Diamond Hands Are Forever: How Reddit Initiated a New Era of The Stock Market

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Diamond Hands Are Forever: How Reddit Initiated a New Era of The Stock Market

When most people would think of the stock market prior to 2021, some dramatic scene similar to The Wolf of Wall Street would probably come to mind. It seemed like investing was only for people who were incredibly persuasive or could afford the disappointments and really profit of the possible reward. Only the self-proclaimed wolves had any impact on the ebbs and flows of Wall Street while the sheep watched from the stands. But, in this new pandemic-informed society where anything feels possible from the comfort of our homes, the sheep are the ones breaking records and changing the market mentality. And, for the most part, it’s all thanks to Reddit.

Since 2012, the Reddit page r/wallstreetbets has been the hub for a new group of investors who aimed to make the stock market more accessible. In the nine years of its existence, the page cultivated a culture, consisting of Wall Street-related memes and definitions, that doesn’t aim to make money; the goal is really to risk it all. This became evident to mainstream media at the start of 2021, when struggling video game retailer GameStop experienced an unexpected surge in its investments. A group of retail traders shocked the market, going against the traditional investor activity. This turn of events, along with other unusual stock market rises, has been called “The GameStop Saga.”

The GameStop Saga was a Reddit meme-turned-newsworthy change of stock market behavior with the help of the Robinhood app, which is now the most popular stocks app due to its no-fee options trading. But it also spoke volumes to how much society has changed in the past year. With most of life put on pause, the volatility of most markets, and the desire to live on the edge however possible, more people found a leisurely interest in investing. Resources that not only simplified but made stocks more enjoyable like Wall Street Bets put an emphasis on the means of investing rather than the ends.  The page developed a culture of extreme behavior and the more people put their personal finances on the line to walk the walk of the most popular subreddit users, the more the page became a thrilling place to virtually be. 

While the Reddit page acted as a guiding force to get people to exercise their financial power, it also reworked the way we might all see the market from here on out. With slang like “diamond hands” (which means holding an option even after extreme losses or gains) and the reliance of memes to often express the woes and triumphs of taking a chance, the market was suddenly open to the sheep it often shunned. The appeal of get-rich-quick ideals is what gathered an audience of millions to Wall Street Bets but the encouragement and constant tips from members of the page is what inspired users to take part in the stocks. 

Now that r/wallstreetbets has the world’s eyes on its threads, one thing grows increasingly certain: the gate keeping of financial gain and investments no longer exists. The same people who would say they would put money into a failing retailer now have the means to do so all in the pursuit of  “diamond hands” forever.


Will DEI Be the Death of the Small Independent Minority-Owned Agency?

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Will DEI Be the Death of the Small Independent Minority-Owned Agency?

In June of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement led to a new wave of business morals. A wave of promises from big-name businesses flooded a variety of industries, promises that implied the undoing of a system set in stone by the racial prejudiced history. From Instagram posts to sincere-sounding newsletters, these vows to their followings ensured the diversification of companies that have been unanimously white-employed and run for decades. And the giants of the advertising world were no different. 

DEI — Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion — is the current buzzword agencies that ad giants are implementing as they navigate this BLM-ignited world. There has been much support in the pursuit of diversifying the advertising industry which, for nearly 50 years up until now, only had 5% of its workforce consisting of BIPOC. Now, in a post-George Floyd BLM era, we are finally starting to see more accountability and a desire to change the archaic tradition of exclusivity. A tradition that can only be defined as a preservation tactic driven by a conscious bias to keep BIPOC oppressed. 

The road to embodying DEI seemed to manifest out of thin air; movements that help agencies accountable to their campaigns for societal progress. A notable campaign was launched by 600 & Rising: a non-profit organization known for its complete advocacy for black advertisers. This organization’s #CommitToChange campaign gathered a number of agencies under its wing of truth and progress. PMG, one of these agencies, launched a page on its company website pledging to do better and revealing previous diversity percentages in the workforce, the majority of jobs taken by white employees. Setting a goal of 50% new BIPOC hires by 2022 among other points of change, the agency detailed the steps it would take to make these ideas realities. 

In establishing themselves as beacons of revolution, agencies that once had more than half of their workforce filled by white people were also letting possible business ventures know that they were ready to do any campaign, any advertisement that aligned with their newfound mentality. But as initiatives such as #CommitToChange has gathered larger agencies under the promise of reform, one question hangs above our heads: will our oppressors now become our liberators?

