This week in social media news, TikTok hits 113 million downloads while Facebook is testing a new option that would allow the cross-posting of Facebook Stories to Instagram.

TikTok Hits Record Number Of Downloads In February

TikTok was downloaded by nearly 113 million people worldwide, marking a record number of downloads for the platform last month.

Why it matters:
Not only did TikTok hit a record number of downloads, the platform also saw its “highest-ever monthly user spending in February, with the $50.4 million it generated equalling a 784.2 percent Y/Y increase,” making TikTok the third highest-grossing non-game app worldwide for February behind Tinder and YouTube.

The details: February was the TikTok’s best month ever “for both installs and revenue,” according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, showing that ByteDance has what it takes to compete with other apps.

Snapchat Releases Lens Web Builder For AR Ads 

Snapchat’s Lens Web Builder includes self-serve software tools that marketers can use to create high-quality AR content without any specialized expertise. The difference between Lens Web Builder and Snapchat’s Lens Studio is that the latter is for 3D developers who have more specialized technical expertise. 

Why it matters: Increasing access to AR ad content gives brands with smaller budgets a chance to beef up their interactive content, which up until recently only companies with bigger ad budgets could afford to experiment with.

The details: Marketers can browse Lens Web Builder’s library of templates, 3D objects and animations without paying creative fees, though minimum campaign spending requirements still apply. 

All Chinese Internet Users Will Be Social Network Users By 2023

The number of social network users in China is slowing, however, there will be at least 30 million more of them annually between 2020-2023, according to eMarketer.

Why it matters: Despite China blocking popular Western social media apps like Instagram and Facebook due to censorship, China’s digital ecosystem has exploded due in part to the popularity of apps including WeChat, Douyin and Sina Weibo.

The details: The amount of social network users in China will increase by 4.8 percent to 860 million in 2020. By 2023, 97 percent of internet users will be social network users. Still, penetration will be 62 percent in 2020 due to just 62 percent of the population having access to the internet. eMarketer predicts this number will reach 71 percent by 2023, as a result of improved telecommunication in rural areas. In 2019, over half of Chinese internet users ages 34 and younger were social network users while those 55 and older accounted for just 13 percent. With increased digitization, that figure will grow to 17 percent by 2023.

Twitch Partners With Comscore On Audience Measurement For Advertisers

According to an announcement from Comscore, the partnership will make available third-party data and insights into Twitch’s audiences in the US and Canada, giving advertisers a better understanding of Twitch audience behavior.

Why it matters: Twitch’s growing audience—which is expected to exceed 40 million US viewers by 2021—creates new opportunities for advertisers, who, with detailed Twitch audience insight, can make strategic campaign moves and create better ad placements.

The details: Comscore will measure live streaming video consumption habits including total view across desktops, smartphones and tablets as well as person-level video audience measurement across digital content and ads. The companies have plans to launch the audience reporting in additional marketers and roll out of category and genre-level reporting.

TikTok To Open A Transparency Facility In Los Angeles Office

TikTok is set to open a transparency center in May where outside experts from around the world can view its content moderation practices and policies, the company announced in a blog post.

Why it matters: TikTok has come under fire for its access to US user data and censoring content related to the Chinese government. A transparency center that allows experts to examine its day-to-day operations relating to its trust and safety practices could combat those concerns.

The details: Per TikTok, at the center experts can see “how our trained content moderators apply those Guidelines to review the technology-based actions that are escalated to them, and to identify additional potential violations that the technology may miss, how users and creators are able to bring concerns to our attention and how those are handled [and] ultimately, how the content that is allowed on the platform aligns with our Guidelines.” Experts will also be able to provide “meaningful feedback” on TikTok’s practices. 

Engagement Rates Decreased On Instagram, New Report Finds

RivalIQ released its Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, which analyzed 2,100 of the most engaging brands and over 5 million posts, tweets and updates to understand their success on social and how engagement on different social platforms has changed.

Why it matters: It’s interesting to note that Facebook and Twitter’s engagement is stagnant and influencers saw above average performance on Instagram despite losing 25 percent of their engagement on the channel this year.

