TikTok Surpasses 2 Billion Downloads After Strong Quarter

This week in social media news, TikTok surpasses 2 billion downloads, Instagram launches a new live donations feature, WhatsApp increases its group video chat participant limit from four to eight, Facebook announces a virtual ceremony for the graduating classes of 2020 and TikTok rolls out an interactive donation sticker.

TikTok Surpasses 2 Billion Downloads

Sensor Tower reports that TikTok and its Chinese version, Douyin, have exceeded 2 billion downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Why it matters: The milestone makes TikTok the first app after WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger to top 2 billion downloads since Sensor Tower’s data analysis started in January 2014.

The details: In January 2020 TikTok surpassed 1.5 billion downloads. Now, Sensor Tower data shows in the quarter ending on March 31 TikTok was downloaded 315 million times, the highest amount of downloads for any app in a quarter. Comparatively, WhatsApp saw 250 million downloads in Q1 2020. To date users have spent nearly $456.7 million on TikTok, 72.3 percent of which has come from China; US TikTok users have spent about $86.5 million to date. In India TikTok has been downloaded 611 million times, accounting for 30.3 percent of the app’s downloads.

Facebook Reports 3 Billion Total Users Across Its Platforms

Facebook’s latest earnings report reveals double-digit increases in users and revenue, namely 2.6 billion monthly active users (MAUs) to date.

Why it matters: Despite the increased engagement, Facebook expects it will lose some of this added momentum once pandemic restrictions are relaxed, and warn of slowing ad growth as a result of COVID-19.

The details: Facebook reported revenue of $17.74 billion in Q1. In the last three weeks of Q1, it says it experienced a significant reduction in the demand for advertising and a decline in the pricing of its ads. Facebook also added 105 million users in Q1, a 10 percent increase year over year.

LinkedIn Reaches 690 Million Members

Microsoft’s Q3 2020 performance report shows LinkedIn increased total members from 675 million in January to 690 million for the quarter that ended March 31.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a dramatic lift in engagement on LinkedIn, with the platform reporting 4 million hours of content watched on Linkedin Learning in March, a nearly 50 percent increase month over month. In addition, LinkedIn Live streams are up 158 percent since February.

The details: Microsoft says LinkedIn sessions are up 26 percent for the quarter while revenue is up 21 percent.

Google Makes Video Streaming Platform Google Meet Free To Everyone

In a product updates blog, Google announced that it’s making Google Meet, its video conferencing platform, free for everyone, with availability rolling out over the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Up until now, access to Google Meet was limited to paying G Suite customers. 

The details: Google says Meet’s peak daily usage has grown 30x. As of the week ending April 24,  Meet’s daily meeting participants exceed 100 million. Now, up to 100 people can use Google Meet at one time, for up to 60 minutes. Users can sign up to be notified when the free version of Meet is available.

Google emphasized the security of Meet, noting it provides a strong set of host controls and denies anonymous users to join meetings. Meet users, Google says, can also enroll their account in Google’s Advanced Protection Program to prevent phishing and account hijacking.

Snapchat Is Working On AR Campaigns With New Brands

Snapchat is using its Snap Camera webcam to create new integrated augmented reality (AR) campaigns with brands like Universal and L’Oréal.

Why it matters: Downloads of the Snap Camera app jumped 30x since the beginning of the pandemic, plus 75 percent of Snapchat’s daily active users now engage with AR content every day.

The details: Snapchat partnered with Universal to promote its “Trolls World Tour” movie via AR-enabled Trolls masks available on Snap Camera. Recently, L’Oréal released eight custom branded AR lenses on Snap Camera, available for one week in a dedicated “beauty” section on the platform’s opening page. With these lenses, users can virtually try on different looks on screen.

YouTube Tests “Products In This Video” Tool 

YouTube is testing a tool called “Products in this Video” that would detect and show which products are mentioned in the video with visual elements overlaid on the video and below it.

Why it matters: The tool would provide more specific product matches and enable a simpler way to shop products through links.

The details: As per YouTube, “For example, in a ‘top 10 smartphones in 2020’ video, some viewers will see an icon on the video, along with more information below, listing the phone models included in the video.”

Instagram Rolls Out Live Donations Feature

Instagram has announced a new donation feature for Instagram Live that lets people raise money in real-time for nonprofits.

Why it matters: Live Donations is the latest effort from Instagram to help support communities affected by COVID-19. In March, the platform said it was rolling out its stories’ donation sticker in more countries.

The details: With Live Donations, users can see how many people are supporting your fundraiser and the amount of money raised in real-time. The feature also provides a breakdown of your donors and individual contributions. Users can thank donors by tapping “Wave.” Live Donations can be accessed by tapping the camera in the top left of the feed or by swiping right in the feed. In addition, Instagram partnered with a Brazilian illustrator to create a custom “I Donated” sticker, accessible after you’ve donated to a nonprofit fundraiser on Instagram Live or stories.

WhatsApp Launches 8-Person Group Video Chat Feature

WhatsApp’s group video and voice calls now support eight participants, up from four, the company said in a blog post.

Why it matters: WhatsApp reports that over the last month, people on average spent over 15 billion minutes talking daily on WhatsApp calls.

The details: To utilize the new higher participant limit, users need to update to the latest version of WhatsApp.

Facebook To Broadcast Virtual 2020 Graduation With Oprah Winfrey

On May 15 at 11 a.m. PST, Facebook is broadcasting a live #Graduation2020 with a commencement address from Oprah Winfrey, and additional celebrity appearances and performances. The virtual ceremony will acknowledge US high schools and colleges by name, state by state, including photos and videos of graduating classes. The ceremony video will be shared on Facebook Watch, with highlights posted to Instagram’s eponymous account.

Why it matters: Facebook’s virtual activation will give both Facebook and Instagram grads a reason to celebrate graduation on social media despite schools being closed throughout summer.

The details: In addition to a commencement given by Oprah Winfrey, celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Awkwafina, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles will “share words of wisdom for the class of 2020,” and Miley Cyrus will perform her song, “The Climb.”

Facebook and Instagram are also adding a variety of creative tools to help grads celebrate the occasion, including a virtual graduation hub and custom filters on Facebook, as well as a grad countdown sticker, AR effects and grad-related songs added to the music stickers on Instagram.

TikTok Introduces Donation Stickers

TikTok’s new in-app feature Donation Stickers, enabled by fundraising platform Tiltify, lets users raise funds for their favorite charities within their videos and live streams. TikTok plans to match the user donations made through the feature until May 27.

Why it matters: TikTok is the latest social platform to beef up its donation feature amid coronavirus.

The details: TikTok’s interactive Donation Stickers can be embedded directly in user videos and in TikTok Live streams. Upon tapping a Donation Sticker, a pop-up window appears where users can submit a donation without leaving the app. The hashtag #doubleyourimpact will be automatically added to videos and live streams that use the donation feature.

Facebook Named Leading Platform For Consuming Coronavirus News

A survey from Flixed among over 1,000 people about their media consumption found that a majority of people are getting their news content from Facebook. 

Why it matters: As Facebook told The New York Times, the platform has seen an “unprecedented increase in the consumption of news articles,” with US traffic from Facebook to other sites experiencing a 50 percent increase.

The details: More than a third of respondents (35.8 percent) named Facebook as their primary social media platform for discovering coronavirus news, followed by Twitter (17 percent), YouTube (16.3 percent) and Reddit (12.4 percent). Those who identified Reddit as their primary coronavirus news source, however, were the most likely to say their mental health had worsened. 

Snapchat Announces A New Way For Brands To Advertise

Snapchat’s new offering, First Commercial, lets brands buy the first commercial any user sees before the first Snapchat show they watch that day, as reported by Adweek.

Why it matters: According to Snapchat’s vice president of global agency partnerships David Roter, First Commercial comes after Snapchat noticed “a good amount of marketplace demand for a premium takeover” over the past year.

The details: First Commercial will be available on shows like Snap Originals, Good Luck America, Nikita Unfiltered, Complex’s Hot Ones and NBC’s Stay Tuned. First Commercial will initially be offered through direct sales then programmatically. AT&T is one of the first brands to have tested the feature.

Facebook To Introduce Virtual Dating On Messenger

Facebook is working on a new video calling feature that will allow Facebook Dating users to video call over Messenger.

Why it matters: Facebook’s announcement comes after many rival dating apps have pivoted to video as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to provide a safe alternative to real-world dates.

The details: With the new video calling feature, online daters can invite a match to a virtual date and the recipient can either accept or decline the invitation. If they accept, the users will be connected in a video chat powered by Messenger.

TikTok Launches Gift-Giving Program Called Small Gestures

Together with its brand partners in beauty, music, gaming and more, TikTok is launching a new program called Small Gestures that lets users send gifts for free to friends and family amid the pandemic.

Why it matters: With the program, TikTok’s brand partners like Adobe, Pandora and DoorDash can remain top-of-mind for the platform’s Gen Z audience.

The details: TikTok is offering Small Gestures for free to all users to send gifts up to three separate times. Gifts include a three-month membership to Adobe Premiere Rush, a one-month free DashPass subscription from DoorDash and a 90-day trial subscription to Pandora. Other brand partners involved include Fitplan, Square Enix, REBBL, Talkspace, Skillshare, The Bouqs Co., Alo Moves and Fluent Forever. Users can browse the partner offerings by searching for “Small Gestures” on the Discover page and clicking the purple banner.

WhatsApp Sees 70 Percent Reduction In Virality Of Highly Forwarded Messages

After introducing a new restriction earlier this month, WhatsApp says the spread of “highly forwarded” messages sent on the app has decreased by 70 percent globally.

Why it matters: The new restriction will help mitigate user concerns in India where viral hoaxes about the coronavirus pandemic have been circulating on WhatsApp.

The details: On April 7, WhatsApp rolled out an update that restricts users from sending “frequently forwarded” messages more than once to a person or a group, down from five. In 2018, WhatsApp introduced a similar limit that restarted users from forwarding a message to over five people or groups at once, leading to a 25 percent drop in message forwards in two years.

Facebook Adds New Features To Workplace Platform

Facebook Workplace announced several new features to help businesses better navigate the impact of the pandemic based on feedback from users.

Why it matters: As stay-at-home orders remain in effect, professional work apps must tailor user experiences and features to teleworking.

The details: Facebook says the two main areas where they’ve learned organizations need support are communicating critical information with their entire business in real-time and having the information accessible to everyone, and ensuring employees feel supported and listened to during coronavirus. To help with the former, Facebook Workplace is launching Knowledge Library, “a single place to create, store and share static content like working from home advice or HR . . .” In addition, Facebook has created “Draft for,” a feature that lets users draft posts on behalf of executives who can review, approve and publish. To support employee wellbeing, Facebook Workplace has introduced “Safety Alerts” to enable companies to send standalone alerts that provide updates or context on an incident without requiring a response. A new Q&A-style post has also been created to enable quick feedback to employees.

Facebook Rolls Out Several New Video Chat And Live Features 

With real-time video usage at an all-time high, Facebook is rolling out a video chat tool called Messenger Rooms and several other features to help users stay connected on Facebook Live and Instagram Live.

Why it matters: According to Facebook, between WhatsApp and Messenger, over 700 million accounts participate in calls daily. In addition, video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled in many countries. 

The details: Users can start and share Messenger Rooms through Messenger or Facebook via the news feed, groups and events, with the ability to join from mobile or desktop. They can also invite anyone to join the Room, even if they don’t have a Facebook account, as well as lock a Room if they don’t want anyone else to enter.

Facebook also said it’s expanding WhatsApp group voice and video calls with up to eight people.

After seeing a surge in views of Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos in March, Facebook is reviving “Live With,” a feature that lets users add another person into the live video, and giving Pages the ability to charge for access to events with Facebook Live videos. To help raise money, users can add a donate button to Live videos. Those who have a spotty connection have the option to listen to the audio-only on Facebook Live videos. Lastly, gamers can livestream games from their phone to Facebook using the platform’s new dedicated gaming app, available on Google Play.

Pinterest Rolls Out Resources, Tools For Creators And Small Businesses

This week in social media news, Pinterest announces new creative specialty partners and rolls out resources to support small businesses, Snapchat reports a 44 percent year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 and Zoom announces a forthcoming feature that would allow hosts to report participants.

Pinterest Introduces New Tools For Creators, Small Businesses

Timed for quarantine, Pinterest announced Adobe Spark, Over, PicMonkey and Canvas as new creative specialty partners, launched the Pinterest Creators brand and rolled out a new community that provides online support for small- and medium-size business accounts.

Why it matters: Like most social platforms, Pinterest has seen a surge in usage during coronavirus, especially in regard to shopping activity, which it recently supported with the launch of a new shopping feature that lets Pinners shop from Pins, boards and from search. Coupled with this shopping feature and its new online hub for small businesses, Pinterest could be a more valuable platform for businesses looking to maintain activity.

The details: In addition to adding trusted creative specialty partners for creating and designing Pins from business accounts, Pinterest has developed a brand for its Pinterest creators. As per Pinterest: “Pinterest creators are expressive, inventive and one-of-a-kind, and new resources and ongoing communications identified through the new brand are aimed at supporting creators with the tools to help them grow on Pinterest.”

Pinterest plans to launch tools for business accounts that offer feedback and tips on growing their reach on the platform. It will also expand its free e-learning tool, Pinterest Academy, which is being supplemented by a video series called “Mavens,” in which creators share their experiences with Pinterest.

Facebook Pilots Location Feature For High-Reach Pages, Instagram Accounts

Leading up to the election, Facebook says it will now provide the location of high-reach Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts on every post they share to increase transparency.

Why it matters: The addition builds on Facebook’s transparency efforts. In 2018, it included the primary country location of the managers behind Pages, and an “About This Account” feature on Instagram that provides more context for people to evaluate the authenticity of an account. 

The details: Facebook is piloting the feature in the US, starting with Pages and Instagram accounts that are based outside the US but reach big audiences based primarily in the US.

Twitter Releases Data On Video And Ad Performance Amid Coronavirus

Twitter conducted a survey to measure consumer sentiment towards brands during coronavirus and to explore the state of ad and video performance on Twitter.

Why it matters: While many brands have reduced the amount of ads during the pandemic in fear of coming across as insensitive, it’s interesting to note that just 37 percent of US Twitter users believe it’s insensitive for brands to continue advertising as normal.

The details: Twitter reports that as of March 23, 2020, its quarter-to-date monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) grew by 23 percent year-over-year to 164 million. The platform has also noticed higher video consumption, with stable year-over-year growth in watch time in entertainment (85 percent), news (73 percent), creator content (34 percent) and sports (31 percent). Twitter says ad receptivity “remains strong,” with Media Rating Council video view rates having increased by 5.5 percentage points in March 2020 compared to last year.

In terms of advertising, 89 percent of respondents said it’s important for brands to provide reliable and accurate information, 86 percent said it’s important for brands to help support society’s vulnerable and 82 percent said it’s important for brands to support frontline staff and workers.

Facebook Rolls Out New “Animate” Feature For Stories

Facebook has added a new tool that lets users animate still images in four ways, on stories, according to social media expert Matt Navarra.

Why it matters: The animate feature is another tool for stories Facebook is testing including a mood option and a feature that would allow stories to last up to three days.

The details: With the animate feature, users can add basic motion to still images via four modes—bounce, zoom in, zoom out and pan.

TikTok Enables Login, Video Uploads And Analytics On Desktop

TikTok just added a new web login option which will allow users to upload videos and view their analytics via desktop, as spotted by Pentos.

Why it matters: As social media usage is up and people are still stuck at home, TikTok has followed in the footsteps of Instagram which recently enabled DMs and Instagram live streams on desktop.

The details: The web login option appears on the top right screen of TikTok’s trending page. Once logged in, users can access basic account information and browse the feed.

Snapchat Q1 2020 Report Shows Increased Users And Revenue

Snapchat’s Q1 2020 earnings report shows stable increases in daily active users (DAU) and revenue amid coronavirus. 

Why it matters: While many advertisers have reduced budgets due to the pandemic, Snapchat experienced high revenue growth rates in the first two months of the quarter, reporting year-over-year ad growth in January and February at 58 percent. The figure dropped to 25 percent in March.

The details: Snapchat saw an increase of 11 million DAU to 229 million, a 20 percent jump in active users year-over-year. The majority of new users came from its “Rest of the World” category while 2 million came from users in North America. According to its average revenue per user, however, Snapchat sees 3.5 times more revenue per user in the US. The app’s overall revenue grew by 44 percent year-over-year to $462 million in Q1.

Instagram Tests Stickers For Promoting Business Profiles

Instagram is working on a “Share Professional” sticker which would allow users to introduce business profiles in a story, according to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong.

