Digital Dash: Snap’s Gen Z insights & more

1. Snapchat shines spotlight on Gen Z, revealing 3 surprising stats
2. Instagram algorithm under the microscope: here’s how it works
3. 7 shopper stats to shape your 2018 holiday-season strategy
4. Watch out! Instagram gets serious about video with long-form & other updates coming soon
5. Apple targets Facebook, will alert Safari users if they’re being tracked


1. Snapchat shines spotlight on Gen Z, revealing 3 surprising stats

Of all the social media platforms to delve into the attitudes and behaviours of Gen Z (totally tech-savvy 13 – 17 year olds), it won’t surprise you to hear that it was long-time favourite of the wrinkle-free: Snapchat.

The company defines Gen Z as a “hugely influential group that’s already redefining both societal norms and brand-consumer relationships”, and has just released findings from its mission to uncover “what makes Gen Z, Gen Z”.

Although these are US-based insights, we imagine there’s some crossover between US teens and other teens across the world.

Here are 3 stats that really made us sit up and listen.

  • 1. Gen Z commands $44 billion in buying power, and influences an additional $600 billion in how households spend money

Think about it like this: Gen Zs are probably the most connected family members, and almost certainly the most tech aware. When you imagine how much information they consume on an hourly basis, it’s no surprise their opinions matter in the household. Need proof? See below.

  • 2. Gen Z values brains, authenticity and spontaneity over things like having a great body, being fake and/or following routine

These values spill over into what this demographic looks for in celebrities too. Qualities like: real, genuine, creative, innovative and unique rank highly. As Snapchat points out, in the past, qualities like sexy or glamorous would have been bigger popularity definers.

  • 3. Gen Z behaves the same whether with friends or not

Useful to know for marketers trying to connect with the young ones. Things like time spent on social media, or streaming and listening to video are top pastimes both when alone and when with friends – something that reflects just how integrated digital is in the everyday lives of Gen Z.

Also in relation to friends, Gen Z is more concerned about being very close to a small group of people than having a bigger group of acquaintances.

Photos: Snapchat


2. Instagram algorithm under the microscope: here’s how it works

The word “algorithm” is often met with anger from users.

“Leave my news feed alone!” they cry. “Bring reverse-chronological back right now or I’ll start a petition!”

This is what happened to Instagram when it changed to an algorithm-driven feed back in 2016.

But, according to the company, users were actually missing 70% of all posts and around 50% of their friends’ posts back in the “good old days”.

Earlier this year, Instagram announced a major change was on the way – a move that would get closer to the reverse-chronological system of old, but not ditch the algorithm altogether. It reports that users are now seeing 90% of their friends’ posts, and spending more time on the app.

The issue with algorithms is that they always seem to be shrouded in mystery, making it difficult for marketers to understand how exactly they influence their content’s reach.

But this week Instagram has properly shed light on its algorithm for the first time.

Here’s how it works:

The first three core elements are nothing overly groundbreaking:

Photo: TechCrunch

Interest: the algorithm takes into account what you’ve engaged with in the past to asses how interested you’ll be in a particular post. It’s possible that the actual image itself will be analysed to add depth to this process.

Timeliness: newly published posts are prioritised.

Relationship: you’ll see more from accounts you’ve interacted with a lot in the past, which includes commenting on posts or being tagged in photos.

There are then 3 additional signals that also impact rankings:

Frequency: Instagram will try and show you the best posts since you last logged in – so how often you open the app is a factor.

Following: you could see fewer posts from one user if you follow lots of accounts, as Instagram will try and show you the best from the rest too.

Usage: how long you spend on the app will determine whether you’re shown top posts first or presented with a wider range of content to keep you occupied for hours.

For anyone wondering, Instagram also put some popular conspiracy theories to bed:

  • No, the reverse-chronological feed isn’t coming back anytime soon
  • No, Instagram doesn’t hide anyone’s posts – if you scroll for long enough, you’ll see everything from everyone you follow
  • No, videos are not prioritised (unlike Facebook), unless you show a personal preference for video content
  • No, people who use Stories, Live or other special features aren’t given special treatment
  • No, you won’t get penalised for posting too often
  • No, business accounts don’t get more visibility (unfortunately)

So there ya go. Now ya know.


