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.

Will journalism become a sea of weightless bylines?

Will journalism become a sea of weightless bylines?

This article was first published on AdNews.

The Fairfax transition from daily print to mostly digital will inevitably have some casualties, but I can’t help but wonder whether the publisher will end up with an irreversible experience gap as a slew of senior journalists exit the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.

Some senior journalists are being told their “skill set is not aligned” to the publisher’s new strategy.

But what strategy is that and what skills are more important in journalism than experience?

These are questions that Fairfax Media boss Greg Hywood needs to explain, not just to his own employees, but the wider market, which will be looking at how the cuts affect output and the effect this has on the strength of the Australian media.

Also, the knock on effect and commercial model it can support. A business can only be as strong as its product and a publisher’s core product is its content.

While it’s important to note that are many top, experienced journalists are still at the business, including the likes of Kate McClymont, Nick McKenzie and Adele Ferguson, the exit of several seasoned reporters can only affect the quality of the newspapers’ output.

As Fairfax transitions into the digital age, sources close to the moves say less experienced journalists are being prioritised over senior positions, as their skills better align with those required of the transitioning business.

And when Fairfax shuts down its Monday to Friday editions, it is predicted 40% of the newsroom is expected to be trimmed – leading to further redundancies and loss of experience.

As a young reporter, this saddens me as I’ve grown up reading the Sydney Morning Herald.

I also can’t help but question what will happen to the next generation of reporters without senior mentors to show them ropes and inspire them to produce better work.

If editors don’t support journalists to write about the pointy issues, instead focusing on click-friendly content, I worry we could end up a sea of weightless bylines.

I’m told the younger generation of Fairfax employees are excited by the future, and so they should be. It’s their time to shine and they’ve worked hard to earn the opportunity.

I hope and am optimistic that quality remains the key focus, rather than clickrates – one of the most misleading measurements of journalistic success.

Fairfax has previously been instrumental in exposing corruption in the oil industry, Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning scandal and organised crime in the construction industry.

That’s the journalism Australia needs more of, rather than articles about Shane Warne’s latest tiff with a TV presenter or Lara Bingle’s pregnancy rumours.

I’m Depressed… Now What?

Driving home on Monday afternoon after a beautiful day at the beach with my boyfriend I was reminded that two years ago my life wasn’t so easy. The words mental health, depression and anxiety resonated through my radio. I stopped mindlessly changing radio stations and starting listening… Really listening.

“1 in 2 people will suffer a mental health illness”

“Young people have the highest right of mental health programs”

“It was after a year that I actually realized I have depression”

 This was the beginning of the mental health segment on Triple J’s hack program with Tom Tilley. From Sunday the 5th to Sunday the 12th Triple J and ABC are going ‘Mental As’, focusing on our nation’s mental health in support of Mental Health Week. Mental Health Week coincides with World Mental Health Day that is held on the 10th of October and aims to promote social and emotional well being to the community.

Unbeknownst to most of my family and friends I suffered from depression two years ago and still suffer from anxiety from time to time today. Depression and anxiety came into my life in one joyful little bundle. Looking back the change from school to university was the trigger to both of my mental health problems. The graduation of school brings with it significant pressure for any student; not because of the HSC but because of the question, “So what do you want to do now?” For me it was this question that sent my life into a downward spiral. I was desperate to be successful at university but I couldn’t picture how I was going to make that happen. In my mind I saw it best to quit whilst I was ahead, to not attend class or let anyone know what I was going through. For a smart girl I was making some dumb choices. But that’s the funny thing about anxiety; it doesn’t give you any choices. It renders you powerless and takes control of your life.

I remember driving to class and as I got closer I would be hit with an undeniable sense of panic; a feeling that I had to escape and I had to do it NOW. At the time depression and anxiety were foreign terms to me. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone how I was feeling or even admit to myself the severity. I tried to blame my depression on anything I could deem ‘normal’ – hormones, lack of sleep from binge watching episodes of “House”, a new relationship… These were all contributing factors just not the causation. It wasn’t until I became crippled from even attending class and would rather sit at my computer for hours crying than write a simple essay that I realised that there was something else going on and decided to seek help.

I don’t remember mental health week or an R U OK? Day two years ago. They definitely existed but only recently has the stigmatisation of mental illness been reformed to allow a healthy public discussion within the community. If I had heard that 6% of Australian’s would be diagnosed with depression this year and 15% with anxiety I may have come forth earlier with my issues. As a community we have an obligation to work together to break the stigma and transform perception to recognise mental illness not as a weakness, but as a life-threatening disease. Individuals particularly youth should not suffer in silence as I did. Depression is not a cry for sympathy; most of the time people are too ashamed to even cry for help, rather crying into their pillow at night pondering the questions of life. But no one should feel ashamed by his or her sadness. After all mental illness is an uncontrollable and unavoidable force.

As a nation we are beginning to take steps in the right direction towards awareness of mental illness. This week ABC’s mini series “Changing Minds” has premiered in coordination with mental health week. The show provides a radical insight into the truly confronting lives of patients suffering from mental illness within an Australian mental health unit. The show has been described as a zeitgeist for mental health awareness and understanding and it is obvious why. In one of the opening scenes Dr. Mark Cross says, “Mental illness is one of the very few illnesses in the world that doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can become mentally ill”. The show follows three very different patients, all of different age and different types of mental illness. It personifies the perception of people suffering from mental illness and shows the personal ambition to achieve a state of emotional well being not normally associated with people of mental illness.

Celebrity influence has been at the forefront of mental health awareness. In the tragic deaths of Robin Williams and Charlotte Dawson the serious consequences of mental illness were given a much-needed spotlight and dominated social media. There has also been a recent wave of celebrities coming forth in the media to talk publicly about their experiences with mental health issues, think Demi Lovato and eating disorders or Catherine Zeta Jones and her bipolar disorder. Through utilising media platforms such as radio, television, magazines and social media mental health issues are becoming less taboo and more talk-able.

Luckily for me I have amazing family and friends (and therapist) who helped me through my period of darkness. In my experience it only takes telling that one person, for me it was my Dad, to seek help from another but also to help yourself. Just having that first conversation is taking a step towards recovery. With Mental Health Week upon us it is so important to continue to spread awareness and educate ourselves so that conversation CAN be had as a nation. Even if mental illness does not affect you on a personal level, it will affect someone you know and love at some point in your life. Help break the stigma, show your support as a nation and if you need to know more watch Changing Minds, visit http://www.abc.net.au/mentalas/ and read yourself into acceptance.

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.