The Britton Digital Update—Week of February 27, 2017

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

“Snapchat is dead,” declared several social media users on Facebook and Twitter after reading a recent Adweek article. But is it? Let’s take a look at the headline: “Snapchat Is Growing, Thanks to Older Americans, While Millennial Usage Declines.” That doesn’t sound like a dying platform to me. The first three words are literally “Snapchat Is Growing.” So why are so many people predicting the demise of one of the hottest social media channels around? Millennials have been Snapchat’s bread and butter so far. After it added its Stories feature that mimics Snapchat, Instagram’s usage soared. So if millennial usage declines, will the brand die? Absolutely not. While the amount of time millennials spent using the app has decreased, they are still using it. A lot of people are—nearly 70 million of us in the United States alone.

It’s important to look back at another successful social media platform: Facebook. When it started, it was mostly used on college campuses. However, as older demographics (e.g., the parents of college students) began to use Facebook, millennial use dropped, and this group began to use Snapchat and Instagram more. How did that work out for Facebook? Not too badly, if you ask me. It seems that many are simply rooting for the next big social media channel to topple. Even Twitter hasn’t fallen yet. Its growth has slowed dramatically, but its advertising revenue and user base are still huge. Another reason for negative press could be Snap Inc.’s IPO. It’s possible investors are vying for lower share prices or other companies are looking to negatively impact their IPO. One thing is clear. Snapchat is not dead. Millennials use it, older demographics are discovering it, and despite its ephemeral features, it won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up on the latest digital, business, social media, and marketing news. The good news is, we’ve done it for you. Here are the latest stories from the past week that you need to be in the know about.

Amazon Down

Earlier this week, office-messaging app Slack tweeted, “You may have noticed issues uploading files. etc. Don’t worry, so have we: And we’re working as hard as we can to get things back to normal.” Slack wasn’t the only service tweeting messages like this on Feb. 28. As a matter of fact, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Netflix, Spotify, and several other major services also suffered outages. The reason? A four-hour outage at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is a division of Amazon that provides back-end internet services, such as cloud storage and servers, for major companies. (Snapchat recently signed a four-year, $2 billion deal with AWS to provide services.) A portion of the AWS server used by 148,213 sites was affected.

What’s interesting is that Amazon hosted the dashboard to correct the problem on the ill-fated server as well. This meant it took two hours just to begin addressing the problem. Amazon said it wasn’t sure if the outage was caused by human error or a bug in the programming code, but it was confident that there had been no malicious attack. There were definitely some entertaining comments from consumers on Twitter regarding the outage and the headaches it caused. Some of my favorites include “We can’t publish our story about AWS being down because, well, AWS is down,” from Mashable, and “Can’t turn some of my lights on at home cos @IFTTT is down. Welcome to the future!” I’m sure Amazon is conducting some sort of internal review of the incident to prevent it from happening again.

Unwritten Rules

I’m pretty sure these are no longer unwritten rules—they‘re more like chiseled in stone. The first rule: If you are a media-type company, you need to have some kind of streaming service. This week YouTube took the whole video-playing thing a step further and launched its own streaming service. Much like Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW, the service—known as YouTube TV (the company paid someone to come up with that)—allows users to stream several cable networks, along with the traditional ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. While sports programming seems to be covered, many other lifestyle-themed networks, such as HGTV, MTV, and the Food Network are missing from the selection. I’m sure it all comes down to contracts, but for some users offering these networks can make or break the deal. The service, available via a mobile app, launches in the next few weeks and will include the ability to beam the signal to your television with Google Chromecast.

The second rule: You must have some kind of Snapchat-like Stories feature. Instagram has one, and Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are testing them. But why stop there? I mean, can we really have too many apps with this feature? This week, blogging platform Medium announced a new feature—Series—for telling serialized stories. It will be a new way to tell stories on Medium, which can be stand-alone, episodic, or ongoing. One difference between Series and Stories is that Medium’s feature is not ephemeral. Items stay published until the author deletes or updates them. No, we don’t need another Stories-type feature, but this one piques my interest. Being on a strong storytelling platform can inspire users to put more effort into their video stories rather than rely on the selfies and stickers so prevalent on other platforms. Series could be one to watch.

Get to the Supermarket, Stat!

Here’s an interesting stat from the Retail Feedback Group’s “U.S. Supermarket Experience Study”: “While 87 percent of supermarket shoppers in the study report regularly following one or more social media sites, just 25 percent indicate they are friends with or connected to their primary grocery store.” In other words, retailers in the grocery space are missing a colossal opportunity to connect with shoppers and use social to drive sales and increase supermarket visits. In addition, grocery shoppers are open to new technology, but many retailers are failing to integrate the store experience.

While this study was aimed at just the grocery industry, other retailers can apply similar lessons to their shoppers and might consider the following questions. What are you doing to communicate with shoppers on their terms via social media? What value does your content provide brand followers to encourage them to become customers? Are you using push notifications or collecting email subscribers to allow for personalized communication to core consumers? Answering these questions can help build brand loyalty and brand champions. Consumers are ready, but is your company?

Beam Me Up, Scotty

It’s something very few people have done, and it’s likely that in the future, very few people will be able to afford. This week SpaceX leader Elon Musk announced that his company has booked two private citizens for a trip to the moon and back, in late 2018. It will take a week for the entire private mission, which will cover nearly 400,000 miles. The Next Web noted that this will be “the first time in 45 years that humans will travel to deep space, and that the private mission will take off from the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions.

So far, there is no word on which private citizens had tens of millions of extra dollars lying around to be able to put a sizable down payment toward the trip. No matter who it is, the trip has the real potential to be “out of this world.”

For the rest of the news this past week, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

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