Tag: tech

5 Apps to Help You Work From Home

As we strive to stay connected, positive, and productive during these challenging times, remote work can feel like a double-edged sword. We may not have to commute or dress as formally, but it can be harder to focus on the actual work at hand. Not to mention, the isolation can be a downer.

To help keep your new WFH regimen balanced — we’re rounding out a list of five apps you should have on your radar to get the most out of your day but also remain in touch with friends and family

Keeping the Spontaneity and Joy of Conversations

Video chat apps are seeing a substantial spike in downloads while stay-at-home orders remain in place for the majority of the country. When working from home, it can be easy to feel pressured to constantly “be on.” Now more than ever, it is important to take the time for yourself and relax and connect with others and app developers are taking this into consideration.

Acquired by Fortnite maker Epic Games in 2019, Houseparty, for example, has seen massive growth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Per TechCrunch, the social networking app has seen 50 million downloads in a single month, a figure 70X above compared to pre-COVID levels in some markets. It’s currently the top-ranked social app in 80+ countries including the U.S., and #1 overall in 16 countries.

At a glance, Houseparty, billed the “face-to-face social network” is popular for its functionality that allows eight users group video chat via smartphone or desktop app. Tapping into other social networks including Facebook and Snapchat, it makes finding friends and family a seamless experience. The app alerts you when your friends are “in the house” and ready to chat and from there you can jump into a call or join another “party” and play games with quarantine friends like trivia and Ellen’s “Heads Up!”

The Makeshift Office

One of the largest changes introduced by COVID-19 is the global work from home movement. If you’ve been thrust into a remote work setup, there are a number of tools you can utilize to help make your new professional routine easier and fun.

There may not be that ideal replacement for those spontaneous conversations at one another’s desks or the office water cooler, but these apps deliver an element of spontaneity amidst the pre-mandated Zoom meetings, Slack threads and email chains we all need.


Launched in 2016, Loom is an enterprise collaboration video messaging service that allows for face-to-face time when you’re away from the office. Quickly record a video when you have a question or need to review a document or presentation as a group. Watch videos you receive from teammates when you’re in between tasks or meetings or taking a lunch break. To date, Loom is used by 2M+ users across more than 50k companies who record over 15 million minutes of video every month.


Hitting the scene just last month, Around is the new video chat software targeted towards multitaskers.
Designed for laptop users, the app crops video call participants down to circles that float on your screen freeing up space for your other work in the background. It taps into auto-zoom functionality and noise-canceling features to ensure your face and voice remain in focus.

“People want to make eye contact. They want to connect. But they also want to get stuff done. Around treats video as the means to an end, not the end in itself,” explained Around CEO Domink Zane in a recent statement. Put simply, Around acknowledges the need for presence and connection today but designed so we have the proper space to remain in flow.


Screen is an interactive screen sharing app where everyone gets a cursor to control the window and collaborate across code, design, and writing.

A few concrete use cases of the app including chatting over audio or video calling in an overlaid window, overlay drawing on the screen to annotate items when working together in a document, and posting ephemeral text comments when someone else is speaking and you and other colleagues don’t want to interrupt. With Screen you can also launch meetings from Slack and schedule them with Google calendar integration.


Think of Pragli as the Bitmoji for professionals.

Serving as an avatar-based virtual office, Pragli helps you know whether someone’s in a meeting, heads down on a deliverable, stepping out for a break, or unplugged for the day. Unlike Slack which can sometimes cause ambiguity as to whether someone is actually available or not, Pragli seeks to translate the real-world presence we’re unable to have today to the remote workspace.

In turn, you can make more informed decisions as to whether you do a quick audio call, reschedule a meeting for another day or time, send a chat message they can come back to later if the matter isn’t urgent, or schedule a longer video meeting.

“What Slack did for email, we want to do for video conferencing,” Pragli co-founder Doug Safreno explains. “Traditional video conferencing is exclusive by design, whereas Pragli is inclusive. Just like in an office, you can see who is talking to who.”

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8 Best Practices for Delivering a Killer Presentation, Virtually

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our way of life in many ways, forcing people to innovate and find new ways to connect via remote channels. In the events space, this has led to conferences like SMW going fully remote. The remote format comes with challenges, for sure, but it also comes with benefits and opportunities.

This article is designed to help you make the most of this new format from setting the scene for your presentation space to securing authentic engagement long after the event.

In this article you will learn how to:

  • Create a professional studio-like experience
  • Optimize your presentation for a virtual audience
  • Use video to bring your presentation to life
  • Drive audience engagement using interactive tools
  • Host a breakout for deeper engagement
  • Distribute recaps, recorded video and takeaways
  • Dial up your energy and project through the screen
  • Integrate social media for greater reach 

Create a Professional, Studio-Like Experience

Just because you won’t be in the same room as your audience, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider the space you’ll be in for your remote presentation. In addition to looking the part, here are a few quick tips for creating the ideal backdrop.

  • Lighting and filters: A simple ring light can help avoid backlight and create a more professional shot. Amazon offers one for $30. For added professional flair, Zoom is equipped with settings you can use to enhance your appearance with an overall smoother shot.
  • Camera position: Prop your laptop on a sturdy and elevated surface such as a couple of books so that the camera is eye-level.
  • Declutter: Give your space the Marie Kondo treatment to free the area of distracting objects. As far as ideal areas go, living rooms are generally the most conducive, but a kitchen could work just as well.
  • Get some privacy: Ensure your space is quiet and void of any buzzes, pings, and background voices. At the same time, understand that people understand we’re all at home with families. If you should have a BBC interview moment, just shake it off. Part of the new normal is embracing each other’s humanity.

Optimize Your Presentation for a Virtual Audience

In an era of social distancing, people are multitasking more frequently. What this means in the context of participating in a virtual conference is that experiences must be designed for engagement over time with multifaceted touchpoints. In this vein, tighter and shorter bits of content will resonate more than a presentation duplicated in a traditional stand-alone and deliver approach.

Authenticity, context, and humility are important characteristics to note. In the context of a virtual presentation, bringing these into your session requires a blend of links, images, screen sharing, videos, and slides. In other words, a dynamic message is an effective message. This mix of media and content will ultimately allow the audience a forum and space to post their own stories about your content long after the event.

Below are a few sources for you to consider as you build your presentation:

  • Prezi: Host of templates and drag-and-drop designs
  • SlideDog: Handy for combining media such as PDFs, video, websites, and spreadsheets into a cohesive presentation package
  • Visme: Easy-to-build infographics and interactive content

Use Video to Bring Your Presentation to Life

Without being in person it can be hard to break up content and seeing someone on camera can help ease some of this burden.

From keynote-style talks to firesides with live-note taking, to two-handers or small group discussions with a moderator, video can fuel collaboration from numerous angles. The real value of the discussion, similarly to in-person presentations, is the community building that transpires from the insights shared. In a virtual setting, breakout sessions, hangouts, and virtual demos can all bridge the divide between digital screens and bring that excitement of being in an exhibitor hall or lounge to your home. More on how to create these human-first experiences in the rest of the tips and practices.

Drive Audience Engagement Using Interactive Tools

There may not be that perfect substitute for bringing everyone together under the roof of a venue, but doubling down on interactivity is an effective way to drive excitement in a virtual setting. The ways you can deliver interactive sessions will vary based on the size of the audience, but there are several examples you can start with that are available across many event platforms.

For instance, polling features, live chats and Q&As. These are a fast and simple way to directly connect with attendees that will engage their minds and get them focused on the topic of conversation. As an added bonus, you may learn something yourself. Be sure to flesh out the process at the beginning of the conversation.

To prevent drop off, answer some during the conversation and pocket the rest for the end. Moderators or community engagement specialists play a key role here and can be used to facilitate this process from prepping people in advance of the session to hosting any necessary prep calls and managing the clock throughout the panel.

You should also build pauses in which you can check in on the chat and any submitted questions too. This will give you a chance to pulse check the room for engagement. Following the session, underscore ways participants can keep the dialogue alive and share additional feedback.

Host a Breakout for Deeper Engagement

Well-planned breakout sessions can greatly benefit a larger program, primarily by allowing attendees to participate more actively compared to when their tuning into mainstage sessions more passively throughout the day.

More specifically, breakouts afford a deeper look at the material and can lead to better engagement with content through heightened collaboration and idea-sharing. The most effective breakouts are planned with an objective, but that isn’t to say you shouldn’t welcome ideas — crowdsourcing may be a viable option if you want the attendees to have more control and ensure the discussion will resonate and have the desired impact.

This is a valuable opportunity for people to ask questions and comment on the topics discussed in the mainstage sessions in greater length. Often just a few interesting and well-formulated questions can do the trick. To ensure the longevity of the breakout, consider using a moderator to take notes, or if you’re relying on your own materials such as a video or separate presentation, share these with the group and encourage them to continue the dialogue on their social platforms. Using live chat to exchange resources such as links to case study material is another way to bring energy to this smaller setting and maintain consistent engagement.

Distribute Recaps, Recorded Video and Takeaways

Networking aside, another integral part of a conference experience are the tangible takeaways you provide attendees with to bring back to work. This is especially relevant for in-person events but even more critical for virtual conferences. Reports, session recaps, videos, and presentations that can be shared post-event are just a few examples of additional value-adds that can enable attendees to grow their career and their business. These are also an opportunity for you to build a positive personal brand that gives your insights a digital megaphone.

