Takeaways From Elon Musk’s Live Twitter Q&A

As Twitter boss Elon Musk faces advertiser flight and brewing controversy over his layoff of thousands of Twitter employees, including 15% of its Trust and Safety staff, he took to Twitter Spaces to respond to questions and deliver his take on the last few weeks. We’re sharing six takeaways based on participants’ questions below.

Musk knows that his personal brand is co-mingled with Twitter’s—and that it can be an issue.

“Twitter cannot simply be some extension of me because then anyone who doesn’t agree with me will be put off. So, Twitter must be as a platform as neutral as possible. That doesn’t mean I am. But it is important to have broad acceptance, and the platform be neutral and as inclusive as possible to the widest demographic possible. That is the only path to success”.

Brands want scale, relevance, brand safety, suitability and the ability to measure ROI: Twitter has got some serious work to do in these areas.

“I think we’re probably not doing great on any of them. We’re doing okay on some (of these); we’re terrible at relevance. And one of the ways we’re going to address that is by integrating ads into recommended tweets. So the relevance of recommended tweets is much better than the relevance of the ads. Because they’re two different engines, we need to have them be the same software stack. So I’ve reorganized Twitter software from having three different software groups to having one, that’s occurred just in the past week. So we really need to improve the relevance of the ads. If an ad is highly relevant and timely, then it’s really information. Like, it’s something you might actually want to buy when you want to buy it, that’s great. But if it’s something you’d never want to buy, then it’s annoying. And it’s spam. And that doesn’t serve the advertiser or the user. So that’s incredibly important to improve that. So that’s a major priority. And I think you’ll see that get way better in the coming months.”

Musk sees brand safety as a key driving factor in advertisers’ willingness to work with Twitter.

“When I hear brand safety, what I think I’m hearing is that we need to make sure that the brand overall is protected reputationally in the long term. So that, you know, there may be something that drives short-term sales, but it’s next to hateful content. And that may drive short-term sales, but it’s ultimately detrimental in the long term. So if I would put myself in the CEO / CMO position of any advertiser, I’d say, ‘Well, I want to make sure we do drive sales in the short term, but we’re also not doing anything that damages our reputation in the long term.’ So we obviously need to address both shorter and long-term factors.

Video is a key area that Musk plans to develop on Twitter and eventually connect to verified profiles

Video is definitely an area where Twitter has been historically weak, and it is an area that we’re going to invest in tremendously. I did ask people what (they thought) about Vine, not that we would want to resurrect Vine in its original state, but just would they want a ‘Vine-like’ thing, but reimagined for the future. And people were excited about that,” Musk said.

He continued on the topic of increasing video length for verified Twitter users: “There are a bunch of fundamental tech technology architecture changes needed at Twitter to support significant video. So, we’ve got to make those core software upgrades and server upgrades to support a large amount of video, but we are going to do that. It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Musk envisions Twitter as a future ecosystem for content creators to monetize their content and manage earnings easily

We also need to enable the monetization of content for creators. And if we provide creators with the ability to post what they create on our platform, and to monetize it, at a rate that is at least competitive with the alternatives, then, of course, creators will natively post their content on Twitter; why not? So those are, those are kind of no-brainer moves. Then – tied to paid verified accounts from someone who has been authenticated by the sort of conventional payment system. Now we can say like, okay, you’ve got a balance on your account. Do you want to send money to someone or money to someone else [on] Twitter? And maybe we pre-populate the account and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna give you 10 bucks, and you can send it anywhere within Twitter. Then if you want to execute, get it out of the system, then, okay, well, now you send it to bank accounts, attach an authenticated bank account to your Twitter account, then the next step would be this offer an extremely compelling money market account to get an extremely high yield on your balance, then why not move cash into Twitter? And then add debit cards, checks and whatnot. And I think it will just basically make the system as useful as possible. And the more useful and entertaining it is, the more people will use it.

Musk sees Twitter as a future hub of one-click social shopping

We’ve got a lot to do on the software side, I can’t emphasize that enough. So we’ve got to write a lot of code here. And we’ve got to change a bunch of the existing code base. We want advertising to be highly relevant and timely. How do we get the ad to be as close to content as possible? I mean, if you are shown an opportunity to buy something that you actually want when you want it, that’s great. That’s content. Then from a commerce standpoint, if you’re able to buy things quickly, you know, effortlessly on Twitter, with one click, that’s like—that’s great. Like, the more we don’t want to make buying things inconvenient or require, you know, going through many steps, the easier it is to get to obtain the product or service that you want, the better it is for the user.

