Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.
In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for December 2021. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. 2021 Comes To a Merciful End Another year comes to a close and so does our reporting of Google Trends analysis for 2021. It is sometimes fun to compare our takes with what Google’s marketing presents from its own data. Their campaign showcased an increase in the search volume for the phrase “how to heal”. Yes, we do see that uptick in Google Trends for that search term in this all time view. Looking at this chart, we can see that there are peaks in the month of July over the last few years, which lines up with a related phrase “how to heal tattoo”. Are we, as a people, trying to heal holistically from the pressures of the modern world or just from body art that we get in the summer? We can only guess. Last month, we saw top searched keywords in the typical categories: Sports, Entertainment, and Holidays. There were a few phrases attached to current events that are worth noting and a few keywords related to tech companies. With that, here’s our take on December 2021 Google Trends. The Top Queried Phrases In December 2021 There were two Google Doodles that drove people to query a phrase in the search engine just by clicking on the modified logo: Winter Season - 12/20/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries New Year's Eve - 12/30/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Appropriate for this month, the start of winter and NYE doodles got people to interact with Google results The third phrase, also queried ten million plus times, was less celebratory in nature with the passing of American actress Betty White on the 31st. Betty White birthday - 12/31/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries It’s curious that the phrase reported by Google Trends was related to her birthday in January as she was about to turn 100 on January 17th. Typically when a famous person dies, their name is what is reported by Google Trends. We feel that this keyword shows that people were wondering how soon she was going to reach the century mark. ‘Tis The Holiday Season When we think of December, we think of holidays. Here are the holiday-related queries from last month: Pearl Harbor Day - 12/6/2021 - 500,000+ queries NORAD Santa tracker - 12/23/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Merry Christmas - 12/24/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries New Year's Day - 12/31/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries We can attribute some of the query volume of the New Year’s Day term to a Doodle that was published on Jan.1. Knowing that Google is on Pacific Standard Time, some of that New Year query volume was captured on the 31st. What Do You Want To Watch? We love our TV shows. Here are the most popular ones that aired or premiered in December 2021: Facts of Life Live - 12/7/2021 - 200,000+ queries And Just Like That - 12/8/2021 - 500,000+ queries Miss Universe - 12/11/2021 - 500,000+ queries Who won The Voice 2021 - 12/13/2021 - 500,000+ queries The Witcher - 12/17/2021 - 500,000+ queries The AMP SEO team thinks that if a movie title appears in the top 3 phrases in Google Trends daily searches, people will go see it in droves. If it appears across multiple days, then it really has high interest. Spider-Man: No Way Home - 12/14/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Spider-Man: No Way Home - 12/16/2021 - 500,000+ queries Matrix - 12/22/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Sing 2 - 12/22/2021 - 200,000+ queries Don't Look Up - 12/24/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Now The Matrix Resurrections, Sing 2, and Don’t Look Up are probably going to be viewed by many people, but Spider-Man: No Way Home is on its own level. As of this writing, the film has earned $668.8 million to date and is the sixth-highest-grossing U.S. distributed theater movie of all time. Over the course of 2021, the film appeared in Google Trends Top 3 queries on seven separate dates. From Google Trends, we could see that the buzz/hype for this movie was enormous. Weather Event and Other Natural Occurrences There were a few weather events that drove people to search. Some, unfortunately, were deadly: Hawaii blizzard - 12/3/2021 - 200,000+ queries Mayfield, Ky - 12/10/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Meteor shower tonight - 12/13/2021 - 200,000+ queries Colorado - 12/30/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries The devastating tornado that affected Mayfield, KY among other towns and cities was the event that drove the most volume. Yep, More COVID-19 Queries Just when we thought we were out of the woods, the Omicron variant brought COVID cases back up. Right after Christmas, people were searching about COVID: CDC COVID guidelines - 12/27/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Walgreens COVID testing - 12/27/2021 - 500,000+ queries We really hope we don’t have to report any COVID keywords in 2022. What’s Going On In Tech? We categorized these phrases as tech-related but their intent varies. Spotify Wrapped 2021 - 12/1/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Bitcoin - 12/3/2021 - 200,000+ queries AWS outage - 12/7/2021 - 500,000+ queries Let’s get the phrases with negative intent out of the way first. On the 3rd, Bitcoin lost value and Amazon Web Services had an outage on the 7th. On the positive side, we love the Spotify Wrapped feature and look forward to it each December. From its inclusion in the daily Top 3, it appears that many people enjoy it too. Looking at search volume over the last 5 years, it looks like 2020 was the bigger year for Wrapped. We’ll see what 2022 will bring for the music streaming company. The Wide World of Sports Over the last three years of recording this data, we know that sports-related keywords get the most volume. We decided to break down the most popular phrases into their own sub-categories: The 5 million plus club had a couple of notable deaths and a college football team: Demaryius Thomas - 12/9/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries John Madden - 12/28/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Alabama football - 12/31/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Jake Paul boxes and people are interested in his bouts: Jake Paul - 12/17/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley - 12/17/2021 - 500,000+ queries Jake Paul - 12/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries European Football has fans in the USA: Manchester United - 12/2/2021 - 200,000+ queries The most popular NFL teams are the ones that are searched the most: Cowboys - 12/2/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Patriots - 12/6/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Steelers - 12/9/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 12/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 12/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Rams - 12/13/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Patriots - 12/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 12/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 12/25/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 12/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Miami Dolphins - 12/27/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries We can say the same thing about college football teams too: Oregon football - 12/3/2021 - 500,000+ queries Alabama vs Georgia - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Michigan football - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Georgia Football - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Michigan football - 12/5/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Army Navy game - 12/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Oklahoma football - 12/29/2021 - 500,000+ queries Over the last three years of recording this data, we know that sports-related keywords get the most volume. We decided to break down the most popular phrases into their own sub-categories: The 5 million plus club had a couple of notable deaths and a college football team: Demaryius Thomas - 12/9/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries John Madden - 12/28/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Alabama football - 12/31/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Jake Paul boxes and people are interested in his bouts: Jake Paul - 12/17/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley - 12/17/2021 - 500,000+ queries Jake Paul - 12/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries European Football has fans in the USA: Manchester United - 12/2/2021 - 200,000+ queries The most popular NFL teams are the ones that are searched the most: Cowboys - 12/2/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Patriots - 12/6/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Steelers - 12/9/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 12/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 12/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Rams - 12/13/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Patriots - 12/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 12/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 12/25/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 12/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Miami Dolphins - 12/27/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries We can say the same thing about college football teams too: Oregon football - 12/3/2021 - 500,000+ queries Alabama vs Georgia - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Michigan football - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Georgia Football - 12/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Michigan football - 12/5/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Army Navy game - 12/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Oklahoma football - 12/29/2021 - 500,000+ queries An NBA player broke the three-pointer record: Steph Curry - 12/14/2021 - 500,000+ queries Lastly, UFC has a large following too: UFC - 12/11/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries There were more sports related phrases, 46 in all. When you collect 93 phrases and their estimated search volume on a daily basis, you get a good understanding of how popular sports are in the USA. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.
