Social Media Has A Trust Problem

Social Media’s Trust Issues Are Global

Is social media good for society? By and large, its own users think not. The report surveyed over 688,000 internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 across different markets around the world.

While 95 percent of the world online continues to use platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and more, a pessimistic view towards how social media impacts and engages with society continues to be pervasive. 

In North America, those negative views are the strongest, with 21 percent of social network users reporting that they have a positive view of social media’s impact on society. In Europe, that number is only slightly more hopeful at 27 percent.

In Asia/Pacific region, that number jumps up to a still-worrying 41 percent while Latin America sports 43 percent and the Middle East and Africa have the most positive view of social media in the world at 45 percent.

Gen Z Is Raising Alarms About Social Media’s Impact On Mental Health

Fueling this pessimism is a concerning high percentage of users reporting that social media causes them anxiety—with the highest percentage among Gen Z at 19 percent. That’s 1-in-4 teenagers and young adults telling us social media is having an adverse effect on their mental health.

If we have such a dismal view of social media, why then are we still using it?

While pre-pandemic, the incentive for using social media shifted from connecting to consuming content, the effects of social isolation during lockdown gave platforms a boost. Users cited keeping in touch with their loved ones as the main reason for why they continue to log on.

But look to Gen Z for how our relationship to social media is changing in the future. This generation utilizes platforms to primarily consume content, with 1 in 4 citing live-streaming in particular as the reason for logging in. They are also still using it to follow famous people as well as brands they love in the name of filling spare time (44 percent).

Instagram Rolls Out Ads In Shop Tab

This week in social media news, Instagram rolls out ads in Instagram Shop tab to international markets, TikTok adds a new ‘Promote’ ad option to business profiles, YouTube opens a 6,000-seat live entertainment venue with Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California and more.

Instagram Launches Ads In The Shop Tab Globally

Instagram is rolling out ads in the Instagram Shop tab, the platform’s fully dedicated shopping surface, to countries globally where the tab is available. The move comes after Instagram tested the new format, which includes single images and a carousel option, with select US advertisers including Fenty Beauty, Away and Clare paint.

Why it matters: The expansion is part of Instagram’s larger effort to invest more in its e-commerce business, though not everyone was happy about the addition of the Instagram Shop tab. When it was introduced last summer, it replaced Instagram’s “Activity” tab at the bottom navigation row, much to the chagrin of users who said the move made Instagram feel more commercially driven.

The details: During the testing phase of ads in Instagram Shop, the company said the format would include an auction-based model. The number of ads a user sees will depend on how they use the app and how many people are shopping in the Instagram tab. Since Instagram Shop is a mobile-only feature, ads will only appear on mobile as tiles that are labeled ‘Sponsored.’

TikTok Adds New ‘Promote’ Ad Option For Business Profiles

TikTok has launched a new ‘Promote’ ad option that lets business accounts turn organic videos into an ad directly within the app.

Why it matters: The new feature will help brands drive one of three objectives—more video views, more website visits or more followers—that correspond to a specific call-to-action. One caveat is that the ad feature is available to public clips that don’t use copyright-protected music.

The details: Business profiles can access TikTok’s new Promote ad option in two ways–either by selecting the ‘Promote’ button in a video’s individual video settings or via ‘Settings and privacy’ > ‘Business suite’ where they’ll see the Promote button.

To set up a Promote ad, brands can choose the video they want to boost (TikTok suggests using your best-performing organic video) then choose a goal, duration and target audience for the campaign. After TikTok approves the promotion, you can get insights on the video’s performance.

YouTube Debuts 6,000-Seat Live Entertainment Venue In Inglewood, California

In collaboration with Inglewood, California’s Hollywood Park, YouTube has opened YouTube Theater. At the 6,000-seat venue, which has live-streaming capabilities built into the infrastructure, YouTube says it plans to host live events like concerts, theater performances, esports competitions, conferences and more, with the first event slated for September.

Why it matters: With the state of in-person events in limbo due to the Delta variant, YouTube Theater could play a part in shaping the next generation of hybrid or digital-only events. In addition to built-in live-streaming capabilities that let performers livestream their events to YouTuber viewers worldwide, the theater includes a large-scale digital YouTube icon outside the venue and a digital wall inside. According to YouTube, both utilize motion-sensor technology so fans can interact with the screens, and the screen can be programmed with content related to events.

The details: YouTube Theater is part of the platform’s 10-year partnership with Hollywood Park, a 300-acre sports and entertainment destination.

As per YouTube:

“In the future, they hope to use it to celebrate YouTube creators, extending content from the platform into the real world to help creators grow their businesses, and as a place to bring our company events to life.”

Emarketer: Pinterest US Shoppers Grew 30.5% In 2020 To 12 Million Total

According to eMarketer’s latest forecast, the number of US social buyers on Pinterest grew 30.5 percent in 2020 to a total of 12 million. The firm expects the figure to grow another 16.5 percent to reach 13.9. million by the end of 2021.

Why it matters: Pinterest has introduced a variety of social commerce tools in recent years, including Buyable Pins in 2015 which evolved into Product Pins in 2018, leading users directly from a post to a retailer’s checkout page. More recently, it launched Idea Pins, a replica of Instagram Stories that enables creators to create brand-sponsored content.

The details: Emarketer projects Pinterest buyers will reach 15.1 million in 2022 and 16 million by 2023, the latter figure which would represent 15.7 percent of US social buyers.

Snapchat’s New ‘Trends’ Resource Highlights Trending Topics And Keywords

This week in social media news, Snapchat releases a new ‘Trends’ resource center around popular moments and keywords, YouTube explores the rise of aesthetics, Facebook releases the first in a series of reports that give an overview of the most widely viewed content in News Feed, Pinterest launches an inclusive hair pattern search filter, Facebook tests ‘Facebook Reels’ in the US and more.

Snapchat Releases ‘Trends’ Resource Center Highlighting Popular Keywords

For the first time, Snapchat is giving marketers a glimpse of the topics and moments most relevant to its community of 293 million daily active users with Snapchat Trends—a new tab under its Resources section that highlights the most popular keywords shared with the Snapchat community via public Snaps Stories and My Stories that have been viewed by a large group, in addition to a searchable database of terms.

Why it matters: Snapchat Trends offers marketers a new source of information about users of the platform and how they can be incorporated into marketing strategies. Using a consumer packaged goods brand as an example, Snapchat says that within the last few months they’ve seen a marked increase in the volume of conversation around seasonal summer flavors like strawberry, watermelon and rhubarb, which could serve as inspiration for new product flavors.

The details: Snapchat Trends will share insights around trending topics, keywords and more. For example, Snapchat said it recently saw a 100 percent increase in mentions of the phrase “third-wheeling” and that mentions of the term “streaming” reliably surge every Friday.

YouTube Releases ‘The Rise Of Aesthetics’ Report

In its latest report, ‘The Rise of Aesthetics’ YouTube explores the origin of “aesthetics” given the use of the term surged on the platform during the pandemic. Using the ‘cottagecore’ trend as a point of entry, YouTube breaks down the history of aesthetics, which, as social media strategist Amanda Brennan notes, offered people during the pandemic, “a way to [escape] the pandemic with pre-Internet, romanticized imagery.” 

