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How & Why Brands Can Use Snapchat

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. 

Google Search Trends Insights September 2021

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 September 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.   A Return To The Typical For September 2021 After a weird August 2021, last month’s queries looked more like the ones to which we are accustomed. There were a few phrases that were queried over 10 million times.  Deadly weather events weren’t a top search topic - thank goodness - and the return of the NFL brought back many of the top team names back into the daily top 3. September did have its unique qualities too. We noticed some intriguing reporting on some Google Doodle clicks - phrases that were in the top 3 one day and then gone the next. Also, the sad story of Gabby Petito can’t be ignored as her name appeared in our capture 6 times last month. Lastly, coffee had a moment in September as a national day held in its honor was searched a bunch on the 28th. With that, let’s get into the top searched phrases of September 2021.   The Curious Clicks of Google Doodles When Google changes the logo on its homepage with what they call a Google Doodle, people click. When people click, it leads them to search results. When they are led to search results, it’s counted as a query. Here are three queries that we counted because they were attached to a Google Doodle; Christopher Reeve - 9/24/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Google - 9/27/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Rodolfo 'Corky' Gonzales - 9/30/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Two of last month’s Doodle were published to celebrate the lives of people of note, the actor Christopher Reeve and political activist Rodolfo Gonzales.  The other Doodle, noted by the query “Google” was posted to celebrate the company’s 23rd birthday. One thing we noted as a team was the reporting of Google Doodle clicks on September 5th.  Since we check the daily search trends from Google Trends every day, we saw that it was initially reported that Google’s 2021 Labor Day Doodle had driven over 10 million clicks. It appeared as a query for “Labor Day” on Monday.  But since we know there is an adjustment period for these results, we recorded the top 3 queries for Sunday on Tuesday and found the Labor Day query was no longer there.  We didn’t know what to make of it. Since there were no Google Doodle-related queries in August, we wondered if Google Trends was changing how it reported Doodle clicks. If there was a change, it was temporary as we saw more Doodle clicks and the queries related to those clicks late last month.   The Non-Doodled Holidays Putting the cryptic Labor Day Doodle query aside, here are the holiday related terms that people searched for the most in September:  Rosh Hashanah - 9/5/2021 - 500,000+ queries Labor Day meaning - 9/6/2021 - 200,000+ queries 9/11 - 9/10/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Yom Kippur - 9/15/2021 - 500,000+ queries National Coffee Day 2021 - 9/28/2021 - 200,000+ queries “Labor Day meaning” did make the top 3, interestingly enough. We interpret this query and the number associated with it are connected to a genuine interest of learning more about the holiday. The Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur both occurred in September this year as did the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Lastly, and we love to see this type of “holiday” query appear in the daily top 3, National Coffee Day 2021 had a resurgence as compared to the last 4 years.  The peak for this holiday may have happened in 2015 but it’s clear that more of us were searching for a way to celebrate coffee this year.   The Films and TV Shows We Watched To gauge the popularity of video entertainment, AMP Agency takes note of the search volume behind movie and television show titles.  The film industry has taken a hit and we are not sure if going to the movies will ever come back to the way it was but here are the films that drove the most search volume in September. Shang-Chi - 9/2/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Matrix 4 - 9/9/2021 - 500,000+ queries Malignant - 9/10/2021 - 500,000+ queries Cry Macho - 9/17/2021 - 500,000+ queries Venom - 9/30/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries With the exception of Matrix 4 (that film’s trailer dropped on the 9th), all of these films were released last month.  Dancing With the Stars 2021 - 9/8/2021 - 200,000+ queries Ted Lasso - 9/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dancing with the Stars - 9/20/2021 - 500,000+ queries For TV shows, people still love Dancing With The Stars as it began its 30th season. The cast announcement and its premier episode drove people to search.  Interestingly enough, Ted Lasso is the only query related to the Emmy Awards that were held on the 19th. That show won 7 awards and may have picked up a few more viewers after the Emmys.   September 2021 News Events For these monthly analyses, we typically do not report on queries related to celebrity deaths or other tragedies unless the search volume dictates that it can’t be ignored.  Queries related to  Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death made the daily top 3 of 6 days in September. Gabby Petito - 9/15/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Gabby Petito found - 9/16/2021 - 500,000+ queries Gabby Petito found - 9/17/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Gabby Petito found - 9/18/2021 - 500,000+ queries Gabby Petito - 9/19/2021 - 10,000,000+ queries Gabby Petito Autopsy - 9/21/2021 - 500,000+ queries The other big news story that drove millions of queries was related to the California recall election.  Californa recall election - 9/13/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries California recall election - 9/14/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries It’s interesting to see the number of queries increased the day after the election as people wanted to learn of the results.    Gaming  Keywords related to video games make the top 3 rarely so we thought it was a treat to see three phrases last month. Deltarune - 9/16/2021 - 100,000+ queries Nintendo Direct - 9/22/2021 - 200,000+ queries New World - 9/27/2021 - 200,000+ queries The second chapter of the Deltarune game was released on the 16th and New World was released by Amazon Games on the 28th.  Nintendo Direct announced all the games updates for their Switch console that are rolling out this winter.   Just the Top Sports Keywords Of the 90 phrases we collected in September, 37 were related to sports.  Since there were so many, let’s just keep it to the keywords that were queried 2 million times or more: Dallas Cowboys - 9/9/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Georgia football - 9/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Parkers - 9/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Cleveland Browns - 9/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries NFL - 9/12/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Raiders - 9/13/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Thursday Night Football - 9/16/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Ravens - 9/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 9/20/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Christian McCaffrey - 9/23/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries UFC - 9/25/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 9/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 9/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 9/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Bengals - 9/30/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Yes, gridiron football is back and the stadiums are filled with people. You can see the NFL dominate the number of sports keywords in this list.  The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers seem to be winning the popularity contest so far this season.   Apple News A new iPhone?  Oh, you know people want to know more about that.  The iPhone 13 series was unveiled on the 14th and the latest iOS version was released on the 20th.   iPhone 13 - 9/14/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries iOS 15 - 9/20/2021 - 500,000+ queries All in all, a good month for Apple. If they ever launch a search engine, they can celebrate their company’s birthday with a doodle of their own. 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.

