Instagram Stories could halt Snapchat’s growing success

Instagram Stories could halt Snapchat’s growing success

This article first appeared on AdNews.

Instagram’s new Stories feature, which is largely a copycat of Snapchat, has already seen multiple brands get on board in the 48 hours since its launch.

It’s hardly a surprise given Instagram still dominates Snapchat in monthly active users, which begs the question – will Instagram’s new feature halt the social media darling’s breakneck rise to the top?

Instagram recently announced it hit 300 million daily active users. By comparison, Snapchat revealed in February that it has more than 100 million daily users, who spend on average 25 to 30 minutes on the app each day.

While it is the social darling of the moment, Snapchat only just got on the ground here in Australia, naming former News Corp sales director Kathryn Carter as its general manager in April.

It’s in high demand with clients and agencies tripping over themselves to get onto the platform. According to sources, there is a four week wait to even get a meeting in the diary at Snapchat. It is also still experimenting with various ad units, which puts Instagram in a better position to appeal to brands having launched ads in Australia a year ago.

So while Snapchat is in demand, Instagram’s more established relationships with commercial partners could help it make gains, Snapchat’s remains somewhat unproven.

Nike, Sony, Airbnb, L’Oreal, Maybelline and Covergirl are just a few of the businesses that have jumped on Instagram Stories. Previously these brands have also used the Snapchat Stories feature, but the swift move to use Instagram Stories could be because the photo-sharing platform has larger audience, and is easily accessible and already familiar to marketers.

For example, Nike told Adage it generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Stories. It posted on the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike’s best video got 66,000 views, according to Nike’s social media agency Laundry Service.

Nike used its Michael Jordan brand Jumpman23 Instagram account to unveil a new Michigan football jersey. It has also posted a story on its Nikesportswear Instagram, showcasing the latest sneakers available.

L’Oréal used Instagram Stories to take its fans on a tour of its new offices and teased some new products set to hit the shelves in September. Covergirl spruiked its collaboration with Katy Perry and directed its fans to a microsite to purchase the “Katy Kat” range of lipsticks.

Brands seem to be applying what they have learnt from Snapchat to Instagram. Nike has previously used Snapchat too, but the platform is not currently as brand-friendly as Instagram. The more familiarity with Instagram could lead to the shift to use the Story feature within its platform rather than learning how to work the new interface of Snapchat.

It’s harder to follow brands on Snapchat as users need to know their exact user names to find them. Instagram makes searching easier and its lets brands buy ads that directly link to their account. It makes building an audience easier.

Instagram’s new feature also allows users to stay in its ecosystem, rather than jumping between it and Snapchat. Creating a sustainable ecosystem, that keeps users within its platform, is something Facebook has been doing for years. It bought Instagram in 2013 and has been following the same model.

Media publishers are also testing out Instagram Stories. Buzzfeed, Kiis1065 and Triple J have all dipped a toe in.

Instagram’s new feature has also captured the attention of alcohol brands, which have previously been held back from Snapchat due to age targeting issues. Instagram allows brands to restrict viewing to people older than 18, while on Snapchat a brand must pay for ads to target to people of a certain age.

People have been quick to announce Instagram Stories as a Snapchat killer. That’s unlikely for now but it does put more pressure on Snapchat’s pleding commercial model. It’s going to have to move a lot faster to continue to keep commercial dollars from pooling into Instagram.

Brands listen up, this is how you win with millennials

This article was first published on AdNews.

I read the word millennial about 20 times a day, with nearly every brand making it their sole mission to reach the coveted market. So pay attention, because this is how you do it.

Oklahoma-based fast food chain, Sonic Drive-In, has designed square shakes for Instagram to be sold at Coachella. For one day festival-goers will be able to order a Sonic Creamery milkshake through the photo platform. Using geotargeted technology, deliverers will then be able to find the people who order at the festival and deliver the shakes directly to them.

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In a genius move, the brand allows users to “pay” simply by posting a picture to their Instagram accounts.

The campaign, by Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), seamlessly channels the #foodporn trend that has seen indulgent milkshakes take over the platform in recent months, also tapping into Instagram user’s love of food-focused posts. And it’s chosen arguably the coolest festival in the world to do so.

