TikTok US Manager Says App Isn’t Going Anywhere

This week in social media news, TikTok’s US general manager posts a video message saying the app isn’t planning on going anywhere, Microsoft is said to be in talks to acquire TikTok in the US, Pinterest reports a four percent increase in revenue in Q2 and Twitter surveys users on which features they’d pay for on its subscription platform.

TikTok US General Manager Affirms App Is Here For The Long Run

TikTok’s US general manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video posted to the app’s discover page that TikTok isn’t planning on going anywhere, and is working on making it “the safest app.”

Why it matters: Pappas’ video message follows President Trump’s threats to ban the app in the US, which has led Microsoft to explore an acquisition of TikTok’s operations in the US, according to Bloomberg.

The details: Pappas begins the 60-second video with:

“I want to say thank you to the millions of Americans who use TikTok everyday bringing their creativity and joy into our daily lives. We’ve heard your outpouring of support and we want to say thank you. We’re not planning on going anywhere.”

Pappas goes on to thank TikTok’s 1,500 US employees, adding the app plans on bringing 15,000 new jobs to the country over the next three years.

Pappas affirms TikTok is “here for the long run” and is working on “building the safest app because we know it’s the right thing to do,” encouraging users to continue sharing their voice on the app.

The video has received 1.8 million views.

Microsoft Eyes Acquisition Of TikTok’s US Operations

Microsoft is said to be in talks to buy TikTok in the US from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, as reported by FOX Business.

Why it matters: Owing to concerns over TikTok’s ties to China, the Trump administration has been weighing whether to force ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok’s US operations, according to FOX Business.

The details: TikTok and Microsoft have declined to comment, and there are “two to three serious buyers that have expressed interest,” a person with direct knowledge told FOX. The source said that discussions between Microsoft began about a month ago.

Twitter Surveys Users On Paid Subscription Features

Since confirming it’s testing a subscription platform, Twitter has been surveying users on a list of paid features the platform might offer, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

Why it matters: Asking users which features they’d be willing to pay for signals Twitter’s progress on developing a subscription service at a time when Facebook is under fire from congress, brands and civil rights groups.

The details: The range of extra services Twitter’s subscription platform might include are an undo send option, custom color options, auto-replies, profile badges, advanced video publishing tools, job listings, education resources and insights into other accounts. Twitter is also asking users if they’d pay for an ad-free experience.

In Q2, Pinterest Adds 49 Million More Users, Sees 4 Percent Revenue Increase

Pinterest reached 416 million monthly active users (MAUs) and saw a four percent increase in revenue, according to the company’s Q2 performance report.

Why it matters: Pinterest’s performance update marks a dramatic improvement on Q1, when the platform’s growth was stagnant. Following the announcement, Pinterest shares spiked 25 percent.

The details: Pinterest added 49 million more users in Q2, a 39 percent increase globally year-over-year. About the update Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said:

“People needed Pinterest in Q2. They needed a service that helped them adjust to radically changed circumstances – one that inspired them to cook at home, build vegetable gardens, plan activities for their kids and set up remote offices and home gyms, to name just a few typical COVID-19-related use cases we saw during the quarter.”

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Urges Competitors To Disclose Their Algorithms

This week in social media news, TikTok’s CEO urges major competitors to disclose their algorithms, Twitter says watch parties on the platform have surged during the pandemic, Snapchat releases its second annual study on Gen Z and millennial mobile behavior, Bumble sees a fivefold increase in app installs after running direct response ads on TikTok, Instagram tries luring away major TikTok creators, a Sprout Social report reveals retailers saw a 40 percent increase in social media engagement in Q2 and more.

TikTok Urges Competitors To Reveal Their Algorithms And Moderation Policies

In a company blog post, TikTok chief executive officer Kevin Mayer called on all companies to “disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flow to regulators,” a step Mayer says TikTok has already taken when it launched its first Transparency Center in Los Angeles in March, with plans to open a second one in Washington D.C.

Why it matters: Mayer’s post comes as the US government considers banning TikTok over concerns the app is sharing consumer data with the Chinese, a move that would benefit TikTok competitors like Facebook and Triller.

The details: In an attempt to assuage the fears of Washington, Mayer touted TikTok as “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows US laws.”

Mayer wants major competitors like Facebook to publicly share their data practices on the basis that TikTok allows experts to observe TikTok’s algorithms in real time via its Transparency and Accountability Center.  

Mayer also directly calls out Facebook for mimicking TikTok’s short-form format via Instagram Reels:

“Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly. But let’s focus our energies on fair and open competition in service of our consumers, rather than maligning attacks by our competitor – namely Facebook – disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US.”

Twitter Watch Parties Balloon During COVID-19

According to new stats Twitter released this week, the terms ‘Watch party’ and ‘Netflix party’ surged over 500 percent on Twitter in Canada during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Major brands have added interactive watch parties to their mix to boost engagement around new releases. For example, Disney hosted a Twitter watch party around the launch of Hamilton on Disney+, as did Netflix for its documentary about Michael Jordan.

The details: Other noteworthy Canadian user habits include an increase in device usage in all categories–a 133 percent increase in creating videos, 91 percent growth in listening to podcasts and 66 percent rise in streaming

Gen Z And Millennials Are Watching More Mobile Content Than Before, Snapchat Study Finds

Snapchat and the National Research Group’s (NRG) second annual online study examining the mobile behavior of US Gen Z and millennials found that 73 percent are watching more video on their smartphone than they did a year ago.

Why it matters: Snapchat says its users value vertical video formats because they provide a more intimate, immersive experience. As a nationwide resurgence of COVID looms, younger generations are increasingly turning to their phones for entertainment and shopping, reflecting the importance for brands to create mobile-first content.  

The details: The results show that daily engagement with premium mobile content has grown 40 percent in 2020, with younger users’ time spent engaging with mobile media reaching 4 hours and 26 minutes a day, compared with 3 hours and 24 minutes watching television.

Eighty percent of Gen Z and millennials turn to short-form premium content for news, while 86 percent of millennials and 85 percent of Gen Z say technology allows them to express themselves and contribute to cultural conversations.

Mobile video could also serve as a valuable tool for brands looking to meaningfully connect with younger generations during COVID-19, as 86 percent of both groups say mobile video has helped them cope with new anxieties and stay in touch with loved ones during lockdowns.

Bumble Increased App Downloads By Five Times Via TikTok Direct Response Ads 

After running direct response ads and influencer campaigns on TikTok during the pandemic, Bumble saw a fivefold increase in app installs, and decreased cost-per-registration by 64 percent, as reported by Mobile Marketer.

Why it matters: Bumble’s success is a testament to TikTok’s ability to help brands reach new, and young, users during a time when Gen Z and millennials are increasingly engaging with mobile content.

The details: To diversify its marketing mix, from March to May, Bumble collaborated with mega TikTok creators David Dobrik and Brittany Broski to create native content in TikTok’s “For You” feeds. The dating app also used native in-feed videos for direct response, optimization for in-app activations and automated bidding.

Instagram Tries Luring Away Major TikTok Creators

Instagram has offered financial incentives to mega-influencers on TikTok in hopes of persuading them to use its newly launched TikTok-style feature, Reels, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Instagram’s attempt to poach famous TikTok creators comes as ByteDance-owned TikTok is under fire from Washington over its ties to China. Given many TikTok influencers have already started deleting the app, there’s a chance Instagram’s offers could sway them.

The details: According to people familiar with the matter, Instagram is offering some TikTok creators “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” WSJ reports.  Company spokeswoman Sarissa Thrower said Instagram has “approached a diverse range of creators about Reels in several of the countries where it’s currently being tested.”

Sprout Social: Retailers Saw 40 Percent Increase In Social Media Engagement In Q2

According to a new report from Sprout Social, retailers saw a 40 percent surge in engagement in the first day they posted content on social media in Q2 from a year prior, as well as a 72 percent jump in the average number of daily inbound messages in Q2 from a year earlier.

Why it matters: Sprout Social’s findings are a reminder of the increasing importance of social media for retailers as consumers shift to online shopping amid lockdowns and a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

The details: Among the overall increase in engagement retailers experienced in Q2, mid-market retailers saw an 88 percent increase in inbound messages. Like consumers, retailers have also been more active, reposting 84 percent more pins on Pinterest and sharing 104 percent more pins.

Q2 social media posts reflected consumers’ concerns around COVID-19, as the number of posts from January 1 to June 30 that included the words “safe” or “safety” exceeded 40,000 and received over 596,000 engagements.

56 Percent Of Advertisers Paused Facebook Spend In July, Digiday Survey Finds

Fifty-six percent of agency buyers said their clients paused Facebook ad spend in July in response to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a Digiday survey reveals.

Why it matters: Though it’s yet to be seen if the boycott makes any difference, Coca-Cola, Verizon and REI are among the hundreds of brands that stand with civil rights groups who demand Facebook revamps its hate speech policy.

The details: According to Digiday, 40 percent of agency buyers said their clients had not paused Facebook ad spend, while four percent didn’t know.

Over half, 55 percent, of respondents said they didn’t believe the boycott would lead to Facebook implementing meaningful changes.

Forty-six percent said that their clients would spend more if Facebook had stronger values, and 59 percent said the most important action Facebook could take is removing hate speech.

App Annie: Worldwide Mobile App Downloads Reach 120 Billion In 2019

Mobile app engagement worldwide significantly increased in 2019, with a high degree of overlap among top apps, according to App Annie’s “Mobile App Evolution” report.