Why it matters: YouTube is positioned to help users create and explore variations of ‘aesthetic’ trends through its algorithm of endless tutorials, discussions, music and quizzes. Marketers offering products or services in line with a given aesthetic now have YouTube’s analysis of key aesthetics to assist in determining who to target and when.

The details: YouTube defines “aesthetics” as the thematic expression of visual and musical tastes as a representation of self. In the report, the platform explores how aesthetics are enabling users to express themselves through five key genres: ‘cottagecore,’ ‘Y2K,’ ‘dreamcore,’ ‘bardcore,’ ‘dark academia’ and ‘royaltycore’—each of which surpassed 5 million annual views on YouTube in 2020 to 2021.

Facebook Releases First ‘Widely Viewed Content Report’

Facebook has released its inaugural ‘The Widely Viewed Content Report,’ the first in a series of reports that will provide an overview of the most widely viewed content in News Feed, starting with domains, links, Pages and posts in the US.

Why it matters: Facebook’s insights tool CrowdTangle was built to assist users in grasping the type of content that gets the most likes, comments and reshares. Facebook’s release of this data, along with such reports as the Community Standards Enforcement Report, is in support of its efforts to increase transparency and accountability. Facebook notes that despite what the report discloses about the most-viewed content, it still comprises a minuscule amount of what users actually see on the platform. Consequently, in order to portray a thorough picture of what users see, Facebook will release quarterly Widely Viewed Content Reports in the US first, with international data incorporated soon. 

The details: According to the report, fewer than 13 percent of content views were on posts with links, and the most-viewed news domains account for only 0.31 percent of all content views in News Feed, with mainstream media views dominating.

The report also sheds light on the kinds of posts and Pages that are actually the most widely viewed, with many of the most-viewed Pages focused on sharing content about pets, cooking, family and relatable viral content. Facebook will update the report quarterly in its Transparency Center and release it along with each quarterly Community Standards Enforcement Report.

Facebook Launches ‘Facebook Reels’ To Compete With TikTok 

Facebook has just announced its newest feature, ‘Facebook Reels,’ offering users the ability to create and share TikTok-like content.

Why it matters: The new feature comes months after TikTok achieved a milestone for social apps that, until this year, only Facebook (and its assembly of apps) had achieved—3 billion downloads worldwide. In order for Facebook to retain its 2.85 billion monthly active users and keep its younger users satisfied, it must follow in TikTok’s footsteps. 

The details: With Facebook Reels, US users are able to create and share short-form video content directly within their News Feed or within Facebook Groups. The feature was first tested in Canada, Mexico and India. 

Facebook will also be testing a new feature that allows US-based Instagram creators the option to have Instagram Reels recommended on Facebook. Opting in will display Instagram Reels in the Reels section in users’ News Feed on Facebook. 

Pinterest Launches Inclusive Hair Pattern Search Filter

Pinterest has rolled out a new hair pattern search filter with black, brown and Latinx pinners in mind that will allow them to refine hair searches by six different hair patterns: protective, coily, curly, wavy, straight and shaved/bald.

Why it matters: In the past month alone, Pinterest says there were over 120 million searches for hair and over 5 billion Pins created related to hair on Pinterest. The platform has also observed that top hair searches on Pinterest are personalized—for example, “natural hair twists protective” (15x) and “best haircuts for thick wavy hair” (13x).

The details: Over the coming weeks, through Pinterest’s computer vision-powered object detection, pinners can narrow searches such as “summer hairstyles” by choosing one of six hair patterns. Pinterest says it has detected a hair pattern in over 500 million images on the platform.

The new hair pattern search builds on Pinterest’s skin tone ranges launched in 2018 which allows pinners to refine their beauty-related searches based on a set of skin tone ranges.

Twitter Introduces Search Endpoints

Along with the second version of its new API, Twitter is launching new Spaces endpoints so developers can create tools, apps and services that help people get more out of Spaces. The company said it plans to launch API support for Spaces in phases, with discovery as its first focus area and tools for Hosts as its second.

Why it matters: From its conversations with its developer community, Twitter has gleaned that the first API functionality it should build is one that helps people discover interesting Spaces and set reminders. Twitter also heard that developers would like data to help Spaces Hosts understand the performance of their Spaces.

The details: All developers using Twitter’s new API v2 can look up live or scheduled Spaces using criteria like Spaces ID, user ID or keyword. With Spaces lookup, developers can also understand the public metadata and metrics associated with an active Space, according to Twitter.

YouTube Releases Features That Help More Users Search And Find Content More Easily 

YouTube has responded to its community’s requests with new features that make searching for select content easier, including the ability to jump to a specific chapter in a video and automatically translated captions, titles and descriptions when content in the local language isn’t available. 

Why it matters: With these new features, YouTube is encouraging people from different backgrounds to use its platform and to spend more time on the platform by simplifying their experience.

The details: YouTube has released a number of new features that make searching for content easier. For example, users can now view a time-stamped image that details the various topics covered in the video. The new feature also allows users to jump to a specific chapter. 

YouTube will also be releasing the ability to preview a snippet of a video on the mobile app—something desktop users have been enjoying. Additionally, a new feature will display foreign language search results with automatically translated captions, titles and descriptions where relevant content in the local language isn’t available. 

Lastly, YouTube has begun testing a new feature in India and Indonesia that complements search results with links from Google Search, a feature that may expand to other countries pending analysis of performance.

Facebook Business Releases Its 2021 Creative Forecast 

In its 2021 Creative Forecast, Facebook has assessed key creative trends for the future based on an analysis of key 2020 cultural shifts, examples from standout brands and creative springboards that can assist marketers in their own campaigns.

Why it matters: Harnessing the five ‘ascendant behaviors’ witnessed in the last year or so will provide brands with the insights necessary to meet customers’ expectations and evolve with their changing needs.

The details: Facebook’s Creative Shop assessed 100 high-performing creative campaigns that were selected based on several factors, the most notable of which being business impact. The study pinpointed five ‘ascendant behaviors’ that are likely to continue shaping creative, including building inclusivity, creative edutainment, selling with ideas and more.

LinkedIn Publishes New Brand Building Playbook

In LinkedIn’s new brand building guide, the platform offers advice on developing and optimizing for a memorable brand image that connects with customers. The 33-page guide provides the basics of brand building, balancing short and long-term strategies and case studies on brands like Lenovo, Callaway and more who have found success on LinkedIn.

Why it matters: As LinkedIn research shows, 95 percent of buyers are “out-of-market” future buyers and over time, those buyers gradually come in-market when they need to make a purchase. By this point, it’s important that brands have built up enough mental availability that these buyers would consider, or pre-select, your brand.

The details: According to LinkedIn, emotional messaging is key to capturing the 95 percent of buyers who are out of market when they’re in-market. LinkedIn suggests priming customers with repeated, memorable exposure to your brand. Then once the buyers come in-market, leverage rational messaging to capitalize on your brand strength to achieve short-term results.