ADA Accessibility: The Right Thing To Do

In my neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, many of the sidewalks are original - built when the neighborhood was coming together in the early part of the 20th century. You can locate stamps at intersections that have both obsolete street names - Sprague Street is now known as Rosemont; Margarette is now 34th Ave - and the names the contractors who poured the cement, along with the year they were poured. These small reminders of the recent past are fun to find, but point out a glaring inequity in their construction: These old sidewalks are not accessible, and not safe. An unimproved intersection The city is in the process of converting each of the city’s intersections into curb cutouts that are friendlier to those who may require assistance (wheelchairs, kneeling scooters, crutches, probing canes) getting up and onto sidewalks from the street. The brand new curb cutouts include a yellow rubberized traction pad that signals the transition between street and sidewalk, and there are eight on each improved intersection - two on each corner of a standard intersection. An improved intersection. This effort is happening not because the improvements and bright yellow traction pads are attractive, or because the contrast between the fresh cement and the old cement is nice to look at - but because it is the right thing to do for the citizens of Portland and those who have mobility issues who might otherwise need to be in the street in order to avoid the curb. This abides by the regulations set forth in American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The benefits go beyond supporting only people who have disabilities, though - anyone who has tried to use a rolling suitcase on the sidewalk, pushed a baby stroller over a curb, or can’t ollie on a skateboard can attest to that. By doing the right thing, Portland has chosen to make their city more accessible to more of its citizens. In our web development projects, we often support clients who need to do the equivalent curb-cutout improvements. Their sites may have been beautifully designed, but fall short in visual and technical areas that would help make their site more accessible. By bringing the site up to a baseline of accessibility standards set forth by the WCAG, the site becomes more equitable, inclusive, and usable for more people. The add-on effect for the client is that they have just widened their potential customer base by not excluding people who may consume web information in different ways. The improvement process also helps shake out other technical issues around markup structure, meaning the site may become more SEO-friendly and may render better in a wider range of devices after the improvements are implemented. While these efforts may be initially driven by legal justification (avoiding ADA lawsuits), or for marketing reasons (reaching more customers), improving your site’s accessibility is the just and correct thing to do. Our process begins by using a suite of tools that analyze the website to identify problem areas. This includes using voice-reader to read the website’s content - not everyone who browses your website will use their eyes to do so. We also see how the site renders without styles applied, validate the markup of the site to ensure the proper document structure & hierarchy is established, and closely scrutinize how interactive elements work. Particularly complex interactive elements like carousels or interactive navigation menus may require an entire rebuild in order to be accessible, but the goal is to maintain the current design or as close to it as possible. The end result of such an effort should not sacrifice visual design or interactivity, nor should it even be noticeable to those users who use standard means to interact with websites. But for those who need assistance, the improvements are welcome and appreciated. For sites that we build from scratch, we design and develop with this equity in mind from the beginning. By starting off with a requirement of accessibility, the new site enters the digital world already with accessibility in place. The level of accessibility, set forth by WCAG standards - “A” to “AAA”, with the latter being the most strict - may be dictated by the customer’s requirements. Projects for larger clients, non-profits, or government clients typically have a minimum accessibility level mandate for digital properties. But even for those without the mandate, doing the right thing results in a site that behaves nicely across different input types and allows for a wider audience to engage with the site. Do you need help with your site’s accessibility? Are you concerned your site is unintentionally excluding users?