Why it matters: The feature comes amid Instagram’s efforts to help promote small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic including the recent launch of a gift card, food order and fundraiser sticker for stories and profiles.

The details: Per Wong, the sticker would include a header that pulls in thumbnails of a brand’s most recent three posts on Instagram, and would link to the brand’s account. 

Zoom Hosts Can Soon Report Participants 

According to an update posted to its Help Center, Zoom will soon let hosts report meeting participants to avoid misuse of the platform.

Why it matters: The safety feature comes after Zoom has become the target for harassment by “Zoombombers” as usage has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: As per Zoom: “Account owners and admins can now enable a setting to allow the host to report participants to Zoom. This feature will generate a report which will be sent to the Zoom Trust and Safety team to evaluate any misuse of the platform and block a user if necessary. This setting is available at the account, group, and user level and can be locked at the group or account level. This setting requires the Zoom client version which will be released on April 26, 2020.”

Facebook Backtracks On Campaign Budget Optimization Mandate

Facebook is giving advertisers flexibility in their buying strategies by no longer requiring them to use its Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) feature, as reported by Search Engine Land.

Why it matters: In September 2019 Facebook planned to mandate CBO-only campaigns, which utilizes the platform’s algorithm to automatically optimize budget allocation on ads in a campaign. Some advertisers, however, weren’t having it, noting that they saw better results when they had control over budgets. 

The details: A Facebook spokesperson said, “While we still believe CBO provides performance and value gains, we will move to offering CBO as an option and not as a requirement.”

LinkedIn Tests Poll Option For Posts And Presentation Mode Hashtag

LinkedIn is working on its own poll option for posts that would allow users to ask followers questions as well as a “presentation mode” hashtag tool which would display the broader conversation associated with a specific hashtag, according to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong. 

Why it matters: LinkedIn groups previously had access to polls until the platform removed the feature in 2014. Resurrecting the tool and making it available to all users could be helpful for group admins to gather relevant feedback from group members and for brands to gain audience insight.  

The “presentation mode” hashtag could be useful for encouraging event attendees to engage with an event-specific hashtag.

The details: Though LinkedIn hasn’t officially announced the poll option, Wong’s observations show it would be made available within users’ post composer options. Users would be able to add a question and up to four possible answers, and set the duration of the poll. 

For its hashtag search tool, upon selecting a hashtag, LinkedIn would display a full-screen feed of posts using that hashtag.

Pinterest Releases April Global Micro-Trends Amid Coronavirus

In a company post, Pinterest shared what’s trending around the world in quarantine life for the month of April including supporting small businesses and searching for family bonding games.

Why it matters: Understanding Pinners’ behavior could help brands and retailers craft their messaging and inform ad spend during the pandemic.

The details: According to Pinterest, users around the globe are increasingly searching for bread recipes, with searches for salty croissants up 1,532 percent in Argentina and searches for Japanese brioche up 1,081 percent in France. As Pinners are stuck at home, they’re looking for ways to apply their creativity and connect with family members: Searches for family games have increased by 5,000 percent in Argentina, 2,830 percent in Spain and 1,863 percent in the US. Pinners are also looking for ways to support small businesses and healthcare workers as searches for “support small businesses” are up 746 percent in the US and 3,124 percent in Australia.

Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming App On Android

Facebook released its dedicated gaming app on Android two months prior to its scheduled June launch, with an iOS version coming in the near future.

Why it matters: According to the New York Times, Facebook’s gaming investment has led to over 700 million of the site’s 2.5 billion users actively playing games on the platform monthly. The early launch of its devoted gaming app was timed well as users are stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: The dedicated Facebook gaming app includes a Go Live streaming feature which lets users share gaming streams directly to their Facebook page, a game discovery feature that allows game discovery through friends’ activities and by category breakdown and a chat platform feature.

Facebook Expands Fundraisers To India 

Facebook has launched Fundraisers, a page where users can raise money for causes, friends and businesses, to India, where it’s also working with several additional Indian state governments to provide accurate coronavirus information, as reported by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: India is one of Facebook’s biggest markets by user base. Its expansion of Fundraisers there follows its efforts to fight coronavirus misinformation. Recently, it launched an information center in India that includes information from local government agencies and global health organizations, and an information hub on WhatsApp. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp also launched helplines in India in partnership with the Indian government, with Facebook now maintaining partnerships with 11 state governments in India for its WhatsApp helpline and 9 state governments for Messenger.

The details: Ajit Mohan, the head of Facebook in India, said: “At a time when the country is in the middle of an unprecedented effort to fight the outbreak of the virus, we are deeply aware of the economic impact of the disruption in normal life. Communities around the country need help. Facebook Fundraisers allows people to leverage the full scale and power of the platform, and their passion, to direct resources to initiatives that can protect and save lives.” People in India can use Fundraisers to create their own causes and discover over 70 charities to financially support.

Houseparty Saw 50 Million Sign-Ups This Past Month

This week in social media news, Houseparty reveals it received 50 million sign-ups amid coronavirus, YouTube says it’s testing a Video Chapters option, IGTV gets a makeover to benefit creators on the platform, YouTube officially lifts their ban on COVID-19 content and TikTok shares their relief efforts.

Houseparty Reveals It Saw 50 Million Sign-Ups Amid Coronavirus

The video chat app acquired by Fortnite maker Epic Games said that in the past month, its app saw 50 million sign-ups, as reported by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: Releasing data about its dramatic growth could be Houseparty’s way of diverting attention from a data breach it was recently accused of by users who claimed the app was using user data to access other accounts like Spotify and Netflix.

The details: By Houseparty’s estimates, the app also saw boosted mobile downloads—17.2 new downloads across iOS and Android. Due to the pandemic, Houseparty has also seen wide-scale penetration in international markets like Spain and Italy.

Snapchat Launches Coronavirus Business Resource Center

Snapchat’s new COVID-19: Business Resource Center includes resources on the pandemic’s impact on the mobile economy, insights on Snapchat user behavior, and ways brands can respond with new updates added over time.

Why it matters: On April 1, Snapchat reported a 50 percent increase in video calls and 25 percent more time spent playing with Lenses. With usage up, marketing on Snapchat amid coronavirus could prove lucrative for brands.

The details: Snapchat released three industry-specific trends on the dining, shopping and entertainment behaviors of Snapchatters: 66 percent of users are likely to use a select food delivery app in the next month, 35 percent expect to do more shopping on website and/or apps in the next month and 64 percent say they’re watching more live television during lockdown. The data also shows that time spent watching Snapchat Shows is at an all-time high. 

Facebook Rolls Out New Features To Ad Library

According to Facebook Integrity Team lead Rob Leathern, Facebook has started rolling out new features to the Facebook Ad Library to make ads more transparent and searchable.

Why it matters: The update will not only provide transparency on political candidate spend but also help marketers determine effective ad approaches. 

The details: Facebook added “potential reach,” which represents an estimate of the size of the audience that’s eligible to see an ad. It also plans to group similar ads together to avoid unnecessary scrolling and enhance search filters.

Instagram Is Testing A New Challenge Sticker

Reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong spotted a new Challenge sticker on Instagram that would allow users to nominate friends to different challenges.

Why it matters: Challenges are at the heart of content and engagement on TikTok so it was only a matter of time before Instagram attempted to create its own iteration.

The details: As per Wong’s findings, the Challenge sticker would be added to the sticker dropdown in Stories. When applied, users could tag friends to participate and also search challenges based on trending content. The feature is similar to TikTok’s Duet mode which lets users respond to clips of challenges. 

Twitter Releases Survey On What Consumers Want To See From Brands Amid COVID-19

Twitter conducted a survey in the US to understand how consumers feel about advertising during COVID-19. Just seven percent of respondents said brands should continue using their normal brand tone of voice.

Why it matters: The data can inform brand messaging during this stressful time and help brands avoid coming across as tone-deaf.

The details: Sixty-four percent of respondents said brands should continue advertising products as normal, 52 percent agreed that seeing/hearing ads gives them a sense of normality and 77 percent agreed they feel more positively about brands making an effort to support society right now. Additionally, 80 percent said brands should show how they’re supporting their employees. 

Facebook Is Testing Stories That Last Up To Three Days

Facebook is working on stories that would stay active for up to three days, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong found.

Why it matters: On its Q1 earnings call in April 2019, Facebook said that Facebook Stories has 500 million daily active users. An option to prolong the life of stories could increase usage among and appeal to the older Facebook audience.

