The week in social media: Facebook launches Lifestage app for school teens

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Facebook launches Lifestage app for school teens

Facebook has launched Lifestage, a new social media app aimed at teenagers in school, with users on Apple devices in the US the first to be able to access the feature. It allows users aged 21 and under to upload public pictures and videos based around feelings, likes and dislikes, which are then turned into video profiles, with the aim of connecting members of the same school. Lifestage, which was designed by a 19 year old Facebook product manager named Michael Sayman, has no messaging functionality, although contact details from sites like Snapchat and Instagram can be displayed. “My friends and I have a bajillion messaging apps we already use and love, so what’s the point of having another messaging app? It just seems annoying to me,” Sayman says.

Lifestage could capture the attention of teens that Facebook fears might slip away to Snapchat, and it could teach Facebook how to improve its profiles with video, as Mark Zuckerberg wants “video at the heart of all our apps and services.” The app currently has a 2.5 star rating on the iTunes store with some comments describing it as "kinda sorta creepy" and "confusing." Many will be asking how Facebook plans to monetise the app, and while it’s not immediately clear how brands will be able to engage with Lifestage and its user base, Facebook is likely to make it possible in due course, especially given the importance of this demographic for brands.

PR and Marketing in Social Media...

Kopparberg Facebook ad rewards listeners

Cider brand Kopparberg has unveiled a tongue-in-cheek Facebook ad that entices users to actually listen to its video spots. Bucking a recent trend for silent spots on Facebook, Kopparberg will reward fans who listen to its ad with the chance to win a competition - playing on the fact that 85 per cent of branded videos on Facebook are thought to be watched with the sound turned off. Devised by Goodstuff Communications, the advert tells keen listeners "most people don't bother to watch these videos with sound on, but you - you went that extra mile," and goes on to direct them to a prize draw for the chance to win a limited edition Strawberry and Lime 'Kopparkeg'.

All users have to do to win is comment below the video with the words “I hear you.” The work ties in with the brand's new positioning "Fånga Dagen" or "Seize the day," which encourages everyone to make the most of opportunities when they arise.

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Spotting depression in Instagram posts

Researchers at Harvard and Vermont universities have found significant correlations between an individual’s mental health and the colours in photos they post to Instagram. And the link is so strong they suggest that it could be used for early detection of mental illness. The research was based on the Instagram accounts of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers, which were matched to a series of questionnaires that the Turk workers completed. It found that depressed individuals tend to post images that are bluer, greyer, and darker, and receive fewer likes, than those posted by heathy individuals. And when depressed participants employed filters, they were noted to favour the ‘Inkwell’ filter, which converts photographs to black-and-white images. But healthy individuals preferred a filter called Valencia, which lightens photographs.

The researchers developed an algorithm to identify depressed individuals using images posted on Instagram and found it could correctly identify 70 percent of those who were depressed. “These findings support the notion that major changes in individual psychology are transmitted in social-media use, and can be identified via computational methods,” the researchers concluded.

WhatsApp users to receive adverts

WhatsApp will begin sharing more data with Facebook and will start letting some companies send messages to users as the messaging app makes the first change to its privacy policy since being bought by Facebook in 2014. WhatsApp said sharing users' phone numbers with Facebook would help tackle spam and abuse, and offer people "better friend suggestions and more relevant ads." The company said users would be able to opt out of sharing information with Facebook, but one analyst said some people might feel "betrayed" by the move which paves the way for businesses to send messages to WhatsApp users. Messaging apps such as China's WeChat have already enabled business-to-consumer communication, but some think WhatsApp may take a different approach because a lot of people use it because they don't get advertising there. Facebook’s other texting platform, Messenger, has recently been attempting to court businesses to generate revenue. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has reiterated its commitment to encryption, which has put it at odds with some governments." Our belief in the value of private communications is unshakeable," the company said.

The company said it would test the messaging features in the coming months, but promised to avoid a "spammy experience" where people are inundated with ads.

Tech giants oppose social media screening of travellers

Human rights groups and internet giants are campaigning against proposals from America’s Department of Homeland Security to vet the social media accounts of foreign travellers to the country. The proposal would add social media username details to the arrival and departure forms that foreign nationals are required to complete, but leading tech companies, led by trade body the Internet Association, announced opposition to the plan on Monday. Firms including Google, Facebook, and Twitter say DHS proposals could “have a chilling effect on use of social media networks, online sharing and… free speech online.” And they warned that such a move could cause other countries follow Washington's lead. "Should the U.S. Government advance with the DHS proposal it is probable that other countries will make similar requests of visitors entering their country, including U.S. citizens," the companies wrote in comments to the agency.

A coalition of 28 rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Consumer Federation of America are also opposing the proposal.

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