You’ve heard of Free Little Libraries, but have you heard of (little) Free Blockbuster?

Read to the end for the best TikTok about libraries I've seen all year

You are reading 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 Q3 2021 Spotify Playlist. Follow @gregswan on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.


This week The Washington Post announced it is increasing investment and capabilities on TikTok by adding two new positions. I’ve been a massive fan of what creative producer Dave Jorgensen has done on the platform for the newspaper from the beginning (watch his TikToks here). And when I reached out to him during the Iowa Caucuses to see if he would be interested in meeting with Drake University students, Dave made time to visit the Drake Digital Media Strategies class and made TikToks for both the @washingtonpost and the @drakejmc accounts during the class. What a guy.

So anyway, I’m a fan. In part because what Dave is pulling off at the Washington Post didn’t fit anyone’s expectation of how a 144-year-old newspaper would treat social media. And thus, I really enjoyed this thread of how to manage highly creative and entrepreneurial people through the example of the Washington Post TikTok. Some of my best bosses said YES to me, and I strive to be that kind of leader, too. Read the story behind the guy who said “Yes” to the Washington Post TikTok guy’s plan here. And try to say YES more often.

Early next week I’m closing out my 2021 Q3 Spotify Playlist, as I start yet another quarterly playlist of moody tunes from scratch set to working-from-home-during-a-global-pandemic. You can listen to the 2021 Q1 here, Q2 here, and 2020’s cumulative playlist here. 🎶

Here are the social signals I’m tracking this week…

Facebook Reels are Coming: Video accounts for almost half of all time spent on Facebook, and that’s about to increase, with implications for brands. This week Facebook announced it is beginning to test Facebook Reels, which will give Facebook users the ability to create and share short-form video content directly within the News Feed or within Facebook Groups. Reels on Facebook will work similarly to Instagram Reels, with increased features added over time.

Key quotes: “Reels, which is Facebook’s answer to the growing threat of TikTok, first launched to global audiences a year ago… For Facebook, TikTok represents an existential threat to its business…. Facebook said it will announce additional bonus programs and seed funding in the months ahead that will pay out bonuses for Reels on Facebook.”

This means soon brands will need to consider their short-form, vertical video strategy for TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Snapchat, and soon, Facebook Reels.

Tesla Bot and Treating Autonomous Cars as Animals: Last week Telsa unveiled a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot that runs on the same AI used by Tesla's fleet of autonomous vehicles. A functioning version of the robot didn't make an appearance during the reveal, although a performer dressed like a Tesla Bot did.

Key quote: Tesla Bot would eliminate "dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks," and Musk provided an example, suggesting the robot could be told to "go to the store and get ... the following groceries." Not that such a task is particularly dangerous, but you might find it repetitive and boring.

In more short-term realistic A.I. news, Tesla also shared that they are treating autonomous systems for their vehicles by designing a synthetic human visual cortex, and they see the car as an “animal” that is roaming around the street. Super interesting theory. Watch here!

Do Not Do The Milk Crate Challenge: Every year or so we get a massive viral trend or challenge that seems to permeate everywhere, like planking, the Harlem Shake, Tebowing, the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Bird Box Challenge, and bottle flipping. The meme of the moment features everyday people scaling a rickety pyramid of stacked milk crates and trying to run down the other side before it all crashes. But you will have to watch Milk Crate Challenge compilations here on YouTube, because TikTok has now banned the challenge, after doctors have warned that the challenge is tantamount to "elective injuries" and could result in injuries with "lifelong implications." Another example of “Black Creativity” fueling massive viral trends, the #MilkCrateChallenge shows the simplicity and stickiness of a simple and accessible idea matched with the shareable nature of modern social.

Take a Movie; Leave a Movie: You’ve heard of the Little Free Library, but have you heard of Free Blockbuster? A Free Blockbuster is a little kiosk where people can leave movies so other people can borrow them. It’s similar to Little Free Libraries where you can take or leave a book, but for VHS tapes and DVDs (and anything else you want to share with your neighbors). Find one near you here, or buy and register one yourself for <$200.

Reads of the Week: 1) Tim Brunelle’s Without a Brief, Everyone is Just Guessing; 2) Popular Online Businesses Are Opening Storefronts Thanks to TikTok; 3) Influencers Are Taking Desperate Measures To Recover Their Instagram Accounts; 4) The Rise of the TikTok Tour Guide; 5) Bad News: Selling the Story of Disinformation; 6) Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots?

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!
Greg

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