To help grow your community on LinkedIn, the platform suggests organic methods, namely via Stories, Pages, LinkedIn Live and Events, while also boosting content through paid ads. Brands can then use LinkedIn’s Reach Optimization to bolster ad performance as well as use its A/B testing, brand lift testing and forecasting tools to measure.

Using LinkedIn to build awareness about their new program offerings, upGrad leveraged a mix of organic content and sponsored posts, embraced always-on content marketing and monitored campaign KPIs to find their sweet spot. The result: a 56 percent increase in unique visitors to their LinkedIn page, an 87 percent increase in organic following in just 60 days and 2.3x lift in brand mentions on LinkedIn.

Read LinkedIn’s full playbook here.

Facebook Launches Open Beta Of ‘Horizon Workrooms’

Facebook has released the open beta version of Horizon Workrooms, its “flagship collaboration experience,” allowing users to come together to work in one virtual room.

Why it matters: ‘Horizon Workrooms’ brings Facebook one step closer to its goal of launching humanity into the metaverse. Because of continuing uncertainties involving the pandemic, the new virtual space will allow for at least temporary solutions to some of the hurdles around working remotely.

The details: Facebook’s ‘Horizon Workrooms’ is a virtual meeting space that compiles some of the platform’s newest technologies into one experience, such as a mixed-reality desk, keyboard tracking and hand tracking. Users can meet in virtual reality (VR) as avatars, or dial into the virtual room from a computer. 

Horizon Workrooms is available for free downloads on Oculus Quest 2 and wherever Quest 2 is supported, offering users the connective tools necessary to work remotely with minimal hurdles.

TikTok Launches Guide To Creative Solutions

This week in social media news, TikTok shares tips on how to get the most out of its creative solutions, Facebook releases a study on effective video approaches with Analytics Partners and The Lab, YouTube announces new updates for YouTube Studio and more.

TikTok Releases A ‘Creative Solutions’ How-To Guide 

TikTok has released its latest creative guide to provide background, best practices and tips for brands seeking to fully utilize its creative solutions.

Why it matters: Brands in pursuit of building a successful presence on TikTok must understand what works with the community and its unique characteristics, while aligning creative campaigns with organic trends. 

The details: According to TikTok’s guide, capitalizing on trends, making sound a priority, communicating with the community and expressing with authenticity (especially) are some of the primary ways in which creators establish a successful presence on the platform. The guide advises on everything from messaging, budgeting and how to best utilize TikTok’s resources like its Creative Center, Creator Marketplace and Video Editor, among others.

Facebook Releases New Insights About Critical Components Of Effective Videos

Facebook commissioned Analytics Partners and The Lab to release a “social online video effectiveness report” that addresses new trends in the realm of video, how it is the pre-eminent medium for brands reaching new customers and what that means for marketers.

Why it matters: With video content’s domination over other mediums in the current arena of marketing and customer engagement, brands seeking to keep up must adopt new strategies and tactics as outlined in the new report.

The details: The report addresses the rising long-term return on investment (ROI) potential of video content with copy quality and creative—e.g., content, communication, engagement—which is driving improved performance significantly more than elements like scheduling, targeting and duration. 

Additionally, The Lab created a new measurement scorecard to rate performances of in-video elements. Best practices on the seven most important ones advise that online video creative should: (1) be built for mobile, (2) disregard sound as a necessity, (3) showcase the product or service, (4) include one primary message, (5) spotlight the message at the start of the video, (6) get to the point quickly and (7) include movement or fast edits at the start of the video to draw in attention. 

The full guide includes several more recommendations, case studies and specifics on each aspect of successful video creative.

YouTube Issues New Updates For YouTube Studio

YouTube has announced the release of several new updates for YouTube Studio including dark mode on desktop, hashtag autocomplete suggestions and more.

Why it matters: The additions, while not necessarily monumental or game-changing, aim to provide more insight and management options and can improve creators’ usage of the app.

The details: Among the updates are dark mode on desktop, a highly requested feature. Additionally, the new mobile and desktop ‘Hashtag Autocomplete Suggestions’ option within the video upload process will show the number of videos that have used each hashtag in their description or title, in addition to channels that are associated with each tag. 

Coinciding with the rise of Shorts, Youtube’s new ‘Mentions’ tab in the comments inbox will help creators track their mentions across the app on desktop and keep comments and mentions separate from each other. 

Lastly, starting next week, Youtube will be launching its updated-in-real-time channel and video insights on mobile, which transforms the app into something more akin to its desktop counterpart.

Instagram Adds New ‘Audio’ Search Tab 

Instagram’s search tab now accommodates a new audio search, making it more convenient for users to tap into music trends that are available for use within the app.

Why it matters: The update comes as Instagram attempts to quell the TikTok resettlement by maximizing Reels usage and promoting it, and related tools, to a level competitive enough to take on the music- and video-based app that boasts 130 million active users as of June 2021.

The details: A TikTok-like display of the Reels that have used samples of a specific song appears once users tap on the track they have searched for. The audio can be saved for future use while users get inspiration for how they can implement the audio into their own creations.

Interestingly, the update launches on the same day that YouTube has released its new ad campaign that promotes the exact same feature within its own TikTok-like competitor, Shorts.

As these features become more and more similar across platforms, the trend of non-TikTok apps incorporating TikTok-like features will continue as long as TikTok continues to capture younger audiences.

YouTube Introduces New Shorts Ad Campaign 

Youtube has launched a new global video ad campaign that seeks to boost Shorts usage by getting creators to embrace “the shorter side of YouTube.” YouTube’s campaign showcases how users can create their own take on popular music trends.

Why it matters: With music videos being one of the most popular uploads on the platform, YouTube is enlisting new talent and tools in order to compete with TikTok. And given the massive popularity of music videos on YouTube, it’s not as much of a stretch to assume that the new feature will be a significant opportunity for YouTube to maintain creators and engage viewers.

The details: The new campaign highlights the TikTok-like features of Shorts with musicians such as The Weeknd and Camila Cabello. With the new update, users can add their own take when viewing a music video by simply tapping the ‘Shorts’ button. 

Considering that YouTube is tracking 15 billion daily views of Shorts clips—a more than 100 percent increase over usage in April 2021—the new campaign is likely to capture the attention of those who’ve caught onto TikTok compilation videos on YouTube and those that are aware of cash payment for top-performing Shorts. Whether all of these features and incentives will prevent creators and viewers from venturing over to TikTok remains to be seen, especially given that the two platforms still seem to be serving different purposes and users.

TikTok Launches Stories Pilot

This week in social media news, TikTok tests stories and inks a partnership with Publicis Groupe, Instagram highlights top creative in a new section under its Professional Dashboard, Facebook advertisers shift to Amazon after Apple updates and more.

TikTok Pilots Stories As Twitter Terminates Fleets

TikTok has launched a pilot of TikTok Stories, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra and reported by TechCrunch. During the pilot, TikTok plans to gather insight before deciding whether it will expand it to all users.