How To Evaluate A Website For Effectiveness

A friend and mentor once spoke to clients about his three questions (Yapp’s three rules) that any home page must answer. They were:   Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? These questions are the most important goals to accomplish with any home page, as you need to quickly communicate to users about your brand and why should it be relevant to them. Why the urgency? Well, for any new or uninformed user, they will spend perhaps a total of < 3 seconds reviewing the site depending on where they came from and why they are there. It is important that they understand your brand and what it means to them.  This is part of the Brand and Messaging problem that most websites face. They fail to understand who they are and what they want to communicate to their customers. Don't try to be everything for everyone The second common challenge on many websites is part of the inherent value of the web and leads us to our next set of three rules: Focus, focus, focus!  Most company websites try to communicate to their audience everything that the company wants them to hear. The two challenges inherent here are a lack of priority and not focusing on what the user’s needs are. For any site — E-commerce, Marketing site, etc. — there are multiple audiences who come to the site. A company needs to prioritize its audiences into a hierarchy and prioritize its messaging and home page real-estate to communicating to them. This has as much to do with messaging as design and user-experience, but the lesson is the same: Focus on the most important users and tell what they need to hear to act on what you want them to act on. The second challenge stems from the very nature of the web. A website is available to everyone. However, it doesn’t need to speak to everyone who could possibly come to your site. Common secondary audiences for most company sites are press & analysts as well as job seekers. Both of these types of users are motivated to interact with your site and don’t need precious home-page real estate dedicated to them. They know where to find the news and careers sections (in the About Us) of your site with little effort as long as your navigation is clear and you have a site map. It's about your audience - not you My organizations architect their websites as a reflection of their internal structures and hierarchy.  This is a common mistake.  Websites should be designed to the needs of your audience in the way they want to engage with your brand and their needs.  Not designing your website's architecture, messaging, value proposition and navigation to your primary audience's needs will create frustration and lower levels of engagement.   Think mobile first The majority of website traffic today are typically from mobile or tablet devices.  Therefore, you need to ensure that the website be equally as effective in the mobile format as this will likely be the first impression your brand has with your target audience.  Designing a website to be effective in a smaller format is challenging and requires extreme diligence to properly tell your brand story and drive engagement.  Companies who neglect the mobile experience are making a big mistake.  However, we still find many companies that are not prepared for a mobile first world.  Brand experience needs to be consistent beyond the website When our team evaluates digital ecosystems and website for our clients, we are keen to examine the swim lanes in the customer's journey.  The reason is your customers are likely to visit varying digital properties representing your brand from Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email, Landing pages, Whitepapers, Mobile Applications and beyond.  If the brand experience and story are disconnected across these varying assets, you will create confusion and lose the ability to drive home the key brand impressions you hope to achieve.   Basic website evaluation benchmarks: 1. Clearly articulate your Brand Value Proposition through a structured Messaging Architecture which addresses the main three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? 2. Focus your efforts on your home page on convincing the primary users of your website on what you want them to do. 3. Prioritize your messaging through clear design and user-experience on focused messages to your users satisfying what they need to know and how you want them to act. 4. Is your website designed to the needs of your audiences first? 5. Is your mobile optimized website effective? 6. Are all your digital properties working in synergy to reinforce your brand? Our Offer If you would like a complementary review and assessment of your website, we would be delighted to evaluate your website and provide some insights and thoughts.