TikTok Made Me Play It: Four Takeaways From TikTok’s First Gaming Webinar

TikTok recently hosted a webinar to showcase the platform’s most successful use cases in game discovery. The webinar, introduced by TikTok’s Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions, highlighted TikTok’s success as a game discovery platform as well as its ability to provide new collaboration opportunities for brands. Other hosts included:

  • Assaf Sagy, Head of Global Gaming, Global Business Solutions, TikTok
  • Julia Victor, Head of Brand – The Sims, Electronic Arts
  • Naor Itzhak, Senior Director of Creative Marketing, Playtika
  • Sami Thessman, VP of Global Marketing, 2K
  • Ioana Hreninciuc, Chief Product Officer, Homa Games
  • Vincent Tan, Senior Marketing Manager, VNG

Below, we’re sharing four key takeaways from the event.

Cultural Shifts Have Transformed The Way Game Marketers Launch And Promote Games

According to Chandlee, TikTok is benefiting from game publishers’ desire to create more impactful marketing campaigns by taking a different view on how to approach gamers.

“Leading publishers are completely changing the way people discover and play their games,” Chandlee told attendees. “They’re building mainstream culture through entertainment. They’re innovating and finding new players for their games through organic and paid [search] and running live event campaigns.”

“Gaming is now mainstream entertainment. They’re not only about playing anymore; they’re about engaging with culture,” Sagy said. “This shift in consumer behavior also drove evolution in our industry. Leading publishers have elevated their strategies. They’re now focused on launching games [to a] mass market. They’re targeting very broad audiences. They’re building cultures around their games as entertainment brands. With TikTok, you can build the hype required for a successful launch and can engage with mass audiences rapidly. You can design a culture around your game driven by the power of the community and generate performance results in the next few minutes.”

TikTok Is A Must For Game Publishers Seeking New Audiences

According to the company, TikTok has produced some exceptional metrics in game discovery and game brand engagement:

  • 75 percent of TikTok gamers discovered new gaming content on TikTok.
  • 41 percent of TikTok gamers co-created on TikTok.
  • TikTok mobile gamers are 70 percent more likely to talk about games on social media.

TikTok Users Are Active Gamers Who Convert Frequently

TikTok users game frequently and respond to messaging around gaming well. According to data gathered by the social media giant’s research partner, marketers who employed TikTok as a component of their marketing strategy saw high conversion rates:

  • 41 percent of users downloaded the game.
  • 26 percent purchased to play.

There Is A Shift From Long-Form To Short-Form Content, And Game Publishers Are Owning It

TikTok boasts one billion users and those users have helped the platform amass billions of hours of gaming content views. Game publishers and gamers are dominating on TikTok. It’s not just because gaming lends itself to quick and addictive Let’s Plays, but because TikTok users see the platform as a place to discover new brands and engage with them. According to the company:

  • On average, TikTok’s gaming audience follows 12 Business Accounts.
  • 61 percent of TikTok users see brands more favorably if they create or participate in a trend on TikTok.
  • TikTok followers are 191 percent more likely to like or comment than non-followers.

View the entire webinar here.

Twexit: Why It May Be Time To Rethink Social Channels (But Not Run Away)

Like Brexit, very smart, professional people have convincing arguments for abandoning Twitter or staying on board and riding through the (possible) storm. The dustup is causing brand advertisers are rethinking their platform strategies. But shouldn’t everyone?

What The Little Bird Already Told Us

As he famously requested by carrying a bathroom sink into Twitter headquarters, corporate America let Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter sink in, and then some brands jumped ship—or put their Twitter strategy on hold. It isn’t just that Musk says and does a lot of controversial things or that—as in the case of General Motors and Ford—he also runs a direct competitor to their businesses. The concern is what could happen to Twitter, according to at least 12 major brands that requested their agency of record to pause their Twitter campaigns, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Many brands and influencers have voiced concern about Twitter sliding into questionable territory with respect to fringe politics. To Twitter’s credit, the company already admitted many of its issues, ranging from algorithmic bias to audience measurement, long before Musk bought the company.

In October 2021, the company told the BBC that its algorithms were causing the platform to surface some content in users’ feeds based on political alignment. After reviewing millions of Tweets sent in 2020, Twitter’s researchers presented evidence that its algorithms automatically promoted content with specific political leanings in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.

