4 big stories you probably missed last week

shop-on-instagram1) Shopping on Instagram is about to become a thing. 

Do people really want to buy stuff directly through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Instagram this week begins a trial that allows some retail partners — think Kate Spade, J. Crew and about 20 others — to tag products in the photos they post to the social network. If a user clicks on a tag, up pops a more detailed description of the item. A second click provides an opportunity to buy the item through the Web site of the retailer.

Instagram says it’s not doing this to make a bunch of money — at least not yet — but it’s hoping to learn more about what people like.

Of course, Instagram isn’t the first to go down this road. For a while, Twitter offered a “buy” button that didn’t do much before it was killed. Pinterest recently rolled out a buy button of its own very quietly. And Facebook (the parent of Instagram) has tested a buy button.

Instagram thinks its highly visual feed lends itself well to direct purchases. Even if consumers are cool to the concept, the company expects all that clicking will provide boatloads of information about the products that users are looking for and the ways that they’re looking for them.

And if you haven’t heard, that kind of information is a really big deal for advertisers — the folks who are expected to spend a tidy $3.6 billion with Instagram in 2017.

Images via Hype Product Hunt Page

Images via Hype Product Hunt Page

2) Vine co-founders launched a new live streaming app called ‘Hype.’

It’s only been a couple of weeks since Twitter pulled the plug on Vine, but already the co-founders of Vine are back with their next big idea.

Hype, that next big idea, is designed to power up the live-streaming experience.

If you’re the host of a live-steaming event, Hype allows you to drop a piece of media like a song or an image directly from your device into the live stream.

Audiences, meanwhile, can use Hype to interact with the live stream through questions or polls.  No one is quite sure of all the possibilities yet, and Hype’s founders say its potential depends largely on the enthusiasm of the community that develops around it.

Is the world ready for real-time audience commentary dropped into the feed of live-streamed news events?

3) Cutting Microsoft some slack

A full-page ad in a print newspaper — raise your hand if you remember print newspapers — generated buzzy buzz in the blogosphere last week.

Slack, the startup whose workplace-messaging program proved to be a big hit, welcomed Microsoft to its market with an open letter published as a full-page ad in the New York Times. Microsoft, you’ll remember, just rolled out Teams, which sort of competes with Slack.

The open letter pretended to welcome Microsoft to the workplace-messaging market. But then it detailed all the reasons that Slack expects to eat the lunch of the new Microsoft project for a long time to come.

The reaction? One school of thought applauds the plucky little startup for getting into the face of Microsoft. The other school of thought suggest that nothing good comes from snark, and Slack would be better off quietly producing better products that beat Microsoft, Facebook and Workforce.

Check out the ad below.

4) Election buzz: Nevada to vote on recreational cannabis

Nevada voters decide on Tuesday whether the state will legalize recreational use of marijuana. (Medicinal use has been legal in the state for about a year, and a remarkable number of Nevadans have discovered illness that can be cured only with medicinal marijuana.)

If the new ballot measure is approved by voters, cities and towns in the state would be allowed to decide where dispensaries would be allowed to locate. Folks wouldn’t be allowed to consume marijuana in public buildings, and grow-your-own gardens would be banned within 25 miles of a licensed marijuana store.

If the new ballot measure is approved by voters, cities and towns in the state would be allowed to decide where dispensaries would be allowed to locate. Folks wouldn’t be allowed to consume marijuana in public buildings, and grow-your-own gardens would be banned within 25 miles of a licensed marijuana store.

Casino owners don’t like the idea of legalized pot, noting that it remains illegal under federal law and might drive away middle-aged tourists and convention business.

Backers, however, say legalized recreational use could be a big draw for folks who want to enhance their what-happens-here-stays-here experience.

Polls in Nevada are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Along with the marijuana measure, you may have heard that voters will be selecting a president. Go vote!

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