Creating Useful Style Guides For Web Projects - Part 2

CREATING USEFUL STYLE GUIDES FOR WEB PROJECTS - PART 2 In part two of two, we'll explore different ways to create styleguides and what works and doesn't about each method. Throughout, we'll look at examples. If you haven't read the first part of this series from last month, or need a refresher, click here. We have already defined what a styleguide is, and what types of visual definitions need to be in them - and I've made recommendations about when to create them. This post will dive into the different ways of actually creating the styleguide. Method One: Static Old School I'm calling this the Static Old School method: A designer or production artist lays out a styleguide based on the design system for the project in Illustrator or Photoshop. They export it as a PDF, get client approval, and move on to layout. The PDF is handed off to the developers to begin their baseline work. Pros: Gets the job done Gives designer complete control over formatting and layout, which may be useful for client presentations Cons: Not easily updated - requires a designer to maintain Does not keep designers honest - a label indicates that this blue color is #3c89bf — but is it actually? Not interactive - cannot demonstrate rollover states or add code snippets Developers cannot easily highlight text to inspect additional properties that may not be defined, such as line height Verdict and Recommendation: On a small project or one with a short timeline, this approach will suffice. There are enough "cons" to avoid it if you can though. Method Two: Use a Plugin! Since a designer has her layout in a design program like Photoshop or Sketch already, wouldn't it be really convenient if a magic button could be pressed and a styleguide is automatically created? Fear not, this magic button exists. The most well-known style guide generator is Craft by Invision. Invision is an online collaborative prototyping tool that allows designers to upload their layouts, request reviews or comments from other team members or clients, and simulate interaction by creating clickable hotspots. If a layout is uploaded correctly, developers can interact directly with the app to inspect fonts, measurements, and CSS properties: Invision has created a plugin called Craft that allows designers to automatically generate a styleguide based on all of the existing properties in their layout. The plugin will analyze all of the font properties and colors used in your various page layouts and generate a separate static styleguide for you. This can then be exported as a PDF / static styleguide and shared, or uploaded to Invision for review and for developer inspection. I created a demo of the plugin in action which you can view below: https://youtu.be/BzENA_cibds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzENA_cibds Craft is not the only game in town - zeroheight uses a Sketch or Photoshop plugin to generate a styleguide based on a layout as well. There are additional steps and control given to this tool, since zeroheight lets you create products with technical specs as parameters (such as the design and screen resolution). In this way, this solution is a combination of a local design plugin and an online management tool. Unlike Craft, the designer has more control about what ends up in the layout to begin with - avoiding the scenario where every single color or font on the layout ends up in the styleguide that later has to be removed. Zeroheight will also allow designers to define entire component definitions, which make for a much more robust styleguide. Once the designer defines the parameters and what layers should be included, zeroheight will export the generated guide to its server, where the interactive styleguide is automatically created based on the export. This is where your living styleguide is put for further editing, viewing and sharing with other team members. Unlike Craft, where the generated styleguide is just another page in your layout, the zeroheight styleguide is managed within its website. A risk I see with this approach is if a design changes but the styleguide is not synced, there's no guarantee a developer is seeing the latest changes. Deciding on a proper workflow can help mitigate that risk. zeroheight has other bells & whistles, such as JIRA and Slack integration, that can notify team members when the styleguide defintion is updated. It's unclear how much this service costs, but since it's more than just a plugin, I am guessing there is a subscription model involved. The website provides no pricing model, no demo (I found a few on YouTube) and no trial version, so you don't really know what you're getting without having to go through a sales call and presentation. Likely, the people making the decision to purchase the product aren't the people who are sussing out whether the tool works for them or not, which can require a lot of legwork for the team just to find out whether the tool is going to do what they want or not. Pros: Reduces the amount of work required by designers to create the styleguide May help keep designers honest - in the Craft demo video above, you can see I had multiple similar shades of grey and orange that were not intended. In a real-world example, I'd need to decide whether those colors are still required, or remove them from my layout. Removes any ambiguity in the definitions - yes, that really is 60pt font, and yes that really is #3c89bf Excellent Sketch support Can be easily re-exported as your design changes to capture more definitions Cons: Requires the layout to be defined first While it may keep designers honest, they may not go back to actually address duplicates or ambiguous definitions in their primary layout, leading to more ambiguity. Outputted result is still static unless you use Invision or zeroheight, which is not free Not sure if it works as well for Photoshop, unknown whether it exists for other layout tools at all. No way to make Craft interactive Craft only captures colors and fonts; doesn't capture button styles or any additional design language components that should be in a complete styleguide (zeroheight is more comprehensive) Verdict and Recommendation: This is better than doing it entirely by hand if you're using Sketch (and even moreso if your team is using Invision anyway), but the output result of Craft is not enough to be considered a complete styleguide, and there's no real way to make it interactive. zeroheight shows more promise, but without the ability to try the product out, you have to hope that that it does everything I think it does. I can't make a strong recommendation for or against it at this point without knowing more or having some hands-on time with it. Method Three: Generators Upon Generators! David Hund was kind enough to compile an enormous list of code-driven generators, of which ... there are many: Without the luxury of going through each individual tool and testing it out, these are very cool for a few reasons - they can live in your existing code projects which means you are not creating these based on the prototype layout, but actually basing it on production code. The end result is an interactive styleguide based on code you've already written. Some of the tools will automatically generate the styleguide, meaning you can continue writing the code for your project and the styleguide gets continuously updated; others require more input from the developer. A few examples and demos for some selected items are below: Stylemark, which will generate a nice page for you based on markdown format; Patternlab React Styleguidist KSS, which generates a styleguide based on /* comments */ developers put into their CSS and HTML templates. The comments are parsed by the tool, which outputs a HTML file with visuals and code snippets. Storybook.js, a UI development environment for JS projects (React, Vue Angular) Many of these tools have the same or similar functionality as their counterparts, and many of them won't apply to your specific project based on the platform it is living on. That said, there are many to choose from for a variety of platforms - and additional research and trial & error is likely the only way to find the one with the right feature set for you. While these are pretty slick and ultimately devs like me are easily impressed by any tool that "automagically" does