Why it matters: The new feature allows TikTok users who don’t post regularly a more streamlined approach to begin engaging with the platform, an approach they’re likely familiar with if they’ve used a similar feature on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest or Twitter’s newly axed Fleets. The option also allows regular users to engage with the community in a more laid-back fashion without having to be on LIVE. For brands, Stories allows for expanded opportunities to advertise.

The details: TikTok Stories resembles its counterparts on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, for example in duration, the ability to record or upload and more; though it differs in one key respect – users’ ability to comment publicly. Users can view the number of people who have viewed a TikTok Story and whether they’re following those viewers. They can also tap a button via the new navigation bar on the left side of their screen before adding text, stickers, sounds or effects.

TikTok Announces Partnership With Publicis Groupe To Expand Access To Commerce Tools

TikTok is expanding its reach into commerce through a global partnership with Publicis Groupe. The partnership will provide Publicis clients with access to TikTok’s commerce tools and give TikTok more opportunities to help brands and creators maximize potential on the platform.

Why it matters: According to a press release, brands utilizing TikTok to engage with potential consumers will benefit from “unique learning opportunities, insights, and strategic counsel centered around driving product discovery and purchase intent….” The move is a part of TikTok’s ongoing monetization strategy as it attempts to keep creators happy (and paid) and struggles to find ways to monetize short-form video – an admittedly difficult task.

The details: Through the partnership, Publicis will reveal TikTok’s new commerce products, capabilities and creative solutions to an array of markets and clients. Additionally, in Publicis’ multi-week “Community Commerce Sprint’ program, a dedicated TikTok team will provide cross-functional support and coach brands on how to create and develop impactful commerce campaigns ahead of the holidays. 

TikTok will also gain new insights into consumer behavior through these campaigns, further bolstering its analytics offerings and monetization strategy and the ability to refine its commerce tools.

Instagram Highlights Top Examples Of Creative Via Professional Dashboard

Instagram is helping brands improve their presence on the platform by featuring examples of exceptional organic and promoted posts under a new section on the Professional Dashboard of business profiles.

Why it matters: The addition provides brands and creators with fresh ideas on how to expand their profitability on the commerce side of Instagram. Access to this selection of hand-picked posts and ads by Instagram’s creative team will also help businesses in developing their own vision and understand how to promote their own campaigns.

The details: To those who have Business and Creator accounts, Instagram’s Professional Dashboard now features the new “See How Other Businesses Connect With People” and, “See How Other Businesses Are Growing” sections. 

In its ongoing efforts to help businesses of all sizes, these new options enhance Instagram’s Professional Dashboard tool by imploring users of the Dashboard to take note of what makes a “top” post or ad stand out, what about it captures the business’ voice and vision and how those elements can be applied elsewhere.

Advertisers Shift To Amazon After Apple Privacy Shift

Ever since Apple rolled out its iPhone privacy changes in June, Facebook advertising has become less effective as brands seek alternatives such as Amazon, according to Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Amazon holds 10.7 percent of the US digital ad market. However, with iPhone’s privacy update, the retail giant stands to take hold of a larger share of the ad market as the inability to track internet activity has left Facebook with less to offer businesses advertising through its platform.

The details: With consumers bypassing Google to search for products directly on Amazon, and with Facebook’s effectiveness having dwindled, brands are beginning to recognize the value in advertising on Amazon to its 153 million US Prime members. 

The new phenomenon is in its early stages, meaning nothing can be said for certain about its future, though there are several examples of companies shifting significant portions of their Facebook ad budgets into Amazon or keeping Facebook marketing budgets flat while increasing their presence on Amazon. There still remain hurdles to advertising on the world’s largest online marketplace, such as the fear of losing a direct connection with consumers. Still, advertising represents one of Amazon’s fastest-growing and most profitable resources.

Instagram Tests Ads In The Shop Tab

Instagram has launched the ability for brands with product listings to promote them as sponsored posts on the Shop tab front page. The platform says its goal is to “make shopping a habitual response in the app.”

Why it matters: Instagram is endeavoring to make its app more ecommerce-centric with an array of new tools and features, including its newest promotional addition, which allows for more exposure for brands and a more streamlined shopping experience for users.

The details: With this new update, users can tap a sponsored post, which will direct the user to the Product Details section for more details and images, with the possibility of exploring more of a brand’s products and website. Instagram’s new Shop tab ads will be tested with select US advertisers including Away, Clairepaint and Donny Davy, before it makes the feature available to all brands.

New LinkedIn Guide Shares Best Practices For Brands

This week in social media news, LinkedIn’s new guide offers tips boosting your long-term brand marketing strategy, Snapchat launches a new section for self-serve scientific campaign experimentation called Campaign Lab, major brands reimagine their iconic ad campaigns with creators under TikTok’s Re:Make program, Facebook posts $29 billion in revenue in Q2, LinkedIn exceeds $10 billion in annual revenue for the first time and more.

LinkedIn Launches Guide To Balancing Long And Short-Term Brand Marketing

According to a new LinkedIn guide, marketers previously invested about 45 percent of budget into brand marketing; today, the recommended split is 60/40 in favor of the brand. In its new guide, ‘Brand to Demand: Harmonizing Long-term Brand Strategy with Short-term Activation Tactics,’ LinkedIn offers tips on balancing long-term marketing investment with short-term demand objectives.

Why it matters: The pandemic has forced marketers to be nimble and quickly shift their messaging, as LinkedIn shows 96 percent of marketers wait no longer than three months before attempting to measure the impact of their brand campaigns. Yet research from Binet and Field found that marketers should allow their campaigns to run for more than six months before seeing an impact.

The details: First up, LinkedIn suggests considering two heuristics when improving your brand’s future position — the availability heuristic and affect heuristic. The former points to how readily available a brand is in a consumer’s mind when they’re ready to move. The latter states that if a consumer likes a brand, their views of the brand’s solutions and benefits will be positively impacted.

Next, LinkedIn found that 69 percent of marketers don’t believe that broad targeting is more effective than hyper-targeting. The key takeaway here is to balance narrowly focused and broader targeting for branding efforts.

In addition, LinkedIn’s research highlights the importance of balancing the usage of rational and emotional ads to build growth over time. It found that marketers are 2x more likely to produce rational ads vs. emotional ads, regardless of objective.

Lastly, brands should execute brand and demand strategies in conjunction as LinkedIn’s research also found audiences exposed to both brand and acquisition messages on LinkedIn are 6x more likely to convert.

Snapchat Rolls Out New Campaign Lab To Enable Self-Serve Scientific Experimentation

Snapchat has announced a new section within Ads Manager called Campaign Lab, where advertisers can set up and act on scientific campaign experimentation in a self-serve way. 

Why it matters: Snap first launched Split Tests in Ads Manager in 2020 to help advertisers run scientific experiments on their marketing campaigns. Now, with Campaign Lab, advertisers will get access to actions, insights and learning agendas to inform their campaign strategy.

The details: Advertisers can access Campaign Lab in their Ads Manager navigation bar. In the Experiments tab, they can create new Split Tests and get customized recommendations in the Learning Center. Campaign Lab will also include detailed reports and show scheduled, ongoing and previously run split tests all in one place.