As far as the presentation itself, include a recap slide at the end. If the audience takes away nothing else, this slide should contain the key points or themes they should remember. Don’t simply save these for the end, however. It’s also worth repeating and reiterating these throughout the talk. Again, people are likely multitasking.

Dial up your energy and project through the screen

Depending upon your virtual meeting platform, audience members may not be able to see you, so it is even more important in virtual meetings that you convey energy, interest, and excitement when you speak.

There are a few simple ways you can practice your delivery before your actual presentation. To help pace yourself so that you can maintain your energy throughout your presentation, use a voice recorder. This will help you identify any fixes in inflection you may need to make.
Aside from your tone, your overall presentation including your hand gestures are important. Use your laptop to do a dry run-through of your session and target areas where you may want to make some adjustments.

Finally, when using sources like Zoom to host virtual events, consider that some of the nuances of communication get lost. The concept of “use your words” applies here. Find a balance between articulation, volume and gestures so you aren’t solely relying on your nonverbal cues.

Integrate Social Media for Greater Reach

In the event world, “promote it and they will come,” is a powerful phrase, especially when you offer people an incentive to tune in. Now more than ever, social media is the most important utility for gaining attention and connecting in the moments that matter.

Use this opportunity to think outside the box. Never created an event countdown in Instagram Stories? Now is the time to step out of your comfort zone and test the waters. Create a Facebook event for your session or list it on Eventbrite. Send a personal note with a link for how someone can register to hear your session. If you go the paid route, ensure you’re targeting strategically and have carefully thought through the format. Whichever platform you choose, and whether you go paid or organic or a mixture of both, clearly communicate the value proposition as this will be your main selling point.

The world is now a different place and it is our job to help our audiences navigate these unprecedented circumstances with humanity. When used appropriately and for the good of society, technology is a critically important part of our lives serving as a pathway through unprecedented times.

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How Twitch is Defining the Future of IRL Streaming

Twitch, the Amazon-owned live streaming service is on track to hit 40 million monthly active viewers in the U.S. per new projections from eMarketer, up 14.3 percent from 2019 figures. Come 2023, it is anticipated the platform will boast 47 million viewers.

While the platform has become synonymous with video game streaming and esports fanatics, recent traction has been attributed to Twitch’s efforts to expand its content scope.

What is IRL Streaming?

In 2016 Twitch announced the new streaming category ‘In Real Life” or IRL for short. Taken from its name, the space is designed for users to share glimpses into their day-to-day life as a means of driving authentic engagement with viewers.

In a statement upon its release, CEO Emmett Shear shared,” What we’ve heard repeatedly from [Twitch’s creators] is that they are interested in sharing their everyday lives, thoughts, and opinions with their communities. IRL is designed to help our creators foster that kind of community interaction.”

Shortly after, it became clear that in order to help users benefit from the category, there would have to be a better system for describing content. By September 2018, Twitch had unveiled 10 new categories including Art, Food and Drink, Science and Technology, Sports and Fitness, Talk shows and podcasts, and just chatting.

“With so many streamers on Twitch, we needed to give you better ways to describe your stream when you go live,” a description on the site read ahead of the update.

“Just Chatting” Category Eclipses Video Games Views

In December 2019 StreamElements shared new data revealing Twitch’s “Just Chatting” category streams were watched more than any video game that month. Specifically, viewers tune into 81 million hours of content in this chatting, 7 million more than the game League of Legends and 23 million more than Fortnite.

This marked the first time a non-gaming category earned the title “most-watched,” marking the platform’s transition into a broader, more versatile live streaming hub with more options for the general public than just those with a passion for gaming.

Since its launch, the steady growth of Just Chatting has not only been attributed to a sustainable source of viewership for Twitch, but it’s evolved into a powerful vehicle that streamers can use to improve their brand.

What This Means

Person-to-person streaming is now exceeding actual people watching gamer streams on Twitch behavior and with it, a clear trend is emerging out of these platforms.

Lolimdivine, a Redditor who spent nearly eight months streaming to no one, is now reaping the benefits of an established community. “My regulars and I always talk about our lives, and we all know stuff about each other,” lolimdivine said. “It’s like we have our own little internet family honestly. I see these people as my friends and not viewers. We welcome people with open arms from all around the world, and we remember things about the people who can only stop by once a month. It’s really an incredible thing that Twitch can do for people’s loneliness or friend groups,” they shared in a statement to The Verge.

By allowing broadcasters to leverage existing communities through additional categories, they create a more intimate relationship with their viewers that gives them a more holistic picture of their passions and hobbies. Ultimately, this creates a valuable opportunity to connect with audiences they typically wouldn’t encounter. As a result, they’re able to successfully bridge online and in-person relationships that extend beyond niche subjects and are grounded by meaningful shared experiences.

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What You Need to Know About Facebook’s New Creator Studio App

This year there will be close to 1 million minutes of video crossing the internet per second. By 2022, online videos will account for over 82 percent of all internet traffic — a 15x increase compared to 2017.

Audiences find videos more engaging and more memorable than any other type of content

Video continues to stake its claim in the digital space, carving more territory for itself and cementing its role as one of the most effective elements in a digital marketing strategy. As we roll into 2020, there is a lot more for us to understand about video content, but one this is clear — it is no longer a nice to have but a necessity if your storytelling efforts are to be deemed engaging and memorable and drive conversions and exposure.

To help publishers and creators hone their approaches and cater to the demands of a mobile-first world, Facebook unveiled an iOS and Android application companion to its Creator Studio. At a glance, the tool is targeted to allow enhanced management of uploads, performance tracking, and convenient ways to stay in touch with audiences in real-time.

The journey to a creator-centric app

For those unfamiliar with the background, Creator Studio initially launched on desktop last September and served as a replacement for the ‘Creator’ app launch in 2017 (originally released until the title of ‘Mentions’ in 2014). With the history lesson out of the way, let’s take a peek at what the mobile companion has to offer.

Per the announcement — written by the platform’s Head of Creator and Publisher Experience Jeff Birkeland — you can expect the exact same insights and engagement metrics as the desktop hub with a number of added benefits helping manage and edit Page posts, view and make sense of performance analytics, and engage with your audience.

Let’s break these down some more:

Measured metrics and improved multi-account management

A huge priority with the app is to guide creators and publishers as they look to evolve their strategies with rich insights. In the mobile version of Creator Studio, you can seamlessly trace how your videos are performing including one-minute views and average minutes viewed. You can also keep tabs on your advertising earnings, the number of users who commented or shared a video, and how people watched your video for at least 3 seconds.

To take the headache out of hovering from one account to another, the app comes with the functionality to Manage several Facebook Pages and toggle between them without having to go through the added step of logging in and out each time.

“It’s a desktop-mobile ecosystem where you’re getting the benefits across the board,” Birkeland reiterated in a statement to Business Insider. In other words, the app isn’t intended to replace your management process but enhance its feasibility and flexibility.

Creating sustainable audiences and refining your content on-the-go

One of the primary reasons Facebook decided to create a mobile version of Creator Studio was upon receiving feedback that its users wanted to be able to edit video headlines and descriptions and respond to comments from their phones. In this vein, the app comes equipped with the capability of customizing video titles and descriptions, deleting and expiring posts, published drafted posts, and rescheduling scheduled posts.

Consumer intelligence is rising in the ranks as valuable as a form of data that translates into deeper audience relationships and improved decision making. In a nod to this, the Creator Studio app makes it easier to connect with audiences in real-time. Specifically, messages and comments can be responded to directly through the app’s inbox. To help you track your progress over time, the apps come with a setting to schedule notifications when you’ve hit a key milestone.

Being present with your brand continues to be one of the leading ways to secure meaningful engagement. Facebook’s update gives publishers and creators a more streamlined and cohesive way of achieving this in a format that the majority of viewers opt to use. With easier ways of producing and measuring the performance content as well as staying on top of useful feedback, this capability will be integral in bringing a human element to your marketing efforts.

In this vein, marketers should certainly take note that aside from having a human voice, diversifying sources of income continues to be a growing priority for creators as they look to repurpose their content, reach broader audiences at scale, and rise above the noise.

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And That’s How the Google Cookie Crumbles

The days of third-party data tracking within the world’s most popular browser are over.

After months of speculation, Google has finally confirmed that it will join Safari and Firefox in withdrawing support for third-party cookies by 2022.

The growth of the ad tech ecosystem as we know it was due in large part to advertisers’ ability to use third-party products to “follow” customers around the web, understanding their behaviors and preferences, and then serve targeted advertising to them efficiently via digital media. As the major browsers (and consumers themselves, via ad-blockers) eliminate the ability to “tag” consumers, the industry can expect a sharp departure from the way things were.

That said, personalization is here to stay. What the news does reinforce is the strength of so-called “walled gardens” like Google, Amazon, and Facebook that carry so much individual scale that they don’t need to rely on cookies to make hyper-personalized targeting possible.

What are cookies, anyway?

Most consumers are “cookied” every day without even being aware. A cookie refers to text or small packets of data sent by websites to be stored in your computer’s browser.

Third-party cookies, specifically, are those that are set by an alternative site than the one you are on including a third-party video provider, social channel, or ad platform. When a publisher or site strikes a partnership with one of these businesses, they add a line of code to their site.

Cookies help create user profiles, which provide detailed information on the sites you visit and the journey of what you do during your browsing time. This gives advertisers key insight into your interests and preferences allowing them to deliver a more targeted advertising experience.

Industry implications

Google’s Chrome browser makes up 69 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of desktop and mobile browser share — accounting for more than half of all web traffic overall. The bottom line?

