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.

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.

emohi

I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

When I decided to quit social media I thought it would be for good. Then I remembered I am a journalist who needs to live and breathe news and have my finger on the pulse of the entity that is the Internet.

I was sure I was going to change my life and break my addiction to my mobile.

Now, not so much.

I’ll be the first to admit, I need my phone. I need it just as much as I need to know the latest on Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian.

They say the average person looks at their phone 1500 times a day. If you work it out, that’s 90 minutes a day, 23 days a year and 3.9 years of your life. It’s beyond insane.

My decision to quit social media came after a discussion with a friend about how technology has changed everything that our parents once knew; dating, the way we communicate, or rather the way we don’t communicate. And the irony of documenting a night out with friends to portray it on Instagram as ‘the best night ever’, rather than actually enjoying the moment.

Personally, I find nothing more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone who is looking at their phone. I am a firm believer that no one is more important than the person you are with.

It was only when I read an article about ‘phubbing’ (phone snubbing) ruining relationships that I realised I was a phubber in my own relationship. I also saw photos where the photographer removed the phone from the image to show how bazaar our addiction to our phones is. I decided then and there it was time to quit social media.

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Phubbing. By Eric Pickersgill
Everyone was doing it, Essena O’Neill I’m looking at you, so I thought I’d give it a go. How hard could it be?

Answer: hard.

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Essena quit social media (and then begged for her rent money)

On the first day, I found myself reaching for my phone when I sat down to eat my lunch, to take a quick snap for my friends. Or reaching for my phone at traffic lights – a habit that is just as much illegal as it is extremely sad.

I found myself with spare time, a foreign concept for someone used to filling every minute with news feeds and pretty Insta pictures. On my first day, I wrote not one, but two blogs. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that is very unusual for me.

I recently read an article that explained that boredom is the last privilege of a free mind. These days, when we are bored our first instinct is to pick up our smartphones, or engage with some sort of screen. But guess what, actually using your brain to think is the best antidote to boredom.

Without Facebook giving me the news I should be interested in, I actually had to search news pages for the latest events. An unfamiliar notion to me, the aspiring journalist. Ah, the irony.

We are the first generation that doesn’t need to search for our information; rather it is delivered to us via social media algorithms that determines what we should be interested in, then BAM it appears in our news feed. I am guilty of the morning scroll; waking up and reaching for my mobile is just as part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth.

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Soul sucking screens
On day two, I picked up my smartphone, fingers hovering over the place my Facebook icon once sat. But instead, I put my phone down and just thought. For a technology dependent Gen Y, it is a weird process. No screens, no distractions, just me and my brain.

After the first week I was cured of FOMO. Research recently found that Facebook is as addictive as poker machines, with FOMO being the cause. I’ve never liked gambling, but this was something I can relate too. Without Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook I was able to work a whole weekend without being reminded what I was missing out on. My wallet was very thankful.

Day ten, I caved. Yes I was aiming for two weeks, but I am proud of my ten days disconnected.

I realise now that social media isn’t the problem, the way I interact with it is the problem. The compulsive checking had become a burden to my life (and my data) instead of a way to keep in touch with my friends. Like anyone, I want to live a present life which means not obsessing on how other people are living theirs.

It’s definitely a work in progress. Quitting (or at least decreasing) social media is much easier said than done. But I’m trying and I hope that by me making a concious effort to put my phone away, it will make others do the same. Because nothing is more important than the people you are with and the moment you are in. 

Why are we using social media to validate our relationships?

Why are we using social media to validate our relationships?

It’s no secret that social media has become the platform for showing off – here’s my new watch, here’s my new bag, here’s $5000 of Moet. Yes Rich Kids of Instagram I’m looking at you.

Really RKOI?
Really RKOI?

With pictures like these, my mandatory morning Instagram scroll (admit it, you know what I mean) often leaves me with feelings of inadequacy before I’ve even had breakfast.

