Inexplicable #BackpackChallenge Tops The Viral List

The latest #Challenge sweeping high schools and Twitter, the kitchen gadget that’s gone viral, a meme all about trying to stay non-political, and more stories and trends earning buzz this week!

1. Yes, the #BackpackChallenge Is a Thing

The Backpack Challenge is sweeping high schools across the nation. To participate, teens line up and throw heavy backpacks at a peer, who needs to run through the launched bags without getting knocked down. The challenge originally began trending in November, but has resurfaced with a vengeance. The #BackpackChallenge hashtag on Twitter surfaces a feed of kids lining up to toss backpacks at one brave challenger. Seem bizarre/confusing? We don’t disagree. But don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out—as with most teen social media challenges (think The Cinnamon Challenge, etc.) there’s little “why” behind this “what.” As one teen told BuzzFeed, “It’s just for fun. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.”

2. The Viral Kitchen Gadget

Can cooking tools go viral? The success of the Instant Pot shows us they can. The Instant Pot has become a massive success thanks to viral word of mouth on social media, becoming Amazon’s best-selling item in the U.S. Business Insider calls it “the Internet’s favorite kitchen appliance,” citing the thousands upon thousands of glowing reviews the product has received and the passionate communities of Instant Pot users trading tips and recipes on Reddit, Facebook and beyond. The CEO of the company behind the 7-in-1 gadget says of their viral success, "Cooking is very much a social behavior. If people make good food, they will be raving about it, including the tools used.”

3. Can You Say Anything Non-Political?

In the contentious political climate we’re experiencing now, everything can be political—from Super Bowl…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I honestly wouldn't like to communicate with brands, unless it is to solve problems their brand is causing.”—Female, 27, MI

Why don’t people seem to care as much about fake followers on Instagram as on other platforms? Because while Facebook and Twitter are bashed for feeds full of fake news, no one holds Instagram to the same standard. The image-centric platform is inherently “a hyperreality,” where no one’s candid shot is truly spontaneous, and photo-shop freely fills feeds. Where does it get tricky? With Influencers, who are expected to garner true engagements for brands. (Real Life)

Influencer marketing faced another tricky situation this week when PopSugar replaced influencers’ affiliate links with their own. RewardStyle and its Instagram product LikeToKnow.it’s network of content creators’ photos and sometimes entire feeds “were copied to the site via “thousands of ‘falsified vanity pages’ containing millions of images belonging to the network’s content creators.” The group is planning on seeking a class-action lawsuit on their intellectual property and for the lost revenue that PopSugar made each time a customer clicked to purchase. (Racked)

Colleges are giving out more merit-based aid to win over top students. Tuition discount rates have risen to a record 49.1% for first-time, full-time freshman attending private universities, up over 10% from ten years prior—according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. By using data-driven analysis to calculate just how much aid is likely to lure a top student in, colleges are seeing success upping their prestige. However, the practice has also “created a closing of the doors for low-income students,” according to one policy analyst. (WSJ)

Apple is betting that young consumers could bring back magazines via a magazine subscription service. The tech company took a gamble by buying Texture, a subscription service for over 200 titles that’s been dubbed the “Netflix of Magazine Publishing.” The app aggregates articles into a single browsing experience, rather than being separated by title, and pays the included publications. Apple has announced plans to integrate the service into their Apple News app, the latest incarnation of their less-than-successful Newsstand app. (Bloomberg)

Function of Beauty is customizing hair care, blending up shampoo and conditioner for each customer based off a five-question quiz. Beauty companies big and small have hopped on the Customization Nation trend, and Function of Beauty takes that to the next level with their hyper-personalized hair care set. They're customizing everything from the fragrance to the chemical components, and even going so far as to print the purchaser’s name on each product. The founder explains, "Every single person is unique and different...why negate that instead of catering to it?" (Paper)

“[Allison Raskin] is open about her struggles with mental health, and she is also funny.”—Female, 19, CA

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