Why it matters: The global app economy’s competitive landscape has driven innovation, providing users with more choices. As a result, users are engaging with multiple apps within and across categories to address similar needs.

The details: App Annie’s research found that in 2019, the average global user had 93 apps downloaded on their phone and used 41 apps a month, up from 85 and 35 respectively in 2015. In addition, daily time spent per user has grown from 2.1 hours in 2015 to 3.1 hours in 2019. From 2015 to 2019, worldwide total sessions saw a 15 percent compound annual growth rate.

Fueling app downloads in 2019 were emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia.

Developed regions held the most influence over mobile penetration, with users in the US reaching 12.3 billion, in Japan reaching 2.5 billion and in the UK reaching 2.1 billion.

It’s also worth noting that in 2019, 35 of the top 100 apps were new entrants, mostly games, up from 27 in 2016.

TikTok Launches New Immersive Ad Templates For Brands

Updated throughout the week of July 20th, 2020.

This week in social media news, TikTok launches interactive ad templates for brands, Twitter says the direct message inbox of hacked accounts were exposed, Facebook convenes a team to study minority users’ experiences, LinkedIn’s revenue grows 10 percent, Twitter’s Q2 revenue decreases 19 percent year-over-year and more.

TikTok Launches Interactive Ad Options, Gamified Branded Effects

TikTok is introducing a variety of templates called Gamified Branded Effects to its self-serve ad platform that brands can use to create more immersive ads.

Why it matters: As rumors about TikTok’s potential ban in the US circulate, some brands may be reluctant to use the new templates as they have already started to distance themselves from the platform and shift focus elsewhere.

The details: Brands can access 20 formats customizable to their campaign “for a fun and competitive video shooting experience.” The Gamified Branded Effects are similar to Snapchat’s augmented reality (AR)-building tool, Lens Web Builder, which offers hundreds of 3D effects.

Twitter DMs Of High-Profile Accounts Were Accessed In Breach

Last week, Twitter experienced a major security breach of over 100 high-profile accounts as a result of a social engineering scheme. Twitter says the hackers were able to access the direct message inbox of some of these accounts, as well as other private information.

Why it matters: Twitter’s response to the situation included restricting functionality for many Twitter profiles, but for 45 of the targeted accounts, the attackers were still able to reset the password, log into the account and send tweets.

The details: As per Twitter:

“We believe that for up to 36 of the 130 targeted accounts, the attackers accessed the DM inbox, including 1 elected official in the Netherlands.”

For all the accounts that were hacked, attackers were able to see email addresses and phone numbers but not previous account passwords.

Facebook Convenes Team To Study Minority Users’ Experiences

Facebook is convening a new equity and inclusion team tasked with studying how black, Hispanic and other minority users in the US are affected by Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The move to examine disparate racial impacts comes as an advertiser boycott over Facebook’s hate speech policy persists. The issue of algorithmic bias arose last year, when Instagram set new thresholds for disabling or deleting accounts after an internal analysis revealed black users were 50 percent more likely to have their account suspended than other users. Instagram said the issue was due to the fact that the company’s existing data doesn’t accurately capture race.

The details: A spokesperson from Instagram confirmed to WSJ that both Instagram and Facebook will create an inclusion team to see if their systems contain algorithmic bias. Facebook’s team, the Inclusivity Product Team, will seek advice from black users and experts on race.

LinkedIn Revenue Grows 10 Percent In Q2

In the most recent quarter, LinkedIn’s revenue increased 10 percent and its sessions grew by 27 percent, Microsoft’s Q4 2020 report shows.

Why it matters: A glimpse into LinkedIn’s performance comes after the company announced that it would reduce its global workforce by six percent due to the pandemic.

The details: After seeing record levels of engagement in April, LinkedIn is experiencing more usage as those out of a job seek to make new connections. However, as the report notes, “LinkedIn was negatively impacted by the weak job market and reductions in advertising spend.”

Twitter Q2 Revenue Drops 19 Percent Year-Over-Year

According to its Q2 earning report, Twitter generated $683 million in revenues, a 19 percent decrease year-over-year, but reached 186 million daily monetizable active users (mDAUs), a 39 percent increase YoY.

Why it matters: Twitter’s performance update reflects an ongoing struggle among social platforms whose ad businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19.

The details: Twitter’s mDAUs grew from 166 million at the end of Q1 to 186 million in Q2. Its ad revenue represented $562 million, down 23 percent YoY.

As per Twitter: “We saw a gradual, moderate recovery relative to March levels throughout most of Q2, with the exception of late May to mid-June, when many brands slowed or paused spend in reaction to U.S. civil unrest.”

Snapchat Q2 Revenue Grows 17 Percent To $454 Million

Snapchat’s revenue increased 17 percent to $454 million in Q2 from a year prior and reached a user base of 238 million, the company’s quarterly report shows.

Why it matters: Given the increased usage it experienced at the onset of the pandemic, Snapchat overestimated its Q2 growth. However, Snapchat chief financial officer Derek Andersen said the surge “dissipated faster than we anticipated as shelter in place conditions persisted,” adding that the company’s net loss grew 28 percent to $326 million from a year earlier.

The details: Snapchat’s revenue growth in Q2 pales in comparison to the 44 percent revenue increase it saw in Q1, potentially a result of the gradual easing of restrictions. Snap’s revenue is up 32 percent during the first few weeks of Q3, but Andersen estimates it’ll reach 20 percent by the end of Q3.

Instagram Launches Personal Causes Fundraising Feature

Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you raise money for a personal cause with a select group of Android users in the US, UK and Ireland.

Why it matters: Instagram says that since January, people have raised over $100 million for COVID-19 fundraisers globally across Instagram and Facebook. In addition, donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the last 30 days.

The details: Users eligible to donate through Instagram’s donation sticker can now donate to a personal fundraiser by tapping “edit profile,” adding a fundraiser and selecting a fundraiser category. Instagram must review fundraisers before they go live. Once approved, the fundraiser lasts 30 days and can be extended another 30 days. When the fundraiser ends, the funds are transferred into the user’s bank account, which they connect via Facebook’s payment processor Stripe.

US Bans TikTok On Government Devices

According to Politico, the House voted to prohibit federal employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices as part of a $741 billion defense policy bill.

Why it matters: The move comes as national security concerns about TikTok’s ties to China and its data privacy practices abound.

The details: Part of a package of bipartisan changes to the National Defense Authorization Act, the proposal was passed by lawmakers who voted 336-71 and would extend to members of Congress and congressional staff.

Facebook Clarifies Its Content Monetization And Brand Safety Practices

Facebook announced that the Media Rating Council (MRC) will perform an audit of its partner and content monetization policies and brand safety controls it makes available to advertisers. It also said it’s considering opening up its content moderation systems to external audits to validate the figures it publishes in its Community Standards Enforcement Report (CSER), which is released on a quarterly basis.

Why it matters: Still in the thick of a boycott by advertisers and civil rights groups over its content moderation policies, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced new changes that would prevent potential voter suppression and expand its ad policy to protect people from different races, gender identities and immigration statuses.

The details: MRC will evaluate the development and enforcement of its partner monetization policies and content monetization policies. The MRC will also assess Facebook’s ability to apply brand safety controls to ads displayed within publisher content. Facebook will provide an update on the audit by mid-August.

TikTok Suspends Plans To Build Global Headquarters In The UK

TikTok is suspending plans to build a global headquarters in the UK amid a potential trade war between London and Beijing, as reported by The Guardian.

Why it matters: Based in Beijing, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, halted plans for a UK-based headquarters after the UK government banned Huawei, a Chinese telecoms firm, from developing Britain’s 5G mobile phone network.

The details: ByteDance underwent months of negotiations with the Department for International Trade to expand operations in the UK, according to The Guardian. Now it will look to Dubai, where many TikTok employees are already located.

Google Launches All-In-One Video Shopping Platform Shoploop

Google’s in-house lab for experimental projects, Area 120, is rolling out an interactive video shopping platform called Shoploop that lets users discover, evaluate and buy products all in one place.

Why it matters: Shoploop is Google’s latest project to expand shoppable content. Last month, it launched shoppable video ads on YouTube.

The details: Users can browse videos of products in action, which are 90 seconds or shorter, read reviews, then either save or buy products later. Google has convened a group of Shoploop creators who will make tutorials displaying products, with a focus on beauty brands for now. Shoploop is available on mobile devices, but Google says it’s creating a desktop version.

Twitch Launches A Standalone Sports Category

Amazon’s Twitch is launching a sports category, which will include streams from soccer clubs and serve as home to the existing NBA, NHL, RFL, UFC and NWSL content that’s available on the platform, The Verge reports.

Why it matters: Twitch has become one of the top destinations for live sports watching. A few weeks ago, the platform streamed Premier League soccer free for the first time.  

The details: In addition to creating a new sports category, Twitch is re-launching its “twitchsports” channel to showcase the available sports content.

Instagram Prepares For Global Launch Of Reels

Facebook is set to launch its TikTok-like feature, Reels, in the US and over 50 countries in a few weeks, unnamed sources told NBC.

Why it matters: Instagram Reels’ forthcoming global rollout comes as the White House is considering a ban on TikTok in the US over its handling of user data. Reels could catapult Instagram to TikTok’s level of popularity among its billion-plus user base.

The details: Reels enable users to create and share 15-second video clips and borrow and remix music from other people’s videos. Facebook introduced Reels in Brazil last November, expanded it to Germany and France last month and more recently launched it in India.