Facebook Adds 30 Million More Daily Active Users In Q2 To 1.91 Billion

According to Facebook’s second-quarter earnings results, the company brought in $29 billion, a new record high, and 30 million additional daily active users (DAUs) — taking it to 1.91 billion on average.

Why it matters: Though Facebook added a considerable number of new users in the Asia Pacific region in Q2, DAUs stalled in the US and declined in Europe.

The details: Facebook’s ad revenue reached $28 billion, namely 98 percent of its overall $29 billion revenue. The company said ad revenue growth was driven by a 47 percent year-over-year increase in the average price per ad and a 6 percent increase in the number of ads delivered.

TikTok’s New Re:Make Program Reimagines Past Iconic Ad Campaigns With Creators

TikTok has launched a new program called Re:Make that involves brands such as Skittles, Snickers and Old Spice resurrecting their previous popular advertising campaigns with help from TikTok creators.

Why it matters: TikTok is encouraging users to join the Re:Make challenge by creating renditions of their favorite ads under the #TikTokReMake hashtag, which will provide brands with ideas on how to enhance their own ads and understand where influencers fit in the mix.

The details: As part of TikTok’s Re:Make program, Mars partnered with creator @rosssmith and his grandmother to recreate Snickers’ 2010 ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ Super Bowl ad featuring Betty White.

Mars’ Skittles teamed up with creator/animator @maddiwinter and science creator @nickuhas to recreate its ‘Touch’ campaign.

Lastly, Old Spice reimagined its ‘The man your man could smell like’ ad — which has garnered 37 Cannes Lion since its 2010 release — by partnering with @munyachawawa and @niall.gray, who were tasked with incorporating UK references and British humor.

Snapchat Debuts New ‘Open Your Snapchat’ Global Advertising Campaign

Snapchat is launching a new global ad campaign called ‘Open Your Snapchat’ to encourage users and advertisers to take advantage of its augmented reality (AR) features, reports Social Media Today

The campaign will extend to out-of-home and digital placements, which will include Snapcodes leading to custom creative and AR Lenses specific to major cities in the US, UK and Mexico, and eventually India.

Why it matters: According to Snap, about 200 million users engage with AR daily on the app while AR creators have made over 1.5 million AR Lenses.

The details: Snap’s new campaign will highlight its AR features via blanket billboards, buses, websites and more. Custom AR-driven experiences will appear in the following major cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis, Mumbai, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Orlando and Tampa.

LinkedIn Surpasses $10 Billion In Annual Revenue For The First Time

According to parent company Microsoft’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report, LinkedIn has exceeded $10 billion in annual revenue for the first time. LinkedIn’s revenue grew 46 percent for the quarter to nearly $3 billion.

Why it matters: As per Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella:

“In the past five years since our acquisition, revenue has nearly tripled and growth has accelerated.LinkedIn has become a leader across multiple secular growth areas spanning B2B advertising, professional hiring, corporate learning and sales intelligence.”

The details: LinkedIn’s quarterly ad revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time in the recent quarter, representing a 97 percent increase.

In addition, LinkedIn now boasts 774 million members, and user sessions were up 30 percent in the quarter compared with a year ago.

Pinterest Reports Losing 24 Million Users In Q2 

According to Pinterest’s Q2 2021 Letter to Shareholders, despite reporting revenue growth of 125 percent YoY to $613 million, and monthly active user (MAU) growth of 9 percent YoY, the social media platform lost roughly 24 million users in the last three months.

Why it matters: As COVID-related restrictions ease and people spend more time outside of the house, Pinterest is no longer experiencing the “disproportionate” benefits it enjoyed during pandemic lockdowns. In essence, it couldn’t keep up with last year’s atypical growth.

The details: Pinterest reports that fewer MAUs ventured to Pinterest during Q2 than expected. Nevertheless, it maintains 454 million users after hitting 367 million in Q1 2020 and 416 million in Q2 2020, with MAUs on the mobile app having grown in the US and internationally YoY. International MAUs increased by 13 percent YoY while US MAUs decreased by 5 percent YoY. 

While Pinterest may not have as many users as projected, overall the users that remain continue to show their value as purchases made through the app and overall engagement remain solid.

Additionally, Pinterest said the number of Idea Pins — introduced in Q2 in 22 markets — created daily has grown by more than 7x since the beginning of 2021, and daily impressions from Idea Pins have grown more than 10x in the same period. 

Facebook Restricts Ad Targeting Of Users Under 18

Facebook decided to prohibit advertisers from targeting users under 18 years of age based on their interests or activity on other apps or sites. Starting sometime this month, advertisers can target users under 18 only based on their age, gender and location. The change applies globally to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, and includes more protections for young users than just ad targeting restrictions.

Why it matters: Because young people may not be prepared or knowledgeable enough to make decisions on how to avoid targeted ads based on their interests or activities — for example through ad setting controls or use of third party tracking blockers — Facebook has taken it upon itself to err on the side of caution and limit how advertisers reach younger demographics.

This new stance is a welcome reprieve after the backlash Facebook received over its Instagram platform solely for children under 13 – something other platforms have already created, for example, Facebook’s Messenger Kids and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube Kids. 

The details: Youth advocates have succeeded in convincing Facebook to take a precautionary stance on the issue of youth ad targeting. New Instagram users under 16 will automatically have their accounts set to private, with the option to switch to public, in order to prevent contact from predators. Pavni Diwanji, Facebook’s head of youth products, said that Facebook is also using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve age verification and removal of underage accounts. 

Twitter Posts Record Revenue Of 74% Increase Year-Over-Year For Q2

This week in social media news, Twitter reports a 74 increase in year-over-year revenue in Q2, YouTube adds new sales lift measurement for connected TV ads, Snapchat posts record revenue and user growth for Q2, Pinterest launches shoppable Idea Pins and TikTok adds a new tool that lets creators schedule, manage and promote LIVE videos.

Twitter Posts 74% Increase In Revenue Year-Over-Year For Q2

Citing a “broad increase in advertiser demand,” Twitter reported total revenue of nearly $1.2 billion—a 74 percent increase in YoY revenue for Q2 and the fastest growth the platform has experienced since 2014. In addition, Twitter saw an 11 percent jump in monetizable daily active users (MDAUs), from 206 million in Q1 to 206.2 million in Q2. 

Why it matters: Coupled with the world’s return to normal, Twitter introduced several new offerings and features in Q2 that helped boost its performance, including its first subscription service, its Spaces audio chat feature and its Tip Jar feature.

The details: In Q1, Twitter’s revenue grew by 28 percent; in Q2, that number came in at 74 percent. In its shareholder letter, Twitter said the impact from Apple’s iOS 14.5 updates was lower than anticipated.

Twitter’s ad revenue was up 87 percent year-over-year to 1.05 billion. It also showed a $65.6 million profit, following a $1.38 billion loss in Q2 2020.

As for Q3 revenue, Twitter anticipates bringing in $1.22 billion to $1.30 billion. It also expects headcount and total expenses to increase by at least 30 percent throughout all of 2021, however, it noted that revenue will outpace expenses.

