ‘Get Digital’ digital citizenship and wellbeing program featuring a microsite of courses spanning key themes of connection, empowerment, and engagement.

In tandem with the new program, Facebook will host a series of live events throughout this month September tackling a variety of key concerns in the midst of an abnormal academic year — the first of which will leverage insights from the JED Foundation to address mental health.

Mental health has been a prominent and recurring topic in recent months but one worth keeping at the front of our messaging and stories. As marketers, we play an instrumental role in helping remove the stigma and making the practice of digital empathy more mainstream. Creating shared understanding and experiences in an age of social distancing has its challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities for how can we use the power of technology to address these issues.

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The post 3 Ways Facebook is Supporting Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.


How Facebook is Normalizing Virtual Social Interaction

This year the virtual reality market is estimated at $6.1 billion and is expected to reach a whopping $20.9 billion by 2025.

While many social platforms have taken note of the trend, Facebook has cemented itself as one of the leaders for building technology in the space including VR headsets and spearheading the trend that is virtual social reality. The company made a big splash when it launched Oculus in 2014 and have since expanded on this growth through releasing a variety of headshots including the Oculus Rift and the standalone set Oculus Quest.

During OC6 in September 2019, Facebook introduced Facebook Horizon — a “social experience where you can explore, play and create in extraordinary ways.” Users were invited to join a beta group until recently when the platform decided to expedite the process of having people on the waitlist actually test the experience.

Promoting gameplay and world building

During a time where “Zoom fatigue” is a common saying and Zoom calls and drive-by birthday parties are the norm, people crave a new type of social interaction — one that isn’t passive but active in the ability to feel immersed and collaborate with others through representation, play, and worldbuilding.

One of the many features of Horizon is being able to engage in games like mini golf, escape rooms, and paintball. Another notable emphasis is on world-building. What does this mean for brands and marketers? A new way to interact with and engage audiences. For example, they’d have the option to build a world for consumers to participate in a scavenger hunt that leads them to discount codes for free items. More generally, they could have the option to shoot ads directly within Horizon and use the avatars of fans as extras — giving them a first-hand look and direct involvement in the product they’d buy.

Capitalizing on the growing role of social VR

As the pandemic has shaped society primarily in how we socialize, the importance of social VR apps like Horizon have never been more timely or important for people looking for a single place to gather with friends and get creative. For some context — a new Statista survey found that almost 30 percent (29.7) of U.S. social media users engaged with social media apps 1 to 2 additional hours per day during quarantine. Separately, eMarketer recently found that 51 percent of U.S. adults are using social media at higher rates due to the pandemic.

“Imagine a place where a brand can invite their brand ambassadors to try out a product without hopping on an airplane? A place a brand can launch a press release without writing a press release but actually being there and sharing the news with a community of journalists in social VR. There are so many opportunities for brands and content creators. I can’t wait to see what happens next,” shared early beta Horizon content creator and social media consultant, Navah Berg in a statement to Forbes.

Prioritizing safety and privacy

Converging the virtual and physical worlds comes with its fair share of opportunities in how we connect and collaborate, but it also comes with risks Facebook has a responsibility to manage, specifically around privacy and safety.

Facebook is taking measures to get ahead of these issues by incorporating a personal “Safe Zone,” in which Horizon users can mute, block or report people and content around you. “We know it’s difficult to record a painful incident while it’s happening, which is why your Oculus headset will capture the last few minutes of your experience in Horizon on a rolling basis. When you submit a report, you can include this captured information as evidence of what happened,” Facebook explained.

No matter your stance on VR and its use cases, developments like these are worth keeping tabs on from the perspective that the future of communication are undoubtedly headed in this direction. We are approaching an inflection point in which technologies will only continue to push the boundaries of social media marketing and redefine the words “communication” and “presence.”

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Facebook’s Newest Consumer Trends: What Your Brand Needs to Know

As small and mid-size businesses continue to face challenges amidst COVID-19, platforms including Facebook, recognize their key role in helping people find new ways to support these companies, stay informed, and stay connected. Finding that nearly half (45%) of small businesses may not return in the next three months, Facebook recently created the Support Small Business Hub, debuted a Support Small Business sticker that users can seamlessly integrate into their Stories, and introduced the #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag to encourage people to shout out their favorites.

Fast forward to today, Facebook kicked off a new national television and digital campaign that aims to share small business stories of navigating the pandemic and how the platform’s various tools can help them find the balance between addressing the uncertainties of today while identifying the opportunities of tomorrow. In this vein it’s also breaking down give global macro-trends marketers should keep top of mind as they shape their strategies.

Global shifts shaping the future

The shift to doing business online is more urgent than ever. People are coming together to support causes they believe in — but what are the specific values and shifts businesses should keep top of mind? The ways we live, work, shop and connect continue to evolve, unleashing behaviors with staying power and Facebook set out to unearth those with signs of staying power in a batch of new research.

“We’ve analyzed Facebook data, commissioned surveys and third-party research. We looked at the acceleration of existing trends alongside the emergence of new ones. And we’ve identified five global macro-shifts shaping the future, now,” the platform explained. From shopping to connectivity to perceptions of community and mindfulness, here are the leading changes and what they may mean for marketers as we look ahead.

A safer shopping experience

Price and convenience may have dominated the buyer’s decision-making process, but according to Facebook safety may take the top spot when it comes to purchases.

Seventy-one percent of people now say safety is key when deciding where to shop. This sentiment is transcending borders whereby globally only half (50%) of shoppers reporting they’re eager to return to physical stores. In addition, 40 percent surveyed globally plan to upkeep their online shopping habits post-pandemic.

These notions are permeating online conversations as Facebook saw a 6x increase in dialogues relating to contactless shopping and living in the past few months since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stats aside, what the research really depicts is the fact that as more and more people experiment with new tactics like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), or go fully online with their shopping, brands need to consistently communicate how they’re keeping their consumers safe and have an easy-to-follow, friendly mobile shopping experience start to end.

Embracing the practice of mindfulness

Beyond shopping, people have adjusted to new ways of living, working, learning and parenting.
While this can come with some headaches and challenges, it also is a welcomed opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. What is filling the added time back in our schedules? Practicing mindfulness and wellness through meditation apps, the livestreaming of yoga and other workout classes, classes and #quarantinebaking.

These activities are not only allowing people to balance their work and home life but are a welcomed distractions that are opening the doors to creativity, Even in times of stillness or isolation we can find ways to be creative, and starting can be as simple as physically putting down our phones so we have the ability to dedicate the time to what truly makes us inspired and happy and that we’re genuinely feeling.

‘Glocal’ communities

The pandemic continues to drive an uptick in people expressing a sense of local connection online. With people still uncertain when their favorite local businesses would be able to open their doors again, if ever, Facebook saw, in the period of February to May 2020, clicks on searches for local businesses increase by 23 percent and local groups on Facebook grow by 3.3x.

Outside of their own neighborhoods, however, people are simultaneously reawakened to the idea that they’re a global citizen who is bound together with the rest of the world by a common event. Since January 2020, people have donated over $100 million to COVID-19 related fundraisers across Facebook and Instagram and feel 1.26x more concerned about the pandemic on a global scale than in their own country.

Permanent changes

Half (50%) of people globally say being able to message with a business instills a greater sense of connection. Further, 40 percent of holiday shoppers say they are more likely to consider purchasing from a business they can message. These are just some of the permanent changes we can expect to see as we look ahead. Driven largely by Gen Z, now encompassing 41 percent of the population, we can also expect younger audiences to prefer using online learning platforms, watching more online videos, using messaging services frequently, and devoting more time towards hobbies.

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