The Britton Digital Update—Week of December 19, 2016

Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

Here we are at the close of 2016, the time of year when Snapchat gives you a face effect that looks like a pair of 2017 glasses. This year was an incredible year of growth in digital media, both as an industry and within Britton Marketing & Design Group. We doubled the size of our digital team, launched some exciting new projects, and embraced live video by spreading knowledge with our Content Exploration Sessions on YouTube, Periscope, and Facebook Live. After all, if we are going to be experts, we need to test out the new platforms and new technology.

Want to see what you missed in 2016’s digital news? Check out a week-by-week look at the Digital Update. Head to the Britton Blog and click the Digital Update category. We can’t wait to look to see what 2017 brings, but before 2016 disappears faster than a Snap Story, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest digital news to come out of the past year.

Chewbacca Mom Takes the Live Stream Mainstream

Her laugh when putting on that Chewbacca mask from Kohl’s was so infectious that it instantly went viral. It is the most watched video on Facebook Live, with over 164 million video views. Why was Chewbacca Mom such a big story? First, it was authentic, and authentic sells. The younger, tech-savvy generations want to see authenticity. Chewbacca Mom was clearly having a blast. Second, it showed people that real life is great content. Third, it brought live streaming mainstream.

Live streaming has been around for years through many different applications. In 2015, it exploded with Periscope and Meerkat. In 2016, Meerkat went away, Periscope fizzled, and Facebook flexed its muscles with Facebook Live and Instagram live streaming. The sheer volume of users alone made Facebook Live a behemoth. But it was Chewbacca Mom who really put it in the news for others to understand its true reach.

Fake News

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,“ Abraham Lincoln famously said in an internet meme. And those words have never been truer. This became the year fake news competed with real news. Social media channels became echo chambers with few people fact-checking (or even reading) what they were sharing on their own accounts. Whether it had an impact on the 2016 US presidential election remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: It is a problem that needs to be handled soon or the credibility of social media channels will suffer.

After months of denying the problem, Facebook conceded that it needed to take measures to minimize the issue. It recently announced a fake-news reporting option that could lead to outside fact checkers evaluating potential fake-news stories. We’ll see in 2017 if this is a big enough move to satisfy those users who are fed up.

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Let’s hope that Snapchat agrees with that heading, because just about every other social channel was gunning for its share of users. In 2016, Instagram launched Stories, which even Instagram admitted was basically a complete rip-off. Apps like MSQRD, Prisma, and now Messenger added face-mapping and masking features similar to Snapchat’s.

It should be noted that Facebook tried to buy Snapchat back in 2013 for $3 billion. It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg still holds a grudge against Snapchat for refusing to sell.

On the Go

Mobile gaming took a virtual leap forward in 2016. In reality, it was an augmented leap forward. Pokémon Go took the mobile-gaming world by storm when Niantic released its augmented-reality app that allowed users to walk all over their communities to catch Pokémon and battle each other in gyms. The app was downloaded over 100 million times in just the first month and it became a summer phenomenon. The excitement has cooled a little, but with special limited-time character promotions, Niantic is trying to keep users’ attention.

A Nintendo franchise looks like it will give Niantic a run for its money with Super Mario Run. The very first Mario mobile app received 40 million downloads in its first four days. By comparison, Pokémon Go took 11 days to reach 25 million downloads.

Twitter Can’t Buy a Buyer

Twitter added a few great features in 2016. Unfortunately, no one is talking about them. What they are talking about is the fact that no one wants to buy Twitter. There were several companies lined up, with Google, Disney, Apple, Microsoft, and Salesforce all showing interest. However, one by one they dropped out, and Twitter was left standing there like a Bachelor contestant left without a rose.

Twitter did finally integrate Periscope in 2016 and also signed major live-stream deals with several sports leagues, including the NFL. It’s a logical choice for a second screen, but despite its large user base, no one wants to buy Twitter. This means it will need to amp up growth or risk getting left behind in 2017.

Reactions

The year 2016 was the year we got in touch with our inner feelings. There was more smiling, more laughing, and even more sad face-ing than any year prior. It’s all thanks to Facebook (what else?), which added multiple ways for users to express themselves aside from the “like” button. Facebook Reactions allows people to select an emoji—like a sad face, angry face, or wow face—when giving a thumbs-up just isn’t appropriate or the right way to express yourself. Surprisingly, these emojis aren’t used as often as you would think, but they do allow for context, which is one thing that tends to be lacking in digital communication.

Best of the Rest

Other notable 2016 stories include Apple taking on the FBI, Uber’s self-driving cars, Samsung’s exploding-phone problem, and the DNC email hack.

If it is current digital news you desire, we haven’t forgotten about you. Here are some additional stories from the past week that you may have missed.

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode