Sunnier Side Of The Home Office – August 5, 2020

"2020 cheat sheet for reacting to things."

- Twitter users responding to reporter Jonathan Swan's facial reactions during his Axios on HBO interview with President Trump

Influencing in the time of COVID
By: Jessica Bedussi

On the horizon of the 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, the retailer is taking a step back from its usual strategy. Instead of hiring influencers to help sell their favorite sale items, the brand is using them to sell a message of safety and reassurance. 

Nordstrom invited influencers to its New York flagship store to experience the new safety measures for in-store shopping. These influencers posted beautifully curated images of them in store, surrounded by merchandise and wearing masks. Each image was paired with copy that reassured followers of Nordstrom’s new in-store safety measures and recalled “normal times” pre-COVID. 

With in-store foot traffic down nearly 40 percent, this tactic isn’t surprising. The in-store retail experience has consistently decreased over the past few years, and COVID-19 has nearly ended in-store shopping for many consumers. Using influencers to reassure shoppers and regain trust also makes sense: people are more likely to listen to people they trust than a brand especially when they’re seeking validation to get back into the world.

While all the featured influencers followed safety measures and included similar language within their posts, pushing people in store is still an iffy territory. With the very real threat of COVID-19, encouraging followers to go in store (and potentially risk their safety) becomes more than just a matter of pay for these influencers, it wades into a conversation of ethics.

It Just Got Reels
By: Jiho Chung

To attract creators and combat Bytedance-owned TikTok, Instagram released its newest feature “Reels” today allowing users to record short-form videos (up to fifteen seconds) while layering on music and applying existing filters or effects at the same time. However, this isn't the first time that Instagram has replicated a TikTok’s feature a la Stories back in 2016, but is betting (like Stories) on its success by doing it better.

Unlike TikTok, Instagram’s Reels isn’t just easy to use but also taps into the platform’s other functions intuitively. With more than 50 percent of users using the Explore page in a given month, a dedicated Reels hub allows people to discover others’ Reels advocating creators to develop and fans to enjoy additional lean-back entertainment. Second, leveraging its robust ecosystem (e.g., direct messaging friends a Reels clip) only helps with its seamless adoption.

This couldn’t have arrived at a more fortunate time with TikTok potentially being dismantled by region and purchased by Microsoft. Especially with millennials on the rise with TikTok, providing one composite yet convenient platform can lead to Instagram becoming the leading social media portal for years to come.

The terms absentee voting and vote-by-mail have been thrown around a lot the last couple of weeks. Below are some of the key terms and definitions from a guide Bloomberg just released. 

Absentee Voting
The practice of mailing in a ballot began during the Civil War with soldiers who were off fighting in other states. Over the years, it expanded to include other people who would be “absent” from their home on Election Day -- like the U.S. president -- then later to people with disabilities, the elderly and those with other excuses for not being able to vote in person. Today, residents of all 50 states can vote absentee, though in some places an excuse is required.

In-Person Voting
As absentee voting became more widespread, elections directors began referring to voting at a polling place -- whether on Election Day or before -- as “in-person voting.”

No-Excuse Absentee Voting
As absentee voting grew more popular over the last few decades, states such as California did away with the requirement for an excuse. This practice became known as no-excuse absentee voting. Today, residents of 34 states and Washington, D.C., allow absentee voting without an excuse by law, while others have loosened requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lawsuits are under way in multiple other states to suspend or throw out excuse requirements or to declare fear of contracting the virus at a polling place a valid excuse.

Because most voters in a no-excuse absentee ballot state are no longer “absent,” many elections officials have begun using the term “vote-by-mail” or “mail-in ballots” as a catch-all term for ballots sent through the mail. One national think tank uses the term “vote at home” as an alternative, while a research group calls it “voting outside the polling place.”

Universal Vote-by-Mail
As vote-by-mail became more popular, a handful of mostly Western states did away with the requirement to request a mail-in ballot, opting to automatically send every registered voter a ballot. This practice is now referred to as “universal vote by mail.” These are sometimes called “all-mail elections,” though voters often still have more limited opportunities to vote in person.

Early Voting
Many states also allow voters to show up at the elections office or other early voting centers in the days before an election, fill out a mail-in ballot and hand it in. Some states call this “early voting,” but others, including Virginia and Wisconsin, refer to this as “in-person absentee voting.” Other states refer to all votes cast before Election Day, including mail-in and in-person, as “advance ballots.”