Snapchat Enables Four Snap Mini Apps

Four of the seven Snap Minis, simplified versions of apps on Snap’s Chat section, that Snapchat introduced last month went live on the platform, as reported by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: Snapchat’s relationship with Tencent, a Snap investor who has seen over a million mini apps on its WeChat app, influenced its plan for mini apps, which could lead to increased user engagement on Snapchat.

The details: Designed by developers via HTML, Snap Minis let users perform various tasks without leaving Snapchat. The four mini apps that went live include Headspace, Flashcards, Prediction Master and Let’s Do It. The other three mini apps coming soon include a festival trip planning app by Coachella, a class schedule comparison app called Saturn and Atom’s movie ticketing.

Zoom Downloads Surpass TikTok In Q2

A new report from Sensor Tower shows that Zoom was downloaded over 300 million times worldwide in Q2, outperforming TikTok and making it only the third app in history to surpass 300 million downloads in a three-month period.

Why it matters: Zoom’s popularity has grown since the onset of the pandemic, when businesses shifted to working remotely. In Q1, Zoom’s revenue spiked 169 percent to $328.2 million from a year earlier. The company doubled its revenue forecast for 2020 from $905 million to $1.78 billion.

The details: In Q2, Zoom received 94 million downloads worldwide on iOS devices, beating TikTok’s 71 million installs. On the Google Play store, however, TikTok led the way with 230 million downloads.

Globally, app downloads reached an all-time high of 37.8 billion in Q2, a 31.7 percent increase year-over-year.

Instagram Shop Launches In The US

This week in social media news, Instagrams rolls out Shop in the US, Facebook publishes a report on the pandemic’s impact on small businesses around the world, Snapchat launches brand profiles, YouTube adds a new audience segmentation feature and the Byte app sees a spike in downloads amid a threat of TikTok’s ban in the US.

Instagram Rolls Out Shop In The US

Instagram has launched Instagram Shop, a new destination in the Explore tab where US users can buy products from brands and influencers, after first announcing it in May.

Why it matters: Instagram Shop comes just a day after Snapchat announced Brand Profiles, a permanent home for brands that lets users shop directly in the app and discover brands’ augmented reality (AR) lenses and best snaps.

The details: Instagram Shop will highlight brands, collections curated for Instagram’s social shopping channel @Shop and personalized product recommendations. The double checkout arrows signify which products you can buy directly in the app. Later this year, Instagram will add a Shop tab in the navigation bar to enable one-tap access.

Also coming later this year, Instagram purchases will be powered with Facebook Pay, which was announced last year and lets users shop and make donations across Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Pay will add Purchase Protection to certain products bought on Instagram.

Instagram Shop will be available globally in the coming weeks.

Facebook Publishes Small Business COVID Report

Facebook’s 49-page “Global State of Small Business Report” surveyed 30,000 small business owners across over 50 countries to understand how the pandemic has affected them.

Why it matters: Over 160 million brands use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp every month to engage with customers. To help small businesses manage the pandemic, Facebook recently launched Facebook Shops to simplify online selling.

The details: Facebook found that 26 percent of businesses worldwide had to entirely shut down their business from January to May. In some countries, 50 percent had to close. Tourism and event-related businesses were hit the hardest as 54 percent of tourism agencies and 47 percent of hospitality and event small businesses reported near total closures.

Yet small business owners remain hopeful, with 74 percent that were closed at the time of the survey saying they expect to reopen once stay-at-home orders begin to lift.

Many have pivoted digital, with more than one-half of businesses making at least 25 percent of their sales online in 15 of the countries surveyed.

Snapchat Launches Brand Profiles, Permanent Homes For Businesses

Snapchat is launching a closed beta of Brand Profiles, a home for business profiles on the app featuring four components including branded augmented reality (AR) lenses, a virtual store and story highlights.

Why it matters: In 2019, Snapchat launched “Public Profiles,” a home for influencers’ and shows’ permanent content. Its efforts to boost brand monetization follow Instagram’s announcement of virtual storefronts for businesses.

The details: As per Snapchat:

“With 229 million Snapchatters using the app daily1, this real estate for our partners is especially important in a world where our millennial and Gen Z audiences can be hard to reach and build deep, authentic relationships with on many platforms.”

On their permanent profiles, brands can save and showcase lenses, enable a shopping experience which allows for checkout within the app and highlight their best snaps and photos.

Snapchat says brands will also have access to mobile and web management tools to help collaborate with team members, manage content and check audience demographics and interests.

In the coming months, users can follow the profiles of major brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Target and Louis Vuitton. Snapchat says it will open the platform to more businesses later this year.

YouTube Adds New Audience Retention Tool

YouTube has plans to introduce an informational panel that would show creators other videos their viewers have watched and an updated audience retention chart, according to the YouTube Creator Insider channel.

Why it matters: The feature is among the many updates YouTube has implemented recently to help creators earn more money including enabling mid-roll ads for videos that are eight minutes or longer.

The details: YouTube says it’s planning for a 20 percent launch of the new informational panel by July 15. 

Its new audience retention chart would show creators their retention performance across their channel.

Byte App Downloads Jump Amid Threat Of TikTok’s US Ban

According to Sensor Tower, Byte, the second coming of the Vine app, is seeing a spike in downloads in the US following India’s ban of TikTok.

Why it matters: After India banned TikTok, President Trump said the administration was looking to ban TikTok over privacy concerns and the app’s ties to China. Ever since Vine’s transition to Byte, Byte has been gearing up to directly challenge TikTok.

The details: Sensor Tower’s data shows that Byte reached the top spot on the app store charts last week, with single-day global downloads surging from 126,000 on Wednesday to 622,000 on Thursday.

Snapchat Tests TikTok-Like Swipe Navigation

Snapchat is in the early stages of testing a TikTok-style navigation function that would enable users to browse Snapchat’s discover content via a vertical swiping motion, the company confirmed to TechCrunch.

Why it matters: With President Trump hinting at the removal of TikTok in the US, Snapchat could be looking to attract TikTok’s US audience.

The details: First spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, the vertical swipe feature Snapchat is looking to develop was first popularized by TikTok. A Snapchat spokesperson told TechCrunch that a very small percentage of its users can view the test.

Instagram Adds New IGTV Preview Tools

Instagram has added an option that enables users to edit the preview image and thumbnail for their IGTV videos, as spotted by social media strategist Sumeet Rajpal.

Why it matters: Though small, the update is part of a sequence of new IGTV tools Instagram has launched since it announced IGTV monetization. In April, a new update made it so that users could share the first 15 seconds of their IGTV video in stories, accompanied by an improvement to the display options within the discover tab.

The details: As Rajpal’s screenshot shows, you can control how previews of IGTV videos are displayed, as well as the thumbnail of the IGTV video you want to appear in the discover feed.

YouTube Rolls Out Creator-Focused RPM Metric

YouTube is launching a new “creator-focused metric” called RPM, or Revenue Per Mille, to help creators better track their revenue rate.

Why it matters: The RPM metric is in addition to YouTube’s existing CPM, or Cost Per Mille, metric which displays advertiser spending on ads within YouTube videos. RPM will provide creators with a more holistic view of how their content is performing.

The details: The new RPM metric shows how much a creator earned per 1,000 views. YouTube says RPM is based on multiple revenue sources including ads, channel memberships, YouTube Premium revenue, Super Chat and Super Stickers.

Of course, RPM doesn’t tell a creator’s whole revenue story as it excludes revenue made from selling merchandise, revenue made through brand deals and sponsorships and any other revenue earned indirectly through YouTube.

Black Employees Represent Just 3.9 Percent Of Facebook’s Global Workforce

The number of Hispanic and black people in leadership and technical roles at Facebook has seen nominal growth, the company’s 2020 diversity report shows.

The report provides a breakdown of Facebook’s global workforce by gender and race, as well as type of role—leadership, which includes the director level and above, technical and non-technical.

Since 2014, female leadership roles at Facebook have steadily increased, from 23 percent in 2014 to 34.2 percent this year. However, the progress pales in comparison to the number of male leaders, which although has decreased, remains high, at 65.8 percent (down from 77 percent in 2014).

More men than women work in Facebook’s technical roles too—75.9 percent male vs. 24.1 percent female. Whereas women outnumber the amount of men in non-technical roles at 58.5 percent over 41.5 percent.

Black employees held just two percent of leadership roles in 2014. Today, that number remains low, at 3.4 percent. The number of black employees in technical roles has barely managed to double, growing from one percent in 2014 to 1.7 percent in 2020. 

Black employees have seen the most growth in non-technical roles, those that don’t require specialization and knowledge needed to accomplish mathematical, engineering or scientific related tasks.

Overall, black people account for a mere 3.9 percent of all jobs at Facebook.

Progress in leadership roles for Hispanics has stalled even more—in 2014, Hispanics represented four percent of leadership roles, yet the figure dropped to three percent and stayed there until 2018, when it grew to 3.3 percent. This year, 4.3 percent of Hispanic employees are in leadership roles. The number of Hispanic employees in technical roles has also increased, albeit minimally—from three percent in 2014 to 4.3 percent this year. 

Hispanic employees represent 6.3 percent of Facebook’s global workforce. 

Asians seem to be faring the best across the board, accounting for 44.4 percent of all roles, 25.4 percent of leadership roles, 53.4 percent of technical roles and 24.5 percent of non-technical roles.

Those who identify as two races or more account for 3.4 percent of leadership jobs and 3.2 percent of technical jobs.

Facebook has significantly reduced the amount of white people it employs, with all white-held jobs dropping from 57 percent in 2014 to 41 percent this year.