Seen milkshakes like this all over your Instagram? #foodporn is why.
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With millennials catching on to the power of their dollar and advertisers finding it harder to reach a generation that rejects the concept of advertising, this campaign cuts through by offering consumers something for almost nothing; a free milkshake for an Instagram post they’ll be dying to do anyway because the content is perfect for the platform.Sonic and GS&P have put consumer needs first, creating a product that is both aesthetically cool and shareable, which is what millennials have been asking for all along.
It’s an extension of pop culture that is already happening so it doesn’t feel disruptive to users and it goes further then just slapping an emoji on a product to appeal to the ‘hip’ people.

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Anyone whose been to Coachella (or seen the pictures) knows it’s where hipsters break bread with flower children and celebrities flock to socialise with everyday commoners. And nearly everyone there is under 30.

Meeting millennials in their natural habitat is smart, and there is no doubt Sonic’s square milkshakes will be plastered across so many people’s social feeds they’ll be reaping the benefits for many months to come.

So if brands are looking to make your mark with millennials; this is one way to do it. But don’t just rip of this idea, think of your own and think of your audience.

The rise and rise of emojis

The rise and rise of emojis

This article was first published on AdNews.

Last year was the year of the emoji, and it doesn’t look like 2016 is going to be any different.

We saw emojis replace words, and whole conversations being had with a few faces, and choice hand symbols. We saw Kim Kardashian release Kimoji which broke the Internet the Apple store rising straight to number one, and the ‘tears of joy’ emoji named word of the year despite technically not being a word.

Brands jumped on the emoticon bandwagon too. Ikea launched emoticons to ‘promote live and understanding at home’, Virgin Active released various squatting, running and jumping fitness emoji’s and Dove gave curly haired girls everywhere emojis they can relate to. Twitter was the primary platform for two emoji campaigns, The World Wildlife Fund using #EndangeredEmojis tweets to raise money and bring awareness, and Domino’s encouraging fans to tweet orders with a pizza emoji. Durex even began a condom emoji campaign for World Aids Day with a series of symbols representing safe sex and condom usage.

A big campaign was from Burger King who enlisted the help of new company Snaps, a platform for connecting advertisers with consumers across messaging applications and devices that specialises in branded emojis. Snaps also developed the Dove branded emojis. The company worked with 20 brands within the first three months of launching, an indication of the interest from advertising in branded visual languages.

Yahoo-owned analytics company Flurry reports mobile app usage rose by 57% in 2015, with personalised apps witnessing the biggest growth of 344%.

The study examined usage from 2014-2015 by recording sessions across various app categories, usage was logged each time a user opened an app.

According to Flurry, the majority of mobile phone usage growth is from Emoji apps because they give consumers the ability to customise conversations via messaging services and social media.

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Late last year Apple released its latest software update, which finally gave users the highly anticipated racially diverse emoji’s – and a taco emoji, because who doesn’t love a taco?

Apples update was followed by a range of pop culture emoji keyboard apps, including Seinfeld, SNL, SMS Rage Faces and Hipmoji. There was even a sexting start-up app that released a slew of vagina emojis called Flirtmoji. And don’t worry fellas, apparently there are still penis emojis to come.

Done well, emoji’s are the perfect medium to reach the coveted millennial market, and the aloof Generation Z to whom words seem to be overrated.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and with emojis being the next step in communication, brands are harnessing the power and putting mobile first in the digital world.

So not only can you converse using emojis, you can sext, brag about your workout, raise money for your organisation, or announce your baby’s birth Kimmy K style.

The possibilities are endless.

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Dreams and Aspirations… The Short Version Please

Recently I was asked to write about my dreams and aspirations. You know, those things that you secretly write down in the back of an old notepad and hide like an untold secret? My teacher instructed the class to pick one part of your life; career, personal, travel etc. and write six paragraphs on the subject.

I sat there for a few minutes considering which part of my life to write about. I want to travel, but should I establish a career before travelling? I want a career but what will that mean for my relationship and chances of raising my children myself and not via a nanny?

When you’re younger you will tell anyone in ear shot what you want to be when you grow up; you’re big ideas embellished by childhood innocence and your favourite TV show, free from the reality of ATARS and university fees.