Anyone with a website, including brands, agencies, and publishers, will be affected by the move. While some may argue this was an inevitable move, this doesn’t change its significance and the impact it will have today and in years ahead.

  • In the short term, marketers lose an instrumental method they currently use to target many of their customers.
  • In the long-term, they must find a more sustainable solution that is more direct and personal to the consumer.

One way to achieve this is by seeking out and relying on first-party data from owned audiences. The other, and what would be much more complicated to navigate, building better relationships with customers and the media they consume.

Moreover, many experts predict that the real winners will be walled gardens like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, who now stand alone in their ability to provide a high degree of targeting at scale.

The trend toward a cookieless web impacts publishers and third-party ad-tech platforms the most, since this will require them to sell and serve ads in new ways. Digital publishing was already under pressure as ad budgets have shifted from their owned and operated properties to the big platforms. Some publishers, like The New York Times, have had success by refocusing their efforts on driving digital subscriptions.

In short, we can expect a greater emphasis on one-to-one relationships that are personalized and relevant — but this won’t come without some obstacles and the likely continued flow of ad budgets to the big platforms.

Learn more about Privacy Matters as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Secure your early-bird discount today to save 20% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).


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4 Major Brands and Platforms Addressing Digital Literacy and Fake News in 2020

The majority of marketers realize the issues presented by fake news and “deepfake” techniques in skewing the information we’re exposed to and the implications for determining what is fact from fiction.

We face a critical point in our industry where many brands and platforms are facing increased pressure for setting a benchmark for detecting these types of conversations.

Here are a few that are taking action in 2020.

Tumblr’s Digital Literacy Initiative “World Wide What”

With the 2020 election on the horizon, social media platforms are making moves to update their strategies to curb the spread of information. The latest to join the bandwagon is Tumblr, which recently launched an internet literacy campaign targeted to help younger demographics entering the voting scene spot fake news and unsavory posts.

The initiative, World Wide What, was developed in partnership with UK-based internet literacy organization, Ditch the Label. The campaign’s structure emphasizes six core community topics in video form that include fake news skewed views, authenticity, cyberbullying, the importance of minimizing screen time, how much we share online, and creating a safer internet through moderation.

Unlike traditional literacy materials, the platform is tapping into visual, more culturally messaging such as GIFs, memes, and short text in line with imagery native to the Tumblr brand. Videos will also leverage outside experts and industry leaders to tackle certain subjects through a series of Q&As in the coming weeks and months.

“We are constantly striving to learn and utilize new ways to create a safe place for our communities,” Tumblr shared in a statement on the World Wide What site.

Google x Jigsaw Visual Database of Deepfakes

In September 2019, Google tapped Jigsaw in an effort to develop a dataset of visual deepfakes aimed to boost early detection efforts. The tech giant worked with both paid and consenting actors to record and gather hundreds of videos which ultimately were crafted into deepfakes. The final products including both real and fake videos, were then incorporated into the Technical University of Munich and the FaceForensics benchmark and made widely available for synthetic video detection methods.

Fast forward to November, Jigsaw has continued on this momentum by releasing what it refers to as “the largest public data set of comments and annotations with toxicity labels and identity labels. “ This includes the addition of comments and annotations with toxicity and identity labels. The goal with incorporating these details is to more accurately measure bias within AI comment classification systems. Traditionally conversations are measured with synthetic data from template sentences that often fail to address the complexity and variety of comments.

“By labeling identity mentions in real data, we are able to measure bias in our models in a more realistic setting, and we hope to enable further research into unintended bias across the field,” shared in a recent Medium post. The key in the ever-evolving deepfake tech space will be a healthy and growing research community.

Twitter Policies Targeting Synthetic and Manipulated Media

Twitter is looking to its community for support in fleshing out its strategy for addressing synthetic and manipulated media, what the company defines as “…any photo, audio, or video that has been significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning.

As a draft to its policy, the platform has outlined that it will:

  • Place a notice next to Tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media
  • Warn people before they share or like Tweets with synthetic or manipulated media
  • Add a link – for example, to a news article or Twitter Moment – so that people can read more about why various sources believe the media is synthetic or manipulated

The platform also vowed to remove any deepfake believed capable of threatening someone or leading to serious harm. This raises the question as to how it would address these types of manipulated conversations spurring a falsity but not technically causing harm or that use newer creation methods that lag behind the detection techniques.

To garner feedback from users, the platform created a multiple-choice survey that addresses the broader preference of removing versus flagging (e.g. should altered photos and videos be removed, have warning labels, or not be removed at all). To date, the survey is closed and the platform is reported to be working on an official policy that will be announced 30 days prior to roll out.

Facebook’s “Deepfake Challenge” and Ban

This past fall Facebook teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and academics from Cornell Tech, University of Oxford, UC Berkley, University of Maryland, and SUNY Albany to launch the Deepfake Detection Challenge. The DFDC as its referred to includes a data set of 100k+ videos using paid actors — as well as grants and awards —aimed to inspire new ways of detecting and preventing AI-manipulated media.

The DFDC will run to the end of March of this year with the goal of “…producing technology that everyone can use to better detect when AI has been used to alter a video in order to mislead the viewer.” According to the official website, a winner will be determined based on “a test mechanism that enables teams to score the effectiveness of their models, against one or more black-box tests from our founding partners,” the company shared.

‘Deepfake’ techniques, which present realistic AI-generated videos of real people doing and saying fictional things, have significant implications for determining the legitimacy of information presented online,” shared Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer in a recent blog post.

In addition to these efforts, the platform followed up with a new policy that would remove synthesized or edited content in ways that “aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead,” or deepfake posts that use AI technologies to “merge, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, making it appear authentic.”

Again, the issue becomes how we as an industry will move forward walking the fine line between malicious deepfakes and those with less-harmful intents of creative parodies or satire.

Learn more about this topic as part of our 2020 theme HUMAN.X through the lens of the subtheme Privacy Matters. Read the official announcement here and secure your early-bird discount today to save 20% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).

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Why Instagram’s New Stories Feature ‘Reels’ Should Be on Your Brand’s Radar

Instagram is looking to harness the power and popularity of lip-syncing apps like TikTok by introducing its own tool to music videos to Stories.

Dubbed “Reels,” the video-music feature can be found in the Stories shutter modes tray alongside “Boomerang” and “Super-Zoom.” The feature is currently available both on iOS and Android in Brazil as part of an initial test phase.

At its core and much like TikTok, Reels allows users to record 15-second videos synced to music or other audio. These clips can be either recorded in silence or with snippets borrowed from an in-app catalog or another video found through the hashtag search or Explore or doing a search of popular and trending songs.

“Instagram Stories has always been a home for expression, and we believe this new format has huge potential to enable more creativity for people.” shared Director of Product, Robby Stein.

From an editing standpoint, the collection includes a variety of creative tools including speed, time, a countdown clock, and a ghost mode that makes it easier for users to line up transitions so they appear more fluid.
Specifically, they’ll have the ability to overlay the last frame of their previous video over the camera video. As far as filters and special effects, two elements TikTok has become notorious for, these will come as the rollout continues.

The growth of video and creative tools

It’s no secret is taking marketing by storm. In fact, according to recent figures, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic, 15 times higher than in 2017.

“Video and creation tools have really unlocked a surge of usage,” said Stein in a statement to Variety. While videos made with Reels will primarily live in personal stories, the Closed Friends option, or direct messages, it is the hope that gradually it will become integrated across other areas of the app including the Explore tab.

“Over 50% of accounts use Explore every month,” he added. Additionally, in a nod to its own ephemerality, Instagram is allowing users to add Reels to their Highlights section where they can pop up on Explore even after the 24-hour mark hits.

Bringing authenticity and experiences back to digital marketing

While the platform credits TikTok for spearheading the evolution of this format, Instagram is eager to make this a unique experience for itself and brands holding the concept of sharing video with music as universal. The trick, of course, will be getting the Instagram audience to undergo a shift away from the carefully filtered and edited content that dominates the app compared to the raw, authentic content of a competitor like TikTok.

If it’s successful, brands could have a window of opportunity for new partnerships fueled by experience-driven engagement, creativity, and self-expression that audiences, especially Gen Z, favor. In line with a separate update to remove like counts from posts, this added feature may support the app in its push to promote a more positive, less pressurized environment where people are more comfortable expressing who they are versus an image they feel they have to project.

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2020 Video Marketing and Statistics: What Brands Need to Know

By 2022, the number of videos crossing the internet per second will approach 1 million translating into 82 percent of all online traffic.

Capitalizing on this trend, Hearst Magazines recently announced it is shopping around more than 80 experiences to advertisers in an effort to tap into additional revenue streams including video series, events, and new award franchises.

In particular, the company gave initial leaks into upcoming projects including a “Future of Beauty” award series from Elle Magazine and experiential events across Cosmopolitan and Marie Clare. Aside from video and experiential, data will be an influential guide as the company looks to better target to its audience.

As your brand continues its own preparation around a 2020 video strategy and the ways you can create your own unique experiences, here are a few important statistics to bear in mind:

Video usage and consumption

There has been a noticeable uptick in video usage over the past three years. A few stats evidencing this include that video consumption on mobile devices rises a whopping 100 percent each year.

In addition, 78 percent of people report watching videos online each week while 55 percent of those watch on a daily basis. More than half (54%) demand more video content on top of what they already consume.

Marketing trends and best practices for video on mobile devices

Viewers claim they retain 95 percent of a message when obtained via video and a significant 92 percent of mobile users report sharing videos with others.

