Happy Sunday! We took a break from our Sunday Series last week because of the holiday, but we’re back today with a new list of things we learned or were inspired by this week. As always, please feel free to share your Sunday thoughts in the comments, too!
Julia – Last week I had the honor of attending a lunch for Good Friends of the Lowcountry, a non profit organization in Charleston that raises money to help local low-income families who are in need. During the lunch, they had a few people come and speak who had been directly impacted by the organization. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after they finished telling their stories and how they’ve been able to overcome some of their hardships with a little help. During one of the speeches, there was a quote that really stuck with me, and this is not word for word, but my takeaway of it- “It all starts with one woman. Many of us can look at our successes in life and pinpoint at least one woman that was there for us, believed in us or helped us.” Often times I think we can feel that as a single person, there isn’t much we can do to make a difference. When we look at all of the hurting and illness and violence in the world, it feels overwhelming to the point of not knowing what to do. This lunch was a great reminder that a single person can make a difference. Whether it’s a monetary donation, or a donation of time and support, there are ways we can directly impact those around us who are in need. Even if we’re only able to help one person, that one person can end up making a difference, too, creating a ripple effect to even more good. It was incredibly touching and moving afternoon and made me want to find out ways I can connect and help with the community even more.
Thomas – Poor Snapchat, their “little” app only has 178 million daily users, an audience level that other companies would kill for, yet due to extreme competition from Instagram Stories, they are in desperation mode. This week they announced a major redesign of their app, the biggest ever, they claim. So the big question is, will this change propel Snapchat back in place to be an even more serious competitor to Facebook and Instagram?
Instagram Stories now has nearly double the daily users of Snapchat Stories at 300 million vs. 178 million. Now with Snapchat’s redesign, which they are claiming separates the social from the media, they emphasize having friends on the left and media (brands, publishers, influencers) on the right. Snapchat is making a big bet with the hopes of capturing more and more of their current user’s time and getting back to the user growth rate that their investors expect. They believe that our private conversations between friends should co-exist as neighbors with professional content creators instead of having them compete for attention in the same feed.
My guess is that this strategy will pay off in the short term, and it will bring back people willing to give Snapchat another try. But I believe the key to sustained success will be the right side, the media, part of the equation. There will have to be enough incentives for professional creators to care enough to figure out novel ways of participating on Snapchat in ways that they aren’t the same as Instagram Stories. Big publishers like magazines, television networks, and large content sites, will easily participate, hiring teams to support these efforts but the key will be if influencers most with no teams at all will come back.
Despite being the foundation of what Snapchat is built on, they can’t just rely on more messages being shared among friends. That’s because a significant factor in revenue growth is how long users spend in the app, which allows them to serve more ads. New messages between friends will serve as the notifications on people’s phone that bring them back onto Snapchat continuously throughout the day, but people don’t talk to hundreds of friends at once, so the right side, the media side will have to keep people engaged on the app longer.
If this strategy pays off for Snapchat, don’t be surprised if Facebook and IG follow. In smaller countries, Facebook has already experimented with placing content into a separate Explore Feed for Business pages vs. the standard feed for friends you follow.
We spend a lot of time on our phones, so social media is not necessarily a winner take all space. But there’s not much room at the top and Facebook has no interest in sharing. Best of luck to Snapchat, who knows if they will succeed, but at least they are making things interesting for those watching. I might even go back to using it as an audience member and maybe eventually as a contributor. What do you think about Snapchat?
Laura – I recently found out from two of my closest friends that they’re each expecting their first baby! Ah! They’re friends from different periods of my life so they don’t know each other but they each delivered their news to me around the same time. One of them has decided to not find out the sex of the baby until the day she goes into labor and the other friend hasn’t figured out what she’s having yet. However, I want to jump on the chance to get each of them gender neutral congratulatory gifts that are unique, cozy, cute, and fun for either a boy or girl! So I thought I’d share two pointers I keep in mind when looking for the right find; tips you can use if you have any pregnant friends too! First off, I don’t want to take the neutral part too literally especially when it comes to the color of the gift because it may feel a little boring if all the items are a muted tone. Instead, I look for fun patterns mixed with soft textures.
You can’t go wrong with polka dots especially in the cozy form of this darling baby blanket (in flax) and this dreamsack in silver (the babies in this picture melt my heart). I love the stripes on on this bodysuit and this baby gown in a grapefruit color that is so different from the usual neutral and works for a boy or girl! And lastly, you have to keep the little ones extra warm with wool in this burnt orange cardigan (another great new neutral!) and this adorable bobbled sweater!
I’d love to know if you have any favorite go-to shops or accessories for gender neutral gifts! I have a feeling I will need to be shopping for lots more of these with the size of my friend group.
Margaret – This Sunday, I don’t have a new find or update in a certain area of interest, but I do want to share a few reminders for the holiday season. I tend to grow overwhelmed with the planning, gifting, and events and forget to enjoy the simple wonders of the day-to-day. In a season that is meant to bring joy, all of the good things can quickly lead to anxiety (not finding the perfect gift, outfit, feeling as if you’re not doing enough). In the midst of the rush, I want to slow down and be mindful of how I am exerting my energy. This is a special time that sets the tone for the upcoming year. Here are a few thoughts that shed light on the meaning behind words often found on Hallmark cards this time of year:
Peace: A way I often find peace is by journaling, beginning or ending the day with time to reflect. By writing down fears and uncertainties, I am better able to face them. One way we can extend peace to others is by mending broken relationships. There’s a reason why the last scene in Home Alone, when the elderly neighbor reconnects with his family, is so heart warming.
Joy: The holiday season is meant to bring joy, and the world needs a bit more of it. There are most likely areas in your life where you’ve been a bit half-hearted or apathetic. There’s no better time to identify those areas and fill them with the joy of the season.
Hope: Many traditions center around ‘belief’ and ‘hope’. Childlike belief in your dreams, that you can make waves, conquer fear – I think we can all rally around that kind of belief. We can share hope by serving others as well, The Salvation Army Angel Program is one I love.
Love: There are simple ways to love others this time of year. Here are a few ideas: Celebrate a neighbor with an easy homemade gift, reconnect with loved ones and old friends through a Christmas card so they know they’re on your mind, share a smile and word of encouragement to those working long hours. Sometimes, the perfect gift is a simple action to show you care.