Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. TikTok’s Pandemic Popularity

TikTok has been an emerging social media platform during the past year that has increased its foothold during the pandemic, as individuals scour the internet for videos and content to entertain them and lift their spirits. Why should you care? TikTok’s surge in popularity is due to three strategies that help keep users engaged and coming back for more: 1) Inspiration –  TikTok provides regular prompts via push notifications to inspire and encourage users to share content on the platform. 2) Creativity – Advanced, yet user-friendly, the editing studio makes it easy for users to upload unique content. 3) AI – Rather than relying on you to follow friends and other users, TikTok immediately begins serving you content and honing recommendations based on your habits. Yes, this algorithmic approach is table stakes for social networks, but TikTok quickly makes guesses about what you like and serves you viral content from all users. Pair this with attention-grabbing and often hilarious 60-second videos, and you have a new addiction. [Music Business Worldwide]

2. Instacart Rx Delivery

To meet the growing demand for online delivery during COVID-19, Instacart is adding Rx delivery to their offerings through a partnership with Costco. Why should you care? Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran shared, “For many people, we know that part of their grocery shopping experience goes beyond fresh produce, meat, seafood and pantry staples, and also includes getting much-needed medications.” Customers will be able to schedule deliveries one week ahead of time and take advantage of contactless delivery options for most prescription orders. [TechCrunch]

3. Puzzling Time

With most of the country is under stay-at-home orders, families are passing the time indoors with puzzles. Why should you care? During the pandemic, game makers are experiencing soaring sales and are having trouble keeping up with the demand. Anne Williams, a puzzle historian and economics professor, compared the current trend with the demand during the Great Depression. “It’s something you can control, whereas they felt that their lives were totally out of control as far as the economy went,” Williams said. “It’s also a challenge over which you can prevail.” [CNBC]

4. Cottonelle’s #ShareASquare

Cottonelle addresses our need for security by assuring us that there is actually enough toilet paper to go around and asks us to consider thinking beyond ourselves. The #ShareASquare partnership with United Way – whose mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities – links their brand with a trusted charitable organization. Why should you care? Smart brands make a powerful connection using human emotion and Cotttonelle’s ad does just that in an elegantly simple way and without a high-dollar production. [iSpot.tv]

5. “Wanna Talk About It?” with Netflix and Instagram   

The show, Wanna Talk About It?, will go live from Netflix on Instagram and feature young adult celebrities hosting pandemic chats with mental health experts. Why should you care? The series is geared toward young adults and the challenges they are facing during the pandemic such as:  insomnia, staying connected to friends, managing stress and anxiety and how to practice self-care. [Deadline]

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