I’m a sucker for cultural sub-pockets on social media, First there was the Secret Life of Tumblr Teens, and now we follow the coolest girls on Facebook. ‘Girls Night in’, a name that is ever changing for the purpose of keeping its secrecy, is a secret Facebook group/online sorority that consists of 1,500 women based in L.A .Getting an invite to the group isn’t easy, but if you do its like having friendship on demand — if one person isn’t around to give you a virtual hug, someone else is.The group is there for advice and an ego-boost. Any question, photo, or anecdote gets an overwhelming response. Additionally, the group itself is a filter bubble, members rely on the group’s hive mind to make any and all decisions.
The author sums it up nicely:
I realized that ‘Girls Night In’ is just the natural end result of constant connectivity. This is what happens when you are surrounded by people who are always up to hear about your day and offer support. The desire for that constant, supportive communication is why services like fake girlfriends exist and why millions of people in China regularly talk to Microsoft’s digital assistant Xiaoice. ‘Girls Night In’ offers the same appeal, except from real life humans who you don’t have to pay.
Why it’s hot
- Research says Facebook is the uncool social network your parents are on, but it could just be that users are erasing their footprints with these closed groups (think weird Facebook).
- In a way, users have found ways to retrograde Facebook to when it was less focused on brands/ads and more on relationships.
- This group, I think, is an interesting reaction to impatience in real life friendships friendships (missed calls, cancelled plans, delayed texts). The group’s connectivity always fulfills the desire to connect.
While the concept of emotions being the strongest of forces behind sharing and behaviors on social media isn’t a new concept. But now, research was conducted to show how neural activity can explain why some articles are more viral than others by examining 3 areas of the brain: self-processing areas, social processing areas, and valuation areas.
In the study, a group was asked to read the headlines and abstracts of 80 New York Times Health articles, and consider whether they might share it on social media. Simultaneously, researchers monitored brain activity, which resulted in that the more active certain brain areas were in the study, the more shared an article was.
Ultimately, self-processing areas experienced increased blood flow when you think about yourself, or think about sharing an article that will make you look good. Social processing becomes more active when you think about the social aspects of sharing. Value areas assign values to content. So, any time you encounter content, your brain is already calculating the value of sharing or not sharing it, unconsciously determining its virality.
Why its hot?
- As marketers, we aim to increase exposure and reach for all the content we push out there. How will neuroimagery shape what content looks like?
Full research here: PNAS
Summary here: PopSci
Buzzfeed wants to challenge your social media bubble. We’re all fully aware of the major controversy that followed the elections regarding fake news. Since then, its probed questions from media outlets and social media platforms on their plans to police fake news, and expand perspectives.
While many have reacted, this one stood out to me specifically. Buzzfeed–one of the most widely shared editorial sources out there–is close to launching the “Outside Your Bubble” Feature. The way the tool would work is as a feature accessed by the reader at the bottom of an article, where a staffter will have curated different opinions from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and blogs with the help of data tools. This way, willingly or not, every Buzzfeed reader will be introduced to an opinion that is unlike their own.
Why its hot:
- I think it’s an interesting attempt to regulate the bubble–something like this can go either way. A feature like this will expose every Buzzfeed reader, willingly or not, to an opinion that is unlike their own, which could help remove an element of bias that social media tends to layer on posts. However, at the end of the day, these outside opinions are still in the hands of a bot, or an algorithm, which is what caused the bubble in the first place.
BuzzFeed Is Exposing Readers to Opposing Viewpoints With ‘Outside Your Bubble’ Initiative
Snapchat has announced a new content partnership with A+E Networks, continuing efforts to reinforce its unique selling proposition: not just a place for ephemeral pictures, but as a lever in how media is consumed these days. And the lever in this scenario is how people watch TV.
With this partnership, the platform will be releasing its second TV show, a drama series called “Second Chance”: a breakup story that its gen-z audience will likely devour. The series will run for 8 weeks, releasing 1 episode per week, available across the US, UK, and Australia.
Why it’s hot
- It’ll be interesting to see the effect (if any) that this long-form content will have on audience behaviors in the platform
- This could be a significant revenue stream for Snap, whom saw a nasty drop with Instagram Stories
- WWFD? (What will Facebook do?) Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter want to do more in the premium content game, which should raise competition, and potentially add more pressure on audience consumption behaviors
To prep for the release of John Wick: 2 (a movie so bad, it’s good), Lionsgate rolled out a chat bot to grant fans access into the secret life of assassins, tying in with the movies thematic. The interactive experience involves a SMS based chatbot that uses AI and image recognition tech to let fans chat with a “master assassin”, who ropes you into stopping John Wick thru a series of texts that is akin to a “choose your own adventure” story. The story eventually fills you in on a new assassination plot, involving key characters from the film and culminates as an entrance into a sweepstakes for a trip to Rome.
As far as film marketing goes, I think this is an interesting evolution of the Ex-Machina Tinder stunt from last year.
Why its hot?
- While chat bots continue to make headlines this year, this is different from what I’ve seen. Brands usually take a customer service route for bots.
- The implications this can have for brand storytelling, and creating a more immersive experience. Here, they were able to replicate the “undercover agent” type of experience.
- At the simplest level, it hones in on the insight that most of the population uses mobile for messaging above other things. There’s no need for an external app or download, it’s seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day.
At its launch, Alexa was designed to work with 135 skills. In 2017, its skills has increased to almost 7,000. Alexa can now do anything from order you a pizza, read your kids a bedtime story, and turn your lights on and off. Alexa is always listening, aptly responding to whatever you need, and what started as an experimental device is slowly becoming a household fixture.
As consumers, we’re aware of the devices tracking us. But for most, it’s hard to wrap your head around the foretold dangers of beings surveilled, because most don ‘t feel direct implications. And while privacy remains a hot topic in tech, Alexa promises that anything shared on their servers is 100% safe and undiscoverable to outsiders.
The interesting reality is: I basically give Amazon all of money. I even admit to using Amazon Now when I need toilet paper on a Saturday when I can easily walk to the corner store and pick it up myself. Amazon is the go-to for all my needs as a consumer, and in turn, Amazon knows a lot about me.
“While Google is working to anticipate your needs, Amazon is readying itself to be the only place you need to go to fulfill them.”
Why it’s hot?
- The Everything Store: It’s easy to buy into the Amazon universe. It’ll be interesting to see how their business grows in tech as this device becomes more of a household fixture.
- Privacy: People are aware of surveillance, but convenience will likely bypass any privacy concerns.
- Environmental and Cultural implications: Amazon Now, Amazon Prime – both feed the culture of instant gratification that brands and media continue to cultivate. What are the implications of devices like Alexa on consumption and willpower for society?