This week in social media news, TikTok and the NFL are hosting a virtual tailgate party for the 55th Super Bowl, Snapchat shares insights on users’ game-day behavior, YouTube generates $6.9 billion in ad revenue in Q4, TikTok and WPP announce an advertising partnership, Pinterest announces new social impact initiatives led by its new head of social impact and philanthropy, Facebook tests new brand safety controls and more.

TikTok And NFL Team Up For Virtual Super Bowl Pregame Event

TikTok and the NFL are livestreaming a two-hour, virtual pregame experience on Super Bowl day. Hosted by Steve Harvey and MJ Acosta, the ’TikTok Tailgate’ will treat users in the US and Canada to game day cooking tutorials, interviews with creators and NFL guests and live musical performances. TikTok has also teamed with several consumer-packaged-goods brands who are launching dance challenges to engage fans leading up to the Super Bowl.

Why it matters: In September 2019, the NFL and TikTok secured a partnership that has seen both brands launch NFL-themed hashtag challenges and campaigns aimed at attracting the platform’s millennials.

The details: TikTok’s virtual tailgate will start at 2:30 p.m. ET on February 7, featuring appearances from Rebel Wilson, Trace McSorley, the Washington Post’s Dave Jorgenson and an array of TikTok creators who will share their best game day recipes, who they think will win the Super Bowl and tips on how to have a fun touchdown party.

The event will end with a live concert from Miley Cyrus, who will be performing from Tampa in front of 7,500 “vaccinated health care heroes” that the NFL invited to attend the game.

TikTok is encouraging users to show how they’re celebrating Super Bowl from home using the hashtag #TikTokTailgate. As part of TikTok’s Super Bowl activation, users can gift free packs of M&M’s to friends and family, virtually attend a Verizon-sponsored after-party with performances from Alicia Keys, enter Mountain Dew’s ‘Major Melon’ campaign challenge to win a million dollars, and other game day-inspired dance challenges from brands including Ocean Spray, Gillette, Doritos, Cheetos, Pepsi and TurboTax.

Snapchat Shares Insights On Users’ Super Bowl Behavior

Snapchat published new research that shows how brands can engage Snapchatters during the Super Bowl, as 61 percent of them plan on turning into the show, according to Snapchat.

Why it matters: Sixty-one percent of Snapchatters will be using the app on game day, and plan on sharing the most snaps throughout the game, after a big play or a bad call, and during the halftime show. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to create opportunities for users to share their team spirit and react to buzz-worthy commercials. During last year’s game, 68 percent of Snapchatters used the app to share videos, images and reactions from the game as they were watching live.

The details: Gen Z Snapchatters are 1.4 times more likely than non-Snapchatters who use other social platforms to share their thoughts and reactions during Super Bowl’s big moments. 

In addition, 54 percent of Snapchatters report that they view the ads before the big game, and 64 percent agree that brands make game day more fun with ads that make them laugh (51 percent), highlight causes they care about (18 percent) and connect them with their families (17 percent).

Instagram Tests A Vertical Stories Feed Similar To TikTok

Instagram is testing a new feature that would let users browse Stories via a TikTok-like, vertical feed, the company confirmed to TechCrunch.

Why it matters: The news comes after Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, acknowledged that he’s not happy with Reels yet, and that the company may consolidate its video formats Reels and IGTV. The shift to a vertical Stories scrolling experience signals the platform’s move toward an algorithm that favors video content over static content, much like TikTok.

The details: As seen in this tweet from a mobile developer named Alessandro Paluzzi, the feature would include an interface with the text, “Now you can swipe up and down to browse stories,” atop a label, “Vertical Stories.”

Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that the feature is being developed but not available to the public yet.

YouTube Ad Revenue Surges To Nearly $7 Billion In Q4 

According to Alphabet’s quarterly results, YouTube generated $6.9 billion in ad revenue in Q4 2020, a sign that the pandemic-induced slump is over.

Why it matters: That’s a 46 percent increase from the $4.7 billion that YouTube amassed in ad revenue during the same period in 2019.

The details: YouTube ads accounted for nearly 15 percent of Google’s $46 billion ad revenue for Q4. YouTube also more than doubled the number of active advertisers using TrueView For Action in the first six months of 2020.

