Does Your Business Need to Use Houseparty?

It is difficult to keep up with social media apps and networks. Though the big names have remained pretty much the same for a few years, there are always new contenders.

Last year Meerkat was a bright and fast burning star that brought a lot of attention to using mobile broadcasting. Meerkat got users quickly, but Facebook and Twitter introduced Periscope to quickly jump into the space too with their own tools and Meerkat fell.

Meerkat’s Ben Rubin said last year that its appeal was “spontaneous togetherness.” Requiring only a few taps on a phone to reach friends and interested strangers was very appealing and the company quickly raised $12 million in new funding from investors who thought it could be the next major social tool.

The app was released in February 2015, and found an audience after its debut on the website Product Hunt and use during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March 2015. But on October 4, 2016, Meerkat was shut down.

If businesses put any effort or money into using it, it was time and resources without any ROI. But there is always that temptation to get on board with new tools rather than look behind the times or have to play catch-up.

Meerkat is no more but its website now redirects you to Houseparty another app for video chatting with friends that the company is calling a “synchronous social network.”

The app for Android and iOS has been gaining traction with young people with about a million users.

houseparty

Rather than billing Houseparty as a way to broadcast to the world, it is billed as a way to have frequent, candid conversations with friends and family.

Does it have business applications? Not so far.  Will it last longer than Meerkat, and will Facebook, Twitter and any other networks have their own version soon?  I don’t place bets on social media.

 

Thank You, Increased Bandwidth

Web design ideas that were once not under consideration because of slow page load times are now web trends because increased bandwidth and data compression means users won’t bounce from your site because of a dragging load time.

Here are two examples.

The trend to using more streamlined and minimal designs allow typefaces to be more dramatic – and perhaps less recognizable or complex. We don’t think of typefaces as bandwidth hogs, but it really is the lighter design trend that  allows for those typefaces.

Another trend that relies on better bandwidth is using background videos and animations. Of course, they can also be a distraction if used poorly. Moderation is key here.

This would seem a quite natural design element for a video or film company.

Life of Pi
Official site for the film Life of Pi

A lighter animation is a hover animation. Most users intuitively hover their cursor or finger over items, especially if they want more information.

And on this lightly animated home page for Spotify , we see the web trend of using carousels.

spotify

 

This simple but extensive use of video backgrounds comes from a company with a very simple URL http://y.co/, a luxury yacht company with large video footage as its background.

 

yacht

 

Snapchat Before It Disappears

Snapchat-large

Like film reviewers who have to watch films they are not interested in seeing, social media consultants have to get into social networks that don’t interest them, but may interest their clients. Snapchat is one of those for me.

It is a social network for sending photos and videos that “disappear” shortly after viewing. If you are one of the millions who don’t have an account, then you’re not one of its 100 million daily users.  It is very popular with college students.

It’s a network that can’t be ignored by companies because it surpasses Facebook numbers with its 10 billion daily video views.

One of the oddities of Snapchat is that getting followers is not the main goal. Its appeal is that it seems to develop deeper personal connections with users through its image/video storytelling.

Some companies jumped right in but many companies (and individuals) still don’t see the appeal. After all, don’t you want your message to have a long, useful shelf life and NOT disappear?

Actually, brands like Disney have taken advantage of “disappearing” promos and teasers that encourage and a rapid response/engagement. Quick, before it disappears!  and build brand awareness. The digital “limited time offer.”

The first time I opened the app, I did not find it at all intuitive. How do I do this “snap?” Define “story”Lenses? How do I find people to follow and share content with? Where are the suggestions and discovery tools? I checked out a few guides but that will only get you going. Creating a strategy is much further down the road.

I have only worked with two clients who tried it. One stopped using it after a few months. The other is still “experimenting.”

You might also look at some free tools like GhostCodes which helps with the discovery aspect. Though I believe that should be natively baked into an app, others will say that Snapchat is not all about finding new followers and being the “most popular” (a natural tendency of all of us) is not the rel goal.

Snapchat is evolving. It was released in 2011 and three years ago they added “Stories” which are visual montages that are not private but blasted out to friends. They added channels which are curated streams of content from known publishers like CNN and BuzzFeed, and Live Stories which are ones curated by Snapchat, mostly from big events like the Oscars.

As those TV commercials for medications say, ask your social media consultant if Snapchat is right for you.

Social Media in 2016

crystal-ball

I don’t put much belief into predictions. And predictions about technology and social media are more suspect than others. But seeing an article by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, and I’ll give it a look.

First, looking back at 2015,  you have to admit that video was the big thing across networks. Live social streaming (Periscope, Meerkat) was the new thing. Snapchat matured to the count of more than 200 million active users. Facebook users clicked 8 billion video views a day making it a true competitor to YouTube. Facebook Live may take live streaming mainstream to their 1.5 billion users, and Twitter-owned Periscope already has 10 million active users, so live streaming is likely to grow in 2016.

In 2016, Holmes says that generally there will be new technologies changing how we interact with social media. Here are the brief versions of his predictions.

Virtual reality – look at Facebook’s purchase of Oculus and its start at using some of that tech in its 360 Video that let’s you at video right, left, up and down. Immersive experiences. Take a look at a 360 Video from Vice and The Disney Channel for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and drag the view around. Unfortunately, it probably won’t play in Safari on an iPhone or iPad . That’s an issue.

It will be fully immersive VR using devices like the Oculus Rift headset, but that may not have much impact on social media this year, although Oculus already released a Oculus Social Alpha app (but it is for use with the Samsung Gear VR headset not your browser).

I’m less excited as a user about “Social shopping” and all the social media buy buttons, and more sophisticated ways to mine your friends’ posts to drive your buying decisions.

It will be interesting if the prediction that social media moves into work comes true. Workplace social networks, like Slack and the soon-to-be Facebook at Work, is predicted to make using social media in the office less of  a thing to avoid and maybe a part of your job as businesses incorporate social tools for internal communications, customer service, sales, marketing and advertising.

Companies are not ready for that right now. Check out this Harvard Business Review survey.

Social media networks are expanding into “platforms” which was something Zuckerberg talked about for Facebook even in its earliest days. Look at Twitter which has expanded from being a 140-character note to messaging, video-sharing, customer service and more. Facebook isn’t for college students and others just sharing status and photos but video sharing/streaming platform, a place to shop, and maybe a workplace app. the same things have been happening at LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.