The details: Facebook’s engagement stayed flat this year while brands posted less on the platform by about 14 percent. Engagement on Instagram took a hit, with the all-industry median decreasing by 23 percent. Posting frequency on Instagram declined by five percent. Twitter’s engagement remained consistent for the third consecutive year, with tweeting frequency declining about 10 percent. 

Alcohol brands saw the most success on Instagram in terms of posting frequency and engagement rate. Though influencers’ Instagram engagement dipped, their Facebook engagement increased thanks to a 10 percent increase in photo engagement.

Facebook Invites Users To Test Social Virtual Reality App Horizon

According to UploadVR Facebook is now sending out invites to a closed alpha program for Horizon, the company’s VR multiplayer app which was announced last year at Oculus Connect 6 conference and is scheduled to launch for Quest and Rift.

Why it matters: Facebook is doubling down on VR in response to decreased posting and user engagement on the platform. Horizon could mean more opportunity for marketers to display ads on virtual billboards and other establishments within the game.  

The details: A Reddit user shared a screenshot of the invite email Facebook sent them, which shows that the program will launch later this month and participation will require users to sign an NDA. Facebook Horizon gives users the ability to design their own avatars and travel through virtual locales.

Google Examines Viewing Habits Via Worldwide Survey

In a company blog, Google released the findings of a survey it conducted that asked 12,000 people worldwide what they watched in the last 24 hours and why.

Why it matters: The data shows that 46 percent of global viewers use video to learn something new, reflecting video’s shift from an awareness-only medium to a tool for learning and exploring personal passions. 

The details: A majority (70 percent) of respondents said their moods dictate their content choices. Half of Gen Z and millennials said they “don’t know how they’d get through life” without video. 

Global respondents cited videos’ ability to help them relax and unwind as the top reason for watching what they watched, followed by teaching them something new and allowing them to dig deeper into their interests. 

Lower on the list were reasons such as the content was shown on a network or platform they like, the video’s high production quality and the appearance of famous actors—indicating that traditional television-era markers are less important than they once were. 

Facebook Tests ‘Stories’ Cross-Posting To Instagram

Facebook is testing a new option that allows users on their platform to cross-post their Stories to Instagram.

Why it matters
: This could ease cross-posting between the two platforms. While cross-posting from Instagram to Facebook has been possible, this new option to do the opposite is a first.

The details: Jane Manchun Wong shared details on the new option, which will appear in your Facebook Stories visibility options and is activated with a toggle to switch on cross-posting of Facebook Stories to Instagram.

Pinterest Uses Custom Search Results To Hedge Against Coronavirus Misinformation

Pinterest is guiding users searching for coronavirus on the platform toward a “custom search experience” to combat coronavirus misinformation, reports The Verge.

Why it matters: The continuing conversation around the spread of misinformation highlights questions over the editorial role of advertising platforms.

The details: Pinterest has been working with the World Health Organization over the past year to ensure Pinners are being served “facts about critical health topics, from the new coronavirus to vaccines,” according to a Pinterest spokesperson. They have done similarly for searches around vaccines, highlighting results underpinned by scientific scrutiny.

Facebook Launches Community Accelerator Program

Facebook will fund and train selected community leaders on mentorship as part of its months-long Community Accelerator program.

Why it matters: Facebook’s community initiative indicates they’re willing to fund programs that positively impact their communities from the ground up.

The details: According to the report from CNET, “The Community Accelerator is a six-month program that will provide training, funding and mentorship to selected community leaders.” Facebook will award $3 million in total to up to 80 participants in the program, which is part of the Facebook Leadership Program. Interested parties can sign up here.

Reddit Rolls Out Trending Takeovers Ad Format

Reddit rolled out a new ad product called Trending Takeovers, a feature only available through direct buys that lets brands buy 24 hours of prominent placement on its popular feed and within its search tab. 

Why it matters: Paying to trend on Reddit will give brands added visibility among the platform’s niche communities and 430 million unique monthly visitors. 

