digital Tag

Snapchat Appeals To Kids For The Same Reasons Myspace Did. But Can It Escape The Same Fate?

Remember Myspace? (I have to say that now when I intro myself to new people — my years working there are still a key part of my career history).

More importantly, can you remember the countless millions of teenagers who learnt HTML so they could ‘pimp’ their pages?

Kids Were Coding on Myspace!

That is unbelievable in retrospect. We got kids learning to handle (if not completely write) code just so they could make glitter fall down their page and have sexier buttons in their ‘contact box’. They knew how to open style tags, albeit simple ones like <b>, and then close them</b>.

Parents of course thought they had finally lost their young. They were witnessing their kids type and paste pure gobbledegook into boxes in some very confusing admin panel. Kids made their Myspace profiles resemble a sort of digital bedroom wall, plastered with a mess of everything they were into, and everyone they were associated with.

Confusing to ‘Olds’

The more I work with Snapchat (in my capacity running London creative digital agency Harkable), the more I’m struck with how this is the first platform since Myspace to appeal to kids largely because it bewilders and even scares their parents.

Even at my tender age I can still remember the sheer confusion the first time I used Snapchat. This of course was closely followed by a more composed, professional criticism of the UX (user experience).

The Thrill of the Dangerous

Just knowing you could send absolutely any kind of photo or video to anyone on Snapchat is in itself exciting.

Everything there is out of the gaze of authority. Seeing their parents’ horror just makes it all the more fun. And so it was on Myspace, you could be anyone and do anything. There were serial killers and sex offenders but we all accepted that the entire human spectrum was represented there, before everyone left for Facebook that is.

Is Snapchat Destined for Decline?

So the big questions looms. Can Snapchat avoid the fatal death spiral that Myspace disappeared into so rapidly? Ultimately the odds aren’t in their favour.

The only reason Facebook and Twitter have stuck around is because:

  1. their general utility — messaging, groups, events, photos, news
  2. their unprecedentedly high levels of adoption across all demographics — i.e. your grandparents use it, people in places with less access to technology use it
  3. integration across the web and the wider media landscape — Facebook ‘like’ buttons on websites, hashtags in TV shows etc

Will my Mum really get on Snapchat before the youth leave for something new? Will it replace current forms of private messaging like email and WhatsApp? Can it really become woven into our other media experiences such as surfing the web and watching TV?

Seems unlikely but then the entire premise of the app would have sounded bonkers five years ago, so don’t write them off completely.

So Many Users, So Little Money

The big challenge for them will be monetisation. They are the classic example of the social media startup having boomed in user numbers, only to be faced with the task of turning that into a profitable business.

They currently sell vertical video ads (portrait video as opposed to the traditional landscape) which are inserted in between Stories and Discover, kind of like TV ads. They trialled sponsored lenses — augmented reality animated overlays for selfie photos and videos — but have discontinued that for now. There’s no self-serve ad buying platform, and agencies are struggling to justify significant media spend because of the lack of any robust analytics, other than reports on views and reach.

Snapchat’s Future Is Not In Mass Market

They’ll need to bring a much more rounded advertising offering with the ability to target ads and report on exactly what the money achieved.

But like Myspace failed to do, they’ll need to keep its core users interested. And rather than trying to attract that wider demographic, it might mean keeping mum and dad a little bit scared of it.

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Your Weekly Social Media Diet

So many social media sites, so little time. This is my plan for keeping on top of it all, and getting more out of your social media life.

Weekdays

Breakfast – catch up and schedule

Get the latest on what’s happening and find shareable content with Digg Reader for news and blogs, YouTrends for the latest trending videos, Reddit for trending funnies and Twitter for the big conversations globally or in your area. Instantly share the most interesting stuff using Buffer (and its brilliant Chrome plugin), which staggers your updates throughout the day. This keeps your Twitter and Facebook filled with good content, taking the pressure off in case you have a busy day. 

Lunch – respond and engage

This is when everyone jumps on Facebook and Twitter so a good time to check in on the ‘big two’. Use TweetDeck to view Twitter and respond to  engagement from your Buffered posts – thank any retweets and mentions with replies or favorites. Then have a scan for any recent developments worth commenting on or adding to your Buffer.

As you’re probably at a computer, this is also a great time to show some love on Pinterest, trawling through your feed to find great images to like and re-pin.