In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for November 2021. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. What Were The Takeaways For November 2021? Looking back at last month, we’re reminded that elections happen somewhere in the country in November. There were a few elections that gained national attention and we saw that in the top searches near the beginning of the month. Two criminal trials were big news and people were interested in them enough to search for details related to the cases. Holidays and holiday shopping are always big in November and we’ll showcase this year’s keywords. Lastly, there were a few interesting odds and ends to discuss to wrap up our examination of the month. Oodles of Doodles The month of November had special Google logos that drove more than 10 million queries each. Here’s the list of the queries attached to those Doodles in chronological order: Day of the Dead - 11/2/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Dr. Kamal Ranadive - 11/7/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Veterans Day - 11/10/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Johannes Vermeer - 11/11/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries History of Thanksgiving - 11/25/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Day of the Dead was a multi-day Doodle and we also recorded the 10 million plus queries at the end of October too. Dr. Ranadive was honored on what would have been her 104th birthday for her research on links between cancers and viruses. The Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer got a Doodle that celebrated the 26th anniversary of the exhibition that opened at Washington D.C.’s national Gallery of Art. Lastly, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving received Doodles that sent people to learn more about these holidays. State Governor Elections Right at the start of the month, search interest in U.S. elections grew and was captured by the AMP SEO team: Glenn Youngkin - 11/1/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries N.J governor race - 11/2/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Virginia election results - 11/2/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Election day 2021 - 11/3/2021 - 200,000+ queries The Governor races in New Jersey and Virginia were the elections that drove the most queries, including the winner of the VA election, Glenn Youngkin. This list is a reminder that important elections happen every year and not just every four years. The Criminal Trials of November A couple of high profile court cases drove search volume over many days in November 2021. Kyle Rittenhouse - 11/8/2021 - 500,000+ queries Kyle Rittenhouse trial - 11/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Rittenhouse - 11/15/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Kyle Rittenhouse - 11/15/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Rittenhouse - 11/19/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 11/22/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Ahmaud Arbery - 11/24/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries From the lists above, queries related to the Rittenhouse trial made the daily top 3 in Google’s Daily Trends across five days. Queries related to the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial only appeared on two days. The AMP SEO team pulled some charts from Google Trends to see a visualization of the query volume. This chart represents query volume (interest) for the names of Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery. The blue line shows that the volume was much higher for Kyle’s name. Curiously, a slightly different take on the same subjects revealed a different story. By switching the categorization of each of their names from “Search term” to “Topic”, we saw this chart: In this chart, you can see that queries related to the topic of Ahmaud Arbery appear to be larger than those of Kyle Rittenhouse. From our understanding, topics are set up to include more phrases than just the singular keyword inputted into the tool. It appears that Google Trends Daily report is more in line with exact keywords and not topics. Queries From The World of Entertainment Moving to a lighter subject, here are the queries related to what Americans were interested in watching in November. Eternals - 11/4/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Yellowstone season 4 - 11/7/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries CMA Awards 2021 - 11/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Spider-Man: No Way Home - 11/16/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries King Richard - 11/19/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Hawkeye - 11/23/2021 - 500,000+ queries Spider-Man: No Way Home - 11/28/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries The Spider-Man movie queries were driven by trailers. The film isn’t hitting theaters until December 2021 but it’s clear people are excited about it. Even though The Beatles documentary was released in November, search interest was not big enough to appear in the daily top 3. Interest in two singers was captured in November 2021: Britney Spears - 11/12/2021 - 500,000+ queries Adele - 11/14/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Yes, Britney’s conservatorship finally ended on the 12th and Adele performed on national television on the 14th ahead of her 30 album release. Holidays and Holiday Spending Besides Thanksgiving, there were other holidays including some shopping holidays: Diwali - 11/3/2021 - 500,000+ queries Thanksgiving - 11/24/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Happy Thanksgiving - 11/24/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Black Friday deals - 11/25/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Best Buy - 11/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Cyber Monday deals - 11/28/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Diwali drove search interest on the 3rd and that search interest has grown over the last 5 years. You can see how it has grown in this chart: After Thanksgiving, holiday shopping starts traditionally and the deals you can find on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday had people searching. In years past, retailer names also made the daily top 3. This year, Best Buy was the lone brand with that distinction. So Why Were People Searching Urban Dictionary So Much? Sometimes, keywords will appear in our daily capture and we’ll be left scratching our heads. This keyword in particular not only had us guessing about the reason why people were querying it so much but also had us feeling a bit tentative about the prospect of learning more Urban Dictionary - 11/21/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Thankfully, the reason was fairly innocuous. Because of a trending topic on Twitter, people were driven to search the online slang definition provider to learn more about their names as defined by Urban Dictionary. The AMP SEO team warns that your first name’s definition may not be safe for work. Saving Time and Natural Phenomena Oh, turning our clocks back an hour always makes people search and sometimes, if there’s something to look at in the sky, people will search for that event too. Daylight Savings - 11/6/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Lunar Eclipse 2021 - 11/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries We have to guess that some of those Daylight Savings queries are from people who wonder why we change our collective understanding of what time it is twice a year. Omicron Variant Just when you thought we’d had enough of COVID-19 variants, there’s reports of a new one named Omicron. Omicron variant symptoms - 11/27/2021 - 200,000+ queries This query shows us how people are seeking to understand the symptoms of this new variant rather than just general information about it. We’re keeping positive thoughts that this variant is the last one that we need to know about. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.
