Snapchat’s time limits make snaps more engaging. Since snaps disappear seconds after they are opened, users feel comfortable sending spontaneous and personal messages that they would not want ingrained into digital histories. Sending a headshot to a friend via text feels forced, but sending a warm gaze or a silly face via Snapchat is natural. Snapchat pictures tend to be candid and unprepared, which makes the messages feel more personal, more real. Additionally, since every message has a time limit, users are present when opening snaps. Snapchat attracts its users’ full attention since they have only a few seconds to capture the details of each message. This engagement makes the experience more satisfying – it feels like a real conversation. Interestingly, Snapchat maintains the feeling of a one-on-one conversation even when messaging groups.
Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, “Paperman.” Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. Created by a small, innovative team working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Paperman” pushes the animation medium in an exciting new direction.
Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit, RSS and computer prodigy:
When I was a kid, I thought a lot about what made me different from the other kids. I don’t think I was smarter than them and I certainly wasn’t more talented. And I definitely can’t claim I was a harder worker — I’ve never worked particularly hard, I’ve always just tried doing things I find fun. Instead, what I concluded was that I was more curious — but not because I had been born that way. If you watch little kids, they are intensely curious, always exploring and trying to figure out how things work. The problem is that school drives all that curiosity out. Instead of letting you explore things for yourself, it tells you that you have to read these particular books and answer these particular questions. And if you try to do something else instead, you’ll get in trouble. Very few people’s curiosity can survive that. But, due to some accident, mine did. I kept being curious and just followed my curiosity.
This sounds about right. The best teachers in school are celebrated for “encouraging curiosity”, and they are treated as the exception. It is much easier to handle a room of 20 kids if everyone does what they are told and never asks questions. The love of learning is something we are all born with and most be furiously protected by the adults around us as we get older.
One way to get better at something is to study what the people better than you do and then copy or improve on their techniques. If you want to be better at marketing – at getting people to care about your product – you should be a devoted student of brand advertising. Find the brands that are good at building a following and watch them to learn how they do it.
On Instagram, I follow Starbucks and Kate Spade (in addition to my friends). Not because I care about those brands, but because they have devoted followings and post to Instagram often. Starbucks has eight hundred thousand followers and they post pictures of coffee cups. Kate Spade posts pictures of their office staff working in NYC. When I check my feed to see the latest pictures from my friends, I see these pictures as well – and their comments (why do people comment on a picture of a Starbucks cup?). Patterns start to emerge. You start to notice what types of pictures get more Likes than others and what types of comments people leave. And you start to learn a technique.
A lot of my peers (in the software world) pride themselves on being anti-advertising. They install ad-blocking software, avoid the “popular websites”, skip TV commercials and ridicule large brands. I think this is a mistake. There is a lot to learn from what other brands do right (and do wrong). For a while, I used Safari with Flash uninstalled for a more pleasant browsing experience (and longer battery life). But I eventually switched back to Chrome because I felt like I was missing too many ads.
We all think ads are annoying but if you want to be better at marketing, you should make studying advertising a part of your regular routine. Follow some brands on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the blogs or wherever you hang out. Don’t always skip commercials. Sign up for some newsletters. Subscribe to a magazine (they are cheap!).
You can see the most followed Instagram users here. Most are celebrities – scroll down until you find brands. The top 3 are currently MTV, Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret.
Side note: I think Instagram is the future of brand advertising. More on that later.
I can confirm that Charlottesville is both a great place to live and a great place to start a company. Location no longer matters (unless you are opening a restaurant, in which case Charlottesville is an excellent place to start).