This week in social media, TikTok announced the opening of a permanent Los Angeles office amid news that it grossed about $177 million globally in 2019 and Instagram is testing an option that lets users easily find and share stories mentions.

TikTok Scales US Operations With New Los Angeles Office

TikTok just set up shop in Culver City to accommodate its growing US team.

Why it matters: A permanent office in Los Angeles reflects TikTok’s commitment to scaling its US presence. As Bloomberg reported, the platform is also looking for a US-based CEO, a potential solution to resolving lawmakers’ security concerns.

The details: In a blog post, TikTok says the new five-story office will help accommodate its 400-plus US team. This summer, the office will also house a content creation studio.

Instagram Tests Option To Find And Share Story Mentions

The option highlights any stories that mention your profile and enables you to re-share them on your own stories.

Why it matters: A few months ago, Instagram launched a feature called “Stories About You” that shows a list of your story mentions in the mentions feed only. This new option provides Stories mentions within Stories, which could help brand accounts engage better with user-generated content (UGC).

The details: First spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, Instagram’s new Stories addition appears as an option under the “@“ symbol in create mode. Selecting this mode lets you see how many Stories mentions you have while still in Stories. Then you have the option of choosing any of the frames and reposting them to your Stories. It’s still unclear how many users have access to the option.

TikTok Revenue Increases Fivefold to $177 Million

Sensor Tower found that TikTok’s downloads surged 13 percent to 738 million, making it the second-most downloaded app after WhatsApp.

Why it matters: TikTok’s $176.9 million gross revenue in 2019 could help the app build out its targeted advertising capabilities which it has yet to establish.

The details: According to Sensor Tower, TikTok has 1.65 million lifetime downloads, making it one of the most popular apps worldwide. In India, users downloaded TikTok 323 million times, 44 percent of the app’s global total. China is the app’s second largest market with 52 million downloads followed by the US with 46 million.

Instagram Removes IGTV Button From Home Page

According to TechCrunch, only about 7 million of Instagram’s 1 billion-plus users have downloaded the standalone IGTV app since it launched 18 months ago, compared to 1.15 billion TikTok downloads in the same period. 

Why it matters: The unpopularity of the IGTV button on the home page indicates it hasn’t become a staple for users like previous features have been like augmented reality filters, stories and close friends. Plus, without the ability to monetize their IGTV videos, influencers were hesitant to dedicate time to creating IGTV content.

The details: A Facebook company spokesperson said that most people are discovering IGTV content through the IGTV channel on the explore page, previews on the feed and creators’ profiles. To simplify user functionality, Instagram has removed the icon based on these learnings and community feedback.

Pinterest Highlights Inclusion Efforts In Sixth Annual Report 

Pinterest has released its annual report, which shows the platform exceeded three of its external hiring goals with respect to diversity.

Why it matters: In 2015, Pinterest set annual public hiring goals and has since made moves to ingrain inclusivity into its culture. In 2019, the platform launched a skin tone ranges search feature, an employee gender transition guide and set out to limit content that would make users feel unsafe or unwelcome. For example, it limited the distribution of wedding venues that were former slave plantations.

The details: Pinterest’s report shows it surpassed its goal to increase hiring rates for full-time women engineers from 25 percent to 27 percent. Additionally, its goal to increase hiring rates to eight percent underrepresented minority engineers was exceeded at nine percent. Hiring more underrepresented minority employees across the company was also one of its goals, which it surpassed by two percent from 12 to 14 percent. Other milestones include the fact that women at Pinterest are now 25 percent of engineers overall, up from 19 percent in 2014.

Spotify Launches Stories-Like Shareable Playlists 

The music streaming platform is giving users the ability to incorporate video elements into their public Spotify playlists.

Why it matters: Spotify has been testing video products for a while now. Last year, it tested a feature called “Storyline” that let artists share their insights and inspiration. Now it’s giving select users a stories-like platform to share playlists for the purpose of music discovery. 

The details: Spotify stories, which can be accessed via a circular icon above a playlist’s title, includes short video clips that users can tap on. Also similar to Instagram stories, Spotify stories shows song snippets and album art. Meant for influencers, not artists, the feature was first tested by makeup and fashion YouTuber Summer Mckeen, who has 126,455 Spotify followers.

Octi Creates Augmented Reality (AR) Social Network

The startup launched an AR-enabled social platform that connects the act of seeing friends in real life with viewing digital content like their favorite YouTube videos.

Why it matters: According to TechCrunch, Octi’s co-founder and CEO Justin Fuisz says his goal is to turn the AR platform into a WeChat-style platform for outside developers to build social tools and content. The app’s facial recognition feature could mean competition for Snapchat.

The details: Octi’s facial recognition experience lets you point your phone at a friend and identify them in as little as 20 milliseconds. Once your friend accepts, you can view your friend’s profile remotely and see a belt of virtual items hover around them via videos, songs and photos. Though it’s powered by AR, the app’s core experience is meant to be in-person. 

Twitter Updates Television Show Reminder Buttons

Social media expert Matt Navarra found that the new format will let users set reminders for when television shows and events will air.

Why it matters: This update could help improve engagement and create more live-tweeting content around trending television shows.

The details: Users will notice a dedicated button called “Set Reminder” at the bottom of tweets about television shows and events on Twitter’s explore page.

Instagram’s Hidden Likes Test Meant To Remove Pressure From Users

Instagram’s VP of product Vishal Shah shed light on the hidden likes test in an interview on “The Social Media Geekout” podcast.

Why it matters: Since the announcement of the hidden likes test in April last year, brands and users alike are still waiting on word from Instagram about how the test will impact measurement. Shah says, “We know going into this that we would likely have to trade-off some amount of engagement to do this work,” indicating that Instagram has likely seen a decrease in engagement in areas where likes have been removed. 

The details: Shah said the idea behind removing likes stemmed from the team that works on interactions and feeds, who found that public like count was a “very high area of pressure for them when they produce content on Instagram.” Shah says another reason they’re testing the removal of likes is to give users an even playing field among public figures and celebrities who have follower counts well into the millions.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 24. 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