The details: Facebook Stories, like Instagram Stories, expire after 24 hours. Stories that are active for up to three days could potentially sour user experience or increase engagement on limited-time promotions from brands.

YouTube Tests Video Chapters That Would Provide A Description About Each Segment 

According to YouTube Creator Insider host Tom Leung, YouTube is testing a Video Chapters option that would section playback timelines into variable chapter lengths and include descriptions about each segment.

Why it matters: The tool would give viewers the ability to skip through videos and more easily find the section they’re looking for. Given Google prioritizes YouTube videos in search results, the Video Chapters option could become an SEO consideration as it contains more specific data on what each video clip contains.

The details: As Leung says in his video, “It helps viewers with more context and information associated with a particular time in your video – it’s basically making time stamps a little bit more official. [Video chapters] utilize the time stamp data that you publish in your description, and are completely opt-in.” YouTube is testing the Video Chapters feature on Android and desktop.

YouTube Makes Video Builder Tool Accessible To More Businesses

In a company blog, YouTube said it’s “accelerating the next stage of Video Builder availability” after working on it for the past few months. Its goal is to help businesses strapped for time and resources amid coronavirus to create videos through an advertising campaign, website or email. 

Why it matters: With creative studios closed, brands are seeking out ways to create promotions via nontraditional methods. YouTube’s Video Builder will help brands achieve just that, and in turn, strengthen their communication with consumers.

The details: Video Builder is free to use but businesses can only create videos of up to 15 seconds and they can’t download the videos—they can save the video to their YouTube channel or use it in an ad campaign.

Instagram Updates IGTV App With Redesign

The Verge announced that Instagram is redesigning its IGTV app with creators in mind.

Why it matters: While the company has declined to offer user numbers on the standalone IGTV app, it’s clear that moves are being made to make the app more appealing to potential users and speaks to content exploration challenges on the app.

The details: According to The Verge’s reporting, the IGTV app has been redesigned “to feature a creator up top, tailored to each user based on who they follow and whose content the app thinks might be interesting to them.” Additionally, the IGTV app is getting a Discover tab which will impact how users surface new content.

Facebook Is Testing A New Annual Data Use Check-Up Process

As part of its ongoing efforts to responsibly handle data, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has announced the early testing of “Data Use Checkup,” a new annual self-service tool that all apps using Facebook’s APIs will be subjected to for the purpose of ensuring API access and data use comply with the platform’s policy.

Why it matters: An enhanced version of Facebook’s current App Review system, Facebook’s Data Use Checkup will add an extra layer of protection to people’s privacy and potentially help prevent another scandal like Cambridge Analytica.

The details: As per Facebook, “Developers enrolled in testing should complete this request for each of their apps within 60 days, or risk losing their API access.” 

Instagram Live Becomes Viewable On Desktop 

According to Android Police, many users have noticed the ability to watch Instagram Live broadcasts on the web.

Why it matters: A desktop version of Instagram Live will give creators more ways to reach followers while they’re quarantined.

The details: Unlike Instagram Live streams on mobile, the desktop version positions comments to a scrolling window on the side for an unobstructed viewing experience. However, users can’t start live broadcasts using the desktop version.

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 17. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

YouTube Lifts Monetization Ban On Coronavirus Content

This week in social media news, YouTube officially lifts their ban on COVID-19 content, TikTok shares their relief efforts, Pinterest releases new ways to shop and highlights small businesses in the process and Twitter begins to allow some brands to reference COVID-19 in ads.

YouTube Ends Monetization Ban On COVID-19 Content

According to an update from Search Engine Journal, YouTube’s recently published help document authorizes content that references or features COVID-19 for monetization, so long as it upholds “Advertiser-friendly and Community Guidelines.”

Why it matters: While the monetization ban had already been lifted or select channels, the change has now been rolled out throughout the platform.

The details: While YouTube is opening up monetization for ads featuring COVID-19 mentions, there are still conditions that could lead to ads still being ‘out of bounds’ for the platform. Namely, the ban still affects content deemed distressing, misinformative or featuring a prank/challenge related to the pandemic.

TikTok Pledges $250M For Critical Coronavirus Relief

A press release from TikTok outlines the nascent platform’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

Why it matters: As outlined in the press release, TikTok’s president echoed the fact that these are challenging times for everyone. “Alongside businesses, governments, NGOs, and ordinary people across the globe stepping up in this critical moment, we are committed to offering the very best that we can to help out humanity.”

The details: Alex Zhu, President of TikTok, outlined the pandemic relief efforts the platform is involved in, including donations to the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and the TikTok Creative Learning Fund. In addition, the platform is helping SMBs restart and rebuild with an allotment of $100M in ad credits.

Twitter Removes Users’ Ability To Control Mobile App Ad Data

Twitter is making updates to its data sharing policy to utilize information such as in-app ads and unique IDs of devices.

Why it matters: The update will improve Twitter’s usage tracking issues and problems with its Mobile Application Promotion (MAP) framework, which, according to The Verge, recently led to a huge miss in earnings.

The details: As Twitter notes: “Twitter shares certain non-public personal information with certain digital advertising platforms to help measure and optimize the effectiveness of our efforts to market Twitter on those platforms. […] These advertising platform partners act as data controllers for this information.” Twitter shares this information with Facebook and Google. What users will be able to control is whether to share non-pubic data to improve Twitter’s marketing activities. 

Facebook’s Ad Review System Fails To Spot Coronavirus Misinformation

Consumer Reports tested Facebook’s ad review system by setting up a made-up organization and creating ads containing misinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook, failing to notice any violations, approved all the ads.

Why it matters: Though Consumer Reports pulled the ads before they were published, the test exposes holes in Facebook’s artificial intelligence-enabled ad review process to prevent misleading claims during coronavirus. 

The details: In March, as a result of the crisis, Facebook announced it was sending all global content reviewers home with the intention of relying on automated review systems.

Instagram Rolls Out Desktop Direct Message To Some Users

According to Business Insider, many users are starting to notice Instagram direct message on desktop after Instagram announced it was testing the feature in January. 

Why it matters: The ability to direct message on Instagram will be particularly useful for brands looking to stay connected with customers amid coronavirus.

The details: Many users have taken to Twitter to share the discovery of having access to Instagram direct message on desktop. Instagram confirmed to Business Insider the feature isn’t available to the entire global community but that it’s working on it.

Facebook Gaming Launches Tournaments Feature 

Facebook has released a tournaments feature that lets gamers create brackets, manage participants and organize tournaments.

Why it matters: Head engineer of Facebook gaming Mina Abouseif says Facebook noticed many users were using Facebook events, pages and groups to promote gaming tournaments but the “landscape was very fragmented.” After the pandemic made it apparent that tournament organizers were shifting online, Facebook decided to release the feature early.

The details: With the new feature anyone can organize or play a tournament while simultaneously watching the game. Facebook built fundraising tools into gaming videos to allow creators to support charitable causes. Tournament organizers are required to coordinate matches in a game and report the results of the match.

Facebook Releases New Messaging App For Couples Called Tuned

Called Tuned, Facebook’s new app for couples comes from its small team established last year, New Product Experimentation (NPE), which creates new social media products from scratch, as reported by The Information.

Why it matters: Tuned is the fifth app from the NPE team since it was formed in July 2019. Other apps from NPE include Hobbi, a Pinterest-like app for collecting images of creating hobbies; Whale, a meme making app; AUX, an app where users try to get their song on a group playlist; and Bump, a chat app for connecting nearby students with each other.

The details: On the app store, Tuned is described as such: “With Tuned, you can be as mushy, quirky, and silly as you are together in person, even when you’re apart. Creatively express your love, share your mood, exchange music, and build a digital scrapbook of your special moments.”

This week in social media news, Pinterest releases new ways to shop and highlights small businesses in the process, Twitter begins to allow some brands to reference COVID-19 in ads and Snapchat adds an AR donation tool for coronavirus relief.

Pinterest Adds “Shop” Functionality To Search To Highlight Small Businesses

Pinterest added functionality so Pinners can shop directly from Pins, on boards, from search and through new browsable recommendations, according to their latest press release.

Why it matters: Pinterest released insights noting that “7% of top searches [on the platform] are unbranded, meaning people come to Pinterest to shop for generic terms and not specific brands, leveling the playing field for businesses of all sizes to be discovered.”

The details: Pinners are now able to shop directly from a board, search and pins while also providing a blue check mark to denote trusted partners on the platform.

