Monthly Archives August 2016

What the New Lifestage App Means for Marketers

Teens taking selfie with iPhone

They weren’t lying when they said video is the future of social. Facebook’s newest app, Lifestage, allows high school students to communicate and express themselves solely through video.

Unlike Instagram stories, Lifestage isn’t a direct copy of Snapchat. The new app doesn’t allow for any form of communication outside of video. Rather than serving as a messaging platform, Lifestage will be used for self-expression through video bios.

Lifestage was created for people 21 and under, and designed for high schoolers to “find out more about the people in their school community,” Michael Sayman, the app’s creator, posted to Facebook. “Lifestage looks back at the days of Facebook from 2004 and explores what can be done if we went back and turned the crank all the way forward to 2016 with video-first.”

Did we mention Sayman is 19? How Gen Z is that? The teen has been at Facebook for about two years and had two successful apps under his belt prior to starting there.

Aside from making us adults feel a little excluded, Lifestage has us wondering what potential opportunity could be in store for marketers.

[Tweet “If Lifestage proves successful, this could be a platform full of Gen Z-ers and a lot of possibility.”]

We could be getting a little ahead of ourselves, as the app was released just last week, but a new platform means a new marketing opportunity.

Lifestage app screenshots on iPhones

Here’s what we’re thinking Lifestage could have in store for marketers:

Localized targeting: When signing up for the app, students enter the name of their high school. Talk about a hyper-targeting opportunity. While Snapchat’s advertising platform is nationally focused (and typically used for brand awareness), Lifestage could be used for local advertising. Who’s to stop a local pizza joint from posting an ad just around lunchtime? (Maybe a hefty price tag, but hey, we’re still in the hypothetical stage of thinking.)

Demographic targeting: Brands that advertise on Snapchat are reaching an audience in the 18-34 range. Think about how much your opinions and behaviors changed in that age range. Lifestage is just for high schoolers, so brands can really get personal with their tailored content. Facebook’s ad targeting platform is pretty amazing with its targeting, but that can only go so far if this generation isn’t using the platform regularly.

Native content: Remember the days on Snapchat before an ad would interrupt your peaceful story viewing? The subtler an ad is, the less likely you are to irritate your audience. Branded profiles could serve as a less invasive way to get eyeballs on your business or product. The platform asks its users to fill out a profile using only video. Profile fields include ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ as well as ‘my favorite song’ and ‘my locker.’  Brands could participate in a similar video profile that users could explore at their leisure.

Screenshot of Facebook's new Lifestage app
Lifestage users fill out a profile using only video, answering fields like ‘my favorite song’ and ‘my backyard.’

Influencers: Gen Z relies heavily on their peers on social media to influence their purchasing decisions and shopping habits. Influencers use any form of social media to get their message across, but are particularly successful on Instagram and YouTube. Lifestage provides a new way for influencers to reach their demographic, so we’re thinking it will be flooded with influencers in no time. Aside from native content, utilizing influencers is a great way for brands to reach their audience more organically.

Since Lifestage is still brand new, we’ll give it some time before joining the fun. But don’t let the fact that a platform is new (or the fact that you have to be under 21 to join) stop you from dreaming. Brands should be thinking on opportunities the moment a platform is released. That way you’re prepared with content that will blow users away when the platform does open up to brands.

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Insta Stories Have Arrived!

On August 2nd, Instagram took a huge bite out of Snapchat by adding the new “Stories” feature. This major development is clearly a carbon copy of Snapchat’s evolutionary platform.

 

Instagram’s Stories allows users to post short videos and photos that exist for a span of 24 hours. It is a comparable application to Snapchat, which is a famous ephemeral app that is mainly popular for its 24-hour video and chat tales, facial recognitions and image filters. The features that Instagram released are almost identical to Snapchat from its very theme and vernacular.

 

Back in 2015, advertisers began to anticipate potential opportunity for marketing on Snapchat with image and branding. The idea of Snapchat gave way to more interactive experiences than Facebook and YouTube (which advertisers believed users commonly watched inertly). Snapchat does not contain traditional ad-targeting tools and is continuously searching for ways to attract bigger brands. While they’re still developing their bouncy infrastructure and competing against major rivals—Now This! Instagram has nearly replicated their services!

 

What does this mean for marketers? The CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, discussed the latest development with TechCrunch and said that, “this is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it. Facebook invented feed, LinkedIn took on feed, Twitter took on feed, Instagram took on feed, and they all feel very different now and they serve very different purposes.” Instagram’s owner, Facebook, took note of how other social networks adapted their feed and decided to flip the script by incorporating Snapchat’s strengths into one mobile first platform: Instagram.

 

Where Snapchat advertising had astronomical cost and exclusivity, Instagram is self-servicing, leaving marketers wondering how advertising will look via Instagram stories. Instagram’s new interface allows for both stories to be displayed at the top of your screen, while in-feed photos and videos appear in your timeline below, without ever having to switch off to another platform, creating a more dynamic means for distributing content. It fulfills the concept of organic experience building between users and brands in a more interpersonal relationship and is even easier for users to follow a brand, watch their stories and like their post. In addition, there are more opportunities for exclusive behind the scenes video clips, contests, giveaways and other incentives rather than the usual photo upload.

 

While we are in favor of this astonishing feature that Instagram impenitently “borrowed,” there’s still speculation about its forthcoming progressions. What will happen with Snapchat? Will new Instagram stories be as affective as anticipated? How will this influence other social media platforms? What will sponsored Instagram stories look like? Will Instagram add those fun filters that Snapchat is synonymous with? Instagram has yet again proven that it is a force to be reckoned with and only time will tell what’s next for this photo-sharing tycoon.