The Hispanic consumer can no longer be ignored. Too many opportunities are lost from lack of attention and conversation around reaching this audience. As a Latina, I feel it is an important issue to address. At the root of this problem is a lack of understanding. Why are Hispanics important? What makes us any different? How do we even reach this audience? Let's go one at a time. Before getting into the material, let me clarify a few terms. The term Hispanic refers to people who originate from Spanish-speaking countries, while Latino/a indicates Latin-American origins, including countries speaking Portuguese, French and many others. For the sake of simplicity, I will be focusing on Hispanic Americans but some of the material, especially related to culture, can be applied to other Latin American communities. Why are Hispanics important? According to US census data, by the year 2044 the US population will be majority multicultural. This includes Hispanic Americans, Asian American, African American and more. At the moment 43% of the population is multicultural, that's 143 million people, 65 million of which are Hispanic. Beyond population, how about the money they bring to the table? Hispanics in the US have a higher buying power than Italy’s GDP. Pretty impressive, right? Additionally, they are dominating in a number of markets such as food, clothes and phone services. On a human level, representation, while not a new conversation, is currently standing at centerstage. People want to see themselves in the media they consume. Seeing one’s self represented creates a bigger emotional impact and attracts attention. Misrepresentation and stereotypical representation is a reality for most minority groups. For Hispanics in particular, we are too often represented as criminals, drug dealers, prostitutes or the loud dramatic best friend but almost never the strong independent main character, or the doctor, engineer, entrepreneur. Slowly things are changing. Salma Hayek recently appeared in Marvel’s, the Eternals, as a guide, leader, and main character. A Netflix show called One Day at a Time follows the story of a Hispanic American family, touching on subjects like mental health, sexuality, and race. Change doesn’t happen overnight and it requires dedication and understanding. Lets play a part in furthering this change. What makes Hispanics any different? There are two factors that differentiate Hispanics from the American consumer: language and culture. These differences are at the root of most difficulties and confusion experienced when trying to reach this audience. Not understanding these differences can lead to mistranslations and misrepresentations which have a negative impact on how people in this community view certain brands. Language It is important to recognize that though we as Hispanics share a language, it is not a monoculture. This can be seen through variations in the language itself, food, music, and traditions. As Spanish speakers we have different accents, dialects, and slang depending on our country of origin and even the region within each country. This makes sense if you compare this differentiation to the different British, Australian, and American accents you hear while traveling or watching movies and TV. Even within the US we have slightly different words for things like fizzy drinks; soda, pop, coke, etc.. The Hispanics living in the US come from all 21 Spanish-speaking countries so we have to be careful to use copy that doesn’t have a negative or completely different meaning to a certain country. This is going to require a few minutes of extra research from you team, but it’s worth it to avoid mistakes other brands have made in the past: To demonstrate their advancements in comforts, American Airlines launched their “Fly in leather” campaign in Latin and Central America. The translation used was “Vuela encuero”, unfortunately in some countries that is translated to “Fly naked” Similarly, Coors translated their “Turn it loose” campaign to something meaning “suffer from diarrhea” It should be noted that for the two examples above, the translations were technically correct word for word, but the teams involved in this did not take into account colloquial meanings and slang not typically recorded in google translate or translation dictionaries. To avoid any miscommunications it is safest to do a little research before finalizing your copy. Culture Culture is the reason why we think and act differently. It dictates what we value and what we look for in our surroundings. A famous social psychologist, Geert Hofstede, developed 6 cultural dimensions, one of which - “individualism” - is particularly important within the context of advertising. The Individualism scale helps define culture by identifying what is valued within the community. Countries with higher scores are categorized as individualistic, meaning they value individual success, personal reward, and personal benefit. While countries on the lower end of the scale are collectivistic, valuing family, group success, and group goals. The US is one of the highest scoring countries in the world at 91, signaling individualistic values. Spanish speaking countries, while varying in score, are almost all collectivistic. Research has linked this cultural dimension to how consumers react to different themes within advertisements. Consumers from individualistic countries react best to themes of autonomy, achievement, personal benefit, and expression of uniqueness. Consumers from collectivistic countries react best to themes of avoiding negative outcomes, maintaining harmony, social connectedness, and fulfilling social roles. For the Hispanics in the US it is not so simple. Hispanic Americans are on both sides of this scale at the same time. Because of different levels of exposure to both cultures, not all Hispanic American consumers have the same cultural identity. So, how this framework is applied depends on individual experiences. There are three named variations of cultural identity within this area of study; Acculturated, Bicultural, and Unacculturated. Acculturated Acculturated Hispanic Americans identify more with American values. For this reason they should respond more to individualistic themes, and the English language. Differing from Americans, however, they would respond well to Hispanic cultural references. This can be something like casting, music, and more. This is especially true today where a lot of people are making a conscious effort to connect to their heritage. In fact, today 66% of Hispanic Americans say “the Spanish language is more important to me today than it was five years ago.” Bicultural Bicultural Hispanic Americans have equal levels of the two cultures within them and their identity differs depending on how they negotiate the two cultures in their heads. The more common of the two, integrated biculturals, combine the two cultures and thus will react best to a combination of values, and language. Compartmentalized Biculturals, on the other hand, separate the two cultural identities and thus react best to either American values or Hispanic values. Unacculturated Unacculturated Hispanic Americans identify more with Hispanic values meaning they respond best to collectivistic themes, and the Spanish language. This group is very rarely a part of the target for brands, but a portion of this segment can however be reached using the efforts for the two other previously mentioned groups as (comprehension stat). It seems that the sweet spot within all the groups is a combination of values, language and culture. Most importantly it highlights the fact that in order to reach Hispanic Americans the material does not necessarily have to be in Spanish. Key takeaways How do we reach this audience? 