Meme stocks are not Bernie mittens

When the $5 Mystery Safe went viral, you knew GameStop was gonna have a week

A big hello to all the new subscribers this week. I can’t promise you won’t be disappointed, but the price is right…. (ahem.. free!).

It was quite the PR week. I was quoted in Forbes about virtual CES and the necessity of prioritizing your brand’s digital footprint in a post-pandemic world: “At CES And Beyond, CMOs See Potential With New Kinds Of Virtual Events.”

Then I was in the Axios newsletter and Cities97 radio about that dumb “$5 Mystery Safe” I sold via Facebook Marketplace and posted a Twitter thread about.

And our Arby’s team had a huge win jumping on the sea shanty TikTok trend with a bespoke sea shanty about Arby’s fish sandwiches that really took off and got some attention.

And all that was just Monday.

The rest of the week I continued to take Erik Davis’ advice we discussed last week – to try to keep my bubble popped – and watched Chris Rock’s Good Hair, which was almost as good as We Are the Champions Episode 3.

And I’ve been streaming a lot of Porya Hatami (h/t Flow State), an Iranian composer and sound designer who creates these amazing ambient textures featuring atmospheric synths, soft piano, and field recordings. It’s great music to work to. Stream “Arrivals and Departures” here.

Here’s what I’m tracking this week…

Update your iPhone and iPad: This isn’t a ploy to get access to new emojis. Instead, you should update the iOS on your Apple devices immediately to close a security vulnerability. Do it right now. And iOS 14.4 also gives your phone the ability to recognize smaller QR codes – BONUS!

What makes an old song go viral on TikTok? From Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams to Jack Johnson’s Upside Down, we’ve seen TikTok viral videos help countless old songs regain mainstream popularity. NME interviewed psychologists, musicians and viral stars to find out the appeal of an old favorite. Key quote: “Good songs with a good sentiment don’t age, and the feeling of finding a song you love and playing it on repeat doesn’t have any time constraint.

Social Trends from Q4: In its Q4 2020 Social Media Trends Report, Socialbakers reports an overall 56% YoY increase in digital ad spend, with 73.7% of total ad spend going to the main feeds on Facebook and Instagram in Q4 2020, plus 10.9% of spend on Instagram Stories. Compared to Q3 2020, all formats on Instagram decreased organic interactions, and on Facebook only live video increased; all the other formats remained basically the same or decreased slightly. In Q4 2020, the number of Instagram influencers who used #ad in their posts decreased by 17.6% compared to Q4 2019. While there was still an overall increase for the holidays, it didn’t reach last year’s levels. Download the full report here.

How Machine Learning Powers Facebook’s News Feed Ranking Algorithm: This week Facebook engineering team shared how the multi-layer algorithm code is built. Warning: it’s nerdy and deep. Key quote: For simplicity and tractability, we score our predictions together in a linear way, so that Vijt = wijt1Yijt1 + wijt2Yijt2 + … + wijtkYijtk. Did you get that? If not, here’s a quick video overview for those wanting a 101-level explainer.

Podcast of the Week: Before social media, there were only so many ways to unburden yourself and share your darkest secrets with strangers. That’s where The Apology Line came in – a real life phone number and answering machine in 1980s NYC that grew to infamous notoriety for its secrets, scandals, and worse. It’s now being remembered and chronicled via podcast, and the first episodes are live here.

Business Reads of the Week: Publishing is Back to the Future; Bill & Melinda Gates on The Year Health Went Global; The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship; Apple Pay Offers Germ-Free Shopping—If Only We Could Figure Out How it Works

Quick Hits:


Meme Stocks” Changing Fortunes

A massive increase in day-trading that appeared to be driven by Reddit, WeBull, and Robinhood caught the attention of Wall Street by driving shares of GameStop, Nokia and AMC by huge leaps this week. Here’s a quick explainer. It’s not the first time online communities have pushed a stock, but Reddit-fueled rallies typically last days, not weeks.

Key quote: “Reddit's structure and the democratic nature of users picking the most popular content differs wildly from Wall Street's research reports and market analysis. Yet both generate trade ideas that proliferate across market participants. And [Reddit’s] ability to turn free, user-produced research into hugely viral media has seemingly been underestimated.”

This is no Bernie Sanders’ mittens meme trend that’s going to disappear after a week. And many are pointing out there’s likely professional money on both sides. But the democratization and social disruption of the stock market could have massive implications in the coming weeks and months.

Disclosure: I own .007% of one stock of Facebook, and it isn’t doing so hot. And I bought some Dogecoin last night. Very money. Wow. Such success.

See you on the internet!
Greg

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