something, the big unspoken issue here to me is that these tools cut out the designer from the process, and developers don't just make up the styles from scratch in the development phase. Thus, these tools are not a replacement for a styleguide, since a designer is going to need something to even start the project - they are likely going to *still* need the designer to hand something off statically at the start. So, that means these tools are likely a way to convert the styleguide from its initial form to a living form - but are not a replacement or the only styleguide to be created on the project. Pros: Reduces the amount of work required by developers to create an interactive styleguide Can be integrated with source control so there's never a disparity between the core site code and the generated styleguide Generates something that can be pushed to a public (or protected) URL and visited / referred to easily - eliminating the "Which is the the latest styleguide PDF?" question Since the styleguides are based on existing code, what is in them accurately represents the current state of the project. Can be continuously updated to reflect the latest styles and code Cons: An overwhelming number of choices A lot of these options are open-source and/or undermaintained - meaning no support if something doesn't work Ability to implement may require developer resources and hours that aren't available The tool you like may not be compatible with your framework or project platform Learning curve range depending on which tool is used and how involved it is. Often dependent upon learning and installing additional technology (various node packages, third-party dependencies, etc) Totally cuts out the designers from the process, unless they are also writing the code. Since the styleguides are based on existing code, what is in them may not *accurately* represent what the design was *supposed* to be! Verdict and Recommendation: Smashing Magazine has a nice, more in-depth review of some of these tools - though it's a few years old - worth checking out if you are compelled to move in the generator direction. Other Web Applications We've already briefly talked about Invision, which is more of an online prototyping tool. It becomes more than just that when using the Craft plugin. However, there are also online services tailored specifically for generating styleguides, for a fee. Two additional examples are Frontify and Patternry; zeroheight would also fit into this category as outlined above. FRONTIFY The approach for Frontify is to allow users to upload or add specifications via WYSIWYG editor. This could be done before, during, or after high-fidelity design by a designer, and can easily be updated as code snippets become available by the developer. It appears to allow for a collaborative approach that could be integrated at various points along the phase of a project. Frontify Style Guide from Frontify on Vimeo. Frontify offers additional services, such as a media library for storing image assets, and what they call a Brand Portal, for entire brand identity suite. The product aims to be a central repository for any given brand or product's guidelines, to be shared by designers, marketers, and developers alike. PATTERNRY If Frontify is trying to be everything to everyone, Patternry narrows its range of services and its target user. In Patternry, building a style guide requires a developer to write code that is hosted within Patternry. The target user for this product is a UI designer / developer - the product does not run off of drag-and-drop or WYWIWYG tools. The end result is more control. The component definitions inside Patternry seem to depend upon production-ready CSS and JS to function, introducing some concern about keeping code in sync between your code repository and Patternry. This also limits the collaboration aspect, as a designer without code experience can't dive in to make adjustments. Verdict and Recommendation: It's clear that these types of services wish to make the creation of sharable and maintainable style guides quite easy, but also wants to hitch users into a subscription model where they are dependent upon them as part of their workflow. That may not be in your budget, and may be yet another thing to track (along with GitHub, JIRA, Basecamp, etc). Some of the features are fairly robust, though, and the idea of not having to create any code from scratch is appealing. The feature set of Frontify seems pretty broad, so if your team can define a workflow that works for everyone, it may be a very useful suite of tools that act as a central repository for your style guides and brand standards. With Patternry, it seems to be more of a framework for an online styleguide than an actual generator or creator. That may be okay, but keep in mind that it's likely going to introduce code disparity between your repository and styleguide. Using a code-based generator tool as described above may be more useful. Some More Online Styleguide Examples FRONTIFY Frontify - covered above - used their own tool to generate their styleguide. Always nice to see a company pracitcing what they preach and using their own tools. I like how it mixes both visual definitions, when to use what, and provides code samples. They also categorize the sections into Design, Identity and Communication. Very thorough, but goes beyond a styleguide for a website and into the brand identity / pattern library for the entire product. View it here. Frontify ColorsFrontify Typography YELP Yelp provides its styleguide online publically, which provides nice code-toggle ability. The visual layout of the styleguide is less engaging than the previous example, which is perhaps emphasises the utilitarian nature of it. View it here. Yelp IslandsYelp Color - including SASS variablesYelp Typography - Including utility class definintions for front-end developers or content editors PAGEUP PEOPLE This is a styleguide that clearly took a lot of time to build. I like how this styleguide includes code samples for each component along with usage notes to remind authors how to utilize each component. I think their foundation area could use some more baseline code samples (typography, for example) but it possible that is baked into their global stylesheet, and developers would not have to touch it. View it here. PageUp color - nicely designed color blobs, though users have to hover above them to view the hex value.PageUp Buttons - Very thorough with helpful do's and don'ts and code samples.PageUp Component example - includes code sample and usage guidePageUp Typography - This section looks nice but is lacking for more detail around the values (line spacing / letter spacing, weights, etc) More examples: via CreativeBloq — Three Online Style Guides That Do It Right via Hubspot — Apple, Google & Starbucks: Inside the Web Design Style Guides of 10 Famous Companies Conclusion The takeaways here are that there will not likely be a single tool for solving the styleguide portion of the project. Nor should the responsibility of creating styleguide be assigned to only the designer or developer — it should be a collaborative process between technology and creative. We have found out that in some cases, two styleguides will need to be created - one static, perhaps for client approval and tech handoff; and one dynamic / interactive that will be the evergreen and living document to be referenced. It's also clear that everyone has their own definition of the right order of operations for creating styleguides. In my previous post, I had recommended starting with the styleguide, but also recognize that this workflow is not possible for everyone or for every project. Some of the tools outlined above will be more flexibile than others to fit your approval process and work style. I would suggest that an important criteria for selection is the ability for the tool or methodology to be flexible enough to work with you, rather than one that forces you to change your workflow in order to use. Hopefully this post has given you a good overview on the types of methods available and the pros and cons of each. Resources and Citations Styleguides.io List of Styleguide Generators An In-Depth Overview of Living Style Guide Tools Three Online Style Guides That Do It Right Apple, Google & Starbucks: Inside the Web Design Style Guides of 10 Famous Companies