It appears Facebook is promoting racial equity in other ways. In October 2016, Facebook launched its Supplier Diversity program to help support the growth of diverse suppliers, which it defines as companies certified as owned by minorities, women, disabled people, members of LGBTQ and veterans. Facebook says it has spent over $1.1 billion working with these types of companies in the US, spending $515 million on the program alone in 2019.

In January, Facebook rolled out the Supplier Diversity program globally and committed to spending a minimum of $100 million with black-owned companies.

Twitter Is Developing A Subscription Service

This week in social media news, Twitter is developing a subscription service, Instagram could potentially overtake Twitter as a news source, a Twitter study reveals a mix of ad formats improves brand metrics, YouTube makes videos longer than eight minutes eligible for monetization, civil rights groups criticize Facebook for taking its hate speech efforts lightly and more.

Twitter Is Developing A Subscription Service

According to a job listing, Twitter is recruiting an engineer for its newly formed internal team “Gryphon,” which is “building a subscription platform,” as reported by The Verge.

Why it matters: A subscription service would be a first for Twitter and potentially offer users exclusive content for a monthly fee diversifying its revenue stream.

The details: As per the job posting, Gryphon is “a team of web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the Twitter.com team.” The group’s goal, the job listing adds, is to create a subscription platform that can be reused by other teams in the future.

Instagram To Outpace Twitter As A News Source

New data from Reuters Digital News Report found that Instagram is increasingly becoming a destination for news and could potentially overtake Twitter, eMarketer reports.

Why it matters: If Instagram users begin to interact with more controversial or politically charged news content, advertisers will have to be cautious about brand safety.

The details: The research shows that 11 percent of respondents across 12 countries said they use Instagram for news, compared to the 12 percent who use Twitter for news. Twelve percent of adults in the US specifically said they used Instagram for COVID-related news in April.

Twitter Study Shows Multiple Ad Formats Boost Key Metrics

A new study conducted by Twitter, Magna and IPG Media Lab among 4,000 Twitter users found that diverse ad formats increase consumers’ research intent sixfold and purchase intent twofold.

Why it matters: The findings come on the heels of Twitter’s earnings report, in which the company reported $682 million in Q1 ad sales and said it would not provide guidance for Q2 due to COVID-19.

The details: The results show that Twitter’s “first view” ad format that appears at the head of the content feed on its mobile app is 27 percent more cost-efficient at influencing purchase intent than other ads that appear first. In addition, Twitter’s pre-roll ads lead to an eight percent lift in product awareness and research intent, while its promoted video ads improve viewer perceptions of brand quality nine percent and cultural associations 18 percent.

YouTube Expands Eligibility For Mid-Roll Ads To Shorter Videos

YouTube has announced that starting in late July, videos longer than eight minutes will be eligible for ads shown in the middle of the video. Up until now, only videos that were 10 minutes or longer were eligible for monetization.

Why it matters: The update comes as YouTube’s advertising rates declined by about 50 percent since early February, as reported by OneZero.

The details: YouTube is turning on mid-roll ads for all eligible eight-minute or longer videos, including those videos where a creator may have opted out of mid-roll ads. Creators will ultimately have the final say as YouTube is giving them the option to turn mid-roll ads off if they choose.

After Meeting, Civil Rights Groups Criticize Facebook For Taking Hate Speech Efforts Lightly

According to the Los Angeles Times, after meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, civil rights organizations say Facebook hasn’t taken seriously demands to update its policy around hate speech and misinformation as the advertising boycott against Facebook swells.

Why it matters: Hundreds of brands including REI, Verizon and Coca-Cola announced they will stop advertising on Facebook and/or Instagram during the month of July as part of #StopHateforProfit, a boycott led by civil rights groups.

The details: On Tuesday, civil rights groups engaged in a virtual one-hour forum with top Facebook executives to understand how the platform plans to update its policies around misinformation and hate speech. In a statement after the meeting, co-chief executive officer of Free Press, Jessica González said that the executives didn’t “commit to a timeline,” but instead “delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, one of the organizers of the advertising boycott, told reporters, “Today we saw little and heard just about nothing. The company is functionally flawed.”

Instagram Rolls Out Pinned Comments Feature To All Users

Instagram is rolling out a new feature that enables users to pin up to three comments to the top of their feed post, according to Instagram VP of product, Vishal Shah.

Why it matters: The feature comes after Instagram announced in May it was testing various features meant to give users more control over their Instagram interactions. The pinned comment feature in particular could be Facebook’s way of compensating for its shortcomings in curbing hate speech on Facebook.

The details: As per Shah’s tweet:

Google Introduces New Tools To Help Improve Ad Campaign Performance

Google is adding new tools to manage campaigns on the go, discover keyword and targeting recommendations based on evolving search trends and provide more transparency on how its automated Smart Bidding process works.

Why it matters: The new features will help advertisers identify major shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic.

The details: First, Google is highlighting the value of its Recommendations page to pivot quickly. Though not new, the feature includes more than 16 million keyword recommendations based on market trends. Google says it will roll out recommendations to Google Ads Editor as well as Google Ads API to help advertisers act on recommendations at scale.

Next, Google is implementing Performance Planner, a tool that estimates clicks, conversions and conversion values based on varying spend levels, into Display and App campaigns. The tool was previously only available for Search and Shopping campaigns.

Lastly, advertisers will soon be able to create, monitor and manage portfolio bid strategies across accounts in a single portfolio, as well as understand how their strategies are working via new bid-strategy reports.

In the coming months, Google also plans to provide explanations on how Smart Bidding campaigns work including causes of clicks, impressions and conversions to change.

TikTok Launches Self-Serve Ad Platform

TikTok is launching self-serve ad tools designed to support small and mid-size businesses worldwide.

Why it matters: TikTok’s move to ramp up advertising follows a tumultuous few weeks for the app as it was recently banned in India, its largest market and where it has invested more than $1 billion to build a user base. As a result, it could lose as much as $6 billion. Now, TikTok is leaving Hong Kong after China imposed a controversial national security law there.

The details: With TikTok’s self-serve ad platform, businesses can adjust their spending at any time, choose who to target and use a suite of creative tools to customize campaigns.

TikTok is also rolling out business accounts, which will include a website link and a contact button.

As part of its global “Back-to-Business” program, TikTok committed $100 million in advertising credits to help small and medium-sized brands promote themselves. Both existing brands and new ones are eligible to apply for a one-time free ad credit of up to $300 that must be used by the end of the year. TikTok says it will match any additional spending beyond the $300 credit up to $2,000.

YouTube Clarifies How Its Algorithm Factors In Click-Through Rate

In a new video posted to the Creator Insider channel from the group’s technical team, YouTube product managers Patricia and Rachel explain what role click-through rate (CTR) and average viewer duration (AVD) play in video distribution and performance to clarify how videos get discovered.

Why it matters: The video comes after YouTube introduced its new forthcoming analytics insights display, which will show creators their average CTR and AVD to help them understand how their videos are performing.

The details: The managers explain that sometimes a video with the highest views has the lowest CTR because YouTube shows high distribution videos to a broader audience, one that is less familiar with your work, resulting in lower CTR. To account for this discrepancy when measuring performance, the managers suggest analyzing all available metrics and to keep an eye out for A/B thumbnail testing, which it hopes to have in the long term.

On whether YouTube’s algorithm compares AVD for videos that vary in length, the managers explain: 

“In discovery, we actually look at both relative and absolute watch time, those are both meaningful signals and how your videos are going to be recommended. You would still need to do some cross-referencing, even if we swapped out ‘average view duration’ for ‘average percentage viewed’, because it’s easier for short videos to hit a really high amount of average percentage watched. We can only focus creators on so many metrics, and we chose average view duration because how much time somebody spends with you in your content is a really strong indicator of interest. That being said, we want videos of all lengths to succeed on YouTube, and get discovered.”

Because CTR and AVD don’t always paint the whole picture, the managers say to keep in mind the large competition for audience, that some topics are more popular and that some topics will perform better during certain times of the year.

Twitter Tests A Collaborative Feature For Fleets

Twitter is testing functionality for Fleets, its version of Instagram stories, that would merge two users into a single stream, as spotted by Amrith Shanbhag and confirmed by Twitter.

Why it matters: Instagram has a co-streaming feature for live stories that produces a similar effect, but Twitter seems to be the first company testing a collaborative feature for stories.

The details: As shown in Shanbhag’s post, Twitter’s collaborative feature for Fleets would merge two contributors to create a dual bubble, similar to how it’s displayed on Instagram’s stories bar when two users go live together. Tapping the dual bubble would display the two users’ collaborative Fleet.

As per Twitter:

“We are testing something new for some people using Fleets in Brazil so they can Fleet with another account and everyone can see their conversation for 24 hours. We are trying this to understand how people might use this new way of having conversations in Fleets, as part of our bigger efforts to better serve the public conversation and encourage people to share fleeting thoughts.”

Twitter is currently rolling out Fleets to users in India, South Korea, Italy and Brazil.

LinkedIn Rolls Out Follower Analytics For Pages

This week in social media news, LinkedIn rolls out a new follower analytics tool for pages and an audio name pronunciation feature, Twitch exceeds 5 billion hours watched in Q2, Instagram tests full-screen stories, Unilever, Verizon and Coca-Cola join the Facebook boycott, LinkedIn adds new features to help members give and get support and Instagram tests a voice feature for its Threads app and more.

LinkedIn Rolls Out Follow Analytics For Company Pages And Audio Pronunciation Tool

LinkedIn is adding a new follower analytics tool for company pages, a new audio feature for name pronunciation on user profiles and a process for limiting company page invites, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

Why it matters: LinkedIn’s new follower analytics will provide additional insight about users who are visiting your page, which would help inform the content of your posts.