While the past year may have been the first where large ad agencies recognized their exclusive hiring ways, independent and minority-owned agencies have existed for a while now. The missions of these smaller agencies were also never informed by racist histories but were in pursuit of representation for the BIPOC people they consisted of. It seems like society will not only give the companies now advocating for change an opportunity to admit to their past faults and redeem themselves but most likely celebrate them for their transparency. And with this large triumph over discrimination could potentially come the death of smaller, BIPOC-run agencies. 

The more agencies that open up to a hub of employees of color, the less determined and innovative workers in the industry will be compelled to contribute to companies that fully share their ethical ideals. And as the big agencies diversify their workpool, big brands will now have a reason to justify consolidating all their work with these big agencies, further allowing them to justify that they can do culture driven work themselves. While we all wish to see change, the currency for this forward-thinking renovation of the ad world could ultimately be an end for the companies who have been trailblazing this path for years.


Conversation Now: Clubhouse and Instant Connection in a Pandemic World

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Conversation Now: Clubhouse and Instant Connection in a Pandemic World

We are living through times of dense uncertainty. Gone are the days where we craved the spontaneous; we now want the stable and we want it ASAP. There is a need for instant goods and services to satisfy our survival mode necessities — instant delivery, download, watch, and interaction seem to be the only ways we know how to live. To study or to meet with others, we hop on video chat. To grocery shop, we scroll through delivery apps. We workout using devices, we binge watch until satisfied, we do our living in the Clouds. While there is something fascinating and impressive about these Jetson-centric fantasies realized, existing like this is only innovative for so long until it feels too robotic and solitary. 

 

The move towards a fully vaccinated future establishes hope for the days we can live completely again but it’s difficult to look through the bleak present. Just when it seemed like apps were contributing to our isolation and could not function catalysts of immediacy as well as beacons of genuine connectivity, Clubhouse entered the chat. 

 

In March of 2020, entrepreneurs Paul Davison and Rohan Seth launched Clubhouse: an app that hosts audio-only chat rooms to discuss a number of different topics. Think a constant flow of multiple Instagram Live series but with no visuals and no limit to who can join in. Public figures such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and rapper-entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs have brought much attention to the new social media. Though Clubhouse is currently operating on an invite-only joining system — an effort to control its first-year user levels — the app went from 600,000 users in December 2020 to nearly 6 million as of February 2021. 

The enthusiasm surrounding this app may have initially been attributed to its exclusivity (which does have consumers fleeing to Ebay to buy invitations to the free-download app), but the heart of its avant-gardism is the users’ power to verbalize their thoughts to others with the instinctual tap of a screen. Not only does Clubhouse somewhat mimic similar exchanges once held in public spaces, but there is also a democratization of entrepreneurial and star-powered insights; it is truly on its way to becoming a space where everyone can talk to anyone. 

 

With this instant access to keen conversation comes a threat to the societally-conscious and forward-moving safety bubbles produced by moments of isolation in this pandemic. In 2020 alone, we saw a call to societal change in matters of race, police brutality, healthcare, and other issues, led by most Millennials and Gen-Zers. These generations are unafraid to use their platforms in the pursuit of equality and justice against the systemic issues that have been exposed as sources of toxicity. 

 

One major defect in Clubhouse’s early days is the lack of a filter that aligns with the new communal mindset. Although the platform posted an FAQ post about moderation in October of 2020, not much has changed in terms of excluding and offensive activity on the app. Several upsetting situations on the app have included sexism and bias against women speaking out on the assault accusations of celebrities on the app, the continuation of the racist conversation that fueled MAGA followers, impersonations, and the spread of misinformation about COVID-related issues. And while the argument could be made that staple apps such as Twitter and Facebook have had similar issues in the past, most platforms have taken a stance against the spread of harmful or false statements now more than ever. And, coincidentally, both platforms plan to launch features resembling Clubhouse. 

As it stands, the general image of a full post-pandemic society not only holds high hopes for resumed level of health in all its forms but hopefully a time of slight unity, after years of politically-inflamed conflict. Clubhouse may be host to more than just questionable discussion and meeting spaces for the controversial but, in a world where we will be able to connect and take more steps away from our screen, will we be less mesmerized by detached forms of immediate conversation? And, if staple social media that are implementing similar new ways of connecting on their apps, will this phase out the need for a separate platform that does just one thing? 


Little Joys, Big Impacts: How Brands Are Effortlessly Bringing Good Vibes in Trying Times

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Little Joys, Big Impacts: How Brands Are Effortlessly Bringing Good Vibes in Trying Times

Finding the little bursts of happiness we once filled our schedules with is difficult during a time when we work hardest to ensure our physical health. But what about maintaining our mental and spiritual well-being? Even on the days that may feel shorter compared to the rest, it’s challenging to fill gaps of time with moments of bliss. And even if we put blocks in our calendars for “fun,” it seems overplanned and overrated. It’s no longer innate to us. In these trying times, however, there are brands taking the responsibility of supplying these little joys to everyday lives.