The details: Trending Takeovers was in beta testing for six months with 15 companies including Adobe, Spotify and Method before Reddit introduced it. In testing, these brands saw a click-through rate around five percent, equating to two times the industry average. Redditors who click on a promoted trend are directed to a landing page with content from the brand above organic related content from various subreddits. Adobe and Samsung were the first brands to try the new ad format. 

Australia Sues Facebook Over Cambridge Analytica 

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) claims that the personal data of 311,127 Australian Facebook users were disclosed to the This is Your Digital Life app for purposes other than for which it was collected, which is in breach of Australia’s Privacy Act of 1988.

Why it matters: After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which broke in 2018, Facebook shares dipped to 11.4 percent and the company lost $60 billion in value only to then be slapped with a fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for $5 billion.

The details: In a statement, Australia’s information and privacy commissioner said that users’ data were exposed and used for purposes including political profiling. Australia’s Privacy Act imposes a civil penalty of up to $1,700,000 per violation. Given the OAIC believes 311,074 users were affected, Facebook could end up having to pay up to $529 billion. 

FTC Settles With Teami For $1 Million Settlement Over Instagram Ads

In a statement, the FTC says that detox tea maker Teami misled consumers and didn’t adequately disclose payments regarding influencer-led promotions of its 30 day detox pack. The FTC also sent warning letters to influencers including Cardi B for not disclosing paid endorsements.

Why it matters: In February, the FTC voted to seek public comment on whether it should create new, stricter requirements and penalties for social media platforms and advertisers. The Teami settlement is in accordance with the FTC’s goal of cracking down on mislabeled influencer posts. 

The details: The settlement comes after Teami was first warned by the FTC in 2018 about not burying disclosures under the “more” button on Instagram to see that posts were endorsed. The FTC imposed a $15.2 million judgment but suspended it after Teami was unable to pay.

Apple Enables Push Notification Advertising 

9to5Mac reported that push notifications can be used for marketing purposes given the user authorizes it, as noted in Apple’s updated App Store guidelines. Apple is also requiring app developers to use its official application programming interface (API) to collect customer reviews that appear in the App Store. Lastly, Apple’s new rule requires app developers that use third-party or social login services also offer “Sign In with Apple” by April 30.

Why it matters: Apple has long banned apps from using push notification ads, but the update comes after Apple violated its own rules when it sent out push notifications that read like ads.  

The details: Push notification ads will benefit mobile marketers looking to reach consumers via targeted ads on Apple devices. However, requiring that app developers offer a “Sign In with Apple” could affect data collection for improved ad targeting.

Twitter Commits To Buying Back $2 Billion Worth Of Stock 

According to a press release, Twitter has agreed to buy back $2 billion worth of stock over time and has welcomed two new board members, one from Silver Lake—which will make a $1 billion investment in Twitter—and another from Elliott Management.

Why it matters: The decisions follows Elliott Management’s efforts to oust Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for not being able to devote his full attention to Twitter given he also runs Square and plans to spend time in Africa this year to understand its fintech revolution.

The details: According to the release, “The Board has formed an independent five-person committee that will build on the Board’s regular evaluation of Twitter’s leadership structure . . . The Committee will also evaluate the CEO succession plan with the CEO and make recommendations consistent with corporate governance best practices with respect to the elimination of the Company’s staggered board.”

Facebook Expands Political Ad Transparency Measures To 32 Regions

In June 2019, Facebook rolled out its ad transparency tools worldwide, enabling marketers to become authorized to run political ads, place “Paid for by” disclaimers on ads and enter ads in the Ad Library for seven years. Now it’s expanding this requirement in 32 additional countries such as Mexico, Chile, Indonesia and Japan. 

Why it matters: The update will give marketers more regional insights about how much political parties are spending on Facebook ads in their region as well as increase transparency on how Facebook is being used for campaigning.

The details: Expansion of the ad transparency measures will start in mid-March, bringing the total count of regions where it’s required to 89.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, March 13. 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