The new process for limiting company page invites could be LinkedIn’s way of preventing managers from spamming their connections.

The details: Under the Analytics tab, page managers can see a full list of every person that’s followed their page and the month they started following them.

Linked also introduced a new system to limit the amount of times a company page manager can send invitations to their connections to follow their company page. Now, pages are granted 100 credits per month, with each sent invite costing one credit, which is returned when the invite is accepted.

Lastly, LinkedIn is giving users the option of adding an audio recording of up to 10 seconds of their name using an in-app audio recorder to ensure correct pronunciation.

Twitch Exceeds 5 Billion Hours Watched In Q2

Hours watched on Twitch ballooned 62.7 percent to surpass 5 billion hours, an 83.1 percent increase year-over-year, according to a new report from Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet. In addition, Twitch broke records for hours streamed and average concurrent viewership (CCV).

Why it matters: The milestone comes after Twitch exceeded 3 billion hours watched for the first time in Q1.

The details: Twitch also broke its record for the number of hours streamed, which increased 58.7 percent from Q1, an increase of 80.1 percent year-over-year. Also reaching an all-time high is Twitch’s average CCV, which grew by 63.4 percent since Q1. Twitch’s unique channels also saw an increase of 63.9 percent since Q1, a 78.6 percent increase year-over-year. Leading the live streaming industry, Twitch now represents 67.6 percent of the market share, up 2.6 percent from Q1.

YouTube Gaming Live saw a 39.6 percent increase in hours watched and a 19.1 percent increase in hours streamed compared to Q1. At a 15.5 percent increase from Q1, its CCV is at an all-time high. The platform now represents 20 percent of the market share, down two percent from last quarter.

Facebook Gaming is also gaining momentum, as hours watched grew by 48.5 percent, hours streamed by 22.6 percent and CCV by 48.6 percent, a 320.7 percent increase year-over-year.

Mixer reached 106 million hours watched in Q2, up 30.6 percent compared to Q1. Its hours streamed increased by 28.5 percent, or 36.3 million hours, albeit lower than its peak in Q1 2019. Its CCV grew by 34 percent.

LinkedIn Report Shows How The Pandemic Has Impacted Marketers

Sixty-seven percent of marketers said they’re increasing investment in webinars and 56 percent are putting more time into organic social as a result of the pandemic, according to a LinkedIn survey conducted with Vision Critical that surveyed 450 marketers in the first week of May.

Why it matters: The findings put into perspective how marketers’ playbooks are changing as they still try to navigate the uncharted territory that is coronavirus.

The details: The top three challenges marketers are facing during the pandemic include being forced to shift marketing priorities (76 percent), budget cuts (74 percent) and advertising investments and planning (69 percent). Marketers say their top reasons for decreasing spend are budget cuts (72 percent), it’s the wrong time to advertise (30 percent) and leadership doesn’t want to invest in ads right now (24 percent).

Sixty-seven percent say their campaign strategies were somewhat impacted while 18 percent say they were majorly impacted. Forty percent of marketers moved events to virtual while 38 percent paused or canceled them altogether.

The area which marketers have decreased spending the most is events/experiential (80 percent), followed by out-of-home (39 percent) and television (33 percent).

Forty-three percent of marketers say they’ve shifted their target audience to those whose needs changed because of COVID-19, whereas 39 percent have not shifted audience targeting.

Nearly half (47 percent) say their content has become more emotional in nature and 31 percent, more rational in nature. Marketers have added focus to social content, thought leadership and direct customer outreach.

Instagram Tests Full-Screen Stories Experience

Instagram is testing a feature that will allow users to see more stories at the same time, on the home screen and in a new experience that expands stories to full screen, the platform confirmed to TechCrunch.

Why it matters: As of last year, 500 million people, or about half of Instagram’s users, were interacting with stories on a daily basis.

The details: As explained by TechCrunch, in the test, Instagram users will see two rows of stories, instead of one, at the top of their feed. Beneath this expanded stories area, users will be able to click a button “See All Stories,” which will cause a new screen to appear where users can see and scroll through all stories in a full-screen format.

Unilever, Verizon, Coca-Cola Stop Facebook Advertising As Part Of #StopHateforProfit Boycott

Coca-Cola, Unilever and Verizon mark the latest batch of brands to announce they’re stopping all advertising on Facebook in solidarity with a civil rights groups-led boycott meant to curb hate speech and fake news on Facebook called #StopHateforProfit.

Why it matters: According to president and CEO of Analytics Partners, Nancy Smith, that the current spending freezes are occurring near the end of Q2 could imply brands are gearing up to spend on other avenues, such as revamping store concepts suited for warding off coronavirus. Still, at a time when consumers want brands to lead social change, the boycott could represent a win-win for marketers, who, if they had a desire to boycott Facebook previously, either didn’t have the catalyst or other brands on board, says Jesisca Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

The details: In 2019, Unilever spent $42.2 million on Facebook advertising and Verizon, $22.9 million. After Unilever’s announcement, Facebook shares dropped eight percent, erasing nearly $50 billion from its market valuation. Shortly after, Facebook announced it would undergo an external audit with the Media Rating Council to examine its policies around hate speech.

LinkedIn Adds New Features To Help Users Find Jobs 

LinkedIn is rolling out new features to help users more easily find jobs for themselves and others on the platform as well as new post reactions.

Why it matters: The updates are likely in response to the 60 percent surge in content creation year-over-year that LinkedIn observed during lockdowns, a time when users flocked to the platform to share updates about layoffs and offer their services for free to members in need.

The details: LinkedIn already has a feature that lets users privately signal recruiters they’re open to work. Now it’s taking the feature a step further with “Open-To Work,” a feature that adds a photo frame with a green label that reads #OpenToWork to users’ profile pictures.

LinkedIn’s second update, meant to help members lend a hand to their connections, includes an “Offer to Help” option that appears when you start a new post. From there, users can select all the ways they wish to help others, including general help, career coaching, referrals and resume reviews. Users can decide who sees this post.

Lastly, LinkedIn added six new emoji reactions for users to show support for articles and posts.

Instagram Tests Voice Note Feature On Its Thread App

Instagram is testing a feature called Voice Note that would turn the audio of a video into live captions that would appear as the recording plays, as spotted by app developer Alessandro Paluzzi.

Why it matters: The news comes as Twitter recently started rolling out audio tweets for iOS, letting users record up to 140 seconds of audio.

The details: Instagram launched the Threads app in October 2019 as a more intimate version of its app for those who want to share location, status and multimedia with close friends.

Social Media Stocks Continue Falling In The Premarket

Social media stocks continue declining in the premarket following the loss of revenue from advertisers and a call on brands from a coalition of civil rights groups to halt advertising on Facebook.

Why it matters: A reduction in ad investment due to the pandemic has been exacerbated by a boycott that’s gone viral, called #StopHateforProfit. So far, 160 companies announced they would pull ad spend from Facebook in July over the platform’s refusal to remove President Trump’s insensitive messages about Black Lives Matter protests. In an attempt to ease brands’ concerns, Facebook announced new policies to label hate speech and remove certain ads.

The details: Facebook stock is down 3.1 percent, with shares plummeting 8.3 percent on Friday after Unilever pledged its solidarity with #StopHateforProfit.

Twitter and Pinterest, though unaffected by the boycott, are also down 2.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Instagram Enables Advertisers To Create Ads Without Facebook Page Connection

Advertisers in the US and Turkey who are promoting their Instagram posts for the first time can now create Instagram ads without having a presence on Facebook, as reported by Adweek.

Why it matters: As AdWeek notes, some believe the update is Facebook’s way of protecting ad revenue on Instagram from plummeting in the aftermath of the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which has resulted in over 100 brands pulling their Facebook ad spend, including Starbucks, REI and Unilever.  

The details: Most brands have already connected their Instagram profile to Facebook Ad Manager, therefore the update won’t allow them to disconnect their Instagram profile from their Facebook page. For new advertisers in the US and Turkey, advertising separately from Facebook means they’ll have to track performance directly on Instagram.

Pinterest Launches Independent Review Of Workplace Culture

Pinterest’s board of directors convened a new special committee of directors, led by WilmerHale, to conduct an independent internal review of the company’s workplace culture to identify opportunities to improve inclusivity and equity.

Why it matters: The announcement follows a letter Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann sent to Pinterest employees, which details the company’s progress toward addressing racism. Silbermann says Pinterest has strengthened its diverse slate requirement for recruiting, set clear goals to increase the representation of content they display on Pinterest and revamped its unconscious bias and leading inclusive teams training.  

The details: As per Pinterest:

“The WilmerHale review will include an in-depth assessment of Pinterest’s policies and practices concerning discrimination, harassment, and other workplace issues. WilmerHale will also review and assess the way Pinterest evaluates, promotes, and compensates employees and how the company responds to and investigates complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”

Danielle Conley, co-chair of WilmerHale’s anti-discrimination practice and a former associate deputy attorney general at the US department of justice, will lead the team.

LinkedIn Content Creation Is Up 60 Percent Year-Over-Year

LinkedIn is seeing a surge in content creation, consumption and engagement, the company’s director of brand and consumer marketing, Srividya Gopani, told Social Samosa in an interview.

Why it matters: Gopani’s insight follows a report LinkedIn published that highlights which topics are trending amid the pandemic. The findings show there have been the highest spikes in engagement on articles mentioning business continuity (up 144 percent), cloud services (up 78 percent), video streaming (up 71 percent), cybersecurity (up 66 percent), remote working (up 52 percent), virtual reality (up 50 percent) and software (up 46 percent).