Twitter has also made no secret of its issues with audience estimation. In August, the company revealed that 23 million accounts, representing 8.5 percent of its user base, were bots. The company also stated in September that it had overstated its audience by nearly two million since 2017, according to the Financial Times. This is not a huge percentage of its total user base, but it matters. Also, Twitter’s heavy tweeters, which account for less than 10 percent of users, generate 90 percent of the platform’s content and half of its revenue. According to Reuters, an internal report states that heavy tweeters have been in steady decline since 2020.

Then, there is the issue of problematic ad placement. Just last month, Coca-Cola, Disney, Dyson, Forbes, PBS Kids, and others found their ads next to tweets soliciting child pornography and subsequently paused or canceled their campaigns. The issue isn’t due to a lack of vigilance on Twitter’s part, however. It appears to be an issue of scale. If Twitter, or any other social media platform, is unable to identify and block inappropriate content, algorithms simply do their work and place ads where they are likely to find an interested audience.

According to The Verge, a research team assessing Twitter’s ability to detect exploitative content at scale consistently admitted the platform currently lacked the tools necessary to launch its version of an adult content business with a paywall, as it was still struggling to manage its existing filtering efforts. According to The Verge, which quoted an internal Twitter report, Twitter’s efforts to filter out offensive or illegal content—the type of posts the platform bans in its terms of service—sometimes fail, and if these failings continue unchecked, it may place Twitter at “legal and reputational risk.”

But that’s the kind of risk that social media platforms and brands with their own online communities face constantly. Twitter’s issues are social media issues: A change in Twitter’s leadership may make those posting inappropriate content feel like it may be easier to fly under the radar; there’s no place that will be friction-free for brands.

Fleeing Twitter won’t solve fundamental technical and human resource problems that make it difficult for social media platforms to keep ads and inappropriate content apart. That’s also true for other problems like audience measurement and algorithmic bias: they are everywhere and brand marketers must do the work—monitoring and calling out inconsistencies in brand safety policies or performance reporting—wherever they land in social media. Considering a Twexit? Here are three things to keep in mind:

It’s Time To Decouple Audience From Platforms

It may be wise to rethink social media strategy and decouple a pursuit of audience from a specific platform. Your Twitter audience is also likely elsewhere on social, so focus on content and the value that your messaging will bring at that moment. Your messaging should be relevant to your audience wherever they are. If your audience leaves Twitter, your marketing strategy should be agile enough to adapt quickly.

Leaving A Platform Means Leaving Its Unique Context—And Its Potential For User Engagement

According to Hootsuite, 65 percent of Twitter users lean toward or identify as Democrats, 42 percent hold college degrees, second only to LinkedIn, and 30 percent are women. While only 0.2 percent of Twitter users use the platform exclusively, your messaging may miss a vital context for specific audience segments. When building brand awareness, be just as audience-aware as you are context-savvy. Deliver a message that makes sense for your potential audience and for how they tend to interact with content or ads on Twitter as opposed to other platforms.

Be Vigilant: Don’t Leave Your Brand’s Safety To An Algorithm—Anywhere

Keep up with brand safety standards (like Twitter’s) and, if possible, keep tabs on the keywords users employ to arrive at content that appears next to your ads through your ad manager. While Meta is introducing a new tool to show brands where their ads appear in users’ feeds and allow them to block post content types on a more granular level, Twitter’s new boss has promised to help keep brands safe but offered no specifics. That may change, but brands can protect themselves best by maintaining and keeping watch over ad placements and ensuring that marketing strategy plans include trusted brand-safe environments that can accommodate campaigns if (or when) a Twitter-exit becomes necessary.

TikTok Amps Up Brand Appeal With Ad Tech Tools

This week in social media news, we’re looking at the launch of TikTok World, Kanye West’s new social platform purchase aspirations as well as a new brand activation in Roblox from Invisalign.

Welcome To TikTok World

TikTok launched TikTok World, its global product summit, on October 13th by presenting a slew of user engagement features and ad performance monitoring tools designed to make the platform more appealing and user-friendly to brand marketers.