Snapchat Launches AR Donation Tool For COVID-19

Snapchat launched its first AR donation tool today to encourage support for COVID-19 relief.

Why it matters: Snap Inc.’s director of creative strategy, Jeff Miller, puts it like this: “Over three quarters of our Snapchatters engage with AR each day, so we built a global experience based on this behavior to draw the connection between loose bills and real change.”

The details: Snapchat is now allowing users to use the app’s AR camera technology to scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries, which then triggers an AR visualization of ways their donations can support the World Health Organization.

Twitter Loosens Ban On Coronavirus Ads

Twitter is now allowing some brands to mention COVID-19 in their ads, a move that revises the platform’s stance on blocking all mentions of the virus within promoted tweets.

Why it matters: Brands that need to deliver crisis communications through Twitter can now breathe a little easier if their content meets Twitter’s qualifications.

The details: Twitter will allow ads mentioning COVID-19 if they are related to “adjustments to business practices and/or models in response to COVID-19,” as well as “support for customers and employees related to COVID-19.”

Pinterest Releases Monthly Trends Report

Brands have been requesting information on how people are using Pinterest during coronavirus so Pinterest adapted its monthly trend report to focus on “Pinners’ needs during this crisis.”

Why it matters: With rampant layoffs and business closures, brands are in need of ways to connect with their consumers. Pinterest’s trend report could help brands tailor content to what Pinners want to see and shop.

The details: Pinterest released its top searches across its global audiences with numbers calculated from search activity over the last few weeks. Searches for home bodyweight workouts are up 205 percent, self care at home saw a 332 percent increase, work from home with kids is up 1,657 percent, searches for yeastless bread recipes are up 4,400 percent and home haircuts saw an increase of 417 percent. 

Google, Facebook Share Location Data To Help Plan Coronavirus Containment

Google and Facebook have started sharing location-tracking data with various global authorities to help inform their coronavirus containment strategies. The US has been reluctant to follow in the footsteps of some Asian nations that have used smartphone location data to track those infected with coronavirus. 

Why it matters: Providing authorities with an even more in-depth level of data tracking may be helpful for planning social distancing orders but could also lead to new concerns about people’s privacy and rights.

The details: Data released by Facebook and Google include no personally identifying markers, however, it does track people’s movement. According to Reuters, Facebook has shared mobile location data with US cities and states as part of its nearly year-old Disease Prevention Map program. Google also released its Mobility Reports in 131 countries and regions, showing foot traffic trends at different locations over time.

ZmURL Tool Lets Users Customize Zoom Link Previews

According to TechCunch, a recently launched free tool called ZmURL lets users customize Zoom invite URLs with a headline, description and image that appears when shared across social media. The tool also lets users require attendees RSVP to Zoom meetings by entering their email address.

Why it matters: ZmURL can help protect users against “Zoombombing,” the act of malicious actors tracking down public Zoom calls and bombarding them with profanity and offensive screenshared imagery, a common occurrence since the pandemic began and as Zoom’s daily user count has surged from 10 million to 200 million.

The details: Software engineers Danqing Liu and Victor Pontis built a beta of ZmURL and tested it with some yoga instructors who found the tool useful in promoting events and collecting RSVPs. To use ZmURL, you create a generic meeting link on Zoom then input it into ZmURL, which generates a shorter URL. 

Twitch Reaches Record-Breaking 1.1 Billion Hours Watched in March

Last month Twitch amassed 1.1 billion hours watched, the largest number of views in the platform’s nine year history.

Why it matters: With social distancing orders in effect, many are stuck at home and are turning to live streaming platforms for entertainment or to experiment with broadcasting.

The details: Twitch grew from 982 million hours watched in February to 1.1 billion hours watched in March, equating to a 20 percent growth.

Short-Form Video Platform Quibi Launches 

Created by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, Quibi will offer movies, reality shows and news programs for mobile, with all installments coming in at 10 minutes or less.

Why it matters: Quibi’s launch during the coronavirus crisis means it must compete against streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which have seen an uptick in viewership recently as people remain in quarantine.

The details: Quibi’s offerings span three categories including movies that will be released in chapters, documentaries and unscripted reality shows and quick-hit news and sports reports. The app costs five dollars a month with ads and eight dollars without ads.

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 10. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Report: 60 Percent Of Marketers Plan To Increase Influencer Marketing Budgets This Year

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s Note: Though Linqia conducted its research before the coronavirus pandemic, marketers can still glean valuable insights from the report.)

Influencer marketing is gaining more traction as nearly 60 percent of marketers plan to increase their budgets in 2020. The same percentage think influencer content performs as well as or better than their branded content. This is according to Linqia’s “The State of Influencer Marketing 2020” report which explores how this year will bring influencer campaigns more accuracy in measurement and sophistication in strategy.

Linqia’s findings indicate an increased frequency of influencer marketing campaigns with a higher percentage of campaigns always on. In 2019 about 20 percent of marketers ran six or more influencer marketing campaigns and nearly 20 percent of these campaigns were always on. Marketers who ran 11-15 campaigns accounted for nine percent in 2019, compared to three percent in 2018.

Marketers are also allocating more of their budgets to influencer marketing with 11-25 percent planning to spend over 40 percent of their digital marketing budgets on influencer marketing. Twenty percent of marketers say they’ll spend between a quarter to half of their budgets on influencer marketing campaigns.

The trend of leveraging micro-influencers (5,000-100,000 followers), those who have smaller but more engaged audiences, will continue in 2020. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they want to work with micro-influencers, 64 percent are interested in working with macro-influencers (100,000-500,000 followers) and 31percent want to work with mega-influencers (500,000-5 million followers). The percentage of marketers who want to work with nano-influencers (up to 5,000 followers)—25 percent— was higher than that of marketers who want to work with celebrities (over 5 million followers)—22 percent.

In terms of platforms, 97 percent of marketers and agency professionals plan to use Instagram for influencer marketing campaigns. Followed by Instagram stories (83 percent), Facebook (79 percent), YouTube (44 percent) and Twitter (35 percent). While TikTok has seen a spike in usage over the last year, marketers still favor Pinterest (29 percent) and blogs (24 percent) over TikTok. The same amount of marketers, 16 percent, said they plan to use TikTok and Snapchat, respectively.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents say vertical video will be important or very important in their influencer marketing efforts this year. Still, just 30 percent of marketers plan on incorporating Instagram stories into their Instagram campaigns, indicating either a lack of understanding of stories or that creating content for stories is more time consuming.

Part of influencer marketing’s appeal is that marketers can repurpose influencer content across other channels. This year 90 percent of marketers plan on re-using influencer content across social, website, emails, display ads and other areas. Among those, 90 percent said paid social would be the primary channel followed by 72 percent for the brand’s own organic social channel. Additionally, 41 percent plan to use influencer content on their website and 30 percent plan to use it in emails. 

Though only 20 percent said they’d use influencer content in programmatic, a former Linqia study shows this venue is growing as it found influencer content outperforms branded content by an average of 2.7 times on paid channels. 

On how they measure success of influencer marketing campaigns, respondents were mixed in their assessments: 71 percent chose engagement (compared to 89 percent last year), followed by brand awareness (62 percent), impressions (60 percent), conversions (55 percent) and clicks (54 percent).

When asked what their top concern is about using influencer marketing, most chose “determining return on investment (ROI) on my influencer marketing program” followed by changes to network algorithms that make organic influencer content less visible.

(AList is published by a.network. To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Why TikTok Will Dominate COVID-19 And Beyond

Originally published at AW360 by Jonathan Skogmo.

With young millennials and Gen Zers looking for a distraction from the ongoing COVID-19 situation, TikTok provides the perfect diversion with lip syncs, creative dance moves and hilarious clips. It’s no wonder many flock to the ByteDance-owned social media platform for endless, feel-good entertainment.

We’ve seen TikTok’s viral appeal gain global notoriety throughout 2019. Through short-content, easy-to-use editing tools, and even easier potential to go viral, TikTok attracts a young, active user base with 41 percent of users between the ages of 16 to 24 and 66 percent under the age of 30. While the majority of the initial user base is in China, TikTok is still growing throughout the United States and the rest of North America, as well as other parts of the world–and becoming a social distancing past time as many cope with staying indoors.

With over 1.7 billion all-time downloads, 145 million in the U.S., I believe this will be the year where TikTok will dominate and surpass other social media platforms.