YouTube Adds New Connected TV, Audio Ad Updates

As ad spend rebounds, YouTube is introducing new CTV contextual signals in Display & Video 360, as well as new sales lift measurement for CTV ads. Plus, it’s adding new dynamic production capabilities to help marketers create tailored audio ads quickly and at scale.

Why it matters: YouTube says that many marketers have requested new techniques inspired by traditional TV advertising that will assure them their ads are being displayed in safe and relevant contexts.

The details: First up, YouTube’s new CTV contextual signals will enable advertisers to pick inventory by genre, length or livestream content. For example, if you wanted to associate your ad message to the Olympics, you’d select CTV live inventory under the “Sports” genre using Display & Video 360. Then, you could confirm that your ads are served against content that’s suitable for your brand.

Next, YouTube is adding sales lift measurement for CTV ads using Nielsen Catalina Solutions in the US to help advertisers quantify how their CTV ad impressions led to offline sales. This feature will include metrics like percentage sales lift, total incremental sales and return on ad spend, which advertisers can view in the Display & Video 360 interface.

Lastly, YouTube is enhancing its Audio Mixer solution with a new dynamic production tool that enables brands to use several segmentation rules, including location, schedule or audience to create personalized, relevant ads from a single audio creative.

Snapchat Records Highest Revenue And User Growth Numbers Since 2018

For its Q2 earnings results, Snapchat reported $982 million in revenue and 293 million global active users, the highest growth it has seen in four years.

Why it matters: Snapchat chief executive officer Evan Spiegel credited the strong Q2 results to the company’s investments in new products and augmented reality (AR) technologies, which has resulted in more than 200 million users that engage with AR every day on average on Snap. In addition, there are over 200,000 creators building AR Lenses on Snapchat via its “Lens Studio” tool.

Spiegel added that the company’s Snap Original Shows reach more than 30 million unique users in the US. Snap also added 177 new international Discover channels in Q1, according to Spiegel.

The details: Snap’s daily active users increased 23 percent to 293 million during Q2, beating its prior record of 22 percent growth. Revenue for the quarter surged 116 percent to $982 million, outperforming Snap’s previous record 66 percent growth.

Snap expects Q3 revenue to reach from $1.07 billion and $1.09 billion, and daily active users to grow 21 percent to 301 million.

Snap’s TikTok-like feature “Spotlight” saw 49 percent quarter-over-quarter growth, with the average content submissions tripling compared to the prior quarter.

Instagram Expands Reels Length Limit From 30 Seconds To 60 Seconds

Instagram will now let users record Reels of up to 60 seconds long, an increase from 30 seconds. The update comes after Reels’ first update last September when it extended the limit from 15 to 30 seconds.

Why it matters: Instagram launched Reels last August with the intention of recreating the TikTok experience for its users. This new video length limit update comes just as TikTok expanded its length limit for users from one to three minutes.

The details: Instagram is ramping up its video features to keep up with TikTok, Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed recently. Soon, Instagram will show users recommended videos from other accounts that they don’t already follow, a move that mimics TikTok’s “For You” feed.

Pinterest Launches Shoppable Idea Pins, Paid Partnership Labels

Pinterest is launching an Idea Pins product tagging tool to all business accounts in the US and UK and a new paid partnership label in beta to help creators disclose brand sponsorship.

Why it matters: Pinterest research shows that 89 percent of Pinners are more likely to show shopping intent on products tagged in Idea Pins than on standalone Product Pins.

The details: In addition to giving creators a new product tagging capability in their Idea Pins, Pinterest will let creators earn commissions through affiliate links. Plus, select creators in the US, UK, Canada and several other international markets will now be able to disclose their paid partnerships via a new disclosure label.

TikTok Launches New LIVE Events Tool For Creators

TikTok has recently launched a new tool called LIVE Events in select markets that will let creators schedule, manage and promote live videos. In addition, TikTok is adding a new Go LIVE Together feature, discovery tools, a LIVE Q&A suite of tools, improved keyword filters and ways for hosts to manage viewers’ activity.

Why it matters: TikTok’s new live tools build on the platform’s already robust creator offerings. Its current TikTok Live Stream Program lets creators earn money in the form of TikTok’s virtual Coins, Gifts and Diamonds from fans aged 18 or older.

TikTok’s new LIVE Events tool will help creators promote their livestreams and connect with users ahead of time and thereby earn even more for their live content.

The details: Creators can access TikTok’s new LIVE Events tool at the top right corner of their profile page, then fill out basic details such as the event name, start time and a description. TikTok will then review it before the scheduled event listing goes public.

Once the event is scheduled, influencers can share it though in-app messages and promote it with a LIVE countdown sticker on TikTok or outside of TikTok. TikTok will display how many people have signed up for the event.

The LIVE Events tool is now available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as TikTok tests it in other global markets.

In addition to TikTok’s new Go LIVE Together features, TikTok will soon share live videos in the For You and Following pages. TikTok said that the top live categories on the platform are Chat (Q&A), Gaming, Talents, Fashion and Daily Life.

To help viewers keep up with the livestream chat while tuning in, TikTok has also enabled a new feature called Picture-in-Picture that lets users continue watching live videos across their device on iOS and Android.

Additionally, creators can designate another person to manage their livestream before it begins. Then, during the live stream, both the host and the designated user can mute and block users to ensure the stream remains welcoming. Plus, hosts will have the ability to turn off comments or add up to 200 terms into the keyword filter to limit certain comments during the live chat. These words can be added throughout the livestream by hosts and the person helping them.

Good Customer Service On Social Media Can Give Brands A Competitive Edge

At a time when 71 percent of consumers across generations say they’re spending more time on social media, brands are increasingly finding it harder to cut through the noise. According to Sprout Social’s 2021 Index, the key to doing so is delivering seamless customer service on social media.

The index—based on a survey among more than 1,000 US consumers and more than 1,000 marketers conducted online between March and April 2020—explores social media’s impact on bottom-line growth, how and why consumers are using social media to connect with brands and what makes a brand best-in-class on social media.

Sprout Social’s data show that consumers follow brands mostly on Facebook (78 percent), Instagram (57 percent) and YouTube (47 percent). Twitter came in fourth and TikTok in fifth.

Brands have an opportunity to reach and engage with more consumers on social media but that also means more competition, as 93 percent of marketers surveyed noted. Consumers, on the other hand, expect great customer service from brands on social media, but marketers fail to prioritize it.

When asked what makes a brand best-in-class on social, the top response from consumers was strong customer service, as noted by 47 percent of respondents. However, that factor was missing from marketers’ responses — instead, 48 percent cited audience engagement as the distinguishing factor. Forty-six percent of consumers listed audience engagement as the second most important factor.

There are grave ramifications for brands that don’t deliver in the customer service department, with 45 percent of consumers saying they’ll unfollow a brand on social because of poor service. What’s more, 90 percent of consumers buy from brands on social while 86 percent said they’ll choose that brand over a competitor.