The Details:

TikTok announced a new performance monitoring tool called ‘Focused View’, which will charge advertisers based on user attention and engagement rates. Advertisers only pay when users interact with an ad or watch an ad for six seconds. This may help advertisers get better insights into their ad spend and craft their campaigns around unique user behaviors (like rapid swiping past ads) that can make it harder to judge true engagement. The company also added new customization capabilities to its lead generation forms, a ‘Showtimes’ ad unit for movies that allows users to see showtimes and buy tickets in-stream, and new search options its creator marketplace that may help brands find the right influencer more easily.

Why It Matters:

Boasting more than 1 billion monthly users, with an average 80 minutes per day of viewing by the average American viewer, TikTok earned more ad revenue than Twitter and Snapchat combined in 2022. But the platform has recently experienced controversy over the possible influence of its ownership by China-based ByteDance and even a high-profile misfire—such as the ultimately reversed effort to expand TikTok Shop, the company’s live e-commerce feature in July after lackluster customer engagement. Many brand marketers see an immense opportunity in TikTok, but many remain hesitant: About half of the world’s biggest brands have no TikTok presence. TikTok may hope to change that by enhancing its ad tech tools. 

Kanye West Wants To Purchase Parler

After Kanye West was pilloried for recent anti-semitic comments and a denial that George Floyd was murdered and banned from Twitter and Instagram, the performer announced that he is following Elon Musk and intends on purchasing a major social media platform. 

The Details:

Parler, which billed itself as a home for social conservatives, was briefly shut down by Amazon Web Services after the Jan. 6 attack on the capital for doing too little to monitor and report messages and posts promoting violence. The company, once valued at $1 billion, has struggled to regain followers after its shut down by Amazon web services.

Why It Matters:

Parler’s downloads increased ten-fold in the aftermath of January 6th before the website was shut down. Whether those users were simply joining out of curiosity or seeking like minds, a divided country appears to be developing an equally divided social media universe. The increased attention social media companies are devoting to influencers making inflammatory statements post-Jan. 6 means that more unpredictable influencers may be creating their own echo chambers in the near future.  

Smart Shopping App Karma Offers Single Checkout, Multi-Brand Shopping

Smart shopping app Karma has launched a single-swipe checkout option for shoppers. Once consumers enter their payment details, they can shop at multiple stores and websites and choose their payment options, ranging from credit and debit to installment plans.

The Details:

Pay With Karma allows consumers to pay the lowest price and choose from a range of payment methods without paying separately at each store.

Why it Matters:

Simplified payment options make it easier for brands to lead consumers from engaging with deals-focused content to a purchase. This also means that price-conscious consumers will have more options to comparison shop, making the “other” motivations for conversion, like customer service and brand affinity, important components of a successful campaign. 

Social Campaign Spotlight: Invisalign In Roblox’s LiveTopia 

This August, Invisalign created an “interactive dentist office” in Roblox’s Livetopia.

The Details:

The campaign, created by Publicis Groupe, Starcom and IF7, makes a dentist’s office an explorable open world with examination rooms and two mini-games. The games allow users to play through the challenges of traditional braces and explore the benefits of the Invisalign product by chewing gum, eating popcorn and corn on the cob, and then joining a football game. Since its launch, 2.1 million users have interacted with the “Invisalign Confidence” experience.

Why it Matters:

Brands are becoming more creative in the way they leverage the unique features of virtual space. Instead of simply relying on banner-like branded content, the most successful campaigns are making metaverse experiences that feel native to their environment because they enhance or add features to the experience consumers want.

What Marketers Need To Get Right About Social Commerce

Consumers are returning more items than ever before when buying from social commerce marketplaces: Marketers should be aware of why some aren’t coming back after a purchasing misfire.

Social Commerce Is Popular, But Trust Is An Issue

SimplicityDX’s Social Commerce Returns Survey asked 1,002 U.S. consumers about their perceptions of their shopping experiences.

While 82% of consumers are shopping through Facebook-branded marketplaces (52% via peer-to-peer shopping), Instagram is consumers’ destination of choice for name-brand products (15% of sales), with TikTok serving 9% of social commerce shoppers.

Regardless of where shoppers are finding products, their choice to shop on social commerce rather than, say, Amazon is either because they’ve engaged with an ad or branded content, or because they are searching for something not found easily on an alternative site. That makes user experience critical for brands selling on social commerce marketplaces.

SimplicityDX’s findings revealed that a single negative experience could transform consumer perceptions of social commerce. After making a return, 66 percent of social commerce shoppers stated that they are unlikely to purchase via a social commerce marketplace again and would exercise caution if, at some point, they decided to do so.