1. Knowing your audience: This can help when choosing the best approach. Who are they? Acculturated? Include small nods to the Hispanic culture. Bicultural? Include stronger Hispanic themes like family, and togetherness. Unacculturated? Consider a unique creative concept to execute in Spanish. If you don’t know, your best bet is to incorporate Hispanic culture or values in some way throughout your content. Remember, at the end of the day, you probably know your target the best so trust your gut. Make sure your Hispanic American audience is a part of the conversation. 2. No direct translation: From all the differences in culture and values, having the same approach for everyone seems to fall short. This is one of the reasons why you should try to avoid direct translation. From the outside this might be seen as lazy or inauthentic and have a negative impact on brand perception. Beyond that, it simply might not have the same emotional impact that the material had in English. This is not a hard and fast rule, direct translation could work in some situations, but what is important is to take time to discuss this deeper rather than make a split second decision. Most consumers are smart, they’ll catch on to your intentions. Alternative ways to approach this could be tweaking the concept to be more relevant to the Hispanic American audience, then develop it solely in Spanish. Another option is to include a Hispanic perspective in the English material. Think about the statistics about the US population, make content truly representative of that diversity. 3. Double check your Spanish: If you are using Spanish, double check everything. Watch out for colloquial meaning from different countries and common translation mistakes. Some ways that you can do this are consulting native speakers if they are willing, and checking the internet. When consulting the internet be aware that Google Translate will not help the majority of the time, instead try using Urban Dictionary. For example, when looking up the phrase “que lo que,” Google Translate says “what what.” While technically directly translated the words mean “what the what,” this phrase is used in the Dominican Republic as “what’s up?” Urban Dictionary does however pick up the meaning and provides examples of its usage in day to day life. The most common translation mistakes come from false cognates. These are words in two languages, in our case English and Spanish, that sound the same but mean something completely different. For example, the words embarrassed and embarazada, while they look the same, the Spanish word translates to pregnant. Not knowing this could lead to some very confused consumers. 4. A sprinkling of Hispanic culture: Sometimes all that is needed are some small changes to creative. Including elements of Hispanic culture can go a long way, even without any language changes. Making the community feel represented can sometimes be enough to reach the Hispanic audience. If using this approach, watch out for overused stereotypes, and take into account the country by country differences. You might not be able to find a food that every Hispanic would immediately identify with but many would relate with a three generation household or going to a kids birthday party with more adults than kids. There are many small details that can be added beyond casting that will add to the authenticity of the material. 5. Spanglish: Spanglish is something that most Hispanic Americans can say they use regularly. It is a mix of the language used to optimize how we get something across. Sometimes there just isn’t a word in English for a certain feeling or object and vice versa. Adding this element to advertising material is admittedly tricky to navigate and execute but if done right and in a natural and logical way it could attract the attention of Hispanic Americans engaging with the content. 6. Be Intentional: All of these approaches have one thing in common: all of them will fail if they are not backed by the right intention. If you try to reach this audience just to reach them it will most likely translate into the work. In order to improve this gap in knowledge we need to make a conscious effort to have conversations, think about decisions, and develop useful practices.
Our very own Sascha Lock (VP, Media) was recently mentioned in a Tradedesk article about how digital audio and podcasts are creating great value for brands looking to advertise during the holiday season. He said “CPGs selling deodorant may want to target ‘running’ playlists, while witty wine brands pursue parenting podcasts.” Read the full article here.
Whenever I come across a conversation thread asking what characteristics are most valuable in a UX designer, I frequently see answers such as “desire to learn” and “creativity.” While I don’t disagree that those are highly valuable attributes to have, having interviewed too many designers to count I think there is one additional overlooked characteristic that separates good designers from truly great ones: the ability to think multiple steps ahead and game out their solutions. In the evolution from beginner to expert, designers go through somewhat predictable phases. As they move up the ability curve, most designers get to a place where they can take in the user needs for a particular interaction and come up with multiple options for combinations of UI elements and layouts that will achieve the desired user goal. Evaluating which of these options to move forward with is where the rubber meets the road, and it’s the depth of thought applied to those evaluations that really define the line between good and great designers. As a simple framework, we can think of design evaluation in 3 levels. At the first level, we assess the design to ask if it accomplishes the task we set out to do. Does our signup form allow the user to enter the necessary information to create an account? At the second level, we can evaluate the design for usability and even elegance. Is our form easy to use, simple, and even delightful? At the third level, we ask if our design is bulletproof. What are all the states the form can be in and does it still work in all of them? What happens if a user enters bad data? What if there is a connection error while submitting and also bad input? Taking a design solution from acceptable to awesome requires thinking past what we see on the page. We have to think multiple steps ahead and be able to visualize not just the next step the user will take, but potentially two or three steps down the path. We need to think about not just the easy path through the flow we’re creating, but also all the side paths the user may go down, and all the possible places that may lead. Further, we need to think not just about the simplest state of our UI, but also complex states that it could reasonably be in and make sure it works there as well. Even good designers often stop at the second level (or do a light pass at the third), and rely on user testing, QA, and/or product feedback once a feature is shipped to find the flaws. User testing does have its place for this sort of thing, but is insufficient because it is difficult to make sure you’ve covered the less common usage patterns. Also, space and time for user testing is something we rarely have enough of, and it’s better to put in the thought beforehand and save user testing resources for the most important feedback. Waiting until a product is in the wild to discover the flaws is something we want to avoid at all costs. As a very simple example, consider an overly simplified UI for an admin to add users to a product. We’ve decided already that we want to invite users via email, and the invited user will click on a link and create their account. The admin will enter the email of the person to invite, click the “Invite” button, and the rest is up to them. After coming up with a few directions, we may decide that this is the strongest direction for our Invite Users flow: Our level one evaluation seems to pass; this UI allows us to invite users. For level two, it seems relatively simple and straightforward, easy to understand, and quick feedback from others indicates it’s understandable. Level three requires us to start pushing on this until it breaks. While it would be good to