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You are reading Social Signals, Greg’s weekly email about creative, digital, social, and cultural signals worth noting (and sometimes a dumb viral video worth sharing with your friends). Today’s email was written to my 18-hour GET TO WORK playlist. Follow @gregswan on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.


It’s been “one of those” kinds of weeks, so just a short note before we get into it today…

I set up my 3D printer next to my laptop and have had it running nonstop all week printing dumb things while I’m in meetings (ie. Among Us characters for my kids and Batman batarangs for me). Sometimes it can feel energy-depleting to just sit on video calls all day, and it’s been SO WONDERFUL actively “creating” things while in meetings about creating things.

I have an Original Prusa Mini 3D that was pretty easy to set up and get started with, and I’ve been teaching myself the software, slicing, CAD design, and more. It’s been really rewarding and fun. I’m specifically making a little set of Among Us toys with four differently colored characters for my kids to use as fidgets and to make stop-motion content stories with. I still have a ton to learn, but that’s what it’s all about.

How are you staying creative and inspired as we head into another weird winter? Leave a comment or hit me back with what’s working for you! -Greg

Here’s what I’m tracking this week…

Holiday Shopping 2021 Predictions: Holiday sales this year are expected to grow at least 7% compared with last year, according to forecasts from Bain, Deloitte, and Mastercard. Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Many consumers’ holiday shopping will begin before Thanksgiving this year and finish weeks ahead of usual. It could make days like Black Friday less important.

  • Supply chain issues mean consumers will shop online well in advance of the holidays and factor in limited stock and delayed delivery.

  • Sales and deals will likely be strategically placed on goods that retailers have in excess stock, not necessarily popular items that are sure to sell out or will be difficult to fulfill.

  • Although online shopping will be strong, in-person retail shopping will rebound this year.

  • Based on Mastercard data, apparel sales — both in stores and online — are expected to grow 46%. Jewelry sales are forecast to surge 59%. Luxury sales are predicted to rise 93%!

Antiques Roadshow TikTok is Trending: If your feeds haven’t yet blessed you with videos of people being AMAZED at the value of their inherited vase or forgotten watch or great grandma’s creepy sculpture, you have to get on this trend ASAP. The #AntiquesRoadshow hashtag is up to 15M views, and accounts like @doonies have curated some of the best finds from the 25-year-old PBS program.

Rise of the Synthetic Influencers: First it was Lil Miquela. Now Rozy is filling feeds and landing sponsorship deals. Both are virtual human models designed specifically to play with the tension between culture, social media, and manufactured influence. Literally. These A.I. influencers are highly dynamic, quick to turn around content, and limit brand safety risks for branded content.

Key quote: “The reason for the popularity of virtual humans is that there is no fear that advertisements will be suspended due to unsavory privacy scandals after the AI model is selected as the advertising model. In addition, the location and scene can be created through computer graphics, so the virtual model is not limited in time and space, and unlike real people. The other advantage is that period in which the model can be active is very long or eternal because the virtual human doesn't get sick or grow old.”

Weekend Reads of the Week: 1) Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead; 2) Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show; 3) Instagram responds to the negative news cycle of #2; 4) These startups are creating NFTs and digital swag for the metaverse middle class; 5) What brands need to know about Gen Alpha and how COVID has shifted marketing priorities; 6) How influencer became Creators and what it means for brands; 7) How to call out your friend for a racist comment; 8) The Car Cassette Adapter Was an Unsung Hero at the Dawn of the Digital Age.

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

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