According to a recent survey by Accenture, nearly half of consumers who shop via social channels do not trust that their purchases are secure and anticipate that returns will be an issue. Social commerce shoppers ranked easy returns and refunds, clear product descriptions and images and loyalty rewards as their top three priorities. When consumers are unhappy with the user experience on social shopping journeys, they tend to bail on the experience, and for users flush with shopping alternatives, it may be hard to convert them a second time.

That means brand marketers’ efforts to drive sales through social channels may be wasted if user experience falls short. The study shows that 49 percent of consumers who made a return after purchasing on a social commerce marketplace stated that they would prefer to buy directly from the brand in the future—just 17 percent were willing to chance another social commerce purchase again.

Of course, this looks like an opportunity for brands—even if consumers are dissatisfied with a social commerce storefront. The problem is that a consumer simply Googling for their favorite brand might end up anywhere, with consumers purchasing from private resellers on eBay, Amazon, Etsy or even sites selling knock-offs.

User experience on social commerce sites really matters. Thankfully, marketers aren’t powerless to protect their brands. Below, we’re listing three rules to employ when developing social commerce campaigns or launching a new storefront:

Ensure that the shopper’s journey is simple and value-focused.

Users don’t want complexity when they look for new items or make a purchase. Make sure that checkout processes are smooth and easy to navigate (or use a platform plug-in that makes this easy).

Make it easy to view and learn about new items without too many clicks.

It is easy to lose sight of what consumers really want when the temptation to overwhelm users with content is so strong. Shopping on social commerce sites should be as effortless as reading a news feed—consumers don’t want to work at learning about a product when they are in lean-back mode.

Make social commerce more rewarding than going to their favorite ecommerce site.

Everyone loves rewards, but social commerce shoppers are in a unique position that makes rewarding them rewarding for marketers as well. When consumers are shopping on their social media accounts, they are already connected to other consumers who value their opinion—making them happy with rewards, a great deal or a fun shopping experience can transform them into instant brand ambassadors. 

The bonus for getting social commerce right? According to the Accenture study mentioned above, social commerce shoppers are two times as likely to buy from a brand they’ve never heard of before and also twice as likely to buy a bundle of recommended products as other shoppers.

Snapchat’s AR Gambit: What Marketers Should Know

Snapchat’s AR offerings may be a sleeping giant for brand marketers seeking to engage Gen Z users resistant to traditional banner or video ads.

Why Marketers Shouldn’t Overlook Snap 

Snapchat has 347 million daily users who spend an average of 27 minutes a day on the site—that’s more active viewers than the entire population of the U.S. and just three minutes less than Facebook. Snapchat also has great demographic engagement for those seeking to reach 13-34 year-olds. According to the company, 75 percent of millennials and Gen Z use Snapchat, and most of these users are also Instagram and TikTok users. Brand marketers can reach the same audiences on those sites through Snapchat—with the added benefit of engaging creative options like AR.

Outside – There Be AR Dragons

Before HBO’s House of the Dragon launched on August 21, Snap helped HBO bring the show’s iconic dragons to life through a dragon-themed AR lens. Snap’s selfie Lens allows users to transform their image into a fire-breathing dragon and fly and interact with other dragons in worldview mode.

Customized location-based AR experiences for Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro, London, Mumbai and Prague will continue to roll out throughout the season. HBO’s use of AR with Snap is telling, with an estimated $100 million in media spend available for House of the Dragon. Why AR for a network that could seemingly spend almost “anything” on “anything?” Well, they work, according to a recent study, even better than many traditional ad formats. According to a recent study by Magna Global, AR ads perform just as well as pre-roll video ads for brands and outperform them when it comes to purchasing intent and consumers stating that the ad made them feel closer to the brand and excited about using the product or service. Per the report, those results were uniformly positive among respondents in Australia, Canada, France, and The US—with purchase intent showing a 13 percent boost at the beginning of the sales journey after the initial viewing. 

How Marketers Can Use AR To Boost Brand Engagement

AR has plenty of non-fantasy applications to offer brand marketers. Here are just three:

Product Interactions

Leveraging AR technology to get users to engage virtually can be a powerful tool for promoting brand recall. According to the Magna Global report, 70 percent of consumers surveyed reported that a virtual try-on option would boost their purchase intent.

Adding AR Into The Mix Of Retargeted Ads Or A New Ad Sequence

Users already on a purchase journey may react best to an engaging AR ad. Users in the middle of an ad sequence showed a 27 percent increase in their “excitement about the brand.”

