Dancing hot dogs take over the internet, the FTC cracks down on sponsored posts (sort of) and JetBlue takes it to the kids, this month on the trend report. (Plus, psssst. Snapchat knows where you are. And they’re telling your friends!)
If sponsored content fell in a forest, would anyone recognize it?
They may be fighting a losing battle in this climate of rampant user-generated content, but, by hash or by tag, the FTC wants to save us all from inconspicuous advertising. The problem is, it’s getting increasingly difficult to recognize sponsored content from a good-natured (but non-compensated) shout-out. The commission recently sent letters to a swath of celebrities and other influencers who they felt had violated their guidelines, but a great many of the posters hadn’t been compensated in any way. Still, out of those who had been, hardly any (adequately) disclosed the sponsorship. The FTC doesn’t seem to mind that the letter campaign snared some innocents. They just want to get the word out. And that word is #ad. There’s no fine for the first violation, but subsequent infractions can set you back $16,000 per violation per day.
Why do we care?
Influencer campaigns can make a big difference for smaller brands who don’t have the budget for conventional campaigns, but the intricacies of sponsored content can be tricky to navigate. Luckily, the FTC has done a great job of laying out their guidelines in a clear and concise FAQ page. Brands and agencies should both tread lightly. The pitfalls can claim more than just paid influencers. Even the fairly standard practice of agency employees touting work they’ve done for clients through their personal accounts can attract the FTC’s scrutiny. So, the next time you ‘gram out some great product photos you did for a client, remember: It’s better to #disclose than to #paythroughthenose.
Dance hot dog, dance!
Let’s say that one day, you’re walking along, documenting your life on social media, Pinning cool things you might want to buy, feeling generally all right about things. And then something comes along and fills a void you didn’t even know existed. And that thing ... is a dancing hot dog. And suddenly the world opens up with possibilities. Amid a slew of more functional updates, Snapchat quietly released a new AR filter for the front-facing camera function in the app. The animated hot dog character may boast a limited repertoire of moves, but its relentless bonhomie is infectious. And you can attach it to anything in your video, letting it get swept away by an oncoming train or snatched up by a condor (if, you know, you happen to have footage of a condor). The little guy went from curiosity to meme in about .5 seconds, and now really the only way to view the world is as a giant canvas upon which to affix your next dancing hot dog.
Why do we care?
While the dancing hot dog may be a funny gimmick (that somehow brings joy and fascination), it signifies a shot across the bow for the other social platforms who are all hustling to break into the sure-to-be-lucrative AR game. Snapchat has already had success selling branded filters, and the possibilities for branded AR along the lines of the hot dog have advertisers salivating. What’s more, Facebook plans to make its AR platform available to everyone through its developer platform. So soon, not only can everyone have a dancing hot dog, they can make their own.
Social media is everywhere and all in one place at the same time.
If you thought Wikipedia wormholes were bad, wait till you meet the Conversation Prism 5.0. It presents every company, app or platform that in some way leverages social networking in a handy infographic. Designer Brian Solis worked with agency JESS3 to craft the comprehensive project. The original Conversation Prism emerged in 2008, but the 2017 version expands to include new categories and verticals, including crowdfunding and travel, as well as tons of new companies. If you’ve ever wondered how to classify your myfitnesspal account, the Prism will tell you (it falls under “Quantified Self,” btw). The Prism knows all. The real question is, do you think anyone has a profile on each of the over 250 networks it features and can they set up their Hootsuite dashboard to manage them all? And if you did have that many profiles, would you ever end up networking with yourself without knowing it?
Why do we care?
Social media doesn’t just mean Facebook and Twitter anymore. And as the truism goes, “Show, don’t tell.” This infographic makes clear that we live in an interactive, hyperconnected, peer-to-peer world. Social is a factor in almost every sector of the economy. In the same way that “digital” increasingly means “mobile,” social more and more plays out as part of an omnichannel digital experience. Social strategy no longer amounts to doling out a few Tweets and ‘grams a month. There’s a great, big, digital, social networking world out there. And that’s a world brands don’t want to be left out of. Because, after all, digital outer space is a cold, dangerous place.
Facebook turns virtual reality into virtual reality TV!
If you’ve ever been on a date and thought, If only I could be thousands of miles away from this person and wearing huge goggles, Facebook and Conde Nast are here to help. Arguably, if your date is wearing goggles, you probably want to be as far away from them as possible. Especially if it’s this guy. But awkward encounters with strangers who aren’t really there isn’t Facebook’s only foray into the world of original programming. As more platforms try to catch up to Snapchat and its slate of custom content, Facebook is looking to make a bold move into the programming arena with anchor content. Rather than the short-form shows tailored to Snapchat’s stories feature, Facebook is looking to go long, with hour-long dramas along the lines of Scandal or House of Cards. The only question is, if they build it, will the audience come. Facebook is betting on quality being a big draw. That and the fact that everybody’s already there anyway.
Why do we care?
Mid-roll, mid-roll, mid-roll! What’s that? Mid-roll, mid-roll, mid-roll! Let me hear ya! With the impending onslaught of original programming comes the mid-roll ad revolution that brands and social platforms have been waiting for. And with YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and more all getting into the original content game, there should be a smorgasbord of opportunity. Whether it will be enough to unseat the subscription-based model is yet to be seen. While Facebook may be serving up programming that resembles network TV, it’s important for brands to remember that this is still a digital, social audience, and conventional approaches may fall flat.
