Our weekly social media news roundup helps marketers to stay on top of every social platform’s latest updates, insights, campaigns and more.

Facebook Updates Brand Safety Controls 

Facebook announced this week the launch of new safety controls and ad tools updates to protect advertisers. 

Why it matters: These measures are taken to prevent ads from appearing in undesired areas and within unwanted contexts. 

The details: The three new options will now be available to advertisers, including “Limited Inventory” (which offers maximum protection, like the opt-in category exclusions available today); “Standard Inventory” (which provides moderate protection and is the default choice when placing ads); and “Full Inventory” (which selects minimal protection and ads may be delivered to all eligible content). 

And the updated controls offered by Facebook will include comprehensive transparency controls, which allow to see where ads may appear before and after running a campaign; block lists to prevent ads from delivering on specific publishers; and brand safety certification for third-party partners which will help advertisers manage preferences at scale. 

Pinterest Adds New Conversion Features, Expands Video Offering

On Thursday, Pinterest introduced two new advertising option: “Conversion Optimization” and “Promoted Video for Conversions.”

Why it matters: Pinterest is providing a way for advertisers to reach their marketing goals with better optimization of their ad reach.

The details: According to the company’s press release, conversion optimization improves Promoted Pins for specific consumer actions, rather than just clicks. And advertisers can now choose conversions as a campaign objective to encourage a call to action (online checkouts, increased signups or stronger leads). 

A few brands have already tried using conversion optimization. “Gravity Blankets,” for example, reportedly achieved a 2x increase in sales and a 58 percent lower cost per acquisition. “Flaviar” saw 409 percent more traffic and an 8x increase in leads from October 2018 compared to the month before when testing conversion optimization. 

Facebook To Replace Publishing Tools With Creator Studio

On Thursday Facebook was spotted working on some important changes in its Publishing Tools features. 

Why it matters: Publishing tools is a helpful instrument for marketers and the changes made within it should improve the process of advertising on Facebook.

The details: According to security researcher, Jane Munchun Wong, Facebook will soon “deprecate the Post section in Publishing Tools and replace it with Creator Studio.”

LinkedIn Bursts With Fake Profiles 

Digiday reported this week that LinkedIn has a significant fake-profile problem. 

Why it matters: Managing numerous requests from fake profiles takes away from LinkedIn’s value to the users.

The details: Digiday spoke with several executives, who confirmed that although LinkedIn is a valuable tool for their professions, the amount of spam they receive regularly is frustrating. 

The networking site for the professional community, with 575 million registered members in August 2018, unfortunately, is bursting with profiles that are missing photos or have fake profile photos, and people with confusing job titles working at non-existing companies. And even though LinkedIn has worked on the improvements, such as introducing video and more sophisticated ad tools, the site still lacks authenticity and at the moment, we don’t know how many profiles on the platform are fake. 

Paul Rockwell, LinkedIn’s head of trust and safety, told Digiday in an email, “Fake accounts are a violation of our terms of service and we take action against them. When we identify bad actors, we take appropriate action, which often includes a permanent restriction from LinkedIn. We use a variety of automated techniques, coupled with human reviewers and member reporting, to keep our members safe from all types of bad actors and abuse. If members encounter something that makes them uncomfortable, suspect someone might not be representing themselves honestly or see inappropriate behavior like harassment or inaccurate content, we ask that they report it to us immediately and know that they can always block another member or remove a connection.”

YouTube To Introduce Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Programs

Bloomberg reported that YouTube is exploring the development of “choose-your-own-adventure” shows.

Why it matters: The storytelling format used most recently by Netflix, famously with Bandersnatch, draws more engagement and can potentially increase viewership and ad sales for the platform.

The details: Racing in the competition with Netflix, which already creates interactive shows for kids and adults and has the technology that remembers the choices users make over the course of a story, YouTube is trying to move in the same direction. 

“We now have amazing new tools and opportunities to create and tell multilayered and interactive stories,” Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s head of original programming, said in a statement for Bloomberg. “Ben [Relles, who oversees unscripted programs] has an intuitive and experienced understanding of how the platform can enhance content, making him the perfect choice to develop this exciting new division.”

US Retailers Are Testing Shoppable Ads On TikTok 

Social media platform TikTok is experimenting with ad offerings in the US, Adweek reported.

Why it matters: TikTok provides a perfect opportunity for marketers to get a better understanding of how Gen Z shops. 

The details: TikTok offers two types of ads at the moment: in-feed video ads and full-page ads. In-feed ads appear between user-generated content and full-page ads appear when the users first open the app.