Dinner – longer reads

Chances are you’re in the majority that have flirted with Google+ but don’t use it regularly. I find that people get great value out of it once they start, so get the ball rolling by posting something and actively joining a conversation in a Community relevant to you or on your timeline, every afternoon. It’s a heavily American audience so early evening is a good time to start posting if you’re in UK/Europe.

This time is also when a lot of commuters are bored on the train, reading Twitter, so your Buffer should have a few scheduled slots between 5pm and 7pm. A good time to post links to well-written content (like the best stuff on Medium, for example)

Supper – prime time conversations

The peak of social media traffic in the week is always at around 8pm, in line with TV’s prime time. Conversation on Twitter is largely driven by real-time conversation around TV, so if you’re watching a popular show get tweeting about it with the hashtag, make any witty observations and retweet other people’s. Share relevant bite-sized content on the topic such as memes – as opposed to long blogs or videos.

If you’re really keen, now is a good time to put a few things in your Buffer so you have content going out to followers in other time zones while you sleep.

Weekend

It goes without saying you should try to maintain your weekday activity where possible, especially the ‘breakfast’ and ‘supper’ ones, but here are some weekend-specific to-dos:

Saturday – capture your moments

Typically the quietest day in social media as people spend the least time at screens on Saturdays, instead opting for shopping, seeing friends and doing stuff around the house. This is however when you’re likely to do your most interesting stuff so take lots of pictures with your phone’s camera app, and then Instagram them both on the day and later. Think of your fun weekend activities as opportunities to capture photos for use throughout the week.

Sunday – putting time into bigger content pieces

In opposition to Saturday, Sunday is traditionally the busiest day online, particularly in the mid-afternoon post-lunch lull. It’s when the most people are online, they have the most time and are most relaxed – meaning the best content to put out here is long-form content such as blogs, articles and videos. It’s also when you have the most time to properly produce and promote it.
Write a blog post or record your video blog or podcast in the morning, post it in the afternoon and then take the time to promote it across all your platforms. Beyond putting links with great hooks such as questions or counter-intuitive statements (e.g. Why Drinking is Good For You, Could Drinking Really Be Healthy?) generate conversation where possible through reaching out to passion centres of the topic e.g. tweet at influential people in that sphere asking them what they think, go to the Google+ Community or sub-Reddit and ask people there what they think. Remember to not take a promotional tone, but a human and conversational one.

Weekly Tasks

Twitter – follow new people, @mention influencers and keep an eye on your Buffer analytics to learn what’s working and what’s not. Use ManageFlitter to find new people to follow and clean out your Following list if bloated.

Blog – at least one post per week, but always as many as you can manage. Use Google Analytics to see what worked and where traffic is coming from.

Pinterest – find new boards and people to follow to keep your feed fresh. Pin cool stuff from around the web (sites like Tumblr, FFFFOUND!, editorial and interest-specific sites).

Periodical Tasks

Review your blog theme and any widgets you’re using. Is everything up-to-date? Is your bio still true or relevant across all networks? Do you still have links to sites you’ve abandoned?

Use ManageFlitter or Klout to chart your growth on Twitter and in social media over the year.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy it. I don’t get round to all of the above but now I’ve actually written it down in this post I’m going to start trying! Let me know any useful habits of yours in the comments below!

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Change: A World In Flux – My #CogsTalks @ The Hospital

Here’s the presentation I gave this week at The Hospital in London, showing my take on how the digital world is changing and why this constant change shouldn’t scare us but rather is an endless source of opportunity.

Here’s the presentation I gave and below is the full video of my talk:

Visit My SlideShare

Video courtesy of VideoJug

Any questions, feel free to comment, tweet or email me 🙂

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Moleskine Bring Class To Your iPad & iPhone

If, like me, you have an iPad with the standard Apple cover, the one that looks scrappy within a week of owning it, then you’re always on the lookout for something better. It’s still the best option though in a market flooded with pointless covers that do little else other than actually cover it up, like if you put it in a shopping bag or old t-shirt.

The forthcoming offering from classic notebook maker Moleskine might be the one. It not only keeps your iDevice safe with a suede inner, sturdy leather cover and the trademark elastic band but also includes a real notepad (remember writing?) so you can truly store the informational artefacts of your life in one folio or as the copywriter for Moleskine puts it “They are conceived as analog-digital ultra-portable workstations for the contemporary nomads”. Yes, I want to hurt them too, but why not head over to Amazon to pre-order one instead. It will make you 20% more sophisticated. Fact.

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