The Current Landscape

I largely attribute TikTok’s success to two themes: its effortless user experience and individualistic atmosphere. Just about anyone can use TikTok–you can download the app and create your first post with two taps. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, TikTok’s short-form, vertical content is easier to produce than the longer-form content more common on other networks. It’s also easier to build a following since users can follow other accounts, publishers, hashtags and discover new creators intuitively.

Though hashtags aren’t a new trend in social media, TikTok is using them to create a highly engaging experience for users. With “Hashtag Challenges,” like the #FlipTheSwitch craze that has even JLo and Alex Rodriguez joining in, the platform has leveraged the hashtag to effectively create a shared viral experience that can’t be found elsewhere in social media. Further capitalizing on the discoverability of the platform to increase reach, TikTok even added the e-com feature, “Hashtag Challenge Plus,” which enables users to easily interact within the app and allows brands to even sponsor a specific hashtag.

The other key theme with the platform is that TikTok has created an atmosphere where its users feel comfortable being themselves. It’s not about the perfect appearance we’re accustomed to curating on other platforms. Rather, TikTok celebrates being your weird self, which is appealing to a generation where authenticity reigns as the gold standard.

The Opportunity

Just as college students are obsessed with TikTok, so are brands. When I was at CES, I couldn’t help but notice CMOs drooling over the opportunity to advertise on the platform. With a young, tech-savvy audience, TikTok is an attractive place where brands want to be. While the initial wave of early adopters is already on the platform, more brands will continue to jump on the bandwagon, which will drive more audiences and communities to migrate to TikTok, as well.
Just as every social media platform needs its own strategy, TikTok content needs to be differentiated from other platforms.

TikTok encompasses everything brands strive to be–relatable, raw and authentic. Posting a promotional video with a distinct call to action isn’t going to move the needle. Your content needs to be reflective of the audience. We’ve seen success on Jukin’s channels, People Are Awesome, FailArmy and The Pet Collective, by showing real authentic moments from people all over the world. I recommend showing the people behind your brand, rather than keeping your products center stage.

The #Challenge

No social media platform is without its challenges. Due to the young nature of the audience, there are huge concerns about privacy and exploitation. Not to mention, there have been rumblings about interest by the U.S. government since the app is owned by a Chinese-based parent company.

I expect we’ll see increased scrutiny around brand safety and community guidelines throughout 2020. Content strategy aside, I do believe this will be a concern for brands jumping into the platform. One such cause for concern is some dangerous Hashtag Challenges that have gained traction on the platform. Harmful viral stunts, such as the #SkullBreakChallenge, #OutletChallenge and one influencer trying to start a #CoronaChallenge, showcase the potential TikTok has to spread misinformation. There could also be concerns about targeting a younger crowd from an alcohol brand or even using music within the platform since the company still has a complicated legacy with music publishers and artists. Brand safety is of the utmost importance for marketers, and social media platforms haven’t always presented the most brand-safe options.

If brands can overcome the brand safety issues associated with TikTok, there still exists rudimentary advertising guidelines and a lack of ad targeting that will pose a threat. With more resources allocated to the platform’s ad offering, the hope is that this can be iterated on.

Regardless, 2020 will be the year brands embrace TikTok, whether in need of a social distraction or not. It’ll also be the year the platform opens up additional ways to monetize its audience. While TikTok has a number of ad products like launch page take-overs and sponsored hashtags, the company is working with brands and publishers around formats, campaigns and other initiatives to figure out paths towards better monetization. Who knows, maybe your brand could be the next viral star.

YouTube Currently Planning ‘Shorts’ As Answer To TikTok

This week in social media news, YouTube plans to release “Shorts” by the end of the year, Facebook Business announces a number of updates to support small businesses and released a desktop version of its Messenger app to simplify video chat.

YouTube Plans “Shorts” To Combat Rise Of TikTok

Google-owned YouTube is planning to release an in-app feature that will position the company to use their library of licensed music to rival TikTok.

Why it matters: “Shorts” is the first real attempt by YouTube to confront the rising usage of China-based app TikTok.

The details: Sources close to the matter have indicated that ‘Feeds’ will be released within the year and will allow users to create and add short-form videos to an in-app feed.

Facebook Business Announces Additional Business Support

In a press release published today, Facebook announced a number of new platform features to provide support for businesses reckoning with COVID-19.

Why it matters: The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been profound; these platform enhancements offer those businesses new ways to survive and thrive in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The details: Facebook announced updates to their Small Business Grants program, an option for businesses to release digital gift cards, fundraising capabilities as well as the option to denote temporary service changes.

Facebook Launches Messenger Desktop App To Simplify Video Chat

Per a company announcement, Facebook launched a desktop version of its Messenger app for MacOS and Windows so that users can more easily video chat.

Why it matters: With people hunkered down during coronavirus, Facebook saw more than a 100 percent increase in people using their desktop browser for video and audio calling on Messenger.

The details: Facebook Messenger for desktop includes unlimited and free group video calls, chat sync across mobile and desktop and features users are already familiar with such as dark mode and GIFs.

Facebook Prototypes Auto Status Feature For Messenger

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is prototyping an auto status feature that would use your location, battery life and accelerometer details to show a select group of friends what you’re up to.

Why it matters: An auto status feature reminiscent of AOL’s Away Message could help users coordinate online and offline meet ups easier.

The details: Instead of sharing a user’s exact coordinates, Facebook’s auto status Messenger feature would add an emoji over your profile picture to indicate your activity. In October, Facebook launched auto status to Instagram’s Threads app.

Snapchat Releases Snapchat App Stories

Snapchat App Stories launches today and allows Snappers to share their content to other apps, according to reporting from TechCrunch.

Why it matters: As TechCrunch notes, “Snapchat hopes to retain some grip on Stories and dissuade more copycats by letting developers bake the original version into their apps rather than building a bootleg attempt from scratch.”

The details: Users shooting with the Snapchat camera will receive a new option to share it to their Story within other apps integrated with Snap Kit. Developers can now sign up here to add Stories to their apps.

TikTok Launches Daily Live Programming Featuring Celebrities And Creators

Per a company announcement, TikTok launched #HappyAtHome: LIVE!, a week of nightly programming that runs each evening at 5 p.m. PDT through Friday to help entertain users during the coronavirus lockdown.

Why it matters: With social distancing in full effect, social platforms are looking for fresh ways to keep users engaged.

The details: TikTok’s live experiences include Motivation Monday where celebrities like Tyra Banks and Arnold Schwarzenegger host dance classes and cooking tips; Kick Back Tuesday features creator-hosted game nights and makeup tutorials; Show & Tell Wednesday will highlight magic tricks from Zach King; EduTok Thursday will involve conversations with the likes of Dr. Phil and Bill Nye; Sound Check Friday will include top artists performing live concerts. A #HappyAtHome LIVE! banner appears on TikTok’s Discover page or users can search it in the app.

Twitch Raises $2.7 Million For Coronavirus Relief Efforts

In a 12-hour fundraising broadcast held on Saturday, March 28, Twitch raised $2,766,857.12 for the Solidarity Response Fun for the World Health Organization.

Why it matters: Twitch joins the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in raising money or establishing financial programs for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: The #TwitchStreamAid saw gaming influencers and music artists such as Dakotaz and John Legend come together to perform live sets and game tournaments. 

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 3. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Instagram Tests Option For Gift Card Link Via Business Profiles

This week in social media news, Instagram is testing a new option that would allow businesses to add a quick link to their profiles, Pinterest launches a new verified merchants program to help more retailers get discovered and more.

Instagram Tests New Business Profile Link For Gift Cards

Social Media Today reports that Jane Manchun Wong has discovered a new option for businesses to add a quick link to their profiles for gift cards and donations.

Why it matters: The timing of these tests suggests that Instagram is looking for ways to alleviate the strain businesses are currently suffering from due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: Testing has begun to allow businesses the ability to add links to gift cards from Stories stickers profiles. As Social Media Today reports, “there’s an added ‘Links’ option here beneath ‘Profile Display.’ That would be in addition to your main website link, which is included in the bio section above these ‘Public Business Information’ settings.”

Pinterest Launches New Verified Merchants Program

In a company blog post, Pinterest announced a new Verified Merchants Program that will help retailers get discovered and give qualified profiles a special blue checkmark.

Why it matters: With people forced to stay home online shopping will only continue to grow, giving retailers more opportunities to reach consumers via social commerce.