The vast majority of businesses are shifting their strategies accordingly with 81 percent incorporating the tactic into the plans–a 63 percent increase year-over-year (YoY).

Ninety-nine percent of marketers claim they will continue to use video marketing in their approaches and 88 percent are committing to devoting more dollars to such campaigns in the future. This comes as no surprise as in the U.S. alone, the industry for video marketing has exploded and is now worth $135 billion.

Vertical video is the future of brand storytelling

An integral part of the growing demand for an enhanced mobile experience is vertical video and leading platforms like Instagram are putting their stake in the ground to lead the change.

For context, more than half (60%) of users film on their phone horizontally compared to 40 percent who report filming vertically. From a viewer’s standpoint, 75 percent prefer watching videos horizontally while only 25 percent prefer watching vertically.

Video marketing is at a critical point where it is driving more views, engagement and positive response compared to any other social post option. While users tend to skim text, videos have a competitive advantage when it comes to earning attention and recall. As you look to experiment, pocket these stats to help grow your audience and improve your presence.

Infographic via brednbeyond

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4 Key Takeaways from the State of Conversational Marketing 2019 Report

“Today’s buyers expect to find what they’re looking for now, not later. As we prepare for the future, it will be more important than ever for businesses to be available across a broad spectrum of channels, and to make sure you’re communicating the way people prefer to communicate,” said David Cancel, founder and CEO of Drift in a press release announcing the the 2019 State of Conversational Marketing report.

Based on a survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, the research comes as a follow-up to the 2018 State of Chatbots report and highlights key conversational marketing trends and benchmarks marketers will need to pocket as they develop their strategies.

In partnership with Survey Monkey the findings are into five main sections that explore the problems with traditional online experiences, how people are communicating with businesses today, the strengths and weaknesses of various communication channels, and how attitudes towards chatbots are shifting.

Before we get to the insights, let’s break down what conversational marketing is and the opportunities it brings to the industry.

Conversational marketing offers marketers the ability to connect with customers 1:1 in real-time. Compared to traditional marketing strategies, conversational marketing relies on multiple channels meeting customers how, when and where they want. This mostly entails live chat, bots, and social chat apps but can be more broadly applied to email or even phone calls.

Ultimately, the goal of conversational marketing is to enhance the experience through a feedback-driven approach that translates into enhanced engagement and greater loyalty. Sounds straight forward, however, questions regarding customer expectations around chatbot perceptions and response times still pose obstacles for those looking to harness its power.

If you’re looking to bring some conversational marketing ideas and best practices into your toolkit, below are a few key highlights from the report:

A tangible opportunity for greater customer-centricity

Image via Drift

The three leading frustrations people face online today include getting answers to simple questions (34%), dealing with websites that are difficult to navigate (30%) and finding basic details (25%) about a business such as their hours of operations or their phone number. Numbers aside, there is a very visible opportunity to help fill this gap and ensure customers can find what they need without the headaches.

The flaws with chatbot perception

Image via Drift

Per the research findings, buyers are still 2x more likely to say that chatting with a live human through channels like online chat, provides an overall better customer experience. This comes despite respondents acknowledging the benefits that chatbots can provide such as answering questions (34%), getting detailed answers or explanations (29%) and resolving a complaint or issue (27%).

This trend is further reinforced by the fact that 70 percent of all consumers are using chatbots more or the same over the course of the past year. What this essentially tells us is that approximately one-third of all U.S. consumers have tried chatbots at one point, and then consciously decided to use them less based on their experience.

Online chat vs. chatbots

Image via Drift

When measured up to other potential ways to interact including a smartphone app, phone call, email, social media, video messaging and video call, consumers ranked online chat as best for overall convenience. Chatbots, on the other hand, took the top spot as a good and reliable source of 24×7 support.

Over the course of the past year, the percentage of consumers saying they’re using online chat more or the same is slightly higher (31% vs. 24%). Findings also show that the ratio of individuals claiming they’re using chat less is not as high when compared to the ratio for chatbots.

As far as which group is reaping the greatest benefits from chatbots, retailers currently have the edge with 40 percent of consumers stating they’ve used a chatbot within the past 12 months to interact with them. This figure far outpaced that of other categories of business that include healthcare (22%), utilities (21%) and entertainment (20%).

“Email isn’t just sticking around, it’s growing”

Image via Drift

It isn’t farfetched to logically assume as new channels emerge their older counterparts would take a stumble. What this survey points to, is quite the opposite. Email usage continues to grow and has done so more than any other customer communication channel. In fact, one-third of survey respondents reported they used it more frequently over the last year.

Growth YoY may have only been 5 percentage points, but this trajectory shines a light on an important industry: in order to increase customer engagement meaningfully, put the time and effort against a deep understanding of audience preferences and values and then tailor outreach accordingly. Strive to bring a more human element to marketing that goes beyond the pressure to prioritize reach, scale and vanity metrics.

“Marketing and sales have always revolved around conversations between buyers and sellers. But somewhere along the line, marketers and salespeople lost their way,” the report concludes

We’ll continue this discussion around bringing humanity back into marketing, specifically through an experience-driven approach, during 2020 as part of our global theme HUMAN.X.

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Advertising to the Next Generation: A Marketer’s Strategy Guide to TikTok

It’s been three years since TikTok, originally known as Musical.ly, ushered onto the scene, gaining traction of tweens and teens around the globe. The platform has since grown in size and scale, reaching over 1 billion downloads including 96 million in the United States alone. In terms of user base, there are 500 million across 150 countries.

Beyond lip-syncing Gen Z-ers, major brands and A-list celebs including Coca-Cola, Nike, Google and Khloé Kardashian are turning to TikTok to push sponsored posts or run ad campaigns. From a general community standpoint, the app also serves as a popular hub for extracting meme-able content.

For those unfamiliar, TikTok revolves around sharing 15-second video clips often set to music that is licensed from artists and record labels. If you’re a brand looking for new and creative ways to reach younger audience members, let’s take a look at what the app is all about and the basics for navigating its interface.

Setting up an account

By downloading the TikTok app, you can instantly browse any videos uploaded to the platform. However, to upload any yourself, you need to set up your own profile. Here are the basics for carrying out the process:

  • Set up an account by providing your email, phone number, or a third-party platform like Facebook
  • You will automatically be assigned an initial username by TikTok. If you provide a phone number this will take a very generic form such as user1234567 whereas providing your email will result in a more personalized result.
  • When you’re ready to change your username, tap the icon in the right bottom corner resembling a human’s upper body. Then hit ‘Edit Profile.’ In addition to swapping your picture, you can proceed to fill out a bio and set a Profile Video.

Browsing, sharing and reacting to TikToks

TikTok is divided into two basic feeds. Primarily, you’ll be shown the default titled, ‘For You,’ which contains algorithmically generated content comparable to Instagram’s Explore page. By swiping left, you’ll navigate over to the second of the feeds, ‘Following,’ which collects uploads from people you personally choose to follow. These can be influencers, comedy-focused accounts, whatever suits your daily entertainment needs.

To help curate your feed, hard press on a video to trigger a ‘Not Interested’ button that you can then select if you’d like to opt-out of that type of content going forward.

Each video you browse, you’ll see there are options to give the user a heart, like on Instagram and Facebook, and the ability to leave them a comment. To share your favorite TikToks to other platforms or via a text message, look for the symbol depicting a right-pointing arrow. By clicking on this, you’ll be provided with the specific link to use directly to that video,

Finally, to track a specific song that is being played in a TikTok, look for the symbol of a spinning record with music notes emanating from it. Tapping this will show you the track name, artist, as well as other TikToks that feature the song.

Recording and sharing your own TikTok

Now that you have that lay of the land, let’s walk through the steps for recording and sharing your own TikTok videos.

To record, select the plus sign symbol at the bottom of your screen. This will open your camera and reveal a red record button, much like you’d see if you were recording a video on Snapchat.

Here’s where you have a few options. You can either stick to the standard 15-second limit or record multiple clips and string them together for up to 60 seconds of total recording. Alternatively, you can upload even longer videos outside of TikTok and bring them into the platform later. Whichever you choose, you have the ability to use the timer feature so you don’t have to hold the record button the entire time.

To drop a song in your video, click ‘Add a Sound’ to the right of the recording screen. A menu of artists akin to what you’d see in your Spotify account will appear where you can either pick from the most popular tracks at the moment or look up a specific song in Apple Music. A caveat to note with this, however, is that TikTok’s short videos can’t be edited, meaning you can’t handpick a certain segment of the song to use. Some users have tried to get around this by using a third-party source to stream the full song, but at the risk of getting copyrighted.

Aside from music, TikTok offers an abundance of AR effects that can be accessed by selecting ‘Effects’ on the left-hand side. These range from filters intended for animals including dogs and cats to ones designed for humans. More specifically, the Beauty button will give you an assortment of options for enhancing your appearance such as removing dark circles under your eyes.

To help you keep track of who has liked or comment on one of your videos, viewed your profile, or started following you, select the notifications icon at the top of the home screen.

TikTok Challenges

‘Challenges’ are designed to bring TikTok users together through a lighthearted competition and brands are taking note for how they can get in on the action.

ABC, for instance, ran the #LikeAnAmericanIdol earlier this year encouraging users to share their singing skills. As of this year March, over 25 million users posted videos with the hashtag showing their participation. Separately, Chipotle partnered with an influencer for the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge seeing if users could replicate a trick involving the flipping of a Chipotle bowl’s lid. The campaign attracted 110,000 video submissions from fans.

