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Stay aHead: Poke, Slingshot and Bolt

by Sam March on 29 July 2014

When you have as much money as Facebook, dealing with competition is normally quite simple: “if you can’t beat them, buy them.”

When Instagram started to become the photo-sharing phenomenon it is today, Zuckerberg dropped a casual $1 billion for the platform. Once it became clear that Facebook Messenger wasn’t likely to be the number one chatting app, he stepped up a gear, shelling out an impressive $16 billion for WhatsApp. But what happens when someone says “no?”

When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel refused a $3 billion offer in 2013, he left much of the tech community wide mouthed in disbelief. He claims Zuckerberg tried to scare him with talk of releasing a rival app… something that Facebook has been trying to do ever since. Zuckerberg has made two attempts at creating rival apps, Poke and Slingshot, and there are now rumours of a third app, Bolt, to be released by Facebook subsidiary, Instagram.  I’ll discuss each of these briefly and see what interest, if any, they hold for brands.



Did you use Poke? Did you like it? Did you mourn it when, on the 9th of May this year, the Snapchat-clone was quietly withdrawn from the iOS store?

Chances are you did none of the above because chances are you didn’t even know it existed.

Poke was a Facebook-funded Snapchat clone which arrived a year too late… Snapchat was already well-established when Facebook launched Poke and, as a consequence, it never really stood a chance. It failed to feature in the top 25 iOS apps for long after its launch and quickly ran out of steam. Facebook has never released official user stats but it’s safe to assume that they didn’t reach the level required to realistically challenge Snapchat, hence its quiet withdrawal and closure.



Enter Slingshot… while not a complete copy of Snapchat (like Poke) a lot of Slingshot’s design and some features will be familiar to Snapchat users, and sending a sling works much like sending a snap – the difference is on the receiver’s end. In order to open the photo you have to reply FIRST and Slingshot will demand these pre-emptive replies for every Sling that you want to open.

The idea is to get users stuck in a never ending cycle of slinging (a little like the good old-fashioned Facebook poke) but the reality is that some users have found it annoying, which has probably contributed to why the app doesn’t seem to have caused much of a sensation.

While it’s not too late for brands to try and use Slingshot, it’s worth noting that it’s currently more complicated to use than Snapchat and has far fewer users. There would also be no promise that the app wouldn’t simply disappear overnight like it’s precursor.



Snapchat has a very young user-base. Facebook, while still by far the most used platform, is far from ‘cool’ these days. It’s now a platform full of inquisitive parents, aunts and even the occasional tech-savvy grandparent – this has forced young people to flee from prying eyes and seek refuge in apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp or Instagram.

If Facebook wants to release a “cool” app, maybe they need to have Instagram launch it. Rumours are buzzing that they may do just that.

The speculation started with an in-app ad banner that appeared recently to a number of Instagram users. The banner claimed to lead to a “one tap photo messaging” app called Bolt… in reality it led nowhere.

At this point all we can do is speculate, although given Facebook’s plans to continue releasing new apps this year, as well as a history of premature/accidental launches, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if another app was in the pipeline.

An Instagram-owned photo messaging app could prove to be a more interesting option for brands to connect with a young audience, but it is hard to say at this stage as Instagram hasn’t commented on the slip.

What does this all teach us?  We’ve seen that Facebook is pretty much desperate to get into disappearing messaging. We’ve seen that no matter how much money gets waved at Spiegel or thrown into building rival apps, Snapchat isn’t going anywhere. It remains a highly viable way for brands with teens, students and yo-pros, and Facebook has yet to release anything that has been able to directly compete.

Facebook increases share of social logins

The social media giant Facebook has made another stride to ensure its users won’t be deserting the site any time soon. With the implementation of new login updates, the company now has a substantial 55% hold amongst all social logins (up from 52% in 2012).…


3D printing. A concept that only a few decades ago would have seemed ludicrous, is now set to revolutionise the way we live today.

Eco-friendly, a cure for cancer and a functioning 3D-printed kidney. The rise of 3D printing has been heralded as the “Second Industrial Revolution” , and it has the potential to impact our lives in a similar way

3D ‘Bio’-Printing

“Imagine being able to walk into a hospital and have a full organ printed – or bio-printed, as we call it – with all the cells, proteins and blood vessels in the right place, simply by pushing the ‘print’ button on your computer screen?” envisages Dr.


Point of view: Going back 50 years to face the future

by Roberto Estreitinho on 24 July 2014

Each year the social media industry asks itself a new set of questions. In 2009 we wondered if it was a fad. In 2010 we debated what we should say. In 2013 we stood for all things ‘real time’.

This year we’re finally taking steps to talk about actual, proven business value.…


Stay aHead: Flipboard and Maptia

by James Freemantle on 22 July 2014

Storytelling has never been more crucial for brands, and with the increasing importance of word of mouth and content marketing, telling a good story can be one of the clearest indications of what your brand is all about.

One way this can be achieved is by curating relevant content for your followers that hasn’t been specifically created by your brand.…


LinkedIn professionals are a premium audience for content marketing

The 2014 Trends and Benchmarks Report, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, has shown that 90% of B2C marketers use content marketing, and out of that, 70% use LinkedIn to distribute this content, a popular choice as the network boasts 300 million members.…


It’s hard for brands to earn people’s trust.

Thanks to social media, nowadays most people expect transparency and authenticity from brands in exchange for their loyalty.  When companies are honest about what they stand for they can generate great results – but it can work even better if they challenge our own perceptions about an issue along the way.…


Last week, Twitter gave its analytics dashboard a major upgrade by offering better data around the performance of organic tweets.

The new dashboard includes data such as total impressions, total engagements and engagement rates for each tweet, providing richer insight into how your tweets are performing in real-time.…


Point of view: The inescapable rise of Emoji

by Annabel Sampson on 11 July 2014

As our self-appointed in-house Emoji expert I am unashamedly passionate about the sunny yellow characters used to inject personality into messages nationwide. Born in Japan, the characters have been incorporated into Unicode (the computer industry standard for encoding and displaying most of the world’s writing systems) and captured the hearts and minds of the masses at an unprecedented rate.…