actually draw out all of the states of the interaction (and best to prototype), we can start by simply gaming out a user interacting with this. First, they’ll enter an email and click invite. What happens then? We want them to know they’ve been successful and who has already been invited, so perhaps we can add a successful interaction and a cool animation to add the newly added user to the bottom of the list. What if they add another? And another? What happens when they've added 10, 20, or more users? Our list may be getting longer, and eventually, our user invite form elements will be pushed off the bottom of the page “below the fold". When a different user comes to this section later, after it already has 30 accounts in the list, they may not know to scroll down to the end of the list to find the form. We’ve identified a problem with our design already, and can adjust to fix it, perhaps by moving the user invite form to the top, like this: In addition to evaluating our design for problems that arise from pushing our interactions in their primary incarnation, sometimes we need to think even broader and evaluate our designs at a system level. When designing large and complex products, often the specific interaction we’re designing may need to be accessible from multiple places, or the interaction we are creating can be applied to additional interactions and it would be helpful to be consistent. Evaluating our designs deeply means thinking past just this page and applying our knowledge of the greater whole. Expanding on our previous example, perhaps in our product we also have the ability to create projects and add users to the project. While designing the Invite User form and gaming this out in our head, we can anticipate that sometimes our users might create a project and begin adding users, only to realize that someone they want to add doesn’t have an account yet and needs to be invited. We ideally don’t want to take them out of their project creation flow to invite the new user, so perhaps we want to allow them to access the Invite User form from the Project Creation page. After considering options, we decide that we can put the Invite User form into a popup accessible from the Project Creation page so that they can quickly invite a user and then return to where they were and add them to the project. Our popups have a limited height, so will we be able to adjust our Invite User form to work in a popup? We can add scrolling to the user table to allow for a fixed height implementation, so our design should work even in that future implementation. At this point, you might be either thinking that this is obvious and self-evident, or you’re asking how you can start to incorporate this type of deep thinking into your design process. Even if you’re in the first camp, we can always improve our evaluation skills and hopefully, there are some ideas here that can help. 1. Identify all possible states. In software development, when writing a particular function one of the first steps in testing is to identify all possible inputs that the function could receive so that you can make sure it handles all of them (even bad input). When designing an interaction, we should do the same with our user inputs and behaviors. It can help to make a list of every valid state the UI can be in, and also list out any possible invalid state as well. For something like forms, this can be somewhat straightforward (what could the user enter into this field that is valid/invalid?). For more complex UIs try to think of every valid/invalid permutation of the interface and list them out. If you have a long table of objects with actions, what are the states of this table? It can be empty, it can have a few items, and it can have lots of items. Perhaps we have a need to differentiate between having no items due to not having added any yet (first time) vs. not having any items because they’ve deleted them all (returning user). 2. Try to break it. It’s easy to fall into interacting with your design like your ideal user; after all, you were the one who designed it with them in mind. Instead, at every decision point in your interaction, try to think of how a user might “incorrectly” interact with your design and game out what happens (“incorrectly” is in quotes because there is no wrong way to interact with your design; it’s up to us as designers to facilitate successful interaction with our designs). 3. When in doubt, prototype. It’s generally ideal, given infinite time and resources, to prototype everything to make sure it works how we expect. However, design resources and timelines make it inefficient (and probably unnecessary) to prototype every interaction. If you’re doing something highly complex and gaming out every scenario isn’t possible or easy, building out a robust prototype can help find corner cases and interactions you didn’t anticipate. Be aware of the limitations of prototyping software like Invision however, and make sure that your prototype doesn’t only embody the happy path through the interaction. Sometimes the very act of trying to build a prototype to support every possible user behavior identifies problems we need to address.
Predicting the future is a tough business. No one can really do it with 100% accuracy. If I were a true soothsayer, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be living on my own private tropical island with all the money I made betting on sports and stocks, but I digress. In reality, I am writing this post to examine what I boldly predicted back in the spring of 2021. In this Summer Food and Beverage Days post, I theorized that 3 days associated with either a food or drink item would drive users to search for more information about these “holidays”. Using historic Google Trends data, and thinking that an ease of pandemic restrictions may help boost interest, I thought the search popularity of these days would be the biggest ever (or at least, be bigger than last year. The three food/beverage days are: National Doughnut or Donut Day - occurred on June 4th in 2021 National Ice Cream Day - occurred on July 18th in 2021 National Tequila Day - occurred on July 24th in 2021 So how did I do? Is 1 out 3 good? National Doughnut or Donut Day I will take full credit for predicting this one. Clearly, the chart shows that search interest in this national day was higher than it was in 2020. Was it an all-time high? No, but I will take the win. I was only predicting a lift over last year. National Ice Cream Day I am shocked and saddened that this day wasn’t queried as much as last year. Who doesn’t like ice cream? What could have been the problem this year? I can’t think of anything that would have stopped the populace of this country from celebrating the frozen delight that makes summer a wonderful time to be alive. Ok, maybe one thing. Not enough discounts or free cones being advertised. Not enough brands wanted to own the holiday. That, or maybe the weather. National Tequila Day This one just bums me out. This holiday saw a jump in 2020 so I thought we would see another one this year. Nope. I guess there wasn’t enough to celebrate this summer. It’s a real shame, too. We should have seen a real jump in search interest with more people getting out there and celebrating. I guess not. What Does It All Mean? Like I stated, it’s hard to predict the future even with strong data to help guide you. People are a fickle bunch and we’re still trying to figure out how to interact with each other. The other aspect to ponder is if there is a brand or two who are promoting these food holidays. If there is a big push one year and not the other, search volume can be affected tremendously. I still think that these national holidays can be owned. We have years worth of data that shows that people want to be part of them. All a brand needs to do is to tap into that potential. Who knew that International Coffee Day was going to be so big this year? If you’d like to know how to own these holidays, contact us and we can talk about it more.