At 5 I wanted to own 101 Dalmatians, at 7 I was sure I was going to be a vet, at 9 I wanted to be an Olympic horse rider then an English teacher, then a graphic designer… It’s a lot easier to list your dreams and aspirations until one morning you wake up and those ‘dreams’ are no longer a fictional idea, they are goals that somewhere along the line you unknowingly started working towards.

“So what do you want to do once you finish uni?”

“What job will you do?

“Have you got a job yet?”

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked those questions. I have gotten quite good at pouring out a pre-prepared response, but recently have been tempted to say…

“I DON’T KNOW OKAY. DID YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE AT 20?”

But I realise that may be a tad aggressive to say to my 80 year old Nanna.

So what do I want to do? I love to write. I see myself writing. But apparently that is not an acceptable answer. People need specifics. At about 16 I fell in love with Sex and the City and Mia Freedman’s book Mama Mia. I aspired to Carrie Bradshaw’s writer lifestyle and Mia Freedman’s role within magazines such as Cleo and Cosmo. I imagined myself perching on my windowsill writing about my latest trials and tribulations, and men of course. I bought any magazine I could get my hands on – Cosmo, Cleo, Harper’s, Frankie, Vogue and read them religiously; ripping out my favourite stories and preserving them like love letters in my sock draw.

I have always been better with my written words than my verbal words. Ask my parents who have received countless card covered to the edges with my appreciation, yet rarely verbally expressed. Or my step mom who received a particularly nasty email containing five years of built up resentment #Oops. The written comes easy to me; it helps express the cloud of thoughts in my head. As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to see the benefits of being well written- in cranky emails to online stores that have over charged me or helping a friend with their response to bitchy text. But only recently have I begun to really write, to really strive towards the dream of being a writer that actually might make money some day.

It’s a universal aspirational to be successful and I am no exception. I admittedly dream of nice clothes, a nice car and a fancy apartment in the city to call my own… I dream of my job taking me all around the world to the most decadent locations filled with other well-dressed creatives that challenge the way I think about life. If I had to capsulate my ‘dream job’ it would be something like that of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. But even the devil herself had her downfall; her personal life.

Is it crazy to say that I want it all? Because I do. I cannot define my dreams and aspirations of one part of my life without the other or within 6 neatly constructed paragraphs.

I see a career, I see travel but I also see two fair-haired rugrats that will make me want to give it all up and head back to the Hills District where I was raised, and raise a family of my own.

As women we are led to believe that it is one or the other – the dream of success and travel or the dream of a family. But why should I have to choose? Why is everyone so determined to define the next 10 years of my life? I often wonder once I am working at 9-5 job in my field of interest, if people will still ask me what I want to do next? Or will I simply be ‘figured out’? So many questions… So little of my lunch break left to write about them.

Dreams and aspirations are evolving forces that weave through our lives and find themselves in our thoughts in the midst of falling asleep.

They are slightly embarrassing, slightly cliché and live on a line of uncertainty. I think dreams and aspirations are great, necessary even, yet become just a little daunting when they are no longer an idea framed by distance. I don’t know where my life will be in 10 years and that’s okay. As Gen Y, we now have choices. We are no longer constrained by societal expectations of becoming a mother and looking after the household. Some of us may choose that role, but the point is that we do not have to.

I may be a magazine editor, a columnist, a book author, a mother… The dreams are endless. And they do not fit neatly into 6 paragraphs.

Memoirs from a Media Student

I don’t know about you, but when I say I’m studying media at uni the common response is, “Oh media. Isn’t that dying or something?” My answer usually ranges anywhere from “Well actually I want to work in magazines which have only dropped 13% compared to newspapers which have dropped 20%” to “Yep its dying.”

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to write. I was 16 and I had just finished Mia Freedman’s book, Mama Mia. I fell in love with the way she wrote, with lashes of humour and real life pain. At the time I was seeking direction with what course I should do once I finish school. My dad recommended I email her asking for advice on university courses and what I can do to fulfil my dream of becoming an esteemed writer. Days later I received an email me saying she is too busy to reply personally and the tips I need are in the book. They weren’t.