The details: Lockdowns have inspired users to focus on their professional lives and help others find jobs and internships, resulting in a 55 percent year-over-year increase in conversations among users globally compared to March 2019, Gopani notes. Additionally, content creation on the platform is up 60 percent year-over-year.

Google Expands Business Messages To Support All Businesses

Google is enabling all brands to integrate its business messages directly with their customer service platforms, providing a quick way for customers to reach them via Google listings.

Why it matters: First launched in 2017, Google’s business messaging has until now been limited to certain businesses and regions.

The details: In addition to expanding direct messaging, Google is adding smart replies and customizable welcome messages to allow customers to get answers directly from a business.  

Google’s messaging solutions are available in English for now, with more language coming shortly.

Instagram Rolls Out TikTok-Like Feature To France And Germany

This week in social media news, Instagram rolls out its TikTok-like function, Reels, to new markets, TikTok announces the formation of its Creator Diversity Collective, CPMs surge by 100 percent in May, Snapchat announces the upcoming premiere of its first shoppable show, Instagram expands ecommerce eligibility to creators and very small businesses, Facebook rolls out a Limited Data Use feature to help brands comply with CCPA and Microsoft says it’s transitioning Mixer to Facebook Gaming.

Instagram Expands Its Reels Feature To More Regions

Instagram is launching its TikTok-like function, Reels, which it first introduced in November 2019 in Brazil, to new markets, as reported by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: Instagram’s gradual expansion of Reels and its broader sharing options could help prevent it from losing users to TikTok.

The details: With Reels, users can make 15-second looping video clips, set them to music and splice them together from various clips. Instagram displays popular Reels in the Explore page, which other users can then remix, similar to TikTok.

Now, Instagram is expanding Reels to France and Germany, as well as introducing new features including the ability to share Reels to both the main feed and stories. For public profiles, Instagram has also added a dedicated section on profiles for Reels.

TikTok Announces Formation Of Creator Diversity Collective

TikTok announced the formation of a Creator Diversity Collective, made up of seven creators who will meet regularly with TikTok employees to share the perspectives of the creator community in order to curb racism and discrimination on the platform.

Why it matters: TikTok’s new diversity group is part of the app’s larger efforts to create an inclusive experience for users and support the black community. In addition to providing clarity around its removal processes of racist content, TikTok will also donate $2 million to organizations that support diversity, $1 million to the Center for Policing Equity, $850,000 in micro-grants to organizations working to undo systemic racism through public policy and $150,000 to black museums across the country.

The details: Following Black Lives Matter protests, TikTok says it invited black creators to a town hall with TikTok’s CEO, head of culture and diversity and additional members of its leadership team to share their concerns and experiences with racism.

The inaugural members of TikTok’s diversity collective will first meet in July. More creators from different backgrounds will join the collective in the coming weeks.

TikTok also announced the addition of Mutale Nkonde to its Content Advisory Council, which it launched in March.

Facebook Rolls Out New Live Producer Tools To More Users

Facebook is rolling out new tools for its Live Producer streaming platform, including graphic overlays, featured comments and a featured link, to more creators, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

Why it matters: The updates will add a level of professionalism to livestreams and help drive more direct traffic from them as viewership of Facebook livestreams has surged 50 percent since January.

The details: Among Facebook’s updates for Live Producer are different kinds of graphic overlays, plus the ability to run polls and display viewer results in real-time, highlight viewer comments at the top of the stream and add a news ticker that scrolls along the foot of the broadcast. A feature link option will also enable users to highlight a website link accompanied by a description.

CPMs Increase 100 Percent In May As Stay-At-Home Restrictions Are Lifted

According to research from Customer Acquisition, CPMs rose from $5 to $10, a 100 percent increase, over the course of May, when officials began easing stay-at-home orders.

Why it matters: The rebound comes after CPMs decreased 250 percent as a result of mandatory lockdowns that began in mid-March.

The details: For one unnamed client with $12 million, Customer Acquisition says CPM surged 284 percent, from $6.11 in the beginning of the pandemic to $17.41 in May.

Snapchat To Stream Its First Shoppable Show Selling Streetwear

During Snapchat’s virtual presentation for the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Content NewFronts, the company announced that this year, it will start streaming its first shoppable show, “The Drop,” featuring streetwear collaborations with designers and celebrities. The company shared additional details on its original programming lineup, as well as updated data about its audience and their behavior.

Why it matters: As consumer behavioral shifts to online shopping accelerate, Snapchat will have to compete with the likes of Instagram and Facebook, which recently launched a feature enabling businesses to create virtual storefronts.

The details: In addition to a streetwear show, Snapchatters can also expect a makeup competition show called “Fake Up,” featuring augmented reality lenses that let users try on the looks that makeup artists create in the show. The second season of Snapchat’s original series about custom cars, “Driven,” which drew in 15 million viewers, will premiere at the end of 2020 or in early 2021.

Snapchat says it now has more US daily active users (DAUs) ages 25 and up than all of Twitter’s monetizable DAU base for all age groups. Snapchat also fueled on average an additional 23 percent reach to television campaigns among advertisers’ target demographics.

Instagram Expands Ecommerce Eligibility To More Businesses, Creators

Instagram is now letting more businesses, including creators, who have at least one eligible product, to sell on the app. It’s also providing transparency on its on-boarding, rejection and integrity check processes.

Why it matters: The move comes shortly after Instagram rolled out Shops, or virtual storefronts for businesses, and after users spotted Instagram testing shopping tags in post captions. The expansion will likely benefit creators and very small businesses who are looking to sell merchandise or jumpstart new ventures.

The details: Instagram expanding access to shopping on the platform will enable any eligible business or creator account with at least one eligible product to use shopping tags to drive customers to their website. The new policy requires these businesses to tag products on Instagram from only one website they own.

Instagram is also providing clearer guidance to businesses into the types of businesses that perform best on Instagram and reasoning for why a business isn’t approved.

Facebook Rolls Out Limited Data Use Feature To Promote CCPA Compliance

Facebook is introducing a new feature called Limited Data Use, which will restrict Facebook’s use of the California data they send to it. The feature was designed to help businesses meet California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations.

Why it matters: Facebook’s new feature will simplify the process of creating separate parameters for users in different regions and ensure compliance with the CCPA.

The details: As per Facebook, “When a business applies this feature, it will direct Facebook to process information about people in California as the business’s Service Provider. That means we will limit how this information is processed as specified in our State-Specific Terms. When Limited Data Use is enabled, businesses may notice an impact to campaign performance and effectiveness, and retargeting and measurement capabilities will be limited.”

Facebook says an initial transition period will automatically limit how it uses California data. After July 31, when the transition period ends, businesses will need to implement the feature to continue data use restrictions, or if the CCPA doesn’t apply to them, they can override the automatic application.

Microsoft To Shut Down Mixer And Transition To Facebook Gaming

Microsoft is shutting down its streaming platform Mixer on July 22 and giving partnered Mixer streams a new home on Facebook Gaming, both companies announced.

Why it matters: Mixer’s transition is part of a larger effort from Xbox and Facebook Gaming to create new games, which currently over 700 million people play in a gaming group on Facebook.

The details: To help Mixer’s community make the transition, Facebook Gaming is granting Mixer partners “partner status” to honor and match all existing partner agreements as closely as possible.

Facebook will grant streamers who were part of Mixer’s open monetization program eligibility for the Facebook Gaming Level Up Program, which will enable them to continue monetizing streams.

Mixer is also doubling payment for all partners’ earnings in the month of June.

Mixer viewers can connect their Mixer account to Facebook Gaming, which will then display the Facebook Pages that correspond to the Mixer channels they currently follow.

Facebook’s NPE Team Launches Forecast App

Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team launched an invite-only beta for a new app called Forecast where members can ask questions and make predictions about the future; first starting with people in the health, research and academic communities to make predictions about COVID’s impact.

Why it matters: The launch comes as brands are boycotting Facebook for its inaction on removing hate speech and preventing misinformation.

The details: The NPE team says conversations will be publicly available on the Forecast website. For now, the app is only available to members in the US and Canada, and on the iOS app. Those who wish to sign up can join the waitlist.

Snapchat Adds New Capabilities To Its Dynamic Ads

Snapchat is adding new capabilities to its Dynamic Ads, the beta launch of which was announced in the US in October 2019, to help brands navigate COVID.

Why it matters: The pandemic has forced brands to pivot digital, including Adidas, who beta tested Snap’s Dynamic Ads recently in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France, leading to a 52 percent growth in return on ad spend (ROAS).

The details: Snapchat is expanding Dynamic Ads to 12 countries including the US, the UK, Canada, France, Norway and Saudi Arabia, among others. Dynamic Ads will now also support websites and mobile apps.

Other features like diagnostic tools that lets brands quickly troubleshoot issues and pre-designed creative templates for product images are part of the update.

Lastly, a “location-aware” feature lets advertisers include geographical coordinates in their catalogs to create a localized experience.

Google Ad Revenue To Drop For The First Time

Google’s U.S. digital ad revenues will decline— 5.3 percent to $39.58 billion by the end of 2020—for the first time since eMarketer began estimating the company’s ad revenues, according to the researcher.

Why it matters: The decline brings Google’s share of the U.S. digital ad market to 29.4 percent, down from 31.6 percent in 2019; compared with eMarketer’s pre-pandemic prediction that its U.S. ad revenues would grow 12.9 percent.