The word “creator” has existed for centuries. It’s been applied to godly figures, amateur artists, and social media mavens alike. In the 2021 marketing landscape, “creator” is everywhere. At AMP, we’re seeing more and more influencers identifying as “creators” instead of “influencers.” Social media heavy hitters like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have recently developed services and tools dedicated to creators (e.g. TikTok Creator Portal, Instagram Creator Studio, Facebook Creator Studio, and the YouTube Creators Channel). The creator economy is said to be worth just over $100 billion dollars, according to a Forbes article published last month. But what exactly is a “creator”? How did these individuals become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? And most importantly, how can your brand build partnerships with creators who your target audience connects with? In this blog post, we’ll explore the rise of the creator, as it pertains to our industry, and share insights to help you find the right partners. What is a creator? The term itself is a matter of much debate. Different social media platforms have their own definitions. A 2019 eMarketer article highlights a few: YouTube has essentially used the same definition for years, but it segments creators into “established” and “aspiring” to account for varying follower counts. Facebook considers any entity that builds community by publishing content on Facebook to be a creator, whether an individual video creator, publisher or media company. Instagram considers influencers and creators to be one and the same. The company says it uses the term creator because that’s how many of its partners see themselves. Twitter defines a creator as any entity that produces content. It further divides the term into “artists” (known for their skill at creating a particular type of content) and “influencers” (known for their voice or their thought leadership in a particular community). Some people seek to define creators by comparing them to influencers. One measure of comparison is looking at the different content they produce. In a 2021 blog post, the video creation and monetization platform Curastory states: Working with a creator and working with an influencer will produce very different marketing results. Influencers will influence how their followers dress, what makeup they should wear, or what products to buy. Creators, on the other hand, create content that gets people engaged — how-to guides, a-day-in-the-life, tips, tutorials, etc. At AMP, we also find it helpful to consider creators and influencers together. The terms have a number of similarities: They both produce content, partner with brands, and tend to have large followings – yet their function and the purpose that drives them is not quite the same. Anna Tremblay, AMP Senior Manager of PR & Influencer Relations, explains: We interface with so many influencers, and very few of them refer to themselves as influencers. I almost think of it less as a title — like influencer or creator — and almost like a function. These are all people who create and post content, but they can do it for the purpose of creating or the purpose of influencing. And sometimes those needs collide, especially when working with a brand. I do think that TikTok, in particular, has ramped up the use of the word “creator” because that is how TikTok has branded their own influencers.” How did creators become such a core part of the contemporary marketing scene? A 2019 article from The Atlantic suggests that the term “creator” began to gain popularity in 2011. Around that time, Next New Networks — a multichannel network that was later bought by YouTube — developed a program for YouTube stars called New Next Creators. This language, as well as the concept of creators, became a major focus for YouTube. The Atlantic article says, “YouTube was so successful at pushing the term creator that other platforms soon co-opted it.” However, other sources portray creators as a newer part of the social media landscape. A 2021 New Yorker article dubs creators the successors of influencers: The influencer is a fading stock character of the Internet’s commedia dell’arte. The cliché of the influencer emerged, during the twenty-tens, from multimedia-rich platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, where the goal was to forge as curated and polished an image as possible. Influencers were social-media users as celebrities, with much of the vanity and purposelessness that the comparison implies. By now, the connotations of being an influencer are mostly negative—edited selfies, vapid captions, faux relatability, staged private-jet photos, and unmarked sponsorships. Accordingly, social-media platforms are embracing a new buzzword as a successor: “creator.” “Creator” is a term with a more wholesome air, conjuring an Internet in which we are all artisanal blacksmiths plying our digital craft. *Side Note: We disagree that influencers are fading characters on the scene, and believe that there’s a time and place for brands to successfully work with both influencers and creators. While it is difficult to nail down the exact origins of “creator” in the marketing industry, we can speak to the key factors that have contributed to their current popularity in this landscape. Factor 1: Creators speak to consumers’ desire for authenticity. Today’s consumers crave authenticity. More brands are ditching the airbrush and speaking out on social causes. Fewer consumers are expecting perfection from ads. And this lust for realness applies to creators as well. When done correctly, partnering with a creator can give your brand campaigns an air of authenticity. Creators can take your products and show their audience how they uniquely connect with them. It’s high-quality branded content with a personal flair. At AMP, we love partnering with creators who are genuinely passionate about our clients’ products. For example, in 2020, we joined our client Maruchan to partner with influencer foodies like @foodieonfleek. These creative partnerships yielded elevated recipes with a Maruchan product base, and naturally resonated with both the creators’ followers and our client’s customers. Factor 2: Content consumption is a significant part of 2021 life, and creators develop content. As the pandemic continues, and the Delta variant raises COVID-19 precautions and fears, many people are still working from home and opting for at-home activities. Even if the world is more open than it was a year ago, many people still depend on virtual entertainment and social media to relax and engage with others. Creators provide an emotional escape or moment of connection for viewers, and brands can leverage these interactions to connect with consumers. Factor 3: Short-form video content has gained huge popularity among creators and brands alike in recent years. Short-form video content is video content with a brief duration, although how brief depends on the platform. A 2021 blog post by the software company HubSpot explains, “A video up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length is considered short-form. But there's no universal number that everyone has agreed on.” And it’s worth noting that these time limits shift based on trends. For example, TikTok recently increased its video time limit to three minutes (the previous limit was 60 seconds). Unsurprisingly, competitor Instagram Reels soon after increased its limit from 30 seconds to 60 seconds). In recent years, we’ve seen a variety of social platforms pop up that are dedicated solely to short-form video content (e.g. TikTok, Musical.ly, Vine). Similarly, many of the other major social platforms have leaned more into short-form content (e.g. Facebook and Instagram rolled out their Story features). This is great news for creators, who are essential to the success and content creation of these apps. It’s also great news for brands. AMP Senior Engagement Strategist Kaitlyn Feniello says: Even before TikTok and Reels were a thing, advertisers have been talking for so long about how videos need to be short in order to get your attention. In the paid social space, you have .25 seconds to grab someone’s attention on an ad before they move on. People have always known that these videos need to be shorter. There’s also something to be said about YouTube videos and these longer form videos that people are watching like TV. But I think that’s the difference. If there’s a video that you’re willing to watch for 30 minutes, that’s more like the mindset of watching TV versus consuming content on TikTok. If TikTok’s spot as the #1 globally downloaded app in 2020 is any indication, short-form video content is here to stay. And brands shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to create their own short-form video content. So, how can your brand find and hire a creator? And how do you make sure the partnership is a good fit? The Internet has a variety of free and paid options for locating creators and influencers: Free options: TikTok Creator Marketplace Upfluence Chrome extension Check out the TikTok Discover page Peruse the Instagram Explore page Search the YouTube Trending page Explore hashtags on relevant social media platforms Do a Google search for top creators in your industry, then follow them on the social channels that your brand uses Paid search programs: Grin Tokfluence Tagger Media You could also partner with a marketing, social media, or influencer agency to help you build strong partnerships with creators. If you’re interested in going down this route, AMP offers influencer marketing services and we’d love to talk to you about working together. Feel free to contact us with any inquiries! Finally, here’s a quick summary of list of DOs and DON’Ts to help you find a creator who