Simon Pilkington
June 19, 2014

Facebook challenges Snapchat, Obama hits Tumblr and Twitter gets GIFs

Facebook challenges Snapchat, Obama hits Tumblr and Twitter gets GIFs

The big social media players are flexing their muscle this week with a lineup of new feature launches and events. President of the United States Barack Obama fields questions on Tumblr, making the network seem more and more like a viable political platform. Facebook throws down the glove and releases Slingshot, a direct competitor to Snapchat. Twitter embraces the dominance of the GIF by allowing them to play directly in user timelines. And in this week’s viral video Volkswagen rails against texting and driving with a very clever stunt.

Facebook challenges Snapchat with Slingshot

Facebook, who last year tried unseating Snapchat as the kings of temporary photos with their ill-fated app ‘Poke’, have given it another shot with Slingshot, yet another mobile app for sending impermanent messages to your friends. What separates it from the growing number of options in this field? Slingshot requires that users send a photo as a reply before they can ‘unlock’ the content of their friend’s message.  You can directly respond to friend’s messages with photos, video and text.

With Apple’s new iOS 8 update bringing ephemeral messaging to the native Messages app, the playing field is becoming more and more crowded. We think Snapchat still edges out the competition, but Facebook has done well with a nice, elegant design. Not to mention the fact Slingshot will benefit from the Facebook friend connections you already have in place.

The app is free (of course) and connects to your Facebook account or contacts list to connect to your friends and followers.

Slingshot hasn’t hit either the Australian App Store or Google Play Store as of yet, and there’s no word yet on when it’ll be available. We hope it’s soon, so we can get our hands on it!

In the news elsewhere…

U.S. President Barack Obama, who ‘s well known for his social media savvy, hosted his very first Tumblr session with CEO David Karp earlier this week. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to reach audiences that are relevant to the things we’re talking about,” said Obama, who clearly understands that getting on Tumblr is essential to engaging with a young, tech-savvy audience. Questions included student loan debt and general inquiries about the economy. It just goes to show how important social media is for passing on our message and engaging with your stakeholders.

Twitter introduces GIFs

Animated picture fans rejoice! Twitter has finally allowed animated GIFs onto the website, which might just change the way people engage with the network. Like Tumblr, which has forged its identity on the sharing of fun and hilarious animated GIFs, Twitter users now have the ability to post them as part of a tweet, which can be played by followers. Previously, animated images could only be posted as a video link or as a Vine. Does this mean Twitter is more open to people sharing content from outside their very own Vine network?

Viral Video of the Week: Eyes on the Road

Safety PSA’s are always great fodder for viral content – people love it when government and non-government organisations share important safety messages in an interesting and dynamic way. Volkswagen have embraced this with a viral video warning against texting and driving.

The setup is simple: targeting a cinema complex in Hong Kong, the company played a onscreen ad of a car travelling down a road. At a set point, a broadcaster fired off a text message to every person in the cinema. When they all looked down at their phones , the car slams into a tree. It’s a brilliant way of showing just how dangerous distractions are when driving.

The video is currently sitting at 22 million views. Why was it so successful? A few reasons:

Safety PSA’s are very popular. Remember those drink driving ads from New Zealand? Consumers enjoy clever and emotional ways of conveying important messages.

People love corporate messages with a strong moral content. We want to know that big brands are also worrying about important issues.

The element of ‘realness’. Videos with an experiment or a veneer of reality to them are always popular. Is the video staged? Who knows.  The important thing is that it looks real.

All of these elements come together for a powerful, emotional video that was destined to go viral from the get go.

See you all next week!

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