What this translates into for brands are experimental ways to learn from a community, what they’re already engaging with and sharing, and then identify ways for their audiences to get involved in a way that is authentic to them.

Commenting on the creative opportunity for brands and marketers and why they’re flocking to use TikTok, Vice President, Blake Chandlee, recently shared at Advertising Week, “There’s been a real inflection point.” He underscored how the platform is unique in that it challenges marketers to produce something they can’t just replicate on other platforms. It’s a platform to be risky, be raw, and be a relevant storyteller in a way that aligns with today’s landscape that continues to be dynamic and unpredictable.

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Will Facebook’s Forthcoming “Off-Facebook Activity” Tool Fulfill the Promise of a Clear History?

Eighteen months after its announcement (and almost six months after we last wrote about it), Facebook’s history clearing tool has finally taken shape and been deployed in three countries for testing. Called “Off-Facebook Activity,” it provides users a clearer look at the other apps and websites that are sharing their data—and offers them the option to “disconnect their historical browsing data from their accounts entirely, or to remove data from individual sites and apps. The tool also lets people turn off data-sharing from all sites and apps off Facebook,” the New York Times reported in their coverage of the tool.

Evidently, their arrival at this version of the feature took longer than expected; Facebook officials asked about the multiple delays noted that this sort of endeavor is unprecedented. With no models to follow, they forged ahead—reportedly with user input guiding them:

Facebook said it initially hoped to provide an option that would let users delete the entire repository of data that the company collected from other sites to improve its targeting of ads. But Facebook said its research showed that people did not want such an all-or-nothing option. Instead, Facebook said, users frequently asked for better visibility into which sites were providing browsing-habit data to the company, and more control over how the information was shared.

The language choice is deliberate: at one point, they apparently considered an option to delete, whereas now they’ve arrived at a “disconnect” option. “Disconnect” means that identifying information will be removed from what data is collected. But make no mistake: Facebook will continue to collect it. What’s more, this “transparency and control” (to emphasize the terminology Facebook has deployed in all efforts dedicated to this goal) applies to any data shared with non-Facebook entities. The process to disconnect the data collected from your in-app activity is separate…and, as I learned once when trying to complete it, tedious.

Image via Facebook

Limited images of the tool are available on the company’s Newsroom post announcing the tool’s debut, but these images show little about how the tool can actually be used. But even with a simpler process, they’re reportedly prepared for this security to compromise their wildly lucrative ad business. “If this were widely adopted, it would mean less overall revenue for Facebook […] and that’s okay,” Director of Product Management David Baser shared, acknowledging the conflict between their business model and their promise of heightened security—both to Facebook users, and in compliance with their multimillion-dollar settlement earlier this year. This aligns with how Facebook Business sought to prepare users of their ad placement tools back in May:

When someone disconnects their off-Facebook activity, we won’t use the data they clear for targeting. This means that targeting options powered by Facebook’s business tools, like the Facebook pixel, can’t be used to reach someone with ads. This includes Custom Audiences built from visitors to websites or apps. Businesses should keep this in mind when developing strategies for these kinds of campaigns in the second half of the year and beyond.

In any case, Facebook will be closely watching the tool’s deployment in Ireland, South Korea and Spain. According to AdWeek, the rollout is happening on a small scale “in order to ensure that the tool is working reliably, with plans to make it available globally over the coming months.”

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Who (or What) Killed YouTube’s Direct Messenger?

YouTube Messenger made its debut in August 2017 as a way to enable sharing of videos (and, as a result, increases in traffic) between users and their friends or followers. The service was added to the web interface in May of the following year. But this week, its shuttering was quietly announced, not with a blog post but with a post in YouTube’s support forums.

“Heads Up: we’re removing the ability to message directly on YouTube after September 18,” the post was titled, with a four line note about its removal. Although their brief message cited a desire to focus on the quality of the platform’s public conversations, such an answer feels incomplete. Further, given the larger move that other popular social media networks have made toward private communication, it’s difficult to justify from a market need perspective. While we may never know the precise reason (or combination of reasons) that led to this decision, we break down a few possible options here.

Possible Culprit #1: Spam

It’s possible that, like Google Plus, the Messenger feature was plaguing users with spam requests, messages, and videos. For my part, I do recall using the now-defunct platform primarily for the Hangouts function, only to find that random users would hop on and off the calls I shared with friends and colleagues. Critics of G+ repeatedly used the term “drowning” to describe their inundation with unwanted or uninvited messages.

But this doesn’t seem like the likely culprit for YouTube’s direct messaging. For one, it’s not as popular enough of a feature to merit that type of throttling from spammers and bots. For another, if this were the case, it’s likely that more users would have noticed or reported the issue. But in this explanation, lies a second, more likely contributor to the tool’s shuttering.

Possible Culprit #2: Underutilization

Even a company the size of Google, which has…everything to burn: money, time, resources, and the like, can choose to not pursue something that isn’t worth the team’s attention. And direct messaging on the site could easily be counted among those things. The company isn’t afraid to shutter products that underperform (see also: Allo, Spark, or even Google Plus when the time came). And has someone who was only fully aware of the feature within the last two months or so, it’s easy to imagine that many other users had similarly overlooked—and therefore, not used—the tool.

This seems like the most likely cause for the feature’s coming shutdown. And yet that doesn’t mean that the brief announcement didn’t come without complaints. Who those complaints came from, though, could hold the key behind the most likely reason that direct messaging is leaving the platform.

Possible Culprit #3: Further Crackdowns on the Kid Experience

Sarah Perez’s examination of the decision for TechCrunch focused on one very specific element of the blowback on the Support post: the most vocal dismay seemed to come from the site’s youngest users. As she highlighted selections from the comments, she pointed out some of the common sentiments. “A sizable number of commenters are complaining that YouTube was the “only place” they could message their friends because they didn’t have a phone or weren’t allowed to give out their phone number. Some said they used the feature to “talk to their mom” or because they weren’t allowed to use social media.” And, to use Perez’s words from later in the piece, “That’s not a good look for YouTube at this time.”

Given their recent struggles with the content being served to kids, as well as the discovery of a pedophile ring in the comments of several videos, it makes complete sense that a space that allowed younger users to flout the authority of their parents would get shut down. Moreover, this could be the “improving public conversations” charge that is mentioned in the support post. As they do that, they claim to be focusing on comments, posts, and Stories (yep, YouTube has those); no one would argue that YouTube and Google should spend their time correcting the ongoing consequences of these scandals.

In the grand scheme, I think YouTube had the right idea when they added direct messaging to the platform a few years back; it allowed them to increase circulation of videos within their own domain. With that said, in the face of scandal around their youngest users’ experience and low utilization in other market segments, I think it also has the right idea in shutting it down. It stands to have a minimal impact on the platform experience for most users, and prioritizes the safety of those who did depend on it most.

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Why Google Photos’ OCR Compliance Could Predict a Major Step Forward for Social Media Managers

An accidental find by a Google Photos user has the potential to make images more accessible, and make digital marketers’ lives easier in the process.

Twitter user Can Duruk made the realization when using the app last week, sharing with his followers that “@googlephotos has OCR to turn screenshots into copy/paste text!” The Google account replied, “Starting this month, we’re rolling out the ability to search your photos by the text in them.

Once you find the photo you’re looking for, click the Lens button to easily copy and paste text.” This is a major discovery for anyone using the tool and struggling to search for images that have text in them, but the announcement of this technology could have major implications for digital marketers, or anyone wanting to make the internet more visual…and more accessible in the process.

The Promise of OCR

OCR, or optical character recognition, is an invaluable feature for those using screen readers or other accessibility tools to experience an increasingly visual internet. Whereas now, images and PDFs that are not OCR-enabled can be difficult for anyone using a screen reader (a challenge when things like transcripts or forms are uploaded in PDF or JPG formats), the power of OCR can make more types of files accessible to visually-impaired internet users.

Google Lens has enabled it since its inception; major apps like Photos enabling this technology could pave the way for other Google properties, like Google Images or Google Slides, to similar deploy this capability. I liken it to the ubiquity of QR code reading capabilities, a feature once only available by downloading “unitasking” apps to do it.

The result? Simpler interpretation of images that also feature text, in more and more places across the internet. And in an online landscape dense with inspirational quotes overlaid over scenic landscapes or pensive men, this could unlock a far easier way to make this experience seamless for the visually impaired.

An Alternative to Alt-Text

At present, if we upload an image with text to a website or social media post, users who can’t see the image are at the mercy of our ability to describe the image (including the text within) in the alt-text or the image’s caption.

But if OCR recognition of the type currently found with Google Lens and Google Photos were to spread, it could spread some of the “work” required to make these images usable out, requiring less description from social professionals who frequently must include it as part of the photo-posting process. Especially when platforms like LinkedIn or Medium severely limit the characters permitted to do this (generally around 125 characters), tools that pull text from images can widen the scope of understanding.

What To Do in the Meantime

At present, this capability only exists in Google Photos, although users of Google Lens can apply it in a variety of other spaces. For those of us currently in charge of creating common understanding with our posts, the following can serve as helpful measures until OCR support becomes more widely available:

  • Use alt-text, every time. Be as descriptive as possible in the limited characters provided. As with crafting a tweet, it can be challenging to get the point across in a small space. But with practice, it becomes easier.
  • Supplement overlaid text with captions or additional inline text that could help a reader glean understanding even if alt-text is incomplete.
  • Be thoughtful about how information ordinarily presented in images or “flat” PDFs is presented. Are there more accessible formats you can have available? If so, lean toward those and encourage colleagues to do the same.