Creating Useful Style Guides for Web Projects - Part 1

CREATING USEFUL STYLE GUIDES FOR WEB PROJECTS -PART 1 Today's post is a two-parter. In this post, we are exploring the use of style guides and how they can help in all aspects and phases of a digital project by minimizing ambiguity and setting definable parameters that can be validated and tested against. A good style guide will help reduce hours spent by all parties throughout the phases of the project. In a future post, we'll take a look at some examples of style guides, what works about them, and explore some tools that can help the creation of these guides. What is a styleguide? A styleguide sets rules around how things look and behave. Styleguides are the projects visual source of truth for both user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). More focussed than brand guidelines, a styleguide is intended to be the visual and functional requirements definition for websites or applications. A styleguide will pull in components from its parent design system which may include overall brand guidelines, design system or an established pattern library. If a brand has very specific and strong brand guidelines, design system or an existing pattern library, a project's styleguide will be derived heavily from it or may not need to be developed at all. However, if these parent documents do not define every component in the project, a styleguide should be created to cover these cases.   Via A List Apart Style guides exist in different formats - anything from a static PDF or image, to a single web page or an entire microsite or cloud-based prototype can be used for host the styleguide. Of course, they're more useful as univerally accessible documents that are easily updated, so web-based styleguides are popular for a reason. Thus, the best styleguides are built as a collaboration between the design team and the development team. Not only will they define how things look, they'll also define how to build those things with the correct code. This example from Lonely Planet exemplifies this full-fledged approach, covering both the visual aspect of components and layout but also specifying a code pattern for how to build the components. The main point is that it is a visual tool that can be referenced by multiple people playing their respective roles. There may be a written component to it, but it is primary visual. A styleguide can be developed in conjunction with the main layouts, or as a template before the main layouts are defined. Ideally, the guide is a deliverable that the client approves with the designs. Via Lonely Planet Why use a style guide? While front-end technlogy seems to change on a monthly or weekly basis, the phases that a project goes through often do not. Whether your business practices waterfall, agile, hybrid, or some other methodology to get the job done, at some point, there is a handoff between creative and tech. A layout has to get out of a designers head, into a document, approved, and handed off to the developers for implementation. This could happen once, or it could happen many times over the course of a single project, but the transition point and hand-off process is always there. This handoff process is a crucial step and it is important to minimize abiguity so that specifications can be met. Via Barricade Developers love specification and requirements (maybe not actually _writing_ them, but that's another topic). By putting rules and definitions behind everything from how the user is supposed to interact with something on screen to the way the layout changes at a particular breakpoint, a specification can be met - and tested against. These requirements become the acceptance criteria that define whether the task was completed or not. Without these set of rules, ambiguity creeps into the picture. Ambiguity is a developers — and ultimately, a user's — worst nightmare. Ambiguity allows room for error, leaves things open to interpretation and subjectivity, and ultimately, cannot be tested against. Much nature abhors a vacuum, developers abhor ambigutity. Design, however, can be more comfortable in the realm of the ambiguous. Sometimes this is intentional. Art, by definition, is open to interpretation and can be intentionally unintentional (if that makes sense). More often than not, though, it's a result of shifting business requirements (see Peter's post) or a pressing time or budget constraint that does not allow the team to fully flesh out how some new component will function or look. Since one of the styleguide's purpose is to fulfill the role of a requirements document for UX and UI, it forces designers to design to the requirements. This is particularly useful after a project has been deployed and there are enhancements or iterative changes to be made, particularly by another designer. Via Auth0 When to create a styleguide While we don't always have the luxury of endless budget and time, I would argue (and so would Brad Frost) that spending design hours to create a styleguide before high-fidelity design even begins will pay off on the back-end of the project. By starting with the styleguide, designers are taking into account the UX decisions done in wireframing phase, along with any brand standards to apply. The styleguide will lay down the groundwork for the high-fidelity design. The completed styleguide should be handed off to the client for approval, which can then be given to production designers *and* to front-end developers. In a web project, while the designers are beginning their high-fidelity mockups, the developers are using the completed and approved styleguide to write base CSS that will drive the majority of the site's look and feel. Since the client has already approved the style guide, there should be no danger in having to "re-do" anything in rounds of revision. What's in a good styleguide? In creating a styleguide, the bare minimum should be included, for all required breakpoints: LAYOUT Responsive breakpoints Grid system DESIGN COMPONENTS Icons Image Galleries Thumbnails TYPOGRAPHY Font Faces Heading Styles and Type Sizes Paragraph / Body Styles and Type Sizes List Styles (ordered; unordered) and Type Sizes Any other specialized definitions, like form label styles or subheading styles INTERACTIVE AND NAVIGATIONAL ELEMENTS Buttons - rest, hover states Links - rest, hover states Main Nav - rest, hover, active states Breadcrumb Nav Togglers - on, off states Tool Tips - on, off states Alert boxes Modal / overlay boxes Custom form elements (checkboxes, radio buttons, selects, etc) COLOR PALETTE Primary colors and when to use them Secondary, tertiary colors and when to use them ANIMATION Loading icons Progress bars Any other animations the layout may require Resources and Citations Design System vs Pattern Libraries vs Style Guides: What's the difference? Nielsen Norman Group - Front-End Style-Guides: Definition, Requirements, Component Checklist Atomic Design by Brad Frost Styleguides.io - Collection of Styleguide Examples Sajio George Brand Styleguide Examples Stay Tuned for Part two of this post, where I will evaluate some helpful tools to streamline the process of creating a styleguide, as well as take a closer look at more examples and why they work!