Chief financial officer Ruth Porat attributed the strong performance to “Search and YouTube.” Chief executive Sundar Pichai noted that more than half a million YouTube channels had live-streamed in 2020. Pichai also said that videos in YouTube’s TikTok competitor, Shorts, are receiving 3.5 billion daily views.

TikTok And WPP Announce Advertising Partnership

TikTok and WPP announced a partnership that will give WPP clients early access to the platform’s advertising products in development and network of creators. In addition, the two will co-create a training and accreditation program for WPP agencies, giving them priority access to content tailored to media and creative disciplines.

Why it matters: With this new partnership, WPP clients will have a leg up on the countless brands looking to reach Gen Z and millennial users on TikTok, which is on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021.

The details: According to TikTok’s news release, the partnership will ensure “WPP and its clients remain at the forefront of innovation as TikTok further develops its suite of products for brands.” That includes partnering on marketing API integrations and next-gen formats like augmented reality offerings.

The partnership will also give WPP deeper insights on TikTok’s creators and early access to these creators for their campaigns.

In addition to the training and accreditation program they’ll co-develop, TikTok and WPP will continue working on complete integration with third-party verification with WPP’s buying arm GroupM. The companies also have plans to conduct market research to guide brands on best TikTok practices.

Pinterest Launches New Social Impact And Philanthropy Initiatives

Pinterest is launching new social impact efforts focused on expanding emotional wellbeing and place-based giving. The company’s new head of social impact and philanthropy, Ari Simon, will lead the new initiatives.

Why it matters: Simon—who prior to Pinterest was vice president, chief program and strategy officer at The Kresge Foundation for seven years—said: “Our approach to Social Impact and Philanthropy is guided by the belief that this work doesn’t stand separate from our identity as a company, but is rather core to our brand, our identity, and our long-term vision for impact.”

The details: Pinterest’s new social impact efforts include expanding employee volunteerism to grant employees five volunteer days off to support civil and community engagement activities each year; matching funds to eligible nonprofits, dollar by dollar, up to $1,000 per employee; and expanding its philanthropy program to provide 250,000 shares of stock, currently valued at $17 million, in grants to raise awareness of emotional wellbeing.

Pinterest’s philanthropy program will also include a place-based community giving portfolio, as well as a reserve for “responsive grantmaking” to address urgent challenges like COVID-19 and support for companies fighting racial and other inequities.

Facebook Tests New Advertiser Topic Exclusion Controls

Facebook is building and testing new controls that let advertisers define how Facebook shows their ads in the News Feed, the company said in a blog post.

Why it matters: Facebook’s move to bolster its brand safety measures comes after advertisers temporarily paused their spending in a show of support for #StopHateForProfit, a boycott against the platform’s inaction toward hate speech.

The details: An example of Facebook’s new brand safety controls is a children’s toy company choosing a topic like Crime and Tragedy for the kind of content that it doesn’t want appearing next to its ads.

Facebook says the development and testing of the new feature will take much of 2021,  and will start with a small group of advertisers.

Pinterest Debuts ‘Following Streams’ To Help Increase Story Pins Engagement

After launching Story Pins in September, Pinterest has created a place called ‘following streams’ for Pinners to see new Story Pins from the creators they follow at the top of the home feed.

Why it matters: Unlike ephemeral stories on other photo-sharing apps, Pinterest’s Story Pins are permanent; they’re also saveable. For Pinners, this new stream of discoverable Story Pins means they can save more ideas, and for creators, it means a more engaged audience.

The details: Pinners can find new creators and content through this new immersive stream, as well as through Pinterest’s new “Discover creators” icon. The ‘following streams’ feature will be available on iOS and Android starting today.

Instagram Tests A Change To Reduce Feed Posts Being Shared To Stories

Instagram is testing a change with a select group of users that stops them from sharing their feed posts to their Stories, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

Why it matters: This new test could be Instagram’s way of encouraging users to create separate content for each function within the app, which includes Stories, Reels and IGTV.

The details: According to Navarra’s screenshot, Instagram is testing the change after it heard from its community that they want to see fewer feed posts in Stories.