But most recently another type of post has been getting on my nerves – the relationship post. Not sure what I mean? I’ll give you a taster of some of sweet incredibly annoying captions I see scrolling through my news feed on a daily basis.

He’s perfect #bestboyfriend you are the man of my dreams #romance#romantic#ilovehim

This little lady never stops amazing me. When I thought you couldn’t get any better you always manage to up the level. Everytime I look at you, it is like falling in love all over again #mygirl

Best boyfriend ever! I’m inlove JJJ Thank you! #6monthanniversary

Gag.

So now I not only have to feel bad about not having a private jet or mounds of cash, I also start to feel bad about my own relationship; why isn’t my relationship like that? I don’t remember getting anything for my 6-month anniversary… Why doesn’t my boyfriend post pictures announcing his ever-lasting love for me? And then I actually find myself asking my boyfriend some of those questions OUT LOUD. Oh, the shame. Don’t worry, I hate myself just as much as you do right now.

I can still hate on couples if I'm in a couple, right?
I can still hate on couples if I’m in a couple, right?

Yes I know, we aren’t supposed to compare. As my boyfriend likes to remind me – “Every relationship is different”. But c’mon, it’s 2015 and I’m a Gen Y – I compare everything.

Social media has allowed us to create better, filter-enhanced versions of ourselves. Feeling ugly? Valencia will fix that for you. Rumours your boyfriend is cheating? Just upload a photo of you two looking happier than ever #forever. Or my favourite, the fake-that-I-am-deliriously-happy post break up upload where smiles are mandatory and a glass of wine optional #freshstart.

So are we enhancing what we have, or just completely faking it?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I faked it. I faked it, hard. My boyfriend and I have been together for three years – two of them good, one of them bad. Our first year together was hard. He probably wasn’t ready for a relationship, and which made me even more desperate to make it work. If I couldn’t do that, I needed to portray it was working, via Instagram, of course.

So candid. So happy. So constructed.
So candid. So happy. So constructed.

I know I’m not alone here. I’ve had friends in the past who’ve been in the midst of a break up but still posting photos with their soon-to-be-ex captioned #soulmate. And they are just the few psycho ladies I’m close enough with to know better.

Through our phones (no one uses computers anymore, right?) we are given this little peep into other people’s relationships, but we forget this peep is altered, it’s refined and it’s how they want the be perceived by the online world. I mean whose really going to publicise their boyfriend cancelling their plans to drink beers with da boiz. Been there.

A friend once said to me, “The best sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on Facebook.” Since we are in the digital era of 2015 I realise that no sign of a relationship on Facebook means it probably doesn’t exist. But I believe a healthy relationship is one that is not pimped out on social media. And I’m speaking from experience.

In the early days of my relationship I felt it necessary to flood people’s feeds with pictures of the two of us, or posts to his Facebook wall with the standard marking-my-territory love heart <3. Now when I see someone doing the same thing, I can recognize they are probably very insecure about their relationship.

I’m not saying I don’t upload photos of Toby and I now, but it’s not to prove anything to anyone – it’s most likely because I was having a good hair day.

Example one of my good hair day.
Example one of my good hair day.

I think once you are truly happy in your relationship, you stop caring what other people think. If you know your relationship is good, there is no need to persuade others with photos/videos/Snapchats. I’ve realised there are moments that should be sacred, and there are moments where your phone doesn’t belong and can actually ruin the moment of spontaneity or romance. Not everything needs to be shared to your entire social media network – people with over 100 engagement photos; I’m looking at you.

Surprisingly you can actually go to a romantic dinner without checking in on Facebook and/or taking 35 photos perfectly timed ‘kissing photos’.

So the next time you’re scrolling and start wondering – Wtf why didn’t my boyfriend give me a Michael Kors watch on our one month anniversary? Remember there is more than meets the eye. And there is more than what makes your FB feed.

Feelings of inadequacy BE GONE.

Don’t you wish it were that easy?

 

Should We Support the Melbourne Cup?