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The Two Biggest Ways to Get a Solid Return on Social Intelligence, According to Raconteur [Infographic]

In 2019, Hootsuite and We Are Social reported that social media users are spending an average of two hours and sixteen minutes on social platforms daily, an all-time high. And it’s no wonder: there have never been more spaces, more accounts, more data to consume our attention. Given that we can use the posts, tweets, Snaps, and other online interactions to learn more about our consumers, you’d think that our confidence in the data we’re seeing would be at a similar high.

You’d be wrong.

In a recent study produced by Raconteur and aggregated from a number of social media studies conducted, the picture they paint of current social intelligence is one of an industry that has access to unprecedented amounts of information, but often feels at a loss for how to use it effectively. An interesting portion of their results, pulled from The Social Intelligence Lab’s 2019 work, poses the question to social data analysis professionals: does social intelligence meet expectations? While their answers were split, the reasons why social intelligence either meets or misses the mark, aligned nearly perfectly.

When It Exceeds Expectations: It creates action from insights.
When It Misses Expectations: It fails to create action from insights.

Another piece of the Social Intelligence Lab’s study asked social data professionals, “what are your top objectives in examining this data?” More than 7 in 10 (72%) cited customer insight, and more than half (57%) said they use the data to understand customers better. These are major numbers. And based on their answers, when this intelligence isn’t used to craft copy, target campaigns, or effectively reach the right audience, the work suffers.

The good news? Other data in the report offers insight into how to right the proverbial ship. These same surveyed social data analysts report challenges in integrating social intelligence with other data sources (31%), while 22% said that social data isn’t incorporated into the organization’s larger mission. L’Oreal’s Rema Gouyez Benallal said as much during a Social Media Week London panel on social data utilization late last year. She talked about how pairing data surfaced by her team, with historical data that had already earned respect, created a relationship that allowed her team to be valued for the insight they could bring to the table. Rightfully framing these interactions (and occasional surprises) as the result of thoughtful and deliberate engagement helped higher ups see the need to value, and then implement, their insights. The ringing refrain from this quintet of social marketing pros: “[we’re] not just playing on Facebook all day!”

When It Exceeds Expectations: Tracking the right metrics.
When It Misses Expectations: Tracking the wrong metrics.

Does it feel good to get high traffic, lots of likes, or a stream of comments to the posts we share? Absolutely. No question. But using these metrics as measures of success for their own sake won’t serve us if we really want to garner the full benefit of the information these users are choosing to share with us. I can’t help but think about accounts where I’ve seen complaints frequently surface; in that instance, is a post that earns 3,000 comments doing “well” if even 10% are negative?

Moving beyond quantity to quality of engagements by tracking the sentiments expressed, more qualitative accounts as shared by consumers, or truly business-shifting metrics like webstore traffic and lower percentages of abandoned carts, needs to be the goal that we reach for when participating on these platforms. Creating relationships (real or implied) with the consumers we interact with can help us understand how they’ll let us know if our efforts are working. Moreover, we need to value these relationships even if they don’t yield the high numbers that a viral like count does. To wit: the Social Intelligence Lab’s fourth most commonly cited reason to value social intelligence was “to understand customer sentiment.” Picking, tracking, and working to impact metrics that clearly and intentionally affect this is essential to deeming our efforts a success.

The full report is worth a deeper look, pulling together a variety of details on social platform size, significance, and usage patterns. The bottom line is this: the data users choose to share on these sites is hugely reflective of our customer bases, and therefore hugely valuable when impacting our bottom lines. Using this data in ways that spur action across an organization, and that stays focused on impact in the face of vanity metrics, will help us make the most of the time that our users spend online, and that we spend online in service to them.

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Why Major Platforms Are Expanding AR Offerings and What This Means for Your Brand

Even as users continue to delight in dynamic content like video or GIFs, it can sometimes seem like there is a finite number of poses, phrases, and captions. Augmented reality has stepped in to test the boundaries of our imagination, to engaging and hilarious results. Seeing an opportunity, major social media platforms are crafting new ways to take advantage of this highly utilized, potentially prosperous online space.

YouTube: Monetizing AR for Makeup

YouTube, in partnership with MAC Cosmetics, is testing an AR filter that allows users to “try on” select shades of MAC lipstick. As part of makeup tutorials hosted on the site by vlogger Roxette Arisa, users can try on different colors as they follow along with her “Golden Goddess Makeup Tutorial” that uses a number of MAC’s products. At key points, you can test out any of the 24 shades provided. Should one catch your eye (and lips) in a way that persuades you to buy, you can tap “Shop” and be led to a MAC shopping cart…with your shade already included.

From a logistical perspective, this technology isn’t too different from Warby Parker’s wildly successful AR “try-on” tool. But in being housed on YouTube, this technology stands to allow a multitude of brands to affordably and effectively use this method to let prospective buyers “test drive” makeup, eyewear, jewelry, and perhaps even eventually apparel.

Facebook and Instagram: Sparking New Connections with Open AR

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat’s opening of their Lens Studio last year, Facebook and Instagram have opened their Spark AR development program to the wider public. What should result is a massive increase in AR filters available to the public…and the prospect of a new economy for them, perhaps for brands and marketers.

AR filters were first introduced to Instagram in May 2018, but surged in creation and population when more creators joined the program that October. Now, after months of letting invited creators make filters, the program is widely open. Engadget reports that the company has a plan for any resulting virality to be properly credited:

When a creator’s followers see a new filter or effect, they can share it in their Stories. Their followers can do the same thing. That could help filters go viral, and thanks to a small tag on the bottom, the original creator should get full credit.

In many ways, this feels like when Snapchat first allowed for the possibility of geotags. After creators started making them in high volume, organizations and brands seized the opportunity to work with creators and develop event-, brand-, or organization-specific tags. The same could also be true for AR filters. If a company wanted a custom filter for an upcoming promotion, creators are now easy to find and hopefully build a relationship with. And with one billion people reportedly using AR effects created with Spark across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and their Portal device, the possible audience for such custom work could be massive.

As we think about the next frontier of dynamic content designed to captivate and convince our customers, AR is increasingly looking to be a valuable piece of that strategy. Several platforms are building the capacity to help us do that work; we should look to these spaces as our strategy continues to evolve.

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Google Drive’s Newly Developed Font Prizes Fast Reading – Should Your Brand Do the Same?

How long does it take a reader to get through your content?

As content creators, we’ve taken on a number of measures to ensure that this number is as small as possible: estimated read times, thorough synopses, and even multimedia interpretations on a topic. The Google Drive properties—Docs, Sheets, and Slides—have taken a different approach to this challenge…the introduction of a new font.

The new font family, called Lexend, features eight variations on a sans serif font that was designed to optimize readability. Its designer, Thomas Jockin (who also developed the crisp Quicksand font), applied data from a number of studies to create a new, clean typeface that enabled quick comprehension and understanding. As brands and organizations, should our fonts be similarly designed? What would it take to create a font that allows people to simply and accessibly digest our content?

Fonts for Humanity

Lexend is a font that falls under what is called a humanist typeface. Its letters are inspired by geometric shapes, and it is incredibly difficult to mistake one letter for another. This unmistakeability is crucial when selecting a font to align with your brand. Venngage, in their analysis of brand fonts, says a selected typeface “should be easy to read and understand any text styled in your brand fonts…uppercase or lowercase, large or small, numbers or letters.” And while it’s possible that the density of your content is slowing down your reader, it’s also possible that the density of your text could be the culprit. How could your font choice be complicating that problem?

Saying So Long to Serifs

In addition to being a humanistic font, Lexend is a sans serif font; it lacks the decorative “feet” that are customary on fonts such as Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia. While these sorts of fonts are more traditional, and may lend a sense of gravitas to text, they can also be challenging for speed-reading, and are typically more difficult for some with learning disabilities like dyslexia to digest.

Sans serif fonts, in addition to offering a sense of modernity, offer more openness in characters and spacing. It can make your carefully crafted language easier and more accessible to any reader that comes across it. And in an industry that strives to develop clear messaging, the fonts we use should be considered in that process.

Satisfying at Any Size

Dynamic layouts, in contrast to the static nature of formats like PDF, mean that our chosen font may be manipulated by a user in order to be legible. The Lexend family of fonts is an attractive option because irrespective of size it remains legible, clear, and…well, attractive. For those who value both readability and beautiful design, it matters that we choose fonts to honor both metrics of success.

The new font is available now in Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and can be set as your default by selecting “More Fonts” from the font menu. But even if Lexend doesn’t end up being your font of choice, it can prove instructive as you evaluate your brand’s current style guide…and for whom it is a good choice. Evaluate the typeface you’re presently using with the following questions:

Are we currently using a font that similarly translates beautifully at any size?
Does it obstruct understanding or reading speed with serifs?
Does it prize legibility as well as readability?

As Hubspot’s Jesse Mawhinney puts it, “well-crafted typography is focused on function, and that function is to communicate the message.” Evaluating your current style guide, and exploring the possibility of a new one, could prove essential to helping consumers see, hear, and identify with your message through new—and unmistakable—eyes.

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Twitter Testing Reply Subscriptions to Streamline Busy Conversations

As Twitter threads and “tweetstorms” have surged in popularity, users have long lamented the intricate lengths one must take to follow a poster’s tweets. If Twitter’s latest test feature is adopted by the platform, that challenge stands to disappear.