resonates with your target audience and fits with your brand: DO... Look for creators who have an authentic personal brand. Consider if the creator you want to partner with reflects your brand’s values. Seek partnerships with creators who have significant followings on the platforms your brand wants to leverage. When asked which types of creators and partnerships work best for different platforms, AMP Engagement Strategist Rashida Hull said: It depends on the campaign you’re trying to do and where the campaign is going to live. Ideally, if you have an influencer that is on TikTok and Instagram, and has a huge following on both platforms, and you’re going to do a campaign on both platforms, it really works. But I’ve run into a situation where a client wanted to use an influencer for TikTok but they only had their content on Instagram… it doesn’t really work. Explore options for TikTok partnerships. Aside from it’s incredible popularity, TikTok also has made it far easier for creators to be discovered. Tremblay says: TikTok is a huge game changer for influencers. Period. End of discussion. And it’s because discoverability on that platform is unmatched by any other platform. We have seen the growth of so many Instagram influencers due to their presence on TikTok. Consider both short-term and long-term partnerships. While a short-term partnership can drive excitement and buzz around a new campaign, a long-term partnership has the benefit of building a strong public association between the creator and your brand. Make short-form video content a part of your marketing strategy and consider which creators can make high-quality videos for your promotional efforts. DON’T... Focus exclusively on follower size. Many brands are finding success working with micro and nano creators. Niche, loyal audiences can yield greater trust and affinity among potential customers. Partner with just any creator. A good brand partnership with a creator should make sense. If something seems odd or off about the pairing, your brand can come across as inauthentic or out of touch. Make sure to research your creators and consider doing a smaller test campaign before diving into long-term partnerships. View creator partnerships as a one and done deal. The marketing landscape, and the role of creators in it, is ever-changing. Make sure to stay on top of trends in content and platforms, so that your brand feels relevant to today’s consumer.
In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2021. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. What Did We See In October 2021 Examining the queries we collected from last month, we see the month had an inauspicious start with a few important websites and services having outages. News about Facebook bookend the month with the Frances Haugen report released during the first week and the corporate rename happening in the last week. People searched for information about holidays and the latest cryptocurrency along with the latest movies and TV shows. Lastly, the NFL and Major League Baseball drove a lot of interest in their teams, so we’ll explore what are the most popular ones. Here’s our take on the top search activity of October 2021. Top Queried Phrases of the Month There were three phrases that topped the upper limit of reported query volume. Two of them were attached to Google Doodles and sadly one was attached to a tragedy on a film set. Alec Baldwin - 10/21/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Claude Cahun - 10/24/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Day of the Dead - 10/31/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries The shock of the incident on the Rust movie set involving actor Alec Baldwin drove a large number of queries on the 21st. The updated Google logo (Doodle) created for French photographer Claude Cahun and the Day of the Dead holiday stoked clicks for queries, which made them the top searched queries of their respective days. The Doodle counting discrepancy that we covered in the September 2021 article seems to have cleared up. The Holidays Holidays tend to be big query drivers. From shopping deals to what’s open, people need to know information about these special days. Columbus Day - 10/10/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Halloween - 10/30/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries With Columbus Day making the daily top 3, we conducted a comparison with the holiday that is taking its place. It appears that Indigenous Peoples’ Day still has some ways to go in terms of search popularity. Also, it was reported that spending on Halloween this year was record breaking. We pulled the chart from Google Trends to see if that report translated into more query volume. According to Google Trends, keywords related to the celebration of Halloween 2021 were queried more than last year but it was not the biggest year ever. That award goes to Halloween 2006! People Love Movies, TV Shows, and Movie Trailers Too We find that people want to know more about entertainment. Now, it’s been widely reported that “Squid Game” is being searched for in large volumes, especially in the month of October 2021. Curiously, it never made the daily top 3 of Google Trends. Here are the TV shows and movies that did last month. The Many Saints of Newark - 10/1/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries The Guilty - 10/1/2021 - 200,000+ queries Halloween Kills - 10/14/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries You Season 3 - 10/15/2021 - 500,000+ queries Dune - 10/21/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries The above list all had anticipated release dates. We believe that having this element tied to your film or TV show is what gets your title into the daily top 3. Squid Game has more of a slow burn as people learn more about it. The search interest is large but just spread out. Anticipation certainly drives people to search for official movie trailers. Take a look at the two that made the cut in October 2021: The Batman - 10/16/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Lightyear - 10/27/2021 - 500,000+ queries Does search interest in a film’s trailer equate to future financial success? Possibly. Outages and Hacks As stated in the summary above, the month started off ominously as major websites and services had their troubles. Bank of America - 10/1/2021 - 500,000+ queries WhatsApp - 10/4/2021 - 500,000+ queries Twitch - 10/6/2021 - 500,000+ queries BoA’s site had a major outage on the 1st as did WhatsApp on the 4th, along with all of Facebook’s properties. There was a report of a hack on Twitch on the 6th that drove people to learn more about it. The Searches For Shiba Inu Coin Powered by rumors of a decentralized exchange and a tweet by Elon Musk, the search volume behind this cryptocurrency made the daily Top 3 twice last month. Shiba Inu coin - 10/23/2021 - 500,000+ queries Shiba Inu coin - 10/27/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries As we have learned throughout this year, meme stocks and coins drive search interest. Someday, there will be a case study on how word of these financial assets gets spread. How Was Your October, Facebook? Sorry, we meant Meta. Here are the two phrases that made our list last month. Facebook whistleblower - 10/4/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Meta - 10/28/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries These two keywords along with outages that happened on the 4th made for an eventful month for the social media giant. Time will tell of the lasting effect it had on the organization. 2 Million Queries or More for Sports October, with the Major League Baseball playoffs and the NFL regular season in full swing, stirs up a lot of search volume for sports. Noting that 62% of the phrases we collected last month were related to sports, we decided to focus on the top searched phrases. Baseball team names get queried a lot. Let’s take a look at which ones got searched the most. Yankees - 10/5/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/6/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/14/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Red Sox - 10/15/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Braves - 10/23/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries World Series - 10/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries World Series - 10/29/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Along with the team names, the World Series got attention this year. Conspicuously absent from this list is the Astros. We guess they aren’t as popular as the other playoff teams. Moving on to the NFL, here are all the team names that also made the 2 million or more query list: Patriots - 10/3/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 10/3/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Raiders - 10/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Seahawks - 10/7/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 10/10/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Ravens - 10/11/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10/14/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Steelers - 10/17/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Buffalo Bills - 10/18/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Browns - 10/21/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Seahawks - 10/25/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 10/27/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 10/31/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Did your favorite team make the list? The dates on which these queries occurred align with when the teams played. When there’s an event to know more about, acute surges in queries happen. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.