While recent research shows people prefer to communicate with businesses over the phone, Sprout Social found that 78 percent of consumers believe social media is the fastest and most direct way to connect with a brand. Social media is also consumers’ preferred means of sharing feedback about a product or service (31 percent) as well as raising customer service issues or questions (33 percent).

As Sprout Social notes, the top three actions brands can take to encourage consumers to buy from them over a competitor include responding to customer service questions in a timely manner, demonstrating an understanding of what the consumer needs and creating more culturally relevant content.

While 88 percent of marketers agree that their social strategy positively influences their bottom line and 90 percent agree that data from social enables them to stay ahead of their competitors, organizations still undervalue its business impact.

When asked to describe their cross-team efforts regarding social media, half of marketers said they maintain occasional contact and collaboration with other teams while 17 percent operate in complete silos. To stand out from other brands on social, marketers need to prove to every department, not just marketing, that social impacts their bottom line growth.

Vimeo And TikTok Announce Partnership To Help Businesses Create Better Video Ads

This week in social media news, Vimeo becomes the first video software company in TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program, Facebook commits to investing over $1 billion in creator programs, TikTok becomes the first non-Facebook mobile app to pass 3 billion global downloads, Twitter axes its Fleets function and more.

TikTok And Vimeo Announce Partnership To Help Businesses Create Video Ads

Small and medium businesses on TikTok will now have access to Vimeo Create, an artificial intelligence-driven video production tool, via TikTok Ads Manager, as the result of a new partnership between the two platforms.

Why it matters: According to a press release, the partnership makes Vimeo the first video software company in TikTok’s Marketing Partner Program.

The integration provides a solution for marketers challenged with creating new content and ads more often than on other online channels given the high user engagement on TikTok.

The details: Using Vimeo Create, small and medium businesses can produce and publish ads directly into the TikTok Ad Manager. The integration also includes custom video templates optimized for TikTok.

In a pre-launch test, small business participants saw up to 50 percent higher clickthrough rates compared to previous campaigns on other platforms and were able to double the number of videos they created in a short time span.

A family-run soy candle company called NaturalAnnie Essentials saw a 5.5 times increase in conversion rate within the first two weeks of the trial campaign when compared to other forms of online advertising.

Additionally, more than 85 percent of participants reported successful campaign results and plan to run more TikTok campaigns, according to the release.

Facebook To Invest Over $1 Billion In Creator Programs By The End Of 2022

Facebook recently announced its plan to invest over $1 billion in programs that give creators new ways to monetize their content across Facebook and Instagram. That includes new programs that pay eligible creators for reaching certain milestones and provide seed funding for creators to produce their content. Facebook says its new bonus programs are designed to reward creators who are creating original and high-quality content.

Why it matters: Facebook’s increased focus on influencer monetization options echoes a message that Instagram head Adam Mosseri shared recently, noting that the platform is no longer a photo-sharing app and plans to lean into entertainment to keep up with TikTok.

The details: First up, Facebook is launching seasonal bonus programs. While bonus programs such as Badges and Stars Challenges already exist, Facebook will now have a dedicated place for bonuses within Instagram this summer and in the Facebook app this fall.

Available by invitation now on Facebook is the In-Stream Bonus, which pays an earnings bonus over the next four months to select video creators using in-stream ads. 

Also available now is the Stars Bonus, an expansion of the Stars Challenges program that will now include select gaming creators. The updated Stars Bonus will give video and gaming creators a monthly bonus for hitting specific Stars milestones over the next three months.

On Instagram, the first bonuses that will be available by invitation will reward influencers for signing up for IGTV ads and using badges in Live and Reels.

The IGTV ads bonus, open to US creators now, enables creators to earn a one-time bonus for signing up for IGTV ads, which enables them to earn a share of revenue when ads run during their videos.

The Live bonus badges, available now to influencers in 11 countries, reward creators when they meet certain milestones with badges, like going Live with another account.

Lastly, the Reels Summer bonus, which will launch in the coming weeks to US creators, will pay creators based on the performance of their Reels videos. Creators can learn more about this bonus in the new Bonuses section of the Instagram app.

TikTok Becomes First Non-Facebook Mobile App To Pass 3 Billion Global Downloads

According to Sensor Tower’s latest data, TikTok has now passed 3 billion installs globally from across the App Store and Google Play—including the iOS version of TikTok’s Chinese release, Douyin, and excluding third-party Android marketplaces.

Why it matters: This makes TikTok the fifth non-game app to join a tier that Facebook has historically dominated. Based on Sensor Tower’s data of worldwide installs from iOS and Android, excluding pre-installed apps, the four other apps that have amassed more than 3 billion installs since January 2014 include WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram.

The details: According to Sensor Tower, TikTok was the most downloaded and highest-grossing non-game app globally in the first half of 2021, reaching about 383 million first-time installs and an estimated $919.2 million in consumer spending.

In Q2 2021, TikTok saw its highest quarter-over-quarter growth in consumer spending since Q2 2020, increasing from $384.7 million to $534.6 million.

First-time TikTok downloads grew from 177.5 million in Q1 2021 to 205.4 million in Q2 2021, the most growth TikTok has seen since its record-shattering Q1 2020 when it garnered more than 315 million installs—the most any app has seen in a single quarter, according to Sensor Tower.

Twitter Axes Its Fleets Function After Launching It Less Than A Year Ago

Twitter has announced that come August 3, Fleets, the Snapchat-like feature that gave Twitter users an ephemeral way to share their thoughts, will no longer be available after it failed to result in an increase in user engagement.

Why it matters: According to Twitter:

“We’re evolving what Twitter is, and trying bigger, bolder things to serve the public conversation. A number of these updates, like Fleets, are speculative and won’t work out. We’ll be rigorous, evaluate what works, and know when to move on and focus elsewhere. If we’re not evolving our approach and winding down features every once in a while—we’re not taking big enough chances.”

The details: Twitter launched Fleets about eight months ago as a way to compete with Snapchat’s Snaps and Instagram’s Stories, which disappear after 24 hours.

Twitter says it’ll use its learnings from Fleets to create other ways for users to join the conversation. For example, Twitter built the Fleets function to address some of the anxiety people have about tweeting but found that Fleets were mostly being used by people who were already tweeting to amplify their own tweets and communicate directly with others.

Twitter also found that most Fleets include media, which is why it says it’ll test updates to the tweet composer and camera to incorporate features from the Fleet composer, such as the full-screen camera, text formatting options and GIF stickers.  

The platform’s Fleet ads test concluded last month, making it one of Twitter’s first experiments with full-screen, vertical format ads; it says it’ll apply these learnings to assess how these ads perform on the platform.

Snapchat Data Show COVID-19 Accelerated Sports Viewership On The App

With the return to in-person sports events slowly underway, Snapchat has shared some new insight about how the pandemic boosted sports viewership on the app, plus the type of users that watch live sports on the app.

Why it matters: There are 90 million sports fans in North America alone on Snapchat, with 87 million Snapchatters watching sports content each month on the app.