If you see a tweet ending in a notation like “/1,” users will have the option to “subscribe to replies,” ensuring that later additions to the thread won’t go missing. You’ll also be able to see how other users are responding to the poster’s tweets. “While users can already get notifications for all tweets shared by an individual account,” The Verge reported, “users in the test can now choose to get notifications for replies to individual tweets, too.”

For social media managers wanting to monitor tweets calling for user-generated content, this could be an easy way to keep track of submissions. Similarly, if one wanted to track the replies to the similar tweet of a competitor, the feature could be similarly useful here. And for those curious about the reception that a prospective influencer might receive on certain tweets, this could be one of a few methods used to track their reported impact.

Lest you worry that such a move would inundate the subscriber with all replies indiscriminately, TechCrunch reports that responses would be algorithmically sorted, and “top replies will include those from the author, anyone they mentioned, and people you follow.” The move is one of several Twitter is making to allow conversations to be more focused, followable, and fun to be a part of.

This last trait is one that Twitter continues to work to provide, as accusations of hate, harassment, and toxicity continue to barrage Twitter’s support and developer teams. Tests like this and their also-in-testing option to hide replies, are all “focused on making conversations on its platform easier to follow, participate in and, in some cases, block.”

And while measures like this are designed to show that the company is listening to its most aggrieved users, fixes like this do more to isolate conversations of interest than they do crackdown on harmful behavior’s origins. Put another way, The Verge’s Jay Peters notes, “Twitter seems to be focusing on getting users to spend more time on the platform, but still isn’t doing enough to ensure a better experience while they’re there.”

The feature is currently being tested on both iOS and Android, with no official word on when the decision will be made to adopt the feature across all operating versions.

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Brave Browser Wants to “Tip” Strong Tweeters, Redditors, and More

We’re now conditioned to expect recognition online for content people enjoy: likes, favorites, hearts, claps, and the like. But Brave, the privacy-oriented browser from Mozilla’s former CEO, wants to do you one better, and is building out a tipping system for content to achieve it.

The latest release of the browser (available now for Windows, MacOS, and Linux) includes a tipping system for Twitter; the interface has been modified to include a “tip” icon, where users can literally reward tweets that make them laugh, think, or learn. In turn, users who like your tweets can tip you. And the tipping mechanism is coming to three other platforms: Reddit discussion forums, programming site GitHub, and video platform Vimeo. While oft-called “vanity metrics” can sometimes provide a sense of connection, Brave CEO Brendan Eich believes tipping is a stronger and more substantive means “to connect users directly to their favorite creators.”

Brave joins an ecosystem that allows creators to make money from the content they produce. But it is among the smallest means to do so, and could prove attractive to small-scale makers who don’t produce on a level appropriate for Patreon, Facebook, YouTube, or Snapchat’s creator programs. Writes CNET about the development, “It’s all a significant change in the way web publishers have historically financed themselves.” And for a browser that prides itself on honoring privacy and offering shelter from an Internet built to mine fodder for ad revenue, it feels like a thoughtful next step.

Tipping takes place with a cryptocurrency-like unit called a “basic attention token,” or BAT. To tip a tweeter, you can click the “tip” link that will show up in the Brave browser. From there, you can choose to tip 1, 5, or 10 BAT for the content. You also have the option of making the tip a one-time payment, or setting up a monthly contribution. Tips can be converted into regular currency through Brave partner Uphold.

And while a small number of users are taking advantage of this program (about 60,000 as of August 2019), the rate of growth is climbing steadily. And why shouldn’t it? As concerns about content theft and free labor online grow, the prospect of being rewarded, even in small measure, for the things we post online each day is attractive. And particularly for creators who aren’t seeking to build empires with their content, the small thanks that a tip affords goes a long way for rewarding their time and energy.

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Podcasts Have a Spotlight in Google Search – Here’s How to Make Sure Yours Shines

There’s a great deal to love about podcasting: the depth with which they can report on a topic, the exposure they provide for rising creators and talent, and the communities they can build of loyal listeners and devotees. But they can’t do any of this unless people can find them. And after years of struggling with this problem, podcast discovery is about to get easier…with the help of Google.

The search giant announced last week that individual podcast episodes will now be a part of Google Search results, appearing alongside relevant images, news, and videos on a given topic. This means that a standout episode of a show on, say, avocados, could show up when someone searches for avocados—even if the search query doesn’t include the word “podcasts.” Is your show ready for this kind of spotlight? As your discovery looms, we have a few tips for you to ready your podcast for search:

Maximize Your Metadata

Whereas we’re accustomed to being diligent about metadata on webpages and with blog posts, it’s a bit easier to let it fall to the wayside with podcasts. But now that search can help users surface relevant content, creators and producers simply can’t afford to overlook this crucial information. The Bello Collective’s Wil Williams outlines the points that you should be most concerned about as you prepare your podcast for prime time:

Metadata is one of the least exciting parts of making a podcast, but it’s so important both for new listeners and continuing listeners […] There are three issues I usually see with podcasters’ metadata: their episode titles, their podcast’s official title, and their show notes.

By addressing these three points, you can make your episodes more attractive (literally and figuratively) to a search engine. Number your episodes intuitively, so users who go into an episode as a “one-off” can catch up easily, connect your podcast title to a larger topic, and ensure that show notes feature key words to maximize SEO. That last bit is more important now than ever.

Take Time for Transcription

Not long ago, we cited transcripts as a valuable tool for accessibility, newsworthiness, and search engines. That last point has become more essential than ever with the introduction of searchability of these shows:

As SEO continues to move away from “keyword stuffing” as a viable or acceptable practice, it instead looks for natural, frequent occurrences that can show a page’s relevance to a search term. Incidentally, regular speech does this well.

Having transcripts available for your show makes it easier for listeners to understand and truly digest the material, but they’re also essential for spelling out just how relevant an episode or series is to the query at hand. It may add time, effort, and additional cost to the production schedule, but the increased eyes (well, ears) on your work will be worth it.

Delicate Connection to Brand

At times, branded podcasts can be structured in a way that assumes that listeners are familiar with the associated product, service, or company. But now that discovery can come from other places, it’s likely that you’ll attract an audience who isn’t automatically familiar. In these instances, it will be key to lean on the expertise and utility of your brand…but not so much that a lack of knowledge would confuse a listener.

How can you convey your desired message without jargon or “insider knowledge”? How can you demonstrate value without too strong of a branded message? Again, the need to provide valuable content before making a sell was once the goal of our written content; the same also needs to be true of audio content. Doing so thoughtfully can earn you listeners who may have stumbled into the proverbial booth, but like what they hear and choose to stay.

Google is currently in the process of indexing millions of shows and episodes, and the results will determine how shows appear in search. By ensuring that metadata is complete, transcripts highlight your show’s utility, and your brand plays a supporting role in your content, you stand a chance of making it to the top of the heap…and your product or service along with it.

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What Podcast Listeners Can Expect From Apple Podcast’s Latest Changes

Some small but significant changes are happening in Apple’s podcast ecosystem. After years with a fairly static set of sorting categories, new classifications for these shows and series are finally emerging.

Here, we summarize some of the most major changes, the reasoning behind Apple’s update, and who will be impacted in the process.

If it’s just Apple who’s changing their podcast categories, who does that affect?

Yes, Apple Podcasts is only one of countless podcast players and platforms. But it is a significant one in the ecosystem, capturing anywhere at least 54% of the larger listening audience, and driving a major percentage of rankings, ratings, and discovery.

This means that anyone using the platform regularly searching for a broad category of podcasts, will be at a loss until this section of the app is fully updated.

What will these changes to podcast classifications include?

There are a number of changes on the docket, mostly rearrangement or de-coupling of existing subcategories. PodNews has aggregated the full list of changes, for those concerned with where their podcast may fall. Some of the biggest updates to the classification system include:

  • The addition of Fiction as a header category
  • The addition of True Crime (a hugely popular genre) as a header category
  • Medical podcasts have been moved out of “Science and Medicine,” and into “Health and Fitness”
  • Sports podcasts are no longer classified by level of play (Amateur/Professional/High School + College), and are now broken down by individual sport (fifteen new categories, plus Fantasy)

So the categories are inaccessible for the time being. Why does that matter?

It’s true that for most listeners, firmly entrenched in their existing podcast selections, an inability to reliably search by category may not make a huge difference. But a categorization system in flux means that chart placement and ratings are unavailable…and that affects creators. As Nick Quah pointed out in HotPod’s newsletter, a great deal of podcast advertising acquisition is based on popularity, at times measured by chart placement within a category.

So long as there’s no chart, there’s no placement…which means other metrics will be needed to determine the promise (or peril, as the case may be) of a prospective advertiser-podcaster partnership.

What should podcast listeners in search of new shows do in the meantime?

Although Apple Podcasts is the most dominant player in most markets, some formidable challenges are emerging to contest that dominance. Overcast recently unveiled an algorithmically powered recommendations engine, allowing you to find new shows based on the ones you currently enjoy. Swoot has added a social element to the often-solitary pursuit of podcast listening, making it easy to see what your friends are listening to and loving.

And Spotify’s considerable push into podcasting means that its discovery engine that’s worked so well for music, can also be applied to your new favorite shows. Apple’s return to fully functional search is on its way, but this outage could also afford you an opportunity to expand your listener horizons.