So I remained uncertain. I mean what’s the difference between a Bachelor of Arts Media at Macquarie and a Bachelor of Communications at UTS? Neither of my parents went to university and there wasn’t a whole lot of information coming from my public high school at that stage. I had to take a chance and picked the university that most suited me. Not because of the pretty trees that everyone seems so fond of at Macquarie, but because I couldn’t fathom the idea of catching public transport to UTS everyday.

I was greeted with open arms at Macquarie university in 2011 by the much-loved MMCS115 (Academic Cultures) MMCS115 taught me the fundamental key of group work which is: Make sure you do the entire project yourself because your group members will drop off the face of the planet two weeks before it’s due. It also taught me Freud’s theory. Overall two things I could have lived without. Half way through this subject I had a quarter-life crisis; I dropped out, cried a lot, partied a lot, ate everything in my path and had to start all over again the next semester with four fails already under my belt. Joy.

I made it through the next two years by the skin of my teeth. Designing a video game, really? I seriously considered paying someone to do it for me. I struggled to find the motivation to even attend class and my marks reflected my lack of interest. By MAS215 and the whole psychoanalysis thing I was ready to throw in the towel. I mean I didn’t really want to know that the 7 dwarfs represented Snow White’s unborn children.

But I stuck with it (obviously) and was pleasantly surprised by literary journalism and travel writing in the first semester of this year. My tutor, Bunty Avieson, reunited my love for writing that had been lost on the way. In my third year I finally began to write the articles and gain the guidance and tools that I expected in my first year. I started to realise some of the things I had learnt weren’t completely useless. I mean there’s power in higher education, right Foucault?

This semester Michael Sheather from Women’s Weekly was a guest speaker at Macquarie for MAS316 (Media Futures). Michael reaffirmed my hopeful belief that the magazine industry isn’t dead, just a little bit challenged. He said he believed in magazines’ future, despite broadening platforms because they are tailored to their audience. He talked about how roles are changing, and convergence is ever present. Which got me thinking… What’s really changed for our generation? We hear about this ‘new age’ of online media in pretty much every MAS subject. But who is it new for? As Gen Ys, the ‘online world’ has existed most of our lives. Posting updates on Twitter or a photo on Instagram is simply common knowledge. Our smart phones are an extension of who we are.

We are the product of this convergent evolution and because of that we have the modern skill set to match. We take selfies, we travel, we create subcultures around the world, and we even watch lectures online… We understand media on a deeper level. We can be creative with it in new ways that stand to resuscitate the industry that those before us couldn’t. Armed with my shiny (upcoming) media degree I truly believe success is imminent if the hard work is there.

Media has opened my eyes to a whole new and diverse world of being an active consumer and a critical analysis of the news society is fed. It might not write my blog for me but it taught me HOW to write, and placed me in an environment where I started to consider how the hell I was going to separate myself from the hundreds of other people with the exact same degree, and that sometimes seem a little smarter than me.

It has given me the basis to explore career paths and expand my knowledge of an industry I realise 3 years ago I knew little about. This year it pushed me to finally apply for an internship after hearing countless teachers and guest speakers stress the importance of knowledge within the industry. I landed an internship at Prevention Magazine within Channel 7’s Pacific Magazines, and it was one of the best things I have ever done. The office at Prevention has harboured creativity that had been stifled by years of media theory and boring classroom activities. On my first day I transcribed an interview for three hours and by the end of it I was dying to write the article myself. I can’t say that usually happens in the creative hub of my study at home.

Media studies has also has helped me answer the age-old question that is asked of me at every family lunch or by anyone over forty…

“So what do you want to do when you finish at uni?”

Right now I want to finish this year, continue my internship and continue to post on my blog weekly. Through my internship I am gaining the experience, making the connections and getting the insight I need to eventually work within the magazine industry.

New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote an article saying that it takes 10 000 hours to master complex fields. I calculated the hours I will have spent at university by the time I have finished my degree. It’s about 700 hours on class and lecture time, factor in time spent on assessments and studying, and I might have JUST cracked a thousand hours.

I think it’s safe to say I have a long way to go before I am the master of media and magazines. But at least now when people ask me what I want to do once I finish, I have an answer for them. I can’t shrug it off any longer as the end of my course is just around the corner. So now when I’m asked that inevitable question, I say I would like to be a feature writer.