Use AR As A Content Alternative

AR delivers what few other ad formats can: a user’s full attention. Getting a consumer to sit still and consume ad content is hard work—but not when it is engaging—and AR goes a long way to deliver on the “fun” aspect of content by gamifying interactions. 

A big plus for brand marketers seeking to dabble in AR is that 63% of Snapchat users, about 200 million people, interact with an AR feature daily, according to the company. Whether marketers use an influencer to promote preexisting AR content or develop original content, AR can be a painless way to bring a brand into the metaverse.

What YouTube’s New Podcast Play Means For Brand Marketers

According to a recent survey of 3,000 consumers aged 13 and up by Luminate, YouTube edged out Spotify and Apple Podcasts as the most used platform to listen to podcasts—but there’s a catch: A lot of it is actually video.

The Details:

Luminate’s Podcast360 report reveals that 78 percent of consumers surveyed use YouTube to discover new podcasts and keep up with favorites. That makes sense: YouTube adds an extra layer of immersion to podcast listening—video—and it also gives creators the opportunity to share extras—like links in their bios, images or other video clips that audio-only listeners miss.

According to the Luminate study, 59 percent of podcast listeners watch their podcasts on a video platform, with YouTube as the undisputed leader. That power is not lost on YouTube, which is facing competition from TikTok and Snap for users’ attention. The difference is that for advertisers seeking to reach Gen Z and millennials, YouTube has the lion’s share of users’ attention when it comes to content. According to eMarketer, two-thirds of the U.S. population visits YouTube at least once per month. That’s a huge audience that could be primed for new podcast discovery and that could help increase YouTube’s online engagement rates. Approximately 104 million Americans listen to podcasts on a regular basis and 66 percent of those listeners who identify as podcast fans are 18-34, per BuzzSprout. Boosting YouTube’s podcast appeal may not only keep young podcast fans online, but it may also help YouTube reach aging populations like millennials who, along with Gen Z, show respectable rates of daily podcast listening (both 32 percent of those who listen to podcasts) according to S&P Global

This brings context to YouTube’s recent, US-only launch of a dedicated homepage for podcasts. The page will not only help users find their favorite podcast content and discover new ones, but it may also be part of an A/B test to get emergent creators excited about shifting their brands to YouTube from its competitors over time. While purportedly leaked plans for an expanded podcast strategy hints at practical improvements for creators (like RSS uploads), YouTube’s soft launch may have been nudged along by TikTok’s reported plans to launch a music service. YouTube is currently offering incentives of up to $300k to creators willing to deliver video versions of popular podcasts, according to 9to5Google. Merging formats as a creator is a lot easier when there is a search, ads and video behemoth like Google behind an offer. While TikTok has a powerful draw for Gen Z viewers, YouTube is still the OG with a powerful ad network, analytics and brand name penetration among all demographics, not just the kids. Only about 42% of millennials use TikTok, while 82 percent use YouTube.

What It Means For Marketers:

There will be some intriguing opportunities for brand marketers to get in on the “ground floor” of YouTube’s podcast push. Podcast creators and influencers looking to expand their content range may find YouTube eager for quality content. The good news for brand marketers is not just that there are opportunities to reach new audiences with creative ad formats. There will be new content options, too. Creatives can deliver powerful branded content, from fiction to video/podcast hybrids that take advantage of YouTube’s live-streaming and watch party features to drive new levels of brand engagement. But it may take a while for YouTube to roll out all of its planned creator goodies. That gives marketers some breathing space to create a strategy that can leverage creator relationships to develop exciting new content formats.

Check out YouTube’s new page here.

TikTok Is Testing Snapchat Copy ‘Nearby’ Feature

TikTok’s rapid ascendance has taken vertical content and mobile viewing to new heights yet unrealized by Snapchat and now to seemingly pour more salt in that wound, TikTok is stealing what was arguably Snapchat’s best feature: being able to see what’s going on nearby.

Given the level of niche insights into an individual’s interests, the TikTok version of this feature has the potential to be highly targeted, just like its For You page algorithm.

A foodie? How about these cool places nearby where other folks have been filming TikTok’s? Big on travel? Check out these hotels for a top-tier staycation.

Currently, the Nearby feature is only appearing for some users at the moment and has been fully confirmed by TechCrunch.