Last night whilst scrolling through my social media feeds I was greeted with the regular nonsense expected to be seen on Melbourne Cup day; photos of friends and Sydney’s elites sipping on champagne in their ostentatious fascinator of choice, status’ celebrating people’s pick of the winner, and of course a few douche bags who felt it necessary to Instagram their wad of cash.

But as I scrolled a little further my news feed became less about the glitz and glamour of race day, and more about the harsh reality that is horse racing.

 Horse racing is no different to animal circuses or SeaWorld. Using animals for entertainment is wrong

 Said one mutual friend on Facebook.

 I wonder how many people complaining about the Melbourne cup eat red meat

 Said another.

These comments were made in response to the news that two of this year’s competing horses died shortly after the race ended yesterday. Admire Rakti; a favourite to win the cup, collapsed in his stables shortly after the race had ended whilst onlookers called for a vet’s attention. Later that night, the story broke that a second horse had to be euthanised; seventh-placegetter Araldo, after breaking his leg on a fence after the race. And this isn’t the first time death has come as a result of the Melbourne Cup. Twelve months ago another event overshadowed Australia’s most glamorous race; French runner Verema was euthanised on the racetrack after snapping a bone in her leg. These tragic events have Australia (or at least my friend list on Facebook) questioning, is the party worth it?

Animal rights activist group the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) realise it’s not worth it, launching their “Horse Racing Kills Campaign” earlier this season that featured a 22-metre billboard in Melbourne.

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The campaign asks people not to attend Spring Carnival until the racing industry takes animal welfare seriously. The organisation realise the race that stops the nation comes alongside pretty detrimental side affects, with the death of Verema not being a one-off circumstance, rather just one of the 125 horses have died in the 12-month period of 2014 racing season.

So why does this race and horse racing in general capture the eyes (dollars) of the Australian public? This is not a hypothetical question, I am actually asking. Below is an image of the aftermath of the races – the once pristine green covered in piles on piles of rubbish.

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A cleaner at the Flemington racecourse said in his 20 years cleaning the aftermath of the Melbourne Cup, he has found false teeth, women’s underwear, cocaine and condoms. Classy right?

Last year I remember seeing a video circulating of a highly intoxicated woman stumbling around in stripper-heels and a dress so short an onlooker in the video says he could see her lunch (yes he seriously said that). This year an Instagram page “Drunk Girls of the Melbourne Cup” has taken inspiration from that infamous video, featuring photos of drunken girls (and guys) laying on the grass in drunken foetal positions and revealing their undergarments, or lack of. The day looks a little like New Years Eve at 3pm, but with animal cruelty.

The Melbourne cup can no longer be associated with glitz, glamour and questionable celebrity fashion choices that will leave you thinking what the fascinator – Yes Geoffrey Edelsten’s girlfriend I’m looking at you. Gone are the days you might consider yourself ‘classy’ in attending or even supporting the event, no matter how big the headwear or expensive your suit. Rather it exists as a day fuelled by gambling, alcohol and animal cruelty, epitomising everything that is wrong with Australian society.

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Starting with the Melbourne cup we need to re-examine the ideology behind horse racing. I am guilty for thinking of the races as a place of pretty dresses and champagne, where horses are celebrated and worshipped like that we see in Pharlap. But that is not the reality.

Horses are injured and killed. And that’s just the horses that make it to the race. The CPR says that 13000 horses die as a bi-product of the racing industry; most of them simply disposed as wastage once they are deemed not race worthy. Aside from the issues of animal welfare, the basic morals of horse racing are questionable; they encourage gambling, greed and alcohol consumption, ultimately bringing out the worst in people, which we have seen in this years Instagram sensation.

So again I ask, why are we so infatuated with the Melbourne cup and horse racing in general? This race that stops a nation has just stopped two horses lives. Are we willing to just cross our fingers and hope for the best next year? I think we must ask ourselves what the consequence would be if instead of two horses dying, two jockeys died in the race this year. Would we still be putting on our finest dresses and suits and screaming from the sidelines?