The details: During the pandemic, Snapchatters watched an average of 28 hours of sports per week versus non-Snapchatters who watched 22 hours. Nearly half (46 percent) of Snapchatters started watching a new sport because of the pandemic versus 35 percent of non-Snapchatters. Plus, 86 percent of Snapchatters said they’re ready to go back to games versus 72 percent of non-Snapchatters.

Snapchatters are more engaged on their phones than non-Snapchatters while watching live sports, according to Snap research. Seventy-five percent of users use social media versus 59 percent of non-Snapchatters. More Snapchatters message people, play games and bet on sports than non-Snapchatters too.

Snapchat says it offers a 39 percent incremental reach to TV among ages 13 to 24 and a 38 percent incremental reach to sports events on TV and sports websites/apps among ages 18 to 34.

Snapchat Report Highlights Consumers’ Shopping Expectations Post-Pandemic

This week in social media news, Snapchat’s new research reveals consumers’ post-COVID retail expectations, Pinterest updates its global ad policies to prohibit weight loss language and imagery, TikTok brings its violative content moderation technology to the US and Canada, YouTube releases its ‘Culture & Trends’ report and more.

Snapchat Shares New Insight About Consumers’ Post-COVID Shopping Expectations

According to a new retail study for which Snapchat commissioned Foresight Factory, virtual reality will play a large role in brick-and-mortar retail’s recovery, with 33 percent of consumers noting that their mobile phone is the preferred channel when shopping for products and 35 percent saying they’d go out of their way to visit a store if it had interactive virtual services, such as a smart mirror that let them try on clothes or makeup.

Why it matters: Forty percent of US consumers state that not being able to see and try out products are the top reasons they disregard online shopping, an issue brands could alleviate, they say, with more persuasive augmented reality (AR) and virtual try-on experiences.

The details: Snap’s ‘Future of Shopping’ 2021 market report breaks down global and US shopper expectations in life after the pandemic. The first key takeaway is that consumers will be looking for social and tactile experiences they couldn’t engage in during the pandemic, combined with the convenience and safety of online shopping.

According to the report, 50 percent of US consumers found it frustrating not being able to try on items in-store, reflecting the power that retail technologies can play in enticing customer footfall.

In addition, Snap predicts that in less than five years, there will be a 37 percent increase in the proportion of US Gen Z shoppers who use AR before buying a product. A whopping 62 percent of respondents who have used AR when shopping say that it encouraged them to make a purchase.

Lastly, just under half of US consumers told Snap that they’d consider buying a virtual product, signaling an opportunity for brands to leverage digital assets such as NFTs.

See the report’s full US findings here.

Pinterest Prohibits Ads With Weight Loss Language And Imagery

As of July 1, Pinterest has updated its global ad policies to prohibit ads with weight loss language and imagery, making it the only major social platform to ban all weight-loss ads. 

Why it matters: The new update marks an expansion of Pinterest’s current policy, which bars the following ad content: weight loss or appetite suppressant pills, supplements or other products; before and after weight loss imagery, weight loss procedures like liposuction or fat burning; body shaming, such as imagery or language that mocks or discredits certain body types or appearances; and claims regarding unrealistic cosmetic results.

The details: As per Pinterest:

“Many are now feeling added pressure as they look to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in 15 months. Pinterest is the place people come for inspiration to create the life they love. It’s where everyone belongs—regardless of body shape or size. We’re empowering Pinners to plan for a summer and beyond without weight loss ads, so they can focus on what matters most.”

Pinterest’s updated global ad policy will now prohibit: any weight loss language or imagery; any testimonials regarding weight loss or weight loss products; any language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; any references of body mass index (BMI) or similar indexes; any products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin.

YouTube Releases Its ‘Culture & Trends’ Report

YouTube has released the findings of its latest ‘Culture & Trends’ report in a 19-minute video overview hosted by YouTube head of culture and trends, Kevin Allocca. The key takeaway for brands is that video is increasingly being adopted by viewers as a tool to facilitate a sense of connection.

Why it matters: Based on its analysis of hundreds of global video trends and surveys conducted in 20 countries with Ipsos, YouTube found that 72 percent of people have posted video content online in the last year and that 79 percent say they’ve achieved deeper connections when they watch YouTube on TV with others.

The details: First up, YouTube found that 85 percent of people have watched a livestream in the last year and over half a million channels were livestreamed for the first time in 2020.

As Allocca notes, videos with #WithMe in the title were viewed over 2 billion times globally last year. YouTube is becoming a major destination for podcasts too, with 51 percent saying they watched a podcast recording on the platform over the past 12 months.

In addition, Allocca notes that gaming is emerging as the most influential space in youth culture, perhaps even bigger than music. One of the most popular entertainment viewing experiences was an improvised political drama played out by individual characters in Minecraft. As a result, YouTube found that videos with ‘Dream SMP’ in the title accumulated over 2 billion views since May 2020.

Lastly, 53 percent of viewers agree that a video they watched helped them feel like they were in a different place, suggesting the power video plays in fueling escapism. 

TikTok Brings Its Content Moderation Technology To US, Canada

After trialing and adjusting new systems that identify and remove violative videos and notify users of their violations, TikTok said it’s now expanding these systems to the US and Canada.

Why it matters: According to TikTok’s Transparency Reports, this technology initially launched in regions where additional safety support was needed due to the pandemic. Since then, TikTok found that the false positive rate for automated removals is 5 percent and requests to appeal a video’s removal have remained consistent.

Still, TikTok admits that “neither technology nor humans will get moderation decisions correct 100% of the time.” That’s why creators can appeal their content’s removal directly in our app.

The details: Over the next few weeks, TikTok’s new technology will start to automatically remove some types of violative content identified at upload, in addition to removals confirmed by its safety team.

TikTok will reserve automation for content categories where its technology has the highest degree of accuracy, beginning with violations of TikTok’s policies on minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content and illegal activities and regulated goods.

TikTok has also updated the way it notifies people of their community guidelines violations. This new system—which it created with input from its US Content Advisory Council—counts the violations accrued by a creator and is based on the severity and frequency of the violation. 

TikTok will notify users of violations via the Account Updates section of their inbox. After the first violation, TikTok will suspend an account’s ability to upload a video, comment or edit their profile for 24 or 48 hours; or restrict an account to a view-only experience for 72 hours or up to one week; or notify a user that their account is on the verge of being banned and potentially permanently removed. Over 60 percent of people who received a first warning, however, didn’t need a second violation, claims TikTok.

YouTube Launches ‘New To You’ Discovery Feature

YouTube is adding a new discovery prompt called ‘New to You’ that highlights content from channels users have never seen before that are aligned with their interest or past viewing behavior on the platform.

Why it matters: The update will serve users with more personalized content, according to YouTube, though it said it will “take a balance between things we think you might be interested in plus things that are a bit further afield of what you’d typically watch.” This could translate to higher engagement for creator videos and longer time spent in the YouTube app overall.

The details: The ‘New to You’ feature will appear at the top of mobile users’ ‘Explore’ recommendations feed. The difference between this new feature and the ‘Explore’ feed is that the latter helps viewers find content in specific verticals or content that’s trending worldwide but not necessarily personalized to them.