WHAT’S NEW IN PLATFORM UPDATES?
FACEBOOK HATES FEED SPAM AS MUCH AS YOU DO
Think about every time you scroll through Facebook and come across that “friend” who constantly shares obvious fake-news stories. Finally, Facebook has started cracking down on feed spammers by deprioritizing the links they share more frequently than regular sharers. This update was centered around users who are sharing 50 or more public posts a day, using the power of its algorithm to weed out the spammers. On top of this update, users can no longer change the headlines and description content of a post, which will ultimately help combat those fake news writers. This all sounds like good news, just as long as the update doesn’t apply to kitten photos. Don’t suppress my kitten photos, Facebook!
SNAPMAP IS THE NEW LOCATIONS SERVICES
Ever get FOMO and want to know what your friends are doing and where but are too afraid ask them directly? Snapchat has you covered. The camera app implemented a new feature, Snap Map, which allows users to get a sneak peak into the lives of others. You can watch stories from users across the globe. Snapchat does filter the content, while allowing people from a specific event, in a specific location to see each other’s stories. So when the Winter Olympics begin in 2018, viewers from around the world can tune in on their phones to watch the action take place. Not everyone is thrilled about the feature, though. The Verge points out that it’s not just when you post stories that the map logs your location. It’s every time you open the app. Luckily, this information is only available to people on your friends list. So, pro tip: don’t friend any of your stalkers on Snapchat. Or if you do, I guess, turn the map off?
ALTER YOUR VOICE & SHARE LINKS ALL WHILE CHANGING YOUR BACKGROUND
A new update is in town and it involves changing your Snapchat story entirely. You can now add links to websites within your story, mimic the voices of aliens, cats or robots, and add a completely different background to your snap. The links within the story will also have Google Safe Browsing integrated so that users won’t see something they don’t want to. These updates expand on what Snapchat loves the most — creating an augmented reality for users to share with friends. So next time you open the app, be sure to talk about this blog post in a robot voice, add the link for swipe up easability, and make your background Springbox Blue. (shameless plug)
GOT AN EMBARRASSING SELFIE? ARCHIVE IT!
With the release of Instagram in 2010, users joined and immediately started sharing their photos. However, many of us can relate to those embarrassing photos we thought were really cool or trendy, but which, we’ve now come to realize, are going to look really interesting to HR departments when we go out looking for work. Luckily, Instagram has come to the rescue with a feature that will allow you to archive individual photos. Once you press archive on the photo, the image won’t appear on your profile anymore; and if for some reason you want to re-add the photo, you can do so under the archive tab. Now you can show even less restraint when snapping ‘grams. No need to self-censor. Just archive. Happy Instagramming!
WHO’S DOING COOL STUFF?
Advertisers have long recognized children as an important target demographic, but rarely do they think of them as the ones with the purchasing power, let alone as the primary household decision makers. Enter JetBlue. For the airline’s Little Tickets spot, MullenLowe built a tot-size travel agency, with cotton clouds and pneumatic tubes. When the kids enter, actor John Murray sits down with them to plan a family vacation. But the airline takes the cute premise one step further and actually lets the kids pay for the trip, even letting them name their price. The idea behind the spot is that “no one knows how hard parents work more than their kids,” so why not empower those kids to do something nice for the family. While the overwhelming cuteness of the ad could certainly carry it, the whole endeavor drives home JetBlue’s value prop as a service-oriented organization that pays attention to all of its passengers, even the ones with the littlest voices.
No matter how you may feel about their sliced meat and melted cheese sandwiches, you have to admit that the Arby’s community management game is on fleek (are people still saying on fleek?). Over the past several years, the brand has established itself as one of the cooler brand voices on Twitter, but this time they’ve taken things to the next level. It all started when punk rocker and ad man Brendan Kelly launched a Twitter account named Nihilist Arby’s. Under the anonymous avatar of an Arby’s roast beef sandwich, Kelly detailed angst-ridden musings, each punctuated with a suggested Arby’s product, because when nothing matters, why not eat Arby’s. When the Arby’s corporate team discovered that Kelly was the one behind the account, they played along. Concerned about his depressive outlook, they figured maybe he needed a pick-me-up. So, they flew to Chicago, to the agency where he worked, and not only delivered a bag of Arby’s sandwiches (natch) but brought him a puppy! A real puppy! It’s truly the stuff of dreams, or at least of very good marketing, and we can only hope that the Nihilist Arby’s sandwich and the puppy will get their own animated series like Strindberg and Helium.
Sometimes a brand does something so demonstrably good, it’s hard to believe that it qualifies as marketing. For Pedigree’s new “Feed the good” campaign, Almap BBDO in Brazil made a short, documentary-style spot called “First Days Out” that featured two recently released inmates. Reentry into society is notoriously difficult for ex-cons, and the disorientation and depression that come with it can often start them down the road to recidivism. But in the case of two releasees, known in the film as Joey and Matt, Pedigree arranged for a very special kind of lifeline — they helped the men adopt rescue dogs. The film traces the journey from the initial anxiety that comes with life on the outside to the day they met their rescue dogs and the positive effects of the new relationship. In Joey’s case, his experience in the prison’s dog training program led to the shelter asking him to train other dogs that were waiting for adoption. For Matt, the responsibility and care he showed for his rescue, Jeanie, led to a much-longed-for reconciliation with his father. You don’t often think about a dog food brand effecting real significant change in people’s lives, but in the case of “First Days Out,” that’s exactly what they’ve done.