Social Media the New Hate Speech?

“Fucking Muslims should just go back to their own country”

“Muslims are taking over the world”

“Ban the Burqa”

 These are just a few of the slanderous statements I have either read or heard in recent weeks. My Facebook news feed has become political ground, no longer featuring funny pictures of cats and Best of Vines videos but anti-Muslim campaigns and sensationalised articles discriminating against the Islamic culture. This comes as a response to the ISIS conflict in Iraq and Syria that has been on-going for months, yet has only recently been noticed by the majority of the Australian public as terrorist raids were carried out in Sydney last week.

Before I go on I want to make it clear that I am not a person that follows politics and I usually would never comment on such an issue. However I could not ignore the overwhelming injustice, racism and discrimination that has been propagated throughout society in recent weeks. The flood of hatred towards the Islamic culture from individuals with no political or historical knowledge of the subject is truly frightening. I have seen hateful, senseless statements and articles with no credibility be plastered across social media evoking moral panic in our country and segregating ‘us’ as Australians and ‘them’ as Muslim terrorists.

I think everyone can agree that the threat of terrorism is terrifying. I am just as scared as the next person that such brutality could happen within our beautiful country. But every time I read an ill-informed post I question the mentality of a person who believes they have the fundamental right to make malicious statements about another culture. There are so many uneducated opinions flooding our media that are creating a mob like mentality – fiery torches and all. The media plays an undeniable role in the sensationalism of terrorism, yet it is in the public discourse of late that the most negativity has taken place. Stories such as the anti-Muslim protest that took place in Queensland or the Muslim woman who had a coffee thrown at her face from a moving car, show the direct effect of the mass hysteria started by the media and how it is maintained by the public.

Since the raids not only has hate speech been plastered across my newsfeed it has been in the streets; mosques have been destroyed, Muslim’s have received death threats and have been the target of physical and verbal abuse. What Australians seem to forget is the actions of ISIS and it’s supporters is not representative of the entire Islamic culture. Not all Muslims are terrorists and these innocent individuals do not deserve to have their religion held responsible for the evil actions of the ISIS group. In the recent video that has gone viral, #NotInMyName, young Muslims speak out against the Islamic state militant group. Unbeknownst to many, or simply ignored most Muslims are also against the ISIS group and meaning they are actually on our side – “Team Australia.”

The media has been constructing notions of war since the U.S Civil War. Particularly since 9/11, the Muslim religion has become the scapegoat for all things terrorist related; the Burqa once an object of faith is seen today as an object of evilness and deviancy. With the spotlight shining bright on terrorism in the media, Senator Jacqui Lambie has taken the opportunity to revive the anti-Burqa campaign and her timing is proving effective. Several times scrolling through my news feed I have been shocked to see BAN THE BURQA plastered on my screen. To which I wish to reply WHAT DOES THE BURQA HAVE TO DO WITH ISIS? But instead I have stayed impartial in hope of not contributing to more politically incorrect noise. Believe it or not the Burqa does not symbolise deviancy it actually represents culture. So I must ask, why are Australians so determined to remove Islamic culture from our ‘multi-cultural’ society?

Essentially we live in a democracy that welcomes multiculturalism and freedom of speech. So why do foreign cultures in Australia suffer discrimination? Is it because of fear or simply ignorance? And why does freedom of speech only apply to the white-Australians of our population? Is it fair to ask someone to abandon his or her faith in hope of not being labelled a terrorist?

As a nation we have to accept our role in the recent terrorist threats. There is an irrefutable need to reposition the notion of ‘Team Australia’ to include all Australians despite differing beliefs. It is only then, when we can represent a united front, that we can have hope in avoiding terrorist acts in the future.

Social media platforms are the new hate speech. Anyone has access and anyone can write their irrational feelings in a matter of seconds and share it with hundreds of people; and I blame the media. The media needs to recognize its responsibility as the sole force in shaping public discourses that are harboring negativity throughout society. As a society we have the obligation to educate ourselves beyond the 6pm world news; to conclude our own opinions, but also to recognize the filtering system that the media uses in reporting or rather not reporting stories and also their construction of war.

Continue reading “Social Media the New Hate Speech?”