The details: Pinterest kicked off its program with retailers like Quay Australia, Ruggable, Filson, Coyuchi and Lotuff Leather. Brands that qualify for the program become eligible for increased distribution within high-intent shopping experiences and metrics such as Pinterest’s impact on site visits, checkouts and sales. Pinterest also updated its Catalogs via new metrics, near real-time feed ingestion, user experience upgrades and feed ingestion scheduling. Advertisers in global markets can also now retarget via Pinterest’s new optimization levers. Brands can sign up for the new program at pinterest.com/verified

Facebook Sees Weakening In Ads Business Despite Increased Traffic

In a company blog, Facebook shared details on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting its services and how it’s keeping its apps stable during the crisis.

Why it matters: Many platforms have acknowledged a surge in user activity amid coronavirus but also lost revenue, which could impact ad-supported platforms and the digital advertising sector as a whole.

The details: Facebook says in many of the countries coronavirus has affected most, total messaging has grown more than 50 percent over the last month and voice and video calling have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp. In Italy, Facebook saw up to 70 percent more time spent across its apps since the virus outbreak, Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week, messaging increased over 50 percent and time in group calling increased by over 1,000 percent during the last month.

To alleviate network congestion, Facebook is temporarily reducing bit rates for Facebook and Instagram videos in certain regions.

Instagram’s New Co-Watching Feature Lets Users View Posts Over Video Chat

The new co-watching feature is one of many updates Instagram announced this week including a donation sticker and the removal of coronavirus accounts from recommendations unless posted by credible health sources.

Why it matters: Social distancing has caused a surge in social media use and a new co-watching feature allows Instagram to keep the experience fresh and fun, and users connected during quarantine.

The details: Per Instagram, “. . .we’ve launched media sharing, a new feature that allows you to view Instagram posts together with your friends over video chat. You can start a video chat by tapping the video chat icon in the Direct inbox or in an existing Direct thread, then view saved, liked and suggested photos/videos by tapping the photo icon in the bottom left corner in an ongoing video chat.”

Instagram has also banned misleading ads for products that refer to coronavirus in ways “intended to create urgency, guarantee cures or prevent people from contracting it.” It also removed the ability to search for coronavirus-related augmented reality effects.

Additional updates from Instagram include new educational stickers to help users share accurate information about the virus in stories. Instagram has also included a notice at the top of feeds for countries affected by the pandemic.

Twitter Reports An Increase In Users Concurrent With Q1 Revenue Decline

While user activity is up on Twitter, the platform warns that “while the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on current visibility, [we] expect Q1 revenue to be down slightly on a year-over-year basis.”

Why it matters: Disruptions are rippling through the industry with a profound impact on revenue, despite rising social media usage.

The details: “Twitter is predicting broader revenue impacts – yet, at the same time, Twitter usage is rising.”
Twitter had this to say in their press release around this decline:

“While the near-term financial impact of this pandemic is rapidly evolving and difficult to measure, based on current visibility, the company expects Q1 revenue to be down slightly on a year-over-year basis. Twitter also expects to incur a GAAP operating loss, as reduced expenses resulting from COVID-19 disruption are unlikely to fully offset the revenue impact of the pandemic in Q1.”

Pinterest Unveils “Today” Tab With Popular Search Trends For Android And IOS

Pinterest introduced their “Today” tab, which the platform launched as “a source of daily inspiration with curated topics and trending Pins,” including relevant and timely information about coronavirus.

Why it matters: Pinterest is literally putting its efforts to increase the availability of expert information, especially around the current health crisis, front and center.

The details: The Today tab will surface trending searches and provide recommendations, starting with those curated by the Pinterest team, around popular topics. Over the next few weeks, the tab will feature COVID-19 precautions. Users can access the tab at the top of the home feed on Pinterest’s iOS and Android app.

TikTok Donates $10 Million To World Health Organization 

TikTok announced it’s giving $10 million to WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund, which carries out important work against coronavirus.

Why it matters: This marks another step in TikTok’s drive to help alleviate the effects of coronavirus on communities and schools. Last week, TikTok announced it’s donating $3 million through a partnership with After-School All-Stars to help provide food for families who have lost access to free or reduced-cost school meals.

The details: Per TikTok, the donation will assist WHO in “sending essential supplies to front line health care workers, ensuring communities have access to the latest science-based information, and accelerating efforts to discover life-saving treatments or vaccines.” TikTok has also hosted livestreams with WHO experts and created an informational page on TikTok to highlight preventative tips and dispel myths around coronavirus.

WhatsApp Launches Free Chatbot To Inform Users About Coronavirus

WhatsApp has launched the World Health Organization Health Alert, a free chatbot designed to answer questions from the worldwide public about coronavirus 24 hours a day.

Why it matters: Social media platforms are going to great lengths to combat misinformation around coronavirus. Not only will WhatsApp’s chatbot help prevent the spread of inaccurate information but WhatsApp says it will serve “government decision-makers by providing the latest numbers and situation reports.”

The details: WhatsApp users can click “WHO Health Alert” then text the word “Hi” in a WhatsApp message. The feature responds to a series of prompts and is updated daily with the latest virus information.

Facebook, Instagram To Reduce Video Quality In Europe

According to Engadget, Facebook and Instagram are lowering video quality in Europe to alleviate any potential network congestion as a result of coronavirus.

Why it matters: With social distancing and work-from-home policies in place, social media use has grown significantly in the last few weeks.

The details: Facebook and Instagram said they would temporarily reduce bit rates for videos. The social media platforms have followed in the steps of Disney+, which last week announced it would reduce its overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25 percent in all EU markets where Disney+ will launch on March 24. 

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 27. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.

Influencer Marketing During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by a.network. To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

Influencer marketing during coronavirus has come to favor Instagram Live and TikTok as social distancing forces brands to shut down experiential initiatives and go digital-only to stay connected with consumers. 

A survey conducted by IZEA between March 12-13 found that 66 percent of social media users expect to increase their social media use during social distancing. With more eyes online and on social, brands that capitalize on relevant influencer content will have a major advantage during the coronavirus crisis.

Brands are already taking steps to beef up content creation and influencer marketing during the lockdown as mentions of Instagram Live on Instagram and Twitter jumped 526 percent from March 8-15, according to Comperemedia

With gyms and all other nonessential businesses closed, users are looking for ways to get in their workouts at home. Rumble Boxing’s co-founder Noah Neiman is meeting this need by hosting daily 45-minute Rumble-inspired workouts in his New York apartment on the brand’s Instagram Live. The first workout live stream video, which Rumble later posted to its account, received 54,300 views and 327 comments. Rumble teased an upcoming Instagram Live workout hosted by boxing coach Jeremiah Maestre. 

MTV jumped on the Instagram Live bandwagon too by featuring artists at home, even going so far as to update its Instagram bio to “Staying home and watching my faves on Instagram Live.” Recently rapper Hoodie Allen and singer Nick Anderson from The Wrecks went live from Anderson’s Los Angeles home where the artists are living in quarantine. Allen and Anderson both performed songs, respectively, and teased snippets from unreleased songs they’re working on while answering users’ questions.

In December, e.l.f. Cosmetics launched a TikTok campaign called #EyesLipsFace featuring an original song. The challenge amassed over 4 billion views and over 2 million videos were created to the campaign’s song. 

Now in an effort to spread the Center for Disease’s best practices on staying safe amid coronavirus, e.l.f. is repurposing the #EyesLipsFace challenge by remixing the campaign’s original song and enlisting influencers to create videos around it. The brand tapped mega TikTok influencers like Micah Cow (3 million followers and 68 million likes) and Madi Monroe (3.8 million followers and 108 million likes) to create videos around the challenge, which involves washing their hands and not touching their face.

TikTok users can incorporate the song in their own videos by visiting e.l.f.’s TikTok and tapping the spinning disc at the foot of the new #EyesLipFace video.

An increase in social media consumption spells good and bad news for marketers. More active users means more concentrated attention on products and services but also means marketers have to cut through the noise.

IZEA also found that 99 percent of social media users said there’s a chance they’ll buy something online if they’re in household quarantine. But just because online spending is up doesn’t mean brands can get away with tone-deaf messaging and activations. For influencer marketing during the pandemic to stand out, content must be genuine and tailored to the dramatic life changes people are experiencing such as layoffs and medical crises, otherwise it’ll fall short.

Instagram Tests Hashtags For Instagram Stories Highlights

This week in social media news, Instagram tests the capability to add up to four hashtags and a location to your Instagram Stories highlights and more.

Instagram Is Testing Hashtags For Instagram Stories Highlights

According to a report from Social Media Today, Instagram is testing out the ability to add up to four hashtags and a location to Instagram Stories highlights.