Google Search Trends Insights August 2021

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 August 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. Peculiar Search Trends For August 2021 Let’s come out with it: Looking back at what we captured from Google Trends, August 2021 was a different kind of month. First off, it was the first month since March 2020 where we didn’t have a keyword that was searched more than 10 million times in a day. Even more unusual, we had only one keyword that made the 5 million plus club! Not that Google would tell us, but we wonder if there are some months where overall search activity is down. There’s seasonality in search but I wonder if there are some months where there aren’t huge news stories driving people to search. What we theorize happened in August: people getting outside and enjoying the last full month of summer in the second year of this pandemic. We’re not sure but we have our eyes on the trends every day and something was different this time. Other than the lower query volumes for the daily top 3, there were interesting keywords that made our collection including an Instagram comment that caught fire and one related to a celebrity McDonald’s meal. Queries about weather events and other news stories dominated our list so they will have their own section in this post. Lastly, with a lack of big sports events in August, the number of sports-related queries were down. We’re sure that’s welcome information for our regular readers. Weather Events And News Queries There were a few hurricanes that made landfall in the USA last month and people searched to learn about them. Here are the weather related keywords that made our collection in chronological order: The first named storm was Henri: Hurricane Henri - 8/19/2021 - 500,000+ queries Hurricane Henri path - 8/20/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Hurricane Henri path - 8/22/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Clearly, there were some questions related to how Henri was tracking up the East coast of the U.S. and where landfall was going to be. The next named storm was Ida and she drove more search interest. Queries about this storm on the 28th made it the most searched keyword for the month. Ida - 8/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Ida - 8/28/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Since Ida was supposed to make landfall on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were enough queries for the former storm to push it into the dail top 3 on the 27th. Hurricane Katrina - 8/27/2021 - 200,000+ queries Beyond the topic of weather, the big news story of the month was the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Here are the queries associated with that event: Afghanistan - 8/15/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Taliban - 8/15/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Biden Afghanistan - 8/15/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Afghanistan news - 8/26/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Looking across all the keywords we gathered for this report, these two topics were the most searched. It’s a good reminder that sometimes search is a tool to gain knowledge about topics that have serious consequences for people and those they care about. Sometimes, there isn’t any further analysis needed.   Top August 2021 TV & Movie Keywords Switching gears, here are the movies and TV shows that people queried the most in August 2021. First up, films based on comic book characters are still popular.  Also, having the trailer of an upcoming film get leaked expands the number of days a movie gets searched for. Suicide Squad - 8/5/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Spider-Man: No Way Home - 8/22/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Spider-Man: No Way Home - 8/23/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries If you wanted to know if the show you were excited to watch was popular, check out Google Trends. Look - there were lots of queries about the third Kissing Booth film. Bachelorette finale - 8/9/2021 - 200,000+ queries Kissing Booth 3 - 8/11/2021 - 200,000+ queries White Lotus - 8/16/2021 - 200,000+ queries Nine Perfect Strangers - 8/18/2021 - 200,000+ queries Only Murders in the Building - 8/31/2021 - 200,000+ queries Mike Richards was named the new host of the game show Jeopardy! and it spurred some interest.  When that host job was taken away, that’s when people wanted to know more. Mike Richards - 8/4/2021 - 200,000+ queries Mike Richards - 8/20/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries By looking at the data Google Trends provides, you can see if the hype is real or not.   Nah, He Tweaking Now, this type of query makes it to the top of Google Trends daily report rarely, if ever. This phrase was an Instagram comment that went viral and people wanted to know what it meant and why it was seemingly everywhere. So, they turned to Google for answers. Nah he tweakin - 8/25/2021 - 500,000+ queries Originating from a Lil Nas X comment in reaction to a post about Tony Hawk’s blood infused skateboards, these three words suddenly were being used in comments all over Instagram. Someday, we’ll understand why a comment gets repeated by a large number of people but until then, it’s fun to wonder how things go viral.   The Newest Celebrity McDonalds Meal The team here at AMP loves to see queries related to food make the daily top 3.  McDonalds Celebrity meals has been a topic we have been tracking since last year and here’s the latest top query. Saweetie - 8/9/2021 - 200,000+ queries Now, not all McD’s celebrity meals are as popular as others. The South Korean boy band BTS’ meal was released last May 26th and the search interest was not large enough to make its way into the daily top 3. On the other hand, the keyword “Travis Scott McDonald's” was the most searched phrase on September 8th, 2020, queried over a million times. We guess the search interest in this topic is a matter of taste.      Well, It’s Not Like Sports Went Away Just because there were less sports-related phrases in our August 2021 collection doesn’t mean there were none. Here are the keywords that correlated to sports events last month. There were a few games that drove search interest, some of the most queried phrases of the month - one for international soccer and one for Major League Baseball. Mexico vs USA - 8/1/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Field of Dreams Game - 8/11/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Queries related to professional boxing also sparked the interest of Google users. Pacquiao vs Ugas - 8/20/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Jake Paul - 8/28/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley - 8/28/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley - 8/29/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries The rest of the notable sports-related queries were of athlete’s names and all three of them went through some job changes. Messi - 8/5/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Lionel Messi - 8/8/2021 - 200,000+ queries Tim Tebow - 8/14/2021 - 500,000+ queries Tim Tebow - 8/17/2021 - 200,000+ queries Cam Newton - 8/30/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Lionel Messi announced that he was not returning to FC Barcelona on the 5th and had a press conference on the 8th. Tim Tebow played in a pre-season NFL team for the Jacksonville Jaguars on the 14th and then was cut from the team on the 17th.  Lastly, Cam Newton's tenure with the New England Patriots ended on the 30th when he was released from the team. The NFL is starting its season in September so we fully expect that keywords related to the players, teams, and games will make up a large percentage of the daily top 3 as reported by Google Trends. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 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.