Hollister is currently running in-feed video ads on TikTok. The brand encourages users to shop while discovering the content on the platform. When the users tap on the “shop now” button, they are being taken to a microsite to browse and shop without leaving the app.

“TikTok has been on our radar for a little while, and this opportunity opened up a couple of weeks ago to try it,” said Michael Scheiner, senior vice president of marketing at Hollister. “At this point, it’s really more about that test and learn. But so far, we’re pretty excited about the results that we’re seeing.”

Pinterest User Base Is Growing Healthy Ahead Of IPO 

This week, Pinterest released some updated data on platform usage, which confirmed its healthy growth.  

Why it matters: Going public doesn’t seem to affect the platform’s user base and it still remains a desirable place for brands to reach consumers.

The details: Pinterest is still behind Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in terms of user base, but it now has 265 million monthly active users, up from the 250 million that it reported back in September. According to the report, “Pinterest is ahead of Snapchat, but behind Twitter, Instagram and of course Facebook. As opposed to Twitter and Snapchat however, Pinterest’s user base is still growing at a decent pace. In the past year alone, the company added 51 million monthly active users, mainly thanks to strong international growth.”

Conde Nast Has 28 Shows On Snapchat And This Number Will Grow 

Accordingto Digiday, even though Condé Nast had previously pulled some channels from Snapchat, the media giant remains on the platform and has plans to add more series to the app in the future. 

Why it matters: “Our audience is primarily a younger consumer. We have a shelf life of our reader, so we’re always after the younger audience. Snapchat probably more so than any other brand in the building makes sense for us,” said Carrie Marks, associate director of audience development and social media at Teen Vogue.

The details: In December 2018, Condé Nast reached more than 39 million unique viewers across the 23 shows it had live. Teen Vogue and Self were the two channels maintained on Snapchat by Condé Nast. Currently, Teen Vogue publishes two editions per week. The content is pulled from the site, for the most part, but is specifically repackaged for the app. 

“Our relationship with [Snap] has progressed, shifted and adapted over time, and I think it’s adapted in a positive away for us and them. We had taken some original channels down and are making an effort of taking existing IP and optimizing for the Snap platform. While we do have 28 shows that run on Snap, we didn’t haphazardly select them,” said Oren Katzeff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment.

Pew: U.S. Adults Still Using Social Media Despite Safety Concerns

Pew Research surveypublished on Wednesday shows that despite the news about abusive data practices and misinformation on social media, a share of  U.S. adults on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest remains mostly unchanged since last year. 

Why it matters: The numbers show that the users are willing to give up privacy and the ‘iron core” information for the ability to be a part of the social media community.

The details: The survey found that the share of U.S. adults on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest hasn’t changed significantly since 2016. Around 69 percent of U.S. adults say they still use Facebook, 28 percent visit Pinterest and 22 percent use Twitter. Instagram is the only platform that saw some gains in that time period, growing from 32 percent to 37 percent.

KFC Virtual Influencer Colonel Is Stealing Influencers’ Thunder 

KFC’s new social media campaign employs computer-generated character, Colonel, to promote their famous fried chicken. 

Why it matters: KFC is doing an impressive job using AI in their marketing campaign to engage with Gen Z audiences and makes us wonder if computer-generated characters pose a threat to real-life influencers in the long run.

The details: This fake/real Instagram persona possesses all the attributes of a successful influencer and deals with brands like Dr Pepper, Old Spice and TurboTax. He also has an inspirational tattoo on his abdomen that says “Secret Recipe For Success” to encourage his followers to live their lives to the fullest and aesthetically beautiful photos featuring him “connecting to nature.”

The campaign will run through April 22 and will see the Colonel traveling the world on his private jet via the KFC Instagram account. His exploits can be found through the #SecretRecipeForSuccess hashtag.

British Cosmetic Brand Lush Turns Away From Social Media 

Lush Cosmetics announced this week that the company will be closing several of their UK social media accounts. 

Why it matters: This incident once again proves that brands and marketers are “tired of fighting with algorithms” and refuse to “pay to appear” in the social media users’ feeds, as Lush said in their Twitter post. 

The details:The account name will close on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, including Lush Kitchen, Lush Times, Lush Life, Soapbox and Gorilla. The company asked the customers to contact them by email, phone, or via its website.

“We don’t want to limit ourselves to holding conversations in one place, we want social to be placed back in the hands of our communities – from our founders to our friends,” Lush said in a statement for BBC. 

Social channels for Lush North America, however, will remain active.

Study Finds Instagram Ads Presented As Friends’ Post Still Gain More Trust Than Targeted Ads

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications study discovered that although deceptive, ads that imitate friends’ posts are more tolerated among Instagram users than traditional ads. 