Michael Mish, President of AMP Agency, recently chatted with Adweek about the importance of DE&I and the value in creating purposeful work. " First came a DEI board of advisors headed by parent company Advantage Solutions, and then the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs) for women, working parents and others for members of the Black, Latinx, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities. The agency also developed a training program to tackle unconscious bias across all levels." (Source: Adweek) Read the news: https://www.adweek.com/agencies/what-will-it-take-for-agencies-to-retain-diverse-talent/
In the Era of “Finstagram”, Snapchat Remains a Haven for Authentic Social Sharing As marketers and brand strategists, we get a lot of questions about specific channels and how best to use them. Recently, we’ve been hearing the same set of questions quite frequently: “What’s the deal with Snapchat?” “Is Snapchat dead?” “Why are they still around – who is even using them?!” Surprisingly, Snapchat is not dead. Yes, you heard that right – the app is still alive and thriving. 53% of all internet users aged between 15 and 25 years still actively use Snapchat. More fascinatingly, among this population, Snapchat is their most popular app, closely followed by Instagram. The average daily active user opens the app’s camera more than 30 times a day, spending at least 30 minutes on the app. Users turn to the app for playful and silly content with their friends. 95% of Snapchatters say the app makes them feel happy, more than any other app tested. This begs the question: How are so many people (in a coveted target demographic) using this platform and yet, so many people keep asking if it’s dead? The Answer: The reason people think it’s dead is actually the reason people like using it. It’s relatively free from advertisements and brands, it’s harder to track people and it offers a more authentic place to be yourself with your friends. So, Why Snap? Think about the last time you were scrolling through Instagram. You see a post from your cousin, then one from your college friend, and then an ad about the shirt you were browsing 30 minutes ago. Nowadays, it seems like scrolling through social media has become a new form of never-ending advertising. Now, enter Snapchat. Unlike other social platforms, Snapchat allows users an escape or ability to hide from targeted media, which is attractive to a subsection of consumers and, in our opinion, is the reason Snapchat is still very relevant for Gen Z and younger Millennials. With Snapchat, users are able to directly share videos and images with their closest friends and choose how and when to share moments to a wider friends list. (Yes, we know Instragram added the close friends function in stories but it’s somehow not the same). Unlike Instagram or Tiktok, Snapchat users don’t appear to feel the pressure to look a certain way or feel a certain way about the amount of content they receive or share. Users are more likely to express their authentic self, not constantly comparing themselves to others based on post engagements or feed aesthetics. Snapchat also eliminates the surrounding influencer persona which surfaces on other platforms and removes the constant barrage of paid media. In other words, on Snapchat you don’t feel like you’re constantly being sold something. A Refinery 29 article points out “A big part of Snapchat’s appeal is the lack of commitment it takes to enjoy it: Stories fade after 24 hours, messages disappear, and, even if you leave Snapchat, you can always connect with people via at least three other platforms”- users do not have to feel pressured by the living content aspect of other platforms. Essentially, Snap is a “cleaner” more authentic experience free from influencers and brands and that’s exactly why people like it. Does this mean brands should avoid Snap all together!? By no means is Snapchat an untouched platform by brands. Brands do have targeted ads on Snapchat however, these don’t interrupt the way users engage with the app. Users only see sponsored content when looking through the wider audience stories and they know that’s the only place they’ll see ads. Brands that use Snapchat well have become skilled at hiding their ads amongst other organic stories so much so that users sometimes don’t know they’ve clicked through a paid placement. TEVA, Sam Edelman and The New York Times are all currently running promotional campaigns on Snapchat in which users would briefly tap through the ad as if the brand had its own Snap story. Additionally, through its filter feature, brands have been able to promote new products or promotions, however these filters can be seen as “tired” for Snap's core consumers. What Should a Brand Do? How Should They Think About Snapchat? Be Purposeful & Authentic - Snap requires a lot of attention, strategy and dedication to do it well. Think About One to One - Snap is all about direct interaction. Think about adjusting your brand voice to be personified - help people feel like they’re talking to the people behind the brand, not a nameless faceless logo. Don’t Copy & Paste Other Social Strategies - If you’re thinking about getting involved with a Snapchat presence - be prepared for a slow, long road. You can’t reuse your Instagram or TikTok strategy on this platform. Get to know how it works and then act accordingly. Community before Mass Reach: “Going Viral” isn’t so much of a thing on Snapchat so it’s less about mass appeal and more about relationship building with a passionate group of friends and fans. When in Doubt, Don’t - If you’re on the fence about jumping into Snapchat or reigniting your Snap presence, it’s better to be smart than be fast. No one is going to fault you for not having a Snap presence but there could be negative consequences if you do Snap poorly. A Parting Thought From an advertising standpoint, brands can capitalize on the fast FOMO opportunities that Snap creates to promote new products or campaigns. At the same time, brands should strategically think about how to speak to consumers on the platform, especially when knowing most users turn to the app for playful and silly conversations with their closest friends. As both a user and a strategist, Snap allows me to feel free of the social pressure felt across other platforms. However, if I were to advise a client interested in Snap, I would advise to proceed with caution as authentic social sharing seems to be harder and harder to replicate as for brands these days. Brands are always welcomed to create a presence on Snapchat, although enticing to try to reach target audiences, the level of attention, dedicated resources, content curation and focus required to authentically join that space remains high. Brands looking to engage may need to weigh the risks vs the possible rewards before launching campaigns on the platform or face potential blowback as consumers feel their “brand neutral space” becomes invaded.