The details: Facebook and Amazon will see increases in their net US ad revenues despite downward revisions for both. Facebook’s net U.S. digital ad revenues will increase 4.9 percent to $31.43 billion while Amazon’s will surge 23.5 percent to $12.75 billion.

Emarketer estimates the total US digital ad market will grow 1.7 percent to $134.66 billion.

YouTube Tests Shoppable Video Ads

YouTube is experimenting with shoppable video ads that include browsable product imagery and “Video action” campaigns to help brands establish a stronger ecommerce presence.

Why it matters: Despite retail stores and restaurants reopening in most parts of the US, the trend of shopping for both essential and non-essential items online is expected to continue. YouTube’s shoppable video ads aim to help brands capitalize on this trend.

The details: YouTube’s shoppable product ads would allow brands to sync their Google Merchant Center feed to their video ads and choose which best-sellers to feature.

In response to marketers cutting budgets due to COVID, YouTube is also launching “Video action” campaigns, which will help drive more conversions across YouTube by bringing video ads that drive action to YouTube’s home feed, watch pages and Google video partners. As part of each campaign, YouTube will also include any future inventory that becomes available, like the “What to Watch Next” feed.

Additionally, Google says it added YouTube to its Google Ads attribution reports to inform campaign budget allocation.

Snapchat Apologizes For Offensive Juneteenth Filter

Users slammed Snapchat for a tone-deaf Juneteenth filter which, in addition to featuring the Pan-African flag in the background, showed the “chains of slavery” being broken when a user smiles. The filter, which has since been removed, prompted Snapchat’s vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Oona King, to issue an apology.

Why it matters: Snapchat’s controversial Juneteenth filter comes after the platform announced it would no longer promote the President’s content in the Discover feed after deciding his tweets in response to Black Lives Matter protests incite racial violence.

The details: As reported by The Verge, King said in a letter to Snapchat employees: “This mistake has taught us a valuable lesson, and I am sincerely sorry that it came at the expense of what we meant to be a respectful commemoration of this important day.”

King also noted that black employees were fully involved in creating and approving the filter but admitted that Snap officials overlooked how it might offend people on a holiday intended to celebrate the end of slavery.

LinkedIn Publishes Virtual Events Playbook

As businesses pivot digital amid the pandemic, LinkedIn has published a virtual events guide on the different uses for LinkedIn Live and LinkedIn Events and how to leverage each to conduct successful virtual events.

Why it matters: LinkedIn’s virtual events guide can help brands connect with audiences until in-person events resume.

The details: LinkedIn says that LinkedIn Live is a good option when you want to achieve top-of-funnel goals such as reach and brand awareness; to get the most out of live broadcast, it recommends sticking to content topics that appeal to your existing audience.

LinkedIn Events, on the other hand, is the better option for when your goal is to build community and reach a targeted audience you want to engage more deeply.

Given not all Pages have access to LinkedIn Live, LinkedIn says the best way to get your Page approved is to make an effort to regularly engage audiences, respond to comments and have over 1,000 followers.

The guide also includes the type of events that work best on LinkedIn—community and brand building events, conferences, targeted-audience events and talent branding.

LinkedIn also hinted at forthcoming updates such as the ability to capture registrations directly on the platform and retarget event attendees.

Spotify Adds Self-Service Video Ads To Its Ad Studio

Spotify is adding self-service video ads to its Ad Studio, citing research that shows running both video ads and audio ads produces higher brand results than running just video ads.

Why it matters: Spotify makes the case for running video ads on the platform: “On other platforms, video ads are often viewed while muted, but on Spotify, listeners are engaging with their sound on, offering a valuable opportunity for your message to be seen and heard.”

The details: Brands can choose to run horizontal or vertical video ads, and will have access to real-time reporting within Ad Studio. Spotify videos ads are available in the US, UK and Canada.

Civil Rights Groups Urge Brands To Pull Spending From Facebook 

The Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Color of Change, Common Sense Media and Sleeping Giants have launched a campaign called #StopHateforProfit, urging brands to stop advertising on Facebook in July in response to its refusal to remove hate speech from the platform.

Why it matters: The movement follows Facebook’s inaction on President Trump’s post about Black Lives Matter protests, which in part reads, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.” Twitter, on the other hand, placed a “public interest notice” on that same message from Trump for violating its policies regarding the glorification of violence.

The details: Organizers of #StopHateforProfit are calling on brands to stop advertising on Facebook’s services in July. So far, Patagonia, REI and North Face have joined the campaign.

Instagram Is Testing Shopping Tags In Post Captions

We’re rounding up the latest social media platform news for marketers. Updated daily.

Instagram Tests Shopping Tags In Post Captions

As spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, Instagram is testing shopping tags in captions among a select group of users, enabling them to add product tags in their captions, which, when tapped, direct you to a shoppable product page.

Why it matters: The test follows Instagram’s announcement of Shops, which would allow brands to set up a digital, customizable storefront via Instagram. Adding shopping tags in post captions would give businesses an added way to reach more consumers.

The details: The feature is reportedly in beta testing with a small group of US accounts that already have access to the Checkout function.  

Twitter Launches Voice Tweets On iOS

Twitter is adding a new wavelengths icon in the tweet composer that would allow users to record up to 140 seconds of audio, or voice tweets, that then appear on people’s timelines alongside other tweets.

Why it matters: As per Twitter, “There’s a lot that can be left unsaid or uninterpreted using text, so we hope voice Tweeting will create a more human experience for listeners and storytellers alike.”

The details: Voice tweets can capture up to 140 seconds of audio. After you reach the time limit, a new voice tweet starts automatically to create a thread. After tapping “done,” you’re taken back to the composer screen to publish the tweet. Twitter says you can continue listening to voice tweets while simultaneously scrolling the feed and doing other things on your phone.

For now, voice tweets are available on iOS to a limited group of people on Twitter, but will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.

Facebook Tests Option That Would Make Saved Collections Public And Followable

Facebook is looking to expand Collections—the saved content option it introduced in December 2019 that enables users to share saved posts, videos and more with each other—with a new option that would allow users to share the Collections publicly and have friends follow them. The update was first spotted by a Twitter user.

Why it matters: The new update could help Facebook gain an advantage over Pinterest, which is currently the go-to platform for curated collections of web content. Facebook told TechCrunch that its goal with publicly shareable collections is to build community and togetherness.

The details: The update means the addition of a sharing button below the collection’s title, which would enable you to share it with a larger group of users. Those who you share the collection with can then add to and comment on the items within it.

Facebook says people have used the feature to share health and wellness information and recipes.

Pinterest Sees Surge In Online Grocery Shopping Activity

The number of online purchases that Pinterest drove to grocery retailers surged nearly 70 percent over February due to lockdowns. Not only do Pinners shop for groceries online more frequently compared to non-Pinners, but they also end up spending more when grocery shopping online.

Why it matters: Pinterest’s study reveals that 65 percent of Pinners are new to online grocery shopping, indicating the need for brands to shift how and where they communicate with those stuck at home.

The details: According to Pinterest, Pinners are 27 percent to 67 percent more likely to grocery shop online when compared to non-Pinners. Additionally, nearly 7 in 10 Pinners shop for groceries online at least once every two weeks, 14 percent higher compared to non-Pinners. Pinners also spend 27 percent more than non-Pinners on online groceries and 14 percent more on personal shopping and delivery.

Instagram To Review Platform’s Inadequacies In Supporting Black Community

Following Black Lives Matter protests, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced Instagram will dive into any disparities some underrepresented groups on the platform experience including racial harassment, account verification criteria, content distribution and algorithmic bias.

Why it matters:
 Over the years, Instagram has received complaints about the app filtering users without transparency, or shadowbanning, and limiting their reach as a result. 

The details: As per Mosseri: “The irony that we’re a platform that stands for elevating Black voices, but at the same time Black people are often harassed, afraid of being ‘shadowbanned’, and disagree with many content takedowns, is not lost on me.”

Instagram’s plan is to explore how Instagram’s products and policies protect black people from harassment; make its verification criteria inclusive; be transparent about how they decide whose posts get distributed; and ensure its technologies are devoid of racial bias.

YouTube Rebrands FameBit To BrandConnect

In a company post, YouTube said it’s evolving its influencer marketplace FameBit to BrandConnect after the average deal size across YouTube’s full-service product grew more than 260 percent over the past two years.

Why it matters: The move comes after FameBit shut down its self-service website, which allowed influencers to independently work with brand partners and comprised four percent of its total payouts to influencers. Shifting to the full-service side of things will allow influencers to earn more money.

The details: For influencers, the shift means enhanced matchmaking with brands; for brands, it means the ability to measure impact and return on investment (ROI) of influencer marketing via Google insights.

YouTube has plans to extend its shopping shelf feature, which lets viewers buy products mentioned in influencers’ videos, to buying or renting movies and shows.

YouTube creators with 25,000 subscribers or more can sign up for BrandConnect in YouTube Studio.

Facebook Explains How Its Ad System Works

As part of its “Good Questions, Real Answers” series, Facebook provided a new overview of how its machine learning decides which ads to show people and common misunderstandings about Facebook ads.

Why it matters:
 Facebook’s overview comes as more businesses seek to reach consumers online during the pandemic.

The details: Facebook says the two main factors that determine which ads to show people are audience targeting selected by advertisers and the results of its ad auction. Facebook decides which ads within the auction to show to people that have the highest total value score, an estimate of how likely that person will take the advertiser’s desired action, which is generated via machine learning. To do this, Facebook’s models take into account the person’s behavior on and off Facebook as well as the ad’s content, the time of day and interactions between people and ads.