Why it matters: This means that companies have better chances of selling their product if they create more authentic advertising. 

The details: The study, which will be published in May in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, included 482 Instagram users from the Netherlands. The participants were exposed to three types of posts: posts from friends, ads that looked like posts from friends and traditional ads. Posts from friends evoked the best reaction, followed by the ads that imitated posts from friends.

 “These posts were viewed more positively because they are seen as more credible (than traditional ads), and people are more likely to make comparisons between themselves and the person in the post,” said Benjamin Johnson, an assistant professor of advertising in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications who led the study.”

Gen Z  Says Snapchat Is Their Favorite, But Not The Most Used App 

A semi-annual survey of 8,000 teens, conducted by Piper Jaffray, gathered data on Gen Z’s favorite and most utilized social media platforms.

Why it matters: The survey showed that Gen Z (still) loves Snapchat the most, but barely.

The details: Among 13- to 24-year-olds in the US, UK, France, Canada, and Australia, Snapchat (41 percent) is still leading, but only a few percentage points ahead of Instagram (35 percent).

YouGov Poll Shows Americans In Favor Of Social Media Regulation

According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 33 percent of Americans want the government to regulate social media companies’ use of personal data.

Why it matters:The misuse of social media users’ personal data seems to be so out of control that many believe it should become a matter of government concern. 

The details: The poll showed that majorities of both, Democrats and Republicans, want to see more regulations of personal data use by social media companies. Thirty-three percent of the respondents said that the government should regulate political ads on social media and 48 percent said social media companies will be biased in applying rules around political advertising.

The UK Government Will Hold Social Media Companies Liable For Harmful Content

On Monday, the UK government announced it will hold social media companies personally liable for harmful content present on their platforms.

Why it matters: The proposed policies aim to restore trust and safe environment on social media platforms, and the companies risk to face serious punishments if they do not comply. 

“Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology,” Prime Minister Theresa May said.

The details: The Online Harms White Paper published by the government, outlined the violations. They included the spread of violent content, suicide encouragement, disinformation, cyber-bullying, terrorist content, child sexual exploitation and abusive content. These will apply to social media platforms, file hosting sites, chat forums, messaging services and search engines. There was also a call for an independent regulator to be chosen to enforce the rules.

Marketers Are Satisfied With Twitter’s Attempts To Stop Hate On The Platform

According to a report by Digiday, Twitter ranks eighth out of 13 platforms when being rated on brand safety.

Why it matters: Marketers say that even as Twitter still faces regular brand-safety issues, they see progress in the company’s attempts to remove hateful content and make the platform safe, especially for more risk-averse brands. 

The details: Twitter allows brands access to working with a curated list of more than 200 publishers to buy pre-roll ads or other sponsorships. This is especially important for companies that are more vulnerable to hateful content. For brands that are more risk-averse, Twitter allows blacklisting accounts that left harmful comments about the brand, which removes them from the targeting group for an ad. Twitter also is testing a comment moderation on organic posts feature.

Reddit COO Jen Wong Talks About Brand Safety 

Digiday also spoke with Reddit’s COO Jen Wong about brand safety, monetization strategies and the platform’s relationships with publishers. 

Why it matters: Wong talks in-depth about many pain-points of marketers, such as brand safety measurements in relation to user-generated content–as well as Reddit’s move toward ad monetization.

The details: When asked about brand safety, Wong said that Reddit has all the mechanisms for brands, including white-listing, black-listing and targeting. Recently, the company has been busy improving its advertising platform with cost-per-click bidding, video advertising and app installation ads to compete for marketers’ attention that’s been focused on Google and Facebook. However, the main goal of Reddit, according to Wong, is to stand out from the pack of social media giants.

“Ultimately, we want to make something that’s very differentiated. We’re very clear on where that opportunity is, but where we are is mid-flight. For the past year, we’ve focused on parity and getting those basic aspects of the marketplace down,” Wong said.

Influencers Escape Big Social Media 

Fast Company reported on Monday that over 350 influencers with a collective following of 3.5 billion are turning away from popular social media sites in favor of a platform called Escapex, which provides them with their own personal apps.

Why it matters: This seems to be part of a bigger trend of the users seeking smaller, more private groups to communicate online.

The details: There are a few reasons why the influencers escape social media giants. They are looking to free their audiences from specific social media algorithms and diversifying their monetization efforts away from sponsored content and ad posts.

And when it comes to their followers, they no longer want feeds, they want more intimate communication in messaging, small groups and even separate apps, such as those Escapex provides for a small monthly fee. They also want fewer privacy violations and more transparency.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 12. 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.