The Weekly Download – May 13, 2016

The Weekly Download - May 13, 2016Let’s talk about a few stories in digital communications and social media that caught my eye over the past week. Of course, I’d love to hear your comments about these topics too.
Here’s what’s been filling up my news feed lately:

Designing a New Look for Instagram, Inspired by the Community

So, what do you think? Everyone seems to have an opinion about Instagram’s new look that was unveiled on Wednesday. Many are upset. Like you, as an active Instagram user, I was taken by surprise and this may seem contrary to most, but it was a smart move. As much as I loved the original Polaroid-inspired logo and it was easily identified within the sea of apps on my iPhone screen, the move towards a cleaner look and a unified look, feel and user experience the Instagram family of apps which includes Hyperlapse, Layout and Boomerang, seems like a natural one. Why I’m sharing this story with you isn’t because of the new look and feel of the platform but rather how it was unveiled. Designer Ian Spalter published a detailed description of the thought and effort that went into the design – including videos and graphics – and how the new design was inspired by the community. According to Spalter, “The Instagram logo and design was beginning to feel, well… not reflective of the community, and frankly we thought we could make it better.” He makes a strong case for removing colour from inside the app, allowing the community to bring colour to the app through members photos, videos and graphics.

Quite a different approach from when the Gap unveiled it short-lived new logo in 2010. Have you updated your Instagram yet? What do you think?

Research Proves There is Still a Place for Long Form Content

Mark Schaefer shares a thorough explanation of the findings of new research Pew confirming that long-form content has a firm place in a mobile news world. In spite of all the hype around Buzzfeed and similar sites, did you know that although more short-form content is published, people access both long- and short-form content at approximately the same rate? They do and readers even spend more time on their smartphones reading long-form content over the course of the day. According to Schaefer, research from Buzz Sumo, the New York Times and others has shown long-form content even gets shared more than its shorter cousins. Are you surprised? With the popularity of platforms like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, where authors are typically publishing longer pieces, there’s definitely a place for varied content lengths as long as the story provides value for its audience.

Many Crowdfunding Consultants Come Up Short

As The Wall Street Journal pointed out recently, there’s lots of snake oil out there, folks. When I was working on Together Tales, there were many key learnings, most of which were positive. One thing became crystal clear very quickly: the large number of independent consultants and firms specializing in “crowdfunding” that weren’t much different from snake oil salesmen. In many cases, their approach was cookie-cutter, typically full of sloppy press releases and coupled with a poor understanding of influencer relations and social media. It’s in part why I decided to launch the 30-Day Crowdfunding Toolkit – it’s free – to give founders some of the the tools they needed to manage their own campaigns. It’s just as important for people with a successful track record consulting on crowdfunding campaigns to know how to choose the right clients.

If you’re interested in learning more about Vann Alexandra, referenced in the WSJ article, read Want Kickstarter success? You need Alex Daly. Thanks Kim Vallée for sharing.

Fort McMurray Crisis

This is worthy of our attention for two weeks in a row because your help is still needed in Fort McMurray. Here’s a heartbreaking but interesting read about using Twitter in a crisis: Saving lives one tweet at a time in Fort McMurray

You can help!

Your donations to the Canadian Red Cross for Fort McMurray evacuee assistance will now be matched – dollar for dollar – by the Federal Government. It’s easy to give. Text “REDCROSS” to 30333 to give $5 or donate more by visiting

Ada’s Sisters – Episode 1

We’ve moved to a bi-weekly schedule for the summer and much of our discussions are timeless so I’ve decided to share some episodes from our archives on the “off” weeks. This week, why not start from the beginning where Angela and I explain the thinking behind the name: Ada’s Sisters; knocked the #curvee hashtag ban by Instagram and discussed how the platform succumbed to pressure and reversed its decision; Gamergate; and, the perils of vocal fry.

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site