Facebook says it doesn’t sell people’s data to advertisers or anyone else and that it doesn’t share personally identifying information unless given permission. It also assures that people’s text messages or phone microphones aren’t used to inform ads or change what content they see.

TikTok Explains Black Lives Matter View Count Display Issue

In the days following the murder of George Floyd by police, TikTok users were disheartened to discover that posts tagged with #GeorgeFloyd and #BlackLivesMatter were showing zero views in the Compose screen, where they prepare their video before uploading. Now, TikTok says the issue was due to inefficiencies in its data flushing system.

Why it matters: TikTok issued an apology to the black community when it first learned of the issue, noting that many assumed it was an intentional act to suppress black voices.

The details: TikTok says the hashtag count view piled up due to a data lagging issue which it says will be prevented moving forward via an updated design of the system.

Snapchat Announces Range Of New AR Features

At its virtual 2020 Snap Partner Summit, Snapchat said it plans to roll out a variety of new augmented reality features such as local lenses and visual and audio scan options, as well as micro-apps called Snap Minis, a Happening Now feature to keep users up to date with the latest news and millions of listings for businesses around the world with the ability to order food within the app.

Why it matters: Tapping into its users’ penchant for AR—over 170 million Snapchatters engage with AR daily nearly 30 times every day—will allow Snapchat to compete with Facebook.

The details: Snapchat’s new Local lenses will enable users to virtually paint and edit certain buildings and landmarks, with the same actions visible to other users in the app.

Snapchat has partnered with providers to expand its scan options with Lenses; Dog Scanner, for example, will recognize dog breeds, and Nutrition Scanner will rate the quality of ingredients in packaged foods.

A new Voice Scan option will also provide Lens results based on voice commands.

Snapchat is also giving developers the chance to reach Snap’s audience via Snap Minis, a micro-apps initiative from its SnapKit platform.

In addition to officially announcing a new function bar, Snapchat is rolling out a “Topics options for Stories, which serve the same function as hashtags but through stickers instead of words.

Launching in the US this week, a new “Happening Now” feature within Discover will deliver news stories from partners like NBC News, ESPN and The Washington Post, among others.

Snapchat is also highlighting popular stores and places with information about their location, hours of operation and reviews.

Snapchat has plans to add AR functionality to its original shows, allowing users to learn dance moves, for example, via custom motion tracking lenses that track a user’s every step.

Snapchat has partnered with Headspace to expand its mental wellbeing resource “Here For You” with new tools like meditations and resources.

Lastly, Snapchat introduced a new learning portal called Snap Focus featuring six courses to educate agencies and marketers about its suite of ad products.

Google Rolls Out New Tools In Response To Surge In Time Spent Watching CTV

Google is introducing a series of tools in Display & Video 360 to simplify how digital media buyers find and secure ad inventory as they quickly move to video streaming advertising.

Why it matters: Google says that as a result of lockdown, available connected television (CTV) inventory on Display & Video 360’s surged by 75 percent.

The details: Google has created a dedicated television section in Marketplace that enables marketers to find and negotiate deals via filter options based on geo or streaming device type. Through this new interface, which Google will roll out in the next few weeks, marketers can also send requests for proposals to publishers directly.

Google also announced two new ready-to-buy options. The first option, called auction packages, bundles inventory from top publishers into deals that don’t require negotiating. The second option involves the expansion of YouTube Select’s dedicated streaming television lineup to Display & Video 360 buyers in the US.

To accompany these updates, Google has also added a new workflow called the “OTT line item” for buying television ads across screens. The line item automatically picks inventory from CTV apps.

Facebook Continues Developing AI Tools To Create Personalized Shopping Experiences

New Facebook research that has been published details its new developments on enhancing personalized shopping experiences, including an algorithm that identifies fashion trends from images taken from around the world and a 3D-enabled tool that recommends clothing based on body types.

Why it matters: Facebook’s efforts contribute to its long-term vision to build an “all-in-one AI lifestyle assistant that can accurately search and rank billions of products, while personalizing to individual tastes.”

The details: To pinpoint a fashion trend’s origin, Facebook is working on an AI model that calculates the degree of fashion influence between cities from geolocated, time-stamped images of people, which can then predict future popular styles in any location.

Facebook is also working on a system called Animatable Reconstruction of Clothes Humans (ARCH), which would allow people to see how they look wearing clothes in a range of poses, environments and lighting.

An automatic approach to recommending clothing to people based on their body shapes, called VIsual Body-aware Embedding (ViBE), is also in the works.

Pinterest Pledges $1.5 Million To Racial Justice Initiatives

This week in social media news, Pinterest pledges $1.5 million to support racial justice, TikTok apologizes to black creators for a glitch that made it seem like it was suppressing views of videos tagged with #BlackLivesMatter, LinkedIn’s latest learning report reveals CEOs value learning more since the pandemic, Snapchat decides to no longer promote President Trump’s account on its Discover tab and Reddit’s former CEO calls out the platform for fueling white supremacy.

Pinterest Pledges $1.5 Million Toward Racial Justice Initiatives

On Blackout Tuesday, Pinterest expressed a commitment to taking action against racism and injustice via donations, education and sensitivity toward ads after hosting an open conversation internally with its entire staff.

Why it matters: Pinterest’s stand on Black Lives Matter follows the company’s slight progress toward diversity, which its sixth annual diversity report revealed in January; it increased hiring rates for underrepresented minority employees across the company from 12 percent to 14 percent. The percentage of underrepresented minorities that make up Pinterest employees also grew from three percent in 2015 to nine percent in 2019 to 10 percent in 2020.

The details: Steps Pinterest is taking toward a more racially just workplace include: elevating resources for how parents can talk to their children about systemic racism in the US; delivering content on Pinterest that represents people from diverse backgrounds; not serving ads on Black Lives Matter results; increasing diversity of senior leaders; donating 25,000 shares of stock (worth about $500,000) to organizations committed to racial justice; investing $250,000 to help rebuild local businesses damaged in the protests and donating $750,000 in paid media organizations to support racial justice.

TikTok Apologizes To Black Creators About Technical Glitch On #BlackLivesMatter Videos

After a technical glitch that made it appear as though TikTok was suppressing black creators’ videos around the murder by police of George Floyd, TikTok announced it will donate $3 million from its Community Relief Fund to non-profits that support the black community and $1 million toward fighting racial injustice, though it didn’t specify how the latter funds would be allocated.

Why it matters: TikTok’s message in support of improving black users’ experiences comes after black creators and allies changed their profile pictures in a stance against how they felt the black community was being marginalized on TikTok after “a technical glitch made it temporarily appear as if posts uploaded using #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd would receive 0 views.”

The details: TikTok says it’s committed to examining any of its policies that might diminish diversity on its platform by investing in technology and moderation strategies, establishing a creator diversity council, engaging experts to analyze how its products can better serve people of all background and developing a creator portal to expand opportunities for its broader creator community. 

On Blackout Tuesday, the platform silenced its playlists and campaigns on the Sounds page in observance of the initiative.

LinkedIn Report Reveals Time Spent Learning Has Significantly Grown In Pandemic

For its latest report, LinkedIn Learning surveyed 900 learning and development pros and 3,000 learners in May to understand their behavioral patterns in the pandemic and how organizations plan to approach learning strategies in the year ahead.

Why it matters: LinkedIn found that employees are spending 130 percent more time on learning and there’s been a 301 percent increase in professionals joining learning groups since the pandemic, suggesting learning’s strategic role in navigating the pandemic and change as people continue working from home.

The details: Highlights from the report include: 70 percent of respondents said their CEOs are active champions of learning, up from 27 percent in March; 68 percent of learning and development pros say that managers are actively promoting more learning resources to their team than before the pandemic; and 75 percent of learning and development pros expect an increase in social learning, where learners engage with colleagues and instructors around topics.

Snapchat Removes President Trump’s Account From Discover Tab

Snapchat is removing President Trump’s verified account from the Discover tab after concluding that his recent tweets around nationwide protests promoted violence, as reported by The Verge.

Why it matters: Trump’s Snapchat following more than tripled over the past year, to 1.5 million followers, in part due to regular promotion in Snapchat’s Discover tab, as part of a tactic to engage Snapchat’s young audience ahead of the 2020 election. But after Trump’s controversial tweets around the protests of the police killing of George Floyd, which were placed by Twitter behind warning screens for glorifying violence, Snapchat took action; unlike Facebook, which has decided to leave up Trump’s cross-posted tweets on Facebook.

The details: In a message to employees, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said:

“As for Snapchat, we simply cannot promote accounts in America that are linked to people who incite racial violence, whether they do so on or off our platform. Our Discover content platform is a curated platform, where we decide what we promote. We have spoken time and again about working hard to make a positive impact, and we will walk the talk with the content we promote on Snapchat. We may continue to allow divisive people to maintain an account on Snapchat, as long as the content that is published on Snapchat is consistent with our community guidelines, but we will not promote that account or content in any way.”

Reddit’s Former CEO Accuses Platform Of Monetizing White Supremacy  

Former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao took to Twitter to call out Reddit for nurturing “white supremacy and hate all day long” in response to a letter current Reddit CEO Steve Huffman posted about the platform’s intolerance for racism amidst Black Lives Matter protests.

Why it matters: During her time as Reddit interim CEO, from 2014-2015, Pao banned some of the platform’s most abusive subreddits. Since then she’s called out Reddit for the group-trolling associated with the subreddit “The_Donald.”

The details: Pao’s tweet reads: “I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM [Black Lives Matter] when reddit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”