“We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience,” a spokesperson for TikTok replied via na email to TechCrunch.

It appears that location tags on the app are about to get far more important and brands with physical retail presence should begin to incentivize consumers to tag their locations as much as possible.

Instagram also ripped a searchable map tool as of July this year, signaling that we could soon have enhanced geo-targeting capabilities on social platforms beyond where people live, but also places they frequent and support.

Social Roundup: Why “Tik-Tokifying” Social Media May Not Work

This week in social media news, we’re taking a look at the TikTokification of social media and efforts to ‘dress down’ and decentralize platforms.

Why “Tik-Tokifying” Social Media May Not Work

It makes sense that Instagram and other platforms are making TikTok-like content available to its users: Short, addictive videos drive views and boost advertising dollars. That’s important for social companies like Meta, which has dropped its ad prices for two quarters.

But just because something works doesn’t mean it will work anywhere. Instagram faced significant backlash over its introduction of full-screen video and photo posts, and not just from the Kardashian clan.

Why it Matters:

The kids—and the celebrities—made it clear that a home feed featuring full-screen video was like, the opposite of fire. After Kylie Jenner announced to her 360 million fans that Instagram should “Stop trying to be tiktok i just want to see cute photos of my friends,” the company took steps to walk back its test of the formats in just five days. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, even tweeted his own video explaining that it’s all gonna be OK; Instagram would eventually pivot towards video (because that was what people were sharing most) but that the shift would be painless. His video was met with a bit of high-octane snark from Chrissy Tiegen, who tweeted back, “We don’t want to make videos, Adam.” The issue isn’t just that users are grumbling about algorithm-driven marketing, it’s that influencers are too. Like platforms, they know their audiences well, but they also understand that imitation is no substitute for innovation. Sometimes engagement is purpose and context-driven: users may head to Instagram for cute pics of their friends, as Kylie Jenner said, but they may not want to get TikTok-like videos in their “cute pic” destination unless it delivers something that TikTok can’t.

Niche Launches A Decentralized, Community-Driven Social Media Platform

Niche is a new network of digital communities that plans to create a Web 3.0 reimagining of the social network. Co-Founder and CEO Christopher Gulczynski was co-creator and CPO of Bumble, and Zaven Nahapetyan was co-founder, CCO, and patented co-inventor of “the swipe” feature for Tinder. That’s serious tech cred, but their innovative approach to user experience is even more intriguing. Instead of targeted ads, Niche will use “Niche Clubs,” permission-based, user-owned communities where users own and sell their own content. Users earn tokens that can be used for shopping, event admission, membership upgrades or exchanged for cash.

Why It Matters:

Decentralized anything is a big deal in tech, but the idea of extracting value from one’s own online activities and engagement is a new spin on an old idea that didn’t quite strike gold in the late 90s and early 2000s. There were more than a few startups that planned to redistribute cash to people who “surfed the web,” but the technology—and the audience—really wasn’t there. Now, networks boast hundreds of millions of followers, and even relatively new networks can garner billions in value relatively quickly. If Niche can give users control over their community interactivity and content engagement data and allow them to share that data with select brands as a quantifiable value, they may be able to make social media work for people as hard as it does for advertisers.

Why Not Just Be Real? The French Want To Know.

Finally, a look at BeReal, a no-frills photo-sharing app and product of the nation that brought us Being and Nothingness.

BeReal doesn’t have any filters to hide those stray hairs or dark circles under your eyes. It’s pretty much as advertised: it has a lot of people doing random things like drinking coffee or getting ready to board a plane. The retro element isn’t just kitsch, it is pretty radical for an era when an unfiltered photo is a rare sighting on social media.

According to The Hill, the app recently ranked No. 1 on Apple’s App Store for free apps, beating TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Why it Matters:

People aren’t yet anti-influencers on social media (and may never be), but regular people may be the new hotness for audiences jaded by content or social media that obscures authentic, spontaneous experiences. BeReal—and the type of user-generated content it showcases—may be a refreshing vacation for consumers who want to see themselves represented more often online.

Meta’s Creator Economy Gamble, Snap’s Response To Naysayers

This week, Meta announced Music Revenue Sharing, a new monetization option for its Facebook platform designed to lure creators back to its ad ecosystem. In other news, Snap’s gloomy numbers proved that making money consistently from user-generated content is hard for billion-dollar platforms, too.

