Digital Dash: Snapchat debuts voice-activated lens & more!

1. Snapchat debuts voice-activated lens, and we’ve already disproven our own conspiracy theory about it 
2. Pinterest closes in on 250m MAUs, shows speedier growth than Snapchat
3. More Pinterest news! Extra-wide videos coming soon
4. Report: only 0.73% of Emiratis aren’t active on social media
5. Reddit leapfrogs Facebook, new stats show the social sharing site gets more traffic


1. Snapchat debuts voice-activated lens, and we’ve already disproven our own conspiracy theory about it 

You’ve gotta love Snapchat. No amount of feature cloning will stop the company innovating. And while the latest example may be more fun than functional right now, things get really exciting when you think of where this tech could lead.

The company has launched a new Lens that’s triggered when you speak. Cute little bear ears appear when the Lens is activated, then grow and glow more or less depending on the noise levels.

Here’s our very own senior social media manager Beth giving the feature a road test:

Photo: Beth

At this point I should tell you about a conspiracy theory that came up in the office this morning and was very quickly debunked. For a brief moment, I wondered if the facial movements (indicating speech) triggered the AR animations to spring into life, instead of the actual noise itself. I quickly realised that this made no sense because it’s any noises, not just voices, that activate the Lens.

But just for your amusement, here’s Beth again proving the theory to have no validity whatsoever:

Photo: Beth

While this Lens is cute and fun to play around with, let’s not forget the tech itself has serious potential. In the future, imagine different types of noises/pitches triggering unique visual elements, or this kind of visual voice-activation being incorporated into games.


2. Pinterest closes in on 250m MAUs, shows speedier growth than Snapchat

Bit by bit, Pinterest is attracting the attention it deserves from brands. Although there’s still a long way to go (why advertising isn’t available globally yet is beyond me!), the platform has an ever-increasing list of innovative features, super-advanced search capabilities and tools for brands.

It also has something none of the other platforms do: a huge army of users who are actively searching for ideas and things to buy.

And on the subject of users, want to know how many exactly make up that huge army? Almost 250 million (active per month).

That’s an increase of 50 million monthly active users (MAUs) since Pinterest’s September 2017 report.

As you can see from the below outline, the platform’s growth rate has really accelerated in the past couple of quarters; 50 million followers were gained in only slightly more time previously taken to gain half that many.

  • 150m – 175m = 6 months
  • 175m – 200m = 5 months
  • 200m – 250m = 8 months

Source: WeRSM

WeRSM reports that Snapchat ‘only’ gained 25 million MAUs last year, and Twitter 9 million. Which gives Pinterest a great position on the scale.

Obviously it’s a different story when it comes to the likes of Facebook and Instagram, both of which seem to gain users like the rest of us blink (in the billions or close to).

But, relatively speaking, hitting the 250 mil MAU mark would be very positive for Pinterest, and the speed at which its user base is growing shows recent platform development efforts are paying off: although Pinterest technically missed revenue targets for 2017, a storming second half of the year helped achieve a 50% jump in sales (to $473 million) in total.


3. More Pinterest news! Extra-wide videos coming soon

2 years since Promoted Video arrived on Pinterest, a new and even more eye-catching version is in testing: max. width videos.

Using the new ad unit, advertisers will be able to publish a video that stands out by spanning wider than the standard video format in feeds and in search on mobile. It will be available in both 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios.


Content: Pinterest

In terms of appeal to brands, max. width videos will be super enticing.

Firstly, video content is both popular and productive on Pinterest: the platform itself states that users are more likely to make a purchase after viewing a video. 67% of Pinterest video viewers say that videos inspire them to take action – whereas only 32% say the same about other platforms.

Secondly, the new format offers advertisers the invaluable opportunity to stand out and differentiate their content from all the other videos out there. Being physically larger means not only will the footage be more enjoyable to watch but also more likely to get noticed in the first place.

Max. width videos are being tested with brands including Adidas, American Express, P&G and Paramount Pictures this summer.


Content: Pinterest

4. Report: only 0.73% of Emiratis aren’t active on social media

If you know much about SMSW Media, you’ll know that we specialise in helping brands succeed across the world. Having worked in over 17 countries, we’ve learned that the only way to achieve this is to stay plugged in to what’s happening at a local level – and part of that means understanding what, why and how people are using social media.

With that in mind, we were really interested to see a recent report on social media usage in the UAE from Global Media Insight. To be honest, the findings weren’t all that surprising – we work a lot in the Middle East and are under no illusion about how digital-savvy the UAE population is!

But that’s not to say that the stats weren’t a great reminder of how insanely popular social media is in the country.

Below are 4 top stats from the report. Bear in mind when you read these that the UAE population has a median age of 30.6 – that’s a good decade younger than us UK oldies!.

  • 9.38 million active social media users: that’s 99% of the population!

  • 92% active mobile social media users: mobile internet speeds are twice as fast as fixed (opposite to the UK!)

  • Facebook and WhatsApp most popular: YouTube and Facebook Messenger follow (not very) closely behind

  • Average daily time spent using social media = 2 hours and 56 mins: does nobody play Scrabble anymore?!


5. Reddit leapfrogs Facebook, new stats show the social sharing site gets more traffic

According to data from Amazon’s Alexa – the company’s web traffic analysing platform as well as its popular voice assistant – social sharing site Reddit is beating Facebook in terms of US web visits.

Spotted by Reddit user IamATechieNerd, and reported by The Next Web, the stats suggest Reddit is the third most visited US website, with Google and YouTube the only two gaining more traffic, and Facebook and Amazon accounting for positions 4 and 5.

Photo: Amazon Alexa

If you’re really eagle-eyed, you might have already noted from the picture above that Reddit is also doing incredibly well in another category: Daily Time on Site.

Compared to the other sites in the top 5 visited – whose users spend between 7:16 and 10:49 minutes per day – Reddit’s community evidently hang around for much longer, racking up over 15 minutes of active user time.