3. 7 shopper stats to shape your 2018 holiday-season strategy

It’s clearly the week for reports from social media platforms because here we have another one – this time from Facebook.

The Social Network (specifically, Facebook IQ) has commissioned an online study to explore the holiday-season shopping habits of nearly 41,000 people aged 18+ across 27 markets.

Here are 7 noteworthy stats for retailers to consider when planning 2018 holiday strategies:

  1. Mobile-first researchers worldwide grew 14% from the 2016 – 2017 holiday season. Mobile first shoppers grew 19.9% in the same timeframe.
  2. 43% said smartphone research is the best way to find nearby stores offering great products and deals (yay for Store Visit ads).
  3. 68% of shoppers using smartphones in store were comparing prices last holiday season.
  4. 52% of US internet users say a family or friend’s recommendation is an influential source of inspiration when shopping.
  5. Almost 50% of millennials surveyed said they’re interested in scanning their own products and paying via an app.
  6. 54% of holiday shoppers globally said that Facebook was influential in their 2017 holiday shopping (39.3% said the same thing about Instagram). I can only imagine what Pinterest’s stats would say!
  7. And here are the top 3 things people were doing on each platform:

Photo: Facebook


4. Watch out! Instagram gets serious about video with long-form & other updates coming soon

We’ve been keeping close tabs on Facebook’s Watch platform for some time now and still think it’s got legs despite the fact it hasn’t taken off yet.

But while all eyes have been on the parent company, it’s rumoured that Instagram has quietly been working on a couple of its own video updates – both of which are worth taking a closer look at.

Here’s the lowdown:

Long-form video: could you soon be able to upload hour-long videos to Insta? The current limit is only 60 seconds but if rumours are to be believed, this could expand to 60 minutes in the near future.

Dedicated space for video: TechCrunch reports that Instagram might be working on a new section dedicated to scripted shows, music videos and vertically oriented content. It looks like this will be less Netflix, more YouTube in terms of quality and style, focusing on UGC films rather than grand Hollywood productions.

A lot remains unclear about all of this at the moment. How exactly the new section will look, where it will be housed, and how long-form video will feature in the feed, are all still a mystery.

One thing’s for sure though: what we’re talking about here is not just a new content destination for creators but a new advertising destination for marketers.


5. Apple targets Facebook, will alert Safari users if they’re being tracked

During its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote, a pretty major bombshell was dropped by Apple… right on Facebook’s head.

Senior vice president of software Craig Federighi announced that the next version of Safari will include a feature which alerts users when their web browsing is being recorded by third parties.

A pop-up notification will deliver the news, and importantly, give the option to block a tracker from following you.

You won’t need many guesses to identify which data-collection-reliant company was used for the demo. Yep, that’ll be Facebook.

With 2.2 million sites using the Facebook Pixel, as well as tons more using the Like, Share and Comment buttons on websites, it’s easy to see what an impact this Safari update could have.

The combination of GDPR coming into force and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal have really put data collection practices under intense scrutiny of late. That’s no bad thing, and neither is consumers demanding more clarity over how their data is used.

But recent events might have created a climate of fear around data collection, meaning the everyday user is likely to react badly to a sinister-sounding “you’re being stalked” style message.

The problem is that millions of advertisers use data not only for their own commercial gain but also to enhance and personalise their customers’ online experiences. Few non-marketers fully understand the behind-the-scenes tech that makes social media content relevant.

It’s all too easy for people to say no to a company like Facebook ‘following’ them around the internet (especially when it sounds that creepy), but how many would really want a social media feed not tailored in any way to their interests?

Also, being bombarded with pop-ups every time you visit a site can be an intrusion in itself, albeit a well-intentioned one. Which ironically, can result in users clicking whatever gets rid of the boxes quickest (usually “I accept”).

According to Wired, Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos responded in a surprising way to Apple’s diss, suggesting that if it cared about privacy, it should go one step further by blocking all third-party Javascript and tracking pixels across the web (including the Facebook Pixel).

It will be interesting to see how users themselves feel about Safari’s new feature when it rolls out.