Meta announced today that it was launching a new program on its Facebook platform that would allow creators to use licensed music in their Facebook videos and earn a share of in-stream ad revenue. Creators using other artists’ music in popular videos is a tender spot for Google’s YouTube, which has faced backlash for its proactive approach to copyright enforcement, such as its removal of Lofi Girl’s livestreams. Removing friction from content monetization for new or less popular creators allows Meta to serve as a talent incubator for “micro” influencers: Those new voices will likely stay with the platform that helps them grow their audience—especially when they do not have to worry about music licensing conflicts and can earn as they build their community.

Why it matters:

Google may own search, but Meta, which also counts Instagram, What’s App, Messenger and Meta the VR platform, among its properties, still owns social. Meta reports that 77% of internet users (3.59 billion people) use at least one Meta platform or app every month. More people have joined Facebook this year, with monthly users standing at 2.91 billion, an increase of 6% over last year. That gives it an edge over YouTube, which has 2.6 billion active monthly users. 

The details: 

Facebook’s advantage isn’t just in the numbers: It has an arsenal of channels for consumers to create, share and earn from videos shared in their social circles: Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, and the ever-evolving Meta platform. Presently, the company claims that over one billion stories are shared each day through its platform networks. If Meta can convince users that they don’t have to leave the Meta-verse to easily monetize their niche videos by allowing them to benefit from Facebook’s powerful search tools to tag their content along with popular music titles, they may be able to gain an enduring advantage over YouTube, which cannot replicate Meta’s ability to integrate its community features with new video monetization possibilities. 

Nonetheless, YouTube viewers spend an average of 18 minutes watching videos on the platform. While Facebook users spend an average of 33 minutes on the site, their engagement time is divided between social interactions and content consumption. YouTube’s status as the premier social video platform is not going away anytime soon, and its legacy as the home of the original video influencers like Markiplier means that it can mine its own universe of megawatt talent to create new branded content viewing opportunities for users. Because viewers go to YouTube specifically to watch videos, not chitchat with grandma or send snark to their high school nemesis, it offers brands an opportunity to deliver content designed for deep, un-distracted engagement.

Big Picture: Snap makes it clear it knows what it is doing

Matt McGowan, country leader for Snap Canada, posted this on his personal LinkedIn page regarding the company’s recent numbers:

“We all know Q2 2022 was a challenging quarter. Given this tough operating environment, I must say I am nothing but proud to (1) work alongside such a strong, transparent and thoughtful team like Team Snap Inc. and (2) to be able to share the following strong growth story

  • User Growth: We saw strong 18% year-over-year daily active user (DAU) growth.
  • AR: We continue our leadership in augmented reality, as over 250 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day.
  • Content: In Q2, overall time spent watching content globally grew year-over-year, driven primarily by growth in total time spent with content on Discover and Spotlight. 
  • Discover: More than 40 Discover channels reached over 25 million global viewers each.
  • Spotlight: Total time spent watching Spotlight content grew 59% year-over-year. Spotlight monthly active users (MAU) grew 46% year-over-year to reach more than 270 million in Q2.
  • Content & Age 25+: The daily average number of Snapchatters aged 25 and older engaging with shows and publisher content increased by more than 40% year-over-year.
  • Snap Map: Engagement with our Map continues to grow, with over 300 million Snapchatters engaging with the Map each month.
  • Revenue: Global revenue grew 13% year-over-year to $1.11 billion.”

While McGowan’s full-throated defense may seem a bit generous to the company, ad revenues are down for other big names too, not just Snap. Brands and investors are juggling worries about the global economy with the need to engage audiences, and that puts newer kids on the block like Snap on the defensive, even when their overall user numbers are up along with user engagement rates. Meta and Alphabet (owner of Google) and other companies dependent on ad revenue lost around $80bn in combined stock market value on Thursday, per The Guardian. While investors remain skittish, brands still have to put their ad dollars somewhere. That means platforms that can prove their worth to users and advertisers have a chance to gain market share.

Bottom line:

Meta, Google and Snap are fighting for the same prize: Users’ engagement and advertisers’ trust. As advertisers become warier of where their ad dollars are going, they will likely have less tolerance for monetization tools that are not user-friendly, clunky UI’s that distract users from content, or business models that impede creators’ ability to draw eyes to their content. That means platforms must provide advertisers with creative ways to not only get and keep audiences engaged but also ensure that fan-favorite creators—like Lofi Girl and others—stay happy and online.