In its purest form, a little joy is something that causes momentary euphoria, eventually developing into significant lifestyle improvements. Little joys could come in a variety of different forms that establish a brand as a vendor of happiness as well as create meaningful relationships with its consumers. 

Throughout the very taxing past few months, a few notable companies have been instant sources of happiness with their takes on little joys. By providing constant pauses from the seriousness of the now, they assure their followers that happy things still exist somewhere out there while maintaining their general reliability.

Spotify and Endearing Push Notifications 

When the option to turn off push notifications comes up during the download of most apps, the decision to mute is almost a no brainer due the annoying nature of the pop up bubbles. Having already initiated a strong relationship with users via expansive and innovative music streaming, however, Spotify saw these pings as daily opportunities to escape.

Custom crafted to each profile’s listening habits, these messages alert users about new playlists, artist activity, song discoveries, or even podcast suggestions via lighthearted memos. The music platform will also send thank you letters from iconic artists to their most loyal listeners. By scheduling reminders for their customers that the sweet escape of music is still out there (even if live shows have been put on pause), Spotify offers up their little joys and maintains their bigger consumer connections.

Crayola and Arts for Everyone

If you were an adult alive in the year 2020, chances are you were dreaming of childhood days where you could spend hours coloring and self-expressing, most likely with Crayola products. The need for creative outlets was overwhelming due to the hole left by social interaction. Hearing the call to encourage artistry, Crayola came out with DIY kits that entertain adults just like they’ve been captivating kids for decades. 

From challenging coloring books and DIY paper plant hangers to a whole kit just for designing your home “gallery,” these activities are the most time-consuming and focus-occupying little joys that turn boring breaks into moments of imagination. These projects also give customers an opportunity to share and inspire their bubbles to chase the same wave of artistry. 

Made and the Encouragement of Happy Spaces

One thing being cooped up has shown most — if not all — of us is the flaws in their living spaces. Chances are your social media feed mid-quarantine looked like a bunch of ads for HGTV with all the home improvement initiatives. And while most made the move for functional spaces, high-end low-price interior design company Made fostered the pursuit of dreamy, gorgeous home makeovers with aesthetically pleasing social media campaigns. 

First starting with the ‘Design Your Happy Place’ campaign, Made partnered with influencers who own pieces from its collection to show off their happy places that were once just Pinterest-stored fever dreams. Soon after, the company launched its ‘Stay Grounded’ efforts, prompting followers to take the time indoors to fully enjoy their homes and utilize the spaces as well as possible. And whether or not followers were moved to participate in home improvements, the Made content was still sure to provide a good amount of visually pleasing scroll time away from the news profiles.

Boobie Billie as the Little Joys Canvas

What started as an Instagram account for a small handbag business that sometimes featured a sweet little pup turned into a creative space for a number of brands. @Boobie_Billie on Instagram has been a virtual stomping ground for the likes of Nordstrom, Zappos, and Allbirds. And while this superstar chihuahua tries their best to model products that could be found in adult sizes on these sites, the heart of the little joy is the fact that it’s just a really cute dog.

Celebrity-status animals are nothing new to popular media (think Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug). This hound, however, is sought out by the brands that sponsor its page because it exudes the elegance and fashion sensibility to best represent their ideals. Though not an actual brand, the partnerships with this pooch demonstrate how important it is to make connections through the things consumers find most endearing. 

Away and The Feed Escapes

Travel isn’t happening in the same way it once did but we are all antsier now more than ever to just fly away. Changing the conference call background to a generic picture of an island destination has just become sad at this point. But Away, the freshest and most durable travel luggage line, is using the time inside to connect with their customers and get them excited for travel.

Through its social channels, Away provides followers with interactive travel-based activities that take them away for a food-for-thought sweet escape. You can expect “First City to Visit in 2021” crosswords, zodiac sign and luggage pairings, and travel detail personality quizzes among other fun content. Their feed is sure to whisk anyone away from the mundane 9-5 desk life, even for a little moment of sweet escape.

 

In a time where things are constantly changing and taking new forms, taking care of consumers can take a few steps down on the priority scale. But, as these brands have demonstrated, there are simple yet effective ways to use your resources for good, bring a bit of joy to people’s days, and solidify your reputation as an empathetic source of goodness.