Listen to the latest episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast below:

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4 Tips to Boost Your IGTV Strategy

When Instagram TV (IGTV) made its debut in June 2018, its slow start was the stuff of worry for some, and fodder for ridicule to others. But its viewership is picking up steam, and its potential to capture the attention of viewers cannot be ignored. Since Instagram started placing short clips of recommended IGTV broadcasts in its main feed, the feature’s usage has gone up—by at least 300% and by some measures, by nearly 1000%.

Given the feature’s change of fortune, you might want to reconsider earlier skepticism about your presence on IGTV. Here, we’ve got a few tips that’ll help you craft a winning strategy in this newly desirable space.

Honor Your Existing Following

Given Instagram’s blockbuster popularity, you likely already have a following of sorts on your current profile. Crowdfire notes that “if you already have a great following on Instagram,” the existence of this potentially powerful tool for the platform means “you don’t have to start from scratch building your audience.” To the contrary, you can mine the data that this following frequently provides you for content on IGTV.

For example, do you get frequent questions about how something works or why certain features exist as they do? A mid-length IGTV video could answer these questions with the tour of a facility or introductions to staff that work in a given area of the company. Have influencers who followers might want to get to know better? Use the platform to let users ask questions and get answers. Mine comments and interactions – for better or for worse – to map out a strategy for content development.

Thoughtfully Share Previews

Along with the addition of algorithmically generated IGTV previews to the feed, came the ability for IGTV publishers to share a clip on their main feed. You can crop up to a minute of your content and share it with prospective viewers. How will you use that time to tease something they’ll tune in to continue watching?

The first minute of any IGTV should be compelling enough that viewers want to hang in for more. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your preview should be the first sixty seconds. Are there other surprising snippets that surfaced over the course of the video? How about something hilarious? Don’t be afraid to dive deeper into the meat of the content, surfacing something that could pique interest- and then implore followers to find the rest on your channel.

Edit for Explore

A major drawback for IGTV is the inability to search by topic. In many ways, prospective viewers have to know who or what they’re looking for when they seek out video content. However, additional exposure is possible now that IGTV broadcasts can be discovered in Explore.

To heighten your chance of being featured in this increasingly trafficked corner of the app, consider aligning the content you create to Explore’s content tags: crafting content that can highlight food, travel, fitness, beauty, home, or its other categories could heighten your discoverability. Even if your product or service doesn’t naturally converge with these categories, there are likely ways to pull in influencers, share stories, or highlight interesting use cases that could make your video a welcome addition to these spaces. Combine your approach with common hashtags in these spaces, and you’ll stand to bring in new viewers as a result.

Allow for Accessibility

An evergreen challenge with video via mobile app is the ability to be viewed and understood without sound. Captioning is a common solution to this challenge, but it’s far from an intuitive process on Instagram. Using tools like Clipomatic (for iOS and Android) or Clips (for iOS) doesn’t only provided needed context for viewers watching without sound, it makes your video easier to follow. This ease of consumption likely explains the statistic that 80% of viewers will persist in watching a video when they see it’s been captioned.

However, accessibility is about more than ensuring that videos are captioned. Consider additional factors like color combinations, and detailed captions that can serve as image descriptions when teasing the final product on your main feed. Taking these additional steps can ensure that when viewers take the jump from their feed to IGTV, they can do so with confidence they’ll understand what they see…and greater trust in you, as a result.

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PODCAST: How Do We Sound? How Audio is Changing the Ways We Engage with The New York Times

This week’s episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast was recorded live during our Social Media Week New York event and features The New York Times’s biggest voices in audio including Michael Barbaro, host of “The Daily,” and Wesley Morris, co-host of “Still Processing,” and Sebastian Tomich, The New York Times global head of advertising and innovation.

During the conversation, they share insights into podcasting and how audio is changing the way we engage with content and storytelling.

Watch the full session on SMW Insider.

Listen to the full episode below:

Subscribe to Leads2Scale on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Spotify, Castbox, Overcast, or Stitcher.

If you have suggestions for who we should interview or what topics you would like us to cover, please reach out to us at leads2scale@socialmediaweek.org.

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How Pinterest’s Newest Shopping Features Will Bring You Closer to Your Favorite Brands

This week, Pinterest introduced two new shopping features continuing its pursuit to be the leading online shopping network: browsable catalogs alongside Pins, and personalized shopping ideas in its feed.

As a quick recap, in March the platform unveiled Catalogs whereby retailers could upload entire catalogs into shoppable pins. In 2018, Pinterest overhauled buyable pins and replaced them with product pins, delivering new features such as indicating whether or not a product was in stock.

Here’s a look at the newest updates:

When Pinners scroll under a Product Pin and click “More from the brand,” they’ll be directed to a shopping section containing related items from that given brand. An initial click or tap will trigger the display of the latest products and info, and an additional click will direct the user to the retailer’s website to complete their purchase.

As for the platform’s homepage, while Pinterest users are shopping, personalized shopping ideas will appear atop their feeds in the form of a “picked for you” icon. By tapping on the icon, they’ll be directed to a package of products curated based on their interests, prior searches, and brands they’ve previously interacted with on the platform.

This is a huge win for retailers offering another critical opportunity to reach Pinterest users while they’re shopping on the platform. It’s also a bonus for digital shoppers craving that ‘just for me’ experience.

In addition to the updated shopping tools, Pinterest’s announcement also shared results of a study conducted in partnership with Neustar, which looked at digital channel performance for paid search, paid social and display ads for five retail brands in the U.S., tracked to their online and in-store sales. Key findings included:

  • 75% of sales that came from Pinterest took place more than one week after people saw ads on its platform.
  • Despite the studying finding that Pinterest made up only 11% of total media spend among the five retail brands, it generated 18% of their incremental sales and revenue, making it the platform 2.3x more efficient than other social platforms, 1.5x more efficient than paid search and 1.1x times more efficient than display.

Stats aside, this study can be summarized by two core takeaways: Pinterest is highly efficient in the digital space and it is successful in influencing purchasing decisions early.

“Because people use Pinterest so early in their shopping journey, marketers need to adjust their attribution windows to give people time to make a purchase, before declaring a return on ad spend,” underscored Pinterest’s Gunnard Johnson, Head of Measurement Science and Insights on the company’s Business Blog.

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Tesla Teases an “Immersive, Cinematic” Streaming Experience for Netflix, YouTube

We’ve all been plagued by a long wait in a car, be it waiting in a pickup line for our kids or for a friend to complete an errand. We’re accustomed to passing that time on our phones or with a book. But before too long, Tesla’s Elon Musk says we’ll be able to catch up on our shows and stream…from the driver’s seat.

In a pair of tweets late last week, Musk let slip that newer Tesla models could come with the ability to stream from Netflix and YouTube to the screen in the center console, a screen that already allows for the playing of games to fill the aforementioned wait time- Fallout Shelter, chess, and a few classic Atari games included. To answer your next question: these features can only be accessed while the car is in park, allowing the steering wheel to be used as a controller. Viewing while in motion, Musk says, will only be available once self-driving cars are approved by regulators.

Even the prospect of being able to use the center console screen to watch TV while stopped may be attractive for some consumers, though Engadget concedes that the feature alone likely won’t be enough to turn previously uninterested consumers toward Tesla. Further, I wonder if there will be ways to enable audio for streaming videos that don’t require video to be enjoyed, e.g. comedy specials or long music compilations. But in any case, the timeline on Musk’s latest announced feature is unclear, so it’s hard to know when we’ll need to start worrying about its details.

And there are a number of details to include in those worries, even once self-driving cars are introduced. An “immersive, cinematic feel” like Musk is proposing could be attractive to passengers of these vehicles, but even in testing a driver is required in case of emergency or malfunction. Should that person be distracted, it could spell disaster—as was the case for a 2017 test journey, in which the test driver was distracted…by Hulu. Ideally, by the time this feature rolls out, Musk and Tesla will have addressed these challenges, paving the way for drivers to watch safely from the comfort of their driver’s seat.

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Tesla Teases an “Immersive, Cinematic” Streaming Experience for Netflix, YouTube

We’ve all been plagued by a long wait in a car, be it waiting in a pickup line for our kids or for a friend to complete an errand. We’re accustomed to passing that time on our phones or with a book. But before too long, Tesla’s Elon Musk says we’ll be able to catch up on our shows and stream…from the driver’s seat.

In a pair of tweets late last week, Musk let slip that newer Tesla models could come with the ability to stream from Netflix and YouTube to the screen in the center console, a screen that already allows for the playing of games to fill the aforementioned wait time- Fallout Shelter, chess, and a few classic Atari games included. To answer your next question: these features can only be accessed while the car is in park, allowing the steering wheel to be used as a controller. Viewing while in motion, Musk says, will only be available once self-driving cars are approved by regulators.

Even the prospect of being able to use the center console screen to watch TV while stopped may be attractive for some consumers, though Engadget concedes that the feature alone likely won’t be enough to turn previously uninterested consumers toward Tesla. Further, I wonder if there will be ways to enable audio for streaming videos that don’t require video to be enjoyed, e.g. comedy specials or long music compilations. But in any case, the timeline on Musk’s latest announced feature is unclear, so it’s hard to know when we’ll need to start worrying about its details.

And there are a number of details to include in those worries, even once self-driving cars are introduced. An “immersive, cinematic feel” like Musk is proposing could be attractive to passengers of these vehicles, but even in testing a driver is required in case of emergency or malfunction. Should that person be distracted, it could spell disaster—as was the case for a 2017 test journey, in which the test driver was distracted…by Hulu. Ideally, by the time this feature rolls out, Musk and Tesla will have addressed these challenges, paving the way for drivers to watch safely from the comfort of their driver’s seat.

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