Why it matters
: Until this point, Highlights content has not appeared in searches on Instagram or in Explore listings. Jane Manchun Wong’s discovery could indicate a change in the discoverability of Stories Highlights.

The details: Select users are able to add up to four hashtags, as well as a location, to Instagram Stories highlights.

Facebook And Instagram AR Effects Approvals On Hold

Social Media Today reports that staffing changes, as a result of COVID-19, have caused Facebook to announce a hold on AR effects approvals.

Why it matters: Analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on Facebook can help us take the temperature of how media players are reacting. It also serves as a reminder of the major impact of the current crisis.

The details: “Facebook says that all of its Spark AR reviewers will soon not be operating. As a result, no user-submitted AR effects, for either Facebook Stories or Instagram, will be approved until further notice.”

Facebook Expands Ban On Ads Capitalizing On Coronavirus Crisis

According to Social Media Today, Facebook’s ‘Trust/Integrity’ team director for ads & business products at Facebook, Rob Leathern, shares further bans on the platform that seek to capitalize on the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: “It’s another step in Facebook’s ongoing effort to protect its users and ensure they’re getting accurate, timely information about the pandemic.”

The details: Facebook will extend their ban on ads that are deemed as attempting to profiteer from COVID-19, including all listings of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and test kits.

Spotify Releases Podcast API For Developers

According to a new press release, Spotify will allow developers to “explore and build unique experiences to help […] shows reach new listeners in new ways.”

Why it matters: It all leads to enhanced discoverability and more control over the listening environment.

The details: “Our API, just like any other API, simply provides access, but does not prescribe how it’s used; the only limit to how an API is used is a developer’s creativity. In this case, it means third-party developers will be able to build really powerful new experiences for listeners leveraging Spotify’s podcast ecosystem.”

TikTok Penetrates APAC Markets With The Trade Desk Ad Partnership

The partnership will allow marketers to directly access TikTok content across APAC via The Trade Desk platform.

Why it matters: This makes TikTok the first short-form video platform to integrate its ad offerings with The Trade Desk, a lucrative opportunity for APAC brands looking to reach audiences and incorporate short-form videos into their omnichannel campaign.

The details: Pepsi is the first brand to leverage TikTok inventory via The Trade Desk for Lays in Thailand. The partnership between TikTok and The Trade Desk covers 11 APAC markets including Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Russia and Japan.

Facebook Adds “Mood” Mode To Stories Tools

First spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, the feature lets you incorporate GIFs into Facebook stories. 

Why it matters: 500 million users engage with Facebook stories every day but the format has yet to be as popular as Instagram stories. Introducing GIFs could indicate Facebook’s efforts to appeal to the platform’s older user base.

The details: Upon selecting “mood” from stories tools, users are shown a library of GIFs, any of which can be reposted in square or vertical format on their stories.

Short-Form Video App Likee Is Fourth-Most Downloaded App In The World 

Singaporean app and TikTok competitor Likee said in a press release that it’s making its move into the US.

Why it matters: With 4D effects and a deep-fake style tool called “FaceMagic,” which lets users swap faces with any celebrity in a film, Likee could prove to be TikTok’s biggest competitor. 

The details: Likee saw a 200 percent jump in its audience in 2019 and now boasts 115 million monthly active users (MAU), earning a top spot on App Annie’s ‘Breakout Apps and Games’ report for 2019.

Social Media Consumption To Increase During Confinement 

IZEA conducted a survey between March 12-13 and found that 66 percent of social media consumers expect their social media use to increase during coronavirus confinement and 99 percent of social media users say there’s a chance they’ll buy something online if they’re in household quarantine.

Why it matters: Due to the virus, many employers have implemented work-from-home policies and 20 states have banned in-person dining. Confinement will inevitably lead to a surge in social media content creation and consumption as well as ecommerce activity, making it important for brands to tailor messaging and strategy accordingly. 

The details: Sixty-four percent of respondents expect to use YouTube more and 63 percent expect to use Facebook more. Ninety-two percent who make household purchasing decisions believe they’ll use grocery delivery services. Seventy-nine percent of children ages 3-17 at home think they’ll make a home improvement or DIY purchase while confined. 

Twitter Adds New Options To Invite Guests To Live-Streams Ahead Of Time

A tweet from Twitter Support announced that users could now invite live-steam audio guests before broadcasting.

Why it matters: Though a helpful addition, Twitter’s broadcast approach lags behind that of Instagram’s, which allows for split-screen participants. Twitter says it’s looking into video guests in the future. 

The details: When users start their Twitter stream, they can invite up to three people to join as audio guests. Guests will receive a notification DM instead of a tweet in order to maintain privacy between the broadcaster and guest. Users must start their stream solo before invitees can join.

Facebook Bug Marks Some Links As Spam Including Coronavirus

A bug that hit Facebook’s News Feed spam filter marked some posts from Medium, Buzzfeed and USA Today as spam, TechCrunch reported.

Why it matters: Despite not trusting Facebook, many Americans consume news via the platform, and given the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring information circulates properly is more important than ever.

The details: Upon sharing certain links, users were shown a warning notification from Facebook. Facebook’s VP of integrity/product management Guy Rosen tweeted, “. . . this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back.” Later Rosen said Facebook restored all the posts that were incorrectly removed.

TikTok Announces Content Advisory Council

In a company post, TikTok US general manager Vanessa Pappas said the platform has brought together thought leaders to “provide unvarnished views on and advice around TikTok’s policies and practices.”

Why it matters: The announcement comes a week after TikTok said it plans to open a transparency center in its Los Angeles office where outside experts could give feedback on TikTok practices. 

The details: TikTok council members include experts from the technology, policy and health and wellness industries who have spent most of their lives researching and analyzing issues relevant to TikTok such as child safety, hate speech, bullying and misinformation. The first meeting is set for the end of March and will focus on topics around platform integrity and policies against election interference and misinformation.

Facebook Offers $100 Million In Cash Grants To Help Small Businesses

Facebook says it will offer $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where Facebook operates.

Why it matters: The program is in response to the Facebook business community’s cry for help amid coronavirus induced restaurant and bar closures. Cash grants can help small businesses stay afloat to help cover rent and operational costs.

The details: Facebook says it will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In addition to the grant program, Facebook is creating “new virtual training to support businesses operating in this new and unsettling environment.”

LinkedIn Rolls Out Conversation Ads To Increase Conversions

LinkedIn’s conversation ads will allow businesses to serve more personalized content based on where their consumers are in the journey, LinkedIn announced on its business blog. 

Why it matters: By giving recipients more ways to respond, brands can increase engagement and generate more conversions. In testing, one brand saw a five times higher click-through rate with the feature.

The details: Conversation ads build on LinkedIn’s current message ads offering to allow brands to create full-funnel campaigns with multiple customized calls-to-action like product education, webinar sign-ups and ebook downloads. The feature will be available globally as a public beta to all advertisers over the next few weeks.

Instagram Is Testing IGTV Monetization With In-Stream Ads

Instagram has confirmed it is testing IGTV monetization by launching in-stream ads for a number of selected channels and creators.

Why it matters: “The capacity to generate real, direct income from IGTV could be a critical lure for top creators – especially given that they’re already able to generate revenue from their content on both YouTube and Facebook.”

The details: The ability to monetize IGTV ads on Instagram will give creators another platform to expand their reach beyond Facebook and YouTube. There has yet to be any word on the threshold for participation as in-stream ads become available to creators, however, those in the program will receive a 55 percent share of all advertising in IGTV according to an initial Bloomberg report.

Instagram Tests “Mirror” Camera Mode For Stories

Instagram is testing a new ‘’Mirror’ camera mode, which comes with five different layout options and allows you to alter the view through your camera.

Why it matters: Instagram has been unveiling new additions to its platform to offer users more dynamic and unique options when creating standout content.

The details: Mirror mode, which splits your screens into different reflected views, is the latest feature to be tested by Instagram that will allow creators on the platform more creative options for Instagram Stories. 

Social Platforms Unify Over Combatting Coronavirus Misinformation

Social media companies and their parent corporations, including Facebook, Reddit, Google, LinkedIn and others issued a joint statement on their efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

Why it matters: This is an unprecedented move by major media platforms.

The details: TechCrunch shared details pulled from each social platform’s latest communications about coronavirus as well as a joint statement issued from those platforms. These communications cover how to deal with fraud related to the pandemic as well as evaluating misinformation.

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 20. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.