The New Mobile Storytellers

In Millennial minds, the world is just waiting for them to record it. According to Ypulse’s research, 70% of Millennials say that they use their phone’s camera frequently, making it the third most used feature after messaging (91% use frequently) and phone calls (75% use frequently). It’s no secret that photo apps have skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years, with Instagram and Snapchat leading the pack. Millennials’ heavy use of their smart devices' cameras is about their increased reliance on visual communication using apps like these—but it is also about their desire to tell their stories to those around them. Their Instagram feed becomes a visual timeline and public journal that showcases not only the people, places, and things that fill their days, but, thanks to filters and comments, also their mood at the time. It’s the story of their lives. But their increased reliance on mobile video is making that storytelling even more advanced. Vine launched in early 2013, and an April Ypulse survey found that 4% of 14-18-year-olds were using the app—but by October the number had increased drastically to 19% for the same age group. A quick perusal of the most viral Vine stars shows just how creatively some Millennials are telling visual stories, even in short six-second clips. But not everyone can easily craft a story, even if they want to share one, and just as photo apps evolved to allow amateur users to look like pros thanks to a click of a filter, video apps are evolving to help Millennials be the storytellers they want to be. Whether documenting their own stories or creating new ones, thanks to some emerging apps and tools it is becoming easier than ever for them to express their creativity. Here are three of the most buzzed about apps in the visual storytelling space: 
 

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“Most of the role models and leaders in my life have been Gen Xers so far."

–Male, 16, WI

Instagram has reached 700 million active users, and its growth has been speeding up. The app hit the new user mark just four months after reaching 600 million, and the introduction of Instagram stories in August may be a major contributor to its accelerated growth. The feature has a reported 200 million daily active users compared to Snapchat’s 161 million. Overall, Instagram now has twice the user base of Twitter and is quickly approaching the coveted 1 billion user mark that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger have reached. (TechCrunch)

Millennials are using social media and YouTube to decide what to buy. A U.K. study found 32% of 18-24-year-olds are using social media to research their purchase decisions before checking out, and 25% are using video platforms like YouTube. There are also signs they’d like to search for products on social media: 25% of U.K. 18-24-year-olds reported the desire to search media based on their lifestyle and 23% would like search to understand their current mood. These findings, paired with the detailed targeting available to advertisers, are changing the consumer journey from search query to cart. (AdvertisingWeek)

Millennials are keeping 70% of their money in cash, reluctant to invest in anything, from stocks to their own retirement plans—according to new BlackRock research. Clearly impacted by the Great Recession, Millennials are most likely to agree, "What you might earn investing isn't worth the risk of losing your money," and a third say “they learned what not to do with their money” from watching their parents. They also tend to undervalue the potential returns of investments by millions of dollars, which is not good news for their futures—at their current rate, most Millennials will have less than $1 million saved for retirement. (TheStreet)

Influencer marketing is proving its worth. Though marketers have worried about determining ROI with the approach, one report is claiming it’s more effective than advertising alone, showing a direct lift in results rates of up to 30%. Across 450 influencers and 11 campaigns, the expansive research compared results from consumers exposed to ads featuring influencers versus control groups, overwhelmingly showing increased action when an influencer was involved. Good news for marketers, who spent $570 million on influencer marketing on Instagram alone last year. (Adweek)

The Amazon Echo can now help pick your outfit—and tell you when you don’t look good. LED lights and a depth-sensing camera will let the new Echo Look take pictures of any look, and “Style Check” software “combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists” to evaluate which outfit is best, and lets you compare pictures of multiple outfits, from multiple angles. Amazon’s already extensive product recommendations could feasibly be a part of this product’s future—and, if all goes well, a drone will ship the recommended new clothes to your door. (Quartz)

“I want to work for myself so that I can have more flexibility and be my own boss. I have an online business.”
—Female, 16, FL

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