AMP Agency Names Michael Mish To President

AMP Agency, a division of Advantage Solutions, has named Michael Mish president. Mish, who joined AMP Agency in 2012, most recently served as SVP, general manager and previously as SVP of business development. As president, Mish is responsible for agency operations, strategy and growth, including strategic acquisitions. Under Mish’s leadership, the agency has experienced consistent year-over-year growth on a national and now global scale. “AMP’s growth is in large part attributable to Michael’s focus on shifting to strategic relationships and evolving AMP’s capabilities to meet the changing needs of clients,” said AMP Agency Founder Gary Colen. “Michael has specifically focused on the demand for top-tier, growth-focused digital media services, experience design, dynamic creative, data science and advanced analytics.” Mish serves on Advantage's DE&I board, which is supporting a multiyear diversity, equity and inclusion strategy that includes the establishment of employee resource groups, training programs, talent benchmarks and policy recommendations. Working with other senior executive leaders, Mish is focused on developing a positive culture and recruiting diverse talent to the company. “Improving DE&I within the marketing and advertising industry is nothing new,” Mish said. “As a Hispanic leader from humble beginnings, I recognize the need to create opportunities within and outside of our agency. “I want to be part of the change in the industry. At AMP, our core values are Openness, Empathy and Growth. Our leadership team is focused on developing an inclusive culture and recruiting multicultural talent. Not only is it the right thing to do, but diversity of thought and experience will drive breakthrough work for our clients, increase innovation and accelerate our momentum.” Last year, AMP established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and developed a pro-bono program, setting a goal of dedicating up to 10% of annual billable hours to support organizations led or owned by Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ people or people impacted by disabilities. “We decided our role in solving inequalities is to focus our intellectual capital on growing businesses that support these communities,” Mish said. “When Michael joined AMP, he immediately drove value for the agency and our clients and has always stood out as an innovative and strategic leader,” Colen said. “The larger vision for the agency has consistently been at the forefront of his contributions. I’ve always looked to Michael for opportunities to lead and guide the agency, given his proven marketing genius and passion for growing our clients’ brands with breakthrough work and for growing our people. In his new role as president, I know he will combine these areas of focus to continue to elevate our agency and our people for our clients.” Mish has had an amazing journey here at AMP! View this video to learn more:   Congratulations, Mish! READ THE NEWS:  https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/amp-agency-elevates-michael-mish-to-president/173862/ https://www.lbbonline.com/news/amp-agency-names-michael-mish-as-president

2021 Fall DE&I Challenge

This fall, AMP is kicking off its first ever DE&I challenge! We're playing bingo all month long and we invite you to join us. There’s gonna be bingo, there’s gonna be prizes, there’s gonna be education we can use to make our workplace and the world more equitable and inclusive. Get ready to celebrate diversity *and* simultaneously compete with your fellow AMPers for some awesome grand prizes. To play, screenshot the bingo card template in our Fall 2021 DE&I Challenge highlight on our Instagram page, and re-share it to your Instagram Story as you complete challenges. Tag us in pics of you completing challenges for a chance to be featured in our Highlight reel! For recommendations and resources, view our Instagram page and click the link in bio to view the resource list. LINKS: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amp_agency/ Resource list: https://linktr.ee/ampagency We encourage our industry peers to join us in taking on the challenge!

Reels vs. TikTok 2021: The Social Showdown

In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world.  Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in!    Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden?  Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling.  With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal.  The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content.    What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok?  Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users.    Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm.  When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app.  TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others.  Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive.  Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects.  TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities.  Platform Purpose   Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know.  At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference.  While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while.  The Algorithm  Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm.  Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app.  Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique.     How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions:  Which platform is your audience on currently?  Which one can you commit to doing consistently?  While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity.  The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.  

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